Friday, April 15, 2005

Three fantastic dances by Shostakovitch

Ok, so its 4:30 in the morning and I can't go back to sleep b/c i think my brain is melting! yay! And since I have been practicing this little set of dances today...i figured I would write about them. Each 2 page dance is written in a definitive ABA form. They don't really sound too much like a normal dance or waltz, they have more of a heavy marching quality to them. My piano teacher and I discussed this, and she explained that Shostakovitch, being Russian, put many capitalist ideas into his music. This would explain the heavy undercurrent beat present in all three. He also uses a lot of chromatics to create dissension and disharmonies. I think these pieces give a good "slice of life" look at what was going on around Shostakovitch in Russia with the Revolution and new governments. I like these pieces...I mean I don't necessarily wake up humming them, but I think I have an appreciation for what they stand for.

Ron Nelson- Passacaglia

I’m playing the synthesizer in Ron Nelson’s “Homage” on Bach’s Passacaglia, so I thought I’d analyze it, especially since we just recently analyzed the original version. As in Bach’s original, this piece fundamentally revolves around the 8-measure bass continuo. This piece takes the exact Organ pedal from Bach’s piece and adds parts form their. The work is itself a variation on the Bach bass theme. It is very neat to see the difference between having just an organ play all the parts and then an entire band. Having all the other instruments allows for a much greater amount of variation. The bass part is passed around in multi-voices and goes through different amounts of timbre. Also, the return of the theme is backed with more power when more than one group of instruments playing the theme and a group of drums emphasizing the arrival. I believe that the main instruments that play the theme are the synthesizer (of course), the trumpets, and the trombones. In this piece, the most important elements aside from the obvious return of the theme that contribute to structural sensations are the extreme changes in dynamics and densitiy (usually a combination of both.

mozart symphony no. 9 -mvt I

This movent is in C major and in a triple meter. It starts off with long notes as the melodic gesture and a lot of dynamic contrast. The trumpets play an inverted pedal tone as the mode changes and the dynamics change. 16th note patterns are passed throughout the strings and this section repeats. Many sforzandos are played. Deceptive cadences occurr throughout. There is the use of harpsichord. The violins tend to have the melody in 3rds. The beginning of the phrase is repeated again but this time it takes a different turn into the minor. Oboe duet interruptions are heard as 16th notes dominate the strings. The gesture of long notes that are passed from register to regsiter and instrument to instrument in different keys and textures seems to be the focus of this movement. This slow harmonic motion is interrupted by furious runs of 16th notes and a cadential one-six-four to a five. Timpani adds color. I'm tired.

counting crows...all my friends

this is my roommate's pick of the day.
i enjoy listening to the counting crows--the lead singer has kind of a piercing voice, but is somewhat soothing. this particular song is cool because the instrumentation is pretty thick. there are guitars, string instruments (perhaps mimiced by a synthesizer) and a keyboard as well as vocals. the song starts off very mellow, but gradually increases as the refrain approaches, with the help of a descending chromatic line. i think that really spurs anticipation on the listener's part. once the climax is hit, the melodic line softens again, and a new verse is started. there is a nice instrumental interlude and some improvised vocal lines that are interesting--otherwise the song is pretty straightforward. and with that i think i need to go to bed. but hey, at least i blogged...

Bach Flute Concerto in C - Largo e dolce

This particular movement is primarliy in a minor key, although it does have a little bit of major in it at times. There are tons of half cadences throughout and very few PACs. The movement even ends on a half cadence, which says that the movement doesn't stand on its own very well and is dependent on the other movements in the work. Most of the motion in the piece seems to move downward, which emphasizes the already present somber and melancholic feeling. The movement isnt very appealing to me for some reason... probably has something to do with feeling extremely exhausted...

"The Company of Heaven" (a few selections) Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)

This I chose because one, it's britten, and two it's got an organ.

War in Heaven:
So it starts with drums, then strings, then the males of the choir chant with wonderful syncopations about this war in heaven, punctuated by the organ and strings and percussion. There's even this falling shout gesture that is followed by a beautiful string melody toward the end, underscored by the organ, which makes me think that more string and organ should be written for.

Heaven is Here:
This follows immediately after, and is a soprano solo over the choir and orchestra. The men sing very high at some points--soft angelic voices, I like that. There's a melodic gesture that runs through the choir that I really get in to, this one sweep is almost a little jazzy and barber-shop-ish, while the soprano is a rich thick classical sound overlay to that. Interesting effect. Then the narrator starts talking again...

A thousand, thousand gleaming fires:
Starts with a crazy string ostinato-ish gesture which quickly gets developed, but stays creepy. This is the tenor solo, pretty voice. The strings switch and become more lyrical toward the middle. More narration follows.

Funeral March for a Boy:
Begins with narration, with drums underneath. The violins begin the melody with a dotted rhythmic gesture, repeated--these are funeral drums, naturally. Suddenly the music tries to change mood, but it doesn't help as the violins keep moving the gestures back into minor modes, etc...but there is a sort of bitter sweet feel or a confusion of felicity, beauty and death.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

"steven's last night in town," Ben Folds

The beginning has an exciting beginning, with a clarinet sliding up the register, and settling on , playing a quarter note melodic line descending chromatic leading tones. The trumpets come in with the main melody-after the first period (8 measure) ben starts singing-the drumset's playing a 50's rock and roll rhythm during the verse, nothing else. The chorus happens, and the backup vocals start in-the clarinet is playing the descending melodic line in the background again. The bridge features this really sweet violin solo, after a brief, very ornamented clarinet solo, and then the backup vocals start in-it's a very big band sound.
After the bridge on the 3rd verse, a bass clarinet starts in.

The ending is very long-very big band-esque again. When he finally sings "last night in town" he holds the word town for almost 8 measures, and then the clarinet comes in exactly like the beginning. It ends with the exact same a section.

"Top of the World" by The Carpenters

"Top of the World" by the Carpenters.

I am in an extremely mushy mood at the moment, and felt like listening to some Carpenters. It's been one of those weeks where basically the only thing I have going for me is that I have a wonderful boyfriend, Ryan. It is not Kyle Aberle, contrary to current popular thoughts. Ha. So I found this appropriate.
When you listen to this song, you can't help but be in a good mood. It has almost a country feeling to it, which I am generally not crazy about... but here I love it. The song is upbeat and fun and very catchy. The opening is just the basic simple chord progression that is used throughout the song with the drum lightly keeping the rhythmic pulse. Then Karen Carpenter begins to sing. What an incredible voice... it is so pure and warm. I could listen to her all day. She sings the first two verses, then we go to the refrain, which is so catchy and memorable. I think that a good melody is the most crucial part of popular music that a great number of people listen to each and every day. If it is not fairly simple and catchy, the general public will not be able to relate to the song. This song is an example of one that has a timeless melody... although I think the best pop like melody ever written was for Danny's Song. The rest of the Carpenters come in with some nice harmonies at the refrain also. Then comes the 3rd and 4th verses, which are identical to the first two. The refrain then repeats again, and it is identical to the first time it was played. But then, they repeat it again, but it is slowed down a little bit and the harmonies are a little bit differently. About halfway through they pick the tempo back up, and it is the same as the first two times around. Once the refrain ends, you get the basic chord progression to the end, and the last chord is a very twangy country sound.
Gotta post the lyrics to the refrain to make this entry suitably cheesy and mushy. ;-)

I'm on the top of the world looking down on creation
And the only explanation I can find
Is the love that I've found ever since you've been around
Your love's put me at the top of the world.

#19 Si puer cum puellula- Carmina Burana

This is an all male movement of the piece which is very sectional. The bass/baritones sing the opening line which is their only melodic pattern throughout the whole song. It is staccato eighth notes staying on b minor chord. It a very monotone speaking feeling...then the tenor come in with a dotted syncopated rhythm that only has two words for its text where as the bass had multiple words. These two ideas keep alternating until there is a baritone solo.. This is by far the most interesting melodic idea that has been presented so far in the piece. After this first little bass solo, the bass/baritone line gets more interesting allowing a little more motion and the main chord has changed from a b minor to a d major chord. This next baritone solo is crazy..the first interval is almost a two octave jump... from a f above middle c, to a low b...the b then starts an arpeggiation of the b minor chord. and then back up to the high f. After this solo is done, the bass/baritone line mimick what the soloist just did, then forms it back into their old staccato eighth note thing... then the tenors come back in after a long break and end with their syncopated rhythm on a d major chord. short fast piece...that keeps a lot of repeatition, but cool baritone solo...

