Friday, February 25, 2005


I know what you are thinking... oh my gosh! This isn't a broadway show tune!! But never fear kids, it was still written by broadway composer Frank Wildhorn, and sung by who is now his ex wife, Linda Eder.
This is such a powerful song. It is all about the time these two people spent in Vienna, and how it was the best time of this woman's life. It opens up with strings playing what is a recurring motive throughout the song. It is bases on a I V vi I IV V I progression. It is a moderate tempo, but when the vocals come in, the tempo slows down to be moderately slow. The melody is really what makes this song gorgeous. It starts out so low and soft, and the range gradually gets higher. The moderate tempo and the stepwise melody over the sustained chords in the base gives the song a reminiscent feeling as she sings about her memories from Vienna. The first 2 verses are sung before the refrain happens.
The refrain is written for the very middle of Linda Eder's range, which means she can belt like crazy. This belting and the change in range is really what makes the song so powerful. The refrain builds and builds, and then we go back and get the 3rd verse, which is again soft and reminiscent. We then get the refrain again, which is belted even more passionately. The orchestra is playing forte at this point. The last line sung is very touching. The lyrics are, "It was the best time of my life" and there is a big formatta on time. The orchestra then plays the motive seen in the opening to finish things up.

Rachmaninov: Sonata for Cello & Piano in G Minor II. Allegro scherzando

Rachmaninov: Sonata for Cello & Piano in G Minor II. Allegro scherzando

This movement is amazing with extreme contrasting sometimes every couple measures. It starts out very intense staccatos in the piano which gives the vision of a field of soldiers marching towards each other. This rather harsh staccato A section returns in bits and pieces throughout the rest of the piece mingling with very opposite sounding sections. The B section of this piece is an absolutely beautiful flowing section. Where as the piano lead a lot during the first section the cello has taken over for the B section. Wow…Yo-yo Ma is WONDERFUL!!!! I love the sound of the cello soooooooo much, and he paints such vivid pictures in your head through his music. I’m in complete awe right now… Okay…moving on. After the A and B section have been played each once through…. Rachmaninov then enters the A section again for a short period before going back into the very floating, light B type section but seems to be too different from the B section so I would consider it a C section. Still with the light feeling but not as much leaping..more step wise motion. In this C section I feel as though I am a soldier that was jsut shot and killed. There is just such a sense of tranquility, and peacefulness that just leaves you speachless. Then, there is a very interesting transition at the end of this section where there is a scale going up and the music gets to sounds a little harsh by the way Ax and Ma are playing it…trying to get you to think we are moving back into the scary A section, and for a second you feel like it was just a trick, and really you were going now where, but then he goes through with it after a short hesitation. The A section plays a little again, and then back into the dramatic contrasting B section to really mix your emotions up again, and before you know it he has worked his way back into the A section. It is a constant flip flop. Now exchanging every other two measures it seems before he finally ends the piece with a very soft development of the A section. Craziness, I don’t know what to feel after that one…except for love for the cello, and how amazingly they can make music.

Forever- The Beach Boys (With Uncle Jesse)

Ok, so you all remember that episode of Full House where Jesse is going to marry Becky and he wants to go sky diving first and gets stuck in a tree and is late to his wedding? Right. Well also at the wedding (when he finally gets there) he sings this song to Becky. AND he later makes a music video out of it with the Beach Boys and "goes on tour". Sweet.
Not only is this song repetitive, melodic, and catchy but it brings me back to those days when the highlight of my weekend was watching Full House on TGIF and having sleep-overs with my friends. With simple progressions, touching words, and a little piano solo (it turned into an electric guitar solo when he made the music video out of it.) it even brought a tear to my eye when I was 8 and thought boys had cooties.
I'm not going to steer you wrong though, this was NOT the best episode of Full House, but this was definitely the best song that came out of it. The rest of the songs that came out of Uncle's Jesse's band (Jesse and the RIPPERS) were crap. Total. Crap.
There ya go...your daily dose of childhood flashbacks courtesy of ME!
(and if you're really in the mood to relive your childhood Uncle Jesse crush...go to it is BEYOND hysterical.)

Fire --The Rain, Ghazal, Persian and Indian improvisations

This CD (The Rain) is composed of three major improvisations (artists Kayhan Kalhor and Shujaat Husain Khan), this is the first one. It begins over a traditional drone...and the melody langoriously develops, as the piece moves into its later stages, it uses repeated and constantly stretched out melodic sweeps over an increasingly fluid and dynamic rhythmic texture--halting every now and then and then beginning moves out and out as though one were riding into the night, but it stays warm and close--the sitar is a very versatile instrument and can change the texture from relatively monophonic to a lushious waterfall of notes. The music builds over rhythmic cycles. It's hard to divide this piece up into form due to its improvisatory and mulitcultural nature (as it combines both persian and indian techniques). Towards the end it calms again and the volume decreases. Melodically it seems to end unresolved (like in a sort of ti). I wonder how it symbolizes fire. Perhaps it is the leaping flame that the rhythmic inventiveness represents (though it doesn't go too far), perhaps the repeated and subtly altered melodic gestures evoke the image of sweeping flames flickering there and next roaring up into the sky. There is a lack of real melodic venture in it compared to the following piece (Dawn)...I suppose I picture it as a night fire in the desert whose flames entrance the contemplating soul. When dawn comes, the new light is like the intrusive and flowing melodies that cause the soul to stir again from its reverie.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Time Warp Dance-Rocky Horror

Ok, so drastically different music than from the previous post...this is 1950's boogie woogie jerry lee lewis style music. The written out notation for this music is basically just chord symbols with a few rhythms here and there. It is written in a verse then chorus structure, I guess making it a binary form. It does modulate...pick a key, any key....and gives a lot of room for interpolation and improvisation. As crazy as the words (and whole plot of the story frankly...damnit, janet..) are, the piece is rather enjoyable, melodic and catchy and I liked it. It also uses some blues and dorian scales....flat 3,5, and 7 (blues) and flat 3 and 7 (dorian). Take a step to the left...

"You Don't Know Me" by Ray Charles

Just got finished watching Ray, which EVERYONE should go out and see, it's very very good.

This is such a beautiful song, full of sadness and melancholy. How he accomplishes this entirely within a major key is a credit to his genius. He accomplishes it with non-chord tones and elaboration beyond the basic chord structure. Like a lot blues/jazz songs we have verse,verse,bridge, etc. structure. We start with a 4 measure introduction, just extending out a dominant chord, building anticipation until the first tonic chord comes in. Like River of Dreams, which I analyzed earlier, we have a basic blues progression, I-IV-I-V structure. The verse is in two phrase groups. The first phrase group ends with deceptive motion extending it out, as Ray adds a small tag line ("you don't know me") as the progression ends in a half cadence, which leads right back into our second verse. This verse repeats the same progression as the first up to the deceptive cadence, instead we have an imperfect authentic figure, then repeat the dominant, before our perfect authentic cadence. This could be construed as a long period, but I feel that the separate feel of the verses seems to weaken the feel of consistancy. The perfect authentic cadence is short lived, as we quickly move into a new section, our bridge, with a modulation to the dominant key, transitioning easily by sequencing a two-handed scale pattern, adding a raised 4th as a leading tone to our dominant key. The bridge introduces new material, distinguishing it from the verses (our "B" section for form purposes) . This section cannot be conisidered a full phrase, since once again we modulate back to our original key and end on a half cadence. We only have one verse figure here (the second figure, ending on a PAC again). Once again the bridge is in the dominant key, modulating on the next-to last measure back to our original. Now we have a "Manilow-esque" key change, simply modulating up a half step as we take the half-cadence back to a final verse. Once again we repeat the second verse form, ending on a PAC and fading away.

Wow, this song just brings up so emotion in me, it's like walking through a smoke-filled dance floor to see the person of your dreams dancing with your worst enemy. But it's not a jealousy thing, it's more of you love them so much you just want them to be happy, even at your own expense. This song just reminds me of a lot of things I've gone through in my life...

