Friday, July 31, 2009
1. "Rejoice Greatly" from Messiah by Handel, performed by Arleen Augér
2. "Cour D'amours: In Trutina" from Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, performed by James Levine; Chicago Symphony Orchestra; June Anderson.
3. "Trockne Blumen" from Die Schöne Müllerin by Schubert, performed by Ian Bostridge.
4. No. 8 from Neue Liebeslieder Walzer by Brahms, performed by DePauw Chamber Singers, Pamela Coburn, Caroline Smith, Keith Tonne, Kyle Ferrill, Claude Cymerman, Amanda Hopson, Gabriel Crouch.
5. Doom. A Sigh by Istvan Marta, performed by the Kronos Quartet.
6. "When I Was One-And-Twenty" 6 Songs From "A Shropshire Lad" by George Butterworth, performed by Bryn Terfel.
7. "One Short Day" from Wicked by Stephen Schwartz, performed by Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth.
8. "The Unnamable" from John the Revelator by Phil Kline, performed by Lionheart & ETHEL.
9. "Disappearing into..." by J. C. Batzner, performed by 'de ereprijs' (at least that's what it says on the mp3).
10. "Piangero" from Cleopatra by Handel, performed by Arleen Augér.
11. "Lights Were Shining" from The Little Match Girl Passion by David Lang, performed by Theatre of Voices & Paul Hillier.
That was fun, so here are this week's tracks (chosen randomly):
1. "Heros go riding across the prairie, yes with the Red Army go the heros." This version has both the English and the original Russian lyrics.
2. "Nagen am Herzen fühl ich eln Gift mir [Sharp poisoned arrow rankles at my heart's core]" I swear this was random!
3. "Cause I need you, I'll treat you right, Come with me baby, Be mine tonight" This should be easy.
4. "Mein Tröster ist nicht mehr bey mir, [My comfort is no longer in myself]" There is a question how authentic this is.
5. "Have another drink, my dark-eyed beauty, I've got one more night left, here in town, So have another drink of green elixir, And we'll have ourselves a little mixer" Ah, to have a dark-eyed beauty with witch to mix.
6. "Deep in December, it's nice to remember, Although you know the snow will follow." It was hard to find lyrics in this song that didn't have the title.
7. "There are times when I catch in the silence, The sigh of a faraway song" I understand, but you've got to move on.
8. "Fuiste Electra, Salomé, fuiste Antigona furiosa y Lady Macbeth [you are Electra, Salome, furious Antigone and Lady MacBeth]" Another song praising a dark eyed beauty, but now for her acting ability.
9. "A mother fills our gorge with milk, But we never lose our taste for blood." She is very angry, and perhaps insane.
10. "Unhappiness was when I was young, And we didnt give a damn" Are Irish families always unhappy?
It is interesting to read the comments in the online version of the story. This is actually the number one post on the newspaper's website right now, showing a high level of interest. However, some of the comments are by people who are attracted by the tabloid aspects rather than through caring about the ISO. And many of the comments show the same lack of awareness about the facts of most online venues. One commenter complained about the lack of new music, when the ISO actually does a good job of programming and commissioning new pieces.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Okay, my attempt at something smart. I actually found the arguments easier to follow, perhaps because of the repetition and slowing down both the rate of syllables and the rate of content. Plus the Auto-tuning made many of the voices far less annoying (Palin and Kristol, I'm looking at you). And four-part harmony makes everything better.
"There's something about ending on the five that I think, first of all it's gorgeous, but secondly, I always remembered that because it was unusual when I first encountered it on the Weavers album. The sense of non-resolution is significant for the content of the song, of somebody whose experiencing ambivalence or isn't sure about what's going to happen. And I thought 'I'm Not That Girl' is exactly that. It's a statement that trails off. You know that she's saying she isn't, but she hopes she is. It's an ambivalent song, obviously, in a lot of ways, and therefore I thought it was good if it ended ambivalently, (which is nice for art but not so nice when you're trying to get a hand from the audience)."Besides the ambiguous ending, the song has many descending minor sevenths that add to the emotional angst. I'll look up the theory of emotion and melodic intervals to see how this fits.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Classical Archives "offers more than 620,000 tracks, 7,800 composers, and 27,000 artists representing more than 110 record labels. "
voiceXchange is the new online journal from the Graduate Music Students of the University of Chicago. Volume 3, issue 1 ("Official Musics") has just come out with articles on music during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Detroit's Orchestra Hall, and reviews of four books.
2. Adventures of Wang: Our favorite "quirky alien" has plans for how to recharge her batteries as a graduate student in music.
3. A View from the Podium: Our favorite conductor who divides time between Britain and Eastern Oregon and is named Kenneth Woods writes about the best CD store in Madison, WI.