"The Little Things You Do Together" from Company by Stephen Sondheim

I love this quirky little song. The song speaks about how marriage works nowadays, witty and sarcasticly wonderful (in other words, quintessential Sondheim). The music matches the lyrics, a little off kilter. It's in 4, but off beats are really stressed, and the ends of the verses are stretched out over long "mmmhmmmms" or "ahhhhh-haaaaaa". The song starts out as a solo, sung by Joanne, the drunken, blantently honest, cynical older woman of the show. Her gravelly, speech-like delivery works perfectly, since there are so many words. It really feels off because the low strings play an interesting rhythm (1...and 3 4) while the horns play on beat 4, accentuating the upbeat. The melody of the voice is rather simple, descending in sequence. When we get to the chorus ("it's not so hard to be married...") everything comes together and everything comes into sync. After the third verse we have a bridge section that brings in the full company. The accompaniment is the same as a verse but the melody changes (really just speak-singing) and we have this cool little echo effect on "the little things" then falling right into the 4th verse. We come to a full chorus this time, ending on Joanne's single final line: "It's not so hard to be married...I've done it three or four times". We have a final verse, once again stretching it out with the "mmmhmmmmms...kiss kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiss..... ahhhhhhh haaaaaaaaaaaaa..." then just tied up in a final orchestral hit. Like most songs in Company this song is chocked full of personality. Basically, it takes both the good aspects and bad aspects and rolls them into one, saying that they all make marriage work.

Fantasies on a Theme by Haydn - Dello Joio

Since we talked about sectional variation in form and analysis, I thought I'd talk a bit about another band piece that is being performed this weekend that I also played in high school.

Since this is called Fantasies they are not pure variations, but do have some adherence to the theme. The fantasies are much longer than the theme and have extreme contrasts.

The first section is the theme. The theme is centered around a lot of scalar passages and arpeggios without a lot of lyrical melodies. Stark accents and lots of stacatto notes are also present in this section, and a lot of isolated instrument parts. For the most part, instruments do not play straight through a series of measure but have lots of isolated motives, especially the two eight notes on a downbeat and pickup to the downbeat.

The first fantasy switches from 2/4 to 4/4 and keeps much of the rhythmic energy. The major changes to this is a frolicking bass line that starts in the low brass and moves to higher instruments and a lot of sforzando accents in the brass that interuppt softer section of the music. Dello Joio also uses a couple of empty measures that don't have any sound which give a great contrast from loud sections to the return to softer section.

The second fantasy is the "slow" section and achieves some sense of lyricism by manipulating theme with more neighbor tones and the like, but the theme still isn't a naturally lyric melody. There are some really cool harmonies that are achieved in this section that are really bittersweet and poignant (hehe!). The end of this section has some very nice use of triplet rhythms to keep up the excitement. There is an extended transition section that leads from the second fantasy to the third fantasy which is marked by the timpani playing quarter notes on the downbeats and the rest of the group occasionally come in with soft chords.

The third fantasy immediately goes back to the active tempo with a neat little call and response between members of the winds and the xylophone player that helps to show the activeness of the melody. There are also some cool sounding sixteenth note runs in the brass runs. There is some more call and response with different instruments trading a two eighth note motive with one eighth note rest between each. There is a cool jamming section in this in which the back up to the theme is the low brass and timpani and drums all doing different syncopated eighth note patters. My favorite part is an accompaniment part that has a great flowing quality to it with the notes rising and then falling and having a big syncopation that goes over the downbeat of every other measure. The piece then makes it way towards the end with a very clear coda section that recalls a bit of the theme and then spends a lot of time fully establishing the tonic chord.

Najwa Karam's "Lailet Ma Kan Mashe"

This piece begins with a very carribean rhythm. Then it is has some indigenous instruments that sound out of tune. A female vocalist enters and sings with very interesting ornmentation that sounds very mediteranean. Then a group of vocalists responds to her parallel period. She sings again by herself until one of the instruments begins its own solo section. It does a descending sequence motive until it passes the melody to another instrument. The second instrumentalist ends on a PAC. The vocalist comes in again and has a conversation singing with the chorus singers. She sings two verses that sound very different melodically but similar rhythmically. The instruments come in again. This time it sounds like snake charming music and I can almost imagine belly dancing. The female vocalist finally ends with an extended cadential section that fades into the background.

Hark! The ech'ing Air - Purcell

This piece is very perky and happy. It is full of sixteenth notes and has a very interesting melody. It is a continuous simple binary form which goes to the parallel minor in the B section. The text does not make sense at all. It talks about airs and cupids. But, the melody itself makes one a little happy and excited. The rhythms definitely help with the excitement factor. Plus the accompaniment, it has the same effect as the vocal rhythms. The movie I have in my head when I listen to this is that of I woman in a field singing to the god Cupid telling him to make someone fall in love with her. The airs are her cries for love and the cupids clap their hands because they love helping people fall in love.

Dvorak: Slavonic Dance no. 10

[A section] The first section of the piece isn't very interesting. Dvorak uses only strings and woodwinds, and the violins have the melody most of the time, which is accompanied by a simple pizzicato progression in the lower strings and sustained notes in the woodwinds. There is one significant build about 1 minute and 15 seconds into the piece, but this doesn't climax and, when the mood dies down again, the cellos have a short melody before the section ends at about 1 minute and 45 seconds.

[B section] At this point, the piece changes significantly - one big phenomena is the change in tonality, which goes from e minor to E major (I'm not sure it's E). The mood becomes almost joyful. The woodwinds take on a more prominent role, with the flutes playing a fluttering line above the waltz feel played by the strings. The woodwinds even get to play the melody with string accompaniment, which is a nice change in texture.

This evolves into a more rubato, expressive section played in the strings, in what may be called a new section. When the woodwinds come back in, they play their own pizzicato sound and accompany a string melody.

Three minutes and 45 seconds into the piece, the main melody returns, this time played a little more boldly. However, it doesn't feel like a very dramatic return because the piece never became incredibly different.

The B section returns again, this time concluding the piece instead of evolving into the passionate string melody.

I guess the overall form of the piece would be ABAB, while an argument could be made for a C section after the first AB. Overall, it wasn't very effective because of the lack of significant contrast or progess. It seemed very appropriate for dance music, though, as the meter stayed the same the whole time and it sounded good as background music. Maybe the whole set of slavonic dances makes more sense or impact as a group, but I wasn't very impressed with this single dance.

“Belle” by Jack Johnson

I love this song off of Jack Johnson’s new CD. The song titled “Belle” is sung in French and the music also has a very French sound. The song is in four-four but it has a bouncy feel. The first sixteen measures are guitar and then the accordion comes in on the seventeenth measure. The guitar sound like it might be on the V chord because it seems to play sol-fa-fa with the rest of the chord on the fa and then it plays sol-mi-mi which could be a I or III chord. I’m not sure about French music and its progressions so I’m not sure, maybe V’s always go to III’s. The guitar continues to play the simple two chord progression for most of the piece. When the accordion comes in it starts off playing a little melody, sol-do-mi-sol-fa-mi-fa-sol-la-sol-fa. The accordion keeps on playing the melody for the next sixteen measures and then Jack begins to sing. He sings for the next sixteen measures, making the parts mostly symmetrical except for his small extension for the ending. While he is singing the accordion changes to chords mostly. The melody on the verse have a short phrase, long phrase, short long, short, short, and then one long. The song ends on a chord that is definitely not I, possibly V or something else. I wish I knew the exact chord progression but I am sure that this song sounds French.
I like hearing Jack try to sing some French. He does a nice job and at least he didn’t do more than one verse or it might have gotten old. The music is very nice and I really enjoy the accordion. It’s nice to hear the accordion in a slow setting.

