Tuesday, March 08, 2005

"three Rumsfeld songs," by Phil Kline

This piece is very unique, considering the lyrics used as well as how the instrumentation is used throughout each song. Our 20th century music class with Carlos recently listened to this; At first I disregarded the lyrics because they were strange and didn't really make sense ("It's the same picture of some person walking out of some building with a vase- and you see it twenty times, and you think my goodness were there that many vases? Is it possible that there were that many vases in the whole country? ")...and I was curious to learn more about this composer. He actually got the idea for this piece by running across some quotes from secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld (Who apparently has a very playful and evasive manner of speaking.). After the 9/11 attacks, Kline was so taken by the quotes that he composed music to accompany the text.

First off, I love Kline's voice-it kind of sounds like a mix between Ben Folds and Rufus Wainwright. It's kind of dry, but very full and gorgeous.
The beginning song starts out sounding like a bunch of tvs are on simultaneously, and you can hear Rumsfeld (or maybe the president?) making speeches on all of them, but you can't make out distinct words. Then the xylophone starts playing eighth notes from the tonic to dominant, which play on continuously. Kline uses a plethora of strange intervals, which sound very dissonant but cool. The ending is very abrupt, except for the whisper of percussion.

The middle song has the same tonic to dominant relationship on eighth notes again, and the bongo drums are added, which gives it a more playful feel. It again ends very abruptly.

The third song is very cool-electric guitar is added and then violin starts-it's very catchy
One common theme throughout the piece is the presence of violin all the time- it adds a lot of emotion to the songs.

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