Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Trumpet Concerto in A-flat Major - Arutunian

I decided to cover this because I may want to transcribe the melody, and I heard it performed for the 2nd time in my life at Kelsie Gray's trumpet recital tonight. And it's hot.

This piece is fairly modern, so perhaps trying to apply an old form to it is futile. After scribbling some notes about the outline of the piece, I'd say it's in 5-part composite rondo form, looking like this: A trans B A trans C A

The A section is in a rounded binary form which gives the piece the composite nature. The 'a' theme is a fast, staccato section. The 'b' theme is played over a 6/8 waltz feel. I say "played over" instead of "is in" because the trumpet still plays in a duple, hemiola feel, giving this section a cool sound. The 'a' section returns in the piano, which has a solo interlude every time the A section is played.

After the first A section, there is a transition made up of the 'b' material which leads into the major B section, which is a soft, ballad-sounding feel with lots of 7th and 9th chords, giving it a real modern-jazzy feel.

'A' returns, in the same manner it was played the first time.

There's another transition into the 'C' section, which is very similar to 'B' in its modern jazzy feel. This section has a lot of nice tension and release between dissonant, extended-harmony chords that resolve to simple triads - I especially like his use of Db, which is to me the most mellow-sounding triad.

'A' returns again, barely changed from the begninng.

Monday, May 02, 2005

peel me a grape

So, i'm listening to diana krall sing this, right now. i'm singing this with the combo, and it's just such a great song!

it's really laid back, and my favorite part is that the melody comes in on the and of 1 in every measure. the melody (sol-me-do-fa) is so great, and always gets stuck in my head.

at the bridge the rhythm is much more strict, almost in a spoken manner and the melody changes too. (do-ra-ti-do-ra-ti-do....re-me-di-re-me-di....me-me-me-do....re-me-fa) and then we go back to our (sol-me-do-fa). ooooh, it's so cool.

in diana's version she plays a piano solo after the head is played through once, and she's pretty much just embellishing over the melody, which adds a nice feel without carrying us too far from home base.

good tune, you should listen.
p.s.--she's my aunt's cousin. that's pretty cool :) i mean, it's pretty distant...kind of like the six degrees of kevin bacon...but still...diana krall is amazing, and i'm claiming it.

"Yellow Pages"

I thought I try my hand again at 20th century literature. In this unique piece, we find a small ensemble playing rapid notes. Michael Torke does an excellent job of using the individual instrument timbres to create unique voices, and motives amongst chaos. The piece has no typical form or harmonic structure. No melody or countermelody. Instead it has character. Although it is chaotic and seemingly non-understandable, it does make a little sense. It is almost as if the composer took the Yellow Pages and started to flip through, with each company a new motive. The yellow pages is large, sometimes confusing, and it is often difficult to find what you are looking for. Torke does a stand up job of creating a piece of 20th century chamber music reflecting the busy and chaotic business world of today.

Schumann Dichterliebe

Tenor-Ian Bostridge

Im Wonderschoenen Monat Mai: This is the first piece of the cycle. It is quite short, composed of two strophes, identical. It's simplicity mirrors the innocence and naivete of the poet as he sings of his heart's confession. The piano has a haunting repeated gesture that moves through all of the accompaniment, especially prominent in the prelude an interlude. A major.

Aus meinen Thraenen spriessen: is perhaps even shorter. It begins again the mi, and retains much of the melodic hints of the previous song. Here though it is through composed in three phrase groups (the first two shorter and parallel, the third twice their length), all ending on a half cadence. Still in A. There is also no introduction.

Die Rose, die Lilie, die Taube...: We've changed keys to D Major. It's quick, light, joyous--only one break for the singer to breathe. The singer actually begins before the piano, though the piano has a nice postlude.

Wenn ich in dein Augen seh': though in GM, the first melodic gesture of the singer is reminiscent of the first two pieces in the cycle, beginning on the b, repeated , then up, down. He does some interesting harmonic wandering, as the poety wanders through the pain of holding such desire in his heart.

Dein Angesicht: We go from GM to EbM! chromatic mediant? Again repeated b and then up, but this time a b flat. It begins three phrases on the bflat, the first being the shortest, the two longer, all take advantage of the repeated b flat.

skip one (Bb Major)

Ich will meine Seele tauchen: this is my favorite of the cycle. The piano just takes off into a different world here. We again have that odd three assymetrical phrases going on, though all here are ending on a PAC, and we're in a lovely b minor--how does he get away with this? Maybe it adds to the shock factor. I'm gonna listen to this again, then again, then again, because this is my favorite, and I'm stopping here for tonight.

