Apr 8, 2012

Jazz in New Orleans was amazing...

...but I was moved by gospel in Austin, TX.

Mar 7, 2012

Et lux perpetua


Drawing by Andrea Gomis


En los últimos meses he publicado tres artículos en VICE de música que quizá os interesen. Uno sobre el estado de la música clásica en Barcelona, otro sobre la primera orquesta robótica de gamelan y el tercero es una entrevista con un viejo rockabilly de Denver, Colorado. Aquí os dejo los links.



Dec 9, 2011

Philip Glass made me cry...again

The first time I saw Philip Glass play was when I was 15 and he came through town with Bang on a Can. I remember being bored out of my skull until he got on stage and played a couple movements from his Metamorphosis and felt a tear roll down my cheek. I had a similar sensation when reading a post in Alex Ross' blog on his participation in the occupy wall street movement using part of the libretto from the opera he scored Satyagraha. The opera itself is based on Gandhi and his form of nonviolent protest. Using the opportunity of its production at the Met, upon exiting the venue protesters gathered around Glass while he spoke out lines from the opera. Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson were there and I wasn't! But luckily, Alex Ross was and he captured this epic moment on video (see below)
What I find interesting though is the act of protest outside of the Metropolitan Opera House. As both Ross and Seth Colter Wall point out, the point of the protest was not directed at the opera attendees and I agree that it would be a misconception to associate the opera/classical music "elitism" with the "1%". I also agree with the fact that the general conception of opera as a hobby for the snobby is just plain ridiculous. I also think, however, that the general critiques spewed in that direction should inspire us to find ways to change the stereotype.

Oct 25, 2011

Dancing about architecture

The international music documentary festival In-edit, which will begin next week, is essentially a jacked-up cram-packed really awesome event that is about to initiate its sixth year. The program for this years festival includes every range of the musical spectrum from a documentary on the 20th century composer Steve Reich to a look into the drug-induced decay of Pentagram, the 70s heavy metal band. It's a festival that not only presents rare concert footage, but also analyzes music's relationship with culture and encourages us to think about where things are headed.

Also on the program for this season is a documentary on Jay Retard called Better than Something. Considering his recent death (yes, it is still very recent) I am disappointed at how little he is being talked about. The prolific musician who formed The Retards, The Lost Sounds, but most importantly wrote catchy epic rock songs that everybody likes. Anyway, what I’m getting at is that he should live on and be played until we scratch through our vinyl and burst out our speakers and get as sick of his songs as we must be getting of Michael Jackson’s or Amy Winehouse’s by now. Seriously.

If you're in Barcelona from Oct 27th to Nov 6th make sure to catch some of the movies!!
Check out the program here:
http://www.in-edit.beefeater.es/webapp/programacion;jsessionid=1wniet708jdma

Sep 18, 2011

When John Cage hung out with my family.

Aqui es donde estaba situado el piano durante las
actuaciones.
Este viernes tuve la oportunidad de ir a visitar la finca conocida como La Ricarda, casa de mi pariente Ricardo Gomis diseñada por Antonio Bonet Castellana (1949-63). Susana y Marita Gomis Bertrand (hijas de Ricardo) me enseñaron la casa y me hablaron de su infancia y los días que pasaron allí. Me quede muy impresionada por el edificio; es una obra de arte magnífica y preciosa. Pero, la Casa Gomis no solo fue un increíble ejemplo de arquitectura moderna, sino que también fue un auténtico centro de encuentro artístico e intelectual por donde pasaron John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Josep Maria Mestres Quadreny, Carles Santos, Joan Brossa, Joan Prats, Roberto Gerhard, Villelia, Antonio Tapies, Joan Miró y muchos otros. Como que no soy experta en el ámbito arquitectónico, para mi la visita fue más un descubrimiento familiar y musical. Pasearme por las mismas habitaciones en las que mis abuelos y bisabuelos presenciaron conciertos de algunos de mis héroes musicales fue muy impactante. Como visitar la casa de tu autor preferido o obtener la firma de una estrella de cine, la sala de música aún poseía la energía de esos tiempos ahora lejanos en los que los intelectuales de Barcelona y de otras partes del mundo se juntaban para crear arte y tocar música que en otras esferas y por la mayoría del público era despreciada o ignorada.
La Ricarda fue un punto de encuentro para los artistas del Club 49. Mi bisabuelo, el fotógrafo Joaquím Gomis, fue con Joan Prats, uno de los fundadores de este club artístico que organizó numerosas actividades en el ámbito de la poesía, el arte visual y la música. Entre estas, el ballet de John Cage y Merce Cunningham que al final se hizo en Sitges. Era la primera vez que tanto Cage como Cunningham venía a Europa, y al último momento el teatro que les tenía que acoger en Barcelona no lo hizo, muestra del nivel de respeto que conllevaba su música, es decir entre muy poco y ninguno.  Para ver un video de las innovadores y al principio generalmente mal recibidas actuaciones que presentaban Cage y Cunningham os pongo este enlace. El Club 49, con su perspectiva muy avanzada por su época se aseguró que la actuación se llevara a cabo y después Cage y Cunningham regresaron a la Ricarda donde pasaron unos días descansando y hablando con otros artistas.


