Saturday, February 12, 2005

Bach Brandenburg Concerto no. 2 mvt 1 (for Feb 14th)

This movement makes me very happy. It is very dance like. There is an innocense and naivity to it, like someone dancing with absolutely no care of the world around. The main motive gestures of the first section are either contained in the 8th-two 16th note pattern or the straight 16th patterns. The form of this concerto definately resembles that of the Vivaldi concerto grossos. Bach uses ritornello form a bit. The piece starts tutti with running sixteenth notes as the trumpet floats above everyone else with majestic gestures and running sixteenths. The violin and oboe alternate turns at the melodic interest, as well as the recorder, as the ripieno makes statements inbetween the solo work. A very nice melodic sequence occurs between the trumpet and oboe. A phrase is repeated but this time at a softer dynamic. An unexpected but pleasant modulation occurs as the solo instruments make 2 bar motive gestures. The secondary theme is passed on from first the recorder, then to the violin, then to the oboe, and finally the trumpet. The same modulation occurs but this time it is more harmonically centered in the ripieno than the concertino. The solo instruments make gestures fitting into this modulation. The beginning is repeated but with a different dynamic intensity. Immediately the same modulation comes back with the main focus on the running lines of the violin and the oboe. A final statement of the primary theme with a ritardando ends the movement.

"Path to the Invisible" by Pilgrimage 9 Songs of Ecstasy

If you're wondering why I would have a CD with the word "ecstasy" in the title, I have to admit that I ordered the wrong CD from Barnes and Nobles. Instead of getting Mozart's Piano Concerto in A, I ended up getting 9 song of ecstasy, a combination of hip hop and gregorian chant. This is definitely an interesting combination to say the least. I think we should seriously consider studying this kind of gregorian chant in Music History! While listening to this piece, one feels as though they are floating through the solar system drifting between past and present and reality and fiction. The piece begins with a pulsing tonic that gives the feeling of a helicoter taking off. Then there are bells that repeat a do re pattern. A sequence of wind eventually enters. Then, as one imagines deranged voices are going to enter, the most beautiful, pure sounds of latin chant begin. This female voice goes through a symmetrical contrasting period before the instrumental music enters again, this time adding percussion. The second time the voice enters, she sings a double contrasting period. It's actually very challenging to analyze form since free rhythm and mode forms are used and I haven't studied these enough to understand them. All of the periods or phrase groups seem to end on authentic cadences. The last section of the piece sounds like an Egyptian snake call. Very exciting.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Concerto Grosso In G Minor, Op. 3, No. 2: Second Movement: Vivaldi

Concerto Grosso In G Minor, Op. 3, No. 2: Second Movement : Vivaldi

This song kind of gives me the vision of a fast car chase in a movie. It’s musical structure is constantly keeping the piece to move forward. The phrases almost always start in a low register and end in a high register, so it gives it a very light, lifted feeling. Also the soloist violins have a this crisp, uplifting, and syncopated motive that keep returning throughout the piece. This is where the both soloist play with the whole orchestra. Then there are times when the orchestra drops out and the violins have a very scalar sixteenth note turns a third apart build the intensity very uniquely. Also there are times when the solo violins play just step wise motion where the piece encounter very dissonant chord structure. A little past half way through the violins have a new melody where they pass it back and forth. The orchestra only plays one note a measure. This is building tension because it is a sudden , intense chord that is keeping the focus on the soloist. This song over all is a great allegro work that really gets your toe tapping. The motive is played with a lot which keeps it interesting yet still keeps you feeling secure, and not wondering where the piece is heading.

Depeche Mode - Violator: Waiting for the Night

And yes, in celebration of the opera's successful opening night, I have digressed to Depeche Mode.

Their songs are to my knowledge without fail centered around the minor mode. This one is no exception, and indeed is what gives them that special sound that I can listen to again and again. It begins with an electronic repeated note, giving a quick but gentle pulse to the music, this plays up and down a fifth, and a bass note a major sixth below the top of the fifth adds punctuation. The melody enters like a chant in need of prozac ("I'm waiting for the night...") generally mi re do re mi- do, or me re do re me- do (sometimes the initial and final notes are repeated). This is used to deliver the text--a dip downward and then a return down again. Then new melodic material enters (and repeats four times before ending) which also involves a dip-down pattern, but there is a more major feel to the section (do ti sol mi sol ti do). Then it returns to the first drone melody, with new text and to another b. A returns once more and a new voice is added that moves down slowly falling--echoing the words "night to fall", so quite appropriate. Then that concludes, and there is a space for the electronic music to paint a while before two haunting voices interrupt the seen (do-- re mi do--, sounding, but all of this is somehow transformed to function as minor and eerie sounding, so I wonder if I have the solfege right).

"Toxicity" by System of a Down

Just about everyone else has delved into the world of popular music, so here goes.

Harmonically, this song is about as simple as there are. The song rarely strays from I IV and V chords. What makes this song particularly interesting is the variety of rhythmic feels and patterns that they create without changing tempo or time signature.

The time signature for the song is 12/8 with a moderate tempo.

This tempo is not immediately heard however, because the solo guitar part that lays out the verse has accents on the off beats (meaning la, 2 and le) for the first two and a half bars. This makes it sound like it is in 3/4 with upbeats accented, but the second half of the third and fourth measure establish the triplet feel, and the harmonic changes are every 12 eighth notes.

The piece then takes an unexpected turn in the introduction of the chorus, with the bass and drums added in what initially sounds like three bars of fast 4/4. However, what happens is that the group accented the sixteenth notes of the 12/8 to make it sound like it is in 4/4. So these supposed three bars of 4/4 are really just one bar of 12/8.

The next bar has the feel of 12/8 again, but with the guitars just doing chords on strong beats 1 and 7 with a 1 (2) & 3 4 5 6 7 (8) & 9 10 11 12 rhythm in the drums. Then the bar that feels like 4/4 repeats, followed by the bar I discussed in the last sentence. The next bar also has the 12/8 feel, but contains sixteenth notes throughout the measure which has not yet been seen in the chorus. The downbeat measure repeats, followed by the 4/4 feel, with the chorus wrapping up with the downbeat measure.

The verse and chorus then repeat but with a drum part in the verse and the vocals beginning and do so once again with different verse lyrics.

Then the instrumental bridge stays in the 12/8 with really heavy guitars with a lot of emphasis on the quarter note triplet rhythm and then a drum solo that goes back into the chorus.

The final chorus is extended so the vocalist can hold out the tonic note and get that raspy quality that comes out when singers show anger, followed by a terminative phrase (ooh, big form and analysis word!) that is the simplest phrase of the whole phrase with the chords on each beat and the lead guitar following the singer on a melody that fits well in the feel.

The other great thing about this song is how all this rhythmic change relates to the lyrics. The chorus is

How do you own the world?
How do you own disorder?
Now, between the sacred silence
Sacred silence and sleep
Somewhere between the sacred silence and sleep
Disorder, disorder, disorder

It is fitting that a set of lyrics that focus on disorder has music that can also portray that disorder through changing rhythmic feels.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

What she likes- Evan and Jaron

Oh Evan & Jaron. What a formidable pair. This song is simple and to the point yet very catchy. I find myself humming it at random moments throughout the day. At first Evan lists all the things he knows about the girl he's dating, "She likes the romance, slowdance/ Loves staying out all night/ she likes the Christmas lights all year round/ why put 'em up, take 'em down?/ She watches baseball, hates the mall/ and hangs out with the guys./ That's what I know about what she likes." It's a very repetitive chorus tune but it sticks with ya.
After the bridge, which is a tad different than the rest of the song with a few minor chords (as opposed to the I-IV-V normalcy), they have broken up. Evan lists the things again and as it turns out, this whole list is just a list of things and he really knows NOTHING about what she likes at all. He was sooooo busy making a list of a few things he forgot to look at the bigger picture and realize she was more than just that.
Know it. Love it. Evan & Jaron RULE!

Concerto no. 3 in D minor by JS Bach

"Concerto in D minor" is a great piece. It amazes me every time I hear it how many varied tonal colors an organ can achieve and yet how very purely pianistic it can sound at the same time. The piece begins with an orchestral section that sounds like a contrasting period with a cadential extension at the end. The first phrase seems to end on a half cadence while the second phrase ends on a perfect cadence. The organ enters for a section twice as long as the orchestral section in length. This makes me think it is a contrasting double period. At the end of the last phrase, there is a sequence that goes up by half step. Following these periods there is a new section with another set of melodic material. The piece is either in a very fast 4/4 time or cut time. This adds to the frenzied excitement. I think the most enchanting aspect of this piece is that the music is played in minor while the tempo and rhythm are in quick and dance-like intervals. This seems to create an irony since fast, upbeat music is generally in major while we associate slow, chromatic works with minor. I love how the opposition of this fact leaves a mesmerizing theme running through the listener's head all day long.

Scarborough Fair - Simon and Garfunkel

This traditional folk song adapted by Simon and Garfunkel has many more verses than they perform in their rendition. This version has only five verses, which all have the same notes and melody. It would probably be very boring to listen to if they hadn't changed each verse in some way. The first verse is played at a soft dynamic level and includes only one voice part. The second verse adds a different accompaniment rhythm and also adds the first part of the canticle, another song, so it's like 2 songs in one. The lines of the canticle are sung after each line of Scarborough Fair. This technique makes the overall texture much thicker than it was originally in the first verse. The third verse continues the Scarborough Fair/Canticle duet, as does the fourth. The accompaniment also stays the same. The fifth and final verse contains only Scarborough Fair lyrics and the texture here is much more like that from the first verse. Overall, I feel like the piece makes a large crescendo/decrecendo, beginning softly and ending in the same manner.

