Saturday, March 04, 2006

You be sayin', "no, no, no, no, no..."

There comes a time in every man's life when he must reach back in time to listen to something he hasn't heard in a long while. For me, my time came today.

I remember way back in middle school when Destiny's Child first hit the charts with their "Writings on the Wall" album. Back then, there were four members...unless you count Beyonce's role twice...seeing as how she did EVERYTHING. Today, there are three members, two of which were in the original group: Beyonce, Kelly and Michelle. I don't know how I amassed all four of their albums; but somehow they all ended up here at school with me.

I can't say that there is a song that was released from one their albums that I dislike; because their style is really mellow, and many of their songs emphasize beat and movement (which i really enjoy when i'm listening to music). I find it ironic that the subject of the bulk of their music is basically about Independent Women (which happens to be the title of one of their songs). So many songs have they put out that have to do with dead-beat men and the women that love them; making it on your own; not needing a cheating man; etc. (and then there are a couple like "Cater 2 U" in which the whole time they talk about doing EVERYTHING for a man, i.e. running bathwater, feeding him, taking off his shoes, etc.) Apparently standing up for a woman's independence is a great way to sell albums, especially if the music itself is good.

I also find it funny that there are so many guys that like listening to Destiny's Child (me included). I mean, I enjoy a little male-bashing myself sometimes... I guess I could sum up that statement with a quote from Chris Rock: "if the beat's alright; they will dance all night!"

Um, so yeah...period, amen!

it's almost masterclass time....

I don't know if you've heard but Matthias Ziegler is coming this month to do a flute masterclass. Since it's coming soon I figured I would go back and listen to his cd again. If you ever thought you knew what flute music was like, then listen to his cd "UKati" and you will learn how wrong you are.

Mr. Ziegler is famous for his new innovations in flute performance and in flutes themselves. He likes to play in nontraditional styles and has even invented his own flutes beyond the general bass and alto flutes. i suppose you could call his music flute tricks, but it sounds like nothing you will ever hear at an orchestra concert.

The first track, “Uakti” starts with the feeling of being in the forest listening to birds. Then he starts making wind effects. Ziegler uses all parts of the flute in his music, even smacking the keys to simulate the sound of running. He uses overtones and whistle tones to create wind noises. The sounds that he’s making with these flutes sometimes sound like machines, but they also sound like people and animals too. It’s scary sounding and would be the perfect soundtrack for a horror film in the jungle.

“Maschad”, the second track, reminded me of videogame music. In the middle of the piece he starts using his throat almost like he's using kriti syllables in indian music. ( I'm sure Dr. Johnson is so proud of me right now) It was amazing how clear he can make lower notes come out mixed in with all the fast moving higher, airier notes.
Parts of “Mimi” reminded me a little bit of a Messiaen piece. In “Quarters” I liked how at the very start I thought maybe it would be a more normal sounding piece, but it wasn’t. I played a piece that had some rolling in tricks in it and it’s hard to get it to be even and not over too fast. I liked how it jumped from pitches to swirling air sounds and there was no overlap, the change was clear. The amount of air control needed to switch from regular tone to all these half tones and higher register sounds is amazing.
When I was listening to Rattag and all the vocal parts that are in it and the parts where it sounds like he’s actually talking into the tubing, I thought about how, even though surprisingly I like this a lot better than I thought I would, I could never ever play anything like it, and I don’t think very many people could. I don’t think the dean would be too appreciative if I tried to do something like this for my proficiency.
When I saw that one of the pieces was called “Ballade” I expected it to be somewhat dance-like, instead it was mostly tricks and melody without a defined beat structure. The sound on “Ghashghai” was interesting because it reminded me both of Irish music and Indian music at the same time when it started.
The beginning of “Recercada Primera” sounded like some of the Gregorian Chants we listened to in music history. The flute sounds just like those low bass voices, and sometimes it actually sounds like there could be words.



I know that a lot of people don't normally sit down and listen to a flute cd, but I really think every should listen to "Uakti" because it really is like nothing else that you've ever heard and make sure that you go to Matthias Ziegler's concert on the 19th.

Monday, February 27, 2006

"Guess Things Happen That Way" by Johnny Cash

Now, I'll be one of the first ones to admit that I'm not a fan of country music, but there are a couple legendary artists that I respect. One of which is Johnny Cash. Cash is a special case, as he was a crossover artist into rock (rock-and-roll, to be specific) as well.