En la propia casa, hicieron numerosos conciertos Carles Santos y Mestres Quadreny quien incluso presento una obra nominada "Divertimiento la ricarda", ambos invitados frecuentes en los encuentros que organizaba Ricardo Gomis.

Sep 5, 2011

Psychoacoustically Nonclassical

More and more my generation is starting to find alternative ways of making classical music fit in to contemporary society, a way of making the form of presentation more relatable to our interests and our lifestyle. In Nicholas Cook's Music, a Very Short Introduction he makes an interesting point when he says that "Rock stands for youth, freedom, being true to yourself; in a word, authenticity.  Classical music, by contrast, encodes maturity and, by extension, the demands of responsibility to family and to society" (p3).  Rock n' Roll and popular genres are a symbol of youth, independence and rebellion while Classical Music serves as a symbol of maturity and intellect.  Only through the fusion of these two symbols will classical music become more accessible to a rock n roll generation.
This idea has made me think back on the research I did for my thesis on Le Poisson Rouge, an alternative club venue in New York.  Taking classical music out of the traditional venues and using a space which usually caters to other audiences is a great idea and a necessary step in bridging the gap.  It is important to have these venues and to keep trying to push the boundaries of where and how classical music can be performed.  Aside from LPR, the group founded by Gabriel Prokofiev called Nonclassical is also doing similar work in London.  As they explain on their website:

A new music scene is currently emerging in London… Over the last few years ‘classical club-nights’ have started to become a rare but growing feature in the night-life of London. This has been fuelled by the next generation of classical performers, composers and promoters who are redefining the rules, and breaking out of the constraints of the traditional classical concert hall.

Sep 3, 2011

London and Lisztomania!

I have been in London for almost a week now and this city just seems to breathe with music!  After flipping through a book about British popular music in which I learned that the theme song in the film A Clockwork Orange is actually an electronic adaptation of the music Henry Purcell composed for Queen Mary's funeral in 1695, I have felt inspired to listen to some british music.  Mostly Billy Bragg, The Smiths, The Kinks, and David Bowie.


Aside from this British invasion in my music listening, I have also been paying homage to the bicentennial of Franz Liszt! The Lisztomania that is sweeping the classical world right now is producing some fun album covers and some great interpretations of the works of the musical genius that died 75 years ago.  Yesterday I bought the album Lang Lang recently released, Liszt My Piano Hero, which has a flashy cover and includes a video.  I've only listened to the album through once but it seems like a well-chosen and diverse repertoire executed magnificently. Although to be completely honest Lang Lang's playing does at times strike me as emotionally vacant, there is no arguing his technical virtuosity.
In the liner notes it makes reference to the 1975 film Lisztomania in which the lead singer of The Who, Roger Daltrey, plays the young Franz Liszt (the movie also includes an appearance of Ringo Starr). It's a funny film imbued with the psychedelic character of the era, and also a reminder of the superstar attention classical composers and musicians like Liszt received.

Aug 28, 2011

María Bayo y su voz angélica


Ayer, el Festival de Torroella de Montgri cerró con una actuación de la soprano navaressa María Bayo junto a Marco Brolli (flauta travessera) i la Academia 1750 con el director Stefano Demicheli. Tocaron obras de Ferrandini, Pla y Popora. El sonido del clavicordio es infernal, y la música barocca no me dice mucho, pero la voz de María Bayo es angélica y la oportunidad de ver la actuar en tan intimo escenario como la iglesia pequeñita de Torroella de Montgri donde su vibrato resonaba por las paredes y los arcos, fue inolvidable. Los monstruos que han pasado por el escenario del Festival de Torroella han sido la alegría de mi verano. Gracias Oriol Treviño, que por cierto fue recientemente nominado nuevo director de l'Auditori de Barcelona, por unos conciertos increíbles y gracias María por tu preciosa actuación.

