Saturday, March 05, 2005

Phil Kline's Three Rumsfeld Songs

The pieces are a juxposition of new and old at the same time. The male vocalist sounds like a voice that could be heard right of the oldie goldie radio section. The accompaniement that underlies him, however, sounds very contemporary and unusual. At first, the piece makes me think I'm being attacked by aliens. The text is so simple, "As we know there are no knowns. No no no. But there are also unknown, unknowns." The melodic line, in this since is simple too but the strange rhythm, uneven and constantly changing meters, along with these percussion instruments make this saying very complex and cause the listener to really question what these few simple words mean. Then a sweet violin enters and seems to comfort the "unknown" uncertainity in the vocalist' life through soothing melodies. An ostinato of a descending pattern of threes begins. This is like an opposition. He's singing about unknowns, yet muically, because of this ostinato we do know what is going to happen next harmonically. I have no idea what form this would be. It's probably some 20th century structure that we haven't learned. It's a really cool piece though, kinda halloweenie.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Chopin- Mazurka, Op. 59, no. 2

I got the wrong impression last night and blogged two pieces, so since I’m in a time where I can’t afford doing extra work for without credit, I am publishing my analysis of Chopin as a listening journal. This piece is in ternary form. The A section of this piece is a lot longer than normal, extending for 41 measures. This is because it goes through a lot of repetition before moving to a new idea. The initial statement is made in the first 4 measures and repeats itself in similar form as a motive throughout the piece. This motive or it’s inversion makes the phrasing very clear, as each phrase begins with a restatement. It reaches a point in measure 19 where it ends the idea and sounds as if it will go to a new section. However, there is a 2 measure transition back to the beginning of the A section. There is a crescendo into it and it is played this time with a much greater density and volume. Such dynamic changes, either gradual or sudden, play a large role in the sensation of structural beaks throughout the piece. The section ends in the original key, and the same transition returns, but this time with a diminuendo leading to the softer B section. The B section is independent of the A, made clear by the changes in dynamics, rhythm, and tonality. The motive never returns in the section. In measure 69, the A section returns, but this time the motive is in the left hand. It is varied this time and ends on a short terminative section in the original key of A-flat major.

"American Woman" by Lenny Kravitz

So I'm sitting here at my computer, and it's 2 am. Really early. I've been up all night studying. I need a life. I'll make this review short and sweet, cuz I'm a tired dog tonight.
Anyway, who ever said remakes are always bad, (American Pie what?). I actually prefer the Kravitz version of this song. It's got a lot more spunk and distortion than it's predecessor. Heather Graham helps too... Moving right along, this song is extremely recognizable. 2 seconds into the song and anyone who hasn't lived in a bunker for the past 4 decades will know what this song is. The guitar riff that permeates the texture throughout the entire piece is fairly simple and short. The entire chorus is built up around this one riff. Not too much variety. Removal of guitar, and distortion are simple ways this song varies. Even more simple is the bass beat driving the song along. One, and three is the bass, and forms the basic rhythm for the entire song. Another good mix is the guitar solo in the middle of the song. It allows Lenny to rock out a little. I wish they had the minute long guitar intro that The Guess Who originally included. Bummer dude.
The best part of this song are the lyrics.
Don't come hanging around my door, Don't want to see your face no more, I don't need your war machines, I don't need your ghetto scenes, Colored lights can hypnotize, Sparkle someone else's eyes,
Now woman Get away American woman Listen what I say, American woman Stay away from me, American woman, Mama let me be
Some how the lyrics are about a scathing commentary on America's imperialistic attitude at the time of the Vietnam War. The Guess Who are Canadian. Weird huh? I always thought American Woman was about how mean girls are? Seriously, has anyone met my ex-girlfriend? They would understand why I connect with this song so much...sheesh. Peace out everyone.

The Birthday song

As today (march4) is b-day, I thought this would be appropriate. Honestly though, this song is really wierd as far as chord analyzing goes. The pickup actually starts on a 4 chord, and then moves to the I chord. This has always confused me. It moves between IV, V, and I. It has a two measure exposition that states the main melody and then repeats it with only a one note variation. The next two measures then consist of a larger variation or development of the melody with an emphasis on the seventh. The last two measures are then a recapitulation of the melody only slightly varied. The melody itself is only 1 measure long, ending on a HC each time. And then the end ends on a nice, happy PAC. This song is made up of 3 distinct little periods that are symmetrical and closed because it starts and ends in the same key. Its interesting how much you can get out of one little song, and I'm sure its not everything....but it is a stab. Ok, well I can't afford to pay anymore copyright royalties by playing this song anymore.....soooo goodnight!

Chopin Etude in am, Op. 25, No. 11

It begins with a solo theme, that is then echoed in harmony, then the theme returns at forte with a waterfall in the soprano, a veritable barrage of notes showering underneath it. The theme continues to be repeated and developed and sent through various keys, the main melody becoming only a motif at this point, stretching and meandering as it is swallowed by the faster notes, and finally it returns in full force and repeats until it is extended into a terminative, cadential (yet still modulating) section that finally sets us into a heavy PAC. I would say this is a sort of binary form, except I do not know if the return of the A section is in the original key or not, since Chopin's done so much "noodling" around. It certainly seems as though the theme returns in its original key, but that would-be-terminative section seems to modulate out and then cadence in a whole new key to end the piece. But I can't tell. It would be simple and not rounded if it were binary, since the B is really a development section and doesn't go back to repeat the A.

Solo Que Me Das- Chenoa

This is the first time that I've ever heard anything by this spanish artist, and I actually was really surprised by it. One of the biggest things I think of when I hear European music is the fact that most of it tries to incorporate characteristics native to the specific country, for example, Indian pop music often has pop lyrics going over a line more characteristic of the country's style, using traditional instruments and rhythms.
This song starts out sounding like a big band, with the bass playing a walking line, and then the kind of cheesy big band sound that I talked about in the Michael Buble song that I wrote about a few weeks ago... It then goes into a very dramatic, flamenco type of melody over the jazz-like background so its cool that the artist chose to mix those two styles.
It really caught my attention when my room mate told me that she was going to put in a CD by a Spanish artist and then the first thing I hear is this characteristic American sound when I was waiting to hear clapping, and dance-like rhythms and drums.

Tales of Hoffmann - Chanson of Kleinzach by Jacques Offenbach

I HAD to do an analysis of something that Placido Domingo has sung … just so I’d have an excuse to listen to his voice over and over for a half hour. Hehe.

The piece I chose was Il ètait une fois à la cour d'Eisenach, a chanson from the prologue of the famous opera, Les Contes D’Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach. The opera was Offenbach’s last work; he died halfway through its completion. The plot tells of famous poet, musician, and author E.T.A. Hoffmann, combining fantasy from his stories with his own biographical life. The story centers on three loves of his life: a doll, a singer, and a courtesan. The three stories are framed by a prologue and an epilogue, in which Hoffmann is in love with a famous opera singer who is performing Don Giovanni in a nearby opera house. In a tavern, Hoffmann is goaded on by his drinking buddies to tell the tragic tale of his three loves.

The chanson occurs in the prologue, as the chorus asks Hoffmann to tell one of his stories about the dwarf, Kleinzach. Hoffmann sings about the dwarf, describing his awkward appearance. In the middle of the chanson, Hoffmann’s mind wanders away from his story to his current lover, the opera singer. He recalls their last rendezvous and declares his undying love. Suddenly, a student wakes him out of his reverie and encourages him to continue with his song. Hoffmann reluctantly and half-heartedly continues his song about Kleinzach.

Hoffmann sings most of the piece by himself, although in the verses about Kleinzach the chorus echoes the end of each phrase.

There are two identical phrases ending on a AC, followed by another, longer phrase ending on a PAC. This phrase is repeated, with some interpolation that finally ends on a PAC. I would describe this as a phrase group – it’s not built like a period.

The first verse is repeated again – the song is built mostly in strophic form, with couplets – meaning the same melody, but different lyrics.

The third verse is introduced, but the melody change abruptly when Hoffmann begins his reverie. We come into a broader, more dramatic B section – sweeping string passages and many crescendos. I consider this simple ternary form, because this B section is independent in melody from the A section. It is less tonally stable, but has its own expositional material.

The B section ends completely – it’s closed. There is a pause in the music, and the student enquires, “What about Kleinzach?” Hoffmann awakes from his daydream, and goes back into the A section – a fourth verse. This last verse is identical to the previous verses.

Harry Connick Jr. - The Other Hours

Harry Connick Jr. - The Other Hours

This piece starts of very simple with the bass line in the piano just going do sol do sol over and over again untill the sax comes in to give the melody..which starts sol do do…then flowing on through a very mellow and relaxing melody. Then the rhythm sections presents the part a little more so that you get the really swinging feeling…The sax soloist does a great job of really throwing the piece into an interesting jazz piece by mixing extreme legato with staccato. This really keeps the song moving in parts and then also feeling like its falling behind in other…a very unstable feeling. In the middle of the piece there is a rhythm section solo. This is where the piano, bass, and drums shows off their skill. After a couple of minutes of passing the free flowing motion through the rhythm section it heads back to the sax and it pulls it back into the A section. Through most of the piece it has felt really laid back and easy going. Then at the end it has kind of a weird terminative section where you know its going to end, but the style doesn’t seem to flow this the other parts of the song…I am kind of confused as to why the composer decided to end it this way…The style gets more up beat, swinging….hummm..great song…just a weird ending….

