Wednesday, March 16, 2005

A Little Night Music mvt II

Two gentle strokes start the piece off as the violins sing a luscious melody above the orchestra with the viola adding an undulating 8th note pattern. It is very graceful. It makes me smile every time I hear it. The melody repeats. The B section is again dominated by the violin and has more of a cadenza like feel. The A theme returns in the orginal key for a bar but then is modulated up a half step. The melody of the B section is repeated again. A more agressive phrase jumps out at the end. The b section of the B section. is more dance like and is separated with a little peckyness. It's almost like the abnoxious kid grabbing at your leg at this dinner party. This section is in minor and has a more austere quality. A motivic theme is developed and passed around from string to string. The A section comes back in all its glory and ends a statement. A more frivolous and wondering, even nomadic, section begins. Constant 8th notes are played throughout the quartet as little 2 bar gestures take the interest. The A section melody then comes back again, more luscious than ever. Large and more ferocious chords are played signaling finality as the composer gets one last chance to again reminise on the main melody.

"Father and Son" - Cat Stevens (Footsteps in the Dark)

I love Cat Stevens. I think he's one of our greatest songwriters of all time. I tried to find his Footsteps in the Dark CD for my dad's Christmas present, but I sadly discovered that most major record stores have banned his work because he's a firm believer in Islam. :( I won't say anything more about that.

This song is so unique in that it tells a story, and Stevens actually sings the parts of two different characters, a father and a son. He uses a different vocal color for each character - a lower, almost tired-sounding voice for the father. He sings in a much higher register for the son, and his voice is more passionate.

The accompaniment seems to be an acoustic guitar (played by Stevens), a piano, some percussion, and possibly a second guitar or bass guitar.

It's not time to make a change,
Just relax, take it easy.
You're still young, that's your fault,
There's so much you have to know. (HC)
Find a girl, settle down,
If you want you can marry.
Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy. (PAC)

*This section is a double period.

I was once like you are now, and I know that it's not easy,
To be calm when you've found something going on. (HC)
But take your time, think a lot,
Why, think of everything you've got.
For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not. (PAC)

*This verse is the same melody, but has a thicker texture in the accompaniment.

How can I try to explain, when I do he turns away again.
It's always been the same, same old story. (HC)
From the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen.
Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away. (PAC)
I know I have to go. (interpolation - PAC)

*The son's theme uses the same melody, but is sung an octave above so it sounds almost completely different. Stevens also vocally embellishes a little bit. There is also a much different texture in the accompaniment - some percussion, a second guitar, and piano that are not used in the father's sections. This suggests that the son is more passionate and energetic than the father, who's older and wiser.

A verse-long instrumental break occurs with a guitar solo on the melody.

It's not time to make a change,
Just sit down, take it slowly.
You're still young, that's your fault,
There's so much you have to go through. (HC)
Find a girl, settle down, if you want you can marry.
Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy. (HC!!!!)
(Son: Away, away, away, I know I have to make this decision alone - no)

*The original, quiet texture used for the father's first section is used again here. It's very interesting that the father's theme ends on a HC this time, NOT a PAC. Also, his theme is much shorter than the first time around. This could suggest that the argument is growing in intensity, and that perhaps the son has interrupted him?

All the times that I cried, keeping all the things I knew inside,
It's hard, but it's harder to ignore it. (HC)
If they were right, I'd agree, but it's them you know not me.
Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away. (PAC)
I know I have to go. (interpolation - PAC)
(Father: Stay, stay, stay. Why must you go and make this decision alone?)

*Again, the son's theme has the same texture as the first time it was sung through.

Jonny Cash and Boyzone have done covers of this song. :)

George Moustaki - Ma Solitude

The guitar hits three chords in the intro, the third being the same as the first and the fourth the same as the second, though Moustaki starts singing on the fourth chord/measure (which is the same as the second chord what I feel to be a IV6). I hear a minor third in the base, and the first chord definitely feels like tonic, and I would say the second is a IV6. The piece is strophic with three verses and three refrains. The refrain is just one period of two phrases. Here I've marked some of what I think the cadences are. Basically what he's singing about is that in his life, he has known one thing to remain faithful and constant--solitude. He refers to it even as a lover, and says that if he were ever to take another lover, that his solitude would still remain with him and would remain with him for the rest of his life. I really like Moustaki, because he seems more mature in a lot of his themes, a wise and resigned type. His melodies are very mellow, his songs gentle. I particularly like this one because of the way he treats solitude, personifying it, validating it. I can identify with it.

Pour avoir si souvent dormi
Avec ma solitude (IAC)
Je m'en suis fait presqu'une amie
Une douce habitude (mod, HC)
Ell' ne me quitte pas d'un pas
Fidèle comme une ombre (HC? ti feel)
Elle m'a suivi ça et là
Aux quatre coins du monde (HC)

Non, je ne suis jamais seul (HC)
Avec ma solitude (IAC)

(rest same as first verse and refrain):

Quand elle est au creux de mon lit
Elle prend toute la place
Et nous passons de longues nuits
Tous les deux face à face
Je ne sais vraiment pas jusqu'où
Ira cette complice
Faudra-t-il que j'y prenne goût
Ou que je réagisse?

