Saturday, March 12, 2005

Vivaldi - The Four Seasons - Largo from 'Winter'

Throughout this movement, there is an accompaniment of plucked strings. This is a huge contrast to the flowing soloist part. It seems like the two are not in agreement with each other - the solo part wants to ad lib a bit but can't because the accompaniment is trying to keep the piece as close to its own tempo and meter. At times the piece sounds like it has its own verses and chorus - there is a distinct melody part and then there are sections of upward-moving scales that seem to act like a chorus. The first thing that came to mind while listening to this piece was a horse-drawn carriage traveling through a gentle snowstorm. I heard the plucked strings as the horses' hooves, but after a quick search I found that Vivaldi intended the story of the movement to be this:

To pass by the fire quiet, contented days While hundreds outside are
drenched By rain.

I guess it depends on the performance of the piece because I definitely didn't hear any torrential downpour.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Orff's Carmina Barana and a very long, unrelated saga on religion (namely Catholicism) and accepting Christ

Well, I haven’t started my listening journal because I’ve been talking to someone about his Catholic Faith and Jesus for the last 3hrs. Now, no offense to this class, because I do love listening to music, but I stand by my decision that it was more important to talk to my friend about his religion instead of writing about a piece of music. Well now that I’ve told you just a tad, I’m a bit trapped and will have to tell you all that’s really gone on, even if you don’t really care, because I’m very excited about it. I’m not sure what sparked the conversation, but I believe that it was God answering mine and others prayers for doors to be opened to talk to my fraternity brothers about my faith, and shazam! Here the doors opened in a very big way just one night after the prayers with very little work from me alone. I was fascinated to hear about all the traditions of Catholicism and wanted to figure out why it was so important and what they truly meant to him in particular. In our discussions, my concern quickly became that with all this focus on so many traditions (great as they seem), the focus was taken off what really mattered (Man’s fall, separation from God and the judgment of death, God’s love and compassion, Jesus’ death and resurrection, victory over Satan and the death of sin, accepting Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior and admitting your great need in him and his blood, so as to receive the free gift of eternal life and salvation with the Lord, striving to glorify God in all that you do out of gratitude for his magnificent blessing and unconditional love). What I kept continually stressing and asking him was “I know you went through confirmation in front of all these people, and don’t get me wrong, it’s a great tradition and all, but do you really know Jesus and profess him as your savior with not only your mouth, but inside your heart? Because that’s how the spirit comes into the heart, and if there is no spirit within you, then your words will not save you when you come face to face with the God of the Universe.” I never really got a straight answer. And I was denied when I asked if I can pray that prayer by his side tonight. So I don’t really know what’s going on inside of him, but I’ll continue to hope and pray that if he indeed doesn’t know Jesus, that he will come to him by the end of the week, because we never know what tomorrow will bring. I don’t know if anyone will read this, but I apologize if I’ve offended anyone and hope that you can understand that as a Christian, I would feel that I’ve done an injustice to God, myself, and everyone of you if I kept silent the call that came as I entered this Blogg. When you stand before the throne of God on the Day of Judgment, I don’t want anyone to be able to say that you never heard about Jesus because Edward Geyer always sat quietly in the back of class and never spoke a word. If this has affected one person for the better, it was worth the time it took to write this a 100-fold. And it doesn’t matter to me if you’re Catholic, Jew, Atheist, Mormon, Baptist, or Presbyterian, I would love to hear about your faith and to tell you about mine. Because I’m in the business of saving souls and changing hearts for the better, and things are just starting to heat up. You see, I’m probably the shyest person in the entire class, but when I come boldly to the grace of the throne and answer the call from God above, I can give all my fears and restrictions to Him, and in His mighty wisdom and all-consuming love, He will take control and say things in this journal for which I myself have no words in me to say.

And now, on a fantastically lighter note, here is the form of my piece. To me, the form and division of this piece consists of 3 sections whose separation dictated almost completely by the large, sudden change in volume, register, and density. For example, nearly the exact same motive is repeated over and over in both the middle and final section, but boy do we hear a powerful difference. The middle gives a sense of preparation for going to war (sorry Dr. Spiegelberg, I know you don’t like us equating music to war, but that’s what I hear) or something and waiting for it to happen. And though we expect that to come, we start to doubt for a little as it plays that same motive over and over, softly but with some energy, it never really goes anywhere. But then when it comes we nearly fall out of our seats, even if we’ve heard the final part a zillion times in movies and commercials. And all that has really changed is a higher register, greater volume, and fuller density. The power in the sound at the beginning also enhances the distinction of the middle section. Aside from this, there is not really any cadential motion, transitions, important modulations or any other important phenomena to the structure. It moves to sections differently than the typical classical form, as 1 (A) was unrelated to 2 and 2 was more expository, and 3 (C) was a development of 2 (B). So I can’t really define the form because in all the stuff that we’ve done has some sort of a return of the A section at the end.

See everyone in a few hours, and best of luck on that test.

O Sponsa dei electa

This is a late 13th Century (apparently anonymous) english song in latin which talks about Mary as the chosen bride of god (hense the title). All voices sing the text at the same time and there are three voices, a woman's, a tenors, and then what sounds like a second tenor. It begins with two melodic phrase groups on "ah" before it starts the text, and after all the text is spoken, it ends with a phrase grouping on "eeh." I am tempted to say there are repeats in the melody, but since it's so short, it comes across to me as though they are singing something relatively through composed that works off of a sampling melodic contours. Here is the text:

O sponsa dei electa,
Esto nobis via recta
Ad eterna gaudia,
Ubi pax et gloria.
Tu nos semper, aure pia,
Dulcis exaudi Maria.

This rendition is sung by Masters of the Rolls, Gothic voices with Christopher page as the director.

Ron Nelson- Passacaglia on BACH

We're playing this piece in band right now, and its really great, there are so many things to say about it. First of all the fact that it revolves around the theme built upon only four notes, b, a, c and b-flat. Tonally, its such a unique sounding piece most of the time. The opening has a muddy texture in which the main motive is displayed randomly and jumping out of the texture. The "accompaniment" meanwhile, is built upon an octatonic scale giving a winding, and mysterious quality to the piece.
The theme is presented over 24 times throughout the course of the piece which is really one of the most interesting things about it. Its difficult to really pinpoint the structure of this particular passacaglia simply because the melody is repeated so frequently. Its almost difficult at times to pinpoint who has the melody because it creeps in and out of the texture almost seamlessly, and in so many variations that you really have to listen at times to even realize that you could have the main motive, or some form of it.
I really like the tension and the transformation that the piece undergoes, the tension is constantly being built through rhythm and tonality and then released which is satisfying to me.

'do nothin' till you hear from me'

so i guess i'm on a harry connick kick this week.

this tune starts with solo voice and then the piano comes in on dotted-eights +sixteenths . they then trade off between voice/piano and bass. there's a great walking bass line randomly in here. i like the orchestration of this piece. the sparse instrumentals really send the vocals out to focus.

then there's a piano solo with bass accompaniment. because of the percussive nature of the bassist, there's no need for a full rhythm section.

when the vocals come back in the piano and bass keep playing their jive for about 8 bars. (this can be the transitory section). after that we're in our A section, full swing.

i'd say that this is rounded binary ending on a PAC.
i love harry connick, jr. and you should, too!!

Pinball Wizard

Who wrote this? Oh yeah, The Who wrote this. Evertime I think of The Who, I think of this song. Well, this song, and Magic Bus, Teenage Wasteland, Seeker...Anyway, this is a great song. If you didnt' know, this song was written for the rock opera, "Tommy." It was played off broadway, made into a play, and is still performed today. It was made into a movie in 1975 starring Jack Nickelson. Weird huh?

Tommy, a dumb, deaf, and blind kid, sure can play a mean pinball. He feels the vibrations of the game, and can outplay anyone.
"He stands like a statue
Becomes part of the machine
Feeling all the bumpers
Always playing clean
He plays by intuition
The digit counters fall
That deaf, dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball"

The composer of the piece likes to think that listeners of this song will pick up the vibrations of the piece, much like Tommy. The rhythm of this piece is very unique. The first few measures lets the lead accoustic guitar intro with the melody. Enter a great drummer, the piece really gets moving. Next comes the singer, wailing on the melody. Man, these lyrics are amazing. You have a twisted mind to write a song about Helen Keller playing pinball, and "crazy flipper fingers." Say that three times fast...Unlike many pop songs, this song does not have a simple tonic dominant harmony. Instead The Who plays with Gmin, Bmin, F#min, Amin, etc. I think these harmonic progressions give the piece a lot of momentum, and color. It is not a cookie cutter pop song, it has a lot of variety, even if it is strophic.
In conclusion, I like The Who a lot. They are one of the best bands to walk the earth. If you haven't heard Magic Bus, you haven't lived. Do they remind anyone else of Led Zepplin? Peace.

Bobby McFerrin - Don't worry, be happy.

Bobby McFerrin – “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” OK: I LOVE this song – too many fond memories of growing up in Cali. My mom would sing this to me and my brother all the time – I think I had my own little dance to it. And today I downloaded ITunes, which is the most amazing thing since you can view and listen to other people’s music. And someone had this song!!! I don’t know who Kyle D. is, but I love him.

I didn’t know that Bobby McFerrin also conducted and worked with choirs. Very cool. He was also an organist and a pianist before he got into vocal jazz.