"All Along the Watchtower" by the Dave Matthews Band

Original by Bob Dylan
From an unreleased live album

A simple song to analyze harmonically, with there only being three chords: am, GM and fm repeated over and over again. The entrance is slow and methodical, outlining the chords, introducing each one as it flows into the other. Upstrokes create a small rhythmic motion, while slight variations in strumming pattern and an occasional non-chord tone keep the ear interested. After an 8 bar opening we hear Dave's unique voice warbling out the first verse. In the background a single singer drifts in and out of harmony. The song meanders somewhat, like a person telling a story but being careful not to reveal too much. Down strokes and cutting drum and saxophone blasts accent "no reason to get excited" in an ironic twist. Dave sings the song with a strange harshness to his voice despite the mellow tempo, hinting at what is to come. As the line "the hour is getting late" is sung, everything drops out for a measure before it all comes crashing down. At this point we double our original tempo, add a cacophony of saxophone and violin tremolo and a crash of drums and cymbals as we dive headfirst into the chorus. Dave's voice has lost any sense of sweetnees and takes on a growl. He almost spits out the words, driving higher and higher to accentuate the wind beginning to howl. After this thrilling climax we come back to just a simple drum beat and bass outlining the chords. Now we head into the jam band aspect, with each instrument taking their shot at a variation on the melody. The saxophone squeals and honks as if the wind itself was flowing through it, just howling out it's own tune. Suddenly a strange sound comes out of nowhere. Boyd Tinsley on his electric violin floats out a smooth but rhythmic pizzicato of pearl drops. The contrasting styles really play on the duality of the piece, both the easy verse and a frantic chorus. The band really has a great feel for the piece, as we end, the guitar has a quick solo before Dave's voice comes back for a final chorus, weary and remniscant of the ending of Stairway to Heaven. it seems as a catharsis has been reached, as we slowly float away to nothing but the final cheers of the crowd.

One of the first songs I ever learned to play on guitar, very easy, but has an air of mysticism surrounding it. I've never heard the same interpretation twice, as both the words, tempo, and style can each be taken rather liberally. This version is a great version to lsiten to when you just want to trash around the dorm room for a while.

Rapsodie Espagnol, IV. Feria

Maurice Ravel
This piece was very energetic, and had a compound duple meter. This meter is first established in the beginning with a duet flute part. One flute plays sixteenths on do and the play six one an octave higher on do. This harmony maintains tempo and puts a good metric accent on one. The constant sixteenths in the base are a reaccurring thing in the piece, it is one of the aspects of it that give it so much energy. This first subphrase hints at one of the two main themes in the piece. The next subphrase hints at the darker, second theme. This is because of the rhythms of longer beat duration, quarter eighth, and the instrument change to more brass intruments. Compared to the first subphrase, which is flighty and airy, it is heavier and darker. This subphrase also introduces the strings long ascending and descending scale. Scales seemed to be used a lot in this piece, crescdoing to the top of the scale, and descending down to begin a new phrase. In the first subphrase, one of the themes introduced is do-re-mi-fa-mi-re-do. After completing the entire two parts of the one phrase, the phrase is repeated, and this next theme begins. The darker, deeper theme is also stated several times thoughout the piece, and the contrast the two create put emphasis on the piece as a whole. I think there were a lot of half cadences in this piece, I did not get the feeling of finality as much as just a lot of asceding and descending scales. I enjoyed this piece, particularly because of the compound rhythms.

Rapsodie Espagnol, IV. Feria

Chicago Symphony Orchestra
The piece begins with two flute lines consisting of two triplets in one part on do and six-one an octave higher in the other. This helps to establish the compound duple meter by emphasizing one but still keeping triplet feel. This also further reflects the more flighty, energetic theme of the piece. Another flute then enters carrying hints of the actual theme later in the piece on do-re-mi-fa-mi-re, and then repeated to do. This up and down scalar pattern can be heard several times throughout the piece, it is one of the aspects that give it such an energetic feel; later on especially. This marks the end of a subphrase, and functions as the antecedent of the entire phrase. The next subphrase is very contrasting to the flighty, airy, and lite. This next one begins with the trombones with a quarter eighth rhythm, and descending half steps to a delayed do, an octave lower. The strings then crescendo and then decrescendo in unison on an ascending and descending scale. This subphrase has a deeper, more dissonant sound to it. The entire phrase is then repeated. These two phrases act as an intro, and I did not look at them as cadences as much as an extension of do. They couldn't have been half cadences because both ended on do, but I didn't feel any deceptiveness or V-I either. After the intro, the piece begins to elaborate on the two themes more, the rhythm especially. The bass has eighth, four sixeenths, eighth, four sixteenths. The eighth emphasizes one, combined with the bass drum, and makes pulse into a one feel. The rest of the orchestra crescendos and decrescendos on an ascending and descending scale, reinstating the rolling feel that gives the piece its energy. Winds then have a staccoto sixteenth note line, while strings elaborate on the theme the solo flute had in the first subphrase- do-re-mi-fa-sol-fa-mi-re-do. Together, these two lines create a sort of singing effect. This entire time the piece builds and decrescendos several times, and maintains a good pulse. This creates a happy, energetic feel. The piece changes styles once, to a lazier feel. The bass plays straight triplets, which contrast to the sixteenths we are used to hearing, and the soprano lines play a quarter eighth on one. The piece eventually picks up to its original theme, and builds up to the ending finale. I think most the cadences in the piece were Half, or weak Imperfect Authentic, it seemed like the piece kept its phrases connected more to maintain energy. This piece was a great use of compound rhythms.

Percy "No one is stranger" Grainger: Lincolnshire Posy, 6. The Lost Lady Found

Lincolnshire Posy, composed by Percy Grainger, is one of the standards of band literature. Composed of 6 movements, all of them exceptionally different from each other, I will be analyzing the stirring finale entitled "The Lost Lady Found." What I find to be really cool about Lincolnshire Posy is that every single movement is based off an English Folk melody. If I remember right, Grainger went out in the country, using early sound recording equipment, to record people singing traditional folk melodies and transcribed them. He would then use them to compose this piece.
Opening the piece is the high woodwinds. Lightly they sing the melody which will be transferred from instrument and instrument groups throughout the piece. The melody is composed of two rather short periods ending on a PAC. Concluding the first statement of this motive, the low brass and winds come in an accompanying manner. Unlike many songs, as the piece progresses, it is not the melodic motive that develops as the piece continues. Rather the low accompaniment to this folk theme alters every 8 bars. Long, short, loud, soft, Grainger plays with the colors and sounds letting the brass and woodwinds take turns soaring above the bass. The ending is very dramatic with the woodwinds and brass each playing different sections of the melody coming to an energetic finish.
This is my favorite movement of the piece. The melody is extremely beautiful, and most importantly is has a great piccolo solo, (although the third movement has the more impressive solo). An interesting idea would be to compare this piece to "Bonny Boy", written by Ralph Vaughn Williams, in his "Folk Song Suite". We are playing this song currently in band and it shares the exact same folk theme as "Lost Lady Found." I haven't done the research but I'm guessing that Grainger utilized this melody first.

Phantom of the Opera- The Music of the Night

Upon examining the form, I think that Andrew Loyd Webber intended to relate the order of his form to the meaning of the words. In the first section, the soloist, the Phantom, sings two pairs of identical phrases. The first pair includes two soft phrases ending in a cadence, reaching up to the final note and sparking a need for continuation. This phrasing gives the sense of something creeping in (the music of the night) and reaching for something. The next pair goes up, but again ends on half cadences. The voice then cuts off, and the strings play a transitional phrase that leads right back into the beginning without ever reaching the expected destination. This time through, the voice continues past the same four phrases, and eventually goes on a pattern upward until it finally reaches complete resolve on the high note (at the word “soar”). The sensation of finally reaching the highest point is enhanced through a dynamic increase and then a sudden shift to soft, and the pause at the end also serves to signify a breaking point. It then sinks back down in a link back to the beginning section. This pattern continues throughout the piece, with occasional whishing sounds played by the strings adding to the feeling of drifting and confusion. At the very end of the piece, it again reaches the highest note in a PAC. This time, the voice reaches the note first, and the strings slowly creep up to meet it, causing a very strong yearning for that final completion.

"in ancient time" from the celtic book of days

this is a small choir piece from david arkenstone's the celtic book of days. this sounds ridiculous but my marching band actually played selections from his CD for one our that's how i picked it up. the melody is just incredible--so soft and soothing, but very rich and dense with harmony. the sopranos begin the piece, passing off the melody to the tenors and the bases in the next phrase. there are two really neat things: the tenors and bases often hum or "ooo" to act as a pedal tone while the sopranos and altos sing the melody (it's a capella by the way); when the small ensemble takes a breath, it is incredibly dramatic--like utter silence between phrases. there is no real refrain or anything, but the first melody is heard in later parts of the piece, just slightly altered. there is a middle section that has a major feeling, but then modulates into the minor key that was heard at the beginning.

"Storybook" from The Scarlett Pimpernell

"Storybook" from The Scarlett Pimpernell. Music by Frank Wildhorn. Performed by Rachel York as Marguerite, Encore album.

