Friday, April 22, 2005

Veronique Sanson - "Je me suis tellement manquee"

This song means, "I really missed myself" and she writes it after her divorce with an english speaking pop-star and for the longest time this was one of my banner songs. In the lyrics (which I couldn't get on the web for some reason) she talks about how it started out, how it was just a crazy love story and then it degenerated into something that caused her misery and made her feel like she betrayed herself, and now that she's free again she promises that if there's anything left in her soul, she offers it to other ppl and that's how she wins forgiveness of herself. The chorus refrain has this nice minor six interval-sol sol sol me re do sol--("je me suis tellement manquee" The neat thing about her music is that she's a classically trained pianist and so it really adds something to her songs.

PS that concert tonight was sweet! I want to go rent some of that music and blog on it sometime!

R.V. Williams Folk Song Suite -3rd movement

The movement starts off with a dense woodwind 4 bar intro. The exposition then starts with the melody in the solo trumpet with a 4 bar antecedent followed by a woodwind consequent in an accompanying manner. The trumpet comes back but continues to extend to a new part now. There is time of transition and development of the rhythmic motives played thus far for a period bars leading us to a loud fortissimo tutti section based, also, on dotted 8th -16th note rhythms and 8th note rhythms. This section ends and leads us into a meter change to 6/8. there is a 2 bar intro dominated by the trumpet 8th notes. then the melody comes in which sounds very folk like. It is a long phrase and very beautiful. Under it are low brass beats at pianissimo that swell every now and then. At the end of this first section of the B section there is a loud fanfare and forceful section with the low brass having the melody while the trumpet and winds have fanfare gestures. The music then repeats and ends at the PAC right before the 6/8 meter change.

Bach, Cello Suite in G

I'm not an expert on the cello or its literature, however, I do know that pretty much every cellist has played J.S. Bach's 6 suites for cello. The funny thing is that these pieces remained pretty much undiscovered until the beginning of the twentieth century. It wasn't until the 1930's that Bach's suites became essential performance material.
A close examination of this song gives the impression that Bach's cello suite in G major was possibly composed as a technical excercise. Much of the passages are indicative of an etude. A pedal G, while Bach arpeggiates and has scalar runs. It reminds me of flute etudes. However, it is so much more than that. A suite, it is full of dance movements. Menuet, sarabande, gigue...It does have a slight dance feel to it.
Hearing Yo-Yo Ma play Prelude is a religious experience. Words really don't describe the beauty of this suite. The timbre and richness of the cello is quite amazing. I'm not going to talk too much more about this, words do not do justice for this piece. I find it incredible how a simple melody, paired with simple harmonies can be so gorgeous. Makes me want to learn to play the cello.

sha sha

so, ben kweller came here last week and was possibly one of the most disappointing shows in a while. none the less, his album remains in my cd changer.

sha sha starts out with a pretty ambiguous meter, the voice drums and piano all seem to have different intentions until he talks about "planet of the apes" and then the chorus comes together.

there's a weird synthesizer riff and then kweller comes back in with the vocals. the lyrics and nice up-beat feel make this a song i can handle when i'm stressed...for some reason he makes me think it really isn't that bad.

"that's how it should be...sha sha..."
oh, ben, how you've used your lyrical genius to command the attention of many...until we realize that you suck (which we should've assumed when your album title came out as "sha sha")(part of me wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt and think that 'sha sha' was some intellectual metaphor....actually i think it's probably just the only words you could remember at the time...)

Beethoven, Sonata Op. 10, no. 3, Minuetto

The minuetto begins in piano and states the initial motive in D major. This phrase ends on a half cadence with a fortsondo A highlighting the resolve. The motive the repeats again in a new key, this time in e minor. It ends tonally closed on a PAC in D Major. This parallel period section constitutes the A section and is embedded by a repeat sign. Then the texture changes drastically into contrapuntal, stepwise line with the new motive being passed back and forth between both hands with elision. In addition, an increase in dynamics, tonal instability, and a change in rhythm from mostly quarter to mostly eighth notes add to the feeling of a new section. This B section, made up of these motivic phrase groups, ends on a half cadence similar to the A section and then moves back to the A motive in e minor. After a little development of the motive, there is a short terminative section which closes the movement on a PAC in the original key.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

"I'm not wearing underwear today" from Avenue Q

"I'm Not Wearing Underwear Today" from Avenue Q (the marathon continues)

This is a short song, so it will be a short post, which will be a nice break from my novel length entries.
This song reminds me of something you might hear at a circus while the clowns are performing. There is a small introduction, and then the vocal line begins. The accompaniment is your typical oom pah pah feel, and there are random whistles and sound effects throughout. The accompaniment is SUPER hyper (maybe that's why it feels circus like to me) The vocal line is a little more calm. It's very simple and speech like. He sings the theme, "I'm not wearing underwear today" twice, and then you get the "b section" which is a sequence of scalar type passages that just get higher each time he sings them. Then you get sort of a return of the A section... but it is only slightly similiar. It is more of just an ascending major scale this time around. I was going to make an attempt to call this a VERY short rounded binary... but now I see that I would really be stretching it. It's more of a ditty. Here are the lyrics:
I'm not wearing underwear today
No, I'm not wearing underwear today.
Not that you probly care much about my underwear,
Still none the less I gotta say
That I'm not wearing underwear today.

See! I told you it would be a short one.

Soon to come in the avenue Q marathon: "If You Were Gay" and "The Internet is for Porn."

"black cow" steely dan

We start out w/ this very syncopated groove that continue throughout the song, from the horn line. This kind of carries the melody and rhythm.

the verses in black cow are interesting. each verse has two asymmetric phrases, the first one 7 measures, and the second one 9 measures. The development is added by layering voices onto the main melodic line. This changes the texture and gives contrast to the song. The harmonies are pretty straightforward, and play around with a lot of jazz chords.

Molly Smiles- from Uptown Girls

This is a very simple song and that's why I love it. All these boys playing their guitars seems to be my favorite as of late. It opens with a simple plucked melody. Then when he changes to plucking the verse comes in. There's lots of word painting in this song which I enjoy and you hardly ever see that in typical pop songs. This is the thing that I'm liking about the talented boys with guitars...they do have actual music talents and dont' give in to the pop stereotype. Yeah for Jesse Spencer!! :-)

Ginestera, Adagio Contemplativo from Pampeana No. 3

I played one of the movments in band in high school, so I thought I'd write about another movement.

The movement is called Adagio Contemplativo so there is some sense of reflection and melancholy but this doesn't mean there aren't huge loud climaxes with jarring dissonances, hey this is 20th century music.

The piece immediately begins with the main motive in the low strings and the breaks are filled in by dissonant chords in the woodwinds followed by a resolution with repeated notes in the flute and celeste. This is a very interesting combination of instruments not commonly seen but the two sounds fit in quite nicely with each other. The melody moves to the middle strings and has a feel of contemplation in a minor feel. The parts begin to fragment also with different string instruments doing different lines reaching a climax of lots of dissonance with a big timpani roll followed by the decrecendo again.

At this point the horns take over the melody for a while followed by the woodwinds having it with some suspended cymbal rolls. Then the mood becomes slightly more frantic with the woodwinds doing scattered notes with the oboe (maybe english horn) having the melody. This is followed by a really cool addition of the harp doing big sliding glissandos that kind of sound like what I think of as the "time warp" cliche with the trumpets holding the melody. This eventually reaches another really big climax. This eventually rises to what i think is a big IAC with lots of dissonances that block true feelings of cadence followed by another similar climax a little later on followed by the complexity falling down again.

This leads to a section very much like the beginning with the low strings taking the melody followed by the horns and woodwinds taking it before the music eventually leads to a bright major sounding woodwind chord that dies away with the horns holding a chord with a major feel.

Die Zauberfloete overture!!!

The overture begins with a powerful introduction in ascending chords. I get the image of the sun rising, because the chord progression rises, then settles into the tonic key. The introduction is kind of long, actually.

We are introduced to the fast paced exposition, played mostly by the strings. It begins with a fugal pattern that starts in the violins, and is repeated by the other, lower strings. At some point the fugue culminates in a full orchestral playing of the motive. I love the deceptive cadence leading into the B section, where the woodwinds have a contrasting, more fluid motive over the string’s motive. There is a distinct terminative section that ends on a large PAC.

A similar introduction to the first one is heard, after a long pause. This is like the developmental section, where the original motive is played in a minor key. I love the descending line that gets played first in the strings, lower woodwinds, then in an oboe, a flute, more voices, and finally the entire orchestra! Overall in this developmental section, motives from the exposition are heard. A clear PAC is heard. A transitional section follows, played much softer than the previous climax to the PAC, with many solos and duets in the woodwinds. We’re moving back to the original major key!!