Shostakovich symphony no. 5 -mvt II

the movment starts off with a bass and cello soli obscuring the beat. tehre is a very dark and russian atmosphere. we then start the feel the meter as the winds play some stable rhythms. there is a lovely basoon duet. the strings come in and play a little more frivously. then we go into a strict waltz tempo. the basses walk up and down as the winds play shrill in the upper register. a powerful horn call restates the atmosphere. the strings are playing the melody that is a bit off axis. there is a dimuendo and thinner orchestration as a solo violin winds us down. then the flute comes in and plays the solo verbatim. then the strings come in unison forte and very agressively. the winds then come in and play the same agrresive passage. the strings play undulataing scales while the winds play a more detached style. the bassoons then come in and play the same meloyd that was played at the beginning by the low strings. this whole section is a repeat from the beginning though orchestrated differently. there are winds and pizzicato strings for a mysteriously light sensation. the loud tutti comes in while the interest lie in the winds as the bass have counterpoint. the trumpets then come replacing the horn call. the meloyd is then repeated in the strings and crescendos to a return of the horn call. then there is an oboe solo like that of the violin earlier, though slightly altered. then there is a race to the finish as a shout chorus is heard ff as very aggressive.

"High Fly," Randy Weston

When people write textbooks about jazz history in 1000 years, I bet there will be entire chapters on the ii-V-I progression. In large part, it has defined jazz harmony since its beginnings, and will continue to do so, even though composers nowadays stray as far away from that progression as possible.

That being said, "High Fly" is a ii-V-I tune we're playing in jazz combo, and it's made me realize how bland a lot of jazz actually is. Composers can and will continue to write as many melodies on this kind of progression that they want, but they will still be linked by that darn progression that all beginning jazzers have to study.

It's got an easy swing feeling, so the style is also not very interesting. Overall, I feel pretty bored when I hear it, unless the soloist does something different.

I guess the ii-V-I is to the evolution of jazz as IV-V-I is to the evolution of classical music. The things that made composers of any time good, interesting or innovative was largely about the way they avoided or manipulated that cadence.

One Short Day - Wicked

This is a great show..I really like it...It just been a long day and no time for anything...
Well the beginning starts off with the chorus which sings "one short day...in the emerald city" which surprise surprise goes with the chord progression of"do sol fa ...fa sol la ti la sol fa" The ending "in the emerald city changes slightly each time but the opening is always do sol fa... the solo voice follows the same outline for the most part..Then all the sudden, it breaks into a very old style sounding broadway musical with over dramatic articulation...then after that deal it is back in its original setting..it is an A B A with a very independent B section...tonally stable, and very much different from the original A..

"I'll Tell the Man in the Street"

"I'll Tell The Man in the Street" performed by Kristen Chenoweth on her CD "Let Yourself Go"

This song is by Rodgers and Hart, and I adore it. I wish I could find the sheet music for it, because I'd love to be able to sing it. I also just love Kristen Chenoweth. One of the reasons I love her is because she was classically trained to be an opera singer, but has instead pursued a career in musical theatre very successfully. So, basically, I want to be her. HA. One of the reasons I love this song is because it is one of the few times you get to hear her use her classical voice. She usually sings in a very bright, nasal, character voice way. SO here goes...
The song starts out with flutes playing a sequence, and then the strings join in. It's beautiful. The vocal line comes in, and the accompaniment just basically serves to support it. Leading into the refrain, everything grows. The orchestra is very dreamy sounding, and plays with a beautiful legato sound. The orchestration doesn't stand out at the refrain, but the vocal part does. It's stunning... it just soars in this beautiful soprano floaty way. Later in the refrain, there is a huge build, and the violins are stunning. They play at a really high register, and it's a nice effect.
The verse from the very beginning returns, but with a very full orchestra under it. The song ends with Kristen Chenoweth sustaining a glorious note, and the orchestra playing the melody underneath her. fabulous.
"I'll tell the man in the street, and everyone I meet that you and I are sweethearts."

Ray Boltz- Thank You

This musical has a sort of synthesized bell sound in the background that repeats in quarter notes with a simple chordal structure through a good portion of the piece and is then taken over by the piano parts. This background gives the piece a never ending upbeat angelic quality for the entirety of the piece. The accompaniment and vocal melody are very simple and repetitive. The piano or bells play one chord and then Ray Boltz sings a few notes off that chord before changing. The simplicity of the song is enough to be beautiful but also to draw attention to the important words about how the greatest gift we can give to other people on earth is to share the love of Jesus Christ. The music is soft and pensive as the words are reflective and then loud and exclamatory in the chorus part, saying “thank you for giving to the Lord.”