Non, je ne suis jamais seul
Avec ma solitude

Par elle, j'ai autant appris
Que j'ai versé de larmes
Si parfois je la répudie
Jamais elle ne désarme
Et si je préfère l'amour
D'une autre courtisane
Elle sera à mon dernier jour
Ma dernière compagne
Non, je ne suis jamais seul

Avec ma solitude
Non, je ne suis jamais seul
Avec ma solitude

Chopin: Nocturne in E flat Major

Chopin: Nocturne in E flat Major

This song was composed in 1832, and is absolutely heavenly. The thing I love the most about this song and many others of Chopin’s, is the usage of tempo rubato. It give the piece a weightless, improvisatory feeling that if you aren’t careful will calm you into sleep. Tempo rubato is when the left hand stays steady with the tempo, and the right hand (the melody) get much freedom and room to wander. The right hand is somewhat playing a very “vocal” type line, as if it were singing. Beautiful, beautiful….That Chopin knew what he was doing….well I’m off to study more music history…IT NEVER ENDS!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

Near me - Jewel

Acoustic guitar and voice, this piece is of course one that I love. It begins with a guitar intro spanning 6 bars. Then the voice enters. There is then a repeated period with only the words changing. Then there is a bridge. Then back to the melody. The words to this song are beautiful. They talk about saying I love you and how it means so much. When it is felt, it makes you want to be near to the one you love always.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Come To My Garden/Lift Me Up from The Secret Garden

Come To My Garden/ Lift Me Up from The Secret Garden. Music by Lucy Simon, Lyrics by Marsha Norman. Original Broadway Cast Recording.

This is one of my favorite songs from The Secret Garden simply because of the amazing harmonies. The song starts out with some very nice arpeggiated chords, and then Lily comes in with a huge octave leap. Her voice is so pure, and it just soars and sounds absolutely effortless. The accompaniment is basically rolled chords, but the voicing is very nicely done. All of the notes in the chords are very close together... they aren't your typical musical theatre chord voicings. They are beautiful. After 8 measures, the vocal material repeats. Here, the accompaniment changes, and there are arpeggiated chords in the left hand and blocked chords in the right hand. After these two 8 measure phrases, the material changes. The vocal line is now in an even higher range... which just carries wonderfully in a good soprano voice. It is only different for about 4 measures, and then we return to the original octave leap come to my garden motive, but it is altered slightly and we don't get the same thing this time.
The tempo picks up slightly, and Colin comes in. It is so fun to listen to this part because I just love the pure sound of boys voices when they are very young. He has a completely different melody than Lily. Lily's part was very legato and flowing, while Colin's is broken up a bit more and moves more as far as rhythm goes. Once he gets through his melodic motive once, Lily comes in with him, but singing her original motive. The parts are just stunning together. The harmonies are absolutely gorgeous. Finally they come together and they have the same lyrics and rhythm. This part is done accapella, and the harmonies blow me away. This only happens long enough for them to sing, "I shall see you in my garden", then they go back to singing their own separate motives with the accompaniment. They come again together for the very end, where they sing, "Come sweet day" together, but again with such beautiful harmonies. I wonder how long it took to teach that young kid those parts.
I really can't even describe the beauty of this music to you with words. You really just need to listen to it for yourselves... it's not your typical musical theatre music. The voice part is much more classical, and the orchestrations are slightly more difficult. Listen if you get a chance... you'll love it.

Symphony No. 56 in C Major - Haydn

The more I listen to this piece (to review for music history), the more I like it. There is a good amount of contrast - it begins with a forte descending arppegiation, then switches moods immediately to a smooth, mainly string section. This alternation between moods defines the entire piece, as there is rarely a crescendo or diminuendo - just sudden changes.

Another reason is its harmonic simplicity. Since the romantic era, composers have rarely used the harmonic progressions without contorting them in some way. Haydn stuck to the basics, though. For example, the first smooth string section is a parallel, symmetric period that uses the progression:
I ii6 V vi I6 ii6 V I
It doesn't get much simpler than that, nor does it need to to produce a satisfying aural affect.

Later in the piece, Haydn uses more involved progressions, but they rarely become unrecognizable. This keeps the listener interested, but still satisfied and not exhausted.

Serenade - Schubert

This piece has a really strong melancholic emotion to it. It's kept steady by the ongoing broken chords in the piano part and propelled forward by the dotted rhythms and ornamentation and by the parts where the piano adds an echo or bit of the melody on top of the broken chords. There are a lot of transitions to and from the parallel minor key. The piece starts off in minor in the flute's low octave, switches over to the major key, then back to the minor for a repeat of the initial section in the high octave. I really enjoyed the dynamics in the piece. The piano crescendoed and decrescendoed its groups of chords and when it entered with an echo of the flute part or a bit of the melody, it was suddenly louder. The flute's dynamics seemed to follow the line of the music, although there seemed to be less dynamic changes when in the high octave.

Liber Tango arr. Jeff Scott performed by Imani Winds

I was so blown away by the Imani winds tonight that I had to buy a CD. It was perfect! It combined my two favorite things: cultural music and classical music. It was really cool because this piece uses a mix of AfroCuban musical ideas. In my anthro. course African Religious Diaspora we've studied A LOT about afroCuban music with relationship to Santeria. This was so exciting. The piece has a very upbeat, repetitive clave pulse to it. All the instruments come in on this syncronized pulse until they eventually break off and start soloing by elaborating on it. Each instrument plays a pure sustained note that shows off the individual timbre of their instrument and then they break into ornaments until the next goes. At the end of each phrase they all come back with the synchronized rhythm and pitches. At the end of the sections there are big pauses where solos come in with cadenzas. The last section is full of elaborate solos full of ornaments, tongue trills, and scalar passages. I love how they use each timbre to its full benefit. At the end they finally come back with the last repetitive synchronized pattern, high shrieks from the horns, and trills until the sound is only left reverberating into the distance of air. The division of the sections remind me of the Ravel we studied in Form today where the only thing that held the piece together was the trills, in this case, the dramatic pauses and synchronized returning phrases. (The synchronism unifying the piece is also interesting because this culture is sustained by its syncretism.)