Mack The Knife

Ella Fitzgerald

Begins with piano establishing tonality and meter of one. Rhythms is and two, and one, on solfege of mi-fa-fa-do, with do down beat of first measure. The piano begins a do-sol, sol-sol, re-sol on quarters, jumping registers so to keep the lite, funny mood of the song. After four measures of this, the pick rhthym is played, establishing a shape to the piece. This is also where the bass enters, and the symbol. The bass reinforces this theme of the accompanient, and the symbol plays quarters long, short. The accompanient is loose but maintains the tempo. and highlights the song well. On the third repetition of this theme, instead of the jumps to sol, the bass has a soli of re-mi-fa-fi-, and then instead of sol back to do, like the accompanient is building up. The original theme is repeated, then it starts again, but the piano moves to a do-sol, half, half, quarter quarter half, swing rhythm, in a very high register. The piano also has been accent several syncopated notes coinciding with the shape of the bass line. When Ella begins, the bass starts a pattern of sol-fa-mi-re-do. The piano drops dynamic, and becomes more of just a background. The solfege in the soprano is do-mi-sol, sol, (O the shark has, pearly whites, dear,). The phrase in the soprano is shaped by a change in rhythm, words like "dear" are accented on a syncopated rhythm, and it is expected in the third line, but instead there are quarters on re-ti-do, creating the first verse, and Pac. The second verse has a looser sound to it, because the suyncopated note is not accented as short. I'm not exactly sure how to analyze it, I just know I like the song. The actual song is written by Kurt Weill-Bertolt Brecht, and was adapted into English by Marc Blitzstein, and to jazz by Louis Armstrong. The character in the song actually comes from a character in the opera Threepenny Opera, premiered in 1928, and played Berlin during the final years of the Weimar Republic. The character is named Macheath and he is a notorious murderer. The next song on the cd, How High the Moon? was amazing. I don't know much about jazz, but whatever she was singing was amazing.

The Prince of Egypt- River Lullabye (Amy Grant)

This song sounds like a typically lullabye. Very quiet, serene, and melodic. I like it! It's in a very simple typical pop song form with Two verses, a sung bridge, an instrumental bridge, and then Verse 1 again modulated up. This song is sung to Moses by his mom right before she leaves him in the river so he won't be killed by Pharaoh. In this movie it is portrayed as sort of a Jewish folk melody, but it doesn't really sound like that. Later in the movie it's a HUGE plot point because it helps Moses discover his identity as a Hebrew and his role in saving his people. Really a good song. :-)

'the divine one' singing: quiet nights of quiet stars

quiet nights of quiet stars (corcovado)
sarah vaughan
frank foster's orchestra

the piece starts off with a very mellow guitar into, the percussion comes in, on a guiro in fact, among other things, in a nice latin groove. sarah's smooth voice makes such a fabulous line for the melody. other random instruments come in with their little rifs...but they just make a flowing background. it's like sarah's singing in the midst of all this fluttery chaos and she sticks to her guns and keeps singing.

this is such a beautiful piece. i think frank got a little ambitious with his orchestra, they're a little over powering at times...or maybe i just want to hear sarah singing more. she tags the opening line but this time entirely changes the melody and ends on a sigh. "hmm" the sigh just conveys the total satisfaction sarah must have from singing such a great tune, and it sort of sets me at as wonderful :)

i didn't realize that there are so many people that are not familiar with the divine miss sarah vaughan...but if you're not...go listen to her! the library has several discs, and you can find her performing with dizzy, charlie, freddie webster, and the john kirby band. she sings with big bands, orchestras, and she has a trio that is fabulous. there-that's my plug for sarah...and she plays some jazz piano as well! she played second piano in the earl hines band. she's amazing.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Tchaikowsky- Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat

I heard Brett play this piece on Sunday’s Concerto Concert Concert, and he did a heck of a job. The transition between a clear, tonal motive and fast-moving scalar passages with no clear direction is key in the structure of this piece. It begins in periodic fashion repeating the initial A motive four times. The 1st and 3rd end in weak cadences, and the 2nd and 4th end in a stronger one, I believe a PAC. These two parallel periods constitute the first a section. The motive is then developed quickly for one phrase with a new tonality and raised register. It then comes back down to repeat the original a section. These three sections as a whole make up entire first A section, which is in a sort of rounded binary form. Then comes a textural change to the motive with a diminuition with very fast notes played in between. In this B section there are also virtuostic parts in the piano section with fast moving multi-voice scales, and the Orchestra maintains the slower moving melody. The A then comes back twice before another scalar transition and another new section. In this section, the orchestra plays a fragment of the motive over and over in an ascending sequence, getting louder and fuller each time until leading to a climactic, virtuosic piano passage over the motive to terminate the piece. So, in all, I’m not sure I necessarily interpreted the form of this piece correctly, as it seems to include attributes of rounded binary, composite ternary, and rondo

Secret Garden-"dreamcatcher"

begins with the voice, the one refrain:

(Secret Garden
by Nikki Matheson)

Hear my silent prayer
Heed my quiet call
When the dark and blue surround you
Step into my sigh
Look inside the light
You will know that I have found you

Then a musical interlude ensues with a different, but complimentary melody with two major gestures, one which follows somewhat after the verse's melody. On its reprisal for the second time it returns and develops into a new melody in the major (as it started out in minor)--the melody carried by a violin. The melody returns a third time in the piano, and its compliment as well, and repeats itself again (with compliment), and again...

The voice repeats with a drone beneath.

Her voice is soft, almost like a whisper. She ends on a re, and so the piece is left unresolved. I love the words.

ya like chant?

so i decided to blog on something i'm listening to for a quiz tomorrow in music history. this piece has an anonymous composer, but that's okay! it is the first piece that we have listened to from the norton anthology that delves into polyphony. it's called "organum: alleluia justus ut palma."
basically, the organum uses both contrary and parallel motion from one interval to the next. at the beginning of each phrase, there is usually contrary motion from octaves or unisons to fourths or fifths...polyphony in those days consisted mainly of those intervals, however i did read that the use of sixths was an effective cadential device. interesting, eh? anyway, at the end of each phrase, the fourths and fifths proceeds to octave or unison. what's neat about this piece is that there were special singers designated to sing the chorus, which included polyphony, while the congregation and mediocre singers sang the other monophonic songs.
it is way past my bedtime...

ya like chant?

"big yellow taxi" by Joni Mitchell

I like Joni's version so much better than the Counting Crows' version with Vanessa Carlton...

It starts out with a guitar intro for 4 measures with a sequence, then she comes in with the first verse, which is another 4 measure phrase. The bongos are always played on the downbeat. The cadences are always authentic. On the verses, the guitar seems to mimic her-there's kind of a call and response thing going on.
It's interesting, because "don't is always seem to go, that you don't know what you got til it's gone"seems to function independently from the rest of the chorus. It's just these two measures, and then it goes back to the regular instrumentation. It is always played the same, with a change in density-only finger cymbals are played , no drums or bongos, which sounds kind of cool. The cymbals change to the off beats on the second measure. The backup singers sing "shoo bop bop bop bop" right when she says "lot" ("they paved paradise, and put up a parking lot")

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

"She will be loved"

"She will be loved," similar to almost all of Maroon 5's work on the Songs about Jane album, is superb.
Although it's simple, which is not suprising considering it is pop music, it's a song I don't mind listening to time after time. But, the non-typical guitar rhythms and off beat melody gives the piece a certain laid back feeling. The instrumentation is fairly typical: drums, singer, guitars, keyboard. The harmonic motion is fairly simple, moving through the tonic and dominant, but also playing around with minor chords.
I would like to take a moment to discuss the lyrics of the piece. When writing music, I often have trouble with writing words to accompany the music. I feel to the composer, the lyrics of this song dictated the music.

I don’t mind spending everyday
Out on your corner in the pouring rain
Look for the girl with the broken smile
Ask her if she wants to stay awhile

This verse is almost pleading for the love of the girl, and the "She will be loved" immediately follows. The "She will be loved" chorus is signature of this piece. The singer reaches to a high Bb to express his feelings.

It’s not always rainbows and butterflies
It’s compromise that moves us along
My heart is full and my door’s always open
You can come anytime you want

I think the composer was trying to tell us that love isn't always perfect, life is full of ups and downs. True love is always forgiving.
This song sings of a love that is understanding, patient, and non-quiting. No matter what happens, for bad or good, through the rain or shine, the singer will be waiting. This song is very powerful, every time it comes on the radio I have to sing along with it.

