Friday, February 24, 2006
Jamie doesn’t have the greatest voice, it’s very different. But the tunes are very memorable and the piano solos are great. Many of the songs he wrote with his brother. The songs aren’t very complex. For example “These Are the Days” is in the form AaBbAaBbAa, with the lower case being the same melody but different lyrics. So by the end of the song, the listener knows the melody quite well.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Anyway, so I've been listening to Mozart for the past two months...so I should think that that would be deserving of a good discussion of the music. Mozart lived and composed in the Classical Era of music, and his music reflects that style. Much of the music is very predictable, and it's full of long cadential passages (i.e. I-V-I-V-I-V-I-V-I-I-I-V-I). I like the opera as a whole, because the music is amazing...but somehow, i've rationalized that Mozart was high on PCP when he came up with the storyline, because it's quite strange, and has many holes in the resolutions. But that's a well and good, because it's still really popular.
So anyway...i really enjoy this music...and I love being in it...
Monday, February 20, 2006
Anyway, AJ informed me that he didn't see mine yesterday until I realize that I had saved it as a draft. Hooray for adrenaline rushes at 8:00AM...
Following up my last weeks blog of A Perfect Circle's Mer de Noms, I did their second album Thirteenth Step this week.
In many ways this album is a lot like their first one, but with a more modern and individual sound than their last one. There are still the same types of song, like the hauntingly-romantic almost song the Noose, which makes the metaphor of a halo slipping down over someones neck as a noose (cool, huh?) As well, the straight rock songs like The Outsider and Blue. My favorite song is the opening song, The Package, which has a soft side and a loud, aggressive side to it. As well, the drummer explores the vastness of rhythmic patterns which is really cool. Nothing better than doing triplets over duples. The song, The Nurse Who Loved Me, is also a rather melodramatic song and is more like an oration over background noise. I strongly suggest this album to anybody who enjoys these different varieties of pop music.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Anyway, I realized almost immediately that this was a bad choice for a theory listening assignment because, to be honest, the band only knows three chords… maybe four if we give them a lot of credit. Every single song on that CD, along with the other CDs (because I just had to make sure the pattern applied completely) uses the exact same chord progression. I – IV – V – I, throwing a first inversion ii in there every once and a while to avoid being redundant. The instrumentation, tempo, and a few other things change for every song which is why each song is different (kind of) to the listener, but the progression is very easily heard by anyone who knows what to listen for. I think I always knew that this was very simple music, but it kind of frustrates me that they can sell so many records on four chords. It reminded me about an analogy you made last semester to musicians being like magicians; you have to learn the tools of the trade if you want to be able to do it, even if it is slightly disenchanting. I know I’ll never listen to this CD the same way, but I’m sure I still will because sometimes you just need a break.
Oh well, here's this week's..."adventure" (shall we say) in music:
I don't know if anyone else has blogged about it before now, and if they have...tough! I listened to "Rent", the soundtrack to the movie that was released late 2005. I got the soundtrack to the movie on Christmas day from my mother, and I listen to it often since then. I also have the CD from the Original broadway cast in New York, but I think the movie version is better (just my opinion).
Rent, written by Jonathan Larson is the story of a group of friends struggling through life and love in New York City. Set in the early 90's, it deals directly with drugs, AIDS, and homosexuality and how they affect the lives of young people in a community. I'd never seen the stage version of the show, so the movie was the first time I'd seen the show, even though I HAD heard the music (and to be honest, i wasn't much of a fan).
So, funny story about my first time...I went to go see the movie w/ my mom, who is notorious for falling asleep during a movie. Rent is a very emotional movie, that gets quite sad and depressing at certain points. I must admit, there were times in the theatre where there were tears in my eyes, and then my mother would wake up...look at me, ask me what was happening...and ruin the whole moment. She tends to do that.