Mozart, German Dance No. 1 K. 586

This piece is a very simple dance tune.

The first section begins with the violins doing eighth notes with the other strings quarter notes in a 3/4 feel that arrives at a HC after 4 measures. Then the rest of the orchestra joins in with the accompaniment doing strong downbeats and gives the music a driving force to the PAC in the eighth measure. And being dance music, this section repeats again.

The next section maintains the same feel but this time the tutti keeps the accompaniment and the violin melody changes pitch though not feel. Once again this section has a half cadence and a PAC, and once again it repeats.

The next section has a total change in mood, which is emphasized by the melody switching away from fairly stacatto eighth notes to a crecendo slur from sol to do. It switches from a slightly march feel (though 3/4 will never sound like a true march) to a feel more of a waltz. The tutti drops out and it is just strings except some long tones from the woodwinds. And, of course, a half cadence followed by a PAC and then it repeats.

The next section stays in the same mood but has a very neat short round section with the violins playing the melody in the first and third bars and the violas echoing that melody in the second and fourth bars, and ends on a HC. The next four bars just plays around the tonic and dominant arriving at a PAC, and once again it repeats.

The first section returns again and is repeated, followed by a return of the second section which is repeated.

I was very surprised at the simplicity of this piece (I only chose it because it was a fairly short Mozart on Naxos) , but then when I thought about it, the only real purpose of this music was for dance, and the dance music of today is quite simple too.

Symphony No.2 in D Op.36 III. Scherzo. Allegro

Cleveland Orchestra

Overall, after listening to the piece, I would have to give it a rounded binary form. The A section has an expository and translational function, the B section a developmental to terminative function. The piece begins with a heavy metric accent on one. Two follows with a triplet rhythm. The tempo is brisk, and in a major key. The extreme contrast in metric accent (between one and two) helps to create a compound duple time signature. The triplet rhythm serves not only as a way to establish metric accents but also to lead up to the repetition of the heavy metric accent on the beginning of the next phrase. The difference in timbre between the first and second beats only add to the contrast, the first beat being largely brass and the second strings (with a very soft dynamic). Combined, these elements have an effect of establishing a joyous texture, and the repetition of it also helps establish it as the motive. This motive, which is a total of two phrases long, is repeated twice. Because the heavy metric accent on one is heard four seperate times, it establishes a sort of pulse. The next section is a developmental one on the triplet, softer aspect of the theme. It also serves a translational function back to a repetition of the theme. After hearing the heavy metric accent at the beginning four seperate times, it would have been too monotonous to not break the theme. The theme is also a parallel period, I think, - it is organized very much like one (just repeated) but I wasn't sure of the cadences. The end of the second time the theme is repeated, (after it has been through the developmental function) enters a translational function where it modulates. It then enters a more melodic, developmental function. The B section ends with a more terminative function back to the original key and theme, ending on an IAC. There are many developmental functions throughout the piece that made it more difficult to put a definate structure to it. I liked the ending, it seemed to sort of combine all these functions, still managing to create the main theme, and end in on an effect PAC. Overall, the piece seemed to use a lot of timbre contrasts and rhythm contrasts. There was the liter, more melodic theme, and the heavy brass metric accent, that sort of fell randomly but created a nice structure.

Embraceable You - Gershwin

The introduction is very arpeggiated, then it turns to a more melodic+accompaniment arrangement. Then it is extremely chordal but still follows the classic melodic line. It has many runs in the treble. About half way through the piece it has this more bouncey jazz feeling to it. Ah, the lovely run with parallel octaves. It's absolutely stunning. I also have an appreciation for this because I can hardly reach an octave on the piano. It has many variations on the melody, adding and taking away from a jazz style. And the ending is just magnificent. The cadential extension is amazing.

"America" by Paul Simon (Simon and Garfunkel)

"America" is one of my favorite Simon and Garfunkel songs. It begins with Simon and Garfunkel humming. One voice is humming mi-mi-mi-re-do-re-mi-do and the other starts on do and sings harmony, possibly do-ti-la-so and the some harmony parallel in motion. This phrase is repeated with the addition of some pick up lead guitar notes. The song sounds as if it could be in three-four time. Percussion comes in on the third beat and each beat of the next measures and then Simon begins to sing on the down beat. Paul Simon sings all of the verses in this song and the melody throughout. Garfunkel is the harmonizer and adds the high harmony heard throughout the entire song normally entering on the second line of the verses. The verse begins, "Let-us-be-lovers," which could be "do-mi-la-sol" with the la acting as a sort of appoggiatura. The chord progression seems to move downward at least you can hear the bass playing a definite walk down the scale, sort of resembling the harmony humming part from the introduction. There are at least four verses, we'll say five, with the first and fourth having the same structure, melodically and symmetrically. An organ comes in with the second verse which is very short and an interesting clarinet(or other wind instrument) solo plays, the notes sounding very foreign to the key of the song, comes in before the third verse. At this point the organ plays chords and the clarinet melody may be heard behind the verse. The fourth verse repeats the first verse but with different words. By this we could say that this piece is round. There are some added accompanying ooohs done by Garfunkel. The last "verse" of the song is more of an extension of sorts. Also, the intrumental part at the end is very similar to that of the beginning.
Simon and Garfunkel are so enjoyable to listen to because of their voices and seemingly natural ability to harmonize with each other. Their voices are actually very different in range, tone, and over all sound. Simon's is lower and fuller, more tough sounding while Garfunkel's is high and softer. Their contrast creates a very nice effect that makes the harmonies sound wonderful. Their balance between lea and supporting vocals is also very impressive. The beginning of the song, the two of them humming, caught my attention the instant I first heard the song. Simon's simple story telling along with their improvement on folkish songs is the best part.

"Island Stomp" Michel Camilo

This is another song I listen to to be cheered up. It uses primarily major chords, has an upbeat tempo, and the grooves are awesome.

I think there may be a connection between syncopation and feeling a stronger pulse. Lots of time, listening to Latin music, I feel more inclined to bob my head, dance, or tap my foot to the rhythm. However, when I listen closely to the individual parts, most of the parts are playing something quite syncopated. For example, the bass player is playing this rhythm (this is the best notation I could come up with on Blogger - the lines are above beats on which the bass plays):

1 e + a 2 e + a 3 e + a 4 e + a

Comparing this to rock music, where the bass player would never play in between eighth notes, this rhythm is highly syncopated. However, the pulse of Latin music feels stronger than most rock music, or at least it's more 'groovy'.

This effect can be seen in basic rhythms of Latin music, like the rumba clave:

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

This rhythm forms the basis for tons of grooves in Latin musical styles that are intended for dance (an thus have a very strong pulse), yet it is syncopated.


debussy childrens corner

i was very intrigued by the title of this movement from debussy's childrens corner called "golliwogs cakewalk." either that or i can only ever think about cake.
this piece has a cute little introduction before it dives into the first exposition melody. this first melody is jumpy and jazzy. the pianist uses quite a bit of rubato, so eve though the bass line keeps the beat, the rhythmic constancy is a bit uneasy. but isnt that to be expected of debussy's music?
the melody of this first section ends in a nice PAC, emphazised by the tonic note in both the bass and soprano lines. the next section is much slower and extremely expressive. i would not call it developmental because it does not continue working with the primary melody, but it transitions into the final section with an accelerando (a very cool effect). the next section is the return of the exposition...