Tchaikovsky symphony no. 4 mvt III

Of course this famous movement starts off with pizzicato throughout the strings. There is somewhat of a joking or sarcastic mood. The seriousness has somewhat worn off since the first and second movement. Much sequencing of scaluar patterns takes place between the section. There is a very strong sense of dialogue, each section finishing the sentence of the section before it. The phrase repeats back to the beginning. The oboe comes in with a long note heralding the B section. This section is mostly dominated by the woodwinds. The flute has the melody as the other woodwind instruments accompany this. The melody goes from the flute to the piccolo. A new section comes in with soft playing by the low brass and trumpets as they outline the general harmonic framework of what the A section entails. This section with the brass I would consider to be transitory to A section since it is similar harmonically. The A section then comes back identically to when it first occured. A woodwind choir comes in and starts to echo vs the string choir. A development occurs on the harmonic scheme as it is modulated up by step and step. It leads to the forshadowing of certain harmonic events in the last movement. The brass come back in for just a few moments recalling what they played earlier. The piece winds down in texture and dynamic but not tempo.

Forever; Jesse and the Rippers

That's right, ladies---a flashback to Full House, and more importantly: Uncle Jesse. Oh how I loved you, John Stamos.

The piece begins with a few lone drum beats. After the anticipation, Jesse and the Rippers break out into their power chords and wailing guitar solos (which aren't that hard if you listen to them)(not hard at all). After a 4 bar intro, Uncle Jesse begins crooning with his back-up singers singing "ooh, aah, wa wa wa wa, forever, forever" The back-ups remind me of the beach boys. Ironic being that often the Beach Boys were featured on Full House.

This is your epitome of a power ballad--the guitar breaks sound really hard-core...but then all of a sudden we're taken back to a solo guitar playing over some percussion. Two voices come in singing the opening motive one more time. Things pick up and we're back to our power chords and the oh-so-moving lyrics of "na na na na na" followed by a few "forevers".

The very end quickly breaks to a piano and John Stamos, i mean Uncle Jesse singing with a bit of glottal fry. Here are some lyrics, though, that I quite enjoy:

"If every word I said could make you laugh I'd talk forever.
I asked the sky what we had, ooooh, it showed forever.
If the song I'd sing to you would fill your heart with joy I'd sing forever.

Forever, Forever
I've been so happy loving you"

*sigh* hope that gave you something nice to think about for a while :)

"stay of leave", by Dave Matthews

oh, i love dave...This is from the his 2003 solo album Some Devil.

This song has a great instrumental introduction, with a really nice groove between drums and guitar. It's in 12/8, but is taken in a fast one. It begins in b minor, with a beautiful melodic line that repeats twice, and then ends on a half cadence. Dave starts singing right after this, with that same groove with the guitar and drums. At the chorus, a drum shaker starts in, which really makes it sound cool...There is also a cymbal crash on each of the endings of the verses, which gives it some variety. When Dave sings this he sounds laid back and the notes aren't really on the beats, giving it a more relaxed feel...It's actually a very simple song, except for a meter change to simple meter when the on the 3rd verse from the end "remember we used to dance, and everyone wanted to be you and me and I want to be too, what day is this, besides the day you left me? what day is this besides the day you went?", and he keeps the simple meter throughout the ending of this piece which is kind of unique. Simple meter fits more of the mood now as the lyrics become sadder and deeper.

Let's Push by The Streets

The gist of this piece comes down to two notes (electronic) being pounded into your head repeatedly just about constantly for the entire length of the song. The most interesting, most musical part of the song is the trumpet, but even that is limited to the same short melody repeated at different points during the song, along with some bass accompaniment and more strange electronic additions. During the verses, the vocals are annoying and blend right into the atmosphere of the piece because it sounds more like slow rapping/talking rather than singing and because there's a lot of rhyming going on. The choruses, however, are actual singing but they aren't melodically appealing to me. The end catches the listener unawares. It is very abrupt - without a satisfying terminative section. I think this song could work if something stood out, but as it is, everything in it is repetitive and monotonous to listen to. The lyrics are somewhat interesting and I think this is what seems most likely to be able to stand out, but the repeating line endings bore me because it fits into the cliche technique and rap categories and that's just not cool.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

"Goodnight My Someone" from The Music Man

"Goodnight My Someone" from The Music Man. Performed by Barbara Cook, original Broadway Cast recording.

This song begins as Marion is teaching a piano lesson. Her student is playing triads on I IV and V in C Major, and Marion becomes distracted and goes to the window. The accompaniment starts out just with these simple triads being played on the piano. When Marion begins to sing, this simple accompaniment lasts for 6 more measures, and then the orchestra comes in. Even though the accompaniment is much more elaborate than triads, you can always pick out variations on these three triads throughout the accompaniment.
Nothing really changes until the B section, which is marked by a modulation and a change in rhythm. Thus far, we have had mostly quarter notes and dotted half notes, keeping with the 3/4 waltz/lullaby feeling. The B section makes more use of dotted rhythms and eighth notes. The B section really serves as the climax of the song as Marion explains why she is singing goodnight my someone out the window to nobody at all. She sings, "True love can be whispered from heart to heart when lovers are parted they say. But I must depend on a wish and a star as long as my heart doesn't know who you are. The B section is as close as the song ever gets to forte, and the eighth note rhythms give the vocal line a sense of urgency, like she really wants to know who her someone is.
The return of the A section also brings a modulation back to the original key of C Major. We don't get the whole A sectiton this time, really just about half of it. The song ends with the vocal line holding out the 1st, 3rd, and 5th scale degree of a C Major Triad.
This is such a pretty song. The 3/4 tempo really allows for a lullaby feel. The melody especially feels like a lullaby. It is so simple and floating and legato, it could lull you right to sleep.
Now if only I had an excuse to sing this for something ;)

"Night Dreamer" by Kurt Elling

This song is from the album "Live in Chicago". The original piece was written for a jazz ensemble with trumpet solo, however Kurt is only a "mere" vocalist. So how can he perform this piece? Easy! Take the trumpet solo and write his own lyrics and meld the two into an amazing vocal line. The only accompaniment he has behind him are a piano, bass and a drum kit. The drum keeps time, never wavering from our triple meter, while the bassline walks around, meandering between chord arpeggiations, and the piano plays out the accompaniment. This is a true power vocal number, as Kurt takes syncopation and non-chord tones easily in stride. His voice truly turns into an instrument, blasting out stratospheric high notes with power and control, while sweetly crooning out the lower register. This song has many repeated sections, somewhat disjointed, but held together by the line of the melody. The first two "verses" are the same line, repeated. Then we have a transitional section, where the piano drops out and we have Elling show off his virtuosic talent, moving just like a trumpet, rhyming words together in strings of incredible vocal agility, then flying up to a High G in falsetto (above the treble clef) and bringing it back down, spitting out syllables fast and furious, just like a trumpet cadenza. It's so amazing to hear a vocalist do something so extraordianry with his voice that you are left speechless. Eventually the piano wanders back into the piece, playing through the verse riff once more before taking it's own long solo, flying up and down scales, and trying to match Elling extraordinary passage for extraordinary passage. Suddenly we seem out of sync as the drums stretch the meter into 4. Nothing to worry about, as it's simply the drum solo. The solo keeps flowing over itself, as the syncopations seem to be like rocks holding back a raging stream, eventually the pent-up beats drown the beat like a waterfall. When Elling returns we return to our initial melody, only doubled in tempo, as Kurt frantically solos one final time, his rapid-fire delivery never dropping a beat. Now it slowly ritards to our original tempo as the initial lyrics return for one final verse, resolving everything back to where we started and fading away.

I can't even begin to describe the awesome power of this piece. I did not know the human voice was capable of the things Elling makes sound so effortless...I would love to play this piece sometime in class, just so everyone can bask in its wonder.

Going back, I should have included that the original is written by Wayne Shorter...

Undine Sonata, Intermezzo Allegretto vivace

Karl Reinecke
Michel Debost-flute

This piece is a classic example of rounded binary form. The A section begins with an octave jump in both the flute and piano parts. The rhythm is a eighth slurred to a dotted half. This is repeated twice, and on the third time the piano begins a seperate part and the flute begins the motive. The repetition of the octave ensures that the listener will recognize it as the beginning and motive. It also establishes a do. The motive is lite and energetic, with a brisk quarter two sixteenths, quarter two sixteenths rhythm, establishing a compound duple time signature. Part of the brisk feeling comes from the emphasis on one and two. The emphasis is created by one always descending on the sixteenths, sort of creating a whoosh into two and a soild beat. The piano part helps with its two eighths played on one and two. It also has a sort of swinging feel from one always descending into two and two always ascending into one. Meanwhile, the very stacatto, squared feeling of the accompanient gives is a lite, very and tight sound. This part of the motive is the antecedent, and it is answered with a contrasting sixteenth line in the flute part. The line is slurred and more melodic, with less of a jumpy feeling. The line, for the most part is descending, but it maintains the emphasis on one and two by ascending one note up and going back down on each beat. For the most part, the piano maintains the stoic eighths, but at one point it hints back to the original part of the motive with a little quarter eighth, quarter eighth rhythm that is the sames intervals as the original with the quarter two sixteenths, quarter two sixteenths. The A section is made up of a three phrase group, and a asymetrical parallel period in the consequent half, the second phrase being longer by about two measures. The A section transistions into the B section after a PAC, actually rather abruptly to signify a definite change in styles. The biggest change in the new section is in the piano part. It becomes the prominant texture and has a very melodic, minor line (the piece either changes modes directly or modulates directly). The line has very little jumpy intervals, and uses that me-re-ti tension centralized around do. The B section ends on a HC and restates the A section, beginning with the octave leaps to signal the motive. In the consequent phrase of the original motive, the piano part, this time, to signal a terminative function, takes the motive from the B section while the flute part plays a line very similar to the consequent line in the A section. This time, however, there is not the emphais so much on one and two, because the flute part is ascending and descending on sixteenths in each bar, giving it a sort of arched sound. The piece ends on an IAC, with a contrary motion sol-dol between the piano part and flute part. I really, really liked this piece. It was very simple, but the motives of both the A and B sections were very well developed. I especially love the ending, how the motives combine to still create the consequent phrase but give it a longer arched feel, signaling the ending.

Beethoven, Menuet in C major

In my quest to find relatively short pieces by famous composers, I found this stand-alone menuett for solo piano (or one intended for something larger but not used) by Beethoven. This piece is a combination of a few contrasting periods.