Ravel Rapsodie Espagnole -Habanera

The piece starts off like a dream or a fairy tale. The flute, clarinet, and harp are playing an inverted pedal note while there are three explosions of light and color from the strings encompassing a wide range. Then the melody is played an oboe and english horn duet then repeated a couple times. The answer to this melody is then played by a violin duet. It is very happy and innocent. The inverted pedal is still being played throughout. The pedal that was our tonic then becomes our dominant as a modulation occurs. The strings then play the melody that the oboes played and repeat it a couple times as gestures are being played by the low woodwinds. A new theme is presented. It is more lilting and a little off center by the strings then the woodwinds. It is played a second time but this time louder and fuller orchestration. Then it is heard a 4th time in a horn chorale. The inverted pedal returns as trumpet chord is played cadentially as the movement ends.

Chopin Piano Concerto no. 2

I was surprised to see this piece on my friend's computer - I didn't even realize Chopin had written any piano concertos.

Anyhow, my surprise continued as I began to listen to the piece. I've listened to a lot of Chopin's solo piano music, and I assumed anything for orchestra would be very similar. The orchestral introduction to this piece, which is quite lengthy (the piano doesn't play a note for almost 3 minutes), sounds very classical - the tempo is pretty straightforward, the harmony isn't that complex, and I didn't hear or feel any of the passionate tension that fills his solo music.

After some research, this makes sense - he wrote his two piano concertos very early in life, so I can assume he hadn't really developed his own style at that point.

The piano then enters and begins a section that is much more Chopin-esque. The orchestra stays beneath the pianist, and it seems as though the soloist is free to express themselves and the orchestra just follows along. Tempo rubato and extended harmonic tension characterize this period - Chopin often plays around tonal centers, causing the listener to desperately want and expect a cadence, and then continues the progression so that there's no sense of release for a while longer.

The piece continues as such for a while until the orchestra finally takes over again 7 minutes into the piece (about halfway through). There is a stormy section with a sense of mounting tension which dies down a minute later for the re-entrance of the piano. What follows is something much like the first piano solo - the orchestra plays a VERY secondary role in accompanying the piano. However, this time it doesn't last as long and the orchestra takes over again about 10 minutes and 10 seconds into the piece.

The piece ends without the pianist - the orchestra plays without the soloist for the last part of the piece, which reminds me of vocal music more than instrumental concerti.

Overall, the piece was nice, but I guess my expectation of what Chopin's music was later in his life lead me to be a little disappointed in this concerto. If I thought it was written by some earlier composer, I probably would've been very happy with it. I also didn't really pick up on consisten themes, but that's probably because it was difficult to remember the solo piano material while it was separated by such long orchestral interludes.

However, I have to give props to 'ole Freddy for composing something this great so early in his career.

Nelson, Passacaglia on B-A-C-H

I don't feel like listening to anything right now, so I'm going to talk a bit about a band piece we're playing this weekend.

This piece is in the Passacaglia form, and the basis is a melodic line that is based on the tones B A C and H (in English that B flat, A, C, and B natural). There is no other clear form in this, but there is a basic goal of the piece, which is to make a big crecendo from a very light texture to a wall of sound by the end of the piece.

And being a very modern composer, Nelson has many creative ways of adding new voices to make this crecendo. The inital texture is light with the low voices carrying the melody with some additional soft gong and bass drum hits that help establish the mood (the melody is based on four chromatic neighbors, it can't be very happy). Nelson makes good use of rhythmic structure to help the crecendo. In the middle section there are sixteenth notes in the mallets (he even uses the bell tree as a "mallet" instrument which is pretty cool, you can't hit actual notes, but it gives a nice effect). As the piece gets closer to the end there are two drum parts that come in doing sixteenth note triplet and thirty second note figures that really help to thicken the texture, especially when the two parts are doing these two rhythms against each other. The piece finally comes to an end with the winds playing the final note for about as long as they possibly can. I like this piece because it has a fun drum part and it shows a ton of different ways to vary a passacaglia.

Adrian Willaert's Magnificat

I'm so excited I found this piece!!! I found this CD in Border's but didn't want to pay for it so I'm so pumped I discovered it again in Naxos. This kind of music is great to listen to any time. It sounds like plain chant only there are male and female voices. I think the female voices are only used because we don't have men with such pure and mature high range voices anymore. The beginning starts with males and females singing a small opening foundation of a few chords that sound like the rising sun. This is followed by a section sung by males. After this, the women enter again and the tones are long and sustained. I love the purity of every tone and the simplicity of the harmony that seems to grow to create something enchanting. I hear four parts that all seem tied together yet like individual chants that imitate and play off each other. It's almost as though the voices are in a round. The second large section ends on a plagal cadence. That's really cool because I don't hear many of those except in religious music. There is a lot of call and responce too. This piece really makes me think of Josquin's Motet. It sounds like free rhythm. The only way to really hear the definite ends of phrases is by the dramatic pauses. The phrases are all asymmetrical. Most of them end on PACs. It is an incredibly soothing, reflective piece.

"a soothing piano tune"

the beginning has a continuous c# in what seems like eighth notes. other random notes are thrown in as though they are thoughts. the line moves with the thinking...very intense...not very soothing. all the while, the c# is there. all at once, the c# goes down an octave, then back up. this is kind of throwing me ear is agitated by the random changes. the melody is now in the very deep bass, almost unrecognizable pitches.

i'm feeling very anxious as the c# is being driven into my soul. intervals and tone clusters fill the air while the c# is being pounded relentlessly. at times there is cadential solace...and then a tone cluster takes all that i've come to agree with and throws it out the window. i really like the progression through the chords. the chords then take on some of the eighth note rhythms...but they seem slightly out of sync. the eigth notes in the bass seem to weigh down the movement of the piece.

now we're back to the eighth notes in the very high register of the piano. the melody is back in sparse occourances. there is a very effective ritardando at the end...almost a fading feeling.
rounded binary form. not soothing, as the title suggests...but still nice.

"The Impossible Dream" from Man of La Mancha

This definitely suits my mood and emotional state tonight. Actually, it goes pretty well with the past 6 or 7 years of my life.

"The Impossible Dream" from Man of La Mancha. Performed by Brian Stokes Mitchell on the 2002 Broadway Cast Revival CD. Composed by Joe Darion and Mitch Leigh.

I was fortunate enough to see this live on Broadway about 2 years ago. Brian Stokes Mitchell was fabulous. This song was incredibly moving... if I remember correctly, I cried. I also got lucky enough to meet Brian Stokes Mitchell outside the stage door after the show. He signed my Man of La Mancha poster. Oh... and the casting agency I am interning at in the fall... they cast that show. Just to throw that out there :-) Anyway... here we go.
First of all, Brian Stokes Mitchell's voice is phenomenal, and perfect for this part. The first 2 verses basically just use the same chord progression over and over again. There are echoes of the vocal line in the accompaniment. It is a cool sounding accompaniment... the rhythms and the sound of the orchestra is very Spanish... as is the whole show. But it is still neat. At the refrain, the accompaniment starts becoming a little more heroic sounding. The trumpets come out a little bit, and the dynamic increases a little bit. The voice line also gets more daring as far as the notes that are sung.
One of my favorite moments in the song is after the phrase, "when I'm laid to my rest." Everything comes to a halt, there is a break, and he comes back in with, "and the world will be better for this." It is such a thoughtful and reflective moment. It actually happens twice, and the second time is the best. He sings it piano, and at a much slower tempo. The effect of this is so moving... you can just hear the honesty in his voice. It wouldn't be nearly as effective without the break.
At the key change, everything just becomes bigger and more dramatic. One of the greatest things (besides BSM singing this part) is the drum beat. It sounds like a drum beat in a march... it is just so determined and brave, and fits the mood of the piece PEFRECTLY.
The piece ends with the line, "to reach the unreachable star." On "to reach" the trumpets play this great fanfare... and then he sings "the unreachable" accapella. SO moving. The orchestra comes back in on "star". The drums continue with the great march like beat, and the trumpets go crazy and play under his amazing sustainted last note.
I have to post the lyrics to this, because they are very inspirational... and fit my state of mind beautifully. I guess I wanted to write about this more to talk about the mood than the music itself. It makes you feel that no matter what your circumstances or abilities, you can accomplish anything if you really want to. I don't know if this is really true... but it is what the music envokes in your emotions. And I sure wish it could be true. Anyway, here are the lyrics:

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star
This is my quest, to follow that star, no matter how hopeless, no matter how far.
To fight for the right without question or cause,
To be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause.
And I know if I'll only be true to this glorious quest,
that my heart will lie peaceful and calm when I'm laid to my rest.
And the world will be better for this;
That one man scorned and covered with scars still strove with his last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable stars.