4. Matt Van Brink: Our favorite composer/pianist/accordionist shares two new songs - "The Old Switcheroo" and "Lost".
5. The Gathering Note: Our favorite lawyer/freelance arts journalist named Zach Carstensen gives the history of his 2-year-old blog.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Distance by fifths are only one half of the chord distance measurement. The other half is the number of common tones between the two chords being compared, with the idea that the fewer common tones, the more distant the chords. This isn't simply calculated by saying the two triads have one or two notes in common, but by looking at the number of common tones throughout the five levels of pitch space. Here is the tonic chord from last week:
Now here is the Dominant chord, Bb major, with all the distinctive pitch classes bolded. Note that levels D and E are the same, but level C now shows the Bb triad, with the root and fifth of that chord at level B, and just the root at level A.
|Level a:||Bb |
|Level c:||F||Bb||D |
So the total distance between the tonic Eb chord and the dominant Bb chord is 1 (step along the circle of fifths) + 4 (distinctive pitches) = 5. This will be the same distance for all tonic-dominant pairings. The summary of distances from the tonic to each of the other diatonic chords is:
I - ii: 8
I - III: 7
I - IV: 5
I - V: 5
I - vi: 7
I - viio: 8
These distances remain the same regardless of which chord comes first (it is a symmetric function). Distances between other chord pairs can also be calculated, but thankfully the relationships are transpositionally invariant. This means that if I - ii has a distance of 8, ii - iii will also have a distance of 8, as will every pair of sequential chords in the major tonality. So Fred can generalize that moving root motion by a diatonic step is a perceptual distance of 8, moving root motion by a diatonic third is a perceptual distance of 7, and moving root motion by a diatonic fourth is a perceptual distance of 5. Fred realizes this geometrically as a Chordal Space:
The horizontal axis is root motion by thirds, the vertical axis is root motion by fifth. Two dimensionally like this it keeps repeating over and over. It can be wrapped around to make a torus, a three-dimensional doughnut. One of Fred's main rules is to follow the shortest path when connecting two chords, and the length of this path demonstrates the perceptual distance in moving from the first chord to the second.
Thus far we have remained within a single key. Next week we will look at the regional level of TPS, to deal with secondary dominants and modulations.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Here are the top 25 Classical Blogs as of today (they recalculate the statistics every day), with the change from my last Technorati ranking in parentheses. I don't have the links to the blogs, out of deference to Invesp.com. Follow the link to their ranking and then click through to the blogs of interest.
1. The Rest is Noise: Alex Ross, music critic (no change in rank from my last ranking)
2. Sequenza21: Jerry Bowles, new music and composers (+2)
3. La Cieca, James Jorden, opera (+6)
4. Wolf Trap Opera (never been on my lists)
5. NewMusicBox (the e-magazine, I've never included this because it has non-blog elements)
6. Opera Chic (-4)
7. Ionarts: Charles T. Downey, musicologist and critic (no change)
8. On An Overgrown Path: Bob Shingleton, producer (+3)
9. Jessica Duchen's classical music blog, critic and author (+1)
10. slipped disc, Norman Lebrecht, music critic (didn't make the list last time)
11. Mind the Gap: Molly Sheridan, music critic (was too new for my previous rankings)
12. Jason Heath's Double Bass Blog: (+19)
13. Opera Today (another e-magazine, even harder to call this a blog than NewMusicBox)
14. Dial "M" for Musicology, Phil Ford and Jonathan Bellman, musicologists (-1)
15. aworks: "new" american classical music, Robert Gable, enthusiast (-2)
16. The Collaborative Piano Blog: Chris Foley (+10)
17. mostly opera...: (-2)
18. BIS New Releases (not really a blog, the listing of Naxos new releases)
19. Out of Focus (not a music blog)
20. Musical Perceptions: me (+1)
21. Adaptistration, Drew McManus, consultant to the
22. finding my singing voice: Catherine K. Brown, vocalist (new to me)
23. The Rambler: Tim Rutherford-Johnson, musicologist and critic (and British!) (-6)
24. Jason Weinberger's blog: conductor and clarinetist (new to me)
25. The Omniscient Mussel: Marcia Adair, music critic (didn't make my last list)
There are some heavy hitters from my previous rankings who Invesp.com clearly don't know about, like Kyle Gann (PostClassic), and Greg Sandow. Some of the other highly ranked blogs from my previous lists are found in subcategories, like the number of pages indexed by Google and the number of incoming links. I don't know how Invesp.com weights the stats that kept them out of the top 25, especially AC Douglas (Sounds & Fury), Steve Smith (Night after Night), and Lisa Hirsch (the Iron Tongue of Midnight).
Friday, July 24, 2009
2. "Sed eligo quod video, collum iugo prebeo: [But I choose what I see, and submit my neck to the yoke:]" So lovely, the closing flute duet is just gorgeous.
3. "Machen tote Liebe Nicht wieder blühn. [Don't cause dead love to bloom again.]" This is a very sad song, yet it avoids being too mawkish, perhaps because it keeps modulating to major keys at the cadences. The piano accompaniment is so simple, yet perfect. It sets off the lyricism of the vocal part, and actually emphasizes the harmonic movement with its sparsity.