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Coldplay- "Yellow"

This song is very relaxing and melancholy, recalling his past experience with the girl. It keeps the same texture, dynamic, and tempo throughout. There is not a whole lot of excitement in the tone, but it nevertheless keeps your attention throughout the whole song. There is a sort of meditative, transient quality in the guitar ostinato, which repeats the same note over and over for the duration of each phrase. It goes through a pattern of 4 notes, changing in each new phrase. The structure is loosely ABA. Section A includes a melodic motive that repeats throughout. Each phrase group includes three phrases and each falls back into the same ending, “it was all yellow,” and guitar plays alone to indicate the break. This section expository, introducing and repeating the same phrase. There are three identical phrase groups with different lyrics. Then it transitions to the short B section, which goes up in range, developing on the A section by repeating a similar motive a few times. There is then a short transition on the guitar until returning to the original A section motive.

Harry Connick Jr. Sovereign Lover

Harry Connick Jr. Sovereign Lover

Do-te-sol-le is the repeating bass line at the beginning an then continuing throughout the song whenever the A section returns. Along with the bass line is the drum set keeping for most of the song a clear beat on the top hat, and a piano with the main theme, and occasional improv. Solos. The middle/end of the song has saxophone doing what seems to be mostly improve, and ends with some of the piano theme to lead the piano back in for the A section repeated for the end. This is just a really fun song. Its upbeat tempo, syncopation, and awesome improv solos keep the song constantly moving forward.

Act I Die Walkure

I listened to Act I of Wagner's opera Die Walkure. Abit different orchestration and subject wise from Das Rheingold, this opera deals with the topics of incest and love. The orchestration is predominately strings (except for that dang sword motive that the trumpet just KEEPS on blasting...) The colors are very rich and melodic and probably the closet Wagner gets to actually writing songs in all four operas. The music is very passionate and emotional, but consistently moving and telling the story. This is Wagner's whole idea of Gesamstkunstwerke in that the music is supporting the actual show part and the show part is supporting the music. Wagner uses musical motivic cells to represent different characters, things, events, and emotions and these are heard throughout Act I. The Valhalla motive is played dicretely by the orchestra when Sieglinde is discribing the wandering man named Walse (who is really Wotan in disguise). The sword motive is played when Seigmund sees the sword in the ash tree. I think i said this before, but I never really had much of an appreciation for Wagner's music, but I think that is because I never tried to understand it. Now that I am studying it, I find it to be an ingenious masterpiece equivocable to great literary and art masterpieces. It's just amazing how every little piece fits together and flows to create this gargantuan work. Just brilliant, I am in awe.....

"Far From The Home I Love" from Fiddler on the Roof

Music by Jerry Bock. Original London Cast Recording.
In this song, Hodel is trying to explain to her father that she is moving away to be with Perchik. I am mostly going to address the structural phenomena in the piece because that's what keeps this song from being simple and boring.
The constant shifting of tonality between the keys c minor and C major is significant in keeping things interesting. The first 8 measures are in c minor, and then we have 8 more measures of the melody in C Major. At the bridge, it remains in C Major for 8 more measures. When the melody returns, we return to c minor for 8 measures, back to C Major for 4 measures, and then the last 7 measures are in c minor.
Another important use of structural phenomena is the changing meter between common time and cut time. This helps to vary the rhythm a little bit and keeps the song from getting too predictable. It is especially effective at the climax of the song during the bridge. The meter switches to common time, and it is in 4, so it slows down slightly, helping the phrase to stand out as important as Hodel sings, "Helpless now I stand with him, watching older dreams grow dim."
The melody is very simple and mostly stepwise, and because it is simple, it is memorable and easy for the listener to get into his or her head. My only problem with this song is that it never really goes anywhere. It's biggest climax is at the end of the bridge... and really the only exciting this that happens is the vocal line is held at a D above middle C and the meter changes. But, this is typical of most of the music in Fiddler. It is very simple, but very memorable.

"Forever Young" by Alphaville

Wow...doesn't this "slow-dance" song just remind you of the social awkwardness of a high school formal dance during the 80's (or during the puffy-sleeve era)? For those of you who are Napoleon Dynamite understand. Anyway, "Forever Young" is all synthesizer (of course), and the lead singer has the standard British accent reminiscent of all 80's bands.

It starts off at a fairly moderate tempo, with the synth. playing mostly pedal tones with a kind of horn sound effects with some improvisational qualities in the string voices. Then it accelerates after the first chorus, and then the drums come in with a very inspirational solo...then after the second chorus the horns on the synthesizer break into a very arpeggiated solo that ends the song. I actually really liked the lyrics, so I'm going to share them with you...!!!

"forever young, I want to be forever young, do you really want to live forever-forever, and ever...
Some are like water, some are like the heat
Some are a melody and some are the beat,
Sooner or later, they all will be gone
Why don't they stay young?

It's so hard to get old without a cause
I don't want to perish like a fading horse
Youth's like diamonds in the sun
and diamonds are forever."

"Magnetic Fireflies" by Augusta Reed Thomas

Considering the house composer for the Chicago is coming to town next week, I thought I might blog a bit about her.
So this piece is crazy...well, maybe not so much in comparison to her other chamber works for band, but still pretty crazy. Throw out your form and analysis crap, here comes set theory. She uses a lot of cluster chords, giving the piece an unsettling harmonic feel. There is one thing in common though, D. D is found throughout the entire piece, and even concludes into nothingness with a unison D. There are some melodic motives, especially in the higher instruments, such as the trumpet. These glimpses of melody dissapear as quickly as they appear, and often morph into new sounds and harmonies. There are not the kind of melodies one would be whistling home to. She often plays with the colors of instruments, instructing such instruments such as the piccolo to play "brassy." How does a piccolo play brassy? (I don't know, don't ask) Thomas has a nack with interweaving complex rhythmic ideas, using quintuplets, other difficult rhythms, and flutter tonguing to create a schizophrenic band sound. Triple and duple rhythms are mixed together, giving the player something to concentrate on. The end with all instruments, extra percussionists, and director going crazy leads to a climatic conclusion of the piece.
Not gonna lie, I'm not a huge fan of Augusta Reed Thomas. I feel her music is too high pitched, not pleasant to listen to, nor enjoyable to play. It does kinda/sorta sound cool at times, especially with instruments mimicking the solo trumpet. Unfortunately, this still would not be my choice in band literature, give me Lincolnshire Posy any day of the week.

i will not take these things for granted

Here's a little Toad the Wet Sprocket for all of you

So Toad got it right with their song. It begins with a solo guitar as the lead singer ever-so-honestly confesses "one part of me just wants to tell you everything, one part just needs the quiet". it goes on being just the voice and guitar even through the first chorus. They keep it simple, which really gets my attention. As the verses continue, they add some percussion. By the second verse the guitar is strumming on the downbeats with slight background percussion. By the repeat of the intro-chorus (B section) the all of the band is playing. There is still one voice, however, until the third reprise of the chorus. I suppose the solo voice conveys more honesty. wow...i'm really on an honesty kick here.

some lyrics that i hope you will enjoy:

"one part of me just wants to tell you everything
one part just needs the quiet
and if i'm lonely here, i'm lonely here
and on the telephone
you offer reassurance
i will not take these things for granted"

have a good night, everyone.

Josh Groban - Remember When It Rained

In general, this piece is short in terms of the amount of lyric content but is lengthened by instrumental interludes and long drawn out oooos and whoahs. After an instrumental introduction, we are given one of the two verses. This one has simple accompaniment and my attention stays with the lyrics the for the entire section. Then comes the chorus, which is followed by a short instrumental transition section that leads into the second verse. This is probably the most interesting part of the song for me because I like the way the orchestra and vocal parts fit together. The orchestra adds more depth than with the previous verse. The beat is also layed out much more clearly by the constant percussive background. I'm not sure that I like this component of it in itself, but I guess when looked at as a whole, it adds to the idea of the section having a new sound. Another round of the chorus follows, but immediately after that we hear the words, "running down" repeated about 7 or 8 times. As monotonous as this may sound when explaining it, it really doesn't actually sound that way to me because it seems like a melody in itself and it gradually cresecendos. Another favorite part of mine is this next piano solo/orchestral section. The piano part plays with the tempo of the piece a bit and I think it's a refreshing change, a new sound that hasn't been heard at all up until this point. The remainder of the piece consists of 'ooooos' being sung in the melody of the chorus, then switching to actual words for the last couple lines.