Paris, May of 1794. At the bloody peak of the French Revolution, the beautiful actress, Marguerite St. Just, falls in love with an Englishman, Sir Pericival Blakeney. After a whirwind courtship, she announces her engagement to Percy during her farewell performance at the Comedie Francaise. (Storybook)
Technically, not a whole heck of a lot happens in this piece, but I wanted to write about it because I love the feel of the music. This is a fast waltz, and like many vocal pieces, it is in strophic form. It begins very slowly, with arpeggiated chords being played in a high register on the piano. Something about this sound always makes me think of a fun house or something at a carnival. When Marguerite begins to sing, the accompaniment turns in to more of an oom-pah-pah feel, and the tempo picks up slightly. The verses are really nothing other than different inversions of a I chord.
When the refrain begins, the tempo picks up again, and we now have a fast waltz. The chord progression becomes much more interesting, and the texture becomes much fuller when all of the instruments in the orchestra begin to play. You can really hear the drum keeping the 3/4 time. The rest of the piece reminds me so much of something you would hear while riding a carousel, which the lyrics actually refer to a few times: "Close your eyes and we'll ride my carousel." I get so swept up in the dance feeling; it is so majestic and sounds like something straight out of a ball scene from a movie. I always have the urge to get up and waltz.
When the refrain occurs the second time, it has modulated to a higher major key. The third time we hear the refrain, it isn't varied musically at all, but it is slightly more interesting because it is sung in French. You don't see the use of other languages very frequently in the musical theatre world.
Really, this is all there is to this song. The reason it sticks with you is because of the very strong 3/4 dance like feeling. The melody is also very memorable, I can remember leaving the theatre after the show singing this tune in my head. It is memorable because it is very simple, and goes right along with the accompaniment.

Bach Brandenburg Concerto no. 3 mvt 1 BWV 1048

I feel joy when I listen to this movement. It definately has dance like qualities and could almost perfectly double as a movement in one of Bach's other genres like the orchestral, french, or dance suites. It is very dance like. It is very very rhtymically driven. The main motivic gesture is that of a quarter note followed by two eighth notes (in cut time). The rhythmic intensity definately gives this piece a drive, but it does not feel forced. Even throughout all the running notes and fast rhythms I still feel relaxed and layed back listening to it. The counter point lines lack the type of ferocity and tenacity expressed in other movements (such as the 3rd). The middle section changes to minor and has a very sullen and dark feel. One can sense the listener feeling an evil. After the main substance of the B section is complete Bach brings back the main motivic and melodic gestures of the A section. However, this does not last, periodically he brings back modal change of the B section and its graveness and intertwines it with the main melody. Then finally the A section melody breaks through and is the only melodic element. This does not last long as Bach uses a terminatory function to end the piece rather quickly.

"Cold Water" written and performed by Damien Rice

The beginning of "Cold Water," which may be found on Damien Rice's "O" album, begins with a piano playing two lonely sounding notes. The two notes are a major third, followed by a major fourth, fifth, and sixth, each played three times. The piano repeats this phrase, the phrase it repeats throughout the whole song, with the addition of a guitar playing strummed chords that match the piano. Rice begins to sing the first verse with the melody going something like mi-mi-re-sol-ti-do-ti. You coudl say that the phrase ends resembling a half cadence, keeping in mind that Rice is Irish and his music has a very traditional Irish folk sound, this is quite possible. The end of the verse has a repeating word phrase, "Lord can you hear me now," which is sung three times. It does not necessarily sound like a chorus but more like an extension of the verse's melodic phrase. At this point, a female vocalist comes in to sing the second verse which has the same melody as the first. Next, instead of an instrumental break, a choir of mature male voices start in that resemble a group of monks or possibly an African American chorus. The female voice sings the melody of the song along with the men which creates a nice contrast to the low voices. The first verse is then repeated by Rice with the female voice singing a sort of improvised harmony. The song ends with violin and words or phrases from the two main voices. Finally, the choir comes back in for a swell of somewhat synthesized sound. It actually sounds as if their part from earlier in the piece is played backwards, giving the song a completely unique ending.
I enjoy how Damien Rice begins his songs with a very simple idea and then adds parts and odd choruses to give it a completely original sound. The song is even more amazing because the male and female voices blend perfectly as if they are telling each other a story or having a conversation. Another cool part about this song, along with other Rice songs, is how they start off with one part and slowly add parts very sneakily so that by the end the listener cannot remember when the percussion or the violins came in. The song gains sound constantly up to the climax, where all parts are playing their loudest. Then it ends quietly, giving the story a slow descent. Even if the song did not have words, the rest of the music would be able to tell the story on its own.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

"Bui-Doi" from Miss Saigon

More happy musical goodness for you today.

Bui-Doi is sung right before the GIs get word to airlift out of Saigon. One of them recalls the camp for children that he saw on his pass through. The name of these children left for dead are the "bui-doi," orphans whose "only crime was being born." This song starts with a male chorus beginning with the refrain of this song. They sing a capella, slowly building up to a full forte as the parts split from tutti into four part harmony. Soon the piano starts in simply, methodically beating out a tonic chord and maintaining a marching tempo with simple block chords as the soloist sings a recitative-like first verse. A small ritardando on the half cadence before the refrain adds just a touch of anticipation before we return a tempo for the refrain. The refrain's chord progression of I-iii-IV-V-vi-IV-V6/V-V-I-V-I really draws in the listener, as it slowly steps up then deceptively moves away, before the secondary dominant once again grasps our attention to resolve, which it does nicely. The second verse is much like the first, with the exception of horns slowly entering from a distance. The refrain returns, with these distant horns accentuating the melody perfectly, the far-away hope of the children who would never see a normal life. After this verse a bridge builds us further, changing keys up a step as the chorus returns for the final refrain. An extension of the cadence occurs at the very end, as the soloist begins to echo the chorus and when the final note is hit, the chorus continues a small deceptive progression (I64-V-I) to bring us to the final ending.

As for the emotional impact of this piece, it's hard not to feel for "the dust of life," orphans of a war few understood. The soldier wants to forget, but can't, because of the faces of these poor children that he could do nothing to save. It's tragic, and the music has this raw power that remains with you long after you've stopped listening.

"Because we know, deep in our hearts, that they are all our children too."

Accidentally in Love....Counting Crows

Dear Diary,

I heart the Counting Crows. I know VH1's "i love the 90's, part deux" slammed them pretty well...but I think everyone can agree that the Counting Crows are a well deserved landmark in our pre-teen years.

So this song is your typical light-hearted diddy that makes girls and boys alike smile and tap their unsuspecting feet. Unsuspecting, you ask? Unsuspecting of WHAT?? The answer is this: unsuspecting at how simply the counting crows have managed to grasp my attention and my ear...and in heart. It's true, I heart the Counting Crows.

They use the simple progression of I-IV-I-IV-vi-ii-IV-I for the entire verse with the chorus being I-ii-IV-V. Not the most musically advanced progression (if you ask me) but still a compelling one. Their guitar riff that drew me in (me-re-re-do-do-re) is not particularly catchy, or even inventive. They just started playing, and the whole world sang along (in Shrek 2) !!! THEY WRITE THE SONGS THAT MAKE THE WHOLE WORLD SING!!!.....NOT BARRY MANILOW!!

Their lyrics are very honest, quoting a conversation (that most people can probably relate to at one point or another in their lives). Over all I appreciate the simple honesty of this song, and of the Counting Crows in general. I think I have a theme going on of simple honesty...(food for thought).

That's right. The Crows would kick Barry Manilow's ass anyday of the week. There. I'm done.


"All Apologies" - Nirvana

Once again, I find this song sort of interesting in an analytical sense because it only uses three chords, yet I enjoy listening to it.

The verse is entirely in I. However, even though the bass and guitar maintain a repeated riff in that chord, there are strings in the background that add a sense of tension and relief without the main harmonic instruments ever using a cadence. The strings fluidly alternate between chord tones and half steps above them - especially le.

To me, it feels like the song is breathing - inhaling when the strings are creating tension and exhaling when they resolve. This is slightly different from the sensation an actual cadence produces. Some cadences, especially those used by Bach in his organ works, create tension in my whole body, whereas I feel calm during the Nirvana song.

When the song finally switches chords at the chorus, it goes to IV (predictably) and then to five. However, it remains on IV for a long time, which makes the listener feel like IV is in fact tonic. At times, the V chord is held for an especially long time which makees the return to I extra gratifying.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Hallelujah- Rufus Wainright

I heard there was a secret chord
That david played and it pleased the lord
But you don't really care for music, do you
Well it goes like this the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah

Well your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to her kitchen chair
She broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah

Baby i've been here before
I've seen this room and i've walked this floor
I used to live alone before i knew you
I've seen your flag on the marble arch
But love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah Hallelujah,
hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah

Well there was a time when you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show that to me do you
But remember when i moved in you
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was hallelujah

Well, maybe there's a god above But all i've ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you
It's not a cry that you hear at night
It's not somebody who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah

The lyrics to this song are very important to its structure, so I included them for everyone. Rufus Wainright is one of my favorite artists, he sings and plays the piano and is known for his whimsical and very relatable lyrics. Perhaps my favorite thing about Rufus, however, is that he is classically trained in music and this shows up now and again (of course in this song, I'm getting to it!) A lot of his songs are for voice, piano, and string quartet, sometimes larger orchestra, and very often a lot of oboe (yay!). His newest album "want two" starts off with a setting of the "angnus dei" which is amazing as well.
Although Hallelujah was not originally done by Rufus, (its actually a Leonard Cohen song), its a great example of the type of writing that Rufus does on his own.
The first strain of lyrics actually encorporates the chords mentioned which is one of my favorite things about this song.
The song is entirely solo voice and piano, and the chords underneath the lyrics are all simple and arpeggiated throughout the song giving it a gentle quality that I love. The dynamics definately accent the cadences and phrases and are extremely important throughout the song, simply because the song is strophic so there is no variation melodically or harmonically, so the lyrics are really emphasized and the dynamics definately play a big part in that.
This is definately one of my favorite songs, its one that you can put on low and fall asleep to.