One of the unusual aspects of the first period is that the first cadence happens on the third beat of the fourth measure when you would expect most minuets to end on the first or even the second beat of the measure. The right hand has sixteenth notes in the first, third, fifth and sixth measures, quarter notes in the second, fourth and eighth measures, and eighth notes in the sixth and seventh measures with simple accompaniment and a very nice suspension at the end of the period and the whole period is repeated.

The first phrase of the second period reverses this rhythmic pattern, putting the quarter notes in bars one and three and sixteenth notes in bars two and four. The quarter note part is accompanied by a bass line that both fall in parallel motion which sounds really nice contrasted with the sixteenth notes.

The first period is basically repeated again but without the suspension because this marks the end of the A section of the piece. The piece changes mood for the B section to a very Renaissance like sound because of the open fifth pedal tone that the left hand plays throughout the first period. The right hand goes up and plays the melody up much higher than the previous melody, and sticks to quarter notes and eighth notes with grace notes and fancy turns. One again, this period is repeated.

The next period is a development of the first one. The first phrase has right hand does the high melody similar to the last period, but the left hand is doing block chords. The second phrase has the same melody as the last period, but with the left hand doing a single note bass line. And once again, this period is repeated.

And like any good ternary piece, the first period comes back again and repeats, the first time with the nice suspension, the second one without it.

Solskin in E Major by Gade

This piece makes me think of a hobo rummaging for food in Nantucket. "Why?" You might ask. The piece sounds very simple and light. It lilts along as though life is peachy never grasping for any unusual harmonic progressions or rhythms but yet, even with this deceiving appearance of serenity, it lacks direction and motivation. Thus, it is like a hobo hiding in the streets, creating something imperfect in the seemingly picturesque and "perfect" cape cod community of Nantucket. I think it is rounded binary form because I hear the contrast between sections and the return of the A section but the B section doesn't sound independent enough to stand alone. The phrases are very short. I think it is open because the A section seems to continue straight into the B section without ever feeling finalized.

piano sonata op 13

beethoven's sonata pathetique op. 13

this piano sonata of beethoven's begins in C minor and is definitely in rondo (ABACABA) form. in the first expository A section, there is a HC in measure 4 (a V7 chord) followed by a PAC in measure 8. the melody twists and turns a bit, but section B comes around measure 25. this section transitions into Eb major for about 30 bars. there is some mode mixture, including minor i chords. The A section returns and is followed shortly by the C section, which modulates to Ab minor (the d flats kind of give it away, as well as the half cadence four bars after the C section begins). It's funny, because when the A section returns, it always comes back to the key of c minor. But when the B section returns for the second time, it does not come back in Eb major, but instead in C major. The themes in this piece really play with both major and minor keys--not gonna lie, it confuses the hell out of me!

Pavan in F Major - John Jenkins

I found this song through a random Naxos browsing, so I don't know much about John Jenkins. However, I believe that, no matter when he wrote this, F Major probably didn't mean that the piece was in E Major. However, this recording was made in E Major. The only explanations I can come up with are that it was transposed to accomodate the artists (or maybe their instruments), that the recording was slowed down during production, or that Naxos has some kind of playback problem that slows it down... except it was in tune in E Major.

Anyhow, New Grove says that a Pavan used to be some sort of court dance in the 18th century. This was pretty sad music for a dance - it had a slow tempo and not that strong of a pulse to keep dancers in time. However, I can see how it may make a good dance because it rarely fully cadenced - many times, the piece sounded as though a cadence was going to occur, but what should have been the final chord was really the beginning of the next phrase, and so the piece had a good continuity that a dance requires.

Overall, the music made me feel complacent. There wasn't many structural phenomena, or anything that may make me get excited or feel much tension. Also, there is little dynamic contrast throughout.

if my review just got you so excited about this piece that you must hear it.

Sarah Conner-BoUnCe

I'm not sure why but this song cracks me up everytime I hear it. Containing phrases like, "She saw me with shorty and thinks i be creepin" and "Bounce babay out da door, I ain't gonna take this no mo" this songs lyrical genius is only matched by LFO. Some of the verses are semi-rapped, I'd almost call it intoning. The chorus is sung and is very simple because the message is what really matters. She's telling her boyfriend to leave because she's pretty sure that he's cheating with some other "shorty". And she tells him "Don't try to front boy cuz I saw you there wit my own eyes." GREAT song...The drum rift and the sythisizer back beat stays in my head forever and puts a spring in my step even though the song is sort of depressing. The best part is when her BF tries to defend himself with a ten second rap with such romantic musings as "Don't need to find a nickel, I gotta dime at home." Awwwww...really? I'm your dime? Well then everything's forgiven.

Aerosmith - Pink

This song begins with an intruduction melody played by a harmonica. The beginning of it is a repeated period. The melody is stepwise, very easy to reproduce. The chorus continues the stepwise motion, but higher and descending most of the time. The verses are much more mellow than the chorus. When the chorus comes in, the orchestration is fuller and the dynamic is much louder. After the second chorus there is an intstrumental interlude. The third vers comes in after that with another chorus. There isn't really any terminative section, it just kind of ends. I like the upbeat nature of the accompaniment, but the words don't make sense. He's just singing about the color pink.

Soler: Piano Sonata in D Major

This sonata in D major by soler has a fast compound meter which is either three-eight or six-eight, often making use of sixteenth and eighth notes. The piece may be described as having an A-B-c-B-c form with the C sections being parallel to A because they begin the same but in new keys and both containing cadential extensions. The A section is introduced by a little fa-mi-re-mi ornamentation leading into the bass line which is staccato notes in the left hand, starting with mi and then moving down the tonic triad, mi-do-do. The melody in the right hand is do-do-sol-do-mi-do with the do-sol-mi being the more accented of the notes. This motion is repeated but in the dominant. The theme is repeated once more for a third time, again on tonic but an octave lower. This rhythmic and melodic theme which is used often throughout the piece is repeated before the B section begins. The B section begin with the same kind of pick-up ornamentation as the beginning of the song but continues with the scalar melody in the right hand and accompanying octaves in the left hand. These few measures are sort of an introduction to the main part of B which has straight chords in the left hand, possibly eighth notes, accompanying the melody in the right hand which is again sixteenth notes. Next is section C where the theme from the A section returns but in a new key, possibly the dominant which would be A major. The rest of the C section could very simply be described as a lot of cadential action, ending in A major, the key which was modulated to in the B section. The next section, B, sounds as if it modulates to a minor key. It has the same structure as the first B section minus the first few measures of the original. This section, as all of the others, ends with an authentic cadence. Finally, the C section is played, but in the original key. At the end, after all of the cadential stuff, if you have listened carefully you can hear that we are in the original key.
Like other short sonatas from Soler or Scarlatti I enjoy the fast pace and the simple chord structure which is very good for analysis. The piece is very simple, but the performer contrasts the similar themes by making very good use of dynamics. Without dynamics, I fell that this song would be fairly boring. This piece would sound very nice on an organ or harpsichord. I most enjoy its crisp sound and dancing compound feel.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Rachmaninoff Prelude in C# minor

I actually played this piece for a competition a few years back, so I got pretty intimate with it. I just happened to hear it on the radio (WICR) and thought it would be a good one to talk about. First of all I LOVE this piece. There's just somthing so beautiful about the melody and how it is harmonically put together. There is a definitive ABA form. (Actually I guess the second A section could be more considered an A prime because even though it is the same melody in the same key, its texture is pretty much doubled. In the first A section, the melody is played and replayed, but in different chordal inversions and intervals on the scale. There are several chromatic leading tones and such. Even the opening monophonic notes sound chordal and powerful. There are a few deviations from the melody in the A section, but it isn't till the end of the section that the music gives a hint of changing and developing as the texture thins. In the B or development section it uses the same melody, but then changes the rhythm, speed and texture and then variates it. This then moves back to the A section only it splits into 4 lines for two hands (whew) and is just a huge mass of the same persistant melody. The end is very interesting. It kind of falls into a category of its own. It is slow and simply chords that are changing sometimes just one note at a time. They sound like they are emmulating bells. There is also something very emotional about this highly Romantically stylized 20th century piece that makes me connect with it. There is a wide range of dynamics and speeds which I think reflect the human emotions. Its almost as if this piece is its own entity. No wonder it is a classic favorite.

Tchaik violin concerto in D major movement II

The movement starts off with a woodwind soli of progressions in the tonic minor key. Many secondary dominants and leading tone chords are heard. The mood of teh piece is very sublime and ethereal. There is much meloncholy to the melody that is played first by the solo violin shortly after the chordal opening. A parallel period starts the piece. The harmonic form of the movement is used often which gives an exotic and foreign spice to the movement. The melody is then played by the flute and then echoed by the clarinet. Tempo and mood change as the soloist presents the secondary theme. This theme is more positive in connotation and posesses more "good." The texture at this point is mostly string accompaniment. Sequences are heard as the soloist and woodwind accompaniment travel through the key. The harmonic form is played by the violin and then clarinet. The mood returns to its first conception as the melody is played by the solist again and this time it is accompanied by a counterpoint melody by the flute. It is repeated again but this time no counterpoint but with a harmonic accompaniment by the clarinet and strings. The beginning progressions are again played by the woodwinds in the original key. It is developed this time, however. It is run through a sequence of modulations from key to key by half-step. The movement ends with do ti do in the basses. This piece could either be a rounded binary form or a ternary form. Hopefully I will learn this in the future.

"Aint Wastin' Time no More" - The Allman Brothers Band

This song is a very laid back classic rock song that was "a pop tune back in the day" according to a friend of mine. I think the laid back feeling comes from the moderate tempo and the use of slide guitar, which gives it a southern flare.

It only has two chords, but I think there's a lot more to it that makes it more interesting than current pop tunes. Notably, there are several structual phenomena involving changes in texture. There are musical interludes with solos that are actually improvised, and not planned long in advance, like pop tunes today. Also, there is a breakdown, where the drums drop out and everything calms down for a little bit.