Here we are in the recapitulation of the exposition. It is much shorter the second time around. All the motives are overlapped this time. The B section is mostly the same. There is a longer terminative section this time – many V-Is, and a lot of elisions. I love the loud brass in this section.

I always had a feeling that this piece was in sonata form!! It’s one of my favorites – fond memories of standing backstage listening to the orchestra play this part.

Monteverdi: L'Orfeo - Tu se' morta mia vita (you are dead, my life)

So since this is the second time I have blogged this tonight because it trashed my last one because the system was down for maintenance it is not as detailed because my last one took forever, but unfortunately I have to study a lot for music history. So, this is about all your going to get. I think it’s still pretty good :)

I’m going to follow in the same track as Kaitlyn and do a little Orfeo. Mine is from the NEW CD set in the music library, Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo. The excerpt I am looking at is near the ending of Act II when Orfeo has just been told my the messenger that his wife, Euridice, has just died. She had been collecting flowers in a meadow and a snake bit her foot. I had to pick a song that Orfeo sings because he is my favorite male voice…Ian Bostridge… AMAZING..check him out of the library sometime…(he does Schumann and Schubert song cycles, L’Orfeo, and a couple other things I believe.)

Anyways, I believe in this recording the instruments for this song are organ, harpsichord, and harp. The organ is sustaining the chord progression throughout the whole song, while the harp has little arpeggiations throughout the song and graceful strums in Orfeo’s farewell. The harpsichord comes in when there is the most vocal motion doing large arpeggiations yet staying somewhat hidden.

So…once again I’m going to talk about how the composer has used certain inflection in the musical writing to have the text set to, and also a little on how he set the text. First off, the piece really doesn’t have any true repetition of phrases except for the first two lines, and I believe this is basically because it is a short song, a cry out to the one he lost building more and more as the song progresses. In the very beginning Monteverdi sets the text in a very unique way.. Ex. “you are dead…are dead, my life.” & “you have left me….have left me never more….never more to return..” He keeps stressing the most important words, and it is almost like after Orfeo has said the word dead, left, never more….it seems like it took so much energy to say them, and to try and accept them. This makes it feel very realistic because when someone has lost someone close it is hard to even grasp the concept and get it all out in one solid sentence. It is usually very broken up.

After his realization and acceptance that his lover died set in, he starts to plan out what he could do to get her back. This is what gets the music flowing from a very solemn and depressed tone to a more flowing, and somewhat hectic motion. It really keeps building up until his last line where he says farewell to the earth, skies, and sun. He has decided he must kill himself to go and try to get her back, and if he can’t get her back, at least he will be with her in death. Two of the coolest things I notices what that the highest note in the song was placed with the word “stars”, and then also the very last work “dio” which means farewell, Ian Bostradge did somewhat of a very slow stuttered trill which gave me the sense of a very weak, and sad wave good-bye…

This is the song I would if I lost KDaniel....I really would, just cuz she is that important...not cuz we are dating...cuz we arn't...really...I'm being serious.....gosh!....

"Quartet" from the Secret Garden

This powerful piece sung between Archibald and Neville and Lily and Rose, melding the past and present together. Neville urges Archibald to leave the house, because seeing Mary and her uncanny resemblance to his deceased wife is driving him mad. Neville is using this for selfish means, to take control of the mansion and the lands. You see, Neville was also in love with Lily, but she chose the crippled Archibald over him. On the other hand, Rose is trying to reason with Lily, to convince her that she shouldn't marry the hunchbacked Archibald. Lily sees through his physical deformity to the pure heart that lies underneath. These two spearate settings, in the past and present, meld together into a tragic quartet, with Lily and Archibald professing their love for each other, while Rose and Neville convince them how foolish this is. The accompaniment begins slowly, with strings accompanying Archibald, then bass drum comes in to accent entrances. When Neville comes in, the low strings and low brass come in, adding emphasis, but a darker overall tone. We go back to light accompaniment as the women enter, but everything melds together as all four voice come in together. Lily and Archibald sing to each other across the divide of time, with Neville and Rose trying to pull them back to reality. Rose and Neville (the mezzo and baritone) use their darker tones to act as the creeping darkness that is consuming Archibald. Lily and Archibald's sweet tones have a beautiful duet for a small time, but we have a key change and the quartet forms again, swallowing up this lovely moment. At the end, Neville convinces Archibald to leave the manor for a time, putting Neville in charge. I love the mood formed by juxtaposing the two duets from two different times. I know didn't do much talking about musical elements, but the dramatic elements of the song as well as the timbre really are what make this piece special.

Alone in Kyoto - Air

I've been pretty good about blogging about older, more complex music lately, so I've decided to pick something more contemporary (and easy).

The French band Air is big into electronics. This song starts out with a 30 second introduction of soft electronic effects which sound similar to a cacophony of birds chirping. This does a great job of building the listener's anticipation - it's much more exciting to hear subtle things and wonder what's going to happen next than to hear loud, brassy music that has nowhere else to go.

Next, another synthesizer and acoustic guitar enter with a simple, contrapuntal pattern that set the groove to which the bass is added. Soon, the bass enters with an acoustic piano as well as some scattered vocal sounds. Just when the piece seems to be building to something big, it reverts back to the beginning, light, airy texture of electronic bird sounds.

It builds again much in the same manner, which sounds sort of like the process music of Steven Reich.

Throughout, one common tone (D) is repeated in a pulsating middle voice while the progression stays the same - Bb major, C major, d minor, Gsus (which is an incredibly tasty chord in this texture).

Eventually, the piano gets a solo, accompanied by some atmospheric wave sounds (literally ocean wave sounds) and a guitar strumming chords. This fades out to just the wave sounds which end the piece.

Overall, I thought this song was amazing. If I had to describe it's overall purpose, I would call it an experiment with subtle intensity. The music never gets loud, nor the texture very thick, but when it devolves into a piano solo, I felt mysteriously relieved, as if I had just been through a very intense musical experience. This probably came from the process by which it was built up, which was slow and never changed dramatically at once (again, much like minimalistic process music).

Carlo Briccialdi – Il carnevale di Venezia, Op. 77

An introduction of sorts brings us into the piece with a gradual rallentando. Following this, there’s an accelerando accompanying ascending chromatic runs. It sounds to me like these should be increasing in their dynamic but there is a decrescendo instead. After a brief rest, we are brought into the main body of the composition.

I would have to say that this is a theme and variations. The first instance of the motive is the theme because it is at its simplest state at that point. The first variation of it has the flute adding some extra notes alongside the melody. The third variation has a rhythm change and there is some double-tonguing present. The fourth variation is much smoother and legato than any of the other variations we’ve seen up to this point. Variation five includes a lot of trills. Variations six and seven start to sound similar. The motive is relatively short and simple and they way they are varied are not always very different. It starts to get more interesting in the eighth variation. There is a multitude of arpeggiations here. The ninth variation seems to experiment and play around with the idea of moving the motive from the low octave on the flute to higher octaves. A big change can be noticed in variation 10, which is minor and very legato in style. The eleventh variation remains in minor and includes a modulation back to the major key. Variation twelve is the first to include the piano as a slight part of the motive instead of being solely for accompaniment purposes. A cadenza follows this variation, and then variation thirteen sounds very similar to the first variation and I start to get bored again. It picks up in the fourteenth variation with all the notes being played twice in succession. Variation fifteen has the notes of the motive being played lighter and shorter. Finally, the sixteenth and final variation contains the flute and piano both in unison on the motive. After this, there is a terminative section containing mostly scalar run passages in the flute part, both ascending and descending. The last two runs are chromatic, a few arpeggios follow, and then the piece closes with a V-I at forte.

"Puer Natus Est Nobis Mode VII" by Chant

This is an excellent CD by the monks of Santo Domingo de Silos of gregorian chant. It is naturally very soothing. I'm glad this is a listening journal because I don't know much about the form of such a piece. The beginning starts with a parallel period on the words, "Gloria en Excelsis." The swells of all the male voices are so pure it's like cutting fresh butter in two creamy halfs. (I guess I'm hungry but that made sense in my head.) The next period is contrasting and holds the same tone repeatedly, adding friction through the depth of their voices and the dynamics. The rhythm of this piece is free. I couldn't tap a pulse but every voice seems to know exactly when to change at the same time. My favorite thing about this is that every voice is in unison and pure, yet you can tell more than one voice is singing. It creates a greater since of unity and community than anything else I've ever heard or experienced. Every single voice is listening to each other and helping each other create something powerful. Not once do they stray from this round tone. I can hear it reverberating from the cielings of a high cathedral.