After spending the past weekend in Memphis, TN, I found myself surrounded by an environment built on blues, rockabilly, soul, and rock-and-roll. On a bus tour, I was able to see the famous Sun Records studio that once housed Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash. This event inspired me for this blog. My favorite song by Johnny Cash is definitely "Guess Things Happen That Way." This song doesn't resemble country music at all. It sounds like standard 50's rock. And, this song in particular really shows off Cash's low bass-baritone voice, especially when Cash doubles the low guitar melody during the backing vocal phrase.

The chord structure is very simple, as is typical of 50's rock music, but the arrangement and soulful themed lyrics make the song strong. This song features the formulated "boom-chick-a" rhythm typical of Cash's music, but is made original in the addition of a piano and chorded backing vocals. And, once the soulfulness of Cash's voice is layered on top of it, the song achieves great power meriting it's hit quality.

Though the song's sound may be dated, the theme of the lyrics is clearly not. The lyrics can relate to any man in a relationship or going through a break-up. When Cash sings some of these strong phrases in his mid-high register like, "God gave me that girl to lean on, then he put me on my own," and then he follows it with his haunting and resonant low register; it speaks such great power that can appeal to mass audiences. For one to admit that they will undoubtedly forget one they loved requires so much strength, especially when it's in song form. This personal strength makes Johnny Cash a legend.

Guess Things Happen That Way
by Johnny Cash

Well you ask me if I'll forget my baby.
I guess I will, someday.
I don't like it but I guess things happen that way.

You ask me if I'll get along.
I guess I will, someway.
I don't like it but I guess things happen that way.

God gave me that girl to lean on,
then he put me on my own.
Heaven help me be a man
and have the strength to stand alone.
I don't like it but I guess things happen that way.

You ask me if I'll miss her kisses.
I guess I will, everyday.
I don't like it but I guess things happen that way.

You ask me if I'll find another.
I don't know. I can't say.
I don't like it but I guess things happen that way.

God gave me that girl to lean on,
then he put me on my own.
Heaven help me be a man
and have the strength to stand alone.
I don't like it but I guess things happen that way.
The movie Rent came out recently, and I watched a couple of times this weekend. This got the music into my head, so then I listened to the original Broadway cast recording a couple of times. I just can't get tired of the music, no matter how much I listen to it. It is so powerful. It conveys so much joy, love, and sorrow that it is very difficult to condense it enough to talk about specifics. The music just draws you in and holds you from the beinning to the end of the show. I love the song "Will I?" because it is all the singers start at different times, so music and words just keep building and mixing together. My favorite three songs are "Seasons of Love," "One Song, Glory," and "Without You." Jonathan Larson certainly wrote some amazing stuff.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Mass amounts of Mass

So it's been a mozart mass listening day. Mass K49 was written in 1768 when Mozart was twelve and it sounds like it. Very crappy piece of mass. The strings just double voices, the voice lines are very unsingable, and the melody is harmoically boring. Then Mass K192, the "little credo mass." I think this is my favorite of the ones that i've listened to today. There are a lot of motives that reapear throughout. This mass is very catchy. I always come away from listening to it humming sections of it. The Mass K317 is the "coronation mass." This mass, going along with it's title, is very regal. It has the feel of a french overature with the dotted rhythms. It has very loud ornamentation and often the voices sing in unison. The last Mass I've been studying is the Mass K427. This is Mozarts last Mass other than the requiem, and he never completed it. In this mass Mozart models his music after Handel and Bach, the two composers that he was informally studying at the time.

YAY for mass!

mmm Vivaldi! For Blog 4 I’ve got the Four Seasons and three other Vivaldi violin concertos. I really like the four seasons concertos because they really do capture seasons in a natural sense. The Allegro from Spring feels like plants are growing, the snow is newly melted, and it has the smell of freshly fallen rain outside. The Largo adds depth to Spring with a somewhat strained feel, perhaps giving a feeling of night to the concerto. The Danza Pastorale: Allegro finishes the Spring season with an upbeat minuet. This reminds of something Nicole told Jessi once to help Jessi describe a piece she played: “It’s spring time in Germany, people are dancing outside wearing lederhosen; it’s the first of May.”

Moving on to Summer, the work begins piano with an Allegro non Molto, somewhat interesting and mysterious for such a “living” season. The piece definitely gives a different vibe from spring, such as a higher temperature outside. Also the solo violin gets more technical with faster passages. The Adagio-Presto-Adagio following augments the fantastical side of summer with a simple melody. This melody reminds me of laying outside during the summer, watching the clouds float by. The final Presto of Summer seems rather frantic with scalar patterns, sort of upping the ante for the soloist. The anxious side of this movement leads well into Autumn, giving a feeling of whirling leaves in a forest.