O Lovely World- Ernest Charles

This song starts off very broad in c minor with a very depressing sound which sits low in my voice. I start of telling the story about the world that we have known, and how it has changed. The music which is played along with this text doesn't give it a sound of hope, it gives it a sound of darkness, a point of no return. Then the text goes into the details of how the world has changed which picks up the tempo because it's somewhat of a cry out becasue the world has become an ugly place.. Once line that really captures that is.. "where flow'rs once shed their color, weeds are grown...(forte) How thou art changed...O world that we have know..O world that we have lost." Those are the closing lyrics to this section in c minor... as I have said this beginning part is a very dark, depressed, and I really think the dynamic change for when we ask the question "how thou art changed" really shows how horrible the world has become. Also, there is dissonance between the voice "d" and the piano "c" on the word "lost". that happens each time. Ernest Charles does a great job of really placing the words with the accompaniment and really knowing when to bring in the dissonant sounds with the text.
This next section has a direct modulation/mode change into C major. There is also a change in meter to 3/4 section which can give you kind of a waltz like dance feel which helped to keep spirits high in this section. This section is looking back on the good day when we loved the well. Even when "bad weather" came it was still a beautiful place, but then at the end of this section there are ( // ) markings..then after the break the line..."o world that we have lost" comes back in with minor accompaniment underneath..
we also at this point shift back into 4/4 for two measure for a link between the middle and ending section...
the ending section then is back in C major and in 3/4 and has a very broad, majestic feel which really is screaming out our love we had for the world and how wonderful it can be. This is also the first point in which the piano is playing more lively block chords which keep the piece moving so that it isn't too broad. The voice also has a two bar sequence here in the last section which is raised a whole step when it is repeated. The accompaniment kind of drops out in this part and the voice is what really need to keep the line moving because the piano is stuck on block chords once again. Then I like to view this a a great dramatic ending where the dynamics are the loudest they have been in the whole song, there is the highest note of the whole piece..the climatic note on the which I can hold out as long as I want...then a break.. "Of our delight........."ending on a GREAT BIG PAC!!!

"Cocaine" by Eric Clapton

Another one of those songs reached when pressing the random button on my computer. This song is very simplistic, with one motive repeated throughout and there is only a four piece band: bass, piano, guitar and drums. We come in with guitar and drums, playing the ever-so familiar I-I-bVII-I--I-V----vi-bVII (wash rinse repeat). The opening riff is played 4 times. After the first the bass comes in, which allows the guiat to play around, trilling some notes, leaping up the octave. After the intro we have a very simple verse. The melody mirrors the movement of the riff. After the second time through we get to "she don't lie" where everything moves stepwise down (do-te-le-sol) then stops and we get to the main word of the song...Cocaine. This brings us back to the beginning riff and we start all over. We repeat this motion again for the second verse. After the second stepwise bass (lament bass anyone? anyone? Beuller?) we move in the real meat of this song, the guitar solo. It's amazing how Clapton works with such a small harmonic area, making every note bend and fit exactly into the chord. His mastery of the guitar, weaving this long solo in and out of the narrow framework of the harmony. He actually at one point has two separate melodies working simultaneously (yes it's just him, I checked the recording notes) We get another descending bass, and we return for the third verse. After this we have a final solo that fades to the end. It's only a 2 and a half minute song, but Clapton squeezes a lot of guitar work into it. Also very sad that this song marks a very dark period for Clapton, he was addicted to both cocaine and heroin, and soon after this went into detox and retired for almost 4 years. This song talks about how the addiction affects his life, he was completely dependant on it to function normally...very sad.

Jesse Spencer- Sheets of Egyptian Cotton

This song is from the movie Uptown Girls. It starts out with almost a Middle Eastern or Asian-type feel. In the movie, the guy singing is dating this rock star's daughter. She suggests and upbeat bridge. He refuses to sell out to a "pop" bridge, but in the end he succumbs to it in honor of her and the words about sheets of Egyptian cotton are a tribute to her and their relationship. Even though the bridge is for her, it's very out of place in the song but that's why I like it. The words don't match the rest of song, nor does the overall tone. It's just great, random, and romantic that he would completely change the song for her. SO CUTE. You should really see the's an awesome tear-jerker! :-)

Dixie Chick’s Cover of “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac

Normally I have trouble with groups covering famous songs by amazing bands, but the Dixie Chicks with the help of Stevie Nicks do a nice job on this cover of “Landslide.” The song uses the Dixie Chick with the rest of their full country band including banjo, guitar, fiddle, mandolin, bass, percussion, xylophone, and some sort of synthesizer or orchestral accompaniment. The song is in two-four with an eight measure introduction that is only guitar and mandolin. The verse begins, “I took my love and I-took it-down” being “do-sol-fa” which is kind of the first melodic theme. The second melodic theme comes in the third line of the song, “and-I-saw-my-re-flec-tion-in-the….” being “re-do-mi-fa-mi-re-do-la-sol. The first two lines are eight measures and the third phrase is always eight measures long. For these first twenty-four measures there is only guitar, mandolin, and vocal. The rest of the band comes in at the twenty-fifth measure along with the harmony vocals which appear on the second line of the section. While the band is playing the bass can be heard doing a lot of do-ti-la-sol and sol-la-ti-do stuff. Similarly, the rest of the song also makes use of eight measure phrases. After the second verse which is about twenty-four measures as well, there is a nice mandolin solo. This song does not have a whole lot of chordal motion which is possible because of the simple melody.
I really enjoy the beautiful harmonies and the fact that you can hear Stevie Nick’s voice amidst the harmony. I enjoy the entire band except for the synthesized sound because this is such a natural sounding song and doesn’t really need the cheesy fake stuff. Violins would be nicer.

passacaglia in c minor- BACH

I know we all had to work on this, but I thought that it was really cool. It was almost like a game trying to find the motive and then picking out all the varations as I listened. The passacaglia theme was passed throughout the piece 20 times and Bach managed to still make it interesting and never boring even with such a simple bass line.
My favorite part of the piece was definately when the right and left hand played together for one of the first times during the piece and the passacaglia was kind of hidden in there but you could still hear it peeking out every now and then.
It was almost kind of an etude on rhythm with all of the different variations going from dotted eighths to eigths to sixteenths and so on, and surprisingly even though almost every cadence was either an AC or PAC, they never got boring because Bach kept changing the textures... how cool.

String Quartet 2, movement 6

Michael Nyman

The beginning is in a fast tempo, with eighths on do in the lower strings. This, combined with the loud dynamic and heavy metric accent on do of each set of eighths, establishes the energetic feel throughout the entire piece. The lower register sounds more aggressive, but not too harsh. The metric accents indicate a simple duple meter, and, combined with a slight crescendo, a four measure phrase that sets the symetric pattern of phrases for most of the rest of the piece. After two, four measure phrases of the eighths, a new texture is added in the violins, and then after another phrase the viola is added. The voices are added based on register, and the pattern at which they are added sounds very similar to a fugues. In the beginning of the piece, there is a two phrase statement of eights, similar to the length of a subject, and then the violins enter, the B voice, only this voice is not playing the same as the previous voice, and then the C voice enters, also with a different part. It especially seems fugue-ish because none of the voices standout from one another, they all are very similar in dynamic, tonality, meter, and symetry. The entrance of the viola is significant because it is the first prominant change in register the listener encounters. It signals the end of the introductory measures. The shape, tonality, and pulse have been established, and the density is at its highest with its entrance. The shape of the phrases, the cadences, especially in the lower voices, are characterized by a held accent on the third set of eighths in the last phrase of each period, and then no eighths on four. Because the third voice is in such a high register, it breaks the sound into two different themes. The rhthym of the higher voice is denser, using more rhythms with sixteenths. Because the actual melody is all quarters, this voice contrasts significantly, and over all sounds like a transistional function. The intervals in it seem to climb up by steps, and then before ending with a cadence it just stops and the other theme, which is first introduced in the violin part in the beginning, only with two eighths to each quarter, is restated. This theme is come back to because it is much more solid, the rhythm is quarters, and the interval jumps aren't out of place. There is especially emphasis on the contrast in themes because whenever one is being stated, the other either drops to a very low dynamic, or drops out completely. In the beginning, the actual expository theme, which is the more solid of the two, is played four times before it drops out completely, and the higher voices are introduced. The fourth voice, the viola, come in with the violin, and carries the expository function of the faster theme. As the piece progresses, the theme that feels more like a transistional function becomes longer and longer, and more and more developmental each time it is encountered. Gradually, it becomes more of the expository function. Because the viola carries the main melody of this theme, it sounds a little like a concerto. It ends very abruptly, after a huge build up through both themes. The ending cadence is a HC, it leaves that unfinished feeling. The terminative function is less dense, only on the one viola, and the chromatic intervals and syncopated and out of place rhythms make you feel as if it is still playing. I enjoyed the piece very much.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Yellow card Ocean's Avenue, "Believe."