Vivaldi: Piccolo Concerto in C major, RV 443

Being lent, I thought I would give up blogging. Or not.
As I am playing a piccolo concerto for the baroque master class two Mondays from now, I thought it would behoove me to blog a bit on Vivaldi piccolo concerti. Interestingly from the selections I have heard so far, it appears that they are all the same, except written in a different key. Vivaldi was a tool.
This is one of my favorite piccolo concerto, (I guess they are all my favorite because they suspiciously all sound the same). It is an extremely virtuosic piece, forcing the player to have excellent technique to achieve the proper pace and articulation. Like most composers of the time, Vivaldi rarely scribed the articulation for the performer, relying on the soloists knowledge of baroque articulation styles. Thus, recordings of the same piece can differ greatly depending on the performers interpretation.
Vivaldi saturates the fast movements in ritornello form, alternating between string ensemble and piccolo. Although the strings hint to the forthcoming piccolo melody ending their sections on authentic cadences, the piccolo often plays something completely opposite. Vivaldi plays with arpeggiating chords, sequences, and sections "a piacere," with the ensemble creating a soft accompaniment to the piccolo.
My favorite movement is the Largo. It's drastically different from the two similar movements that frame it. It allows the piccolo a rare chance to explore its sound slowly and beautifully. One can really hear the arpaggiatoras, appreciate the baroque ornamentations, and suspensions in this slow movement. The Ti-Do played by the piccolo helps accentuate the perfect authentic cadences that mark the end of periods.
Harmonically, and melodically, this concerto is very simple. There is nothing very daring, or terribly chromatic to grab your excitement. The beauty of this piece lies in it's "knock you off your ass," (Spiegelberg, 2005) virtuosity of the first and last movements, and the second Largo shows off the piccolos softer, less obnoxious, side. Yes, there is such a thing.
I really enjoy Vivaldi. Even though some of his pieces tend to be composed from similar molds, his melodies and distinct sound sticks with you, making these pieces very fun to play.

Without You - Rent

You're probably thinking, "Another one from Rent? Is she obsessed or something?" Not really, I find musicals wonderful's the only recording I own of a musical. There will be more rent to come. Onto this piece. It begins with Mimi singing alone. The accompaniment is decieving at the beginning. You think you know when she is going to enter, but it surprises you. The accompaniment starts with one guitar plucking and when the song gets more emotional, more pieces of the pit add on. Mimi is very good at word painting. On the word burns she emphasises that it's something that really is painful and you want to get away from it as soon as possible. The melody is mainly Do to Sol back and forth on the verses. The chorus differs even seems as if they modulate. Rodger enters and the accompaniment grows even more. It's a sweet ballade. I cannot tell what cadences are in there, but I do know that the accompaniment doesn't change much at all.

"October" by Whitacre

This is a recent piece for band, though it carries with it many choral elements.

This piece begins with a pedal tone by the clarinets with a repeated motive by the oboes that ends on the half cadence. This results in the first tonic chord not occuring until about thirty seconds in the piece.

The first section has a melody in the woodwinds that builds in voices to a very poignant half cadence in the first half of the period and then most of voices drop out by the time the resolution happens. Unlike most songs that emphasize the authentic cadences, this song finds its beauty in the cadences that have lots of tension. The next period takes the piece into a full crecendo that really emphasizes the authentic cadence by having the top voices doing a re do from the dominant to tonic chord and then the lower voices doing the same re do as a suspension on the tonic chord.

The next section features a phrase that is played by the woodwinds and then moves immediatly to the lower voices, and this eventually crecendos into another authentic cadence with several suspensions to accentuate the chord. After this loud section the voices are taken away until it is just one clairnet that plays the resolution of an authentic cadence.

The first woodwind pedal and motive is heard again, and then a new section comes in with an emphasis on the flutes. Then the next section is based on chords that follow the melody going up a scale several notes and then coming back a few and moving up again. Since the chord structure is based on this continuing melody, there is no feeling of cadences in this section. At the next crecendo, an anticipation is used. The next crecendo finally has a tonic chord that isn't embellished with non-chord tones but the melody immediately takes over from the chord.

The pedal tone idea from the first section is then used again after another crecendo, but this time the pedal is on the dominant chord, which creates a whole section with tension wanting to resolve, which is heightned by the low brass getting a melody that has faster rhythm and all this texture gets resolved with everyone dropping out except for woodwind trills on the resolution.

The next crecendo uses gives equal emphasis to each chord in a secondary dominant - dominant - secondary dominant - dominant - tonic pattern that has an incredible amount of tension because it has the same brass instruments playing multiple notes, especially the major second intervals and the woodwinds doing tremelos. The following decrecendo section uses more suspensions and ends with a timpani roll on do, but with some of the instruments playing re.

I like this piece because of the great voicings the composer makes for the chords, using the suspensions and anticipations to grab every bit of emotion out of the music that is possible.

Vespers (Op. 37) -- "Bogoroditsye Devo, Raduisya" -- Sergei Rachmoninoff (1873-1943)

It opens with a fourth (sol do) between the women and the men voices (not counting the difference in register). Pausing on the initial note, the texture begins to diversify. The upper women's voices take the melody with a much repeated mi- mi- mi-- re do- mi- re-- do re-/ mi re do mi re do re-- mi--. In fact, this sequence of solfege is the main theme/motivic material of the entire piece and usually stays with the upper voices. It is period with an antecedent and consequent phrase--the first cadence being a half cadence and the second being an imperfect. The second phrase moves foreword with a sweeping movement like a rushing spirit, while the first hovers like the light of heaven. It is followed by complementary melodic material and then returns, and continues to return in a habitual cycle, like ocean waves lapping in darkness. Initially, all text is spoken in rhythmic unison, and the listener is seduced by the gentle rocking of the chant. Weaving in and out of the listeners ear, it is broken only by the middle section which is composed of the ancient chant (sung by lower voices) paired with an added descant in the soprano and tenor that brings the musical interest to a climax. Part of this climax is acheived through Rachmaninoff's careful use of the higher voices--generally keeping them in the middle to lower part of their range until he brings them out for the culmination of the descant. After the descant, he returns to the original material and the listener given a strong sense of closer through this ternary gesture. Curiously though, since the opening and closing theme (in the more overarching sense and in the more microscopic sense) ends with a mi in the soprano, we are deprived of a perfect authentic cadence until the very end of the movement when after a very long hesitation on the dominant, the soprano finally moves from re down to do.

I need your love- Keno Babbani

Who is Keno Babbani? He is a gorgeous young man that I walked down the aisle with at my cousin's wedding this summer. He is also currently a back-up singer on tour with none other than Weird Al Yankovich. Cool, huh? His true aspiration is to be a singer/songwriter, so my cousin and her fiance invited him to write the song they did their first dance to and it's been my favorite song ever since.
This song is so sincere and simple. Just good ol' Keno and his guitar make for a simple structure. He alternates between strumming entire chords and picking out simple melodies. In the chorus when he says, "I neeeeeeed your love," he builds harmonic tension on the word "need" and we get satisfaction on the word "love." I just gets me every time. I wish you all could listen to this song and then when he's famous you can say you heard him and loved him way back when. I've included the lyrics for your imagination.

I want you to know that I live for you
And maybe, as it goes, I need you too
Remember me and you honor me

I need your love, my darling dear
I need your love, I need you need you

OH, oh all the things I know they're all for you
And so, as it goes, I love you too
And I will remember you and I'll care for you

Mmmmm, Mmm, Ohhhh ohhhh (bridge)
(Chorus- modulate up a little)

"Quatuor pour la fin du Temps" by Olivier Messiaen

We listened to this in Carlos' composition class last semester, and it's one of the pieces that really stuck with me. This is Messiaen's most famous work, and it was written in 1941 in Germany where Olivier Messiaen was a prisoner of war. This piece illustrates these memories in his life, as well as his characteristics of time in his music. For instance, melodies often propagate themselves, and each successive return goes on longer with the same material. In this sense, the music spins out through time. It's pretty cool. The first performance of this piece was actually in the camp, using the instruments which were available, the clarinet, piano, violin, and cello. At first his music seemed very abstract to me. But the more I listened to it I realized that underneath the often difficult surface there are many personal and emotional elements. The piece begins with the sounds of birds and explores one of the most images of the Christian faith, the end of the world as prophesied in the Book of Revelations.

Thomas Ades- Darknesse Vissible

Written in 1992, this piece is very different from most "classical" pieces that I normally listen to. I am going to define "classical" right now as being anything except for pop, R&B, country, musicals, etc... This piece is very...shall we say lean? It is very transparent, all on piano. There really is no melody, Ades is basically trying to convey emotions through the piano, creating a work that should be listenened to in separate sections with melodies, etc, but rather as a whole sound. He makes shimmering sounds up in the high register of the piano, while adding a bit of bass to give it resonance and to bring out the overtones and harmonics. There really is no set tempo or really even meter. It is very free and esoterical. It is relaxing, but not a piece that one can focus on. Which I guess is the whole point of the piece, not focusing on anything in particular, just the sound of the work as a whole. On the whole it is very soft, although every once in a while a note will slice through the constant resonating sound. Do I like this piece? Well, it is relaxing...but definitely not something I would listen to in my car stereo to make everyone think that I was cool.....hmmmmmm :)

"The Hours" by Phillip Glass

This piece is incredibly melancholy and pensive. It gives feeling of an intertwining, never-ending, circular journey. This is captured because of the weak phrase structure in the music. There are no structural phenomena or pauses to give any sounds cadences, so the flow of the music never stops. Just as you begin to hear the end of a phrase it moves on to the next without any pause. The piece maintains the same underlying structure for the entire piece, with various motives returning throughout. It gives the sense of the inescapable. While the same chord progression returns through the whole piece, the music retains interest from what is put on top of it. The density, timbre, and texture change throughout. The music randomly and continuously changes from any combination of strings, piano, and bells or each being played alone. The strings are mostly always sounded, usually playing the chordal progression alone or underneath another instrument. The piano and bells each have different rhythmic and melodic motives that come in and out with no clear pattern

Johan de Meij's Symphony No. 1

I guess I've been in the mood for Lord of the Rings music lately because of my fantasy lit class. This piece was inspired by the book. The movement entitled "Gandalf" was one of the pieces we played on the field for marching band during my senior year in high school. It begins with a brass fanfare that fades away into the main theme, played by the low strings. This theme has an air of mystery and foreboding danger to it - it's slow, free-flowing, and somewhat eerie. From here, the piece progresses to a short majestic-sounding transitional section. From what I remember, there are subtitles along the way in the piece, one of them being "Shadowfax." Although I don't remember exactly where this was located, I can be pretty sure that it's during this next section - the fast-paced forward moving part. I can picture the wizard on his horse racing across Middle Earth while I listen to this. There's a dramatic drop in the tempo as the Shadowfax theme is slowed down to progess to the return of the initial motive (the mysterious, eerie theme). Then it's back to the majestic theme, and it ends on the fanfarish theme from the beginning. I don't think I have a preference as to whether Howard Shore's or de Meij's compositions better fit Tolkien's story because they both do a great job with that.