So I tried to submit my blog, and it didn't. Instead it just deleted my work....ARGH!
Anyway, this second attempt will be shorter than the first. I saw Libertango tonight, it was performed by the Imani Winds.
I really enjoyed this piece. I have a special place in my heart for the tango. It is a crazy, seductive dance with a really cool meter. After a short fanfarish beginning, the tango sets in. The bassoon and french horn start the beat with a 12312312 rhythm. 8/8 maybe? Hard to tell. None the was hott. That underlying bass rhythm permeates the entire piece, while the other instruments jam on top. The exotic meter and flavor of instruments definately lends itself to the tango feel.
On top of this is lies the Liber part of libertango. We have a free jazz improvised melody soaring above the tango. You gotta dig the flute and bassoon solos. They were incredible. I wish I could tell you more about this piece, but I have had one listen to it, and I'm relying on my first impression to write this blog. I can describe this piece as a dance song, that you can't dance to. It's got it's tango rhythm, but it much more jazzy than tango-y? Nonetheless it's really cool, and I encourage everyone to listen to a recording of it, or explore more Astor Piazolla music. The best part of the piece was at the end with the return of the fanfare-ish part, the horn rips as loud as he can to end the piece.


I remembered to do my listening journal tonight! Whew...Alright. Anyway, went to see the Imani Winds tonight. They were awesome. Their last piece they performed was "Libertango," originally written by Aston Piazzolla, arranged for quintet by Jeff Scott.

I liked this piece quite a bit. It was really exciting. The opening section was almost fanfarish, but quickly worked its way into the tango. The tango is a seductive dance, not in some common three step. Instead, the french horn and the bassoon often play a 12312312 rhythmic motive that permeates the entire piece. This underlying rhythm gives us the tango feel, while the rest of the instruments freely play above this fast complex bass. I liked the bassoon and flute solos throughout the piece, they were jazzy, improvized, and very exotic.
The Imani Winds really know their stuff. Even though I wanted to tie down the flute player, (she was moving around like she had a monkey on her back), she was very colorful in her playing. One minute she would have a beautiful bel canto sound, the next would be a harsh flutter or jazz tone. Libertango was almost like two pieces, a jazz song, and a tango. It wasn't really danceable to, but it still really rocked the socks off the audience. I wish I had another chance to hear the music, because the piece contained so much crazy movement it was hard to catch all the nuances the first time around...oh well. Cool piece, liked it a lot. I'm gonna explore more of this Piazolla character.

Monty Python, "I like Chinese"

It's almost Spring Break so I'm doing something silly.

This song's introduction has some spoken lyrics with light government accompaniment that ends on half cadences after each line.

The rest of the song is an example of how you can make the same eight measure period interesting for about two and a half minutes. The period is very simple the first two measures stay on tonic followed by the next two measures having a HC. The second phrase stays on tonic for the first two bars with the second spending some time on the subdominant and dominant before the PAC. Each one of these periods have a unique accompaniment to keep it interesting. The first one has eighth note boom chicks in the drums and guitars with a walking bass line. The second time through adds a water effect with pops that increase in pitch followed by pouring water (this seems comical, but one of our percussion ensemble pieces this semester has pouring water). The next time through adds accompaniment by a crappy "movie theater" organ and does stop time in the seventh and eighth measures with just hits on 1 and 3. The next time through the guitar part stops and the organ part becomes much more active with fast scalar passages. The next time through all the previous accompaniment drops out and there is no chordal accompaniment, just a rhythmic "tap dancing" sound and hi-hat downbeats with the voice becoming stacatto to match this. The next time through brings back the drums and walking bass but with a wonderful little brass line that plays when the singer isn't singing. The next time through there is a lyrical trombone line mostly outlining chords with the guitar doing some stacatto scalar lines around the vocals. This contrast is very nice. The next time the vocals sing in Chinese, so naturally the accompaniment is some string instrument that sounds very Eastern. Since the switch back to English is a pretty significant change, the accompaniment for the next part is the same. The last full repition of this phrase has the return of the organ doing more active lines than previously, an added voice altered to sound like "Alvin and the Chipmunks" and some Chinese cymbal hits. This accompaniment is then repeated as the music fades.

So many repetitions, but it does a pretty effective job of staying interesting.

"Hook" by Blues Traveler

In the footsteps of such historic greats as Green Day, Vitamin C, and numerous other groups, Blues Traveler is ripping off the simple circle of fifths progression from Pachabel's Canon. However they are disguising it a little bit, since we're not in D but down a fifth, in A major. This entire song (verse, bridge and chorus) all center around this one progression: I-V-vi-iii-IV-I-IV-V. There is some ellision, as the final Half Cadence of the progression resolves right to the I at the start of the next repeate, adding a feeling of constantly moving forward. Like most of the songs I've blogged about, the bass line is the driving force, playing the root of each chord in each measure, as the guitar adding ornaments (especially a nice little turn on the vi to iii progression: la-la-do-la-sol-la-re-so, which really stands out as unexpectedly catchy). The vocals for this song are perfect for the bluesy/gutsy style. I love John Popper's high and bright tone and raw emotion he puts into each word. His small changes he puts in every phrase, with a quick trill, or an unexpected suspension adds a unique flavor to a piece with a very familiar progression. A lot of lines are delivered in a half sing/speak style and longer notes really bring the sound forward. Then after our second verse we have a brilliant harmonica solo, every note, slide, trill and run fitting perfectly, much like the violin run in the original piece. When we return we have a verse/bridge section that is one of the fastest vocal passages you will every hear. Every note is sung with a staccato like gunfire, matching the agility of the harmonica solo, surprisingly every word is crisp and understandable. The chorus returns at this point, and the vocals switch up the pattern, with varying rhythms to build and release tension. I like how Blues Traveler didn't get caught into a rut by the constantly repeating pattern, making everything crisp and new by adding a lot of small changes to make every verse and chorus a little different than the preceding one.