The song uses 12 tracks: Each one is McFerrin’s voice. There are no other instruments or vocalists on the recording. McFerrin claims that he wrote and recorded the song in less than an hour, and ironically, it’s his most famous work. On the tracks, I hear whistling, a sort of bass guitar, the really cute “koo koo” duet, and a percussive track – either McFerrin slapping his knees, or clapping. Then of course there’s the main solo track, as well as the background vocals – “Wooohoohoo etc etc.”

Form: Very simple (it was written in an hour!) strophic/binary form with either a period of two contrasting phrases (each repeating itself once) that end on PAC cadences. OR, if you take the binary form route, the piece consists of A and B sections. The A section consists of two repetitive phrases ending on a PAC. The second repetition has interpolation “Don’t worry be happy now.” So does that make it a period? Not really. The B section (Whoo hoo hoo) also consists of two repetitive phrases, ending on PACs.

This pattern of A/B sections repeats four times, the last time fading out. I always hate it when songs never actually end, they just fade out.

FAQs about the video from the Bobby McFerrin website – Robin Williams was in the video!!! The song also won a Grammy for Best Song. It was the #1 song in virtually every country around the world, except for Japan. I don’t care what people say about the ridiculousness of this song. Deep down, you all just wanna listen to this song and tell yourself to … “Don’t worry, be happy!”

Mahler: Ich hab' ein glühend Messer

Mahler: Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen 3. Ich hab' ein glühend Messer

This song is intense..and I kind of just stumbled upon it and now I want to learn it…
It is from the song cycle Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer) by Mahler. It is a completely depressing song. The text is translated:

I have a gleaming knife in my breast.
Woe is me, woe is me! It cuts so deep
Into every joy and pleasure,
So deep, so deep!
Ah, what a cruel guest to harbour!
It never grants me peace,
Never grants me rest,
Neither by day nor by night when I would sleep.
Woe is me, woe is me!

When I look into the heavens
I see her two eyes of blue there.
Woe is me, woe is me!
When I go into the golden fields,
From afar I see her fair hair blowing in the breeze.
Woe is me, woe is me!
When I start to wake up from my dreams
And hear the peal of her silvery laughter,
Woe is me, woe is me!
I would that I lay upon my sable bier,
Never again to open my eyes!

Basically what is going on is the love of this guys life is getting married to someone else, so the pain in his heart is comparable to being stabbed in the chest. The music in this A section is extremely agitated, and is made that way because of the dynamics, the stress increasing on the notes as they arpeggiate upward filling in the texture and each instrument is brought in. The vocal part is extremely intense covering more than an octave in the first phrase. One thing Mahler does which sounds cool is that he has the voice start on the leading tone. Swells in dynamics and emphasis on the “woe is me” to really make it sound as if he is being tortured. Wonderfully full..minor…loud….high…and overall GREAT!!!

In the B section he can dream of the times when he thought he had a chance and she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. The music gets soft and very trance-like. There isn’t much motion in the voice part and when there is there is this cool leaping system that he is using to kind of paint a picture of hope for the mind. First leap is from G to C… next is G to D flat…this gives a lifting feeling thinking that everything is getting better but then on the “woe is me” it goes E flat to D…then C to B a since of failure and weeping. There comes a point where there is an accidental that really give you a twitch where you know he is waking up and the pain will be shown all over again…And the A section comes back in to finish the song off….


Thursday, March 10, 2005

Beethoven, Symphony No. 3 Movement I

I'm doing a big paper in Symphonic Lit about this piece so I thought I would talk about it a little on the blog.

The entire movement is based on the motive that is entirely in an Eb arpeggio that goes do-mi-do-sol-do-mi-sol-do. Beethoven employs many different strategies to extend this very short amount of material for over fifteen minutes. One of these strategies is taking the motive and trading it around instruments. Another strategy is to extending the phrases. Near the beggining he uses a neighbor tone to extend the phrase for a couple measures. And of course when the cadence is nearing, he uses fast string parts to keep the excitement despite spending thirty seconds just resolving a cadence. The many uses of sequence in the piece are also effective, increasing tension and extending the music for several measures.

Another way of making the music exciting is the use of hemiola in the loud parts, making the piece sounding like it is in 3/2 instead of 3/4. There are also accented off beats that add to the unsteadiness and excitement.

"Creep" by Radiohead

I was told after my last entry that apparently I have too much time on my hands and I write too much. Well I have to say this...I do have too much time on my hands and this is the only way i know how to cope with it other than resorting to petty crime. So this keeps me off the streets, which is a good thing. On to the song...which is probably Radiohead's least complicated (hence why it is their biggest hit). We start with a 8 measure intro, which basically spells out the entire song. We have a single riff that carries through the whole song, no changes, no bridge, not even an inversion for the chorus. The progression is I-iii-IV-V42. The key is the third inversion V7 chord, which really carries the suspense well, since it's so unstable and unsure of itself. This really echoes the lyrics, since they talk about how he nevers really fits in in a crowd. The vocals are easy and not strained at all. In fact, the delivery is somewhat nonchalant at first. This delivery is used effectively as it seems to be holding back a deeper emotion, something seething in the background. He's tired of being ignored and on the verge of breaking. I love how the guitar is always on, sometimes completely overshadowed in the background, then driving to the forefront on the chorus as the vocals bite a little bit. Actually the constant drive of the progression is used as juxtaposition, as the nearly polite delivery of the verses contrasts with the pent up rage of the verse, as the chords keep this same line over and over. After the second chorus the vocal line changes, as the singer improvises an eerie higher line. The use of the echo effects on the vocals adds a real ghostly feel, perhaps to make it seem that even when he is screaming, the girl he's trying to catch the attention of isn't paying attention. To her he is still just a ghost. The final verse is simply resignation, as we no longer manage to pull out the power of the chorus a final time, and fade away to nothingness. I like how Radiohead excells at using not just the words, but the entire instrumentation and use of effects to create a specific mood. "Creep" is a great example of a simple song being brought to life by combining haunting lyrics and ethereal instrumentation to create a song about being alone, even in a crowd.

Annie Waits- Ben Folds

This song is great, but nothing less would be expected from the amazing Ben Folds. Piano, guitar, and drums make for an amazing combo with his pristine voice. Every verse and chorus begins with a Do- Do- Ti- Do- Do- Ti pattern to establish the tension that the song emits. In the beginning of the song Annie is waiting for a call from a boy...but by the end of the song she decides that this is the last time she will be waiting and says, "This is why I'd rather be alone." Oh Annie...OH Ben Folds how you've nailed down the psyche of females. :-)

Le Union, Paraphrase de Concerte

This remarkable piano work by Loius Moroue Gottschalk (1829-1869) is a piece that I played in high school for a competition. I'm going to give you fiar warning that this is not your typical piano piece. First, I'll give you a little background on Gottschalk: he is considered by most to be the first truly American pianist. He was a flashy, pyrotechnical genuis...could be considered the Liszt of America. The ladies swooned over him and he was truly an entertainer. This piece was written for President Lincoln's Inauguration Speech and uses the piece Star Spangled Banner, Yankee doodle, and Hail Columbia. He uses the piano not only as a melodic instrument, but as a rhythmic one as well. The opening of the piece is comprised of thunderous octave running passages in Eb minor. These are supposed to emulate the cannons in battle. After these chords, a very melancholy Star Spangled Banner comes out of the smoke of the cannons. This is actually very pretty and lyrical. The minor, somber melody then is transformed into a "barbershop" vershion of the melody that then moves into Hail Columbia. There is a little left hand pulsing gliss that sounds like snare drums. This melody is very proud and regal and is very simple. The layers build and then Yankee doodle comes in in the right hand while columbia is in the left. The chords and sound are huge and everything is very proud and broad...and off course show-off to the hilt. This piece really is an odd piece, by no means in the classical repertory, but I really like. It is very lyrical and flows well. It modulates and is graphic and has an interesting backgroud. Well enough of being patriotic..have a fantabulous night!

Debussy - En Bateau

This soft, flowing piece was originally written for two pianos, but I listened to a flute and piano arrangement. The title means "in boat." It's very easy to picture one or two people relaxing in a small boat on a sunny day. The repeated and echoed figures throughout the song really help in creating the image of waves on a relatively peaceful lake. The piece begins with the flute in the high register with a part consisting of very simple rhythms and long tones. The piano at this time has mostly upward-moving arpeggiations. The part moves down into a lower register briefly and takes on a more playful extension of the melody. It moves back to the high register with some more long tones after a scale up in that direction. A new section begins with an increase in tempo and now the flute has a lot of dotted rhythms. This part slows down too and the piece enters a call-and-answer/echo section between the two instruments. The piano repeats a partial scale pattern that the flute played just before it while the flute plays some more long tones.

The piece as a whole consists entirely of waves of motion - there are sections full of long notes that progress into sections of quicker, more playful sections only to return to the slow, peaceful sections. It's really a great way of depicting the way small waves toss a small boat around.

I Hope You Dance - Lee Ann Womack

This popular country piece begins with an 8 bar introduction. It is then followed by a parallel period. This serves as the melody to each of the verses. The next part is a 4 measure phrase. This phrase is the chorus of the song. The sequence repeats, but with different words. After that, the first phrase of the melody repeats with another round of the chorus. The chorus then repeats one last time. The song then fades out. The melody is simple and catchy. And the meaning of the words is very meaningful.

"Stella By Starlight" as recorded by Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, etc.

I have the music for this piece, and, after listening to a recording, I realize just how little I know about jazz harmony. Herbie Hancock uses tones that, when I look at the chord on the sheet music, I can barely begin to figure out which extension he's playing. It seems as though the root is not allowed and the third is optional.