Autumn, my favorite concerto out of the Four Seasons, begins in a similar fashion to Spring with an Allegro; Ballo e Canto de Villanelli; stately in rhythm and simple in harmonic structure. I really like the arpeggiation work in this movement. The movement gives the feeling of September to me: going back to school and the smell of decaying leaves. An Adagio molto (Ubriachi dormienti) follows the opening Allegro. This movement feels rather desolate to me, the structure is mostly harmonic and does not focus on the melodic line so much. For the most part the entire orchestra moves together from chord to chord. The facet of Autumn that I would say this movement represents is harvest-time, everyone getting their last work in before the winter. An Allegro: La Caccia ends Autumn (this is my favorite movement of the entire group of concertos in case you were wondering). This movement is definitely a harvest celebration piece, with festivals and get-togethers with neighbors and family. Fiddling increases the dance-like feel of this movement.

Winter begins with an Allegro with piano staccato bowings, giving the feeling of a coming snow storm. The following violin descending scales represent an arrival point of the snow storm. The snow does settle down and develop however. This movement vaguely ties back to Summer with similar structure and rhythmic motives. There’s an awesome example of 4th species counterpoint in this movement. The Largo of Winter is perhaps one of the most famous movements of the Four Seasons with its pizzicato background to a serene violin solo. Lightly falling snow is somewhat the mental image of this movement, but also there is the indoors image- being curled up on the couch with a good book and a crackling fire. The final Allegro of Winter has a dance-like triple meter to compare to the other minuets of the four seasons. This dance has the least rustic feel, giving a sophisticated holiday ball image.

The other works for this blog include the Concertos for Violin in G major, A minor, and E-flat major. My favorite the three is the A minor, possibly for its more mournful feel. Sometime I think I’ll get the music for this concerto and transcribe it for oboe, it’s just that awesome. Something interesting in the A minor concerto is that the orchestra expands, adding oboes I think. Yeah, I had to go there. Well, that’s it for this week.

Carry On...

I listened to my Dad's new church CD that was just finished last week. My dad wrote most of the music and lyrics for it and has been working on it for the past year or so.
The CD is all Christian rock music with a variety of styles with in (uptempo, slower, etc.) and a variety of musicians as well. It is called "Carry On" and almost 15 musicians all together helped to produce this CD; all of which are regular performers of the church. My favorite song of the entire CD is obviously the one my dad spent the most time on, "Stay with me". It has a fairly free tempo, with keyboards, electric guitar, bass and drums. I dad wrote all of the instrumentation and the lyrics for his song. It has some great harmonies throughout the song with a really nice guitar solo towards the end.
All of the songs on this CD are originals. On one of the songs my dad put a really nice cello into the mix. I was VERY surprised and impressed with how close my dad's keyboard could imitate the sound of an actual cello. One of my other favorites on the CD is called "Lift me Up" and is sung by Greg Unthank. It is only two vocalists (Greg and my dad) and an accoustic guitar. It is a beautiful song with really great lyrics.
They end the CD with an a capella "Hallehluiah" song with 6 different voices. It is a really nice effect and also a really nice ending to the CD. A lot of work went into this CD and the result really shows it. I was very impressed with the originality and musicality of all of the different songs on this CD.

Copland in iTunes

I decided to write on pieces that I already had on my iTunes. I often forget how much music is right there in front of me. I listened to a recording of Copland works. The works on this CD were Fanfare for the Common Man, Rodeo (the four parts), Billy the Kid, and Appalachian Spring. Fanfare for the Common Man, which the University Band brass and percussion section will be playing on our spring concert and recording, utilizes harmonies quite typical of Copland. The beginning starts off with percussion and adds trumpets. As the piece goes on, he continues to layer the texture with other instruments, providing a bass for the brass. Noted for its, high legato brass passages, the recording that I have of the Minnesota Orchestra is played brilliantly. Rodeo is a fun, energetic piece written for the symphony. It is most noted for its Beef commercial theme song. Appalachian Spring utilizes many of the same open harmonies with open 4ths and 5ths that marks Copland’s music. The melody is often recognized as the “Simple Gifts” melody. Sometimes there is great music sitting right in front of you in your iTunes and every so often, it is good to explore just what is actually on your iTunes.