The vocals seem more real too. Maybe it's the older recording technology, or that the lead singer has a more "raw" voice. He's also playing around with the melody - it seems like he would sing it differently every time.

"I Loved You Once In Silence"

"I Loved You Once In Silence" from Camelot. Performed by Julie Andrews.

May I start by saying how much I adore Julie Andrews?!?!?! What a voice. I have always loved her. She sings this song beautifully...anyway....
I have always thought this song was pretty, but until I sat down with it tonight, I never realized how simple it was. The song never really goes anywhere, there is never a big climax. The chord progression is very basic. The accompaniment is very nice, but it is pretty much the same throughout the song. It is always very soft and mellow. It doesn't really do a lot to help out the vocalist, which does make the song a little more challenging. The cadences are always very obvious at the end of phrases. It is usually a PAC, and the do sol do stands out terribly in the bass line.
So why am I writing about it, you ask? The melody. I am a firm believer that most songs are memorable because they have a nice and catchy melody. This melody is mostly stepwise, and there are no difficult intervals or big leaps, and it doesn't get particualarly high in the soprano range. But it is beautiful, and peaceful. It is the kind of melody that you can close your eyes and lay back and be perfectly relaxed. It is the kind of melody that you could sing to a baby while you rock it to sleep at night. It is wonderfully legato and smooth. The accompaniment is just gorgeous underneath it. The sheer simpleness and honesty of it makes it beautiful.
I think a lot of times we lose track of the fact that things don't have to be complicated or difficult to perform to be considered wonderful. We shy away from simple chord progressions when we compose because we don't think they are interesting enough. Sometimes, the most beautiful things are the simple things.

"Both Sides Now," Joni Mitchell

ok, so Joni's voice has really changed from when she was younger. I think she still sounds good, and I love the instrumentation in this song, as well as the lyrics. The lyrics are great by themselves, but the building up of the climax in this song really add even more to it. It starts off very quietly, almost like a whisper, with the strings. For some of the time she's singing, the strings are just playing one static note in unison. This sound is different because there's no steady beat, so it kind of feels like a constant stream of notes until the chorus picks it up. The brush stroke comes in right at the chorus, along with a soprano saxophone:there are a few big sax solos in this song, and they're gorgeous.

"I've looked at life from both sides now,
From win and lose, and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall.
I really don't know life at all."

Debussy, "Clair de Lune"

Moonlight, by Debussy. One of the most beautiful pieces of music written, hands down. Yes, one might contemplate casino robbery after every listen, but I doubt that's what Debussy had in mind while composing this piece.
The beauty of this piece comes in his melodic use of modern scales. It is rich in octatonic and pentatonic scale varieties, filling this masterpiece with warm colors and tonalities. Notice the parallelism. GASP! Don't tell Dr. Spiegelberg. I think Debussy was going for beauty of sound. Who cares about part writing anyway? There is a pedal bass that is also prevelant for much of the work, as the right and the melody along. My favorite part of this piece is in the second second section of the piece where the tempo picks up. Debussy does a very good job of building excitement slowing, gradually releasing the tension and returning the ever relaxing A section.
I'm not sure what it is, but there is something about this piece that just makes you float away, to forget about your worldly problems. I always find my self strangely relaxed after listening to this song. Debussy does an excellent job of portraying the peacefulness of a moonlit night sky.

Rafet el Roman - "Sansliyim"

This begins with a repeated 4m phrase group led by trumpets always ending on a half cadence...kinof sounding like mariachi (sp?) music. This is repeated four times before the singer "Rafet el Roman" (a turk who has some italian connections) starts his song. Both his verses and his refrains follow the general line that the trumpets orginally introduced (turks love repitition). The cycle is - he sings a new verse, he sings the refrain, and then there is musical interlude. We even get some flamenco guitar going and a great trumpet solo in the middle--both of these get more into development of the original expository material. He employs a lot of monophony that is washed out a little by the drum drones--often his voice is doubled by a reed or wind instrument (sounds like a clarinet). I bought this CD in Konya, TURKEY (Rumi is buried here)on a night walk with an upstanding kurdish gentleman who was a disciple of Elvis, the carpetseller, and who was also scheduled go to the army that March. He took Amanda and I around town, showed us the "caspar" because he apparently didn't know the word for ghost. And showed us his friend who was short, odd looking and had three or something odd girlfriends. He sang for us near Mevlana's tomb. Therefore, the CD is cool.

Hayat bir mucize yasayan bilir bunu
Hayat bir bilmece sorularla dokulu
Hayat bir zor yaris yenilir ya yenersin
Bazen bir kumarmis kazanip, kaybedirsin
Hayat bir felsefe karisir beynin doner
Delirenler dahiler de coktan pes ettiler
Labrabbab babaraba (he's scattin' here, this is not turkish)
Gec bunlar palavra
Sen gel keyfine bak
Hayat yasamak
Bu gece cok sansliyim
Hem kumarda hem askta
Bu gece heyecanliyi
Param var hem askim
Bu gece tam havamdayim
Yasamin tadindayim
Bu gece cok sansliyim
Param var hem askim
Gozlerin alev alev gonlumu yakiyor
Durusunla bakisin aklimi aliyor
Labarabbab babaraba
Gec bunlar palavra
Sen gel keyfine bak
Hayat yasamak

My translation (expect errors):
"I'm lucky"
Life is a miracle for those who know how to live it
Life is a riddle with a tapestry of questions
Life is a hard competition you defeat or are defeated
Sometimes it's a gamble, you win some you lose some
Life is a twisted philosophy that turns your brain
The madness, often the inside gives in
Pass the pointless days
You, come and look at your joy
To live life
Tonight I'm very lucky
In a gamble and in love
Tonight I'm very excited
I've got money and love
Tonight I'm really in my weather (?)
I'm in the taste of your life
Tonight I'm very lucky
I've got money and love
Your eyes flame flame light my desire
In this position your glance takes my thoughts
Pass these pointless days
You, come and look at your joy
To live life

o danny boy

So in honor of Flummerfelt, I thought I'd write on one of his arrangements. I'm listening to the Westminster Choir singing Flum's arrangement of "O Danny Boy".

Right away I notice the spectacular intonation in this beautiful a cappella arrangement. He's arranged suspensions all over the piece in the inner voices. The choir's sound is amazing. On all of the places that we would normally expect a crescendo--there isn't one. This phenomena causes the listener to really listen. The sound is simply angelic.

The second verse is dynamically louder than the first but with decrescendos at the end of the phrases. The breaks between the "o danny boy, o danny boy, i love you so" (breaks indicated by commas) are spectacular and really add to the piece.

My favorite part is at the end when we're to the melodic climax and the choir doesn't crescendo at all, they just let the melody carry itself. Their passion and emotion really come through on this recording.

without a doubt, Flummerfelt is a genius.

Italian Concerto in F Major by Bach

This piece brings back a lot of memories of high school when I played this piece. It is a perfect example of terenary form because it has an A section, a B section, and a return of the A section. The left hand accompaniment is pretty static with ascending chords up three half steps with syncopated eighth motion on topic. This piece begins in a minor key and then moves into the relative major and then returns to the expository section in minor. The hands seem to be talking to each other with the way the melodic and rhythmic patterns play back and forth. It's a very relaxing and contemplative piece. The A section is a contrasting period. There are many rhythmic motives. The fluctuation of the tempo almost makes the piece sound like it is from the romantic era.

symphonie fantastique 4th mvt

this movement starts out eerily with a roll in the timpani and a short horn line, but the piece immediately changes its attitude in the 11th measure with a FF hit. the main melody comes in around measure 62--it is very fanfare like, a tutti winds section filled with dotted eighth sixteenth notes. there is an incredible trombone note that truly penetrates the motivic line. the introduction and the melody are repeated. In the 78th measure, a new introductory motive is heard before the return of the main melody. the moods shift frequently--as heard in measure 164, when the idee fixe fromt he first movement is heard in the clarinet. following this solo, there is an orchestral hit and there are pizzicato notes in the cellos and basses. this resembles a head being chopped off by a guillotine and then bouncing on the ground after it had been completely sliced. hate to be graphic and all, but it's kind of nifty I think. thanks, Dr. B.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

"Commissioning A Symphony In C" by Cake

A non-musician might have no clue as to what this referring to, but the title combined with "Austrian nobleman" in the first vocal line, it is obvious that this song is referring to Haydn and the Esterhazy family though no names are mentioned. The lyrics are complimentary of Haydn's music but quite critical of the aristocracy. And the band does an effective job of drawing in a couple Hayden like aspects into their music, though I am by no means saying Cake is anywhere near the same class of composer as Haydn.

First off the song is in key of C, which relates to the title and is the key of many Haydn symphonies. The other aspect is the development of the instrumental melody (electronic keyboard and clean electric guitar). Unlike the vocal melody (and most pop vocal melodies) which stays static, the instrumental melody has a much more varied pitch range and focuses mostly on arpeggios.

The introduction to the song has the guitar chord to open and the first period just has vocal and bass. The second period has the introduction of the instrumental part which does a countermelody to the vocal, which focuses on arpeggios and stays on quarter notes. The third period features the instrumental part and does some eighth but doesn't stray from the arpeggios.

The preceding section of three periods repeats again, but with some differences. The first period has some guitar chords between the vocal line. The second period also changes with the instrumental melody being developed. The listener can tell that the overall contour of the material is the same, but the melody includes some sixteenth notes and scalar passages, though there are no non-chord tones. This gives this period much more interest than the first time. The third period is extended by two bars at the beginning with the introduction of background vocal which provides accompaniment for the same instrumental melody.

The next period consists of the traditional guitar solo and incorporates the arpeggiations of previous melodies with some different additions including one triplet pick up.