Instead, he uses a lot of flat and sharp 9s, 11s, and 13s that give the sound a really interesting sound - one that is incredibly different from my rendition, which is a lot more simple.

From an analytical aspect, this tune is interesting because Victor Young included the progression bVII7 - Imaj7 several times. As a dominant, bVII actually works well - it has lots of leading tones in jazz harmony. Here's how the basic chord resolves:

bVII7 Imaj7
1 up half step 7
3 common tone 9
5 down half step 3
7 down half step 5

There are several leading tones, and when you play the chords, the change is very easy.

I didn't have one single emotional response to this piece. Instead, I felt very interested in the colors they were using, and relaxed by the overall mood of the performance. Even though I was primarily interested in Hancock's playing, one can never ignore Miles Davis. His cool style, intensity, and creativity really make this recording great.

"underground" by Ben Folds FIVE

dammit trisha, you stole my Ben Folds idea...
Underground is from their 1995 self titled album (which is one of many great Ben Folds (five) albums.
The intro to this song is unique... It starts off with a I chord from the electric guitar, and then one of the vocalists says "I was never cool in school. I'm sure you don't remember me" Two other vocalists (one of them being Ben) each say something about not fitting in (it's funny though), and sleigh bells start ringing in the background while the vocals continue. It's really just kind of making fun of the underground scene to a certain extent.{"hand me my nosering (can we be happy?) show me the moshpit (can we be happy?) we can be happy underground}

on the last line of the first verse (we can be happy underground) the drums and piano start in, with the piano repeating the same chord progression (i think it's a I-iio7-V7 progression)
Ben, the backup vocals, piano and drums jam for a while (it's pretty simple). The meter in this song switches from 4/4 to a fast 3 around the last 8 bars.

After the last chorus, there's a flippin' sweet piano solo (not long, about 12 measures)at the very end that ends the song

"The Fox" by Nickel Creek

I enjoyed blogging the first Neckil Creek song so much that I decided to do another. This one is nice becuase the group shows off their vocal skill and ability to arrange an old folk song, as "The Fox" is a traditional folk melody unlike "Ode to a Butterfly" which Chris Thile wrote. This song has six verses with instrumental breaks after the second and fourth verses. It is probably in two-four which is fairly obvious by listening to the bass line. The mandolin plays for two measures and Thile begins to sing the verse. The melody for each five line verse is the same throughout the entire song. Sol-sol-mi-mi-mi-mi-re-do-do is "the-fox-went-out-on-a-chil-ly-night" all of these notes staying close to tonic and dominant. After this first verse the guitar begins and plays arppegiated chords. At the end of the second verse the melody sings do-do-re-re-sol-sol and at this point Sarah Watkins comes in on vocal harmony on town-o-town-o singing sol-sol-do-do with Thile's re-re-sol-sol, a very nice yet simple folk harmony. At this point you might expect the fiddle to join in but instead the bass starts for this first instrumental break. The huitar plays straight chords, the bass has a lot of1-2-1 with some 4's thrown in there, and of course the mandolin is featured. Thile sings the third verse and then the fiddle begins on the fourth which makes sense becuase the guitar came in on the second verse. The fiddle is subtle and harmonizing in this which is perfect since the second instrumental bread features the fiddle! This break is the same length as the first break. In the fourth verse the only instrument that plays along with vocals is the mandolin while Sarah does not sing harmony this time. That way the last verse has the whole group playing to their fullest. The song ends with a final instrumental part featuring the mandolin playing a very similar solo as that of the first instrumental break.
I enjoy the songs' simple harmonies and clever structure. Most of Nickel Creeks' songs from this album have a fairly formal structure, which makes sense considering what they were going after. Their second album is more risky and I Think they didn't want to make a huge splash on this one. Nothing is overdone or overplayed and I enjoy the control the exhibit as young artists.

All Through The Night

"All Through The Night" from Anything Goes by Cole Porter

For some reason I was in the mood for a little Cole Porter tonight... we go :-)
It starts out with Hope singing a little "recit" if you can call it that. It lasts for about 2 measures and serves as the introduction for the song. There is a break before the motive that is carried all through the song begins. The whole song is basically this one very chromatic motive that just keeps repeating over and over again. It's a very moderate tempo, it sounds very free. The accompaniment is the basic oom pah pah style.
We continue on like this for a while, and then there is what you could call a very very small B section that lasts for approximately 4 four measure phrases. The A section doesn't change keys, so I think this song is probably some kind of a closed binary form. The vocal range gets higher and the motive changes, but the accompaniment stays basically the same. The B section is also at a slightly louder dynamic marking.
The A section returns, and is exactly the same for about 7 measures, but then it changes in order to be terminative. Many sustained high notes begin to appear in the vocal line, there is a huge crescendo, and the piece ends with Hope singing what I think is probably a high F.
The melody is catchy not only because it is repeated so many times, but because the chromaticism really makes it swingy and fun, at causes it to be easily remembered. It's a great soprano vocal line because it sits pretty high in the voice.

Frozen by Madonna

This song cannot go without being analyzed. Reasons? Well for one it's Madonna. Enough said. Second, as I was walking across campus today thinking, "I'm freezing...Frozen, frozen, frozen," as typically happens, lyrics to a song popped into my head. Obviously, there is a correlation between thinking, "I'm frozen," and the song title, "Frozen." If this comparison is missed one must be mentally frozen. OK. Enough with the word frozen even though it is a great word. (I love any word where I can say z). This song actually isn't about being cold at all. It's one song of Madonna's that actually has a deeper meaning. It's about being emotionally frozen and locked within yourself, needing a key to unlock your heart and spirit. My church youth group performed this song for church when it first came out. People were skeptical of using Madonna at first, but it was perfect. We formed a cirlce around the congregation. Then we stood perfectly still with our eyes focused and never straying on the same point in the sanctuary while we did Tai Chi dance moves. A huge spiritual, energy flow filled the sanctuary and seemed to make everyone there soar in unity. It was great. Well, enough about that. This piece begins with strings playing in contrary motion up and down a scale until they meet in the middle and seem to bounce off eachother leaving space for Madonna to begin the verse. The accompaniment under this is very static while she sings a contrasting period. Then, percussion is added and the density, rhythm, timbre, and dynamics are increased as she sings the chorus. The chorus is a parallel period followed by a contrasting period. This is all repeated a second time until there is a musical interlude. Then the verse and chorus return. This time instead of repeating this cycle twice, the chorus repeats. Concluding the piece is a cadential extension reiterating the important words of the song and ending instrumentally.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Mechanical Piano Study no. 27

This piece by Conlon Nancarrow (1912-1997) is very odd. I chose it not really for its musical presence, but rather for the ingenuity behind. I will preface this piece by saying that there is no form whatsover. So just get out of that mindset. This piece is performed on a mechanical player it sounds just that...mechanical. This piece could be considered minimalist maybe because there is a constantly repeated ostinato pattern underlying everything. This piece is very mathematic . Every interval is mathematically proportioned. Nancarrow actually punched the holes into the player piano roll and measured the distances between each hole. Then what he did is mathematically sped up one hand while leaving the other alone. He did this to make an exact ratio. There are no melodic lines really, it is pretty much just all rhythmic. The notes themselves seem to be rather random. It starts out with a simple rhythmic pattern in the left hand, and then the right builds upon, and then decreases down to nothing, and then back up again. When I first heard this piece, I did not much care for it at all!! Give me melody any day over something like this, but once I learned about the actual piece and the logistics behind it, I became interested in it. On the whole, I am usually the type of person to simply sit back and listen to the music for enjoyment. This piece...I do not enjoy listening to, but I enjoy the background of it. I know...kind of odd. I like that he calls this piece a Study...meaning an experiment of some sort. Ahhh!! ok, I need to stop listening to this before I lose my head!!!!!

"if i only had a brain"...harry connick style

again, the coolness of harry connick overwhelms me.

it starts off very mellow in the piano when harry comes in with his crooning. with the vocals at the beginning the piano only plays continues this way, with a fairly obvious rhythm. by the end the meter has been completely abandoned and the rhythm is controlled completly by emotion. it's really fabulous.

he changes the melody so much and the rhythm that it takes a minutes for the listener to realize that, yes-harry is indeed crooning the cowardly lion role. i really love the part where he brings out the lyrics "and be even worty erv you" the show the fast tempo and lion's dialect make this word creation seem ok...and i really like how harry is true to the lyricist (even though his arrangement is entirely original). i found that to be quite interesting. he has no problem changing all the musicality but he leaves the words exactly so. huh. something to think about. maybe it's because he can acknowledge his talent as a musician but doesn't feel as though he's a worthy enough lyricist to challenge the pre-existing material. or maybe he just liked the word 'erv". either way, his crooning makes me swoon.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Chopin: Impromptu No. 1 in A-flat major, Op. 29

Chopin: Impromptu No. 1 in A-flat major, Op. 29

This piece I found on Naxos music library, and caught my attention right away because it is so hyperactive, and crazy that is sounds like a chicken running around with its head cut off in the A section. Both right and left hands are moving fast creating these ongoing twisting phrases within the A section. After the whole A section is played once, it sounds like it is going to repeat but really it is going into a transitional section where the A section’s main theme is used as a sequence and changes keys. Then there is this cool kind of waterfall effect that brings us to a very light and legato section (B). I view this as the chicken thinking back on its wonderful, yet short life. How it use to flutter across the farm pecking the corn off the ground, and basking in the warm summer sun. Then after all the wonderful memories have passed it suddenly remembers how the farmer came after him with the ax to chop off it’s head and it gets thrown back into the A section. The A section is played all the way through, and a terminative section is pasted to help bring the craziness into some sort of order. It brings the piece to where it will feel natural for the chicken to take its last step and ends with some rhythm kind of resembling a slowing heart beat……..….well that was fun…the end…