Beethoven: Sonata No. 5 in C minor, Op. 10 No. 1 (Brendel)

The first movement of Beethoven's piano sonata in c minor is made up of four different themes and is in three-four time. The first theme begins with a c minor chord with the melody playing up the triad and then resolving to some sort of diminished chord. The same rhythm is repeated and the rest of section A follows a similar pattern of the melody fitting nicely with their given chords. The second section of the piece, B, takes a much slower pace and the three beat measures are brought out more clearly. The melody is brought out very well and stays connected throughout the section. The third section of the piece, we will call it C, goes back to the fast pace of section A. In section C, the left hand is playing some sort eighth or sixteenth notes that creates chords which accompany the melody in the right hand. Section C ends with a few measures of a repeating V-I chords which create a perfect authentic cadence. Now the piece shows an even larger contrast by playing section A in major instead of minor as the song began. More importantly a new section is added that we will call D. Section D sounds as if it goes back to a minor key. It uses the similar fast moving left hand which accompanies the right hand, but this portion has a slower feel, unlike section C. Also, it sounds as if the melody of section D, which is played in octaves, has few non-chord tones. The rest of the piece is very similar to the first three sections. Section A is repeated in its original minor which finally gives it a sort of chorus feel. Then sections B and C are played the same but in different keys, giving the ending a very nice authentic cadence just like the beginning. It wouldn't be very surprising if Beethoven modulated to the chromatic mediant, when he switches keys for sections b and c.
Even though the beginning of this piece tends to sound very dark and flippant, the song becomes more enjoyable when you hear each new section. I really enjoy the romantic sound of section B and b when the melody sings beautifully with very soft accompanying voices. My favorite portion is what I called section D when a totally new theme is introduced. Even though it is not extremely fast, Section D moves and the accompanying line is very lively. I most enjoy this piece because every performer seems to play it differently. Some pianists take it at a slower pace while others seem to play it too fast. This performance by Brendel has a very nice tempo in the middle of the two extremes but I do not prefer how he slows down certain sections.

"Fantasie" by Georges Hue

Flutist Thomas Nyfenger
The piece began with a compound duple feel due to the bass rhythm of quarter with thirty seconds leaning into the next beat. The soprano line is similar with ascending and descending scales inbetween the interval leaps. The bass line, in addition to emphasizing one and two with thirty seconds, applies heavy metric accents. The two parts together creating a stepping-down feeling. The flute has a cadenza ending with a PAC into a section with less chromaticism, and soft triplets in the bass. The creates a more soothing feel, with less leaps in the soprano and more half and whole steps. The phrase ends in an IAC. The next phrase ends with a direct modulation to the dominant, maybe an elision. The cadences were less clear to me in this piece, they seemed not much different. The next section begins the same way, to emphasize the sudden change in the base to a faster tempo, with several fast scalar patterns in the flute. The phrase ends with a complete change in style to an even faster, up beat tempo, reflected in the bass part especially with staccato sixteenths with many leaping intervals. Meanwhile, the flute has several grace notes, and the bass and soprano enter together back into a swing-like compound duple feel. This theme sort of switches off with a more melodic theme. The entire piece ends with a accelerando in both parts and a sol-do at the end. I didn't spend that much time on this piece because all in all, it was more bland. The cadences seemed rushed and unclear, and although the piano part fit with the flutes, it didn't highlight anything. I got no feelings of great emotion in this piece, although it did establish a lite pulse. Anytime there were fast parts it just felt like a lot of scales. The melody was pleasent, but monotonous after awhile. There were not very many dynamic contrasts either. The whole piece just seemed the same. Too many parallel periods.

"If I Can't Love Her" from the Broadway musical Beauty and the Beast

"If I Can't Love Her" from the Broadway Musical Beauty and the Beast. Original cast recording.

Belle has rejected the Beast's affections, and in this show stopping song, he expresses his feelings of distress.
The piece begins with trumpets playing very freely at a pp dynamic. Once The Beast begins to sing, the trumpets echo his vocal part. About 12 measures into the song, there is a brief modulation to the key of Eb Major, and then the tonality shifts back to CMajor. Right before the refrain begins, there is a Half Cadence, and a very large break, which builds suspense. When the Beast comes in, he is singing at mp in a beautiful falsetto voice. The melody is very sensitive and tender, and the tenderness is enhanced when we really hear the violins playing mp in a higer register than we have heard thus far.
When The Beast starts getting really angry, the song modulates for the first and only time to a minor key. The accompaniment becomes very agitated sixteenth notes. The orchestra plays a brief interlude, and the tonality shifts back to a major key. The dynamics gradually change from mf to ff, building up to the climax of the beast coming back in. When he enters, the music is atempo, and he is belting passionately. After a brief 8 measures, there is a modulation to an even higher key, and the song reaches its loudest dynamic yet.
The big finish consists of the melody going up the scale by steps, and as the Beast holds out a high Do, the trumpets blast away and there is a drum roll. The song ends on a PAC.
I think this piece is successful because of the build that is created throughout the song by changes in key and a gradual build in dynamics. Without these musical elements, there wouldn't be such a climax, and the song wouldn't be such a showstopper.

Well kids, there is your lesson on the Broadway Musical for the day. :-)

"Gualtier malde ... caro nome" from Rigoletto by Verdi

“Gualtier Malde … Caro nome,” one of the most famous soprano arias of all time, is from Act I, Scene 2 of Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi. It is sung by Gilda, Rigoletto’s innocent and untainted daughter. Rigoletto is court jester to a duke, a womanizer and overall cocky bastard. The duke has been spying on Gilda from her window for some time, without the knowledge that she is the daughter of his own trusted court jester. Before the aria, he has finally approached Gilda and successfully wooed her, in the disguise of a student named Gualtier Maldé. Upon his departure, Gilda ponders the name “Gualtier Maldé,” and vows to love him until her death. This aria is very interesting when juxtaposed against the character’s next aria, “Tutte le feste al tempio,” sung after Rigoletto discovers Gilda after the duke has taken advantage of her. The simplicity and sweetness of “Caro nome” is very striking when compared to the latter, more fervently sung aria, when Gilda has lost her purity.

Much of the music paints the image of an innocent, angelic figure. The recitative section opens on a simple ascending scale, played on the flute. Many stage directors complement this opening section with specific blocking, having the performer walk up the stairs to her balcony, hence the ascending scale. The singer sings a descending passage in the recitative to counter the ascending scale played underneath. She sings the name of her lover, Gualtier Maldé, and promises to keep his name in her heart forever.

It is difficult to analyze a coloratura aria from the Romantic era, a time when composers were creating complex arias to feature the singer. Basically, the singer came first, the orchestra second. Still, the coloratura sections of this aria can be interpreted as complementing Gilda’s characterizations. The coloratura passages become more complex as the aria progresses. Gilda begins the aria very timidly and simply. She is getting used to the idea of being in love with someone; it is a new emotion that she has never experienced before. Her passages become more complex as she grows more confident that Gualtier Malde is the love of her life. The last cadenza is almost a proclamation of love to the world.

The aria is very ironic, considering that most of the coloratura passages take place on the word, “die.” IF you’re familiar with the opera, you’ll know that Gilda dies at the end. She does in fact love the duke until she dies, despite his abusing her.

The overall orchestrations are very light: flutes and violins are featured with only woodwinds and strings playing in the entire aria. Therefore, Gilda’s voice soars over the minimal orchestrations – the listener focuses on her voice. Verdi was very good at writing for the voice. He used minimal orchestrations for the moments when the performers were singing, and thicker textures when they were not.

"Au bord de l'eau" By: Fauré

Au bord de l'eau (At the water's edge)

Tranquil, dream-like, and a little mysterious (minor key) are the first feelings given off by this piece. The voice line is very legato, floating with very much ease. The piano for the most part just has block chords and occasionally mimics the singers line. There is a melody that stands out the most which reoccurs throughout the song. In the voice part a V chord is arpeggiated to take the piece up to the highest note in voice part. There isn’t a whole lot of note jumping in this piece. The majority of it is scalar movement, which gives it the very flowing, dream-like feeling. In what I heard to be the “B” section the piano begins to become much more active. Arpeggiating chords and copying the voice line much more in the treble line and keeping blocked chords in the left hand. Towards the end I noticed something sounding different and I belief that there is a mode change where it momentarily changes into the major key (b minor to B major).

overture to barber of seville

A big tutti chord opens the beginning of the overture. following this, eighth notes are heard in the string section. the first melody doesn't arrive until about a minute into the piece (played by the upper winds and strings). it is a light, soft, and memorable melody, and it reaches harmonic goals every 4, 8, 12, and 16 measures. it is very obvious when the section ends and a new one begins because again, there are two tutti, forte notes that are very stately.
the most famous melody from the barber of seville begins about 2 minutes into the overture. the tempo immediately speeds up and the melody feels much more aggressive than the first. the strings start off, and pass the melody to the upper winds. this part repeats after a half cadence, and ends in a PAC. the next melodic line differs from the first, and the first brass interrupitions are heard.
my favorite melody is heard when this section ends and segues into the next melodic line. the oboe solos and then passes the same line to the french horn. the V/V chords really tease the ears....i love it. more and more voices add on to the melodic line until the previous (and tedious) string melody reappears--but only for a few measures until the oboe/horn/bassoon melody is heard again. the jolly melody segues to a stringendo section, which lets the listener know the end is near.