The section once again repeats. The first phrase is the same as the second. The second phrase puts the guitar solo from the instrumental break into the context of the vocal melody, which provides another aspect of development. The third period adds a second instrumental melody behind the original one with a different timbre that has not been heard before and incorporates arpeggios and neighbor tones, and the period is extended by four bars to give this new voice some more time to be heard.

The song ends with the original keyboard doing a terminative bit with arpeggios that go up a couple octaves that ritard into a sol-do that fades out.



The piece begins with clarinet in the high register. The first two notes sol, and the short duration leaves a space inbetween them definite enough to constitute a rest. The high pitch combined with the sort of off beat umph of the rest establishes a stict, quarky motive, but appealing because of it is followed with a consequent answer. The next measure establishes a one by using steps to create a motion. The rhythm is two sixteenths and an eighth, to two quarters on one. The two sixteenths sort of whip into one, giving it an emphasis. This concludes one whole subphrase, and begins an asymetrical one with the brass. Another one of the aspects of this piece that give it a more unusual sound is its tonality. It is difficult for the listener to immediately establish any stability because the parts are jumping around so much, especially in the bass. The textures don't blend to really create one core sound. The next phrase beginning with the brass, although on a held do, still sounds foreign because of the lack of stability in the first phrase. The phrase proceeds to be evasive, and also incorporates some syncopation. The syncopation creates a sort of rushed continuence. The phrase is again repeated with some elaboration, making an asymetrical parrellel period. The next phrase is very long, and transistional. It switches to a softer dynamic, and to softer wind sounds. The tonality is even more evasive, with some kind of dissonant intervals in the bass. The rhythms are also very repetitive, and center around an eighth note rhythm accentuated by syncopations. The next phrase is a restatement of the motive, the first phrase. It then enters a very long transisitonal function similar to the earlier one. It eventually develops with the previous transistional function into its own continuous section. The developmental function transistions abruptly back to the theme, and key of the A section, which concluded with the transistional function to the developmental function. After a one phrase statement of the expository function, it enters another transistional function back to the B section, and again briefly states the motive, then the developmental function, and the motive again. A new section is then introduce in the brass, more up beat, with more off-beat metric accent. It then enters, a quieter, more subdued theme, the degree of contrast between the new section theme and this one paraelled with the one between section A and B. One of the biggest contrast between each paired theme is in the textures. The softer, more subdued themes had a lot of paraelle motion, with closer steps, less metric accent. The ending doesn't build up or anything, it just gives the impression of stopping. I really wasn't sure of the structure. I looked at it in four parts, two themes varied twice. The themes are in complete contrast with each other, and create an antecedent, consequent tension. They both maintain the context of the piece by establishing a very evasive tonality, several HC. Overall, I liked the first theme the best. I also liked a lot of the dissonant tonality and how the rhythms depended on one another.

Comfortable - John Mayer

This song's melody is very stepwise. The song speaks of an old love that is missed very much. He reminisces on the wonderful times he had with his old love. Their love was comfortable and right. Then, he sings about his new girlfriend who is "picture perfect." He's not impressed with this and finds her fake. She keeps herself primm and proper and doesn't want to be flawed in any way. At the end of the song, he says how badly he wants his old girlfriend back. He wants the comfortable love, not the fake love.

"Insomniac" by Straight No Chaser

Since I've gone far too long without analyzing an a capella song, I will procede to do that right now. "Insomniac" is probably the best known song performed by IU's a capella group Straight No Chaser. The original is done by Billy Pilgrim, and I don't know who that is either, but enough with the background. This song has three main chord progressions, one for the verses, one for the intro and one for the chorus. We begin with a small descant over the intro riff (I-IV-V, repeated) which we do twice before we introduce our chorus progression. This section is very rhythmic, as the bass pounds out eight notes over the rest of the groups staccato quartes on beats on 1, 3 and 4. We repeat I-I-IV-IV for 3 lines, before we complete the progression on the fourth line, leaning into a half cadence. The third line we add a small descant over (ahhhs) over the lead line. When we hit the chorus, our lead line spilts into two lines, the duo interplaying as the accompanying voices beat out our chorus progression, a repeated vi-IV-ii-V progression, with an extension the second time, reducing the voices down to simply the bass and lead, as we return to a PAC. The intro riff comes back, only once though, as we return to our verse riff, the upper accompany voice now crescendoing through each chord, adding another layer of texture, a smoothness that is suddenly cut short before changing chords and repeating. This effect adds an air of restlessness as we return to the chorus riff. After this chorus riff we return to it again, holding off the PAC until after another chorus, including a doubled length of the extension. We return to another chorus progression, our final one, and the trasitional extension now becomes even longer, building slowly as we add overlapping voices. We finally come to the climax of the song, crashing through to a huge fortissimo and we bring back our original intro riff, only once, and we finally resolve it to a PAC. I love this song because it has all the elements of a really good a capella number. The bass is low and rhythmic, the inner voices outline the chord but offer some interesting lines, and the upper voices sky over everything, arching and swelling in and out. Long live a capella!

Angels, ever bright & fair- from Theodora by Handel

I'm doing this song for my sophomore proficiency exam and I've been listening to a lot of different recordings of this song to decide on some embellishments. My favorite recording is by Lorraine Hunt with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra conducted by Nicholas McGegan.
This song is from Theodora Act I, scene 5. This is an oratorio made up almost entirely of loosely connected arias to tell a serious story, which made it unpopular during its time. At this point in the opera, Theodora has been imprisoned for being a Christian and the government is going to make an example out of her by forcing her to be a prostitute before killing her. Now, I know what you're thinking, but this is a very GOOD SONG!!! In the song Theodora pleads with the angels to take her now to her death so she does not have to ruin herself in the eyes of the Lord. She wants to die for her God as his humble and faithful servant and not as a prostitute.
It is your typical da capo aria of the time. The A section is pleading with the angels in a sweet melody and constant repitition of "take, oh, take me!" in a Mi-Re-Fa-Mi pattern throughout. The B section is where she gets angry and almost impatient with the angels and says "Speed to your own courts my flight, clad in robes of virgin white." There is some striking chromaticism in the words "virgin white" because of the irony that most likely she will not be a virgin when she dies. (Eventually she is murdered during a rescue attempt by her "boyfriend")
Well, that's enough depressing stories for your mid-week. But I do HIGHLY suggest looking up this song. It's just beautiful. One of Handel's most unappreciated works if you ask me!

Andrea Boscelli- L'Atesta

The underlying structure of this piece is very simple, but out of the limited foundation is built a very beautiful and passionate with a melody that seems to go all over the place. The accompaniment of the piece is kept very repetitious, sounding out one note at a time on the keyboard to spell at the chord (arpeggios) and with a few strings echoeing. The keyboard is continuous playing a similar sequence throughout, allowing Boscelli to take many pauses in the singing and making the phrasing very clear. Most of these phrases are symmetric in length. A melodic motive in the voice part repeats often, and the contour and material is the same throughout. While this sounds like possible boredom, Boscelli is able to create an intense emotional effect and great beauty. The piece maximizes Boscelli’s great voice by frequent registry and dynamic changes to give the piece interest. For example, Boscelli will sing a melodic motive softly and on low notes, and then he’ll frepeat it 3 octaves above very loudly, and there is a completely different effect. Boscelli’s voice is unmasked, as it should be. Mask

HINDEMITH: Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes of Carl Maria von Weber ii. Turandot: Scherzo

This is my favorite symphony in the world, plain and simple. Ever since my sophomore year in high school when I was introduced to the music of Paul Hindemith, he has pretty much had me enthralled, and I've loved learning about him.
When I studied with Nancy King at UofM we talked a lot about Hindemith in my lessons, I was working his Sonatas for Oboe and English Horn at the time. She told me that one of the most important things to keep in mind with his music is that when Hindemith came to the United States, the first two types of music that he heard were the ones that influenced him the greatest. Those two types were patriot songs\school fight songs and jazz. The fight song style can relaly be heard famously in the fourth movement of this piece the March, and I really feel like the rhythm in the Scherzo gives it a lot of jazz-like qualities. These two types of music are so present throughout the Symphonic metamorphosis, that its clear to the listener that my oboe teacher was in fact correct.
The scherzo is is probably the most difficult of the four movements just because it really carries out the expectations of any great symphony work. It is extremely demanding of each and every part respectively and requires that the instrumentalists play in an extremely virtuostic\soloistic manner. The texture changes so quickly from the dense, full sound of a full orchestra, thick with low brass, to say an English Horn solo at the drop of a hat, its important that the members of the orchestra really be on top of things at every second, or at least that is my take on this piece having played it several times...
The other big thing about Hindemith is RHYTHM. He was obsessive when it came to different rhythmic motives, and the scherzo's difficulty level is due to the complicated rhythms combined with the sometimes sparse texture. The middle section of the piece really gets complicated as the theme gets twisted into somewhat of a fugue section, and is passed to nearly every instrumental section.
The at a first listen, the coolest thing about this piece is the general ambiance that it creates. It sets a precedent for the rest of the piece, and gives kind of a kooky, spooky tone to the overall work as a whole, something that I think Hindemith was also fond of in his work.

"Because" - The Beatles

“Because” by The Beatles

Because the world is round,
it turns me on
Because the world is round
Ah … Because the wind is high,
it blows my mind
Because the wind is high.

Ah ….Love is old, love is new
Love is all, love is you
Because the sky is blue,
it makes me cry
Because the sky is blue.
Ah …

Not the most popular Beatles song, but one of the most intriguing, in my opinion. The song was released on the Abbey Road album in 1969 for both the UK and US versions. On the Beatles Discography website (an awesome resource for any Beatles fan) it reads that John’s inspiration for the song came when Yoko played Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14 in C# minor (the Moonlight Sonata) on the piano for him. He playfully asked if she could play it backwards, and being the pianist that she was, she did. John later claimed that the melody from “Because” is actually Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14 backwards.