6. "The heart out of the bosom/Was never given in vain;'Tis paid with sighs a plenty/And sold for endless rue" Another depressing song, though not nearly as much as #5. 'Tis very British.
7. "There are buildings as tall as Quoxwood trees!" This song is intentionally cheesy, to set up the twist that happens.
8. "Can it be that one day, off it goes on, that one day I simply stayed in," I swear this sounds like Oompa Loompas. Cool and literate Oompa Loompas.
9. "Everywhere me disappearing into him, like water into the clay of a new jar." It doesn't sound like a love song, except as one full of longing, these are people who want to disappear but aren't at the moment.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Feast of Music: Peter Matthews describes the musical connections of recently departed Walter Cronkite, including the Grateful Dead.
The gentlemen at the Detritus Review ponder what a music critic is, with the help of Anne Midgette (complete with Part II).
ThoughtLights: Dan B. describes how to procrastinate at the National Archives while doing research on George Antheil.
Horndog blog.com: Bruce Hembd gives us 10 ways to provoke a Horn Geek.
Critical Noise: Terry O'Gara has a rather lengthy essay on Music, Linguistics, and Network Theory.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Within each level of space, a step is considered perceptually close. Chromatic space makes sense, each half-step is very close in frequency. Likewise at the diatonic level, our concept of scale steps fits well here. Less obvious is triadic space – a step up from Eb is G – and fifth space has one step between Eb and Bb. The distance between two pitch classes is calculated by the horizontal and vertical steps needed to traverse from one to another, by the shortest path possible. It takes five steps to the right from Eb to C in diatonic space, but only two steps to the left, so the shortest horizontal path is two steps. Vertical steps are measured to get to the lowest level of the most salient pitch. A is found only at Level e, G is found at Level c. So the horizontal distance between these two pitches is 2. A to Eb is four vertical steps. Fred combines the horizontal and vertical distances to measure the distance from each pitch to the tonic pitch. Fb goes to the left to Eb and then up the four vertical levels (1+4 = 5), E goes to the right to F, then up a level, then to the left to Eb, then up three levels to root space (1+1+1+3=6).
So the closest pitch to the root is Bb, the fifth. The furthest pitches from the root Eb are Bbb, the flat fifth scale degree; B, the sharp fifth scale degree; and Db, the flat seventh scale degree. This last pitch relationship is the odd one to me. I totally agree that chromatic alterations of all-important Sol is moving us far away from the tonic, but Te is much closer. Fred has a solution later by shifting from major diatonic space to minor diatonic space, but even as a simple chromatic alteration Te seems more like a 5 than a 7 (to pull a number out of my keister).
Thus far we have been dealing with pitches in melodic relationships. Next week we will move to chordal relationships.
Monday, July 20, 2009
I heard it as one tonic, with Rick creating some very extended harmonies and dissonant non-chord tones at points. Is this because I expect blues-influenced music to go beyond the triadic norm, or because my brain wants to find the simplest pattern to fit all the information? In other words, did I come to this conclusion top-down (schema driven) or bottom-up (sequential event expectancies)? Likely the two "strategies"* reinforced each other. I do know that if there were fewer common tones, or if the genre had led me to expect more melodic tonal closure, I would have heard two separate tonics, a la Milhaud.
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
But for now, I'm bothered by something I read today in Harold Fiske's Understanding Musical Understanding. On pages 25-26, Harold writes,
[Sculpture can be observed by any angle and for as long as the viewer desires.] Not so for music, where 'viewing' time for music is controlled exclusively by the performer. And once over, returing to the room in which the performance occurred would not afford continued experience with the same work. Once the piece is over, it is over. Even playing the piece again (a recording for example) does not represent a continued experience with the piece but rather a different experience, though it is the same music being listened to.
First of all, I don't believe the performer controls all aspects of the performance time. Besides the instructions of the composer, there are constraints placed on the performer(s) by cultural expectations, acoustic limitations of the venue, and general perceptual limitations. And the listener does have control of what performance aspects to which s/he pays attention. This attention is a main part of Fiske's thesis that musical time is very different from clock time, thus the listener does control his/her musical time experience.
But the second thing is more troubling, that rehearings are different experiences rather than a continued experience. It is troubling, because part of me agrees that rehearings (whether a physical rehearing or a mental replay) are indeed different experiences. The listener has different knowledge by the time of the replay, etc. But the two hearings share a commonality of the schemata of the performance. The order of the notes, the timings, the timbres are all the same, just as a sculpture keeps the same physical features. So I really want to say that the rehearing is a continuation of the experience of the piece, just as when I revisit the sculpture it continues my experiences with that artwork, even though I have different knowledge from the last time I experienced it. What say you? Is a rehearing a completely new experience, or is it a continuation of the same musical experience?