My Life- Billy Joel

Well, I'm back in my own house for better or for worse and I have my own playlist back! I think by some twist of fate this song came on first when I clicked on my random play button. I've always loved Billy Joel and this song is one of my favorites. I'm kind of an indepedent person and this song really speaks to my attitude right now about life in general. The way Mr. Joel emphasizes certain words by syncopation and changing the color of his voice is something I've always enjoyed about him. In this song when he says, "I don't care what you say anymore cause it's my life. Go ahead with your life and leave me alone." The first phrase he almost sings like a defiant two year old and then he sings the second phrase like an adult that just needs his space. Billy hit the nail right on the head with this one. :-)

"three Rumsfeld songs," by Phil Kline

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

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

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

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

John Dowland- Tarleton's Ressurection

Alright, so right now I'm working on Handel's "Three Authentic Sonatas" for my sophomore proficiency and my teacher, Anna asked me to listen to some John Dowland pieces for lute to give me a better feel for the pieces and the time\style period. This specific piece isn't actually for lute, but for guitar instead, though most of his work was for lute, or lute and voice.
This piece has a dance like feel and actual reminds me a lof of movement V of the Third authentic sonata which is a menuetto. The tempo is more laid back than some other dance movements are likely to be.
The biggest thing that I noticed about this piece, when trying to look at it critically and comparatively alongside the three sonatas was the importance of solid tempo and downbeats. I would say that the biggest part of playing baroque music most of the time is recognizing and emphasizing the strong beats and de-emphasizing weak ones. The other important aspect of this particular piece seemed to the the lack of dynamics except when dictated by the phrasing.
I enjoyed the piece because it was relaxed and that is really how this style of music should be played, in a laid back fashion. The music is so simple that its easy to forget to not only appreciate the notes that are being played but also to realize how the space between them affects the music.

The Next to be with you - Mr. Big

This piece starts right out with the exposition. There is no instrumental introduction. The melody always stays within the chord structure. It usually does not integrate non chord tones in the verses. The chorus is stepwise with some leaps up to a fourth, but not beyond. It's a very catchy chorus. The bridge has the most impact melodically and with the words. Then it breaks into an instrumental chorus with the melody playing in the acoustic guitar with embellishments. The words' meanings are clear: the singer is wanting to be with a certain someone. The person is in a bad relationship and isn't being treated right. Ah, memories.

Gretchen am Spinnrade, D.118 - Schubert

In this song, Schubert depicts a woman, Gretchen, sitting at her spinning wheel, thinking of her idol Goethe's poem Faust, who apparently is not around. He depicts this in several ways - the right hand of the piano is constantly moving, creating the impression of a whirring spinning wheel. The left hand plays a constant rhythmic pattern that is supposed to be the movement of the needle.

The piece's harmonic progression is intersting. It's in d minor, but the tonal center changes every few bars in unusual ways. I made a list below:

Measures Tonal Center
1-6 d minor
7-12 C Major
13-15 d minor
16-17 a minor
18-21 e minor
22-24 E Major

I think it's unusual in that, at times (mm. 13-21), it basically progresses backwards through the circle of fifths. In other words, the tonal center follows a i-v-ii pattern.

I noticed again that this recording was about a half step flat - this isn't something I picked up on by ear, but rather using a keyboard. Any thoughts?

The piece, overall, made me feel contemplative because of the constant, pleasant motion of the right hand. It reminded me of the soundtrack to the animated movie, "The Snowman." Also, the slowly progressing harmony (most often the chord changed no more than once per measure) gave the piece a very stable sound that made me content.

"Wonderful Tonight" by Eric Clapton

Yay for sappy love songs that make me all teary-eyed. Eric Clapton is quite possibly my second favorite pop/rock artist of all time (Billy Joel just edging him out for #1), and this song is my favorite of his. A song about an ordinary evening party sets the stage for one of the most tender songs in all of rock music. The introduction is simple, a guitar playing a small solo line (mi re do re-mi re do sol- mi re do re, which is repeated with an extention on the second time through, adding mi fa la sol) a bass outlining our chord progression and drums keeping rhythm. This song only has two parts: a verse section and a bridge. The verse progression starts the same as our intro, moving I-vii-IV-V. This is repeated, then the third line continues on IV-V-I-vii-vi, then finishing the line with the traditional IV-V-I hook. then we have a small link, playing the second line of the intro again to pulls us back into the second verse. The vocals really are what set this apart from any other rock ballad. Instead of a "scream it from the rooftops" type of proclamation, it's much more intimate. Clapton is just pointing out all the little things that she does, showing that deep love isn't the love at first sight, it's the love that grows out of knowing every little thing that the person does. Clapton's very restrained vocals are the perfect answer to his first ballad about this woman (Pattie Boyd), Layla. Layla is the love at first sight, got to get you into my life kind of song. Wonderful Tonight is a mature kind of love. Anyway, enough about the background of the song. The second verse repeats the same progression as the first verse, then we move on to the bridge. The bridge is much more exclamatory, a profession of the love to the woman that he only hinted at through the first two verses. The progression is IV-V-I-vii-vi-IV-V-IV-V with a repeate of the final two lines acting as an extension, holding tension on the half cadence, before returning to the tonic chord for the repeat of the full introductory riff. The third verse echoes the first two, except now we have deceptive motion at the end, prolonging the cadence by stepping down I-vii-vi, before a final IV-V-I to finish it out. The song really isn't that long, but subsequent recordings get longer, as the introduction gets extended, or we add another bridge after the third verse before ending. I've seen him in concert before and he added a long guitar solo in the middle, extending the song from just over 4 minutes to well over 11 minutes! I just love this song for it's subdued style and beautiful melody. For some other artists this may have been a throwaway song on an album, but Clapton imbues it with this sense of tenderness and fragility that can't be ignored.

Les Miserables- I Dreamed a Dream

Unlike a good deal of the Theatre pieces I’ve listened to, this piece seems to use classical form. The cool thing is that the form allows the change in musical material to reflect the life of Fontine. The piece begins with a sort of introductory passage that seems a bit unrelated to the rest of the piece. This function could possibly be representing this segment as her introduction into life before her dreams were denied. Fontine sings this whole section all a rhythmically altered E, and although the instruments play a scalar ascension of the harmony, the key of the piece is established as E major. Then the texture changes and the harmony now scales down, but the melody that Fontine sings still keeps a tight tonal center around E, so the often use of mode mixture and quick chordal changes does not cause confusion. The A section is made up of many symmetrical parallel periods with HCs and IACs leading to PAC. This gives it a strophic feeling. The words of this section deal with all the dreams that she had when she was younger and has a mood of hope. Then the words change to talking about the reality of the darkness that began to come at night. Here the mode changes to minor and the mood is hopeless and dismal. I see this part as the B section. Then there is a short transition rising back into the major mode. Now she starts talking about the great time when a man came into her life and that she still dreams that he’ll return. The A section motive returns hear and is varied by change in register and dynamic increase. The last phrase softly fades out in a terminative section ending on a PAC as she says “now life has killed the dream I dreamed.” Poor Fontine, but good thing all those dreams will now be realized in heaven.

"In furore" - Antonio Vivaldi

I’m reviewing “In furore” a wonderful Baroque motet by Vivaldi for coloratura soprano, strings, and continuo. The piece is a true test of virtuosity for the voice: The many cadenzas and long passages require agility and breath support. I first overheard this piece while Linden was studying for a Vocal Literature test. “In furore” is part of the standard Baroque repertoire. I am looking at the first movement, the Allegro, in particular as it is the most famous – “In furore iustissimae irae.” This recording is sung by Magda Kalmar.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find too much about the text to the motet. I only know that the motet evokes emotions of fear of God’s wrath, despair, and torment, as well as pleading for God’s mercy. A latin dictionary revealed that “furore” means fury, while “iustissimae irae” brings up the terms “justice” and “wrath.” The orchestral part certainly conveys a sense of turmoil and grandeur. There are a lot of monophonic moments where the strings and soprano are in unison – it creates a powerful atmosphere.

The aria is written in Da Capo form. There is a lengthy string introduction that sets the tone – a friend told me that it would sound great on electric guitar! The soprano enters on a very florid passage – in the A section she hardly sings one note per syllable. On closer examination, the aria appears to be in composite ternary! The A section clearly has a simple binary form – there are smaller A and B sections, the B section being a development of the opening parallel period.

The mood suddenly shifts to a more somber tone when we come to the B section. The passages are less florid, and the volume much more pianissimo. This B section is very short. We soon return to the turbulence of the A section, exactly as it was the first time.