Hey Girl- OAR

I'm surprised I have yet to post about my good friends OAR (which is not pronounced like something you would find on a boat but as O-A-R). "Hey Girl" is one of my favorite songs by these guys. It's upbeat and has a sense of wreckless abandon. The verses are sweetly sung, the chorus gets more upbeat and energetic, and then by the end of the chorus they are shouting, "let yourself GO! Let yourself GO!" It always puts me in a good mood and I end up humming it incessantly for days. You should check it out!

Domine Jesu, Mozart's Requiem

Domine Jesu
W. A. Mozart
Maunder Edition

This is the 10th movement of the Requiem, and at times has the most difficult melodies in it. I Love It!!

The choir and orchestra start right of the bat together, playing the same rhythms for the first phrase. The dynamics are very soft until the text changes to "Rex gloriae" then the orchestra starts playing sixteenth notes. After that phrase, everyone is back to their original piano dynamic.

The sopranos then play a little call and response game with the rest of the choir for the "Ne poenis..." This goes on for a while until the tenors take over.

When the tenors finally take it (singing "Ne absorbeat tartarus...") this melody that they have is shifted in tonalities and sent to every other section, the altos, sopranos and basses. The melody moves down in sevenths, making it extremely difficult to hear initially. The sopranos then pass the "ne cadant" down through the parts leaving the basses to begint the "in obscurum".

The piece then breaks into a section for 4 sololists. The singers are all singing the same melodic motive and text, but they're all displaced by 8 beats. The melodies change tonality in every voice. At the end they're all basically together, but word stresses are on different beats.

Now come the "quam olim abrahae". Again, Mozart is taking the motive and sending it through all the different voice, rhythmically displaced and in different tonalities. You'd think this would get old, but I love it more every time!!! We then go back to when the sopranos lead every one in call and response. The basses take over being the leader briefly, until the sopranos steal the lead for the last phrase.

Wow, I love this movement.


JEFF SCOTT- Homage to Duke

This piece for woodwind quintet is amazing. It was performed by the Imani winds today at their masterclass, and the only word to describe it is amazing. The horn player of the group, jeff scott, composed this piece as a tribute to Duke Ellington. Specifically the little known sacred works that he wrote in his seventies. The piece is amazingly dynamic, with rich textures that reminded me of water. There would be a smooth surface, all of the voices going different directions and doing something different, but every now and then there would be a wave of sound and a particular voice would come out of the texture.
The performers were extremely interactive with one another, and it helped their musicality SO much throughout the performance of the piece.
There was a section with a jazz-like bassoon bass line, with the flute and the oboe playing what resembled a gregorian chant over it, and this was just so cool.
I can't wait until the concert tonight so I can buy their CD.

ATB- Ecstasy

Like all techno pieces I know of, the beat underneath is the driving force of the piece. It is interesting how this beat grows in the beginning of the piece, showing the different elements and building blocks that make it up. First, it does 4 phrases or so of the electronic melodic pattern by itself then it adds a percussion beat, then the bass pattern, then another percussion beat, and then once the beat is set, the voice comes in. The phrasing of the voice part follows the beat pattern. The voice often sounds unsure when it begins a new phrase and then the beat reinforces it. If you can ever truly consider a techno piece to have a particular form, I think you’d have to consider this Rounded Binary. The A section would be the different verses and is very tonally centered. The B section would be the chorus and is further up in the register and contains more leaps and is more chordal than tonally centered. The piece transitions from A to B occurs each time that the girl surprisingly sings 2 or so measures on a high note after the final verse of the A section. The vocal melody of the A and B sections are distinctly different from each other, but it is the continuing beat which gives the B section a relation to the A rather than a separate identity.

Monday, March 14, 2005

My Little World, Harry Connick, Jr.

My Little World, Harry Connick, Jr.

This is a fun little jazz piece…starts off with a little piano ditty that kind of tells you its going to be a laid back floating song. Then the drum comes in with the brush sticks (don’t know what they are really called)..This effect kind of gives you the feeling of listening to an old record with a little static in the back ground. The main instrument is the sax, and it plays its calm, relaxing melody with the usual jazz sound…this song makes me want to sleep… doesn’t really go anywhere…just keeps floating…kind of like an endless stream…but then the drum stops the sound gets so much crisper with out the drums….that’s the end….well see ya later…