The Beatles Anthology

Austin Johnson
This week I listened to a Beatles Anthology with a compilation of various Beatles tunes. Being an avid Beatles fan, I enjoyed the time spent listening to this album quite thoroughly.
The CD starts out with "Birthday" and "Yer Blues" which are both variations on a simple 12 bar blues. Simple yes, but quite enjoyable (the analysis of the songs was easily computed in my head haha). Sometimes simplicity can be more enjoyable when you wish to relax. In addition, it feels comforting being able to pick out the chords of the songs without having to pay attention solely to the song.
"Revolution" is also another simple 12 bar blues. Looking back at it, it is somewhat amazing to think that some of these songs were given so much credit considering that they were simply variations on a simple 12 bar blues. I still love it though!
Overall, I am a big fan of ths album and of the Beatles. The songs are catchy and easy to sing along to. Though they may be simple at times, the songs have their own little aspects of genious. After all, they won over the hearts of millions of people around the world.

The Magic Flute

Now I know I'm probably the 20th person to write about Mozart's The Magic Flute, but since it has been dominanting my life for the past 2 months and I listened to it a lot from sitting in the audience on my off nights, I decided it would be my choice for this week's blog.

All the music in this opera seems to be melodic to me. The notes always seem to go up or down step wise which I guess is just the style of Mozart, but it works. Each song has a catchy tune, especially Papageno's aria with his panpipe. Although there isn't much chorus in the show, Mozart seemed to use them as a good and big closing to each Act. The orchestrations are great although the trio in the second act between Tamino, Pamina and Sarastro probably isn't my favorite.

A great thing about Mozart and his opera's is he uses great characterization in his music for the characters. Each character aria has a bit of the character in it which would identify that character to the music. I think he does this very well with The Magic Flute, especially Papageno. He is one of my favorite characters. He so silly and his songs fit him so well.

Anyway, I don't really have much else to say about The Magic Flute other than it's very fun to sing. At least for me! :)

The Beatles

diana krall....yeah, shes somehow related to lindsey adams...

diana krall- Great jazz singer and pianist. Im currently listening to one of her albums, "When I look in your eyes". Every song has its own character; Not one song sounds like any other. I've fallen in love with her amazing sense of time and her use of space. She has an amazing abilty to sing (and play) with virtuosity but at the same time, she keeps her solos very simple and to the point. She could play with just one hand and the listener could hear the changes....thats the sign of a great soloist. I love how she pulls and play with the time while shes singing or playing. I grew up listening to Chet Baker's arrangement of "the best thing for you" and she sings it so differently on this album, with such different time and rhythm, that the tune sounds all together new.

Another thing I love is her tone. She always plays with such clarity and tact that it feels like shes got the solos all planned out ahead of time. (I give her more respect than to think this is actually the case).

This album is unique because on a few tunes, she incorporates the use of a string and a trumpet section. She never overuses this, which separates her from a lot of other musicians (ahhhem cough cough.......kenny G....excuse me...) she has style. She switches back and forth between the big group and then to her smaller combo when mainly when the tune goes to the solo section.

I think much can be learned from her phrasing. She has a way to make every line sound great and planned out. She never breathes (or plays) out of place. This album is so relaxing because it doesn't sound like she has to work for the music, it just comes out of her naturally.

The album is great, I would have liked to heard more up tempo tunes, but I guess thats what you get when you get an album called "When I Look Into Your Eyes"



I guess she happens to be lindsey's extended cousin or cousin's sister in law or something like that...you'll have to ask her.


Nothing creative to end with,

AJ

Concertos

Well, I'm not as cool as people who go see Coldplay, or vocalists (obviously) or any of that. but I decided to stray from following Katie's lead this week. We'll see where it gets me and if I keep the whole "independence" thing up. anyway.

The Concerto Competition this year was really intense- especially for all the pianists. On one hand, I sincerely regret being the only performance (or soon-to-be) major that did not participate. On the other hand, accompanying Ann Marie (freshman piano major) was intense enough for me to be glad I decided to focus on proficiencies and not worry about the extra 10-15 minutes of music needed to be memorized and performance ready. All eight of the pianists were pretty much, amazing and I had difficulties even trying to predict any of the winners (admit it, we all tried to predict). I was slightly surprised that the piano faculty forwarded all eight of them to the finals. I watched the last four performances (5-8) and accompanied the fourth so I had a pretty good idea of what was going on. The repeat of Beethoven's No. 3 concerto was kind of weird. Keith and Nathan played it back to back and the juxtaposition of the two different ways it could be interpreted was pretty awesome. I was especially surprised to see that they both won. Other than the Beethoven, there was some Gershwin, Mendelssohn, Shostakovich, Schuman, and Haydn.