Bach: Suite for Unaccompanied Cello No. 1(Prelude) performed by Bela Fleck

After listening to this piece for the first time I was confused by the title because I do not know the definition of a suite. This piece sounded more like a Bach prelude to me, so when I saw the title I was pleased to see that I was correct. Although it is the suite for unaccompanied cello, Bela Fleck performs the work on his banjo. The piece is probably in two-four, like many Bach preludes, and may be described as continuous sixteenth notes for the most part of the song that spell out different chords. In the beginning the melody is do-sol-do-ti-do-sol, which repeats before going to the next chord. Much of the piece follows this pattern of changing chords every two measures. The chord progression is I-something-V-I. The V is very obvious in the fifth and sixth measures because the ti is very noticeable. The only interesting this is that do is used at the beginning of each new measure for the first eight measures. For about the next thirty-five measures the melody changes slightly and it seems as if the piece modulates to the minor and back to the original key by the end of the section, but the speed of the chord progression still stays the same. Next, there is a long cadenza sounding section which actually plays until the end of the piece which ends which a short very cadential ending, V-I.
I really enjoy listening to Bach preludes and I hope to learn many of them in my college years. It is nice to hear this piece on the banjo because the banjo separates the notes very nicely so that you may hear each note clearly. Often, when I have played other preludes I feel as if I am merely slurring all of the notes together, not good to my ear.

Menuet and Dance from Orpheus

Orchestral Excerpts for Flute
Jean Baxtresser

The first phrase ends on a strong HC on ti, leaving a strong feeling of continuance. The solfege is me-re-me-fa-me-re-do-ti. The minor key combined with the middle to high register in the flute makes this solo especially pretty. The rhythm is, in a very slow tempo, quarter tied to an eighth tied to the first note of a sixteenth note triplet. The phrases are shaped by the sixteenths, they offer such a contrast the the longer notes especially because they are not held. Because they are so much faster, the next note of each sixteenth triplet has a natural accent to it. The intervals are also very close together, so any kind of leap is accentuated. The next phrase starts on sol, alternating with le. The pull from le to sol is especially emphasized for the minor feel by the rhythm. It starts out on a held sol, then alternates le, sol, le, with the second le held longer than the first, then rests on sol, making it a phrygian cadence. After a brief pause, it jumps to do, an octave higher than the one in the begining, and using a similar rhythm to the beginning. The faster notes cue movement. There is a lot of V-i pull emphasized. Whenever there is a held note, in this phrases case do, it usually slurs down a half step and quickly back up, then maybe up to re and then ti-do. It sort of delays the entire phrase and leaves it hanging in suspense for the resolution. Because of the strong pull for a resolution, mainly due to rhythm and register, the many HC are very effective in connecting with the next phrase, even when there is a rest inbetween. The entire excerpt changing rhythms a bit, but it never loses the bittersweet quality. The expository function is the do-re-me-re-do-ti-, the third actual phrase. The rhythms in this phrase are heard several times, but it is the only phrase that is repeated. The phrases themselves basically are ascending and descending scales, covering a wide variety of range in register. The piece ends on a PAC re-do, with re trilled, a definite cue to the end of the piece. The scale shape gives the excerpt a very expansiveness in the bittersweet sound, and creates the overall beauty that can be found in any part of the excerpt. I liked it very much.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Dareneh Jahn - Jooya

So this is from Jooya's Persian Nights cd. She sings traditional persian folk music, and I really like it. It's somber, minor in mode. She begins singing lyrics on this repeating motive of basically do re me/ sol do re me--the me being held out while a string instrument plucks fervently away at a static chord underneath. This repeats for a while and then she starts to sing lyrics on the III in the major with the same motive, adding a "mi re do" down as well (in major naturally), still finishing on do and in the minor though. There is this nice tension added as she moves between the minor and the major motive and starts blurring them by developing her melodic material, it's a sort of opening up of the song to a wider simultaneous palette of expression. Then in the middle it repeats the minor again. She keeps saying "khoda" part of saying goodbye (as they give it an english title "farewell" so it's appropriate)...then instead of going to the major, an instrument break comes in and she sings a new fast and upbeat section beginning in minor, going to major, then back to minor--centering around a ti do feel, ending on a Ti Do. So two distinct sections, very "additive." I like Jooya.

danse macabre

Harp strikes and serene and restful violin chords signal the sun set. A bass pizzicatto line leads us to the melody in the solo violin. The flute has the main melody followed by the strings. After this parallel period the solo violin states the secondary theme with fragments of the first being played by the winds. A four bars of transitional material are played before the main theme is again stated in parallel period form. Thereafter the celli and low strings state the secondary theme with fragments of the main melody in the back in the violin and xylophone. Another 4 bar transitional period. Then starts the fugue starting in the strings then leading to the winds to the trumpets to the trombone. It is based off the secondary theme. Then comes a section of development with quarter note motives in the winds then in the trombones as we crescendo and modulate to a major. The secondary theme is then presented in a euphoric manner here in the violin solo then in a horn solo with a greater texture. It is very calm and light here. Then a bridge section occurrs with strings flourishes as the secondary theme is developed more in the brass and strings as the firsts are furiously arepeggiating. There is a section where the winds are all in unison rhythm. The texture winds down with some little swells. Fragments of the first melody are heard in the violin solo and flute. Swells begin to occurr as we crescendo wildly leading us to secondary melody played very loudly in the trombones. A new melodic gesture is heard in the violins that is inverted on melodic material. It is very virtuosic. Then the sun comes out with the frivolous oboe solo. The violin solo plays a somber melody reminding all the skeletons to return to their graves. But evil has the last laff as the main melody is passed from low to high in the orchestra ending pianissimo.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Richard Cumming- Piano Prelude #1

The most essential part of this short piece is the rhythm and meter. In a piece with only 11 measures the meter changes 6 times, alternating between 5/4, 3/4, and 4/4. Each meter has a sort of rhythmic motive that comes back in some form whenever in the related meter. The piece begins in 5/4, stating the first rhythmic motive in both hands in the first phrase. The rhythmic motive is again repeated in the RH, this time with more density, less volume, and different texture (more chordal) and notes in the LH, and then in a 3/4, a fragment of it is presented. Then it changes to 4/4, with a new rhythmic motive that is similar to the first. Then the next measure goes to 3/4 and again presents a new but similar rhythmic motive, starting out the same and then going to a scale of 3rds. It continues in 3/4 for 3 measures, with the first 2 using nearly identical motives and the last more unconventional. Then it returns to 4/4 and its motive, then to 3/4 and it’s motive, and the piece ends on 4/4. This ending ends with a great climax, gradually increasing the volume up to fortissimo, and uses similar material o the ¾ motive, but with a longer and higher scale of 3rds. So, it is the rhythmic motives from which this piece is built, and it is the elements outside of this that vary and shape the structure of the piece.

"She's always a woman to me" billy joel

I've been listening to this song a lot lately, and Billy Joel has always been a favorite anyway- He gives a lot of emotional intensity to this song

Each of the verses are strophic. The chord structure for the verses is pretty straightfoward: V7-I/V7-I/I-IV/vi IV/ (first period) V7 I/V7 III/vi/IV V7 I (second period-very clear pac- it's tonally closed. The bass line is very noticable, and gives the running 16th notes in the right hand and in the guitar a very grounded, more fluid motion, pushing it forward.

The refrain moves through this ii-V-I progression, and the time seems to move from 2/4 to 4/4. the bass ostinato is still extremely audible, with the constant 16th notes over it.

This song feels like it could also be in 3/8-it's almost like a waltz.