Kabalevsky violin concerto mvt III

The piece starts off ominously with pizzicatto in the strings and stopped horns. The pizz's move up half steps as the horn note stays the same creating tension and the desire for release. The solo violin comes in with a trill, a scale, and an octave higher trill. Then the main melody starts with sparse accompaniment. The melody is structured as a double period with the second phrase ending on a half cadence. Repetition in the solo line and motivic gestures and colors from the clarinet and oboe bring us to the repeat of this melody except it is put into a single contrasting period with a half step modulation at the end. A new theme is presented. It is more lyrical and legato. A new relaxed mode is in the air. This leads into a new section of straight and furious sixteenth notes by the soloists with an off-beat accompaniment from the brass and orchestra. A dual between the soloist and the trumpet serves as a development and transition back to the main melody. It is repeated exactly with a few minor changes of accompaniment. This leads us into the new B section. It is more of a slower, heavier peasant dance, as introduced, but when the soloist comes in it has more grace in it. Even though the rhythms of the soloist have slowed down the accompaniment has become more complex. The melody then repeats itself. The melody is modulated and extended into a secondary theme by the tutti orchestra. This brings us into a development of the main theme of the B section between the percussion, winds, and brass. The theme is modulated and played by the muted trumpet leading into a furious and fast development/transition section full of 8th-2 16th note patterns throughout the orchestra contained in a modulating sequence. Three large and ferocious strokes lead us to the violin cadenza which is played off the first main theme of the A section. Then repeated in minor. Blah Blah more cadenza stuff...double stops, harmonics, scales, etc...We are brought back into the A section with a different texture. The flute plays the double period melody and then the soloist answers with the constrasting period form of the melody. The more lyrical theme comes into play and is played tutti then with emphasis on the soloist. The 16th note section of ferocity comes back with the orchestra playing an off-beat accompaniment. A coda is being played with a combination of the melody of the B section and rhythmic motives of the A section. Trumpets dominate the texture as the harmony is moved as the trumpets repeat the line. The soloist plays triadic material as strokes are played by the orchestra.

La Serva Padrona - Giovanni Pergolesi (1710-1736)

Uberto's Aria "Sempre in contrasti..." --This is Uberto's second aria. It appears to me to be in a composite ternary, part A (in major) being a form of Rondo, B (in minor) having two parts that don't repeat, one very different from A, and the second very similar to parts of A which transitions well back into a repeat of A. With A, he runs through the text twice repeating each line at least once to give emphasis to his frustration. When he repeats, the first part of A (a)is altered and moves around different tonal areas, but returns to the same (b) exactly. This "b" of A also shows up altered and with different words in the "b" of B. I really don't know if it's really a ternary, but since it does seem to divide very clearly into a major A and a minor B (which could stand alone tonally and lacks transition back into A) and then a return of A (though only run through once).

This is one of the earliest pieces of comic opera (evolved from the intermezzo) that is still played regularly in theatres today and was first open in 1733. I was curious because Pergolesi came up in class the other day. La serva padrona is about a servant girl who has been treated so well that she begins to think she has a right to be a noble lady and stops being useful.

"Moonfall Quartet" from The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Rupert Holmes

“Moonfall Quartet” from The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Rupert Holmes

I can never understand the fact that the same guy that wrote “The Pina Colada Song” also wrote the music for a great musical, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Crazy.

“Moonfall Quartet” is a reprise of an earlier song sung by the show’s ingénue, Rosa Bud. It is sung mainly by Rosa and Helena Landless, her best friend. In our production the quartet was sung by Rosa (Linden), Helena (me), Princess Puffer (Trisha), and the narrator (Lindsey). I have a great story about how we convinced the director to let the four of us sing the song, but I won’t go into that.

What’s so amazing about the song is how Holmes intertwines the lyrics between Rosa and Helena’s parts. For instance ...

Rosa: “I fear the moonfall, I feel the night skies, bright eyes will burn me, blind me.
Helena: "Moon of fallen souls, I fear the night disguises you. Night arises, you will burn then blindingly you'll fade."

So many of the words / parts of words coincide, yet the meanings of each character's line of text is completely different. Rosa sings about how she is afraid of Jasper taking advantage of her, while Helena sings of her loneliness and alienation as a foreigner. Holmes remarkably makes each character's line of text match up in rhythm, so it sounds like the characters are singing the same words.

After this duet section, all four singers join together for a really freaky duet. It's very tonally unstable, and was difficult to sing (we could never find Do until the end).

Sunday, March 13, 2005

"Going to California" by Led Zeppelin

The song "Going to California" is so simple, but it's simplicity makes it beautiful!
The introduction is very simple but recognizable. A guitar plays do-do(up octave)-sol-do(up)-do-do(up)-sol-do(up) for about six measures and then the mandolin comes in the seventh measure to set off the song. The mandolin plays a very simple mi-sol-fa-sol-mi-sol-re-sol-do-sol-re-sol-mi-sol to set up for the sung melody in the ninth measure. There are four verses in the song with the first and fourth having the same melody. Also, the third verse is made up of two phrases while the other verses can be separated into three phrases. After the little mandolin introduction the verse begins, "Spent-my-days-with-a-wo-man-un-kind" which is fa-fa-mi-mi-mi-re-re-re-do. The rest of this phrase is "smoked-my-stuff-and-drank-all-my-wi-ine" and in solfege it could be fa-fa-mi-mi-re-sol-do-re-mi. The two previous phrases are used for the rest of this verse and for the fourth verse. The song is in D major and it sounds like the verse begins with the V chord and might go to I briefly. Mostly the same chords are used through out the song. The second verse is slightly different though. The melody starts on fa, like the other verse, but goes up the triad instead, possibly fa-fa-la-la-la-la-do-do-la, which looks like a four chord, but the accompanying parts do not seem to change. The third verse is interesting because he sings up an octave and definitely uses the minor i, instead of major I. The last verse is the same as the first and the parts at the end slowly fade before the ahs which sound like a chorus of voices also fade out. The instruments throughout the song play their same part over and over again, like the first guitar which does do-do-do-do-do and changes up a little depending on the chords. The mandolin also repeats the same part a lot.
The song makes use of two guitars, a mandolin, and Robert Plant's but no percussion. Led Zeppelin began to play this song at an acoustic set somewhere or another. Originally it was called "Guide to California" but was changed to "Going to California" which makes more sense than first title. Plant's voice is one aspect of the song that makes it so comforting along with the repetitive nature of the song. It's not repetitive in a bad way though, only in a soft and soothing way, a nice lullaby or something. The songs variations of simple chords is very pretty and the simple melody is equally pleasing to the ear.