Haydn Symphony no. 45 mvt IV "Farewell"

Haydn Symphony no. 45 mvt IV "Farewell"

The movement starts out in minor with most motivic gestures occurring in the strings. Many sixteenth note runs, as well, as 8th-two 16th gestures. Many orchestrations are audible as the texuture of full strings and woodwinds are passed back and forth. Sometimes when I listen to the Haydn symphonies of his second compositional period I hear moments of Brahms. I know that Brahms was a very high respecter of Haydn's works, hence Haydn variations. Much repitition is used to continually bring back the main motivic gesture played by the strings at the beginning. As it is repeated more and more the accompaniment and texture changes slightly each time. For instance the horn is added. A second theme occurs after a very strong structural phenomanon of unison, triad, forte, and cadence. The second theme/section is played. All the rhythms are in triple divisions suggesting maybe a complex meter. The texture is much more deep now. The violins are playing in a lower register and the horns, oboes, and woodwinds are playing a large chordal role, lowering the overall tessatura of the section. This sounds very Brahms like to me. A development period takes place as a cello solo is playing the main rhythmic gesture as the violins develop the main progression. The beginning of the section is repeated but this time with less orchestration and density. The violins are playing in a chamber style. No woodwinds are playing. A violin solo then soars above the texture. As the mood continually gets more serene the listener can definately feel the sense of "farewell" to whom or whatever. The orchestration and instrumentation continually gets less and less as the violin solo is the last to play and finally dies off. This must have been CRAZY to do in Haydn's time period. Also what he did that probably caused massive riots, is that he ended both the second and third movements on IAC's. Pretty strange. Sorry for the double post...going from aim to blogger somtimes messes up my memory as to what button performs what function.

Haydn Symphony no. 45 mvt IV "Farewell"

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

"Decomposing Composers" by Monty Python

This is a comedic song based on the fun word play about decomposing composers. The lyrics mention several composers and about how they can't do things living people can, and that while we can hear them, they can't hear us.

With the song being about composers, it makes perfect sense to use actual orchestral music as backup, which is what Monty Python does, using several quotes, but only a couple of which I recognize.

For the parts of the song that the lyrics are sung, the chordal movement is the same as Pachelbel's Canon with similar string instrumentation. However, there is an original melody which is put on top of this chord structure. After an introductory period of just the strings, the original melody is sung on top of this. The next period stays with the overall chord structure, but the strings have much more freedom doing scalar runs within the structure.

Then the music is interrupted by the famous motive of Beethoven's Fifth, which takes a comical role because the instruments glissando down after this motive. It is then repeated in sequence up the scale until it reaches the tonic chord of the original part and the piano does some scalar runs which goes into a repetition of the initial vocal section.

After this the singer just does speaking vocals about the dead composers and there are a whole range of probably classical pieces that I don't recognize. I found one website that said part of it was from "Swan Lake" but I can't confirm that.

Beyond the comical wordplay of decomposing composers, it is really interesting to hear new melodies applied to existing chordal structures and doing some comic play with classic works of music.

"Summer Girls"- LFO (that stands for Light Funky Ones, for those that are not boy band enthusiasts)

Well...all I have to say is this song is light and funky INDEED. With a simple melody sung in unison by all the Light Funky Ones its very easy to sing along with the chorus. BUT the part that is NOT easy to sing along with is the actual verses which are rapped by the lead singer. The story of his relationship with a "summer girl" alternates with random lines for rhyming purposes. LFO is so cool that they can't write a rhyming verse without the use of irrelevant topics. I will include a verse for your pleasure:
Hip Hop Marmalade spic And span,
Met you one summer and it all began
Your the best girl that I ever did see,
The great Larry Bird Jersey 33
When you take a sip you buzz like a hornet
Billy Shakespere wrote a whole bunch of sonnets
Call me Willy Whistle cause I can't speak baby
Sumthin in your eyes went and drove me crazy
Now I can't forget you and it makes me mad,
Left one day and never came back
Stayed all summer then went back home,
Macauly Culkin wasn't Home Alone
Fell deep in love,but now we ain't speakin
Michael J Fox was Alex P Keaton
When I met you I said my name was Rich
You look like a girl from Abercrombie and Fitch

WOW...if that's not poetic genius I don't know what is. A verse that contains both Alex P. Keaton and Macauly Culkin is TOP NOTCH in my book. I like this song because it takes me back to my sixth grade boy-band obsessed years. It's a happy song, even though it's about sad always lifts me up to know Billy Shakespere wrote a whole buncha sonnets.

Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King."

I'm sure most music students know who "The 5 Browns" are. They are five siblings who have all made it into Julliard on piano. I got their CD for my birthday so I have to write about the last piece. It is for 5 pianos. It is Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King." I lost my earlier write up on it before I could get it typed so I'll try to remember most of what I said. The piece begins with a solo on the main theme. This is in the form of a phrase. It begins very slowly and softly. Then another piano takes this theme in a higher range while the first plays accompaniement. Next the the original period is played in the original key. Then both ranges of themes are played at the same time. Another range of the theme enters on top, then another, then another. Gradually, as more themes are added and piled, the tempo increases along with the dynamics. Everything heightens until the listener feels they are going to explode from such thick harmonic tension. Then all stops and there are big chords repeated by the melody. A contrary scale ends the piece. The intensity is definitely built through the increasing dynamics and speed. It's amazing that all 5 pianists stay so well together when the pianos have to be so far apart.

"Talk to Me" by Stephen Lynch

First of all, this song is NOT suitable for children it contains naughty words in abundance. That being said Stephen Lynch is actually has quite a flair for writing hilariously outrageous songs, this one is no different. The first section begins with a minor tonic chord for a vi-V-IV-I6 progression which is repeated, only with a Half cadence the second time through. This whole section is repeated, making it seem an inverse of a normal phrase (the IAC coming first, then a half cadence). Now from this introductory verse we go straight to the chorus. After a small pickup on the half cadence we get a I-V-IV-V progression which is repeatedthree times, now we have a small repetition an extension of the IV and V chords, before our PAC and return to our normal I-V-IV-V progression. Now we come in with the second verse, which mimics the chorus's progression until the fourth time repeating, where we just hold on the half cadence before returning to the chorus. This is pattern is repeated for 2 more choruses and verses until our final chorus. This final chorus proceeds as normal until the change on the extension, which now repeats the lyric from the second chorus, then the lyric from the third, finally the lyric from the first in a long cadential extension before our final PAC. This song the first time i heard it I nearly fell out of my chair laughing, then really got into how he would create tension by extending out cadences, really focusing in on the pull of a half cadence and using the music's own pull to add to the humor of the lyrics. An interesting interplay between words and music. I'd write them in here but it would not be very appropriate...

Nixon in China (John Adams) Act 1, scene 1

After the masterclass with Flummerfelt, I decided to investigate more on John Adams. I was pleasantly surpised when I first listened to this work. The underlying unity rests on a continuously played natural minor scale. This adds an air of mystery and allure and depth as other voices and tonalities harmonize and clash with the scale. It moves imperceptibly into the first sung (chorus) number of the opera "Soldiers of Heaven hold the sky" and the minor scale continues--though it begins to mutate and do different things which add a growing tension and interest. The scale drops out of the texture in the third section "The people are heroes now" and rhythmic dynamics increase as the chorus is doubled by the winds and later brasses to a melody that is driven by dotted notes and syncopations. The voices silence and a new theme emerges out of the low strings that is steadily picked up by the voices of the orchestra...building and building with deep percussion lows and alternating voices and brassy highs and all medlies of sound to subtle rhythmic variations--producing the effect of Wagner meets Phillip Glass. Then the music draws back and becomes more intimate for "Landing of the Spirit of '76"--interrupted by the first instance of recit. in the opera "Your flight was smooth, I hope?" The last section of scene one is called "News has a kind of mystery," and Adams brings back the themes and rhythmic adventures of "The people are heroes now," except now it is lead by two male human voices while the orchestra remains subdued beneath them. Adams uses a technique of repeating and breaking up the text and turning it also to rhythmic devise.