Ravel - Vocalise en forme de Habanera

Singer: Mady Mesple (soprano)
Pianist: Dalton Baldwin

This piece has no words as it is a "vocalise." It is full of changing subdivisions--for example, there is a returning sequential motive that goes up for three notes in a triplet and then up one more and down a second on a duple. There is also a gravitation towards the g--a lot of the vocal play centers around the g throughout. There are a lot of ornaments that fall on the strong beat instead of acting as grace notes, which helps to give the piece a habanera feel. Also the accompaniment is pretty out there tonally. The piano has a lot of vamping on d--dotted eight, sixteenth, eighth, eighth--but over the octave. The voice line doesn't really seem melodic all the time, as it rather experiments with excercises. There is also a part on triplets just before the end where the singer does an elaborated chromatic scale, before trilling on a middle g and then on a high g and then returning in a glissando to the middle g. I wouldn't say I hear many cadences.

Because I'm mean:

A girl died in 1933 by a homicide murderer. He buried her in the ground when she was still alive. The murdered chanted, "Toma sota balcu" as he buried her. Now that you have read the chant, you will meet this little girl. In the middle of the night she will be on your ceiling. She willsuffocate you like she was suffocated. If you post this, she will not bother you. Your kindness will be rewared.

suavamente--elvis crespo

i learned that spanish people like to make music, too! (only kidding)
this music is great to listen to because it's so exciting--not harmonically, but the brass playing is awesome. between lyrics, the trumpets and saxophone just have these ripping lines and scalar runs. it's very mariachi-esque, parallel harmonies and such. the maracas and congo drums are pretty killer, too. you might think i'm a huge dork, and you're exactly right. i first became acquainted with this song when i attended spanish camp my junior year of high school. since we weren't allowed to communicate in any way through english, we were forced to listen to spanish music, to dance salsa, and to eat tapas every night. the last part is false, but we did listen to a lot of spanish music. anyway, this song instantly became a hit.
harmonically, however, most of the cadences are half cadences and perfect authentic cadences. several of the passages include I-IV-V-I progressions.

"Dangerous Game" from Jekyll and Hyde

"Dangerous Game" from the Broadway Musical Jekyll and Hyde. Music by Frank Wildhorn.
This piece is creepy, and rightfully so. Here's what's going on: Hyde comes to seek out Lucy, who was really hoping to see Jekyll. But nonetheless, she is irrisistably attracted to Hyde. This song is really sensual... lots of groping and neck kissing and such. Unfortunately, a few scenes later, Hyde kills Lucy. Last time I wrote about something from Jekyll and Hyde, Dr. Spiegelberg wanted to know if the other music from the show was more gothic sounding... so here ya go, a very gothic piece from the gothic musical thriller, Jekyll and Hyde...
The song begins very creepily with just Lucy singing. She begins accapella, with an octave leap from me to me in a minor key. She sings with a breathy and eerie tonality. She continues to outline a minor i triad with lots of leaps for 5 measures until the accompaniment joins her. When the accompaniment comes in, it is mostly playing arpeggiated triads. A quality that helps to contribute to the gothic sound is that it is a keyboard, not a piano, and it is on a setting of some sort that makes it sound very haunting and hollow. The rhythm in the accompaniment is full of triplets.
When the melody for the 2 verses begins, the tempo increases to moderately fast. Lucy sings the first verse alone, and then Hyde comes in. He sings the same thing she opened the piece with (the outline of the i triad with all the octave leaps), but it is accompanied this time rather than accapela. They then begin the 2nd verse, and they alternate singing every other line. When they finally do begin singing together, they are simply outlining the i iv and V chord, but it is powerfully sung. The texture changes in the accompaniment, and so does the density. The dynamic also increases.
The dynamics keep increasing... it keeps building... and BAM! Modulation. With the modulation comes a change in rhythm from mostly quarter notes and quarter notes tied to other quarter notes to all eighth notes. This change in rhythm plus a change in accompaniment style leads to a frantic sound as they sing: "At the touch of your hand, at the sound of your voice, at the moment your eyes meet mine, I am losing my mind, I am losing control, fighting feelings I can't define. It's a sin with no name, no remorse and no shame, fire fury and flame, cause the Devil's to blame! And the angels proclaim, it's a dangerous game." After the word proclaim, which is a pretty high note, everything just stops, and then they very freely sing together, "it's a dangerous game."
Such a neat song, and much more gothic sounding then some of the other songs in the show. I first heard it my freshman year of high school when a male friend of mine had the idea to sing it as a duet for a school concert. He ended up being a weird guy. Maybe that should have been my first sign. :-) The end.

Rinaldo, Duetto: Scherzano sul tuo volto

Patrizia Ciofi, Joyce Di Donato

The piece as a whole is in ternary form. The A section begins with harpsichord and strings, and establishes a simple duple time signature. The brisk tempo and duple time signature is enforced through a metric accent on one, and an eighth on the and of two leading into one of the next measure in the harpsichord. This gives the piece a very squared structure, clearly a statement. The first phrase ends on a HC elisioned into a new phrase of sixteenths in the strings. The loud dynamic helps to establish a happy motive. In the strings sixteenth line, each down beat creates a do re mi re do . . . pattern, the phrase ends in a PAC, making a contrasting period for an introduction. The sol mi fa sol do repeated pattern in the harpsichord in the first phrase establishes the major tonality. The leap from sol to do is a reaccuring pattern in the A section especially, and further emphasizes one. After the first period, the singers enter with a repetition of the beginning (only with words). After a four measure phrase ending in an IAC, the second singer enters an octave lower. The change in registers gives the section an antecedent consequent, very squared feel. This singers phrase is the same length, and ends in an IAC. The next phrase combines the two singers, and ends on a PAC. The section continues, ending mainly on Authentic cadences, giving the section a very squared, stable, feeling, until the beginning period is repeated. The next phrase clearly begins a new section because it modulates directly to the minor four of the previous key, emphasized by a pause between the phrases. This new section is a clear contrast to the first, very independent. It is slow, very melodic, and in a lower register. The texture and density is also heavier, with the singers together in the low register. This section is shorter, and its cadence is signaled by a higher jump in register, the mezzosoprano on do and the soprano on me. The last phrase ends with a beautiful PAC. There is a slight pause and the beginning motive is restated, modulating back to the original key. The last section ends in a PAC, mi re do. Overall, I liked the piece very much. The B section was especially beautiful. What exactly is the difference between Composite ternary form and Simple?

Janacek Sinfonietta mvt III moderato

The piece starts off somberly with tuba playing tonic. The texture is four part strings. It is perhaps the most beautiful melody in all of the repetoire. It is very hymn like and meloncholy. The melody sounds like its structured under a large period with repeats. The antecedent is played then repeated. Then the cosequent is played, but not repeated, almost a contrasting period in and of itself. The consequent inverts the antecedent to a degree. At the end of the phrase repetition and a cresecendo is used to signal the end of the larger phrase group. More intstruments are added but the texture never gets bright. It is thick, creamy, milky, etc throughout...very rich, sonorous, and gorgeous. We move into a different texture. The main melody is played by the english horn, oboe, then high strings. The melody is not exactly the same each time, leading one to believe this may be a development section of the melodic material. Cellos accompany the melody. The harmonic structure is different now too, even though for the most part the melody is the same. The hapr adds some accampaniment. The flute and bass clarinet then play the melody, inverting and developing it some as the orchestration is changed brilliantly. Woodwinds play the melody again, differently, leading us into the B section which is very very different. It is a fanfare brass choral with the texture dominated mostly by the trombone. In between each short phrase of the brass the high woodwinds furiously play an altered scale pattern, stringing the brass phrases together. A second trombone solo is played. The scale the woodwinds played is now played again and again repeated and sequenced, with the flute leading right into the same note the tuba played in the beginning, bringing back the A section and the main melody. However, this time the orchestration is slightly different, with a quicker tempo and more of an emphasis on the high strings. There is less of a feeling of beauty now...there is some urgency. The solo flute plays the same scaluar passage used in teh B section now, in between the phrases of the A section melody. The main motive of this main melody of the A section is used to create a whole new sectin of music based off this motive. It is iniated by a trombone solo playing this new, rauncy, peasant-like, heavy footed dance-like melody. It is passed between section and is developed some. Then the trumpets play the melody, bridging us back into the main fanfare of the B section, this time dominated by the trumpets, who did not play the first time around. There is definately more intensity this time around with victory in sight. The main melody is then played by the english horn, somewhat modified, then briefly interrupted by harmonic material from the B section. It returns to A section harmony and fades out.

"Dope Nose" by Weezer

This is very simple rock song, but its melody and syncopation help to make this an addictive song.

Most of the effectiveness of this song is because of the rhythm of the guitar. Rather than staying on the beat like many rock songs do, the rhythmic line of the introduction and verses is 1 (2) & (3) & (4) e. This gives the song a very fun and driving feeling. This rhythmic line is strengthened by the vocal part in the introduction (short phrase of several "whoa's" that happens between each chorus and verse) and the verses doing the same rhythm (except for the & of 2). The drum part forms the stability of the verse with the hi-hat doing usual eighth notes and snare drum on 2 and 4 but during the introduction the drums has sixteenth note tom solos during the second half of each measure which adds to the instability.

The chorus represents a stability in the guitar part that lacks any syncopation, but the snare drum part strays from the usual 2 and 4 by doing some offbeats of 2 and 4 which reflect the emphasized parts of the vocal line during the chorus. The change of the part that makes the song unstable is a very effective way of getting the listener to pay attention to different things.

After three intros, two verses and two choruses, the guitar solo begins. The overall feel of the guitar solo is the same as one of the verses, but the syncopated background is less apparent because is just the bass and drums doing this while the guitar is doing its own solo which does many sixteenth note runs while spending some time emphasizing the rhythm.