Russell Watson- The Majic of Love

Ok, so I’m not going to do any preaching this time around. I’m just going to talk about the magic of love- the song, that is. This song is fairly simple but very beautiful and nostalgic. The piece mixes between solo and two voices the instrumental follows the voices and serves strictly to accompany and provide the harmonic structure. The rotation of a more popsy voice, an operatic voice, and a duet, adds “magic” to the repetitious melody and helps to make structural divisions clear. A good portion of this piece resembles a ternary form. What I perceive as the A section repeats exact motives, with two sub phrases in between. There are no conclusive cadences in this section and it is therefore a phrase group. The piece then moves in a different direction, beginning the B section, but there is little change in material, so it is developmental. It is very short and could almost be perceived as a transition. Then a new more operatic voice comes in a higher register and repeats the A section again. These three small sections make up a larger Binary form. Then the B section introduces a new idea. The new section is cued by change in density and texture, with an echo effect and then harmonic thirds created by two voices, and also an absence of the motive. Then there is another section with the operatic voice that is again independent from everything else. And then finally the A section returns very softly with the popsy voice alone, and then the operatic voice joins to terminate the piece.

Russell Watson- The Majic of Love

Ok, so I’m not going to do any preaching this time around. I’m just going to talk about the magic of love- the song, that is. This song is fairly simple but very beautiful and nostalgic. The piece mixes between solo and two voices the instrumental follows the voices and serves strictly to accompany and provide the harmonic structure. The rotation of a more popsy voice, an operatic voice, and a duet, adds “magic” to the repetitious melody and helps to make structural divisions clear. A good portion of this piece resembles a ternary form. What I perceive as the A section repeats exact motives, with two sub phrases in between. There are no conclusive cadences in this section and it is therefore a phrase group. The piece then moves in a different direction, beginning the B section, but there is little change in material, so it is developmental. It is very short and could almost be perceived as a transition. Then a new more operatic voice comes in a higher register and repeats the A section again. These three small sections make up a larger Binary form. Then the B section introduces a new idea. The new section is cued by change in density and texture, with an echo effect and then harmonic thirds created by two voices, and also an absence of the motive. Then there is another section with the operatic voice that is again independent from everything else. And then finally the A section returns very softly with the popsy voice alone, and then the operatic voice joins to terminate the piece.

"crush" by dave matthews

The beginning starts out with a great bass line- (so so so do do me fa- so so so do me le so) and continues on with this throughout most of the song (although later on in the song it tonicizes many times as the chord progressions change). in measures 3 and 4 the drums, keyboard and sax all come in (the saxophone is improvising). The sax also mirrors the vocals on the second line of each verse-it's cool because you don't really hear the sax except when the verse is building up to the chorus. The flute really only spotlighted towards the end of the song, which makes for a very happening ending. There are also live strings in the background. Each verse is very cool because each time there is a different solo from each instrument going on (1st verse is a violin solo, the second one is a flute solo, and then everyone meshes together right before the chorus, changing the timbre and adding to the building up and intensity.

The major climax to this song is freaking awesome because there's a SWEET violin solo (listen to this!) and everything else is going on around it, but the only thing you're sucked into is this amazing solo by Boyd tinsley (I think he also came out with a solo album about a year ago).

Dave matthews is such a great lyricist- this song is very meaningful to however he wrote it for (his wife probably)! The lyrics in this song make this one of my favorite love songs because you can tell he put a lot of thought into what he wanted to say. -

"Lovely lady, I will treat you sweetly
Adore you, I mean
you crush me
and it's times like these
when I think that feeling
I know how I love you..."

listen to it!

Manfred Mann- Blinded by the Light

So after about an hour long discussion with a friend about what the lyrics of this song really are...I felt the need to blog on it because I had listened to it so many times. After much listening it becomes increasingly clear that the simple melody and lack of "sing along" factor lend itself to the words being the most important part of the song. BUT, if that was the focus, why are they so hard to understand? I even looked up the lyrics on a few lyrics websites and all of them had something different. WEIRD. So after much listening...Blinded by the light has BLOWN MY MIND!!!
Here are a few lyrical discrepancies I thought funny. After "Blinded by the light..." the words are really, "Revved up like a deuce another runner in the night." Here's what some people heard:
"Cut loose like a goose from the spirit of the night."
"Revved up like a dude, she ain't no rover in the night."
"Hopped-up like the Juice, another Roman in the right."
Just to name a few...And with a verse about an Indian with mumps how could there NOT be lyrical confusion. I think there was supposed to be a deep message here from Lyricist Bruce Springstien but I just can't find it. Any insight?

lovers and lawyers...the good life

so my roommate was playing this song--it's one that we frequently listen to.
it's pretty upbeat and it kind of reminds me of robots--it's a little bit clangy and techno. the chord progressions are simple, but the melody isn't, exactly. i swear to god i even heard the lead singer sing a tritone at one point.
the structure of the piece is fairly simple too. it is in ternary form, ABA; the b section contrasts from the A and the return of the A after the b is almost exactly the same as the beginning section, and it does return to the same key.
the a section is a parallel period, with two phrases, the first ending in a half cadence and the second ending in a PAC.
the b section has a similar structure, but modulates to a key that does not sound like the dominant...sometimes it's hard to tell with pop music.