"It Sucks To Be Me" from the Broadway musical Avenue Q. (Thought it would be appropriate, considering the time of year, and what most of us have coming up)

This begins my marathon of blogging about songs from Avenue Q. They are all fun to listen to, and singing along with this first one is a GREAT stress reliever. Even if you don't like musical theatre, you will enjoy this stuff, simply for the lyrics... as you will find out from my posts to come. Dr. S... you better read this, because it's a LONG SONG. Hahaha... just kidding, just kidding :-)
OK, so we begin with this fun, snappy chord progression that sounds like it could possibly be from Sesame Street (which is great, because that's what this show is kind of like, considering it is all puppets.) Anyway, it starts out with the orchestra just playing the intro over and over again while Brian and Kate, two of the characters have a conversation that is basically: "Life is dissapointing, I got laid off, blah blah" which leads into the beginning of the song, which is Brian complaining about his life, which leads to everybody else complaining about theirs. The accompaniment that is played underneath this conversation is carried througout most of the song, and doesn't change a whole lot. Every once in a while the instrumentation will change, or there will be a few non chord tones thrown in there, but that's about it. The vocal line is simple, very speech like. Even when Brian gets to the "It sucks to be me" chorus, the accompaniment remains the same.
The second verse is Kate singing about how her life sucks because she doesn't have a boyfriend. The accompaniment changes slightly because there is a flute added to play the upper bouncy part, and the piano plays at a higher register. I think this happens for characterization reasons. These higher pitched happy sounds kind of represent her character.
Next, the gay guys, Ron and Nicky enter. (They are supposed to be Burt and Ernie. Ron is in denial of his homosexuality, and is very attracted to Nicky. By the end of the show, Ron comes out and we learn that Nicky actually has feelings for Ron.) They sing about how their lives suck because they have to live in a very small apartment, and they drive eachother crazy. They alternate singing lines. There is also a change to their accompaniment, which I think is also for character purposes. So, I take back what I said before about the accompaniment not changing. It changes styles to fit the different characters. Here it becomes kind of... for lack of a better word... oafish sounding. There is a lot of tuba, and it is just kind of clumsy sounding. At the end of their verse, ron and nicky sing "it sucks to be" and then all 4 of the characters have their own enterance and harmony part on "me", and they proceed to sing the "it sucks to be me" chorus.
Next comes the Japanese character, Christmas Eve. She is hysterical. She sings all of her L's as R's. Her accompaniment changes and adds some very oriental sounding instrumentation in there. When she sings her "it sucks to be me" chorus, she leaves of her s's and sings "It suck to be me." Hysterical.
Next enters a new guy who is looking for a new apartment, and he needs to see the super intendent, who happens to be no other than Gary Coleman. Yes, that's right, Gary Coleman. So, the orchestra plays part of the theme from "Different Strokes." Then, Gary Coleman gets his verse. His accompaniment is hopping. It gets a little Rock sounding, and the guy who plays Gary Coleman sounds exactly like him. I have to post his lyrics because they are fabulous: "My name is Gary Coleman from TV's different strokes. I made a lot of money that got stollen by my folks. Now I'm broke and I'm the butt of everyones jokes. But here I am, the super intendent! Of Avenue Q..."
Here, the whole cast decides that it sucks to be Gary Coleman the most. They come in and sing, "It sucks to be you! You win! It sucks to be you! I feel better!" and then on the second "it sucks to be you", they modulate to a higher key. Now we have a two part chorus going on, and it is divided by males and females. The males sing a line, and the females answer. (antecedent, consequent action)Then, we modulate again, to yet a higher key. The whole time, the accompaniment doesn't stray too far from its original form. It is a lot jazzier here... strong drum beats and some fun instrumentations. The characters now decide that things aren't so bad as long as they can be together while their lives suck. The original very simple accompaniment plays as the chorus sings "we live on avenue Q" over and over, and slowly fade out.
Here are the lyrics to the last chorus:
Sucks to be me, sucks to be you, sucks to be us, but not when we're together.
Here on Avenue Q, we live on Avenue Q, our friends do to.
Till our dreams come true, we live on Avenue Q."

Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet

I remember I heard this piece for the first time in church. I don't remember why it was part of the sermon, but I do remember that it touched me significantly. This is an example of Musique Concrete, if I'm not mistaken. Taken from the real city sounds, the voice of a lone homeless man singing Jesus Blood Never Failed Me, has been extricated from the noise of the concrete jungle. It's simple, repetitive, but beautiful. For some reason, this old man somehow able to express so much with so little.
Jesus Blood Never Failed Yet
Jesus Blood Never Failed Yet
Jesus Blood Never Failed Yet
This one thing I know
For he taught* me so

(*I think that's what he says)

Gavin Bryars does an excellent job of arranging a string and orchestral accompaniment to the simple melody. Delicately he surrounds the singer with a quiet harmony, using a string quartet, low strings, and eventually a full orchestra and another bass soloist. I love how he took music that already existed, and made it even more amazing. This piece is excrutiating long, but incredibly peaceful, and meaningful.

Cake, "You Part the Waters"

I chose this song because one of the crazy metaphors John McCrea uses in this song deals with a piano. All you really get from the song is that his girlfriend "parts the waters" because she doesn't play the piano while he is the one that plays the piano. The meaning of the metaphors is never clearly stated, but this is music journal not poetry so I'll move on and let you unravel the metaphors (it's not really that hard).

Since the song has the metaphors about a piano, there's no better way to start the song than with a piano. The piano does the introduction which starts with a low note and moves on to quick glisses that emphasize chords that constantly move up to the piano near the highest point where it settles on trill that is clearly heard as a dominant chord. The vocal comes in near the end of this trill with a two beat pickup that establishes the tempo for the verse.

The mood of the verse is immediately changed to a very funky feel. The drums have some syncopated parts with bass drum hits on the second sixteenth note of a beat and open hi hat hits on the & of beat 3. The guitar does chords on the first second and last sixteenth notes of beat 2 and on the downbeat of beat 4, and a funky bass line. This verse only lasts for seven bars with basic movment to dominant and back to tonic without any feel of cadence. The eighth bar is a guitar solo that does sixteenth notes accenting every third for a funky feel.

Then there are a few bars that transition to the chorus which feature the same syncopated guitar line but in a lower register and the voice only changes notes and words each measure. The chours has a lot of the same sounds of the verse, but this time the guitar keeps the sixteenth note pattern with a higher voice emphasizing the accents. There's another couple bar transition with the guitar and for the first time a long trumpet note.

The return of the verse feature the continuation of the guitar part and a new voice of a synthesized organ doing the same three sixteenth note syncopation as the guitar but starting on the & of beat three and going to two of the next measure which provides a good little interplay with the guitar. The verse repeats this time and the organ is taken out and replaced with a little guitar embellishment and some cowbell.

This is followed by the instrumental solo which is a call and response between the trumpet and the guitar. The trumpet plays a short little motive on beats 4 and 1 and the guitar does some motives which are mostly based on earlier material on beats 2 and 3. This goes on for a while then the music suddenly stops on a beat one. After a pause an orchestra comes in and does basically the same material that the piano did in the opening except this time the rise of chords is rhythmic with syncopated sixteenth notes and there is a lower line that also rises once the high voices reach the trill.

This repeat of the intro goes into the other transition from the verse to the chorus followed by a short termanitive phrase with the trumpet entering again emphasizing the dominant chord and sliding up the tonic.

Cake, "You Part the Waters"

I chose this song because one of the crazy metaphors John McCrea uses in this song deals with a piano. All you really get from the song is that his girlfriend "parts the waters" because she doesn't play the piano while he is the one that plays the piano. The meaning of the metaphors is never clearly stated, but this is music journal not poetry so I'll move on and let you unravel the metaphors (it's not really that hard).

Since the song has the metaphors about a piano, there's no better way to start the song than with a piano. The piano does the introduction which starts with a low note and moves on to quick glisses that emphasize chords that constantly move up to the piano near the highest point where it settles on trill that is clearly heard as a dominant chord. The vocal comes in near the end of this trill with a two beat pickup that establishes the tempo for the verse.

The mood of the verse is immediately changed to a very funky feel. The drums have some syncopated parts with bass drum hits on the second sixteenth note of a beat and open hi hat hits on the & of beat 3. The guitar does chords on the first second and last sixteenth notes of beat 2 and on the downbeat of beat 4, and a funky bass line. This verse only lasts for seven bars with basic movment to dominant and back to tonic without any feel of cadence. The eighth bar is a guitar solo that does sixteenth notes accenting every third for a funky feel.

Then there are a few bars that transition to the chorus which feature the same syncopated guitar line but in a lower register and the voice only changes notes and words each measure. The chours has a lot of the same sounds of the verse, but this time the guitar keeps the sixteenth note pattern with a higher voice emphasizing the accents. There's another couple bar transition with the guitar and for the first time a long trumpet note.

The return of the verse feature the continuation of the guitar part and a new voice of a synthesized organ doing the same three sixteenth note syncopation as the guitar but starting on the & of beat three and going to two of the next measure which provides a good little interplay with the guitar. The verse repeats this time and the organ is taken out and replaced with a little guitar embellishment and some cowbell.

This is followed by the instrumental solo which is a call and response between the trumpet and the guitar. The trumpet plays a short little motive on beats 4 and 1 and the guitar does some motives which are mostly based on earlier material on beats 2 and 3. This goes on for a while then the music suddenly stops on a beat one. After a pause an orchestra comes in and does basically the same material that the piano did in the opening except this time the rise of chords is rhythmic with syncopated sixteenth notes and there is a lower line that also rises once the high voices reach the trill.