So anyway, back to the soundtrack. The music is very charactersitic of recent popular musicals. The music is powerful, insightful, and quite good. The singing is impeccable, starring such greats as Adam Pascal, Rosario Dawson, and Idina Menzel (winner of the 2005 Tony for Best Actress in a musical for her performance as Elphaba in Wicked). Most of the music is done in the traditional "belting" style...which is amazing to listen to, if they do it right. One can't help but sing along with the infectous melodies and embellishments.
My favorite songs on the album include the ever popular "Seasons of Love"; and the really emotional "Will I". I can't help but love this music!!
Um...so that's all for now...yeah, More to come!
He’s here, the Phantom of the Opera…
This promises to be a quick one guys. The overture at the beginning really sets the mood for this Andrew Lloyd Weber musical with a heavy rock beat and intense organ.
“Think of Me”, Christine’s opening song, alludes to her relationship with Raoul. It also reveals her musical prowess with an impressive cadenza at the end.
“Angel of Music” describes Christine’s other relationship, that with the Phantom. Christine sings a verse in triple meter, and then the Phantom enters the texture. The two parts go back and forth with string tremolo accompanying.
“The Phantom of Opera” returns to the heavy beat of the overture with alternating verses between Christine and the Phantom. I like how the strings copy the vocal part.
“The Music of the Night” is one of my favorite ballads. Calm, and serene, the Phantom is first accompanied by piano and then strings.
“Prima Donna”, in triple meter, has a minuet feel with swelling strings. The vocal part is somewhat exaggerated, being sung by the house diva.
“All I Ask of You” is the promise song between Christine and Raoul. I love the feel of this song, it must be something about the meter and rhythm.
The Entr’acte is completely instrumental! The different sections of the orchestra play key melodies and motives from the first half of the musical. I in particular enjoyed the English horn solo of the “Music of the Night” theme. This piece serves to recap the first half after the intermission, bringing the audience back into the story.
“Masquerade” is very jolly with a strong cymballed beat. Soft woodwinds accompany the vocals during the chorus.
“Wishing You Somehow Here Again” is Christine’s mourning song for her father. Chimes begin the accompaniment followed by arpeggiated strings. The melody is played through once by bells, creating a “music box” feel.
“The Point of No Return” is the Phantom’s final deal with Christine. She must choose either him or Raoul. A sweeping melody over staccato strings adds intensity to the situation.
“Down Once More…Track Down this Murderer” opens with an awesome scream followed by a brass recap of the main Phantom motive. Finality is added by the brass entrance. A chanting “track down this murderer” from the chorus enters repeatedly to make the emotion more pressing.
Yeah, that’s the end
Cant you see that its just rainingAint no need to go outside...But Baby, You hardly even noticeWhen I try to show you thisSong is meant to keep yaFrom doing what your supposed toLike waking up too earlyMaybe we can sleep inIll make you banana pancakesPretend like its the weekend nowAnd we could pretend it all the timeCant you see that its just rainingAint no need to go outsideBut just maybe, laka ukuleleMommy made a babyReally don't mind the practiceCause your my little ladyLady lady love meCause I love to lay here lazyWe could close the curtainsPretend like there's no world outsideAnd we could pretend it all the timeCant you see that its just rainingAint no need to go outsideAint no need aint no need Mmmm MMmmmCant you see cant you seeRain all dayAnd I don't mind.The telephone is singingRinging its too earlyDon't pick it upWe don't need to we got everythingWe need right hereAnd everything we need is enoughJust so easyWhen the whole world fits inside of your armsDon't really need to pay attention to the alarmWake up slow, yeah wake up slowYou hardly even noticeWhen I try to show you thisSong is meant to keep yaFrom doing what your supposed toLike waking up too earlyMaybe we can sleep inIll make you banana pancakesPretend like its the weekend nowAnd we could pretend it all the timeCan't you see that it's just rainingAint no need to go outsideAint no need, Aint no needRain all day and I really really really don't mindCan't you see cant you see,You gotta wake up slow
Ilistenedto Ella fitgerald's "Like Someone In Love." Coming from someone who is accustomed to Ella singing more upbeat songs, this cd was quite a change. In addition to displaying more of a somber tone, the cd is complete with a full orchestra, which accentuates Ella's voice. As soon as Ella starts singing, her voice captures your immediate attention. Her silky voice cuts through the orchestration beautifully. Her tone and vocal proclivity are just stunning.
