Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hearing Intervals

I'm (finally) reading David Huron's Sweet Anticipation: Music and the Psychology of Expectation. In fact, last night I was reading Chapter Seven out loud for Weasley, to help him calm down in his new crate. He apparently finds mental representations of pitch to be very soothing.

One section that struck me was David's debate about the perception of intervals. He thinks that he doesn't perceive the actual intervals, but rather hears the separate notes as scale degrees, which he can then use to identify the interval. I don't have the book with me right now, I'll add the relevant quote when I'm home later. But it is basically this: 1) hear two notes, 2) recognize that they sound like the beginning of "Here Comes the Bride," 3) therefore associating the second note as tonic 'Do' and the first note as 'Sol,' 4) identify the interval between Sol and Do as a Perfect Fourth. Many people would skip step 3 as a conscious part of their process, but it would still be a lower level association that helps them recognize the melody in the first place. Now, here is my issue. David says that following this process is identifying separate notes, and then figuring out the relationship (the interval), much like people with AP. But I don't see how one can identify the second note as Do without hearing the relationship between the two notes. I agree that consciously hearing a Perfect Fourth and hearing Sol - Do are different processes, but both still rely upon the relationship between the notes. This contrasts with the AP perception, which would be 1) hear two notes, 2) label the first note as B3, 3) label the second note as E4, 4) identify the interval between B3 and E4 as a Perfect Fourth. The two notes are given labels that do not depend upon the other note, whereas identifying one note as Do is to place both notes in a tonal context.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Where I've been

I missed a week of blogging, due to several things. The main event was my basement flooding with 3 feet of water, from water squirting through my earthquake-damaged foundation, and from the sewers backing up, both from getting horrendous amounts of rain on Wednesday through Saturday. So I spent the next few days cleaning the basement with the help of a good friend, and then arranged for a new water heater, new furnace, and the installation of a sump and sump pump so this won't happen again. The other distraction was my Father's Day gift today, a nine-week-old dachshund puppy that we have named Weasley. I realized that I have managed to avoid blogging about any of the family pets during the four years of my blog, so I will rectify now. Going in order of age, I present Weasley (9 weeks), Gracie (also about 9 weeks, lives with Mary), Archie (1 year), Milk (4 years), and Buster (14 years, lives with Mary). Not pictured, the gerbils Pumpkin and Ginger (six months, live with Mary).

Friday, June 06, 2008

FriPod: Singer

Today we celebrated Stan Irwin's life with the funeral and interment. He was a great man and a great singer. Besides a series of tracks that mention singers or singing, I'm including Stan's CDs.

1. "The Birds will still be singing" by Elvis Costello, performed by him with the Brodsky Quartet on The Juliet Letters.

2. "River sings a song to trees" from City Scape by Jennifer Higdon, performed by Atlanta Symphony Orchestra - Robert Spano.

3. "Choral: Wir singen dir in deinem Heer" from Christmas Oratorio by J.S. Bach, performed by Concentus Musicus Wien, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Wiener Sängerknaben & Hans Gillesberger.

4. "Do you hear the people sing?" from Les Miserables by Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil, Herbert Kretzmer, performed by Original Broadway cast.

5. "Sing Sing Sing (with a swing)" by Louis Prima, performed by Benny Goodman on Live At Carnegie Hall.

6. "Singing Princess" by Harry Gregson-Williams & John Powell on Shrek soundtrack.

7. "Singt dem Herren, alle Stimmen" from The Creation by Franz Joseph Haydn, performed by John Eliot Gardiner; English Baroque Soloists, Monteverdi Choir.

8. "Spem In Alium (Sing and Glorify)" from Black Angels by George Crumb, performed by the Kronos Quartet.

9. "1. Moving and in a singing style" from Variation Movements by Robert Henderson, performed by Terry Everson and Susan Nowicki.

10. "Marche des pelerins chantant la prière du soir" from Harold in Italy by Hector Berlioz, performed by Colin Davis.

11. Improvisations sur les chants paysans hongrois, op. 20 by Béla Bartók, performed by Claude Helffer.

12. "Lento assai, cantante e tranquillo" from String Quartet op. 135 by Ludwig van Beethoven, performed by the Alban Berg Quartet.

13. "Saliam cantand' al cielo" from Orfeo by Claudio Monteverdi.

14. "Cantando, quasi rubato" from Trumpet Concerto No. 2 by Jukka Linkola, performed by Jouko Harjanne.

15. Irwin Sings Gershwin.

16. Requiem Op. 48, by Gabriel Fauré, performed by Stanley Irwin, William Ferguson-Wagstaffe, Indianapolis Christ Church Cathedral Chorus of Men and Boys.

17. Messiah by George Frideric Handel, performed by Stanley Irwin, Steven Richards, Daniel Segner, Tyler Webb, Christopher Freeze, Andrew Breuminger, Indianapolis Christ Church Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Call for Blogs

I will be compiling my Semi-annual Naming Of Blogs Mostly Used to Scribble About Classical music (SNOB MUSAC)*, with publication in one week. I'm planning to work out some new statistics from the rankings, in efforts to keep up with the recent competition in classical music blog ranking. I will be using previous lists, my blogroll on the left, and Chris Foley's list of 220 on PageFlakes. If you know of a blog not on any of those lists, or have a particular URL you want me to use in compiling the stats, indicate so in the comments to this post. While I will be checking all the blogs I have listed to see if they have updated in the last six months, I'd also appreciate any notes about blogs that have closed shop.