Depuis le Jour from "Louise" - Charpentier

The recording I have of this piece is of Renee Flemming, from her album "The Beautiful Voice." It is in Act II of the opera "Louise" where Louise (the main character) is in love with Julien. This song tells how her life has changed since moving in with Julien. She revels in his love for her and in her life which grows better everyday. This song is a very reflective piece. She's recounting the feeling of love she has for him. Her life right now is nothing but happiness.

haydn string quartet ok....GOSH

i'm sure eveyone who took music history last semester knows this piece very well--it's "the joke" movement from haydn's string quartet op. 33 no. 2. it's such a light, cute melody in rondo form, like most of haydns final string quartet movements. it is incredibly playful, usually uts a smily on my face. anyway, the music lays with the listeners expectations throughout the piece. the initial melody several times and repeats it over new chords (like the dominant seventh, which for a while remains unresolved). the piece modulatesto a flat major in measure 36, but then back to e flat major again by measure 99. there are several very clear PACs and half cadences--pretty darn tonal if you ask me. the ending is definitely the coolest part of this string quartet--because the listener thinks it has ended, but surprise! it hasn't, and then you feel just a little bit silly.

POULENC- Sextet for Piana and Wind Quintet - I. Allegro Vivace

Definately one of my favorite pieces for woodwind quintet. The Poulenc "Sextour" is quite a mouthfull for any quintet to swallow, but definately one of those pieces that you just love to play. Its very demanding, as far as technique with its complex rhythmic motives, mainly comprised of chromatic sixteenth note passages that end abruptly as they are handed off to other instruments.
This movement is almost a piece within itself. I always thought of it as four separate parts, in a A-B-Aprime-A-C type of form, thats a very broad perspective, but generally speaking, it works. It has this opening exposition that really presses the dynamics of the group, as well as their intuitiveness and rhythmic integrity right from the beginning, having to really listen and balance while playing some of the challenging rhythmic and technical things that come up. There is a frantic sense almost to the opening of the piece, accents are place in strange places, and there is A TON of syncopation throughout the opening.
The B kind of section completely changes character and becomes this largo, processional-like section using extremely chromatic melodic lines, and sometimes unstable harmonic backgrounds. One of my favorite parts is when the flute and oboe play an ascending chromatic scale starting on a c, and the flute is flutter tongueing, passing the melody off to the clarinet. This builds to a huge climax that has the piano playing tons of notes and building crescendos, that then quiets back down, at this point there is a huge usage of parallel fourths and fifths rather than thirds and sixths as Poulenc was starting to mess with traditional harmonies.
With the help of the bassoon bringing things into a little more bouncy mode, the main theme returns exactly the same as it was origninally presented for a short time, ending on this really strange clashy cadence, that carries into a march type of section with more strict, dotted eighth\sixteenths that give a military feel. The frantic nature that is so characteristic of the piece returns, though the exposition does not. The ending of the piece is entirely new material that could be thought of as a cadential extension or transition of some type, and the ending is very abrupt.
I can actually see how this could be a rounded binary form, because essentially there are two sections to the piece, an A and a B. The main theme returns in the original key.
Hopefully you all will eventually hear this played LIVE! :)

Sonata in B Minor for Tranverse Flute and Bass Continuo HWV 376

The Complete Wind Sonatas
The piece begins with an octave leap from do to lower octave do, with bass. This helps establish minor feel, and introduces the listener to the two octaves they will be exposed to. The first phrase begins with just bass, and introduces the theme of me-re-do-t-do-te-le-sol-do, the rhythm being a sixteenth dotted and dotted eighth. The accompanient mirrors the phrase to emphasize its importance. The rhythm is crucial to establishing the simple duple time signature, giving it a very definate, boxy feel. Although it would seem to be rigid, the constant repetition of the rhythm eventually creates a legato feel. The next phrase begins with sol-la-ti-do, again on the same rhythm, and reinforces do. It ends on an IAC, much like the first phrase. The third phrase begins by returning back to the theme; me-re-do..., and ends in a HC. The next phrase ends in a PAC, sort of bringing an end to the first half of the piece. I look at the second half as starting in this next phrase because the flute jumps to the upper octave. Because the rhythm and mode already have a dark effect on the piece, it sort of lightens up the style without losing the effect of the minor key. There are also more trills in this section, and it represents the main core of the piece as a whole. I couldn't make a complete organized sense of the phrase, but I did hear a lot of antecedent-consequent periods (contrasting). I think the phrases went something like IAC, PAC, IAC, HC, PAC, IAC, PAC. I heard 2 definate contrasting periods in the last four phrases. Overall, I liked the piece, I liked it simply because it had very monotonous rhythms. They seemed to create a very stable effect

Debussy Prelude from Book 1, "...La Fille aux cheveux de lin"

This Debussy prelude for piano is characterized by a beautiful melody, played in the right hand, accompanied by blocked chords in the left and right hands. The introduction of the piece is the melodic voice playing sol-mi-do-la-do-mi-sol-mi-do-la-do-mi-do-do-la-do which sounds very tonic even with the la. The accompanying parts come in at the end of the introduction's melodic phrase with a V-I chord progression, but the melody keeps going from the I chord so that it does not sound overly cadential or like a closed stopping point. The melody plays two chord tone pick up notes in preparation for the next phrase which is mostly blocked chords. The next phrase focuses more on the melody which has noticeable chord changes on the beat. The melody makes its way down the tonic scale to a low chord which then works itself back up the key board. Quite often in this portion of the piece, the chord is played and then the melody plays. Before this structure repeats itself, there is another random phrase where both hands are moving in parallel motion, changing chords together, to work their way a short distance down the piano. The next part, which I would call the B portion, definitely sounds as if it modulates. This is the loudest part of the piece and I call it the climax. Even though the chordal accompanying of the melody is similar to previous, the melody is completely different. After the climax, the resolution has an interesting, Asian sounding chord progression where both hands move in parallel motion. The transition section works so well that the modulation back to our original key is not overly noticeable. At this point the introduction from the beginning of the piece comes in an octave higher. A portion of the first section is played before the dominant chord is played in variations up the keyboard, before going to the tonic chord, creating a possible authentic cadence. The tonic octave is then played, one note at a time, starting with the lowest note and going up.
I enjoy the slow and beautiful, yet still happy sound, that this piece is able to create through it's tempo, rhythms, and chords. Every chord is played slowly and clearly so that the listener can receive the chords full tonal value. In English the title translates to "Girl with the flaxen (blonde) hair." Maybe when Debussy wrote this he had a certain girl in mind. The piece is overwhelmingly graceful, from the introduction to the climax and resolution. The end is most graceful and portrays the pieces naturally flowing, beautiful sound.

Monday, February 21, 2005

"Lodz" - Les Yeux Noirs (for Wednesday)

It’s another piece from my favority group at the moment, Les Yeux Noirs (The Black Eyes). Just to recap, Les Yeux Noirs is a Paris-based octet who creates their own unique sound, blending Manouche (French gypsy music) with Klezmer (Yiddish folk music). Their band name comes from a Russian Gypsy tune popularized in the 1930s by Belgian-born jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, an artist who is one of the band’s major musical influences. The album title, “Balamouk,” is Romanian for "house of the insane."

This song is called “Lodz.” A google search led me to a website on the Lodz ghetto in Poland, one of the more infamous Jewish ghetto during WWII. Lodz was a city in central Poland that held the second largest Jewish community in Europe, after Warsaw. About 230,000 Jews in Lodz suffered in the first large-scale ghetto organized by the Nazis. Eventually 25,000 more Jews and gypsies were transported to the Lodz ghetto. The band’s roots in Yiddish / gypsy music and this search are so close that the song would have to have been written with the ghetto in mind.