As the CD continues it maintains a low key mood. Unfortunately, we do not get to hear Ella's amzing ability to scat sing. However, the entirety of the CD displays another side of Ella that I formerly was not introduced to. It is a soft, quiet, and beautiful side.
My favorite cut is "Close Your Eyes." It has a latin-like bossa groove and is someone faster than the other tracks. I am a biger fan of more upbeat jazz which is why this song captured my attention more than the other tracks. Her version of "Like someone in Love" is also another favorite of mine. This ballad is so beautiful and relaxing that it makes me close my eyes. Her voice is absolutely perfect.
Overall the CD is an amazing and beautiful piece of artwork, however, it is not some of Ella's best work in my opinion. I am not quite sure whether I would reccomend this CD to a peer. If it were for a studious reason I would reccomend it immediately; however for purely personal enjoyment, I probably would not. I am a bigger fan of Ella's more upbeat material in a smaller combo-like setting without the orchestra. I like her scatting the best. I would reccomend other Ella CD's but I am not too wild about this one. Granted, it would be extremely relaxing for studying, but I would not normally listen to this particular CD under many other circumstances.
The first work that the orchestra performed on this chilly February evening in Minneapolis was Aaron Jay Kernis’s Sarabanda en Memoriam. Kernis explains in his notes that the music, although here for orchestra, was originally written for string quartet. The original quartet was inspired by the dances of the Renaissance and Baroque, stating that “the second movement alternates two different slow Sarabandes (slow dance in triple time) with short bursts of frenetic, furious music.” This piece, however, was also deeply influenced by the events of September 11th. Due to this, Kernis does a beautiful job of creating a mournful and serene setting of strings. It is a beautiful piece in which the audience can hear the raw emotion being poured into this piece.
The second piece that they played was W.A. Mozart’s Concert No. 25 in C Major, K. 503. Alfred Brendel, known for his work with Beethoven, Haydn, and Mozart, is the piano soloist for this performance. This work is quite unique in its use of percussion and brass, for they are much more prominent in this setting of the piece than they are in his previous works (which I like being a brass player ☺ ) The slow movement sounds rather introspective and darker than many other second movements of his earlier works. The last movement turns around and starts to sound like his earlier works, ending in a lighter, more jubiliant ending.
The piece that the orchestra performed after intermission was Jean Sibelius’s Lemminkainen Legends. The piece is based on a collection of Finnish legends. I only got to listen to the opening 20-30 minutes of this piece (50 minutes in its entirety), but the beginning movement/story is lively, depicting the characters travels. The second story is as Sibelius says is depicting the “land of death” surrounded by waters. On those waters, a swan sits singing. The English horn, played beautifully during this performance by the orchestra, is the voice of the singing swan. This movement/story is hauntingly beautiful, juxtaposing the darkness of the land of the death and the waters with the beautiful sound of the English horn.
This performance by the Minnesota Orchestra offered a wide variety of music for any classical music concertgoer. They have done a great job catering to the maximum target audience and their performances have been amazing. They have been getting glowing reviews from critics and rightfully so; they played another wonderful performance.
18 year old Natasha Paremski was the featured pianist on Rachmaninoff's 2nd piano concerto Op. 18. At just 16 she made her debut at Carnegie Hall. Hearing her play was a huge inspiration for me. She played all three movements with extreme finess and emotion. The beginning of the concerto starts with about 10 big chords, starting with ppp and ending with a fff. Her crescendo through this was perfect, as each chord was bigger and fuller. Through half of the piece she wasn't even looking at the piano. She was so involved in the music and emotionally in the music, that her eyes were closed through half of it. One bad thing about this performance is that the accoustics of the Steinway weren't very clear and was very bottom heavy. All of the fast runs that Paremski played were amazing but weren't completely heard for much of the concert. The orchestra over powered some of the runs, which was unfortunate. It was really amazing to here the contrasting moods in all three movements that she played. There were some incredible moments in the second movement as she played VERY lyrical and the orchestra did an outstanding job of accompaning her. Through the entire piece she played very effortlessly. Many of her octave runs normally would cause people to be very tense, but it didn't seem to phase her at all. Overall it was the best piano performance that I have ever witnessed and after watching it I was VERY anxious to get back and practice.