"Phantom of the Opera"

I just got the soundtrack of Phantom of the Opera for Valentines so I couldn't resist analyzing it for this class. I'm going to write about the piece, "Phantom of the Opera." I have to admitt that the CD recording doesn't quite compare with the movie's surround sound, but I decided not to blast out my floor playing it loud enough to get the whole effect. This piece begins with a huge tutti organ sfz going down a scale by half steps. Underlying these dramatic chords is a pulse that naturally causes the listener to feel as though their very heart is racing along with the rhythmic pulse in the music. This heart pulse, along with the powerful presence of the organ, grips the listeners and pulls them far into the depths of the music. Then, a solo female vocalist, Christine, begins. Her section is symmetrical and sounds like a double period with the second phrase ending on a half cadence. In the interlude, the organ returns to further intensify her solo section. During the following male section, the same form is used. However, there is an extension at the end adding a vocal line that mimics the downward half step scale of the organ. This dynamic and density change between loud organ with many voices and soft solo voices heightens the division of the periods. The next section of the piece modulates. The intensity builds as the timbre of the voices is filled with pleaing. Finally, as if gasping for air, Christine is minimized to mere high range, "ahs." This incredibly high and piercing range prepares the listener for one last cry that reverberates as the piece dramatically ends.

Bruckner Symphony no. 7 mvt 1

Bruckner Symphony no. 7 mvt 1
Herby von carryon and the Berliner Philharmoniker

The movement starts off with the strings tremeloing with a slow harmonic rhythm. Quickly the cellos come in and state the tonality by a 2 and a half octave arpeggio of tonic. The cellos then continue on with the melody. As the melody progresses, so , too does the intensity of the accompaniment and volume. The woodwinds then state the tonality in the same way as the cellos and they begin to play the main theme of the first movement, as well, with the violins. Brass interjections accompany the intensifying of the theme. After short development the second theme begins with the oboe and oscillating accompaniment by the lower woodwinds. The melody is then transferred to the double basses. Then the upper strings but the harmony is now different. The melody keeps getting passed to different sections. Much sequencing is happening in between the statements of the melody that I find very beautiful moving. A crescendo happens with the trumpet making statements answered by high violins in a scaluar pattern, quickly the mode is changed. Then, the second theme is restated, but this time is continually repeated within the strings as a massive crescendo awakens. Brass get louder and louder dotted 8th-sixteenth passages are the main focus. It is very heroic here. It pushes as much as it can push then it stops and immediately goes into the B section which resembles a march. The woodwinds state this 8th-two 16th note pattern. Anotehr mode change makes itself present. The music is more furious now with very loud interjections with the low brass. There is almost a shout chorus. A 2 and a half octave diminished triad is played by all the low brass very loudly. The music is somewhat skitzo right now which is what I feel when I listen to it. It is so angry then so calm and placid. A horn chorale ends the intensity of this section and development appears as woodwind instruments make solo statements with trombone chords in the background. The activity moves into the strings. There are short moments of intensive expressive moments by the cellos. A very tchaik-like sequence happens, modulating from key to key, growing in intensity. This is a very moving moment. The B theme is then restated as a new section appears. The tenacity once again is present with the low strings arcoing away, hearing their rumble. Another brass shout chrous appears in the minor tonality then to diminished. 2 final chords lead the piece into the recap where the main theme is played in the cellos with a brilliant counterpoint in the violins accompanying. There is a different sadness in the piece now. It seems reluctant to want to return to from where it came from. Various modulations go through the theme as they are passed from section to section. The mood gets happier. The counterpoint is more involved than when the theme is first stated. A short development period again states itself as the main theme is modulated many times in a row, growing in harmonic intensity but not crescendoing. The secondary theme is now stated in the woodwinds for the first time since its first statement in the exposition. The them is passed from section to section as the counterpoint continually is more involved. A crescendo ensues and the B section theme is played again, interrupting the flow of the main theme played by the basses this time and accompanied by the woodwinds, which is opposite of when it was first stated. More modal changes occur and the furiosity and placidness once again is present. A static tone is played in the horns as the violins slowly crawl down to it from "fa" chromatically creating a crunch. The mood of the piece changes to a very sudden and passionate form of the main theme. I would say the coda is in progress. Finally a vision of closure comes as the first few notes of the main theme are continually repeated in the strings and answered by the horns and trumpets. The repetition is almost unbearable, the listener begs for a change, as the volume gets incredibly loud. The low brass lay out an arpegio as the trumpets give their final calls. This is a 20 minute piece, hence the 20 minute response.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Hindemith Violin Sonata in E Flat, Op 11 Frisch

The piece begins with the piano part playing staccato fifths moving upward in thirds. Then the violin takes the fifths and expands further into the piece. This first A section gives me a feeling of a fight, but not physical. More of an internal fight one would have with oneself and containing more emotion. There are feelings or confusion and ideas (notes) being tossed back and forth with the jumping staccato fifths. There are brief moments of relief in the violin part where you think the tension has been broken, but the fifths jump in to bring the state of confusion and internal argument back in.
Now, the piece moves on to the point where I feel like the fight lost all momentum and is very legato, and lazy. The violin carries a very beautiful and flowing melody, which makes you think all is well, and solved. This spot is really just a time of self reflection. Trying to see if the right thing is going to succeed. Then the violin is alone and starts playing little dissonant phrases to bring confusion into the piece again. The piano responds with angry, forte, staccato rhythms building until the climax. From this point the song slowly begins to sound like little pieces are falling off of it because it change in register and dynamics. The piece is melts down to what you think is finally the end, but a strict break from section B throws the piece back into the on going fight. Moments of success carry through on the violin while defeat is played more from the piano.

Sweet Home Alabama

ok, this is now the SECOND time that i am writing this as something appened to my first one!!! grrrrrrrrr.... Ok, I absolutely love this song. It means ALOT to me. I love both the words and the music. I don't normally go for the country, twangy type music, and this song is definitely in that style.....yet the timbre of the guitar is diferent. Aslo, there is an active bass which i really enjoy. One of my favorite things about this song is the rhythm. It has syncopation and nots on "ands" of beats. As I was sitting here litening to this song, I tried to analyze why I like this song soo much and why I choose this CD in stead of another. I dunno, I like the lyrics and the actual physical sound and I love the rhythms and such. Well, I dunno...just some food for thought...
ok, this is the SECOND time i've tried to do this.....

Theme from "Swan Lake" Op. 20 Tchaikovsky

Ever since I was little I have adored this ballet. I know it may sound strange for a little girl to be familiar with ballets and huge orchestral excerpts at the age of five or six, but I was. I loved swan lake, sleeping beauty, and of course the Nutcracker and of course the music that came with it all.
After a somewhat chilling string tremelo in the first few bars of the theme, the oboe plays the main theme that we are all familiar with for eight bars. The theme is then developed upon in what could be considered the B section with harp arpeggiation in the background, then goes right back to the A theme. The low brass and horns come in with a strong and stately brass choir repetition of the A and B themes. Its then the job of the strings to sweep through the themes A and B and be the first to really bring in the C theme and there is a rallentando into a full orchestral refrain of the A theme with intense forte dynamics and huge accents.
The gentle feeling of the A theme is built upon and developed throughout this part of the ballet until the intensity is extreme.
The intensity even begins as the oboe finishes playing the theme for the first time and hands it to the low brass and horn choir.
My favorite moment of this theme is really not even the oboe presenting that famous musical line, but the intensity and tension that builds throughout the piece with the low brass, timpani, and horns, and then dies away to nothing almost as quickly as it was introduced initially.

Carmina Burana - Carl Orff

Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi:

Since high school, I loved and cherished this celebrated setting of ancient monastery texts. It wasn't until today, when I listened to it with a more critical ear, that I noticed that the dominant texture was monophonic. I had always assumed as a choral work, it was filled with harmonies and homophony, but actually such occurances are quite rare throughout the entire work--which cycles through seasons and scenes of life only to return to its beginning. Most of the singing is unison chant, at most punctuated by a motive from the orchestra, percussion, or an occasional drone (sol-do). Orff achieves variety through the juxtaposition of contrasting motives, registers, dynamics and rhythmic patterns. His force and movement are guided by his very artfully crafted phrases and instrumental punctuation. He very much remains true the spirit of the texts and there historic origin and also transports the listener to a more primeval environment. Even still, his work retains a strong sense of complexity, unity and subtlety. Unity, he achieves this through strophic verses and similar and repeated motives and also through the circular construction of the content (moving through a cycle which returns to its start).

In the beginning (also the end) movement, "Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi" can be divided into to major parts. It begins with with the call to Fortune (re- me me do-), and then much of the rest resides on a simple whole step with rhythm as the greatest source of interest. The second part is more melodic, but no less rhythmically active and has the trumpet flourishes shouting amidst the chanting voices--mostly led by men.