This repeat of the intro goes into the other transition from the verse to the chorus followed by a short termanitive phrase with the trumpet entering again emphasizing the dominant chord and sliding up the tonic.

"What Wondorous Love is This" arr. Lani Smith

This is a very moving a beautiful piece for worship services. The beginning starts with a very simple single line of the melody with no accompaniement. Then the harmony enters in the higher voice above the melody. The next section is really cool. The melody starts in the bass. Then it goes to the center voice. Next it moves to the upper voice until finally it returns to the bass. It's really wonderful how the melody stands out even though it is often buried in accompaniment. My favorite section of this piece starts on verse 2. This starts with a roll. This is followed with a very unusual harmonic progression of arpeggios with the single note melody on top that is full of many ornaments that make the piece come to life and sound very reflective and enchanting. I think this piece is written in a mode because the cadences don't quite make sense in traditional music standards.

"there'll never be another you"

yep, another combo number.

so we start it in what feels like a nice easy swing. one voice over guitar, bass, and drumset with the occasional trumpet burst when aj feels like playing. i'm singing the first verse in this easy swing so that you can catch all the words and really get a good feel for it...most of the time i'm pretty true to the melody. the band breaks while i hold my 8 counts of an Ab, forming the seventh of a chord...and then we double time it. it's really peppy and wonderful! as i try to spit out the words fast enough. it's a pretty scalar melody except for some random 7th jumps...hmm...not sure how i feel about them. i think they're nice to do the first time around, but then i get bored and decide to change them up a bit by adding more notes in between them.

anyway, there's a trumpet solo and a guitar solo, both in this double-time feel. then, as we started slow and took it up, when i come back in we do the exact opposite. half the head fast, then we cut in half to really soak up the most of the ending. these tempo changes make for a nice contrast and it's really fun to listen to.

yeah for jazz....incase you forgot....OR DIDN'T READ MY LAST BLOG....jazz at the duck on thursday at 9:00. i'm singing with the combo. they're hot.

Farandole - L'Arlesienne - Bizet

I like this piece for several reasons. First of all, I like it's upbeat, constantly-moving, and sometimes intense mood. The tempo is quick, and the dynamic is generally loud. Also, the texture never becomes very sparse. There are also very few long notes - the listener can depend on something happening on every quarter note.

I also like the dominance of the main theme - it makes the piece seem to have a clear direction and purpose. The main theme is also pleasant in its own way. It has a simple structure - a double period with a clear half cadence in the middle and a solid PAC at the end. The second two phrases are basically repetitions of the first two, except the very end is changed to include the PAC.

The piece begins with a dramatic statement of the theme, followed by a contrapuntal development of it where the strings are divided into two choirs that play the theme in a sort of round.

Next it changes mood to a fluttering woodwind soli, including some new melodic material with the strings just playing a simple accompaniment that develops into the principle theme again, which is further toyed with while the energy builds almost uncontrollably to the end.

Overall, it's a simple piece, but Bizet thoroughly explores the theme and accomplishes his musical goals, giving the listener a gratifying, if brief, musical experience.

Quiet City- Aaron Copland

This is a great piece for those of you who don't know it. It was written for solo english horn and trumpet with orchestra.
I think that the most beloved quality of this piece is that the title neatly and compactly describes the piece. Within seconds Copland has transported the audience to quiet city streets at night through his use of tone color in the opening F major chord.
The trumpet enters with a sixteenth note pattern that is suddenly kind of urgent and mysterious at the same time, a few measures later the english horn plays the same pattern as if communicating with the trumpet. The main theme of the piece is brought in by the english horn and then repeated by the trumpet, and they kind of variate off of it with a quarter note triplet figure.
I feel like the piece has three big sections which are marked by changing rhythms, the first one being the opening section with the sixteenth note patterns, the second one being the more lyric section (my favorite, and then another also lyric but melancholy sounding variation of that melody that seems to be trying to overcome a hardship. The sixteenth notes return towards the end of the piece and it seems like each of the three rhythmic patterns makes a return, the sixteenths, quarter note triplets, and quarter note melody all reappear. It seems like a rounded binary form, the middle does modulate to C minor, C major, Aflat major, then back to F major so it ends in the tonic key, witht the same basic idea as the beginning and a sense of repose like it was time to go to bed or something.

"Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye" by Kurt Elling

One of my all-time favorite Cole Porter songs (and perhaps the best closing song ever written). In this version (from the album Flirting with Twilight, the last track) we start a slight piano intro ending on a half cadence. That's it, only Kurt and the piano on this song. Kurt comes in just off the downbeat and we're off on this slow, lamenting version of the classic. Kurt shapes the phrase so well, making each word his own. On the first line, he chops off the "a little" and ellides the line into the next phrase. This may not seem like much, but this causes the lyric to end on a PAC, and puts even more emphasis on the second line, as this time we have the final lyric, which changes the meaning just enough to make it feel new. Now for the second half of this verse we have a key change (like a small binary form) and continue to a half cadence in our original key by the end of the line. This pulls us into the second verse, which now could sound as a recapitulation, or a variation of the section. The piano adds a little fill between the pauses in the lyrics, altering the texture slightly with arpeggiations instead of simply blocked chords and suspensions like the first verse. The lyric once again chops off the end of the first line, pulling us into the second line and the piano matches it, slowly crescendoing through to the key change to the second half of the verse. We come back to the original key for the end of the line, but deceptively move away, moving to the terminative section, repeating the last line once more, then moving away again, as the vocal line sounds final, but the piano plays a half cadence under what was supposed to be an IAC, then the lyric finishes with a flourish, finishing on a minor i chord, with Elling singing the fifth, while the piano arpeggiates from low to high through all registers and ends on an IAC. Instead of repeating "goodbye" which would make just as much sense, he sings "I cry" and ends on the melancholy minor i, after all signs point to ending on a PAC in major. Just powerful stuff. Elling has the power to make any song he sings a definative version. He just has this innate sense of timing that comes out absolutely, especially with a well written lyric. This song also has so many great moments, such as commenting on the change from major to minor (we modulate into the relative major right before this line, then back to the minor right after it) and just capturing all the feelings that accompany saying goodbye to a loved one.

Curbside Prophet - Jason Mraz

This song is kind of stophic. It tells the story of how some people begin their careers. This person began in NYC. It was the beginning of February in '96 on the corner of a street. Hence the "curbside prophet." He tells how he bet his whole paycheck on something, but it doesn't really matter because when you die, money is absolutely nothing. Then, most of the song doesn't make sence when it comes to the lyrics. There's stuff about a dog, and going over limits, and then the third verse is made up on the spot (it's a live album). What I really love about this song is the beat. It makes you want to get up and dance, or at least sing along.

“Do You Remember” by Jack Johnson

“Do You Remember” by Jack Johnson is a wonderful camp fire sort of song with Jack and his guitar. The song is in four-four and has a little four measure guitar introduction. The four measure intro uses the same chord progression that he uses on the two verses of the song. The little chorus thing uses different chords that sound more minor. The progression is easy to recognize because there is one chord for each measure. The progression sounds a little like I-V-IV-I. There is one melody that is used for each line of the four-line verse, sol-do-re-mi-sol-la-do-la-sol. There is a slightly different section that sounds more like a bridge to me than a chorus, but it is used again after the second verse, therefore I don’t think it is really a bridge. This little chorus section is eight measures long and goes smoothly back into the verse. A second verse is sung along with the same bridge, but with one variation of the verse added to the end. The last line, sol-do-re-mi-do has a very nice authentic cadence.
“Campfire” songs are my favorite. There’s nothing better than a good story teller, his guitar, and his cheesy story. Again, I like the simple melody and seemingly recognizable chord progression. It is refreshing!

torelli sonata in d major, mvt 2

this allegro movement is the second of four in guiseppe torelli's trumpet sonata in d major.
it begins with solo trumpet playing the expository line, followed by a fugue-like introduction in the high strings and later in the low strings. the next entrance from the trumpet sounds sequential since it is the same melody, only modified by being in a different key. again, the strings enter follwing the trumpet melody as if playing a fugue. each melodic line sounds like a period because it ends in a half cadence when the first phrase ends, and a pac when the second ends. this movement does not have much depth--not much of a discernable structure or form like movements 1 and 4. perhaps it has something to do with the fact that it is an inner movement. but seriously, the same melodic motive is repeated over and over again througout the piece, and the only developmental section i hear occurs when the motive is played in sequence.