I don’t have the sheet music for both pieces with me, but supposedly the harpsichord arpeggiation for “Because” is a direct lift from the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata. Listening to both, it really does sound like John stole the left hand arpeggiation from Beethoven, although the chord progression isn’t necessarily the same. In fact, I grabbed a piano and found that “Because” is even written in the same key, C# minor. I had never thought about this before, but it really does make “Because” much more humorous, in that goofy, Beatles-ish sort of way.

The song uses John, Paul and George on joint lead vocals, harmonizing on three parts throughout the song. John also plays lead guitar, while Paul plays bass (as usual) and George plays a moog synthesizer (?). George Martin plays an electric harpsichord on the track, which adds a classical music element. Electric harpsichords were also “hip” at the time. It was the ‘60s, man, and Baroque was IN.

I love how the lyrics are straight from an acid trip: The cyclic feeling of the harpsichord arpeggiations could make a drugged up person really dizzy. The lyrics are reminiscent of the times when you’re stoned and you start discussing really deep things like the meaning of life, and are we alone? and what is love? and why is the sky blue? Also the phrases, “It turns me on” and “it makes me high.” Very psychedelic. It makes perfect sense.

Tidbit: There’s a great cover of this song done for George Martin’s farewell album (the Beatles’ famed producer) performed by Vanessa Mae and a large chorus.

Another interesting tidbit: The band had a running joke about Beethoven references. Whenever a reporter asked them, “What do you think of Beethoven?”, Ringo would answer, “I love him … especially his poems.”

:) Groovy, baby.

Telemann Suite in A Minor

I played this piece with my high school band my senior year of high school and now that I'm studying another baroque piece and after Kuijken's visit, I thought it would be interesting to revisit this. The piece begins with the soloist and the ensemble playing a slow theme in unison. It was a nice contrast to the Bach sonata in b minor because with that, there are clear soloist and accompaniment sections, but they are split up much more sporadically throughout the piece, whereas this happens in large chunks. Following the initial unison part, the soloist takes over and the orchestra has the accompaniment position. By now, the melody is no longer the long flowing motive we started out with, but has switched over to a fast-paced part, which is comprised mostly of sixteenth note scalar patterns. Most of the solo throughout its featured sections has this part. The soloist exits after awhile and the piece goes back to the orchestra/solo being in unison. It continues on with this quicker melody and then returns to another solo section, still containing mostly sixteenth note patterns. All of the solo material has seemed to tonicize different notes many times throughout its scale patterns, varying it a little every time and sometimes playing around in major keys. Finally, the soloist and orchestra return to unison and finish up the fast section before returning to the initial long, flowing melody we were first introduced to. Throughout the piece, beats 1 and 3 were emphasized and all others were played down, just like a good Baroque interpretation.

"Midnight Rider" by the Allman Brothers band

The structure of the song "Midnight Rider," written by Greg Allman, is very simple. It starts with a short guitar introduction, about four measures long, the rest of the instruments come in for eight measures, and then the verse starts. There are three verses in the song, all consisted of four lines, with the last two lines of each verse being the refrain. So really you could say that Allman only wrote three, two line verses with each line having the same melody and the refrain only being slightly different. All of the verse have parallel melodies. The intro guitar part is a mixture of strings that sound to be part of one chord. They continue to play when the bass, drums, and lead guitar come in for the next eight measures, and the only time the guitar intro ceases to play is during the refrain and the instrumental break, separating the second and third verses, when it plays straight chords. The very rockin' style of this song makes it slightly difficult to determine exact melodic solfege but it is obvious that the main melodic theme is based on a minor triad of some sort, possibly "re-fa-fa-la" which is "I've-got-to-run." It's even odder because I assumed that the song was in a major key, but now I'm not totally sure. Yet, the exact notes are really not so important in comparison to the more noticeable vocal harmony that happens throughout the whole song. After the second verse, there is an instrumental break with a guitar solo, a short jam, and then two lead guitar parts playing together, harmonizing at certain points even though they are playing completely different parts. The song is probably in a slow two which you might determine by listening to the percussion which uses a classic rock beat: the bass drum on the first beat and the snare on the second. The bass line is very solid because it either stays fairly stagnant or follows the motion of the rhythm guitar. There is also an organ that accompanies with straight chords during most of the song. Overall, it is easy to hear a lot of motion chord from I to V to I again.
I really enjoy the smooth rocking sound of this song and how all the simple parts play together to really jam. I especially like the lyrics which describe the speaker's life on the road or run, however you wish to see it. First, the speaker has "got to run to keep from hidin" and he's "bound to keep on ridin'", meaning he's always on the run. The verse talk about the down sides to this life in the fast lane; "I don't own the clothes I'm wearing, and the road goes on forever." In the last verse the speaker has finally given up his crazy lifestyle, "I've gone past the point of caring. Some old bed I'll soon be sharing." He has given up and settled done, kind of sad. The words of the song are very interesting and have deeper meaning than most listeners care to notice.

Monday, February 28, 2005

The Planets. Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity

Gustav Holst
London Symphony Orchestra

The piece begins with a very dense, fast rhythm in the high winds of all sixteenths on the same alternating intervals. This rhythm accompanies many of the motives of this section, and functions as a way to establish tempo, and add depth to the expository line. The phrasing and metric accents establish a simple quadruple time signature. The first two measures of the wind rhythm serves as a way to also introduce the expository line, and signal throughout the section that it is returning back to the original theme. The expository line in the brass starts with a syncopated rhythm of eighth quarter quarter eighth quarter. The solfege of the line is something like fi-sol-mi-la-sol . . . and is effective due to the close steps except for the jump in mi. after four measures the phrase ends in an IAC. The same motive is then repeated after adding more voices and a crescendo, ending on an IAC. The piece then enters more of a transistional section, it is less dense, without syncopation and the accompanient line. The section eventually leads to a new expository line in the strings. The new line is very lite, deffinitly reflecting the joyous theme. It then transistions into another new motive in the brass, in three eight. The rhythm is just quarters, with the first note jump up to emphasize one. The motive is very effective because of the simplicity of it, especially because of what the listener is used to hearing. One is also emphasized by the low string down beats on one. The next phrase carries the motive to the strings, and the brass take the accompanient. The brass accompanient is a half note starting on two, and rephrases the emphasis of one with ti-do. This theme especially contrasts with the beginning sections because of its stablility in rhythm, tonality, and density. As the rhythm is continually repeated, it starts to transistion back to the original theme through the sixteenths heard in the beginning. It then decrescendos and enters another new motive, this time in the strings. This is my favorite motive in the piece, due to the deep register in the strings and pull the rhythm creates on do. The solfege is something like: mi-fa-sol-sol-do-ti-la-do-re-do-ti- . . . The first period of this motive ends in a PAC. The motive is especially shaped by the descending scalar bass line. The section ends in a PAC, and transistions abruptly back to the original theme; definitly a rounded binary form. This last function goes from developmental to terminal. One thing I really liked about the piece is the effective contrast of motifs. The first one was very dense, and energetic. The second one was more lite and joyous, and the third very sad and beautiful. Part of that contrast is due to the difference in phrasing and especially cadences. The first section signaled cadences more through dynamics and rhythm, while the third one used that tension from the pull of five to one. All the motives are somewhat contrasted, at the same time they are very well blended in a way to highlight their better qualities. They each manage to create some sort of pulse that keeps it moving all the way to the end.

Beethoven - Symphony no. 3 mvmt. 1

According to our music history textbook, one of the notable, revolutionary aspects of this piece is the almost programmatic way in which Beethoven uses the main theme - like a hero, the main theme faces challenges (other themes, etc.) but always defeats them. It seems as though the main theme struggles through developmental sections, but always triumphantly returns like a victorious hero.

However, to me, it sounds like most other music that has thematic material. Forms such as sonata and especially rondo had been used by composers for a long time before Beethoven, and when I listen to pieces it seems as though the same plot is involved, though the main theme may be based on a different emotion or concept.

Regardless, I felt very interested while listening to this piece. My imagination invented scenes to go along with the music, which probably happened because I knew the historical context of the piece and the images Beethoven was trying to portray.

"River Dance" from a Celtic Album with the Boston Pops Orchestra

This CD gets me in the mood to study in Ireland next semester. I love the Riverdance piece, because even though it's stereotypical Irish "traditional" music, it helps motivate me to keep working no matter how exhausted or stressed am I am. It's divided into sections that sound like completely different songs that are interconnected through a steady 3 beat meter. Some of the sections sound very techno with screeching guitars while other sections have the traditional foot stomping violin pulses that make one want to soar through the sky in a riveting dance even if this person is completely incapable of doing so. This piece uses every structural phenomenon imaginable from huge dynamic contrasts starting very lyrically with images of sheep grazing on rich green hills to vigorous fortes that pull everyone into its embrace. The timbre and density is constantly changing with instrumentation from flutes, to guitars, to violins, to drums. The rhythm and tempo fluctuates frequently. I have no idea what the form would be considered but I know the piece is jiggin'.

Rachmaninov: Sonata for Cello & Piano in G Minor III. Andante

Rachmaninov: Sonata for Cello & Piano in G Minor III. Andante

It is a very tranquil piece which is made up of a lot of sustained chords. The cello part mimics the piano part a lot throughout and seems to be mainly focused on the i and V chord in the A sections with occasional and increasingly wanderings away from it in the B section. Very simple, yet complex how purely beautiful it is. Extremely flowing from one part to the next even through key changes there is no jolting feeling of the change…just very calming. It’s about half way through the piece where the piece develops from the very calm and tranquil feeling to one that could be envisioned as the sun trying to shine through the clouds. As the end of this B section you have a very satisfying feeling as if all though you just got worked up everything is going to be okay. Then the A section returns to really give you the sense of home with the focusing chords being i and V. Towards the end there are some accidentals thrown in to give a sense of tension before the final chords, which really makes those final chords even more sweet to the ear now that it is all simple chord tones.