Before conducting this search, I had no idea that the song had anything to do with the Holocaust. However, I thought that the music exuded a sort of Schindler’s List-type feeling, with dramatic, virtuosic violins reminiscent of the film’s soundtrack. The song appropriately remains in the minor mode, and the melancholic nature of the violin is used to full effect in this piece.

The song begins with a violin duet between the two Slabiak brothers, Erik and Olivier. A double bass and accordion accompany a violin solo. The song is designed like a polka, with the bass playing on the first and third beats. The first section is most likely a phrase group: There are two parallel symmetric phrases, each ending on half cadences. This is followed by two contrasting symmetric phrases, with no obvious cadences. Another two contrasting symmetric phrases are played, with the last ending in a PAC. The end of this section is the first time that I heard tonic. This suggests the never-ending turmoil of those in the Lodz ghetto. They were thrown out of their homes, thrown into the cramped ghetto, and could not find their place under Nazi rule.

This section is repeated as a duet between the two violins, playing mostly in thirds. I’m starting to think that this harmonization is characteristic of Yiddish or gypsy music. One of the violins is heard improvising over the the main expository theme. Their playing becomes more dramatic and emotional - I want to use the term messa di voce, but I've only seen this term in connection with singing. It suggests that the performer crescendo and decrescendo through the held notes, and that's exactly what I hear going on. It's like the violins "bloom" in volume and in color.

The theme is repeated a third time, with additional strumming on the acoustic guitar. One violin plays alone. Only the accordion plays the final phrase.

Symphony no. 56 in C Major - Haydn

This piece is pretty typical of the late eighteenth century. First of all, it has many sudden contrasts - the opening statement, which is a loud, brassy arpeggio that sounds like a trumpet call, is immediately followed by two soft, flowing phrases. This is different from the Baroque, which rarely changed mood suddenly. Also, the presence of any contrast is also a change from Baroque music, in which composers solely expressed one mood.

Second, there is a lot of thematic material. Instead of taking one theme and developing it by adding voices, Haydn introduces new themes altogether.

Third, the focus is on natural-sounding, flowing phrases rather than technical virtuosity. Put more simply, it has a hummable tune. Whereas Baroque music was very intellectual and contrapuntal, this piece has simple, monophonic melodies that are enjoyable to the casual listener.

As a result, it made me feel very pleasant. After listening to Bach's preludes and fugues for organ, I understand why historians consider classical music to be more natural - it seems much more expressive and understandable.

"Noah Visits" from The Village soundtrack


Besides that, I thought I'd share with everyone a cool title theme to an interesting movie. I've always been drawn to the haunting quality of the solo violin. Very appropriate for a "scary movie." But it also has this longing sound to it. I particularly like how the solo violin changes into a fast rhythmic arpeggiation of the melody, while the rest of the symphony builds with intensity until the sudden ending. Periods are pretty distinct, but the orchestra does a good job of hiding cadences as they meld together phrase to phrase. One can notice the simple scalar patterns of the accompanimen which often mimic the soloist. Although the melody is often in the hands of the solo violin, the orchestra somtimes steals the spotlight, developing the theme in a more slow rhythmic fashion. In the second part of the title soundtrack, the Horn cries out amidst the theme. As the movie progresses, so does the music, the themes coinciding with what is happining to the characters.
This is a piece that is very hard to describe with words. It is so simple, yet so beatiful. It's the kind of music that one simply closes his or her eyes and relaxes into the sound.

Song from the Thracian Plain - Le Mystere des voix bulgares

First of all, whenever I listen to either CD of this Bulgarian State Radio and Television Female Vocal Choir, I really do convulse with ecstasy. This is track 10 of their first CD under this title. I have the second one too.

It begins with a native flute and some lower more orchestral voices. The flute gives way to a solo voice and underneath her an instrument that is rather common throughought the med. and near east (though I don't know its name--it's a string instrument struck with mallets) plays. Also a sort of bagpipe will elaborate on her melody as she sings. More orchestral voices also accompany her at times. Her melody is very frugal--it is simple and repeated, with long drawn-out notes hovering in a very narrow register. It doesn't even end cadentially. The melody is a traditional melody and just follows its own ebs and flows. But the way she uses her voice (the way the choir uses their voices) is at once both primal and eloquent. There is a deepness, a coarseness and a purity to the sound. There is a lot of chest voice in it and no vibrato.

Everytime I listen to them, I feel as though I can hear thousands of years of humanity echoing back into what is no longer remembered. Very little music has such effect on me.

Haydn: String Quartet, Op. 33 No. 2

Haydn is know as one of the greatest masters of the string quartets. String quartets were mainly composed for amateurs to play for their own pleasure, and in this certain quartet Haydn really shows his funny side, therefore, giving this quartet the nickname "The Joke". Haydn features the violin the most in this certain quartet, and repeats the main theme fairly often. It is a very light and playful melody. The ending is what I like the most about this piece and the reason it got it's nickname. Haydn trys to trick the listener into thinking the ending has come before it actually has. He composes a brand new section which seems just like a long sustained cadence, but from there he jumps back into the main theme of the piece. Then, you think you are done again because after the first phrase of the main theme is done, there is silence, but then it picks up where it left off. Then, back into silence. It does this untill the whole theme has been played through. You think it ends there, but then it plays that first phrase again and ends it there. Such a unique way to end a piece that really throws the listener off.

"The General" by Dispatch

Alright it's 1:30 in the morning and I just got off a plane from Texas, let's do this...

The General, a basic guitar, drums and bass song with the same progression throughout. We begin with a simple guitar intro, picking out an improvisational arpeggio of our basic chord progression (BbM-Fm-CM-Gm-Ebm-BbM-Fm). The guitar at first alternates picking and strumming, adding an ambiguous rhythmic structure to the piece, stretching and condensing our 4/4 meter. Upstrokes of the chords make for instability, as the tonic of the chord isn't hit until last. The verse is simply guitar an voice ( a rapid-fire delivery of the words with a lack of real tonal focus makes it more of a story with music). The bass and drums come in line for the bridge which speeds up our progression to double speed. The guitar know only offers an up-down double strum for each chord, and bass grwols out an octave below, while drums kick in on each down-beat. Now we return to our normal harmonic speed for the chorus, with a much gentler guitar and drum section and a downright tuneful melody, contrasting well with the machine-gun delivery of the verse. At the end of the chorus, we have a small turn in minor (Fm-F#m-Gm-CM-Gm-Fm) that's repeated twice before we return to our original progression. This pattern is repeated 3 more times (verse, bridge, chorus, turn) before we repeat the chorus a final time.

Closing Time by Hootie and the Blowfish

Oh the popular music! This song was written when there were only two men in the "band." It's set in a bar where a woman is sitting alone. The man is also sitting alone and drowning his sorrows. He notices the woman at the bar and wants to meet her, but he doesn't have the guts. The bar is about to close and there's a last call for drinks. He orders another one and checks for the woman, but she's nowhere to be found. He then falls in love with her. It's a very confusing song. I think it's funny that he keeps on saying that he hopes he won't fall in love with her and yet, it's when she leaves that he does fall in love with her. Very strange.