Aug 10, 2011

Autorretrato.

Self Portrait. Portland, Oregon.

Aug 7, 2011

We read books and hear music.

I recently finished reading Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and noticed the interesting role music plays in the novel.  There are a number of musical references throughout the book but the ones that stands out the most are Schubert and Mahler.  Franz Schubert's "Trout" Quintet (1819) and Gustav Mahler's Octet characterize the mood and tone of Joseph Kavalier and Rosa Sack's relationship.  The pieces are the leitmotifs of their love and every time their relationship appears in the pages of the book I hear the romantic melodies of the two pieces in the back of my mind.  Schubert's quintet is a lively piece (written when he was only 22) which seems especially fitting for the relationship of the two characters.  The composition is full of complex harmonies, chromaticism and mediants but can also be seen as a series of variations on the same thematic material- a relevant sonic metaphor for the young couple's relationship.
Today I started reading the Haruki Murakami's latest novel, IQ84. While music often figures prominently in Murakami's work, the use of czech composer Leoš Janáček's, Sinfonietta as a background upon which the author lays out the initial scene particularly struck me.
   
The first lines of IQ84:
"The taxi’s radio was tuned to a classical FM broadcast. Janáček’s Sinfonietta—probably not the ideal music to hear in a taxi caught in traffic. The middle-aged driver didn’t seem to be listening very closely, either. With his mouth clamped shut, he stared straight ahead at the endless line of cars stretching out on the elevated expressway, like a veteran fisherman standing in the bow of his boat, reading the ominous confluence of two currents. Aomame settled into the broad back seat, closed her eyes, and listened to the music".

Aug 5, 2011

El Sistema: cambio social a través de la música

El programa que empezó Jose Antonio Abreu hace ya 35 años en Venezuela, conocido como "El Sistema" , es realmente asombroso.  Abreu, retirado economista, músico y hombre muy involucrado en el tema de la reforma social, fundo el sistema en 1975 con solo 11 niños en un garaje, e incluso entonces reconoció el potencial.  Ahora, el programa coge niños de los ghettos de Venezuela, pone instrumentos musicales en sus manos y les lleva esperanza y felicidad a través de la música.  Usando los espacios que tienen disponibles; cárceles o hostales, cualquier edificio que puedan usar, los convierten en uno de sus centros o "núcleos" para acomodar al creciente numero de participantes que quieren formar parte.  Ahora, con mas de 300,000 estudiantes tocando en unas 200 orquestas distribuidas en los varios núcleos que se han establecido en las ciudades y pueblos de Venezuela, El Sistema es uno de los casos mas espectaculares de cambio social a través de la música que haya sucedido.  El programa se basa en la educación musical para inspirar a niños que viven sin esperanza.  Lo que antes en la historia ha sido la música de la clase alta y educada, en Venezuela se esta transformando en la música del pueblo y de su gente.  En su pagina web, se definen como una obra social "para la la sistematización de la instrucción y la práctica colectiva de la música a través de la orquestra sinfónica y el coro como instrumentos de organización social y desarrollo comunitario."

Jul 31, 2011

Fora del Fossat!


Amb la producció de l'òpera del alemany Christoph Willibald von Glück (1714-1787) que es va estrena al XXV festival de Peralada ahir, el grup teatral català La Fura dels Baus i els 38 músics que formant el grup Britànic BandArt han presentat una innovadora interpretació de Orfeo i Euridice.

El trama de la opera de Glück es molt simple, amb només tres personatges principals i poca acció, però emulant l'esperit de Glück qui va amb aquesta obra inicia una reforma operística, la incorporació dels músics en l'espectacle significa una innovació monumental per el genere operístic.
La veritat es que la opera en si em va aborri una mica, i encara que la mezzosoprano Anita Rachvelishvili fent de orfeu convertís l'opera en una historia lesbiana que ha servit com punt de controvèrsia entre els crítics, el que em va causar més admiració va ser la incorporació dels músics en la obra. No només es que tocaven asseguts per l'escenari si no que se incorporaven a l'obra i ballaven i prenien vida de personatge pròpia envoltant a l'orfeo o amenaçant als dimonis.