This movement I prefer because it is the beginning and end, the continuity, and also because when I hear it, I feel as though I hear humanity calling out in its desperation, in its ignorance, in its impotence...and in that calling out to the seeminly faceless fate of all things exhibits a rage, a wisdom and a power bordering on that of the divine.

"It's a Beautiful Day" by U2

This is in my mind one of U2’s greatest songs because of its unique and captivating sounds and energy. And even though they serve merely as accompanament to Bono’s booming vocals, it is the instruments that set the tone and cause us to be mesmerized. We pay attention to Bono’s crazy range and the great lyrics, but is the variation of the beats formed by the instrumental accompaniment that really drives the song into our heads. Each instrument takes a different simplified beat pattern with different durations. The bass guitar has a constant quick strum on just a few notes, the drums also play a fast beat with a different rhythm, and then the lead guitar highlights the phrasing of the piece with longer durations, coming back in after the same amount of the subdivisions. Also each instrument takes one line (ie. root, 3rd) to provide the chordal structure of the piece. Once these simple foundations have been layed down subtly, Bono is able to do all of the razzle dazzle and bring emotion to the piece. Bono uses his monstrous range to create the intended effect. He sings different sections in different ranges, going down low in one, and up into falsetto in another. He also changes the tone color of his voice to match the emotional meaning of the words. And the result is someone like me singing “It’s a Beautiful Day” in my head all day long.

"Esprit De Corps" by Jager

This piece is essentially a fanfare, as one would guess from the title, though it is pretty long for a fanfare clocking in at about five minutes.

The piece begins with an A section that has a three part polyphonic structure with most of the woodwinds doing scalar runs, the clarinets doing eighth notes, and the trumpets doing the main melody. Though there is a hierarchy between these three parts, all can be heard well and are important elements of the structure. This is contrasted in the A section with a lyrical low brass melody with accompaniment on the beat by the woodwinds and drums. The harmonic structure is fairly predictable with distinct cadences at the end of each phrase.

Then there is a very nice little piccolo section solo that transitions into the B section, which features the clarinets and has the feel of a march trio. However, once the clarinets complete the B section, the horns take over the melody and it with accompaniment with the trumpets it turns into a glorious section.

There is a little reminiscence of the first section and then the song moves into a really nice third section. It has the saxophone playing the main melody with the pickles providing a backup line. The nice thing about this section is the waltz feel, though it isn't pure but a 4/4 time signature accenting every third eighth note for a measure and a half and then two quarter notes at the end of the second measure.

Then the piece goes back to the low brass melody of the beginning, this time with woodwind accompaniment, then returns to the clarinet trio section, and then this theme grows as it moves to the brass, and in one of the best sections of the piece is when the crescendo comes to a completion and the horns have a beautiful countermelody that is extremely high in their range and gives a great sound countering the rest of the brass. Then the piece ends with a very rhythmic crescendo with the two sixteenth note eighth note pattern that has a very recognizable authentic cadence into the final one chord.

This piece is a very nice fanfare type piece with a few very nice polyphonic melodies that are complicated and yet still sound regal.

This is off the subject, but I'm thinking something on this blog is set to pacific time. Is anyone else's time/date stamp saying it is three hours earlier than when you got on?

"Ridente la calma" - Mozart

I’m doing “Ridente la calma” by W.A. Mozart, one of his only songs for soprano not written for the opera stage or concert. It is widely thought that the song was intended for educational purposes, to be used by Mozart with his voice students. An interesting, factoid: Mozart based “Ridente la calma” on an opera aria written by a close friend. In fact, the A section is almost identical to the original aria. Some historians think that Mozart didn’t even write “Ridente la calma,” especially since the song was never intended for an opera or recital. The song is composed in ternary form, or a da capo aria, with an A section, B section, and recapitulation of the original A section.

In the song, the singer calls to her lover to be calm, to relax in her embrace and be content. In the B section, the singer asks her lover to come to her and to tangle her in the chains of his love. The A section returns with no change in the lyrics.

The song is a good exercise for young singers to practice correct support and breathing, and placement in the passagio area, around high E on the staff to G. This is the area of transition from the chest to head voice. It is often difficult for young singers to master correct placement in the passagio. Most of the melody hovers around the E, F, and G range. The song also promotes good connection of phrases: Most of the phrases end and start on the same note. For example, one phrase ends on B flat, the next begins on B flat. Therefore, singers are encouraged to not change their placement when they take in a breath between phrases.

The piano accompaniment is pretty simple, and rarely has any of the melody written in. In my opinion, this supports the idea that the song was written as an educational piece. Otherwise, the accompaniment may have been more complex and “showy.”

"Semi-Charmed Life" by Third Eye Blind

I'm a big fan of Third Eye Blind. "Semi-Charmed Life," is definately one of my favorite pop songs. The melody is very catchy and the lyrics connect well with my generation.
Like most rock bands, their music uses simple and repetitive harmonic progressions. For the majority of song Third Eye Blind follows I - V - IV/V - IV/V - I. There is also brief modulation to the dominant before every chorus. With just a few common chords, this piece is easily played.
Fortunately the interest in this music lies not with it's lack of harmonic variety. Like I stated before, the melody is very catchy, with the guitars entering and important moments during the verse. This gives the song a lot of excitement in the chorus and near the conclusion of the song. The guitars and the drums have the distinctive "Semi-Charmed Life" rhythmic motive that is used throughout the piece. Third Eye Blind does an excellent job of alternating the density of instruments to aid in telling the lyrics story, and at the same time offers variety in the songs melodic and rhythmic simplicity.
This is definately an award winning composition, but I still love it. It's one of those songs you sing to get pumped up, sing in the shower, hum while walking down the street, and can't get out of your head.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

The Steward of Gondor - Howard Shore

This is probably one of my 5 favorite tracks from all three of the Lord of the Rings soundtracks. It begins with the orchestra and some vocals setting the stage for the flute solo, which then gives way to the Gondor theme played by the brass. Part of the way through, the strings and the percussion enter. The percussion acts as war drums, which is very appropriate considering the point at which the movie is when the song occurs. Much of the piece up to this point has consisted of tension-building chords, which is accentuated by the strings in this section. In addition to this, I see the beginning of the piece up to the entrance of Billy Boyd's fantastic solo as a large crescendo, which, in addition to the chordal tension, gives way all at once for his spotlight. Boyd's solo is a celtic-like folksong that's a bit haunting when considering the circumstances in which his character is in. The strings build in both volume and tension in a chord that is resolved on Boyd's last note. Following this, part of the orchestra returns for a few concluding seconds, which feels somewhat like a sigh of relief.

"Just My Imagination" - The Temptations

This song has three chords - C, F, and G7 (I, IV, and V7). Giving the songwriters credit for all three, however, is misleading because the G7 chord is used once during this four-minute song. The harmony involved in this song is an example of why intellectual musicians make fun of popular music.

However, the lack of harmonic creativity creates a couple of effects that I felt. First of all, I actually heard the words, and paid some attention to them. Thinking about the last time I heard an opera or musical, I realize that perhaps there's some value to this. I may be simple-minded, but maybe the average person can't pay attention to words and complex music at the same time.

Second, I felt very content listening to the song. Whereas music with harmonic motion generally has some emotional impact on the listener (even though it may be subtle), this song was just calming - which may also have value in that I could listen to it repeatedly.

Brahms 4 mvt 1

Brahms 4 mvt 1
Berliner Philharmoniker
Herby von Carry-on

The beginning starts very austerely. It makes me feel mourningly contemplative. The violins present the main melodic theme over the oscillation of woodwinds and low strings. Sequencing follows within the melodic structured. A crescendo appears with the oboe floating above the texture coming to a ritardando. The melody stated by the violins in the beginning is now expounded upon by the woodwinds who, through a step-wise technical run, outline the main notes of the melody. The texture thickens with the full orchestra now playing for a period of time (save the trombones of course, which dont come in until the 4th movement). The cellos dominate the texture for a few moments with the horns accompanying. The secondary theme is then played by the woodwinds and horns. It is a noble theme. It gives me an inspiring feeling, directly related to the near future. The horns and cellos dominate the texture once again with a legato, languid, and sorrowful elongated melody with the woodwinds and strings adding a stocatto and pizzicatto accampaniment. The strings then echo this melody in an inversion with the same type of accompaniment except in arco. The secondary theme is then passed around from section to section briefly. There is a brief pizzicatto interlude then overcome by the sweet arco of the upper strings. A development begins dominated by the strings and woodwinds. More noble gestures make themselves present. A large crescendo happens with fanfares from the unison horns and trumpets. The texture dwindles back down and the beginning is repeating once again, almost excatly. It might be an actual written in repeat, but I'm not sure, it might just be form. The secondary theme comes in once again except this time in the low register of all the string groups, being passed from one another. It is accompanied by woodwind gestures and held notes. The trumpet and horn once again use fanfare like calls and pull the music into a brief frenzied state. This leads to a brief melodic interlude by the clarinets accompanied by the strings pizzicato. This is forshadowing of the 2nd movement. More development ensues with the first phrase of the primary melody being played by the strings and passed around amongs the woodwinds. Then, the first 4 notes of this theme is augmentated in the woodwinds followed by static chords. The main melody as presented at the beginning is now stated again. This is probably the recapitualation. Once again the seconday theme is stated. Then the horns and cellos, again, state their elongated theme followed by the inverted strings. All happens just as it did in the beginning until the coda begins. This begins with a fury of runs by the strings with the horns playing on the weak beats of the bar echoing the strings. A development period begins that will ultimately lead to resolution. It sounds very Dvorak like. Victory doesn't feel too far off. Once again the horns and strings alternate gestures and dominance. Then, strokes by the orchestra and an elongated role by the timpani ends the movement in the same minor key that it started in.