The chorus goes through one more time, followed by the introduction again, which gets extended by a measure where the background music switches to just eighth notes and does a slight ritardando to show that the song is ending, because previously the intro has always lead directly into other material.

This is a really fun song that has an effective rhythmic structure to give the song a somewhat unsteady but funky feel.

Earl Wild's Piano transcription of Saint-Saens "Le Rouet d'Omphale" op. 31

This piece was the exact cascade of energy makeover I needed to day! The piece is incredibly lyrical and crystal waterish, while at the same time being like an enormous waterfall of fast, flowing water gushing off the side of a cliff back into the crystal water at the bottom with occasional musical trill glimmers of sunshine reflecting its serenity. The piece, clocking in at 8 minutes is the longest ternary form I've studied this far. It begins with an A section that has very slow arpeggios that are suddenly interrupted by abrupt, double tempo arpeggios. This play between tempo goes back and forth adding intensity. Then there is a very fast scalar passage played in the upper register with light chords on the bottom. Next there is a big shift in rhythm between very broken and dissonant chords with the very melodic, flowing passages. It's like rhythm, tempo, and tonality are teasing each other. Finally, they all get on the teetertotter together and the music is only sustained through the unity of the different sections until a huge chordal section enters making the listener think, "Wow!" The theme is played in octaves with all of the other stuff happening all around it. Finally all the chords are in complete unison and the extra ornamental "stuff" is dropped along with the loud dynamics to a soft and subtle return of the A section. This time, the A section shows off a little adding different ornamentation and interpolations and extensions. It is a very pleasing piece.

"Ode to a Butterfly" by Nickel Creek

Nickel Creek is a sort of pop folk/bluegrass group who have recently gained more recognition for their amazing musical talents. The trio is made up of Chris Thile on mandolin, Sarah Watkins on fiddle, and Sean Watkins on rhythm guitar. They also have a stand up bass player to accompany them on stage, normally Mark Schatz. "Ode to a Butterfly" is the first track off of their first well-known self-titled release. This instrumental has a very traditional bluegrass feel. The beginning starts off with a twelve or twenty-four measure phrase (it is probably in two-four not four-four so double measure counts) of mandolin with the guitar playing short, muted chords. Do-do-do-mi-do-ti-la-do-do-do-sol is a little bit of the melody which repeats four times in the beginning and is used again later in the piece, possibly making the song rounded. Now the mandonlin plays alone, higher up on the staff for four bars and then the violin joins in. The violin plays a little melodic line do-sol-la-sol-fa-sol-do for four bars and then the rhythm guitar starts. The rhythm guitar sticks with half and quarter note chords but gets fancier with some syncopated rhythms. The melodic line shifts often, going to the mandolin and then the violin again before the whole band plays equally. Now they begin to solo! The guitarist takes about an eight to ten bar solo and then the violin takes over the solo. Throughout you can hear the bass player doing a lot of I-V motion. The violin solo, which is of equal lenghths eventually takes us back to the originally violin melody. The whole group plays together until the break right before the mandolin solo, which is accompanied by some guitar and then violin is added. The mandolin doesn't need to obvious of a solo, seeing as though he has the most obvious melody throughout the song. Next, the similar A theme comes back which occurred in the beginning once of the the group played together, before the guitar solo. I not sure what kind of form you give this song because of the different solos. There are a couple of main themes used throughout the song, normally repeated a lot by the mandolin. You can hear an obvious V-I at the very end.
The song features all of the talents of the players very well. Chris Thile's technical skill and creativity shine while Sarah's accompanying violin along with her solo are perfectly placed. My favorite part is the guitar because Sean does not over play. He does his job of rhythm perfectly, helping the bass and letting the listener really feel the beat. He is the most underrated player in the group and is very underrated in his professional field. I like the songs bouncy, fast bluegrass feel. The melodies are very traditionally and tonal sounding which is so pleasing to the ear!

Monday, March 07, 2005

Bach- Two Violin Concerto in D minor

This piece is on my Essential Violin CD. So, with all the conscious matter I have left in my brain after 3 am, I’ve decided to get down to the bottom of what makes this piece so essential. I mean, can I really not live without it. First of all, violin music itself is absolutely essential because in my opinion no other instrument has such a beautiful timbre (outside of the piano, of course), so it has that advantage. There’s something that‘s simple and restful about the music, but at the same time it’s impassioned and restless. I suppose that the two violin parts account these two dueling personalities, alternating there roles constantly. At least one part is playing is playing the never ending scalar pattern. This gives us a constant, putting us in this familiar circle that keeps continue to some unforeseen soul. So this circular motion causes you to keep up and stay with the piece. And the harpsichord just simply plays chords to add another constant. But the star of the piece is the violin playing outside of the circle, and that’s where the real magic happens. Bach, you devil, you. This part plays the searing, gripping melody, that just leaves you gasping for air for the entire piece as you’re still caught in the circle. The tone is unbelievable, as the part scales treacherous leaps or plays a beautiful ascending or descending lines. So, yes, I can’t live with out this music. It provides the essential nourishment to the soul. And it is the perfect, harmonious relationship between the harpsichord, the circular violin, and the star of the show.

"Split Complimentaries" - Blast

Blast is a musical that basically uses a drum and bugle corps instrumentation (plus electronics) and in which the performers do drill-like movements onstage. They perform a really wide range of music, from an arrangement of Ravel's bolero to music from "Newsies."

This song features electronics, but also has plenty of brass and percussion. I'm not sure what to call the compositional technique, but the composer takes the same motive and, as instruments are added, displaces it throughout the measure. At first, it's just a rhythm in the percussion. Later, the brass enter the texture and melodic motives are used. Steve Reich uses this technique - it's how he built "Clapping Music," "Music for Pieces of Wood," and "Nagoya Marimbas."

The result is a pretty smooth, complex texture. The contour of the melodic motives, if it has any significant leaps or contrasts, are blurred because so many copies of the motives are happening at once. Therefore, if one trumpet is playing the part of the melody that leaps up, there are probably several others that are playing lower parts, and so the whole melody becomes this medium sound.

I really like music like this. Something about its bubbly sound, where not many significant things happen, makes me feel very content, but at the same time interested. The texture that develops is very stable, with a strong tonal center. It's fun to try and pick out the original motive once there are many instruments playing at once.

March of the Slave Children from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom by John Williams

The piece starts off ominously and dominately with the low strings and basses and piano playing melodic gesturs answered by percussion. A 4 bar introduction is played by the glock and the high woodwinds playing their own motivic gestures as the snair drum marches on. Then the main theme is played by the horns. After the natural break of the phrase of the melody the low brass make interjections before the consequent begins. The melody definately has a powerful quality to it even though slave children are weak. The power comes from the inevitable victory. The melody sounds very foreign and exotic, from a different land. At the end of the consequent a brief shout chorus is played by the brass. The strings and high woodwinds then repeat a motivic gesture that is normally heard as the accompaniment to the main melody, but in this instance it is the only melodic material heard. This 4 bars is a transition into the main theme again. It requires a transition because the texture and density is different second time around. The trumpets play the theme with the horns, but the trumpets are definately dominating the texture. The piece has more of a march feel to it now as the percussion are in a march groove and the low brass are playing 16th note passages characteristic of marches. The consequent of this melody then modulates and the material we heard in the brief transition period is now heard at almost an equal dynamic as the main melody now in a different key and a thicker and darker texture. After the end of the phrase a development section happens, functioning also as a transition. There are many motivic gestures played, but not melodic really. It is a serious of scaluar passages passed between the trumpets, trombones, and horns. This brings us back into the main melody for a final statement of it before the B theme. Texture and density change as the B section comes in. It is dominated by the flutes at a lower dynamic as the strings are playing pizzicato background. The mood of the music now is definately playful. The B section has a secondary theme that comes in with the horn and glockenspiel with more rhythmic intensity. The secondary theme is played agian in a more majestic fashion and with a cadential extension. The texture is dominated by the trumpets. This bleads immediately into the primary theme again played by the flutes but then echoed by the muted trumpet. Once again the secondary theme comes in full force. This leads right into the same material we saw in the A section that I deemed as transitionary as the accompaniment to theme is played by itself. The main theme comes back with the horns and with less orchestration. The repeat of the phrase is more heavily orchestrated. This time an 8 bar transition/development occurs as no real melodic gestures are played, gearing us up for the final statements of the main theme. It comes back in with full majesty and victory with the horns and trumpets dominating the testure as the woodwinds and high strings are working furiously, pumping out the accompaniment. A terminative section begins with woodwind and string runs. Crunch chords and fanfare gestures are played. Much call and answer is heard between the brass.

Au cimetiere - Berlioz "Les Nuits d'ete"

This is a song from Berlioz' song cycle "les nuits d'ete" or "summer nights" and is entitled "in the graveyard." I'm presently listening to a rendition by Jessye Norman--personally, for this song I'd prefer a slightly lighter, more ethereal voice (i.e. Dawn Upshaw), because of its eerie and haunting nature.

Here's a CD booklet translation of the french:

Do you know teh white gravestone
Which the shade of a yew-tree
Touches like a sigh?
On the yew a solitary white dove
As the sun goes down
Sings its sad song:

A sickly sweet air
At once enchanting and full of doom,
Which affects you unpleasantly
And which one would like to listen to forever;
Like a song sighed out to heaven
By a love-lorn angel.

One would think the awakened soul
Wept under the earth
In tune with the song,
And from grief at being forgotten
Complained in a soft murmur
Like the moaning of a dove.