Mr. Mister drew my attention in their catchy pop hooks, creative songwriting, and in the fact that all of the band members were well-circuited studio musicians. Also, their lead singer, Richard Page, was the bassist for the band, which naturally caught my eye and ears. Page's vocal talent is clearly unique and recognizable, though the band name may not. This is no exception on "Kyrie."
The song starts with a lilting chant over a synthesizer rhythm and piano chords. I was reminded of this song intro during one of our Music History classes. After the intro, it moves straight away to it's synthesizer-driven uptempo beat. Page's bass-playing keeps the under current during the verse, but then acts as the vital structural source, in both rhythm and harmonic progression, during the chorus. The Sting-like bass progression and the synthesizer rhythm really give Page even more power for his belting, lyric baritone voice during the chorus. The rest of the band harmonizes with him, as well as his own, overdubbed voice. This harmony gives great power to the promising lyrics. "Lord have mercy" is proclaimed while in search on a great life-journey.
Mr. Mister was a group of very talented musicians, and it is surprising that their career as band ended so short.
by Mr. Mister
The wind blows hard against this mountain side
Across the sea into my soul
It reaches into where I cannot hide
Setting my feet upon the road
My heart is old it holds my memories
My baby burns agem like flame
Somewhere between the soul and soft machine
Is where I find myself again
Down the road that I must travel
Through the darkness of the night
Where I'm going will you follow
On a highway in the light
When I was young I thought of growing old
Of what my life would mean to me
Would I have followed down my chosen road
Or only wished what I could be
Down the road that I must travel
Through the darkness of the night
Where I'm going will you follow
On a highway in the light
Down the road that I must travel
Through the darkness of the night
Where I'm going will you follow
On a highway in the light
I’m usually not much of a “20th century” fan, but this guy has some good stuff. I attended both his concert on Thursday night and the one this afternoon. I didn’t go to any of the Augusta Reed Thomas stuff last year (I know, slap on the wrist) but from what I heard, she wrote mostly instrumental atonal music. I find it hard to be inspired to write that kind of music. I’ve written some myself and I always find it easiest to write in minor keys, and definitely IN a solid key that progresses logically.
My favorite pieces by Heggie were definitely the vocal pieces. As he said himself, he prefers to set words to music rather than just compose an instrumental piece. While overall, I prefer instrumental pieces (in this style) to music with words, I could tell that with him, it was much more engaging to write a song to a poem. I felt more into the piece when I knew he had enjoyed writing it more.
Jake Heggie has a “very good concept of melodic line” (according to Corinne) and I definitely agree. I had this stereotype in my mind of contemporary music being so atonal. But there’s definitely a continuum. I’m learning that more and more. I have never been exposed to so much contemporary music before. First, the one that Sarah played last week at her recital (which I really liked). Dr. Phang assigned me a contemporary piece by Richard Rodney Bennett for my proficiency. These two concerts with Jake Heggie were both amazing. All in all, I think I’ve had a very big stereotype of “20th century music” broken down over the past year. That’s a good thing. I used to hate opera too. I guess being in music school gives many more perspectives on a lot different kinds of music.
I really hadn't heard of Aida or listened to it until about last year when my brother's high school decided to do it. Now even though I wasn't in the productions there anymore, old habits die hard. I got the CD and listened to it every once in a while. It wasn't until after I saw the production with my brother playing the male lead, Rademes, that I feel in love with the show and the music and now I listen to it constantly. It makes such a difference when you actually see how the songs you listen to on musical cd's are performed because then you know what's going on and what emotion is being felt.