This piece is a combination of expected commercialized rock and unexpected folk violin. It starts with violin that sounds like it could be part of a barnyard dance song. Then an obnoxious electric guitar enters with drums. After this vigorous introit, the male vocalist enters. He sings a double period with all three first phrases identical and ending on HCs and the last different, and ending on a PAC. This is a very basic pattern (kinda expected from a rock singer), that would be easy for anyone to sing along to. The chorus does the same pattern only with different pitches. During the chorus there is another instrumental interlude with the three staple instruments. There are three verses and three choruses. (Wow, there's a lot of threes!) The last chorus is the most upbeat. The violin plays throughout this entire chorus. It ends by the violin, electric guitar, and drums emphasizing the "melody" by playing the same melodic and rhythmic structure as it with the new timbres, texture, density, and dynamics of their individual instruments.

In Christ Alone

As it is Sunday...or rather now Monday, but i'm still in the Monday mood...I thought i would do this song by newsboys. I'm really not much of a Christian music listener, but I do like the Newsboys. I really like this song and could listen to it over and over again. I think it has a nice mix between electric guitar bass and drums, and a beautiful piano line. The solo voice is a tenor male voice, and i think the melody line works very well with the rest of the music. The guitar does so neat vibrato and other cool effects to enhance the layering of the music. The form of this song is Chorus Verse, CV, CV, Bridge, and then CV and a Coda. This song doesn't particularly inspire me persay, but I do think it is really pretty and I like it a lot. An we'll hope that tis will actually post instead of going to the "page cannot be displayed" page....

String Quartet No.2, 1

Michael Nyman

The beginning establishes the simple duple time signature in one with metric accents on the first note. The phrase is shaped on two notes, mi and sol. The rhythm is dotted quarter eighth, two quarters. The jump from mi to sol adds a lift that gives it a very energetic sound, combined with a fast tempo. The first phrase is repeated a total of four times, and the next phrase is repeated once, but it is symetrical with the beginning so it establishes the very squared structure of the A section. The repetitions make it pulse, combined with the metric accents. After a total of six developmental phrases, A returns to the theme, which is the third period, signaling a transistional function. The A section is closed. The transistional function continues, and becomes its own B section in rounded binary form, making the whole piece composite ternary. The new section is signaled especially by the lack of metric accent on 1 and 2. The theme of B as a whole sounds transistional, there are more notes in the upper voices, which carry the expository functions, so it sounds denser. There is also a metric accent on one through the upper voices, the bass is much quieter than in A. The transistional function of the first section of B is signaled by a change in the repetition pattern. Overall, the pattern is signaled by landing on the same note every two measures, with sixteenths inbetween, the first note of each measure emphasized to create the pattern. When that pattern changes, combined with the addition to the expository function in the bass, the transistional function begins to the second section of B. The second section is brief, just a few measure. The transistion function material turns into the expository of the new section (I don't think any of the sections have much of a transistional function seperate from the next expository function, the piece moves to fast and it would take away from the squared structure). The characteristics of this section are the different bass of all sixteenths, giving it a higher density. The expository function also changes rhythm at one point to quarter, two eighths. This section ends on a HC, and goes directly into the expository function of the first section of B. B ends on a HC after the statement of the expository fuction and some developmental activity. The terminative function of the entire piece is signaled by, in addition to the HC, the drop from voices. The lower voice signaled that it is building up, and the terminating feel is reinforced when the first theme of B, and then A, is restated. It ends on a HC. I think there were a lot of HC in this piece. A lot of how is was shaped depended on other aspects like repetition, density, and rhythm to signal cadences. The piece has such a beautiful flow to it, any heavy V-I cadence would disrupt that. I really liked this piece, it made me wish I played a string instrument.

Prelude in em - well tempered clavier vol 2 - js Bach

Prelude in em - well tempered clavier vol 2 - js Bach

So what is it that makes a prelude? Is there a strict form structure that it must follow?

In this piece, I noticed that there are only two voices and they often play off the melody (though the right hand gets more of the melody). Oftentimes the right hand plays a long melodic phrase which is then taken up only in part by the left before it gets stolen back and modified into something new by the right hand. Because of the two voices, and their often homophonic qualities, the cadences are much clearer than in the fugues. Oftentimes, it seems as though the piece will end, but then continues. There are a lot of mounting motives/sequences and a lot of trills thrown back between the two voices. There's a big cadence in the middle of the prelude where it tries to hang out in major afterwards for a while, but then keeps playing around and falls back into minor. Then cadences again as though it will end, and is interrupted by a trill in the right hand and again flirts a little bit with major, cadencing in minor, moving back to major, then minor, a long trill in the left hand who's voice becomes more apparent. It tries to cadence, then goes for one last go in minor and then ends for good.

-of course I chose the minor, and I listened to it on harpsichord, because I just don't feel piano does it justice. There's something in the timbre that brings back so many associations.

Franz Liszt- Totentanz

I heard Sarah Masterson play this piece today in the Concerto Concert, and it was absolutely amazing. It made me proud to be a music student but at the time ashamed that a music minor could play that well and that I should practice more. Anywho, structural divide of this piece deals mainly with changes in timbre, density and texture. The full orchestra may play on its own, with piano, or piano may play by itself, or a few instruments (like piano w/ pizzicato cello or a horn section) may play. Each of these changes usually occurs as a transition from one phrase or section to the next and helps to signal division. There is also frequent textural changes that typically relate to the changes in the density of voices and the timbre. The piano, for example, switches between melodic, slower passages with either no orchestra or just playing accompaniment and fast-moving scalar passages where the orchestra takes the melodic motive. With these melodic changes, the motive is also important in recognizing divisions, as the piece often shifts to and from the motive with the textural changes. In addition a rise in dynamics along with the increasing density helps to lead to climactic points especially in the final termination of the piece.

Scherzo Capricioso for Orchestra, B 131

I'd say the most noticeable characteristic of the beginning of this piece is the huge, sudden contrasts in mood. There are many of them - most of the time, they are flowing melodies played softly by solo instruments or soli sections interrupted by tutti, forte punctuations.

I don't like this effect very much. It makes the piece sound disjunct and it's hard to listen to because it doesn't allow the listener to sit back and enjoy things passively. Also, I rarely felt like the piece was headed in one direction for very long. I may desire this because I've been listening to Wagner's The Ring a lot lately, and Wagner's music can move in one direction (building or dying) for half an hour.

The piece begins in a style that sounds like a demonic carnival waltz. Eventually, it becomes lyrical, flowing, and more passionate. In what perhaps the longest build yet, the piece reverts to it's contrasting nature before becoming quiet again, featuring a lovely flute melody accompanied by pizzicato strings. This doesn't last very long, as the strings soon take over again and the turbulence resumes.

The rest of the work is very similar in pattern. Basically, it builds in a fairly calm manner for a bit before some loud, crashing figure interrupts the music.

Eventually, the piece does die down and the french horns and flutes have a lovely call and response duet before the strings come back in to begin the finale section, which is the most gratifying crescendo in the whole piece. Dvorak wrote a pretty classic (not classic, but more cliche) ending, with a terminative section of PACs, which didn't really do it for me, given the nature of the piece and it's relatively short length.

Overall, I didn't enjoy the piece that much because of reasons I've discussed. I think that, because of its disjunct nature, non of the themes really 'grew' on me and I felt emotionally unsatisfied.