Journey in the Dark

I originally intended on listening to Howard Shore's rendition of this chapter in Tolkien's book but somehow I ended up listening to Johan de Meij's, so I listened to both. I definitely enjoyed de Maij's more but that also might have a lot to do with the fact that he was just composing and not trying to fit the action of a movie. de Maij's Journey in the Dark has steady drum beats throughout the entire first half of the piece. These begin very softly but grow to be quite loud. This creates the impression of the growing fear that danger is drawing closer. The brass and strings enter in seemingly random places toward the beginning of the piece and woodwinds join in a bit later. And impending feeling of mystery and danger. Then at about 1/4 of the way through, the dynamics grow and this feeling intensifies. 1/2 of the way through, the entire piece shifts to a different feeling. The brass gets even louder and the drum beats are about twice as often as before. I get a rushed feeling from these changes, like danger is following the Fellowship. An interesting feature of this section are a couple runs of upward/downward chromatics. Following all of this, there is an enormous decrescendo into basically nothing. The main theme from the other movements of de Maij's symphony then enters, but it's much, much slower and drawn out. From this, I get the feeling that the Fellowship has been through much toil on this leg of the journey. Overall, I think this piece just screams apprehension and danger. Although Shore's Journey in the Dark included drum beats also, they weren't as prevalent. Shore included more uplifting tonal and major-keyed melodies than de Maij.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

"The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke" by Queen

This song is a fun tune by Queen that was inspired by a painting of the same name by Richard Dadd. Some info on the artist and the painting is here.

Because the painting is complicated (and the song is under 3 minutes), there is not a traditional verse/chorus configuration of many rock songs but just two contrasting phrases with an instrumental break in the middle. The lyrics basically describe the painting which is full of all sorts of fairies doing different things.

The piece begins with a woodblock like clicking sound with the final gong hit from the last song still fading out. Then this sound gets replaced by the harpsichord (yes, it is really a harpsichord, Queen were part of the "no synthesizers" crowd during the 70's) doing the eighth notes on the V chord with a I on the &'s of 2 and 4. Then the voice enters with "he's a fairy feller" with a slide whistle and accent with guitars and bass. Then the bass joins the harpsichord and after only doing accents on downbeats, they do a downbeat on the & of one followed by a 5/8 measure before the main phrases come in.

While the two phrases have the same melodic line, the accompaniment keeps the music interesting. The first phrase has background of the harpsichord and drums keeping eighth notes which allows the bass line to do offbeats. After this phrase, the song takes a cut time feel with emphasis only on the half notes. The guitar replaces the harpsichord for the most part while the piano enters the picture as background music. As this music repeats three times, these parts become more prominent with background vocal added in the third time which transitions into the solo.

The solo is very interesting because the main part is the background vocalists doing ahh's. The first four measures just has the bass and drum accompaniment, but then the voices switch speakers (giving the effect of another singer) and the harpsichord joins in, and while it doesn't have real melodic material, it is doing a little motive that goes beyond just chord framework which gives these few measure a feeling of polyphony. After those four bars, the voices switch back and the guitar does the motive thing like the harpsichord.

Then the first phrase enters, followed by the second which this time has the background vocalists the whole time. Then after this piano takes over a solo which slowly retards to the tonic chord which represents the beginning of the next song.

This is a fun song that fits in well with the album (there aren't enough "art" albums today, they're all just a bunch of songs) and also allows a person to expand their vocabulary with words like hostler, quaere, and tatterdemalion.

"Balamouk" by Les Yeux Noirs

Les Yeux Noirs (French for The Black Eyes) is a Paris-based octet who creates their own unique sound, blending Manouche (French gypsy music) with Klezmer (Yiddish folk music). Their band name comes from a Russian Gypsy tune popularized in the 1930s by Belgian-born jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, an artist who is one of the band’s major musical influences. The album title, “Balamouk,” is Romanian for "house of the insane."

The song I’m reviewing shares the same name as the album. After doing some online research, I discovered that the band does not use any electric tracks on their album. This fact is surprising because the group is able to extract the same head-bobbing, heart-pounding, hip-shaking urge to get up and move with the music as many of today’s synthesized dance hits. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what instruments are used, but I do hear two fiddles/violins, some bass percussion – like a South Indian tabla, an accordion, finger cymbals (used by gypsies), clapping, a double bass and acoustic guitar. It sounds like you stumbled upon a block party in an Eastern European neighborhood.

"Balamouk" is a dance piece that opens with a thumping percussion that's soon interrupted by the spinning, melancholic notes of a fiddle. The main theme is played on the fiddle twice through. The entire song centers around this theme, with instruments being added in and the violins improvising towards the end. A double bass is added after the first fiddle, followed by the second fiddle. The two fiddles duel against each other, playing in constant thirds. An accordion joins, and the rest of the instruments begin playing as well. Though the tempo is consistent, the constant change in texture makes you feel as if the song is continually growing in intensity, that the tension builds and builds. The song actually fades out, and fades back in as the last track, giving a cyclic feeling to the dance.

The stars of the band are certainly the two violinists, the borthers Erik and Olivier Slabiak. The Slabiak brothers are classically-trained virtuosos who have been playing since they were five.

An article online pointed out the unique relationship between French Gypsy and Yiddish musical styles. The two cultures share a solemn history: Both were major targets or oppression throughout history, most infamously by the Nazis. Their shared history of exile and oppression creates similar musical styles of melancholy, minor keys, violin solos, and songs with deep emotional intensity and a hypnotic feel. Les Yeux Noirs brings back wonderful memories for me of my fall break trip to Rome. We were eating at an outdoor restaurant near the famous Piazza Navona (a large square with fountains and statues) when a street band offered to play for us. It was true that we were eating, but I still wanted to get up and dance in the street with other tourists and locals. Everyone congregated around the band to just listen to the music. It didn’t matter what language we spoke or where we came from; we were accepted into this large group of people who just wanted to listen to some good music. I think that Les Yeux Noirs has this same, universal appeal.

Part of Your World- Little Mermaid

Well, it's about time I did a song from Little Mermaid. I was clinically obsessed with this movie for all of first and second grade. I even had Little Mermaid sheets.
Not much else I can really say about this song except that it's Disney and so of course, everything has a happy ending! It starts in what seems like a minor mode...but everything turns out Major in the end because when this song ends she doesn't know that her dad is about to come in and wreck her secret cave full of the things she's collected from the human world. Oh how sadly this scene ends. But the song ends happy, so no fear Disney lovers.
I like this song better than Kiss the Girl or Under the Sea because those are WAY overplayed and I like to be different. I think this is by far the best song in the whole movie. Thanks Disney.

Mozart Symphony no. 38 mvt 1

Mozart Symphony no. 38 mvt 1

The symphony starts off with very large orchestrated major chords of tonic. They are restated with grace notes from the woodwinds. The opening is very similar to that of the Jupiter symphony. The symphony starts off in an adagio where the violins dominate the texture with developments on the tonality with interjections of full orchestra chords. It feels as though this adagio is leading to something else. There is much anticipation. It does not feel very much like an exposition, but more like a development. The allegro starts and the orchestration now varies a bit, going from violin feature with string accompaniment to all woodwind. The woodwinds, for the most part, are playing the role of the texture, while the melodic interest is mostly in the violins. The trumpet seems to be playing a fairly large role in this symphony. It is mostly grouped in with the texture of the woodwinds. Mozart seems to change the mode of the piece quite frequently. It seems that he uses some of the exact seem sequences that he used in the marriage of figaro overture. There are times that when I am listening to this symphony I can immediately tie it into the marriage of figaro. The overall style of the movement is very light and leggiero. The dynamics do not get very loud save for the full orchestra chords. Other than that Mozart seems to spread out the orchestration and keep the density low. Overall the volume seems to mostly fluctuate from a mp to a f at the most. Again there is another mode change. This time he adds a texture change to this. Making it mostly woodwinds. There is a transitional period that outlines mostly the tonic triad. Here the listener can sense a change in material. After a fermata, a secondary theme is introduced once again the violin. The listener has not heard this motivic gesture, however, just seconds into this new material it is again directly related into the material previously stated, except now with some new developmental ideas, like the rhythms have sped up and the orchestration is slightly different now. Many deceptive cadences are used to further expand the piece and give more changes for repetition/development/mode. The piece is getting close to the end. There is use of pedal notes, which many times indicates the end of a piece. The pedal is inverted as the bass function plays the most important part. Final strokes and triadic material end the movement.