Devienne, Flute Concerto in E minor

This flute concerto by Francois Devienne is an excellent example of classical flute composition. The famous third movement, the Rondo, is my favorite.
In the first 8 bars of the movement we can hear the beautiful theme of the piece that we find to permeate the rest of the piece. In the large scale, this piece come in three large sections. It is roughly a rounded binary form, of A B A'. In the first section, we hear the theme of the piece played out, usually alternating phrases. Devienne makes use of the triplet and 32nd note,
in juxtaposition with the theme. This gives developmental sections much more contrast. The increase in rhythm also builds excitement and shows off the performers virtuosity.
The B section is definately a transition period. Almost completely removing itself from any semblence of the original theme, it modulates twice into the foreign keys of F major and Eb Major.
In the recapitulation of the main theme, we hear that theme again. Devienne adds a little more speed, building the excitement of the piece until its flurry of a conclusion.
I really like this piece, even though it is very classical. There are few surprises as most melodic movement is scalar, and cadences are typical and expected. However, Devienne's craftmenship of melody and his use of grace notes really bring out the best music in a flute.

Jack Johnson- Sitting, Wishing, Waiting

So one of my friends from highschool highly recommend I download this song, and it instantly became my song of the week. (Seriously. Download. It. Now.) Jack has such a smokey sweet voice that no matter what he sang I would like it. But this song represents the personal struggle that I think everyone goes through in relationships.
The chord progression and alternation between building tension and happy I-V progressions is very striking and makes you listen. He starts out saying, "I'm always sitting, wishing, waiting for you" and he talks about how much he likes "you" in a happy melody. Then he says, "Must I always be waiting for you? Must I always be playing the fool?". Then he goes over all the things he has done for this girl like get to know her friends even though he hated them and all that he gets is insulted in return. Poor Jack Johnson. At the end of the song, he resolves that he's never "waiting on love" again because it's too much trouble.
Way to go Jack. Stick to your guns.

"Think of Me" from Phantom of the Opera

"Think of Me" from The Phantom of the Opera. Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics by Charles Hart. Performed by Sarah Brightman.

This is a pretty famous song and a pretty famous show, so I don't feel like I need to include much background information, but I would like to include a little bit. An opera company is in rehearsal for a new opera they are putting on. The primadona who is supposed to be singing the aria quits the show, and at the last minute Christine takes her place. At the beginning of the song, they are still in rehearsal, and she is singing it for the director and producers for the first time. The music starts out very timidly, the only accompaniment is arpeggiated I chords. When Christine comes in it is very hushed and shy. This is for a dramatic purpose... she begins timidly but throughout the piece her voice gets bigger and bigger with her newfound confidence. (Unlike Emmy Rossum in the movie who just kind of had a light not yet fully developed voice which never got any bigger throughout the song... but that is beside the point)
The melody is full of octave leaps. When the first verse begins, the orchestra comes in beautifully and plays the melody again, but the music has modulated to a higher key. The orchestra plays for 8 measures, and during this time the scene is changed from rehearsal to the actual performance. The texture in the orchestra is a lot more full under the vocal line now because all of the instruments are playing. She is now singing the melody in full voice and it is gorgeous.
At the B section there is a meter change from 4/4 to 12/8. There are now mostly half notes instead of quarter notes and eighth notes. Both of these factors cause the tempo to slow down a great deal.
When the melody comes back again, it is at a very hushed volume and sounds expressive and almost secretive. There is a huge crescendo at the end of the line when she sings up the scale on half notes and hold out a high do. There is a brief orchestra break, and Raoul (an old childhood friend of Christine) sings about her from the balcony. Christine comes in once more and sings the motive that has appeared throughout the song, and then comes the big finish. The cadenza at the end of this song is pretty impressive (especially for musical theatre music) and quite well known. The orchestra joins back in with Christine on the final and highest note, which of course has a formatta over it. Once again I will end my entry saying... what a great show! Hey DePauw faculty... this is a little more classical... can I sing something from Phantom??? Huh??? Please??? :-)

Another obscure song! "Min Barndom" - Tommy Korberg

“Min Barndom” is a Swedish version of the Jacques Brel song, “Mon Enfance.” The cover is sung by Swedish crooner Tommy Körberg, whom hardly anyone has ever heard of but is a huge name in Sweden and Denmark. The track is found on his CD, Tolkar, a compilation of Jacques Brel songs performed in Swedish.

I discovered Tommy Körberg (I’ll refrain from using the umlaut now because it’s a pain in the ass to insert each time) on the original concept album of Chess, an ‘80s rock musical by Tim Rice, and Abba’s Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus. The musical is glorious, and Korberg is definitely the strongest voice on the recording. He is known for playing the lead of The Russian in virtually all major productions to this date – that’s over 20 years and he’s now about 55 years old! Korberg was also set to play the original Phantom and was one of the first considered to play Jean Valjean.

Korberg’s voice is a rich velvety baritone with a strong upper register. It amazes me that he’s never had any formal training, and yet his technique is perfect, his breath support incredibly strong, and his voice has gotten better with age.

OK, on to the song … now that I’m done raving! J “Min Barndom,” or “Mon Enfance” is about a man remembering his childhood. I wish I could find a full English translation, I only have a paraphrased version. Basically the man longs for the happiness and simplicity of his boyhood – playing cowboys and Indians and teasing girls. He comments on how life is so complicated as a grown man, and how he would like to slip back into his childhood self and have careless fun again. Even though I have NO understanding of Swedish, the song’s meaning is still universal. I think all of us at one point or another have remembered our past and wished that we could return to those days and forget today’s complications. The song had some political undertones then and now – then it spoke out against the Vietnam War, and now it can be adapted to any conflict.

The song only has piano accompaniment by Swedish pianist Stefan Nilsson, yet you could hardy call it accompaniment. The song seems more like a classic art song, with the piano and singer having equal roles in telling the story. The accompaniment is languid and dramatic (reminds me of Liszt) – lots of trills in higher octaves in the beginning. Most of the piano part is divided into ascending arpeggios in the left hand (which sounds like it’s in the treble) and lots of dazzling virtuosic movement in the right hand – trills, turns, improvisations. I don’t know if Brel intended any symbolism when he wrote this, but I interpret the left hand as kind of the stable, reality check – reminding the character of his complicated, adult life. The right hand represents the fantasy of his childhood, which is why it’s more elaborate and playful. The accompaniment is very romantic in style.

The song is mostly in strophic form – there are three verses with little variation except in the piano part. A change in the melody occurs afterwards, kind of a developmental section. I wish I knew the words at this point, because it’s the climactic point in the song and must also be the realization in the poem! Korberg sort of speaks one phrase for added emphasis.

Korberg’s interpretation is very beautiful, one of my favorite songs. Its an interesting departure from Brel’s original version, since Brel liked to sing-speak his songs with his raspy, yet expressive voice. Korberg’s voice is also heavily expressive, yet his wonderful vocal tone takes the song to a whole new level. Needless to say, I love it!

"and so it goes"...billy joel

the song begins with the melody being played in simple chords...the only variance is a suspension here and there. when he starts singing, the accompaniment is still in the chordal style. there is a brief piano interlude in the middle, but for the most part it's solo voice above piano and a keyboard.

I don't know about you, but the structure of the chords with the voice above it is remarkably like a hymn. i think he went for this because of the degree of honesty and power he put in the lyrics. no one is going to argue with a hymn, and because it has this same sacred feeling...i feel as though he words and thoughts are sacred also. not sacred about god, but sacred and beautiful and very special. there are lots of 4-3 suspensions that add an extra sort of longing, and pull in the listener, just a little bit more.

here are some lyrics, because i think he's a genius:

in every heart there is a room/a sanctuary safe and strong
to heal the wounds of lovers past/until a new one comes along

i spoke to you in cautious tones/you answered me with no pretense
and still i feel i said too much/my silence is my self defense

and every time i've held a rose/it seems i only felt the thorns
and so it goes, and so it goes/and so will you soon i suppose

but if my silence made you leave/then that would be my worst mistake
so i will share this room with you/and you can have this heart to break

and so it goes, and so it goes
and you're the only one who knows

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Rhythm of the Night- Moulin Rouge

Welll gosh darnit...i my comp just deleted everything i just wrote...grrrr!!! So, now condensed version in case it is posting somewhere: i like this piece. I think it is funny how Moulin Rouge takes place in Paris and the beat is Latin samba. It follows the standard verse, chorus, verse, keychange, chorus, extended ending in chorus form. Otherwise known as a binary form. I like the rhythms in the piece. Not much else to say, just a good example for the verse, chorus form. grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!

Rhythm of the Night- Moulin Rouge

I like this song alot. What I find interesting and kind of amusing about this is that the whole Mooulin Rouge story takes place in Paris, and the main rhythm of this song a latin samba...hah hah. This follows the simple verse, chorus, verse, key change, chorus, extended cadence type form. Fairly predictable. I just really like the rhythms in this song and how they work with the words. I just think it is a lot of fun, nothing really deep about it, just thought it was interesting and a prime example of the very typical verse, chorus binary form. Have a wonderful night!

Rhythm of the Night- Moulin Rouge

I like this song alot. What I find interesting and kind of amusing about this is that the whole Mooulin Rouge story takes place in Paris, and the main rhythm of this song a latin samba...hah hah. This follows the simple verse, chorus, verse, key change, chorus, extended cadence type form. Fairly predictable. I just really like the rhythms in this song and how they work with the words. I just think it is a lot of fun, nothing really deep about it, just thought it was interesting and a prime example of the very typical verse, chorus binary form. Have a wonderful night!

"Sheer Heart Attack" by Queen

As the title might indicate, this song could very well cause a heart attack if an old person heard it a full blast. It is a song written in the early years of punk rock and was intended to show groups like the Sex Pistols that Queen could do the same thing.