Ravel Rapsodie Espagnole -Malaguena

The piece starts out in a pretty brisk three as assumed in a malaguena. The orchestration is pretty thin in the beginning. Ravel uses all the lower voices in the orchestra to keep things dark and murky yet clear at the same time. The clarity is heard in the pizzicatto of the basses, wherin the melody lies. The blass clarinet makes very short gestures, inserting itself into the melodic structure. The woodwinds and strings add short technical gestures as well. The woodwinds play a series of very long runs as the orchestration dies down again and a new section begins. The muted trumpet plays a melodic gesture that is more of a majestic and chin-held high melody. The strings then come in with a dynamic color change and play the same melody only augmented and legato instead of marcato. The phrase is also extended a couple of bars. There are a few bars of transitional material and development as that same melody is modulated and passed from trombone to trumpet as more crazy swells are heard. The oboe then has a serene melody that has no earthly right being in this dance as the strings play the 8th note motive from the first movement. The dance then picks up some momentum and starts from scratch but has more of a terminative feeling now as the piccolos and flutes play some nasy descending 8th note patterns as the piece ends very fragile like.

Field - Nocturne No. 5 in Bb

I can see how some people say Field influenced Chopin - the way this nocturne flows and how the texture is seems similar to Chopin's nocturnes. The melody of this piece seems somewhat like something out of a Disney movie for some reason. More specifically, I picture Bambi and the mice and animals in Cinderella. Why? I have absolutely no idea. The piece sounds somewhat like rounded binary. There are also a couple instances of a short transitional section that adds a lot of contrast to the piece. These parts have a pulsating, rigid rhythm as opposed to the flowing nature of the more typical nocturnal feel of the rest of the piece.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

"Under my Skin"- Old Blue Eyes

Well, I am not ashamed to admit that I love crooners. I know they make some classically trained vocalists cringe, but I've always been a Bing fan and a Sinatra fan...what can I say, I love to be crooned to.
"Under my skin" is one of my favorite Sinatra songs. I love the way he can hold notes steady for HOURS on end it seems like. And I love how in the lyrics as first he's "got you under his skin" but the next thing you know you're "deep in the heart" of him. I especially enjoy the part where he gets way up his range and just sings it like nobody's business. Man...this song makes me want to slow dance!!!!
Oh Frank Sinatra you would have been quite a catch if not for that wandering eye and mob connections! :-)

"moonfall" from the mystery of edwin drood

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

Jasper, Rosa Bud's creepy music teacher has fallen in love with her. He writes this song for her to sing in one of her lessons. Unfortunately, Rosa Bud does not return his affections, and is really just creeped out by the whole thing. She doesn't want to sing it, but does anyway.
The scenario that this song is performed in requires the song to sound a little creepy. It is really chromatic, kind of tempo-less and wandering, and kind of hollow sounding. It is a really cool song, and great for a good classical soprano because it is more of a classical musical theatre song. It requires a little more tecnique and training for the vocal line to be sung well.
We begin with the motive that is carried throughout the song. After the first statement of the motive, it is repeated again but a third higher. This happens again, but this time it is connected to the bridge, which really isn't that much different from the rest of the song. It is slightly higer, louder, and the tempo picks up a little. After the bridge, the motive returns and the rest of the song is almost identical to the beginning.
Another neat element in the song is the accompaniment. Up until the bridge it is mostly just arpeggiated chords, but they have a lot of chromaticism in them and they just wander. You can't really predict where they are going, they just kind of float around in a hollow sort of way. It is a cool effect. At the bridge, they are still arpeggiated chords, but they are much more full. At this point it is extremely chromatic and there is a huge crescendo. It's a little scary. Which fits the mood. After the bridge there is a break from the storm like effect in the chords, and they become calm and wandering again like they were in the beginning of the song.
It's a very different song... and it isn't your typical sweet soprano role, which is one of the reasons I really like to sing it.

"Sunday Bloody Sunday" U2

From one of the best bands in the history of bands, comes "Sunday Bloody Sunday." The title alone alludes to one of the darkest moments in modern Irish History. Sunday, January 30th, 1972, 13 Protesting Irishmen were killed by British soldiers in Derry. The blood of the fallen unarmed innocents stained the soil of Northern Ireland that day, and their deaths became a rallying cry for the IRA.
For U2, this event made for good song lyrics. I think that this stanza of lyrics speaks best.

Tonight we can be as one, tonight
Broken bottles under children's feet
Bodies strewn across a dead end street
But I won't heed the battle call
It puts my back up
Puts my back up against the wall
Sunday bloody Sunday
Sunday bloody Sunday

Upon first hearing, one probably wouldn't connect Bloody Sunday with this song. It does sound pretty upbeat. It's great, signature drum beat gives the song a peppy feel. However, the somber lyrics lend themselves to a more serious tone. The violins and the echo effect in the chorus help with pleading tone of the vocalist. I really like this song. It's catchy, singable, and has a lot of hidden meaning.

"Voyage a Paris" - Francis Poulenc

I have a great recording by mezzo soprano Frederica von Stade. This song is SHORT. It opens with a very fortissimo, romping melody in the piano - it reminds me of a circus or cabaret. Somehow it's very Paris-esque. The mood of the song is sophisticated and fast-paced. I feel like the singer is at a chic party drinking champagne and dancing.

The text is about a woman who is grateful to leave "a morose place" for the gaiety and beauty of Paris. She calls it "a delightful affair." That's basically it. Short and sweet.

There is actually quite a lot of dissonance in the song - it could suggest the bustling metropolis that Paris represents in relation to the rest of the country. When I hear the dissonances I also think of the woman being whirled around in a waltz - it's kind of chaotic, although exciting.

Damien Rice- The Blower's Daughter

Damien Rice, for those of you who don't know is an awesome lyricist and acoustic guitar player. This particular song has added cello which really makes it ultra-romantic in my personal opinion. It seems like the song you would sing to someone if you were proposing marriage or something with a tuxedo on, and a hired cellist in the background... that is, in the completely non-Nick Lachey, 98 degrees way.
The slow tempo is almost like walking, and the emphasis on the meter really makes it that way, even though its such a slow tempo, its really rhythmic probably to help synch up Rice and the cello player.
The middle section has this kind of swimming feel to it with the cello and guitar kind of meshing eighth notes that all just blend together in a dreamy way.
My favorite thing about the song has to be the added cello and the dialogue that happens often with the lyrics and the cello, as if its the girl he is singing to almost.

And so it is
Just like you said it would be
Life goes easy on me
Most of the time
And so it is
The shorter story
No love, no glory
No hero in her sky
I can't take my eyes off of you
I can't take my eyes off you
I can't take my eyes off of you
Ican't take my eyes off you
I can't take my eyes off you
I can't take my eyes...And so it is
Just like you said it should be
We'll both forget the breeze
Most of the time
And so it is
The colder water
The blower's daughter
The pupil in denial
I can't take my eyes off of you
I can't take my eyes off you
I can't take my eyes off of you
I can't take my eyes off you
I can't take my eyes off you
I can't take my eyes...Did I say that I loathe you?
Did I say that I want to
Leave it all behind?
I can't take my mind off of you
I can't take my mind off you
I can't take my mind off of you
I can't take my mind off you
I can't take my mind off you
I can't take my mind...My mind...'Til I find somebody new

"all I want", Karrin Allyson

I tried to send another of her songs on friday morning, and didn't send it right away-it wouldn't let me publish it, and was erased! Technology...oh well.

Karrin Allyson is one of my favorite jazz vocalists because she's redone a lot of old songs (joni mitchell, billy joel, carole king, the list goes on and on) as well as standard jazz songs and makes them her own. She and her band also are very eclectic in their tastes, and embraces french and brazilian musical traditions as well.

"All I want" begins in 2/4 with a very syncopated feel with the piano and shakers- a very latin feel. The phrasing is a little difficult to hear. She starts singing after the 1st phrase (4 measures), and the piano and shakers are still playing the same groove under her The first phrase is a double parallel, symmetric period.
The chorus starts to pick up w/ a cymbal crash and the drumset playing. The piano has a great melodic line on this part; the guitar also comes in with a cool solo. The guitar solo uses a lot of sequences. I feel like this is a developmental part. The next verse and final chorus are the same. There are a few quick modulations throughout the song (really quick modulations) but it stays in the same key throughout the whole thing. As the song is ending and fading out, she starts improvising with "woos, doo's, etc. Great song! hopefully this wont be erased!

Queen, "The Prophet's Song"

Time for another Queen song, and since we're talking about imitative procedures, I chose a song that features a significant imitative section of a song that clocks in at 8 minutes and 20 seconds.

The first half minute of the song is the introduction, which has a little wind like effect (maybe guitar effect or a gong) that leads into a guitar solo with some accompaniment by the harp which extends each of the chords that have a pause (not necesarrily cadence, just a pause). This introduction ends in a half cadence which transitions to the chorus, which is happening before a verse which is somewhat unusual.