"forget about the boy"

"Forget about the Boy"
Thoroughly Modern Millie

That's right--musical theatre! K Daniel and I went to the Murat tonight to see an absolutely fabulous performance of "Thoroughly Modern Millie".

The pieces starts with Millie singing (at the Sincere Trust Insurance Co.) and later turns into a women's chorus number. It opens with a chord and Millie singing over no accompaniment--mostly this declares to the audience the degree of honesty portrayed in the song. She's talking about how she's done with Jimmy. She's going strong with a jazzy feeling in a mostly major tonality in a sweep of self-assured independence until all at once with the surge of a muted trombone she says his name.

With the mention of "Jimmy", the mood changes entirely to a love-sick ballad as all the chorus girls chime in with the names of the men who've done them wrong. The chorus girls pick up right where Millie's left off (with a reprise of the A section), but she's still crooning his name as the orchestra lightly gives chords on pick ups and downbeats (so that we don't lose our grounding).

Millie then joins the women in a chorus and they unite in a tap break! Don't all secretaries tap around their type-writers? They're now joyfully singing their independence. We get one last reprise of the chorus theme in a triumphant end.

What a great song, a great show, and a fabulous evening :)

"not for the life of me" from thoroughly modern millie

In honor of the fact that Ladams and I saw Thoroughly Modern Millie in Indy this evening, I have decided to blog something from the show. I must also add, thar we got free tickets in the CENTER orchestra in the EIGHTH row, and FREE parking. It was a lovely evening. Anyway...
"Not For The Life Of Me" is the big opener in the show. Millie has just moved to New York from Kansas, and is trying to figure out how to survive in the big city.
This piece is cool because it has a very swingy, jazzy feeling to it. It starts out with Millie singing very timidly, and the orchestra plays lightly under her. There are lots of chromatic notes in the vocal line, and you can already feel the bluesy harmonies. At the end of this introductory section, there is a common tone modulation, and there is a huge change in structural phenomena. There is a change in tonality with the key change, the tempo picks up to a "hot dixieland" feel, and the texture changes when all of the instruments come in. The orchestra takes on the sound of a dixieland band, and it becomes a big dancy number. The brass instruments really stand out playing a very swingy, jazzy, big band like line. The vocal line adds to the dance like feel with its jazzy melody.
A little over halfway through the piece, there is a big dance break, and the orchestra really gets to bust it out. There are cymbal crashes and other cool things happening in the percussion section that make the music very energized, and perfect for a dance break. They get to play at Forte the whole time. When Millie and the chorus come back in, it stays forte, and is just huge and in your face until the end.
Such a fun show!!!! Glad I got to see it again.

"Deacon Blues" by Steely Dan

I know, I know, another Steely Dan song...I have a lot of their songs on my playlist. So anyway, one of the important characteristics of this song (as well as in many of their songs) is a chromatically descending bass line with the presence of common tones between the chords. They also invert various patterns of the progression, with common tones always connecting those progressions. Another change typical of them is a change in meter. It starts off in common time, but really stretches out the cadence with a looong suspension by changing to 3/4 after 4 measures, immediately followed by a 6/4 and finally ending on a V chord in common time. It also has a pretty cool sax solo in the middle. Throughout the song, the horn section uses a style closer to jazz. It's a pretty chill song...

Symphony no.3 "Eroica" movement III


This piece was very up beat. The main theme was restated several times through sequence. The piece begins by establishing a compound duple time signature on eighths in the bass. The main motif is always stated within its own, phrase, and signals the end of a phrase ending in an IAC. The motif is used to shape the piece, by how much space is between the next statement of it. The lack of length in note duration in the motif creates a contrast to the middle section of the piece, which is a horn solo, with much longer note durations and cadences. There is also a major contrast due to the fact that the eighths have stopped in the bass. Overall, the solfege in the piece is more jumpy, not a lot of intervals that are close together, giving it that flighty, energetic feel. Overall, I liked the piece, but got tired of listening to it after five or six times. I had a really nice blog written about it, but the computer didn't seem to like it.

Mendelssohn's Songs without Words Opus 62

I love this collection of piano works. They're all very intense and full of emotion. This piece is great becuase the accompaniement is full of notes and a rapid rhythm while the melody above it is quite slow and lyrical. It's obviously a parallel double symmetrical period. (Even I can tell, which says a lot for how well the piece was written.) The second section modulates to another key and ends on a PAC. Then the original section returns and the exact same harmonic and rhythmic progression is used except it is played quietly. This structural phenomenon makes it sound different from the first time we heard it. At the end, the section is expanded in an extension that grows into a closure that seems like a blossoming Starlight Lily in brilliant shades of pink and orange.

"Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley

Bob Marley has written so many awesome songs, and "three little birds" is definitly on my Top Five Marley list. The song starts with a little drum roll and a very cool organ feature that continues throughout the whole song. The organ, possibly a hammond, does simple do-re-do-sol-mi-re-do that is well known and often heard on movie soundtracks. People might say, "I've heard that somewhere." Along with the organ, you can hear a bass guitar, percussion, and a piano, possibly two, playing straight chords. The little organ line is played four times before Marley begins to sing. "Don't-wor-ry-bout-a-thing," which is probably "mi-rei-do-mi-sol-mi." The he goes on to sing "cause-every little thing is gonna-be-all-right" which sounds like "do-la.....-ti-la-sol." The bass line is fairly simple with the noticeable part seeming to be do-sol-mi-sol-do,very simple but very Marleyesque in rhythm. The lyrics I just mentioned are repeated and that ends the first verse. The only poblem is that the song only contains one other verse so it's hard to tell which isthe "chorus" and which is the verse. I will say that this next verse is not the chorus. It contains the song title but is only sang twice while the other verse is sang over and over again. It is cool because the organ feature is taken away on this verse, but a cool lead guitar part is played instead. After this second phrase, the chorus is sung until the Wailers and their beautiful back up singers feel everyone will be able to sing along even in their "high" state of mind!
The song is so cool. It only has two verses and it is awesome. The terrible song "Don't Worry, Be Happy" is like an awful version of this cool song. Bob Marley is one of the few people who is chill enough to make this song wonderful unlike that other guy's song. This song reminds me of sunshine and the beach with a pretty little bird singing of course. the Jamaican beats and sounds are just so wonderfully pleasing and relaxing to the ear and soul.

I know you I walked with you Once Upon a Dream- Sleeping Beauty

My room mates are watching this disney classic at the moment and the song came on at the right moment I suppose. I was going to blog on the performance of the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra and that dude that played the baroque flute, but to me... Sleeping Beauty is the better choice.
The triple meter of the song makes it perfect for a disney Princess\Prince waltz. As with most disney songs, and similar to "Part of Your World" the song is somewhat strophic and simple in form. It is built on parallel periods with a simple half cadence then PAC.
I think the most significant thing about the melody is its triple meter that makes it perfect for dancing.
Even in the Ballet, I think Tchaicovksy's use of this melody was initially to portray this grand, royal sort of romantic waltz which Disney so magically portrays.

piano sonata in a major (second mvt)

i figured i may as well listen to a piece that is going to be on my music history test tomorrow. c.p.e. bach's piano sonata in a major is pretty moving, as it is supposed to be. bach was one of the main exponents of the "empfindsam," or sentimental, style. there is quite a bit of ornamentation, which, according to my music history book, serves as "means of expression rather than as merely an accessory to melody." this piece is incredibly emotional--partly due to the multiplicity of rhythmic patterns and partly due to the nonharmonic tones heard throughout. there is really a wide range of rhythms...from symmetrical units such as quarter notes to very asymmetrical "flourishes" of 13 notes. at times it feels unsettling and restless. there are a lot of notes in this piece...and i mean a lot. not all of them sound correct, either, but that's what makes this sonata so interesting. i didn't really hear a clear cadence until halfway through the piece, which was a little bit frustrating.