The song begins with a guitar slide, vocal pick up la-ti on three and four and bursts into action. The song begins with three four bar phrases as the verse with the first two bars of each staying on the I chord with vocal and the second two bars mostly staying on the V chord with no vocal but some lead guitar. The rhythm guitar, bass guitar, and bass drum have driving eighth notes with usual two and four snare at a tempo of probably quarter note 150

After this begins the chorus which has three separate parts. The first part is eight bars stays entirely on the V chord which really makes the listener anticipate the main chorus. The vocal has also quickened to every other measure. The second part, however, is similar to two of the first four bar phrases but has the singer singing through the last bar finally into the main chorus. The main chorus is defined by the fact it is the first time the bass guitar and rhythm guitar have quit doing the constant eighth notes. Rather, they provide the rhythmical accompaniment by doing a 1 (234) (12) 3 (4) 1 (2) & (3) 4 (1) & (2) 3 4 behind the vocalist for the very long "sheer" and then the "heart attack" is part of two bars of the eighth note material again. This repeats two more times. Then the background music changes again, with the drums joining the vocal for a syncopated (two eighth notes, one eighth rest, etc.) "in-ar" ticulate which provides good rhythmic representation of the word.

The verse section and the chorus is repeated again with slightly more involvement from the lead guitar.

Then the instrumental solo comes which has the accompaniment on 1 & 2 & (3) 4 with the 4 on the V chord and the rest on the I chord. But this isn't any traditional solo. Fitting in with the title of "sheer heart attack" the solo is the guitarist playing ridiculously high notes without any regard for rhythm or melody. It's quite annoying unless you're headbanging to the driving accompaniment. After this, the guitar does some swooshing like effect which leads to a drum solo which becomes phased (think 80's electronic drum)

This transitions back into the second part of the chorus, which leads into the third part of the chorus. But at the end of the non-eighth note part (and before the syncopation) the music suddenly ends. It's a weird feeling to hear this driving wall of sound and have it end without any coda or elongated tonic chord. But once again, it fits in with the lyrics of the song.

O Magnum Mysterium

This peace is incredibly beautiful. The voices are angelic, sounding as if the praise is coming straight from heaven. The mysterious sound to personify the mysteries of the Lord is also captured. This is captured in the common movement between consonance and dissonance, the variation between the movement and timing of voices, and the frequently delaying the complete sounding of a chord. The phrasing of the piece is dictated mostly by the words of the piece, usually ending on a melisma of the final syllable (ex. do-mi-nu), and being made clear by the breathing of the choir or a short pause. Also, a phrase ending often is made very clear by the final arrival to the complete consonant chord after non-chord tones had created sharp dissonance. There is no definite form to the piece; it is free=floating and continuous.

"Money" by Pink Floyd

A very interesting song to say the least. First things first, we have what has to be one of the most "unique" time signatures in pop music as we are faced with the asymmetric 7/4 meter. This meter allows the beat to constantly move forward, as it makes us feel we've dropped the downbeat. This disjointed sensation complements the song very well, as the lyrics speak of how much we've all come to rely on money, even though in reality it has no actually value, only what value we attach to it. The whole song is focused in on the bassline groove- a simple do-do-sol-la-do-re-do groove that simply modulates to the dominant for the bridge between verses. Sound effects compliment the introduction, as the sound of tinkling change and cash registers actually count out the awkward beat of the song. After our 2 verses and bridge progression is repeated 2 times, a saxophone solo weaves it's way through one more repeat of the original material, acting as a trasition to the second half of the piece. Now we move to the second half of the song, which is basically a long guitar solo over a new 4/4 time signature. This switch in time signatures doesn't readily feel important, but it drives home the awkward feel of the first half, as this second half is very rhythmic, with the drum pounding out quarter notes, really pounding out the difference. After the long (over a minute) solo we return to our 7/4 feel, for one last verse, which has a weird cadential extension, as if stuck between two beats, it just repeats the last two beats over and over as it fades out. Funky little song, Floyd rocks!

Faure's Requiem - Libera me

This begins with an absolutely stunning baritone solo. The underlying pulse is very aggrivated and moves forward. The chorus comes in singing "tremens, tremens" meaning trembling. The movement's focus is on judgement day and the fear of God associated with it. At the piu mosso, the chorus enters on a fabulous unison. It's very clear and powerful. Because it's fortissimo at this point, the power of fear becomes very aparant. It continues with the original melody coming back into the chorus, rather than the soloist. All in unison, they plea and exclaim their fear for God. The soloist comes back in with that same melody again. It ends with all voices asking God to deliver them to the promised eternity.

Scarlatti: Sonata in C Major K. 159 (banjo, Bela Fleck)

This fast paced Scarlatti Sonata, which sounds as if it is in a compound time signature, may be charactuerized by a number of repeating phrases and similar themes. The beginning measures display a repeated phrase, ending with a half cadence, followed by another repeated phrase with a cadential sort of extension ending with an expected authentic cadence. This first section oftthe song, A, could be called a double period, but it could also be repeated phrases or phrase groups. The melody in the first phrase of section A is mi-re-do-do-ti-la-la-ti-do(with a trill)-ti-ti. The accompanying harmony is only one other note during all of the A section of the piece. Section A is repeated before the piece directly modulates to c minor. In this section, B, the same rhythms are used as in Section A which creates a nice paralleling effect. During this section, as in section A the melody may be heard ver clearly. Most of the non-chord tones are passing or appoggiaturas that flow very smoothly in the fast paced melody. The left hand or in this case the accompanying banjoe strings may be heard playing blacked chords, unlike section A with the two harmonizing notes. Also, many V and I chords could be heard in Section A along with other classical sounding chord progressions, but section B definitly uses more varied chords. Section B seems shorter than A and the end of B uses a cadenza-ish run down the scale to return to the original major key. At this point section A comes back in, giving the piece a nice A-B-A form. Because B and A repeat, we could actually say the song is A-A-B-A-B-A. I enjoy this piece because of its upbeat tempo, modulation to the minor which isn't overly shocking, and it's overall happy/encouraging feel. The song is very nice on piano but is even better when performed by Bela Fleck on the banjoe. The plucked notes give the song even more bounce. In fact, it is a very short piece, and a listener should hear it a few times to gain full listening enjoyment! It helps that parts of the song are repeated, but they can still be missed. I like the rhythmic theme that is used throughout the song.

Oh What a World - Rufus Wainright

Alright, so I warned you all that you'd be hearing more about Rufus Wainright... "Oh what a world" is the opener for his first big album "Want One", and its the perfect big opener for a first big album if I do say so myself.
It starts in a canonic form, as a lot of his songs do (so I have noticed). The kind of cool thing is though, is that he's in canon with himself, sometimes there will be up to four part harmony, all done by Rufus and recorded separately then meshed together.
After a few minutes, there is a tuba that comes in and joins the canon playing a simple pattern with two notes that gives kind of a see-saw lilt to the song. The sound byte of coins jingling is then added into the mix and this whole almost fugue of voice, tuba, and jingling coins is created.
Suddenly, (or maybe not so suddenly to an untrained ear) a familiar melody is underneath the vocals and right as the second full strain of lyrics is completed... Ravel's 'Bolero' is playing as the bridge in full orchestral score only for about thirty seconds.
The main lyrics are repeated of course, more slowly and processional-like, also a lot louder, and then the song begins to fade away with 'Bolero' in the background, and the English Horn ends up playing the melody to close out the song along with Rufus' voice in three part harmony humming the opening strain.
It sounds complicated, and it is, but its one of the coolest songs I know!

Stravinsky's "Symphony of Psalms"

In light of the recent choir concert, I'd like to write on Stravinsky's "Symphony of Psalms." Unlike our performance of it last night, this recording is performed with orchestra. It is composed of three movements. The first movement is underscored by a primordial ostinato, and above it, the choir struggles between the e and f, as if caught in the inevitability of their own mortality. To me, it sounds like civilizations trying to rise against the face of time like crippled birds to the air or waves in the ocean to the sun. The rebellion of the spirit rises only to fall inexorably, creating a rocking sensation and thus adding to the sense of time moving mercilessly foreward. One thing I notice in the orchestration is the presence of the winds--their sharply blunt sound conotes a primitive thrusting.

Flummerfelt felt the second movement to be a response to the first movement. In listening, it seems as though the fugue is a rather nebulous and further perplexing answer to the question of human mortality and existence stated, rather than posed, in the first movement. With its dipping, haunting intervals, slithering like a snake, coiling around the monuments of human limitation, it builds slowly and suprisingly into an almost gentle tapestry, soothing the ear until interrupted by the sopranos singing "I wait." It is perfect, for it seems the answer to our inescapable conundrums is really a sort of waiting silence, a mix of bitter, mocking despair and sweet hope. We wait as we breathe, and nothing shall be certain until we breathe no more. In this section, we also have the only PAC in the entire piece--at the end of the first choral section. It is only held for one beat, because the tonic is quickly spoiled by a lowered half step. Then the choir re-enters, stronger, like a great trudging weight, now carrying with it the chilling intervals of the beginning fugue. It ends with the sopranos holding a c, on a drawn out static chord, that leaves the listener hollow, cold.

The last movement begins with tenderness. "Alleluiah"..."Laudate domine" (praise to god)...It is reconciliation with the mystery, wonder at all paradox and all significance, awe of the human condition. It is my favorite movement--the soprano line is so gentle, magical. But this is not only a calm movement, it is also full of rhythmic frenzy and stark contrast. But how could a movement which concludes such a work be only that of peace and resignation? This is not a passive praise, this is a rhythmic almost angry "laudate dominum" spat out in various syncopations. The voices move together in a rhythmic tension which builds and then subsides again into white ecstasy--but only for a movement, the strength of spirit rises and the voices are joined by the brass section. But again, this returns to a sweet melody in the soprano section accompanied by the basses until the whole choir joins, and builds (with the sopranos rising up and up) and climaxing in a jarring cadence of harsh intervals. Then, all subsides into a resigned wave of hypnotic repetitions of text and melody. This is where I absolutely adore the soprano line--it is otherwordly. (half half quarter quarter--e, d, c, d) The whole work ends on a alleluiah and then breaks the last word "domine", symbolizing man's as a finite being's incapacity to approach the infinite, or rather to achieve the ultimate.