Perotin: Sederunt

In music history we have gone and continue to look through chant and how music expanded from those earliest and original settings of chant. I don't really like chant at all, and the first piece of music I have enjoyed from this section is Perotin's "Sederunt". It is an organum quadruplum. It is four voice (quadruplum) sacred music, and this one was used at the music for the first word of the Respond of the Gradual for St. Stephen's Day. The reason that this piece is called an organum is because it was formed off of an already existing chant. The staff that is on the bottom of the four voices is the line which has all sustained notes and is the one which outlines the original chant. The rest of the melody has been newly composed by Perotin to jazz things up a bit. For the first few measure all the voice are doing the same dotted rhythm, but slowly as we work into the piece the voices are no longer in unison rhythm but break off to make it kind of a repition of a motive. In measure 35 of the piece it introduces a new line which gets passed through the top two lines that adds a more sustained feeling while the other two lines are still doing the earlier rhythm (quarter eighth quarter eighth). After an authentic cadence in m. 55 there is new material introduced. This is also where the vowel changes from Se---- to the de---. Oh yeah, I forgot to say this song only says one half the song is se, the other half de, and the last 12 measure runt. With this new part of the word we get a much more expanded range in the melodic line. It is streching higher and lower, and the bass sustained note has changed to an f, whereas before it was a d. The rhythms are still keeping the general outline, but the notes are different. To me it is very interesting how when you look at the piece it all looks fine, but when you really look at it, since all the parts are in bass clef there are many times when the voice parts overlap each other. I think this is really interesting how close all the voices are working together. Cool piece...a lot better than all the earlier chant stuff....later

Monday, April 18, 2005

For Weds: "Pourquoi" from Trois Melodies by Messiaen

The song comes from the cycle, Trois Melodies, with texts by Messiaen himself. The other two chansons are Le Sourire (The Smile) and La Fiancée perdue (The Lost Fiancée). Messiaen did not compose many other chansons for piano and voice.

Messiaen was also an organist and music teacher. Born in Avignon, France, Messiaen was a child prodigy, attending the Paris Conservatoire when he was still very young, from 1919 to 1930. Trois Melodies was published in 1930. In 1931 he took the post of organist at La Trinité in Paris. This appointment was vital for him, as it provided a means to compose sacred works – Messiaen was heavily religious. In June 1932 he married violinist and composer Claire Delbos. He fought in World War II, and was captured by the Germans and held prisoner at Görlitz in Silesia. He composed and performed several works there, until his release in Spring 1941. Afterwards he taught at the Paris Conservatoire until 1978.

Fun fact: There’s a mountain in Utah named for him – Mount Messiaen.

Verse 1: (A)
Why don’t the birds of the air?
Why don’t the glimmers of the water?
Why don’t the clouds of the sky? Why?

Verse 2: (A)
Why don’t the leaves of the autumn?
Why don’t the roses of the summer?
Why don’t the songs of the spring? Why?

B section:
Why don’t they have charms for me? Why? Oh, Why?

Messiaen uses a specific chord progression in this chanson, that was heavily used later on to imply certain religious themes. Because this song was composed so early on in his career, it is hard to say whether or not it was his intention to imply something religious. I do know that the composing of this cycle coincided with his mother's death. He could be questioning his faith because of his loss.

The piece is very melancholy and jazzy, with some elements of Debussy. Messiaen admired Debussy a lot, and used Debussy as a major influence on his early works.

The piece is most likely in binary form, with two A sections and a developmental B section. There's a long piano interlude that modulates to a major key. Here the singer's line and the piano settle on tonic, like a terminative section.

Camille Saint-Saens - Symphony in F Major

3rd movement (will turn in solfege for this) -has this great slide from do to le back to do, and a recurring ominous do-reme-do sol.. It's in minor and believe it to be in a sort of compound ternary. Because this first section ends with a big loud cadence, then a softer cadential echo. Then new material starts on the violin and eventually, the theme is repeated, but it goes through a lot of development, keys, and starts to function different melodically. Instead of a sort of passacaglia feel like it had, it moves around and functions as a motive generating more and more melodic material which then in turn moves and adds momentum to the middle section. This middle section then returns to the light major stuff again at about 6 minutes (like a ternary within a ternary). This leads to a HC that leads back into the last reprise of the original theme. Upon reflection, maybe it's more rondo-ish. I really like it. It's a long movement too. I like its darkness, a sort of poise in its dirge-march rhythms--like someone walking to the executioner's block. But that slide makes me think of traditional villains, which is fun also. Then you have those sweet moments of hope and distraction to give it spice. I was pleased with this movement, especially since I didn't really like his 1st symphony or the one in A very much. His first symphony's last movement is almost seven and a half straight minutes of cadential action. Sol do sol do, do ti do ti do...(now he moves the ti do around, but still) This was more interesting. I don't mind repeated stuff if it really gets me. And the nice thing, is that the fourth movement isn't too bright, it has moments of tension, moments of lightness, and its energy compliments well this third movement. The fourth also moves more and I think gets more variety--which is just what the ear needs after the constant repetition in the third.

Jason Mraz - Track 14

This artist is amazing! He began as an acoustic artist and then got a band. The piece I'm listening to begins with acoustic guitar and drums. Mraz has the most unique style. There is no one like him. He uses the skat technique in most all of his songs, and is able to make it unique to the song. He is also very talented with switching between his modal and falsetto voice. He writes his own music, but he uses many thangs from popular artists like Michael Jackson and such. His music is very soothing and I can't wait to hear more of him.

The Original Quartet with Chet Baker- Bernie's Song

Tyler made me listen to this. It has a really smooth sounding beginning with sax and trumpet playing kind of the main theme together in unison and then they both solo from there while the bass just goes to town with some eighth notes along with the set which is using brushes throughout the whole thing. For some reason when I hear brushes on set its always a really almost soothing kind of feel, its more intimate to me for some reason and i really like it throughout this song a alot.
It has this relaxed feeling which is probably my favorite thing about jazz in general, you can tell that thy are just relaxed and enjoying each other and the music through a simple recording. I feel like the dynamics remain at a pretty mild contour throughout which really helps, there are little swells here and there but I look at it more like a lake with some small little dips and curves rather than an ocean with waves which really adds to the mellow, placid quality that I really like about this tune.

falling in love with love

so, i listened to the combo (aj, gylys, austin, and david) playing this one tonight after rehearsal, and they took an interesting take to it. first of all, they started in 3/4 with a really quick waltz feeling. aj was playing the melody and then after a verse they slowed it down and played in 4/4. it was good, except at the end they transitioned back to 4/4 and it was sort of alarming. (this could be cause it was midnight and they were tired). aj played a good solo, completely separate from the melody, and then austin improvised over the melody...both sounded really good. they began passing four bar phrases around...which didn't really work out...mostly cause noone knew what was going on...but oh well...they're good kids, we'll let it pass :)

anyway, they're a good combo, and i'm singing with them on thursday at the duck, so you should come!

Madrigal: O Care, wilt thou despair

I played this piece for two people in my house, and both found it very solemn and said it sounded like they were in church. You can hear the trembling and anguish in their voices. And the dissonance adds to the feeling of tense anguish. It sounds like a choir singing in a Church for a funeral. It is the variation of texture that makes this piece interesting. The voices switch back and forth in texture, with voices being chordal in some spots, contrapuntal in other spots, or both. A subject is often passed back and forth in the voices. This gives the piece a feeling of an inescapable, never ending circle (from despair). In some parts with faster rhythms and brighter mode gives a sense of hope, but it again slips back into the despairing sounds.

Bela Fleck, Keyboard Sonata in C Major (Banjo version)

Ever heard classical music played on a banjo before? Well, if you haven't, you haven't lived yet. This is seriously the coolest thing I have heard since Jethro Tull. Anyway, I don't think Scarlatti had bluegrass finger picking fun on his mind when he was composing. Paired with a Mandolin, Bela Fleck and his banjo create a most unique sound. Aparently, a little research has taught me that many of Scarlatti's sonatas share similar forms. That being said, I think Bela Fleck effectively performed the most unique rendition of this keyboard sonata.
The overall form of this piece appears to be...well, sonata form! The exposition is absolutely beautiful with the mandolin and banjo in thirds, then parroting each other.
The development section is rather repetitive rhythmically, and leads to what sounds to be the relative minor. I love how he slows down into into the recapitulation. It's weird, I feel this piece can better be described as ABABAC.
Anyway, this was a truly unique experience. The banjo and the mandolin created a unique timber, but at the same time were able to keep similar articulation to that of a harpsichord. It was a very well recorded CD, with some big name performers on it, including Joshua Bell. Very cool...I dig.