You feel that a memory
Is ebbing back,
Recalled by the music.
A shade, a shimmering form
Brushes past you,
Shrouded in white.

Round you,
From the half open amaryllis flowers
Comes a faint perfume,
And the phantom whispers to you,
Softly stretching out its arms:
You will come back.

Oh never again, when the evening
Comes darkly down,
Will I go and stand near the grave
And hear the pale dove
From teh top of the yew-tree sing
Its plaintive song!

--I just love it because it seems like a far more potent portrait of the graveyard scene from the Phantom of the Opera (this could be applied to the book, not just musical). Sure, it has other connotations--as in a person recovering from the loss of a loved one and bordering between reality and the insanity awaiting (and probably pending death) should grief overcome...etc... But I love how he sets the "you will come back" can hear that it is the phantom or ghost speaking the line. And also at the end, it tries to be major and happy, but the woodwinds (probably oboe) keep softly playing a dissonant note...leaving the conclusion of the song and poetry rather open...

imagination, harry connick, jr.

first off, i'm slightly in love with harry connick....wait a second, who am i kidding? completely in love with harry connick: check.

his subtle but confident jazz piano and smooth crooning can make a girl weak in the knees. (sigh). anyway....

the piece starts out with a couple of bars leading right into the refrain. harry skips the verse that's commonly performed with the song...but as soon as he starts singing i'm not asking any questions! the piano interlude in the middle section is really beautiful as the piano picks up a bit and then when he gets really serious, he plays in running octaves in the right had (hmm...slightly reminiscent of schumann...oh well, i won't hold it against him)

at the beginning he's only playing chords on 1 and 3. a walking bass line brings him right into the B section of the chorus. By now he's comping and entire jazz progression. this leads us into the piano interlude that i already spoke of. at one point he plays with the rhythms so much that the listener is almost not sure where our meter went...until he uses those couple chords to lead himself right back into the A of the chorus. we reprise the chorus, yet again, with some slight vocal embellishments and end on quite a heart-warming chord.

i love harry connick, and you should, too! have a good night.

Deep River

Have you ever heard a song that just pulls at your soul. That cries out to you, that really sings to your heart? Deep River, an old Negro Spiritual, is one of those songs for me. Arranged by Roy Ringwald, it is an absolutely beautiful piece.
A simple binary binary piece that toys between F major and D minor. The A section is subdued, the words telling of the deep river jordan. There are many subtle dynamic changes that help accent the melody and lyrics. The B section is much more forceful, enlightening the listener about a better life in the promised land. The biggest and loudest portion of the song comes tied to the words, "promised land," properly emphasizing their importance to the singer and listener. Again, there is a recapituation of the A section. Quiet and insistant, we hear about Deep River again, this time concluding the piece on a F major chord into nothingness. Although the melody is exteremely beautiful and dynamic, what makes this arrangement so cool is the amazing harmonies created by Ringwald. A big fan of barbershop, and jazz a cappella, one should listen to the last two measures. Definately what we would consider a short barbershop tag. Cool, very cool.
The lyrics are very somber, pleading to God. When singing this song, one can imagine the struggle of the slaves. The words illustrate a better place, one with feasts, peace, and a promised land. Honestly, I'm not one to care much about lyrics, I never really have. This song is different. The words are very significant to how the music should be performed, and are filled with emotion. This is an extremely powerful piece, I enjoy it quite a bit.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

"Simple Little Things" from 110 In The Shade

First I'd just like to start by saying how beautiful all of the music from this show is. This song starts out very simply as far as the melody goes. She basically sings one note over and over again for about the first 8 measures while the piano plays the same chord over and over again. However, this is very fitting to the lyrics: "Not all dreams are great big dreams, some peoples dreams are small. Not all dreams have to have a golden fleece, or any kind of fleece at all. My dreams like my name are very plain, no shining knight must kneel. My dreams like my name are very plain, but never the less they're real, they're all so very real." This helps to establish Lizzie's character. It wouldn't make sense for the music to be all complicated while she sang those lyrics.
The accompaniment doesn't really change or become interesting until the refrain begins, and it becomes much more complicated rhythmically. It goes from being mostly quarter notes and half notes to having a bunch of sixteenth note runs and such. The accompaniment does not do a whole lot to help the singer out. Most of the time, a chord will be held out while the vocal line is in sixteenth notes above it. This makes the vocal line so raw, exposed, and heartfelt.
At the B section, the tempo picks up, and the density of the accompaniment increases, as does the texture. These changes are typical at any type of B section. The accompaniment becomes more and more exciting as Lizzie talks about all the simple little dreams that she has. When the A section returns, the tempo slows back down and the accompaniment once again becomes subdued and simple as she sings about only wanting simple things.
The melodic line throughout is very simple, as are Lizzie and her dreams, so it is fitting. It is mostly stepwise, but since the accompaniment is really of no help, it is still slightly difficult for the singer. I just love this song. The music is very pretty, and I think I relate very much to the idea behind the song.
"Simple little things. All I want are simple little things. All I need is someone beside me to have and to hold, someone to love me as we grow older. Simple little things, simple little dreams will do." *sigh*

Back to School- Adam Sandler (Billy Madison)

Well, I'm having a sleep-over with Ladams and KDaniel....and we are watching Billy Madison! So I decided to blog about the song Billy sings on his first day of school. It's catchy...short...and something that everyone has taken to singing or leaving on away messages. Really a cult classic that Billy Madison. He's going back to school to prove to dad he's not a fool. It's in a simple ternary form and has about only three notes....but like I said before...real catchy.
Well Ladam's "D" key is broken and it's getting kind of I'm out!! :-)

Schumann: Dichterliebe, Op. 48 - Im wunderschönen Monat Mai

Schumann: Dichterliebe, Op. 48 - Im wunderschönen Monat Mai

This one song that starts the song cycle Dichterliebe is very unique not for the form, or name, but the emotional vision given off by it. The translation for the text is:

In the marvelous month of May
when all the buds were bursting,
then in my heart did
love arise.
In the marvelous month of May
when all the birds were singing,
then did I reveal to her
my yearning and longing.

You would imagine that the song would be full of beautiful melodic line in the voice and piano parts because of how he is speaking of this love and his yearning and longing for this girl. The music is actually very simple, kind of a dark and lonely sound making you think something bad might have happened because of this love he has. I think Schumann is using this as a form of foreshadowing in this cycle.

"black betty"

"whoaaa black betty bamalam, whoaaa black betty bamalam..." This song is pretty exciting, and it's on the soundtrack of Johnny Depp's movie Blow. Not many people know who wrote this song, but it is covered by a hell of a lot of bands, the most popular cover of this song being by the band Ram Jam. It was really written by one of the original Delta Blues legends named Huddie Lefbetter ("Leadbelly") around the 1930's.

Anyway, the Ram Jam band's version starts (and ends) the song with a heavy gong drum (continuously) and a really strong, defining drum beat (ending when the lead vocalist starts singing) with constant cymbal crashes. There's also some hardcore guitars being played. They've turned this song into more of a rockabilly song rather than a blues song. I've only heard the rock version, but I think it would sound good as a blues song too. The guitar has a great solo on the bridge, and escalates up, heading back to the original chorus.

Morceau de Concours

Gabriel Faure
Michel Debost, flautist

The piece begins with four notes in the piano on do. Because of the way the metric accent is placed on the front of the note, combined with the slow tempo of the piece, a three eight time signature is immediately established. The piano sounds exactly like one of those soft sounding church bells. The soft dynamic introduces the listener to the calm motive of the piece, and when the flute part enters on the fourth repetitive do, it reinforces the three eight time signature with a quarter eighth rhythm. The first phrase ends on an IAC. The phrase ending is signaled by a retard in the flute part. When the flute first began the phrase, the notes were do sol sol (the second sol an octave higher), and then the sixteenths begin. The note duration of the second sol is a dotted half, and it contrasts with the line of sixteenths and further emphasises the end of a phrase. There are not many long notes,- the piano part has stagnate dotted halfs but after a while they become just a tempo mechanism, so the main stucture of the motive can be summed up as do sol do, the sol being up and octave. This bright motive, due to the leaps, contrasts with the sad sounding accompanient. Together, they give the piece a pulling feel, and maintain tempo without pointing it out. The next phrase is contrasting, and less noticed because the flute part doesn't have any long notes in it, like the beginning of the first phrase. It functions as a transistional function, the piano accompanient moves up but the flute part is still holding the listeners attention, so it goes somewhat unnoticed. As the flute part proceeds, it grows louder with the piano part, and climbs higher into the register compared to the previous phrase. This build up leads to a modulation to the dominant. The new phrase ends on a PAC, with the re in the flute part signaling the ending of the phrase combined with it being the ending of a descending line in the flute part. The next phrase signals a new motive, more curious and stable because of the rhythm and leaps in the flute part. There is also less half and whole steps, less sixteenths, which, compared to the first phrase give it a much stabler sound. The section ends with a PAC, signaled by a descending line in the flute part. The first section is the repeated, and the next begins a terminative function. This piece basically uses a fast rhythm to build things up, then descendings to signal the end of a phrase. To add a little color, it uses leaps, which are effective because of the half and whole steps dominating the piece. The ending cadence ends on a bright note, I expected it to end lower, because of the obvious pattern throughout the piece, but, instead of following a descending line to do, it ends on the high do. I liked the piece, it was simple.