Allegro de Concerto by Erinque Granados

This piano piece is a piece that I am currently working on for my sophomore proficiencies. It is a later Romantic piece that not only has melody and emotions, but pyrotechnics as well. This very cleary has an ABA form otherwise known as ternary. It does begin and end in the same key of C# Major, but it does modulate through 4 keys before getting back to C#. Th opening two measures of this piece is like it saying "HI! HERE I AM, LISTEN TO ME!!!!!) Just about as in your face as that. The flourishes basically just outline the key of the opening. After that, the right hand plays 32nd notes that if they were blocked, they would simply be chords. There is no real melody here, just flourishes. The harmonic motion is extremely slow, and really the only thing that even gives it away are the single notes in the bass. After the opening 32 measures of flourish, the B section just suddenly begins with a lush, longer melodic line and rich harmonics. The rhythms seem to be very spanish because they are offset with a secondary rhythm. These 14 measuresin g# minor provide a temporary respite from the fast paced A section. After this the main idea of the A section shows a bit in G major, but then turns into a completely new rhythmic and melodic idea. This rhythm now uses triplets to keep everything (granted this is at Molto Allegro speed!) Grandos variates with this melody and then leads back into another variation of the opening A section. Then frankly, everything goes kinda crazy and the notes seem to be flying everywhere. (There is section where i give an exasperated yell and throw my music across the room...just kidding....well, maybe not...;-)) Everything is very outlining of chords without much melody. It is all developing and variating. This is in C major, after this seemingly chaotic section, Granados treats us with a bit more variations on his A section back in G Major. Then everything gets huge and chromatic and scalar. Then as if the music says "WHEW, READY FOR SOME PEACE??" The A section in the original suddenly begins again, there are just a couple little variations and key changes in the middle of this A prime section, and then it ends...or at least it seems. After a long fermata, there is an extended cadence full of oulined chords running up and down the keyboard, and then ends on three short I chords. Ta -da, the end! I like this peice alot. At first I did not understand it because I was scared of all the notes. There seemed to be more black on the page then there was white. But now that I've worked through it, it makes a lot more sense to me and I am excited to play it...(keep your fingers crossed!)

"Invisible Touch" by Genesis

It's songs like this that make me love my random feature on my playlist. I would have never selected this song normally, but I found it early this afternoon and have played it about 15 times since then. I love Phil Collins' music and I'm not ashamed to admit that. This is one of those "'80's" songs that would never be made in this day and age. The entire song sounds like it's done on a synthesizer, even the bass and drums are electronically produced. We start with a drum fill to open before the synth plays the melody chorus as our introduction. Oddly enough after the introduction we shift to the relative minor for the verse, focusing our attention to the vi chord for most of the verse, we never really change the key, but just change where the focus of tonality lies. The verse ends on a half cadence, stepping up from iii to IV to V, building suspense until we finally get our I chord really sounding like tonic on the downbeat of the chorus. The chorus is simply a repeated phrase, repeating the same lyric twice with exactly the same progression. For the second verse, we return our tonality to the relative minor, with the same motion to return the second chorus. After our second verse we return to the chorus. Since I haven't talked about thevocal style, I'll do that now, Collin's staccato delivery on this song is spot on, he knows exactly how to balance his reserved side and the more emotional aspects of the lyric well. After our second chorus we have a synth solo, which was very normal for the New Age movement, experimenting with different ways of producing sound, the scattered feel of the notes (a phaser effect on the synth) varies with the more straightforward style of the rest of the song. It actually sounds like a vibraphone and marimba mixed, with the phaser effect mixed with the wood-block sound of a marimba. After this we return to a final verse/bridge. I really see that the verse have this same feel, not really separate sections, but more of a feel of transitioning from chorus to chorus. At the end of the bridge-ish verse, we do a sudden step-up key change for our chorus. This chorus is a little different this time around, adding a descant about the original line, which deepen our texture even further, making it seem really hectic and busy as we fade out to the end, repeating the chorus.

Surprisingly enough, I believe that Genesis was actually a very influential band. Not amazing musicians like YES and Rush, but creating more true "pop" hits than either of those two combined. Genesis had two of the 80's/early 90's best songwriters in Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins and just knew how to write music that people would respond to...

(Am I the only one who thinks this? I believe that if we had a radio station that only played U2, Genesis, Billy Joel, Eric Clapton, and The Police that I would listen to it at least 2 hours a day just to see how they went from song to song and artist to artist. We need a government study into this...)

Praeludium in D by Buxtehude

I'm playing this piece on organ now so I thought it would be good to listen to it and write stuff down to help me practice. The opening is very brilliant using many principle stops and a booming reed in the pedal. It begins on the fourth sixteenth note of beat one. This makes a very unusual introduction. The beginning sounds like the organist is trying out sounds on the the organ, then enjoys them and decides to continue playing. After the great and swell spend some time teasing each other the feet enter to show off. All three voices seem to be talking to eachother as though the two manuals started and then the feet entered and were like, "Hey. What's up guys? Wanna talk about your day?" Then the prelude section closes and goes into a fugue. Yah for fugues--not! It sounds very impressive though. At this point each voice has become very annoyed and is fighting to be heard. Each theme starts with a static eighth note pattern. Eventually there are 4 themes playing. Thank goodness people don't have 4 legs! The end of this section ritards into a BEAUTIFUL minor passage where all the voices finally seem to be working to talk and listen to each other. Then there is an adagio section with a very static pedal pattern with moving chords on top with strings and flutes. Right when you're completely calm and ready to sleep the "other" organ returns and scares you to death with very forte tutti organ. The conclusion is the most exciting. It sounds like an improve of huge chords, arpeggios, long scalar passages, and dual foot action. It's very exhilarating to the last moment!