This first chorus keeps the overall mood of the introduction with just having just the guitar and light bass on the downbeat backing it up. The guitar has the same basic chords and mood, but loses the rubato quality of the intro. The end of the chorus finally lets the listener know that this is a rock song with a very loud playing by all the members including the drums and the vocals are also singing the entire chord.

The verse then happens for the first time with constant eighth note hi hat and bass drum and light guitar and bass mostly on the downbeats. One of the great aspects of the verse is how after having this very steady time, the pause between the first half and second half of the verse on the HC and no vocals also has no time. It's a great contast and gives anticipation for the steady rhythm again. The second half of the verse starts similar to the first but then there is a drum solo that brings the verse into a new feel with the drums doing cymbals on the downbeat and bass drum on the upbeat and a wonderful bass line that has nine notes on the downbeats that constantly increase in pitch and have great anticipation for the return of the chorus.

The chorus returns but this time with more activity in the guitar and the drums which play a simple rock beat but with some very effective simple solos when the vocals aren't singing. The verse returns again essentially the same but with a little counter melody in the guitar and a couple of different drum hits followed by another chorus but this time the end of the chorus ends with a deceptive cadence rather than an authentic cadence which provides the perfect transition into the bridge. The bridge music isn't radically different from the verse though, but the melody and tone of lyrics does change, the drums have several syncopations on beat 4 with sixteenth note dotted sixteenth note pattern.

Instead of going back to the chorus as many songs would, this song goes into a extended vocal solo that emphasizes an imitation procedure. I'm not quite sure what to call it because it doesn't quite fit any classical formula. The first part of this has three voices. The first voice sings a short lyrical phrase (no longer than "oh, oh, people can you hear me" sometimes as short "woah") several times on different pitches usually descending followed by the second voice singing the same thing followed by a third. With recorded sound they are able to put the first voice on speaker, the second voice on the other speaker and the third singer on both speakers. What this creates is a really cool cascade of constantly changing chords as one note gets abandoned and another note gets added. During the longer phrases the other voices come in before the first voice is finished which gives a somewhat chaotic feel but the way the patterns are set up the voices are all singing the same lyrics together by the end of the pattern.

This three voice pattern then changes pattern to just two voices on la's and though for most of this section the voices don't sing at the same time, it is just because the patterns have less action but combine to create great rhythmic patterns with one point you have both voices doing all eighth notes in a pattern of 1 2 1 2 2 1 2 1 (1=first voice 2=second voice) and of course almost every time the first voice starts something it does it on different tones which allows this constant pattern to switch chords. The voices do end up coming together in another cool part where each voice glisses up on the upbeat to beats one and three which gives a cool sensation of feeling one voice reach the authentic cadence followed by the second one doing so. There are a couple of more vocals with lyrics in the two voices which eventually a half cadence which is resolved with the band coming back in with a simlar imitative pattern to the vocal part. The hit on one speaker is on the downbeat and the other is on the upbeat. It does this on beat one, then beat ones and threes, and then every beat finally resolving into the guitar solo.

The guitar solo has much of the same feel as the verse but with the drums being very active with sixteenth notes on the toms and the guitar doing some sixteenth note passages that fit into the feel. The voice comes back in at the tail end of the verse emphasizing the HC that transitions into one last chorus which this time has the guitar going crazy as well as background voices that help to emphasize the chord. When the chorus is over all of the sound dissappears except for a solo guitar playing a simple chordal sycopated sixteenth note part for four measure before one last hit which transitions back into an ending that is very similar to the introduction with the harp and the guitar playing a simple line like in the beginning but this time there is a clear feeling of a dominant chord for a couple of measures that ends with an accented PAC.

Strawberry Fields - The Beatles

This song begins with an instrumental introduction. The instrumentation is quite interesting. I hear a drum set, trumpets, string bass, vocals, a guitar, and a synthesiser or keyboard I think. He's going to Strawberry Fields where nothing is real. I know there is a place in New York called that, but I don't know if that's what they mean. It sounds like the song is mostly about the life of a star. It's very odd and not real in a way. I think Strawberry Fields is a place they can go where they don't have to think about the career that they've developed, and they can just be themselves. There are no worries when they're there.

"Ballad of Czolgosz" from Assassins by Stephen Sondheim

Alright, it's been a long weekend, in fact I just got done driving back from home, and I was playing this CD most of the way there and back (it's a 6-7 hour drive) and this song really stuck out for me (at least it's stuck in my head). In a brief overview of the story, the musical outlines 9 people who have attempted to assassinate the President of the United States through the years. Czolgosz was a poor laborer from Michigan who killed William McKinley. This sung by the Balladeer, a 20th century folk singer who sings some of the stories in retrospect. The song is very remniscant of the slightly jingoistic, very upbeat music that glorifies the turn of the century Progressive movement (Aaron Copland comes to mind). The song has two sections, basically a call and response. The first section get progressively longer, as each cadence extends out another measure. There are 3 of these "verses." The other section is a little more rhythmic, each downbeat being accented by a horn blast. Between each set of music portions we have spoken sections, dialogue from the stage, as each song occurs at the same time as the scene is being enacted. I like how at the beginning the song is very simple with the first section singing something about Czolgosz himself, then the second section telling about what he was thinking/doing. Each set of sections slowly grows larger, as the cadences get extended. Then we have these slight sections between that just meanders through the dialogue, then the Balladeer coming back in a little stronger than before. The most important line "In the USA you can work your way to the head of the line" is at the end of every section, growing in importance (also ironic, since Czolgosz waited in line for hours, waiting to McKinley, then shot him as they shook hands.) The last time this line is sung, a gun shot rings out and we learn Czolgosz completed his task, and the Balladeer repeats "to the head of the line." Even though the subject is rather gruesome, the music is constantly upbeat and almost cheery, which makes it seem even more satirical. I love this musical because it has all this upbeat music, but doesn't glorify the assassins or their actions, actually showing that in the end that they were trying to change the world, but really they didn't, the country moved on and they really didn't make a difference. Great music, great message.

NOTE: the Balladeer is played by Neil Patrick Harris, who for those who don't know made it big as a child actor is Doogie Howser, MD.

Once a lady was here...By: Paul Bowles

This one goes out to kdaniel...OOOHHHHHH yeah!!!! lol
so....this is how it goes kids....
this is a song unlike any I have sung before...why? you ask...because it alternates back and forth between measure is in four..the next is in five..then four...then five ..and so on...
it is actually very fun to sing and especially with all the "unique" and sometime dissonant intervals which make up the vocal line.

Once a lady was here.
a lady sat in this garden,
and she tought of love.
the sun shone the same,
the breeze bent the grasses slowly
as it's doing now.
so nothing has changed.
her garden still looks the same,
but it's a diff'rent year.

soon the evening comes down,
and paths were she use to wander
whiten in the moonlight,
and silence is here.
no sound of her footsteps passing
through the garden gate.
no, nothing has changed.
her garden still looks the same,
but yesterday is not today.

The general layout of this song seems to be is just setting a different text to the same rhythmic and melodic patern, which also makes the song strophic...
the piano part is made up of mainly block chords alternating- left hand on beats 1 and 3 and right hand on 2 and 4 through the measures...and on the measures where there are five beats, the fifth beat is usually a rest...this then leaves the vocal line out by itself for a beat.
On thing that is really interesting about how he set the text against the accompaniment...many times he has the phrase ending on the beat one of the five beat measure, therefore, you are starting pretty much every phrase on beat two, and having a rest for breath on the first beat of the 5 beat measure.
As I keep looking at this setting, I think I'm starting to see why he did it....
The reason I think he did it was becasue he is trying to line up the stress of the word with the strong beats of the measure. The way it is set right now..the first phrase has stress on the capitalized parts of these words...
Once a LAdy WAS HERE...if he had the meters switched around it would be...
Once A laDY was HERE....putting the stress on wierd parts of words..the first way, and way it is composed normally lines the words and beats up very naturally with the way we would normally stress it. It's all soo clear now..I dont know if you understand, but I feel a lot better now..becasue I'm understanding it more..
it then goes on the same way repeating the first A section then throwing a termanitive tag on the end..
Dr. Spiegelberg, I think you should try this one's a fun one, and I think it would sound great in your voice!!