Baz Luhrmann, The Moulin Rouge

This song was good for melodic dictation practice. It begins with a solo piano line, the bass sol-sol-le-sol-re-do-ti-le-sol-fa-me-re-do. This phrarse diminuendos, slowing down and also delaying slightly the resolution from re to do. The song starts to take a definite shape when the bass pulses out a simple quadruple time signature on do, placing metric accents on one and three to begin the tango. The strings introduce the aggressive and passionate theme by suddenly arriving togehter on the and of four in to one, further accenting one. The intro, from the piano solo to the end of the bass's line, acts as a sort of drum roll for the strings. It creates a tension, and adds even more weight to the string's entrance. Then, the song really gets into the tango feel through the strings heavy accent on one and three, done by first entering on the and of. In addition to the motive in the strings, there is a violin solo introduced. The solo is high pitched, more lively, but struggles against the strings solid tango rhythm throughout the song. All of the strings then enter a descending scalar bass from do to sol; the basses' continuing to accent one and three so the tango feel is not lost. After hearing the descending scalar line a couple of times, the listener does not expect the sudden break in the pattern straight to one in the strings. There are several examples througout the song of these deceptive points, and it is one of the things that makes it such a moody sounding song. When the singer enters, he doesn't really sing, he sort of growls out the notes, but it fit's the sad theme to the song. There is even more tension created by the soprano line because of the delay from me to do when he belts out,"Roxanne." The strings act as a pulse, and so whever they stop, it signals by not tho the listener a cadence or dramatic point. The points are usually built up by crescendos or ascending scalar base patterns (in the strings). The second time this happens is to introduce the other singer, who is a complete contrast to the deep growling sound of the first one. To accompany this singer, the strings begin a contrasting line to the typical weighty one by just plucking eighth notes in a descending scalar pattern. Anyway, as the singer crescendos and gradually enters a duet with the other singer the song picks up momentum by the basses change to ascending and descending sixteeths, with crescendos in places of high emotion and then with diminuendos to emphasize them . This part is sort of like a roller coaster, it sounds fast and aggressive and up and down. Eventually the song builds up with several mores voices, and crescendos to its climax, becoming more and more like hard-rock tango and ends on me-do. Most of the cadences are IAC, with me-do in the soprano, and are delayed. There are a lot of voices in this song that fight against each other; the strings and the solo violin, the two contrasting voices, different rhythms, and styles. More than anything, it is a piece of high tension, and is just another step in building up to the tragic and dramatic ending of The Moulin Rouge.

"Children of Eden"

"Children of Eden" from the Broadway Show "Children of Eden"
Music by Stephen Schwartz

Act 1 of "Children of Eden" tells the story of Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel. This amazing chorus number is the final song of the act. Eve comes out. She is now an old woman. Adam has died. She introduces her third son, Seth, who is married with Children. Father returns to Eve and tells her that Cain is still alive. Eve tries to ask more questions, but Father dissapears. Eve gathers the grandchildren together and tells them that this is her last harvest. In the song, "Children of Eden", Eve and the company dream of the day when they will return to their true home, Paradise.
All of the music that Stephen Schwartz composed for "Children of Eden" is gorgeous, but this song stands out the very most to me. It begins with only Eve singing. The tempo is a nice rubato, and the chords underneath the melody are simply block chords played on the piano that compliment the vocal part. Both Eve and the piano are at a nice mp dynamic. In the 10th measure, the time signature changes from 4/4 to 3/4 and the tempo picks up slightly. The piano begins playing arrpegiated chords rather than block chords, which makes Eve's message sound even more urgent and important.
Halfway into the piece, the key changes. With the key change comes a change in the density of the accompaniment. The arpeggiated chords stop, and full sounding chords with some dotted rhythms begin. The chords begin changing much more frequently.
My favorite part of the whole entire song is when the chorus comes in, and the accompaniment stops, creating a beautiful accapella section. The harmonies are stunning. The inner voice parts move around a lot, and the use of counterpoint is great. While the chorus holds the melody, Eve sings a descant above them. I find the beautiful combination of the voices to be very moving. The lyrics state: "Children of Eden, where is our garden? Where is the innocence we can't regain? Once eyes are opened, must those eyes harden? Lost in the wilderness must we remain? Children of Eden, try not to blame us, we were just human too error prone. Oh Children of Eden, you will reclaim us. You and your children to come. Someday you'll come home."
When the accompaniment begins again, it is not just piano, but the whole orchestra. The dynamic marking is forte and the sound is so full to the end, creating the perfect final moment for act 1.

"Sweet Baby James" by James Taylor

To most listeners "Sweet Baby James" seems like a fairly simple campfire song, but in fact it takes an experienced guitarist like James Taylor to play and sing it so perfectly. The introduction gives the song it's folkish feel with a popular country riff, a walkdown from some predominant chord to a seventh chord of sorts. The verse starts with a tonic chord that is mirrored by the melody of the song; "There-is-a-young..." which when translated to solfege is "sol-do-mi-sol...", respectively. The next chord is definitely a dominant chord which possibly goes to a predominant. That seems backwards as far as classical music is concerned but of course James Taylor can do whatever he pleases if it sounds nice. I am not so sure about the other chords, but it is easy to hear that the chords change quite often throughout every line of the song. Speaking of the lines of the song there are two verses each followed by a chorus that uses the same chords as the verses but in different orders. The chords that stand out the most are the seventh chords that he lets hang at the end of a few lines because they sound as if they need to resolve. The song is beautifully accompanied by a piano, slide guitar or pedal steel, a bass of sorts, and percussion. The percussion doesn't join in until the first singing of the chorus. The song has a waltz sound because of it's one-two-three, one-two-three beat.
This song is my favorite James Taylor work. He has a high voice so it's easy for him to sing his melodies, but otherwise most men have a hard enough time singing his stuff and even harder time when they are trying to play guitar at the same time, keeping in mind all of the rapidly changing chords. To me this song is extremely comforting as Taylor sings about the man who sings this song to himself in order to fall asleep. It's a song that a mom or dad could use to rock their crying baby to sleep. James Taylor's poetic song writing skills make the lyrics sing beautifully so that anyone could paint his picture in their mind. This song has the potential to really connect with the listener if they give it a try.

"Ice Cream", Sarah Mclachlan

I love this song. Let's just start off with that. I'm currently listening to a live version. The song starts with a screaming audience (so of course the listener feels like they should like immediately like the song too) above a syncopated drum pattern. Simple chords come in on a rhythm guitar with the lyrics of "do do do do do" and other random sounds. Its very relaxed, and I find it to be very calm--in a very 'real' sense. I mean really, what sound do we sing more than 'do'? I feel like Sarah was just trying to be really honest with this song--lighthearted, and easy to relate to. She then says "Your love is better than ice cream". Let me tell you something--we girls love our ice cream...and so to say that someone is better than ice cream--well that's a big compliment. --but again, Sarah is being real-I can relate to her feelings on ice cream, so I in turn feel like I can relate to her feelings about this person's love.

Tonally the piece feels sort of ambiguous at times. The song is in a major key, but many of the phrases end on a ii7. This (to me) implies a half cadence, the V is implied, i guess. The guitar breaks between verses and choruses are your typical I-ii7-V. Anyway, I love it that she doesn't really resolve it during the verses. The song seems like a bunch of random thoughts, half-thoughts even, and she just started playing chords. We then break into another chorus of "do do dos". How great is this?

So yeah, I like Sarah Mclachlan, I like ice cream, and I like this song. I feel like she's honest and real...and those are things that I can admire in a singer.

"This is the Moment" from Jekyll and Hyde

From the Original Broadway Cast recording

Maybe not the best song in the show, but probably the most widely known; I love this song for it's anthem-like quality. Dr. Jekyll sings this before he tests his breakthrough formula, he's convinced that all of his work has lead to this moment. Just like "Music of the Night" it starts without introduction, a whisper of song, growing in strength and intensity as the song progresses. Low drum beats and a bassline-fueled melody add this overall grand nature of the piece. The piano accompanimet is very chordal, letting the solo voice to carry the momentum forward. Tremolos in the strings add a sense of urgency. Building throughout the first and second verse, a cascading drumbeat and the entrance of horns bring us to the third verse, where the song takes off. The bass line continues with a number of leading-tone chords up and down, really pulling the listener along. Before the final verse we change keys from E major to F major, cranking up the intensity as the singer hits strident high G's to punctuate the joy of a lifetime of work paying off.

The basic harmonic structure of this piece is I7-ii7-I7-vi-iii7-ii7-V-ii7-V repeating over and over. Notice the circle of fifths progression which helps drive the song along. With inversions the bass often moves stepwise between those chords, lending even more to the anticipation of the piece. The orchestra arrangement is very full because of the use of many 7th chords, which also create interesting dissonances, perhaps foreshadowing that this "moment" might not be as perfect as Jekyll thinks it is.

Emotionally this piece is one of those that I put on when I'm in (or want to be in) a great mood. This song is an "everything is right with my world" anthem. I may have had a hard day, or something is trying my patience, but after I pull through my moment will come.

"the sinister minister" by Bela Fleck and the Flecktones

This tune has been on my playlist for awhile, and it starts out w/ a really catchy groove by probably the best bassist in the world, Victor Wooten. Gradually the banjo comes in (Bela Fleck) and jams for a while. Bela Fleck and the Flecktones is one of my favorite bands, because they arrived at a time when audiences were becoming a little more daring with their musical choices. Fans were ready for a new and innovative sound, music that went beyond the boundaries. A band consisting of piano, bass, banjo, harmonica and drumitar (really called a synth-axe, played by Wooten's brother) sounded really refreshing.