Sunday, May 01, 2005


ok, so i have to play for my grandfather's funeral this week...not excited...not a good weekend...so blah. I'm lucky that I'm even doing this. Well, I played Be Still my Soul today, and Caitlin played the New World in her proficiency yesterday, and I think it reflects my mood. Its such a beautiful and lush piece. And yet the melody is so simple. It's interesting, some composers write music that is so complex and flashy with huge chords and such so that they are remembered and are beautiful pieces, while the New World melody is so simple, and yet it is beautiful and loved by many. I think this is a parody in life...you don't have to be flashy and constantly complex for people to love and remember you...you can be simple and beautiful and people will love you and remember you. ok, goodnigt

Jason Mraz- You and I both

This song has no introduction which I think is good for my somewhat impatient mood this evening. This song doesn't even have any instrumental bridges or HUGE guitar solos that are so common with this silly singer/songwriter/guitar playing boys these days.
My good friend Jason is talking about a past relationship. He looks back on it happily because "you and I both loved, what you and I spoke of and others just read of. And if you could see me now, you would know that I'm almost finally out of words." The song is in major until he switches to minor for a short bridge to say that it's ok that she never calls and even though he's sad that she ended it...(changes to major)...He's glad that they loved at all. Such a sweet song.
Well, John Mayer was next on my Boys and Guitars playlist that I seem to have on permanent play, so I'm going to go enjoy him. :-)

Mozart Flute and Harp Concerto in C - Andantino

After an introduction by the orchestra, the flute solo enters with the harpist soon to follow. The notes at the beginning of the melody/main motive are very separated, but this leads to very legato, slurred passages for most of the rest of the melody. After the flute has entered, the orchestra just about disappears and the harp takes over its role. The orchestra comes back throughout the piece mostly as accompaniment when the flute and harp aren't playing. The flute and harp work together in the performing of the melody. They share/switch the roles of soloist and accompanist. Overall, the movement sounds really repetitious to me - it sounds primarily like the main motive being repeated a lot. About 2/3 of the way through the piece, there it sounds like it's coming to a close, but it's just the end of a section within the movement, but is terminative nonetheless. Then the only harp alone section comes in. Following this, the tempo starts to increase and the flute reenters. A lot more motion is given to this repeat of the melody by the constant arpeggiations on the harp, which pushes the feeling of the tempo forward. This calms down gradually, and the piece ends up dropping in tempo and dynamic at the end.

poopiter from the planets...when i say poopiter i mean jupiter

i contemplated not blogging this evening, but then i thought about my poor, poor grade, and how it suffers so.
i enjoy the beginning of this movement because it is very cosmic--just like holst intended, i'm sure. it feels like we're in the movie star wars, and we're flying at the speed of light through the galaxy. it must be the fast moving strings. then the horns come in, victorious and vibrant, like the jedi knights after a tough battle.
so a similar jolly melody sticks around for awhile until a stately andante section arrives. it feels very motivational to me, like Hans Solo giving Luke Skywalker a nice little pep talk. the music takes on two bar subphrases that swell, and flow like it's liquid music or something.
when this section is through, a rather reflective section is played by some select winds and strings. i can't think of a decent star wars analogy, but it's kind of like that time Darth Vader says "Luke, I am your father" and it's really sentimental, you know? that's how it feels.
the faster melody returns, and we're back in the milennium falcon. it's fantastic...
more later.

Oboe Concerto- Ralph Vaughn Williams

I LOVE this oboe concerto... hopefully I'll get to perform it really soon, its a fun one to play. The main theme is a really beautiful pastoral kind of melody with the strings leading into the oboe's entrance with a big swell. I have to start off by saying that the first movement really reminds me of Christmas and winter.
The beginning has this cold, and wintry feel to it, but its still beautiful and as you hear the oboe play you can easily picture snow falling across a countryside or something. The B theme is this lighthearted, staccato melody which gives you kind of the jovial sense of snow flakes dancing but then modulates to the relative minor key which always kind of gives me the sense that the calm snow is turning into more of a blustery storm, it has a more intense feel with clusters of accented sixteenth notes giving a sense of urgency like its time to get home out of the snow.
The piece ends in this parallel minor key with the main melody which I really like, it gives a sense of unrest but I feel like the movement definately has closure.