Produced by Disney, this musical is a randition of the Verdi opera under the same name, just like how RENT is suppose to be a musical randition of La Boheme. It is the timeless love story of an Eqyptian captian, Rademes, who falls in love with a Nubian Princess, Aida yet he is already betrothed to the Egyptian Princess, Amneris. Already, you can tell that this love is doomed from the beginning.
The beginning of Act 1 has Amneris as the narrator with the song "Every Story is a Love Story". The it goes right into the first song of Rademes where he is introduced called, "Fortune Favors the Brave." In this song, you understand that Rademes has big dreams for himself and wishes to venture in search of them. Then we meet Aida who is captured and thrown into slavery by the egyptians with her song, "The Past is Another Land". This song is a wonderful expression of how she feels that nothing can be altered now and that she is longer a princess and is ashamed. Amneris has a song that definitly identifies her as a princess called "My Strongest Suit". This song also has a great dance number. As the Act goes on, the songs start to involve more characters as each one gets stuck in this web of love and betrayal. In the quintet "Not Me", each character can't believe how the others are acting and never imagined they would do so, for instance, Aida notices a change in Rademes and likes it as well as Amneris who isn't so sure she likes it, and Rademes not sure why he's doing what he's doing anymore. The duet that follows between Rademes and Aida is the song when they admit their love for one another and how much they want to be with each other. It's very touching actually. The one spiritual song in the show has to be one of my favorites as well as ending the first act. It's called "The Gods Love Nubia". This is the song all the Nubians sing in trying to find hope after their king is captured by the Egyptians. This song definitly can move you to tears. Actually, all the songs from here until the end will move you to tears because they are full of emotion and struggle. "A Step Too Far" is the love triangle song that opens the second Act. Each character sings seperately but soon start a canon that ends the song. Aida's next song, "Easy as Life" is definitly the song where she struggles with herself in leading her people or following her heart and being with Rademes. Very powerful peice. "Written in the Stars" is the song of farewell between Rademes and Aida as they decide that being together is not safe and they both have different paths they must follow. Ultimitely, in the end, Rademes and Aida's love is found out and they are sentenced to death. Very emotional. Yet in the end, they find each other in another lifetime.
Of course, this is a very abridged summery of the show, but it covers the most important songs. You can very much tell that the music in this show was written by Elton John because it has that feel. If you've ever listened to Elton John music, you would know what I mean. There's alot of piano ballads as well as great pop upbeats music. Yet Elton made sure it had an Egyptian sound to it as well since it is set in Egypt. So there are some songs where that is evident. Also, the lyric are right to the point yet very expressive which Tim Rice does very well.
This is a great show and if you've never listened to it or seen it, I highly recommend both!
Im listening to a compilation of his, basically cause I couldn't download the whole album. (im a musician that pirates music. im going to hell, I know. ) anyway, his music is very different than the bob marleys or the other reggae artists, its something unique that I cant quite put my finger on. His music incorporates sections of rock, rap, some chants, and carribean music to create what is known as Matisyahu.
looking at him, he has the beard and the yamaka, he looks like a normal jewish man, but his music is anything but that. He preaches about religion in his songs, but at the same time, there are mentionings of "getting high" and stuff like that.
im sorry that I can't come to a true conclusion about his music, form and analysis, or whatever, but he's very interesting and a good change of pace for me to listen to when Im sick of listening to classical music or even jazz for that matter. after a while, a lot of his music sounds the same, but maybe thats because I don't listen to a lot of reggae music. Anyway, GO LISTEN TO THIS GUY. he's up and coming and im sure he'll be getting more recognition in months to come.
After going to the concert on Thursday night, and unknowingly almost getting blown away by a tornado, I decided for sure that, even though some of it did have a little of that weird "newage-dness" ( i made that word up), I still really liked it. The text choices were really interesting and there was a nice contrast between funny and light hearted and deeper, more meaningful songs.
After hearing about coaching sessions from vocalists, I was a little envious. Maybe next year we can get a composer who writes mostly for winds or something, So far I think I've gotten a lot out of this years music of the 21st century week, and I look forward to the concert this afternoon and how it will be received.