*Okay, it is really called the Top 50+ Classical Music Blogs, but that doesn't have nearly as amusing an anagram.

What're you reading?

Terminal Degree has a new (to me) meme up, based on the top 100 books marked unread by LibraryThings users. The job is to bold those books I have read, underline the titles I read for school (I'll try to remember), and italicize those I started but didn't finish.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights (saw the movie)
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi: A novel
The Name of the Rose (saw the movie, would like to read the book sometime)
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler's Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway (I saw The Hours, does that count?)
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran
Memoirs of a Geisha
Quicksilver (sadly, not yet)
Wicked: The life and times of the wicked witch of the West (I'd rather see the musical)
The Canterbury Tales (in Middle English, no less!)
The Historian : a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault's Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange (saw the movie)
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible (I really should, she is a DePauw alum)
Angels & Demons (I wasted enough time on Da Vinci Code, thank you)
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (saw the movie)
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Oliver Twist (saw countless movies and musicals)
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince (I read part of it for school)
The Sound and the Fury
Angela's Ashes: A memoir
The God of Small Things
A People's History of the United States : 1492-present
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being (saw the movie)
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake
Collapse: How societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics: A rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An inquiry into values
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit (no Lord of the Rings?)
In Cold Blood: A true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield

So, I've read 33 books, almost all for fun rather than for school. I'm very glad I was required to read James Joyce, and in a class setting so I could learn many of the cool things about that novel. Great Expectations felt like a soap opera, I didn't like it as much as other Dickens' books. Pride and Prejudice was okay, but I have no desire to read any other Austen books.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Hellos and Goodbyes

Yesterday I got to have lunch with Bryan Alexander, of NITLE. I had met him a year ago, and it was great to touch base again. He has my friend Carlos all excited about using online games to teach opera. This is basically using Second Life or Worlds of Warcraft to stage a performance, like in this Jonathan Coulton song.
Granted, it isn't perfect in any sense, but might help students to better understand the interaction of music and drama. We also spent time talking about blogging, Allen Ginsberg, and film music. It was a nice break after the bad news from the weekend.

The whole campus is mourning the loss of our friend and colleage, Stan Irwin. He died on Saturday after suffering a heart attack while driving to Indianapolis. Here is the impressive bio provided by DePauw's website:

Over the course of his long and distinguished musical career, Irwin performed at the Zürich Opera, Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Barbican Centre, and with major orchestras in the U.S. and Great Britain. As a 1987 winner of the World Wide Voice Competition in New York he was awarded contracts to perform Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at Lincoln Center and, in his 1988 British debut, the Brahms Requiem with the Philharmonia Orchestra of London. Irwin performed five times at Carnegie Hall, twice as a recitalist and three times as a conductor.

The New York Times called Irwin, "A performer who can project a wide range of subtle, shifting emotions." Hans Hotter, with whom Irwin studied in Munich, described him as possessing "a bass-baritone voice of high quality in timbre, which he is in good command of," noting a "fine artistic sensitiveness, together with a gift for interpretation ... especially evident in his singing of the German classical Lied."

Irwin joined the DePauw School of Music faculty in 1975. "As a professor, a mentor and a friend, he has impacted many lives at the University," notes DePauw President Robert G. Bottoms. "Our hearts go out to Stan's wife, Jane, and his family, and I express the feelings of a great many in the DePauw community who interacted with Stan over the years. He brought much respect to our School of Music, one of the oldest in the United States, and his warm presence and many contributions will be greatly missed."

Irwin performed more than two dozen roles in opera, most of the major works in oratorio, and an extensive song repertoire, including roles such as Boris and Germont, the Bach Passions, Elijah, the Verdi Requiem, Britten’s War Requiem, Berlioz’s dramatic symphony Romeo et Juliette, and Schubert‘s "Winterreise“ and "Müllerin" song cycles. He has also appeared in world premiere performances of John Eaton’s Peabody Award-winning opera Myshkin (Keller) for PBS and Italian television, Schibler’s The Late Expiation (Marquis) at the Zürich Opera, and David Ott’s song cycle "Renascence" (Millay) commissioned for Irwin and the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. He has also recorded for the Gothic and Four Winds labels and has been artist-producer of two compact discs of American popular classics, Irwin Sings Gershwin (1999) and Night & Day: Cole Porter Songs of Romance (2003).

As a conductor, Professor Irwin made numerous high profile appearances at world-renowned sites such as Carnegie Hall with the New England Symphonic Ensemble and Chorus, the White House and the Vatican. He also prepared choirs for performances under such eminent conductors as John Nelson and Sir David Willcocks and orchestras including the Philharmonia of London and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

Former voice students of Stanley Irwin, the longtime director of the DePauw University Choirs, have appeared with many orchestras and opera companies, including the Lyric Opera of Chicago, New York City Opera, Washington Opera, Opera Quebec, Minnesota Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Florida Grand Opera, and the Glimmerglass Opera.
Stan had a wonderful sense of humor, a very generous spirit, and a big heart to match his football-player physique. His voice was both powerful and rich, and he used it with incredible sensitivity. Now he can spend eternity teaching God how to really project with resonance and clarity. Good bye, Stan.