"In Whatever Time We Have" from Children of Eden

"In Whatever Time We Have" from Children Of Eden. Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz.

"In Whatever Time We Have" is an absolutely gorgeous duet between Japeth and Yonah. Japeth has hidden Yonah on the ark, and they sing about even though she is sure to be discovered at some point, they will be together and be happy for however long they have. This song and this show holds a lot of personal meaning for me.
It begins very lightly with Japeth singing the melody over arpeggiated chords. The vocal line sounds very improvised, he doesn't always sing the rhythms exactly as written (something very common in musical theatre land) and it makes the lyrics sound so honest and free. There are tons of suspensions in the accompaniment. It continues on like this for a bit, but when we break away from the motive that has been in the melody thus far, it gets a little louder and the density in the accompaniment increases, as if Japeth is becoming desperate to convince Yonah that everything will be ok. The rhythm here also changes slightly. Thus far there have been mostly eighth notes, now the vocal line becomes more sustained with half notes.
When Yonah comes in, the vocal parts overlap slightly, which is a very pretty effect. Yonah sings the second verse, and Japeth has his own part that goes with hers harmonically very well, but he sings different lyrics than her. It creates an interesting texture, making the second verse much more interesting than if it was being sung exactly the same again. They alternate singing for a while, but then when they come together it is incredible. They have been singing this gorgeous flowing melody made up of mostly eighth notes so far. All of the sudden, the orchestra becomes really full and there is a very strong and noticeable drum beat. They come in and they both sing quarter notes being repeated on the same pitch. The fact that now the rhythm is so strict, it's like they have come to the decision that they are in this together no matter what. They sing: "From this day forward nights won't seem so black. From this day forward I will never look back. In whatever time we have." They go on, they are belting, it is big it's loud, and it is so powerful. They sing great harmonies from here until the end. The end returns to the same calm, light, flowing feeling that the beginning had. The song is just so honest, I love it. This show and Stephen Schwartz are brilliant.

Michael Buble- You and I

I really love this song, I know that I've used Michael Buble before for listening journals, but I guess its ok because I actually do listen to him a lot. His voice is just smooth and unique sounding, and as I was making reeds today I decided to put on his new album and this particular song stuck on me today.
Here we are
On earth together
It's you and I
God has made us fall in love
It's true
I've really found
Someone like you
Will it stay
The love you feel for me
Will you say
That you will be by my side
To see me through
Until my life is through
Well in my mind
We can conquer the world
In love you and I
You and I, you and I...I'm glad
At least in my lifeI've found someone
That may not be here forever
To see me through
But I found strength in you
Cause in my mind
You will stay here always
In love you and I
You and I, you and I
You and I, you and I
You and I
In my mind
We can conquer the world
In love you and I
You and I, you and I
You and I...
It has a tranquil and mellow sound, with a few moments of building tension, but its a song that I would want to dance to or something. It was a great choice for the last song on the album just because it was relaxed but also meaningful.

"Ogre Battle" by Queen

This song begins the B side of the album so there is a prolonged introduction which is about thirty seconds of manipulated white noise combined with a gong roll that goes from almost nothing (you need the speakers on max to hear the first few seconds up to a loud that would blow out the speakers if they were on full blast) that ends with the vocalists (well, it's all the lead singer, but Queen often mixes multiple tracks of the same person singing) doing a boisterous minor chord in a high falsetto.

The next part is extremely confusing to those who have never heard the song before. There some more vocal chords and then a guitar phrase that just doesn't sound quite right. This quickly goes away when the music gains stability and it is then that it is realized that the earlier part was so confusing because it was being played backward. It's extremely fun to hear the exact same guitar lick backward and forward right next to each other. This is a great guitar lick using rhythmic intensity by using the accenting every three eighth notes thing and uses sequence to show anticipation of the cadence, which is aided by the vocalist in falsetto and this time resolves in a major key.

Finally, one minute in the song and we have the verse. The verse is very simple with basic rhythmic guitar and bass in the background behind mostly eighth note based vocals. The chorus is much more interesting. It consists of a call and response between the instruments and vocalist with the vocal doing half a measure of syncopated sixteenth notes followed by the instruments doing half a measure of straight sixteenths. Then for the end of the chorus the vocalist and instruments join together for a hemiola emphasizing every three eighth notes for two measures. It's always fun to hear a song that dares to have the bass and vocalist play the same line and it is very often effective. This verse and chorus repeat followed by the return of the introductory guitar lick, only forward this time.

Then there is a bridge that is dominated by the drums doing sixteenth note fills in the second half of every measure with the guitar just doing dotted eighth sixteenth rhythm in chords and the vocalist on eighth notes. Then there is a big gong hit again that signals the beginning of what would usually be the guitar solo, though this really isn't a guitar solo. Though the guitar does a lot of embellishing to the rhythm part almost to the point of losing rhythmic stability (the drums keep that), this is supposed to be the "ogre battle". There is a return of the white noise from the beginning as well as non-tonal screaming from the vocalist.

After this the drums transition back to the verse but instead of going to the chorus after the verse, the verse changes and transitions its way to the falsetto major chord that was present near the beginning of the song. This gives way to one last playing of the guitar lick, with an additional part near the end and then one last extended falsetto chord by the vocalists into a monster gong hit that ends the song.

This is a fun song with a great guitar part and the backwards forwards thing is especially great.