Long Black Train -Josh Turner

Being as it is Sunday, I was listening to the John Ritter "Rise Up" show in the way to work this morning, and he played this song. I've heard i before, but I really like it.
"Long Black Train"

There's a long black train comin' down the line,Feeding off the souls that are lost and cryin'.
Rails of sin, only evil remains.Watch out, brother, for that long black train.
Look to the heaven's, you can look to the sky.
You can find redemption staring back into your eyes.
There is protection and there's peace the same:Burnin' your ticket for that long black train.

'Cause there's victory in the Lord, I say.Victory in the Lord.Cling to the Father and his Holy name,And don't go ridin' on that long black train.There's an engineer on that long black train,Makin' you wonder if the ride is worth the pain.He's just a-waitin' on your heart to say:"Let me ride on that long black train."But you know there's victory in the Lord, I say.Victory in the Lord.Cling to the Father and his Holy name,And don't go ridin' on that long black train.

Well, I can hear the whistle from a mile away.It sounds so good but I must stay away.
That train is a beauty makin' everybody stare,But its only destination is the middle of nowhere.

But you know there's victory in the Lord, I say.
Victory in the Lord.Cling to the Father and his Holy name,And don't go ridin' on that long black train.I said cling to the Father and his Holy name,And don't go ridin' on that long black train.Yeah, watch out brother for that long black train.That devil's drivin' that long black train.

I think what really makes this song is that the solo is written for a real deep bass voice, which
i love. It adds depth to music and richness. This follows an ABAB coda form with the verses and choruses. As far as the actual music goes, there's really not much to it. It is a simple solo line with accompaniment underneath it. This is definietly written in a deep southrn country gospel style. There is no twang. This song really reminds me of an old Baptist man sittin on his peeling white front porch with a few of his buddies in the deep south watching the sun go down and singing their stories. Ah what a slower paced lifestyle...sometimes I wish that were possible...but in reality I have to go memorize some Beethoven. Goodniht!

Shostakovich Symphony no. 10 -mvt II

This movement is an incredible contrast to the first. This movement is cracked out. It is full of energy and tenacity the entire movement; it never stops; its a race to the end. Shostakovich said that this movement was to satirically represent Stalin. The movement starts with a pulse in the low strings, very agressive. The melody starts in the woodwinds and is a very syncopated melody with lots of chromaticism. Gestures from the brass and a snare addition change the melody over to the strings where all heck breaks lose. Rising swells from the brass and strings bring us into a powerful brass chorale played over freaking crazy string runs. The volume dies down a bit but the energy increases. The strings play a very intense and diabolic melody that has no business in anything but death. Many chromatic tones are used. The melody is continually sequenced and as the slight changes in orchestration and texture are heard. It gets thicker and thicker. The brass come in and the strings sound like theyre just playing in circles. Then a huge evil victorious chorale is played by the trumpets and trombones while the rhythmic gesture played in the beginning is heard in the background giving the piece pulse. This brass section is so brutal. The music recedes and seems like it has hit a terminative section. The music starts to hold its breath, waiting to explode. 16th note patterns are played in the strings and winds as the brass come in and the rhythmic motives are heard once again ending with a descending string flourish.

"strong enough", sheryl crowe

This song starts out with a soft synthesizer "whaaa" with the guitar coming in with this beautiful melody. The bass line has a descending "do so la" line that continues through the song. I feel like the meter is in 6/8, but it's kind of hard to tell. On the chorus the keyboards and drums come in. There's a really cool bongo line in each of the verses. It ends on a I6 chord in the original key. There are 3 sections in each verse. They are symmetric and parallel, and all end on PAC's. The chorus modulates up a third, and then moves down for the next verse.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Queen, "Machines (or 'Back To Humans')"

By the title of this, you're probably thinking "Eighties" and you would be spot on.

This song of course about the fear of technology, which was popular during the eighties though probably more warranted today.

The introduction to the music has a bass line that has driving sixteenth notes that evoke some feeling. There is also the vocal "machine" in which the sound has been altered so it sounds like an electronic voice.

This transitions into the verse in which the bass line becomes very simple but the machine feeling is taken over by a contrast between high pitched synthesizer sounds that allow the vocalists to speak above it and loud accents in the drums and guitar that sense the contrast in machines between the constant chatter of machines and the occasional loud accents. This verse is the human speaking.

The chorus combines these two things with a driving drum beat and some of the synthesizer sound. The transition to the second verse is sung by the "machines" meaning the vocalist in the altered sound. This short phrase has a melody that is much more stagnant than the verse and chorus which serves to show the lifelessness of machines in contrast to the more varying melodies of the human.

After another verse, the chorus comes again and shows a big contrast again to the machine voices by having a melody that near the end goes into high falsetto and has many vocal ornamentations that show contrast.

The ending is quite long and just contains some random vocal interludes by both the human and machine and whatnot.

Hoedown - Aaron Copland

This well-known work is introduced with soft, barely audible sustained note and a drummer getting the groove going. Instruments are added - next with a cymbal, then with strings and an electric guitar. The texture continues to build like this, but at the same time the notes are shorter, the tempo sounds like it's increasing, and the dynamic is growing as well. The various parts all seemed to be doing their own thing up to this point, but then they all combine into a major arrival point where the melody is played for the first time. It is repeated and slightly varied by including echo-like repetitions of the motive in various instruments/instrument groups. About halfway through the track, there is a B section that is played by a pianist in the arrangement I am listening to. This B section is vastly different from the A section. It has a clear transition back to the A section, which is much shorter than the original A. It grows and builds to a series of repeated notes, which are all the same length. This seemed to feel like a delay of the final chords to me.

"Poor Wayfaring Stranger" arr. Marke Hayes

This is an excellent, very moving piano arrangement of this piece. It starts with an introduction laying out the minor key with runs and blocked jazz chords. This eventually leads into the melody which has interesting rhythms and very colorful harmony with many accidentals. The range greatly varies as well going from very low ocataves on the piano to high chords. The middle modulates to another minor key that has three voices. One is on melody, another is on harmony, and the last does a high descant. The piece uses dynamics, especially crescendos, to emphasizes chords that land on important words. It is mostly parallel phrases. Each key is a separate binary form that never returns to the original key or material. It would be a great piece for a more classy praise worship prelude or devotional time.

"Quietly night" - Anne's aria from The Rakes Progress, Stravinsky

Anne Trulove's aria from Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress is a new discovery I made last week, and its quickly become one of my favorites. It takes place during Act II, Scene 3 of the opera. Anne is concerned about her lover, Tom Rakewell, who left for the city some time ago and has not contacted her. She believes (correctly) that Tom has forgotten her, and thus no longer loves her.

In the opening recitative and cavatina, Anne asks the moon to watch over Tom and send her love, "although it (his heart) be unkind." In the following recitative Anne worries that her father would suffer if she left to find Tom. She soon decides that he would be fine, praying for him and for Tom. The cabaletta section marks Anne's decision to find Tom in the city and show that she still loves him, even if "it be shunned or be hurt, it will not alter."

THe long orchestral introduction is tonally unstable, like how Anne is struggling to decide if she should pursue Tom. THe recitative starts in the chest voice, and escalates to a high G, suggesting the mounting tension in Anne's heart. The cavatina is restless and moody. IT is written in a minor key. The second recitative is written in the classical, Romantic opera style. Stravinsky was hard-core into the Neo-Classical movement, and for a 20th Century work, the piece's form sticks to the styles of Bellini and Donizetti.

The cabaletta section is written in major, is much faster, and more virtuosic. I love the interplay etween the fast string passages and the fluid oboe / flute line. Its like the graceful woodwinds are pursuing the strings - like how Anne plans on pursuing Tom. ... Or maybe I'm ready too deeply into this.

"I Won't Last A Day Without You" by The Carpenters

"I Won't Last A Day Without You" by The Carpenters.

I'm in another Carpenter's mood :-) So here's another good one.

The song starts out with the whole group singing the chord progression that is carried throughout the song on "ah." Then, Karen Carpenter begins to sing, which is beautiful. What a voice. You don't hear voices like that in popular music anymore. Anyway, all that is underneath her vocal line is a very simple piano part, which is nice because all of the focus is on her beautiful sound. About halfway through the verse, the drum picks up a little bit and starts to keep a stronger beat. There are also some instrumental parts added to the accompaniment.
At the refrain, the drum plays a much more complicated and interesting part instead of simply keeping the beat. The accompaniment also changes slightly. The piano part is pretty much the same, but it is much louder and stands out a lot more. The vocal line of the refrain is just awesome... especially the lyrics.
After the refrain, that same chord sung by the whole group returns and leads us back into the second verse, which is just about the same as the first verse, except the accompaniment is different. The piano part has changed. It actually does something instead of just playing basic chords to keep the time. The range on the piano that is used is much higher, so it's noticeable. There are also a lot of other instrumental parts that change here. If you know who air supply is...most of you probably dont, but I love 80s music, and my boyfriend loves them, so... yeah. Anyway, the sound here is very air supplyish.
The refrain returns again, it is the same as it was the first time around.
Then, bridge! Much different feel here... much lighter and kind of dreamy sounding. The accompaniment goes back to being very simple. The vocal part is a little higher.
The refrain comes back again, and is the same as the 2 previous times. It is repeated once again, just about the same, but it comes to a halt towards the end, right before she sings "without you". The song just kind of fades out at that point while they all sing "won't last a day without you" with great harmony parts. Here are the lyrics to the refrain. I love them. :-)

"When there's no getting over that rainbow
when my smallest of dreams won't come true
I can take all the madness the world has to give
But I won't last a day without you."