"Screaming Infidelities" by Dashboard Confessional

I'm feeling nostalgic today, and this song brings back memories of my last summer as a camp counselor. This is the all acoustic version of the song, which skips the off-kilter drum beats and odd rhythm of the radio version, just sticking to a normal strum pattern. Not to say that this is sparse, because it's not, actually the guitar used is a twelve string, to give it a deep, rich sound and it is tuned a very specific tuning, which has Db in 3 octaves to give it a huge sound for only a single instrument. The pattern is played over and over throughout the song, giving the real interst to the vocal line. Unlike a lot of pop songs, the line on this song is constantly changing, adding different inflection to each verse, to mimic the changing tone of the song. Between the verse there is a small guitar riff that goes along with the chorus, and seems to just grow out of the guitar part, which seems spontaneous and organic all at the same time. We come back to the second verse, this time it's not as reserved and quiet, but the voice is higher, strained and pleading. This verse takes the same material and gives it an entirely new emotion, as the vocals seemingly rip through the music. We have another chorus with the little riff, then come crashing down with new material, the tagline of "Screaming Infidelities" comes in with the huge unison chord, where we hear the depth of the guitar as well as a primal scream from the vocals, accusing the unknown woman of everything done wrong to him. It's a pretty straightforward piece, as is a lot of emo music, without a lot of style but trying to pack on substance. It's a great angry song that for some reason doesn't sound so angry.

trio for piano, clarinet, and cello, allegroo, Brahms

I've been listening to this movement lately. Starting in A minor, The cello introduces the first theme, and then the clarinet and piano come in together. The clarinet and cello have these very sustained notes while the piano has a really bouncy triplet counterpart. This is a beautiful theme, with a very fluid and upward feeling. The cello also introduces the second subject (which is in the dominant key), and this theme is developed in the middle section of the movement. Many times the cello and clarinet are played in unison, and then suddenly break away from each other. The clarinet finishes the piece with this running 16th note section, ritards, and then ends on the fifth scale degree.

Frauenliebe und Leben I - Schumann

This piece begins with the feeling of being major. It quickly turns into a minor feeling by tonicising something minor. It has a repeating sequence of sol sol la sol, then going up by step for one other measure. This piece is very simple, therefore the tone is simple. The accompaniment is also simple, mostly staying with the rhythm and melody of the voice. It's a very horizontal piece. I'm also very impressed at how well Jessye Norman makes the melody as linear as possible.

Quintet for Winds, Op.45 Andante

Robert Muczynski
Stanford Woodwind Quintet

Begins with very legato, melodic line in bassoon and horn. The bassoon plays a held note while the horn line creates a flowing line. After the first phrase, the horn line is replaced with a clarinet, in the same register, with the same note in the bassoon. This first section mainly stays in the same register, or lower, so it sort of has a muddy feel to it, combined with the pedal melody in the bassoon. The darker feel also it created from the tonality, which is more stagnate, not a lot of V-I and a lot of HC. This is also because the base makes up a large part of the texture because of its dynamic. The base also has a very stagnate rhythm, a constant descending line in the bassoon part of do-te-le-sol, very dark sounding. The piece is very Aeolian sounding. None of the notes feel like they are being pulled in a particular direction, but the lines have their own unique beauty to them. The tonality itself is very evasive, but all the notes center around do in a natural minor scale. The clarinet line is a development line of the horn line. After the clarinet phrase, it is repeated, and at the same time, the flute enters, then the oboes, the horn, and the flute again. The instruments all have their own duet with the bassoon eventually, inbetween those all four instruments come together. Instead of using tonality as much, Mucyznski brings more and more voices together, or plays with the rhythm. The stem of this piece is definitely the Aeolian mode, because even at the end of phrases it maintains this loose whole step feel to it, put still maintains a pulse. It makes it sound very moody. I liked the piece. Because everything was so limited to this scale tonally, it ended up sounding all the more creative.

"Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden" Bach motet

This is in the form of a fugue, with SATB chorus, or four voices. The first ascending subject is repeated 9 times - "Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden." The second subject, "Und preiset in alle foelke," is repeated 13. Towards the end of this subject, we hear the tenor voice return to the original subject - there's two going on at once!! This recapitulation of the original subject is played 3 times. This abruptly stops, and there's a wonderful chorale at half the speed. It's like a nice time for the audience to catch their breath. More cadenzas are added, and the motet feels like it's speeding up again. The new subject, "In ewichkeit," is mostly a long note sung once in each voice - so it's performed only four times.

This ends, and we move into the complicated "Alleluja" section. The main subject in this section is performed 14 times, but only once by the soprano voice. Gradually all the voices come together for the terminative section. It ends on a full V-I, PAC cadence.

Gabriel's Message, "Once in Royal David's City"

This is another beautiful religious piece. I think this is my favorite genre of music. I love how round all the timbres and harmonies sound together. I can hear the tones filling a cathedral sanctuary. This piece begins with a solo soprano on a very long phrase that ends on a half cadence. Then she sings a parallel phrase that ends on a PAC. This is followed by very sustained and pure tones in an upper register. Then a choir comes in with tenor voices that become accompaniment to her. There is only harmony in two voices. Some of the choir voices almost sound like children. The harmony grows and gets richer and richer through density, range, and dynamics until eventually it swells with repetitive parallel periods that end in a large PAC that feels like a rising sunrise.