I really enjoyed listening to all the pianists perform and I'm getting pretty excited for Professor Cymerman's upcoming recital!!!!!

I'm following Jame's lead because he's cool like that...

Yes, we have been listening to/singing Mozart for the last 2 months. At least, we've been listening to The Magic Flute for that long. I've also been working on some Marriage of Figaro since about November. Mozart, I've learned is fun to sing, but not so fun to listen to always. He's classical so his melodies and harmonies are very simple. I keep getting Mozart stuck in my head. It's driving me crazy, even though I enjoy his music. As I'm sitting here listening to Monastatos's aria, I've realized that I could probably predict how the melody and harmonies are going. His operas are very basic. He uses mostly tonic, subdominant, and dominant chords. The only song I'm not sick of from The Magic Flute is the Queen of the Night's aria. Anyway I must go before I die from laughing listening to James and Steven Linville try to sing it. Until next week.
Catie

Thelonious and Coltrane: Live at Carnegie Hall

I got this CD for Christmas and hadn't heard it all the way through yet. The CD has the Thelonious Monk quartet with Coltrane, Ahmed Abdul-Malik on bass, and Shadow Wilson on drums. I had never heard them all play together and it started off with an awesome piano solo. Not that I ever doubted Coltranes playing ability, but it seems like every time I hear this dude play, he impresses me a little bit more than I remembered. This CD is filled with many different styles that include many solos and dueling solos between Thelonious and Coltrane, but also some bass solos if I remember correctly and some absolutely amazing drumming solos. I didn't hear as much of the bass as I am used to hearing, but it might be because the two lead instrumentalists are so crazy at what they do. Coltrane repeatedly used and turned the melody into general craziness playing so many notes but constantly reminding you of the original theme of the tune. The drums were used as syncopation and at some points during the CD, I was more impressed with Ahmed's playing than any others. It was simply amazing to know that all of this was recorded live and to make anything sound this good live deserves respect from anyone with a decent taste in music. Listen to it if you get a chance.

Ustad Zakir Hussian

Ustad Zakir Hussian is pretty much the living god of tabla in Indian music today. If you've ever heard him pay, it's obvious why. His album, Drums of India, is pretty much him showing how complex Indian drumming is. Having studied tabla over winter term, I now have a greater appreciation and understanding of what he is doing. Now I know how physically challenging his repetoire is to play, as well as how mind boggling the rhythmic motives are. Teental is the first song on the album, which basically means subdivisions of four concerning the "time signature" (Indian music has no time signature). Teental can be counted on the fingers using the crease at the joints on each of the four fingers while using your thumb to count. In a way Zakir resembles a jazz improvisor. He starts out basic, then eventually all hell breaks loose. The violin repeats a pattern throughout the entire song while Zakir improvises for much of it.
The next song, Mattataal, is similar in that there is a repeating violin melody that Zakir improvises over. The tempo is quicker, because of the different subdivision of beats than in Teentaal. Rather than even subdivisions (eighth notes, quarter notes, etc) the rhythms are triplet based. Again, Zakir uses his incredible talent and also incorporates some Sollokattu (verbal rhythms) Cool stuff, you should definately check it out.

Dha tereketataka thum tereketaka

I know I'm not a vocalist.....

But I did listen to a musical. While studying for Dr. Balensuela's class of death...also known as music for the mass, (yes I'm crazy but its a 390 AND a W), I decided that I wanted to listen to something that had a story in it and someone had mentioned The Sound of Music earlier in the day so I decided to listen to it.

Although everyone and their grandma knows the music from this musical, it's been a really long time since I listened to it. The copy I have is from the music library and does NOT have Julie Andrews on it, but the role of Maria is played by Mary Martin. It's a lot different than what I'm used to, but I like it. The captain is played by Theodore Bikel. My dad's favorite song in this musical is Edelweiss, so we got to hear that one a lot as kids. His accent on this song is so strong though that sometimes I see Arnold when I hear it.

I think everyone I know that is not a music major only knows the syllables because of "Do-Re-Mi" but it really is a clever teaching tool, music ed majors, pay attention to that.

A lot of Rogers and Hammerstein musicals have numerous numbers that become popular, but I think the Sound of Music probably has the most. John Coltrane even wrote a modal work off of "My Favorite Things". On a personal note, (also just because I don't know what to write), "My Favorite Things" is the reason why I really hate singing in front of people ( and hence loathe sightsinging days). My sister (who's 7 years older than me) would only take me to the park when I was a kid if I'd sing that song with her as we walked down the street. If I stopped because we were passing people we'd turn around and go home. She was evil. okay. the end.