As cliche as this song is, I have to admit I had never heard it until this weekend when my band learned and played it at Topper's. After my first experience with it, I understand why people always scream for it and why it's one of the most overplayed songs ever.

This song is a great example of how powerful simplicity can be. It's The descending bass line created by the G-D6-Em is strong, and then the next three chords, F-C-D, provide a sharp, unexepected cadence that brings us back to the dominant.

The progression is made stronger by the tempo - the slow, hard rock sound makes each chord felt solidly, as well as the fact that the only notes played besides the root, third and fifth are sung or are played during a solo.

The second part of the song, which uses the progression G-Bb-C, is basically as powerful as the first, though it only has plagal cadences, which I'm sure Lynyrd Skynyrd considered in composing the piece. This progression gets pounded into the listener's head in a couple of ways. First, it's repeated over and over again (amazing use of repetition to strengthen the tonal center), and then, after a slowed section, the three chords are put to a march setting that reminds the listener of a defiant army of rock marching on the capitol to take down the man.

In the end, I'm incredibly happy the band sold out to please the masses - I wasn't pleased at first when I heard we were going to work it out, but the effect was amazing, thanks to brilliant compositional techniques employed by intelligent artists.

Debussy: Fantouches

this song caught my attention at first because of it's fun piano accompaniment and combination of free flowing and bouncing vocal line. Starting with the piano accompaniment it is playing a fairly busy line but my favorite part is when it plays in octave half steps down do ti te la te ti do then a whole step up to re then back to do...then add the same line just a third higher starting on mi... with what sounds like alternating starting on do and the other on mi, it makes a very of a chase or hunt..a teasing feeling..i feel this teasing feeling becasue there are moments through the song where voice and piano are stressing opposite beats giving it a very push-pull also gives it a feeling of syncapation in some parts which really adds to the feeling of desperate searching for her love....really mixed i guess..but the song it talking about this girl wander out trying to find her "spanish pirate". In between the verses there are la la la la in the voice that are very free...sung like a little bird searching high and low for this man. The most lyrical parts are the la la's and also stressed words like wicked, brown grass, pretty, nightingale. The accompaniment keeps this octave two hand part for the first three verses then we we get to the third verse it changes to somewhat of a more sustained flowing accompaniment when talking about looking for her spanish pirate and how her distress is loudly proclaimed....

Scaramouche and Pulcinella,
brought together by a wicked plan,
are gesticulating, black against the moon.

Meanwhile the excellent doctor
from Bologna slowly gathers
simples amid the brown grass.

Then his daughter, enticing and pretty,
under the bower, stealthily,
slips, half-naked, looking for

her fine Spanish pirate
whose distress is loudly proclaimed
by a languorous nightingale.

"It Don't Mean a Thing if it Ain't Got that Swing" by Chapter 6

More fun with types of variation! Everyone knows this jazz/swing standard. Not only do we have the a capella twist, but we also have some fun with stylistic variation. We begin in the usual manner, a brisk swing tempo with a walking bassline and the off beats being accented by "bops" by baritone and tenor voices. The lead comes in, singing the melody line and scatting occassionally. We actually just repeat the verse and bridge over and over again, which would be the "section" of our sectional variation. The section is a rounded binary form, with an A section, a shorter B section ending on a half cadence, and a repeat of the A. A second voice comes in, with the same style, but varying the melody slightly, setting us up for the next variation. After a small cadential extension and ritard at the end of the verse, we move to our second variation. The chord stucture changes to strictly arpeggiations of the chord. Our tempo slows down and the mood is vastly changed, as our song turns into a pop ballad, with suspensions, cheesy harmonies (including a great homage to Fleetwood Mac over the repitition of the verse). As this fades away, we have a deceptive cadence and a key change, marking our change to the next variation. We include vocal percussion for the first time and give this variation a bossa nova feel. The latin rhythm, accenting one and three, feels rather awkward at first compared to swing's two and four accents. We end on another key change, returning to the original and really change things up. This variation turns it into a renaissance motet, with all 6 voices singing their own separate line. We start with one voice over a tenor line (the slower line, not the voice type), then slowly turning the melody into a canon as each voice passes it off to the next. We bring it all to a close with a plagal cadence and a picardy third. Which brings us to yest another far-reaching variation, the vocal percussion comes back and the bassline settles into a groove. That's right, we're now in R&B mode. The canned percussion sound and the simple background vocals take background to a soulful tenor solo for this variation. This seamlessly moves back into the original swing tempo easily, finishing exactly as we started, bringing this full circle. The variations in this piece ar far flung, but Chapter 6 pulls it off with incredible versatility and great character. I love this interesting twist on a standard.

Afternoon of a Faun

Orchestral Excerpts
Jeanne Baxtresser

There is a strong pull created in the first phrase, also the expository function of the entire excerpt, from the chromaticism and rhythm. The rhythm is dotted quarter on do, then an interval of a M3 or m3 to an eighth, moving down. The eighth flows into a triplet moving on half steps to sol. Sol plays the exact same intervals back up to do, and the rhythm is only slightly changed to eighths instead of triplets. This is repeated again. This theme, because of its long up and downward motion, can only be described as sounding like a faun lazily bending in the wind. The dynamic is a crescendo downward, to put emphasis on the motion, and a decrescendo up. The next phrase begins a new function, there are really only two in the entire thing, the expository and the developmental, which are always paired together to create a rounded structure. The solfege of the new phrase is do-me-sol-me(moving back down), to start off, ending on a HC on re, in the lower octave, which functions as the louder octave when compared to the expository function. The developmental functions, however, usually distribute the dynamic into the higher octaves also to achieve a brighter mood. The meter is simple duple. The expository funciton and this exact developmental one is repeated a total of four times, the fifth time the developmental function becomes more developed, with more complex rhythms, and covering a wider range of octave. The entire thing just sounds lazy, like a faun. The end is signaled by a lack of the expository function. Overall, I liked the excerpt. It expertly captured the feeling of a faun. Its simplicity allowed fexibility and smooth movement, while still maintaining a firm stem in meter and tonality.

Bach: Fugue No. 5 in D Major

This Bach Fugue is performed by Jacques Loussier on piano along with Vincent Charbonnier on bass and Andre Arpino on drums. Although this piece is a fugue, the subject and occurrence in different voices is slightly confusing and harder to recognize. This is a very jazzy version of the fugue. The piece is in two-four or four-four but uses a great deal of syncopated rhythms in the bass and percussion. The piano plays first on the pick up, do-re-mi-fa-mi-do-sol-fa-mi, with the bass and percussion coming in on the first full measure following each note of the melody, sol-fa-mi. That same melody is repeated a fifth higher and you might call this the second hearing of the subject and the second voice. The piece sounds as if it only has two voices. A new melodic theme is introduced by the piano, sol-la-ti-do-fa-sol-la-ti-la-ti-sol-mi. The piano adds some jazzy stuff and then the melodic phrase from the beginning is used but either starting on a different note or in a completely new key. The song has many phrases that seem to begin with faster chord progressions which slow down towards the end of the phrase. The middle section gets very jazzy, beginning with a fast portion and then slowing down…..just like the phrases, interesting. During these portions the original melody is still heard, but the jazzy improvisation is more noticeable. At the end of this jazzy section they go back to the beginning but instead of going on with the piece normally, they go back to funkiness. Next, the piece sounds as if is going to end with a very long cadential portion, but instead there is a marvelous bass solo which slides into the second melodic, more jazzy than the first, theme of the piece. The piece soon ends with a perfect authentic cadence, mi-re-do (V-I).
These jazzy versions of Bach have given me a special interest in learning jazz, I will learn some day. I love these versions because someone who might not even be interested in classical music could hear this and change their mind. It’s so fun and jazzy that is makes the Bach slightly more enjoyable and entertaining.