"Oh! quand je dors" - Franz Liszt

I LOVE this chanson. One of the most beautiful things ever written. One of my favorite recordings of this is by Kathleen Battle at Carnegie Hall, an unusual choice to sing this song since it's more appropriate for a fuller, lyric sound, but Battle does a great job.

In the chanson, the singer asks his/her lover to approach the couch that he/she is sleeping on, just as Petrarch (the famous Italian poet) appeared to Laura. "Let your breath touch me as you pass; suddenly my lips will part!" The singer describes how her furrowed brow will reveal the never-ending, dark dream that is finally coming to an end - a metaphor for how the lover has saved the singer from a lifetime of not being loved. The singer asks the lover to gently awake her with a kiss.

The song, accompanied by piano, has tons of text painting with the word placement and piano passages. It begins with an opening cadenza in the left hand, that suggests the lover entering the room. The singer's opening melody is mostly in the middle range, but on the word, "Petrarch" the singer shoots up to a high G. Generally all of the important words are on high notes or runs for emphasis - "kiss," "love," "dream," etc.

The opening section is a parallel symmetric period, the first phrase ending in a half cadence and the second ending in an AC. The B section is developmental of the A section and tonally unstable. This makes sense because the singer at this point is talking about the nightmare she is having. Eventually the B section returns to the melody from the A section, but this time it has modulated up - I still consider this part of the B section. The B section ends on a huge cadence for the word "radiant." The A section returns in the original key and is similar to the first time it was sung. This time, however, there is a short terminative section added. Therefore, the song is in a rounded binary form.

The only flaw with this recording is that Battle takes a breath in the middle of a word - "fem / me" or "woman." It's a pretty careless mistake, but oh well.

"Your Winter" by Sister Hazel

Ah, one of those bands that flashed brightly for about a year then receded back into relatively obscurity. I love this song because it's an unapologetic apology, the words tell about a guy who is sorry for hurting a girl, and he loves her, but won't be responsible for any addition pain she causes herself. This song came into my life at a very relevant time and it has stuck with me. The chord progression is simple, the verses are in G major I-V-vi-IV, the vocals are gut wrenching and would make a classical vocalist cringe as the singer puts all the tension he's feeling into his throat. It's an effective device, as the emotion is heartfelt, like someone who is tired of hearing their best friend complain. The arrangement is interesting, as we begin with simple acoustic guitar for the first verse. We repeat the progression 4 times per verse. We slowly add more and more instruments. The second verse adds an electric guitar, bass and drum backing. The electric just strums out the chords, the bass simply beats out the root of the chord and the drums use the simple Bm-chk, bm-bm-chk pattern. This leads to our bridge, a transitional section, where we add more density with keyboard. This section is 4 measures, with the progression going I-V-IV-V ending on a half cadence, building suspense to the chorus. The chorus puts all the emotion into it, as everything comes crashing into it. It's a repeated section, since we have no real cadential points, the progression is I-V-ii-IV followed by I-V-vi-IV. This is repeated twice, as are the lyrics of the section, with only the final words being changed. On the final time through we have an interest omission, we end on the vi chord, leaving the end dangling and we return to the verse. We calm down in the third verse, dropping back the dynamic. We build tension in the bridge again and come crashing to the chorus again. After this chorus we come to the solo portion, we the key is ambiguous and we end back on a half cadence right before the final verse and we add even more density as strings join in. This string section completely fills out whatever could have been sparse about the piece. We chorus twice, but instead of finally finishing on the tonic, which we would expect since we've avoided it for the entire song, we leave on that minor vi chord. I think this adds an entirely new dimension to the piece, as some times even our more earnest pleas aren't answered, and not everything is resolved at the end. I don't know if that's what Sister Hazel was planning, but this is how I interpret it. I think of it as a message, that even when you're trying to help someone, nothing can happen unless they want it to change.

"I said I'm sorry but what for?
If I hurt you than I hate myself.
I don't wanna hate myself, don't wanna hurt you
Why do you choose your pain
if you only knew how much I love you, love you..."
-These are the end of the second verse going into the bridge, especially meaningful to me.

Bach: Two-Part Invention No. 13 (Bela Fleck)

This Bach invention is very cool because one part is being played by Fleck on the banjo and the second part is Evelyn Glennie on the marimba. If it were being performed on piano, I would guess that Fleck is performing the right hand and Glennie is playing the left hand. The song is definitly in a simple meter, either two-four or four-four. The beginning is the marimba playing do on the down beat and the banjo soming in on the weak beat with sol-do-me-re-sol-re-fa-me-sol-re-sol. The first measure of the marimba part plays start eighth notes until the me-sol-re-sol in the banjo part because at those notes to banjo switches to eighths and the marimba plays the moving sixteenth notes. As in all inventions the melody is traded between parts throughout the song. The piece seems to be closed because the A section ends with ti-do. The song is rounded because the A section repeats at the end. The form is hard to explain though because the piece is so continuous. It begins in a minor key and then there is sort of an extension to the second phrase of the A section which modulates to a major key. After this major section, there is an obvious modulation back to the minor but with a different melody, signifying a new section. In this portion the marimba is stronger in playing the melody. The last portion before the end is the original A section with some variations. The end of the song has a very obvious i64-V-i and a perfect authentic cadence.
I enjoy invention because they never seem to stop or break until the very end. One of the parts is always playing and it can even be confusing at times as to when sections begin and end. The marimba has a great sound because it can be stong and stable on the accompanying eighth notes or light and bouncy on the moving parts.

telemann trumpet concerto, allegro

i really enjoy listening to the fourth movement of the telemann trumpet concerto because the trumpet and the orchestra take turns calling-and-responding and accompanying each other. the prominent trumpet melody begins with light accompaniment from the harpsichord in the background the first phrase ends in a tonicization in the dominant, but returns to the original key in the consequent phrase. the strings mimic the trumpet after this first phrase ends, toying with the same melody. the trumpet returns for a few bars, and the strings respond. when the strings take the melody again, the trumpet plays lightly behind them. this section feels developmental but may simply be the B section, since it is considerably different from the beginning expository melody. the main melody returns again until the end of the piece, which, by the way, ends on a killer high note.

classical music feels so soothing after a weekend of augusta read thomas. i don't even mind the harpsichord!

Galaxy Dances- Augusta Read Thomas

Today the University Orchestra played this work by our visiting composer and in listening while I played, I heard a lot of things that I can write about easily when dealing with her music.
One of the biggest things about Ms. Thomas' music is that being 20th century music, it seems to be dependant on anything EXCEPT melody and contour. I would have to say that the defining characteristic of her work in general and this work in particular is definately rhythm. It is interesting because she uses it in a way similar to very early 20th century composers, as a motive and as something (perhaps the only thing) constant in her music.
It was interesting trying to explain her music to my Dad and brother who visited on Friday for my brother's Depauw audition and sat in on the rehearsal of the piece. My Dad said he couldn't enjoy the piece whatsoever because of its "spastic" nature. I can definately agree with him on this, though I know how to appreciate the music for what it is.
I like the fact that the piece is broken up into what seems to be a five part journey through the universe, and if you listen carefully you can in fact hear the separate parts just as she described them today at the concert. I would have to commend her on her choice of the Double Bass representing the "timeless galaxy" at both the beginning and ending of the piece. It gives an ominous and somewhat foreboding tone to the piece that I think fits really well.
The performance of the piece today went well for the most part, and I even noticed some sections where there was repetition of different motives and dialogue between different instruments that I hadn't heard before which was cool. Its always great to get a chance to listen to another part and try to get a better idea of what is going on in the piece as a whole when you are sitting as a part of an ensemble.

"The Miracle" by Queen

I'm going to try to keep this shorter than my other entries, so I'm just going to point out an assortment of things I like rather than doing a full breakdown.

One of the things that I like about this song is how it can produce a somewhat ethereal feel without having any rhythmic intensity. The group does this by emphasizing a wide range of electric keyboard sounds and using a light bass feel. The opening rhythmic figure of sixteenth note dotted eighth note by the keyboard gives the first few measures rhythmic drive into the entrance of the drums. And as with many rock songs, there is usually a break between each line of the verse and use of a quick run with a harp sound. The importance of this of course is that the song is about miracles (like Ohio State beating Illinois!, okay, maybe not, the game just ended) of the past and miracles of the future.

Another nice addition to the song is the chords that are at the end of the chorus. I call them the "Bee-Gees" chords because they could come straight from one of those songs and all the background stops except for the echoing of the bass, and some hi-hat near the end to set the tempo for the next section.

And like any good Queen song, there are guitar solos. There are four of them in this song (two stand alone sections, and two as transitions) and they use single line in the upper range of the instrument with a clear tone that fits in with the theme of the song.

After a couple rounds of the verses and chorus and the lyrics subject changing from past miracles to future miracles "peace on earth an end to war" the song changes mood by having a driving bass doing dotted eighth, eighth, three sixteenths twice per 4/4 bar and there is another guitar solo, but this one much in a more regular range for guitar and also has some distortion in it. The rhythms are also much more jagged. The drums also take some liberty in doing some very highly syncopated solos. This section seems very out of place in this song, but the meaning is realized when the vocal comes in at a completely different slower tempo with the lyric, "that time will come, one day you'll see, when we can all be friends" after this line is completed, all of the craziness of the instruments comes into sync with the vocal line, which gives a great effect. This lyric and the instrumentation that is reminicient of the early part of the song fades out as the song completes. I see the crazy section as the world today, and the final lyric part as being the hope of tomorrow.

This song does a good job of combining instrumentation to create a song full of different emotions.