El grup BandArt és un grup britànic conegut per toca sense director i de peu, el candidat perfecte per fer que els músics sortint del fossat i s’incorporin a la obra.  Inclús un dels directors de la Fura dels baus, Carlos Paradissa va dir: "Com Glück que amb aquest opera fa 250 anys va obrir les portes a una reforma del genere, sento que estic obrin una nova via fent que l'orquestra abandoni el fossat per integrar-se a l'escena". 

Jul 28, 2011

Bizet a la Barceloneta!



Encara que no sembli gran cosa en mig de tots els festivals d'estiu, la projecció de l'opera de Bizet, Carmen en una pantalla gegant a la platja de la Barceloneta a las 22.15 ahir, i la transmissió per el Canal 33, significa un altre pas important per portar l'opera a un public més ampli. És la primera vegada que el Liceu porta l'opera a la platja i emet la producció en gratuït, però en molts llocs la mateixa idea ja s'ha anat explorant. La producció de Lepage a Nueva York del "Ring Cycle" de Wagner que es va transmetre per cinemes per tot els estats units, i les projeccions de opera a la platja que fan a Miami amb la New World Symphony estan inspirant als que treballen en la indústria de la música per pensar en maneres diferents de fer arribar una música a un public que no acostuma ser-hi exposat. Estem vivint uns dies molt emocionants per la música clàssica. Uns dies en els que els medis per fer arribar la música al públic s'estan modificant. En una societat sobrestimulada per medis de comunicació i diverses tecnologies, la música clàssica s'esta adaptant al seu entorn per relacionar-se amb el públic.
 
Per mes informació:

Carmen a la platja
New World Symphony

Jul 19, 2011

Despues de mucho tiempo fuera.

Jul 18, 2011

Two Boys

About a month ago I was in London and went to see the English National Opera's world premiere of Nico Muhly's first opera, Two Boys. During the performance I was bubbling over with mixed sentiments, shifting from admiration to disappointment while my mind rambled with associations to various musical genres and terms.  I didn't have a chance to write about the opera during my visit but now that a month has passed I find myself still thinking about the opera and also about the various new costumes classical music is trying on in an attempt to find it's place in an overstimulated and media-soaked society.

As most of the critics pointed out, Craig Lucas's libretto was tedious, seemingly dated and generally unpalatable. Musically, Nico Muhly's approach at times made me shiver with awe and at others accompanied the plot in it's trite and repetitive character. The aleatoric layered choral textures that represent the cyber-chat when first heard were breathtaking, probably my favorite part of the whole production, but it was overused to the point of seeming trite. The minimalist influence so clearly featured in the music offered a soothing backdrop for the production which, along with the use of lighting and visual effects, was the only thing that kept me from getting up and leaving halfway through the opera. What I found very interesting though aurally was that while I kept associating Muhly's music to compositions of John Adams, Philip Glass and even Michael Nyman, I also heard a connection with post-rock groups like Godspeed, Mogwai, Mono, Siguros, etc.

Jun 30, 2011

Sentimental Aside.

Tom and Trevor. 2/3 of the Goochi Boiz.

Feeling nostlagic today and wishing I was hanging out in San Francisco, California with the Goochi Boiz.  They're going on tour in the states, check it out! 

May 13, 2011

Bartok String Quartet Analysis


The first movement of Béla Bartók’s 4th String Quartet seems to loosely emulate the classic Sonata form. While traditionally, the Sonatas composed in the classical era adhered to more regimented harmonic and thematic “rules”; Bartók’s piece seems to be more of a 20th century loose interpretation of the form which serves to offer some sort of structure to a dissonant and not traditionally tonal piece.

The first thirteen bars of the movement could be looked at as the first theme of the exposition. The first two bar phrase seems to be answered by another two bar phrase which is then followed by a longer phrase; this sentence also introduces the rhythmic motif in the first violin part which is repeated in the following two measures. The extremely chromatic melodic motion along with the intensely contrapuntal beginning, help introduce the dark and eerie mood of the piece. This is further emphasized by the canon-like entrances of the set (013) at measure 5 each transposed a minor second above the last which is followed by a sforzando on notes that are each a major second apart at measure 7. At measure 11 one of the most important rhythmic motive of the piece (three eighth notes followed by two sixteenth notes and another eighth) is introduced, which returns later at mm. 26, 55, and many other times throughout the piece. The set class for that melodic motive is (0123); a chromatic figure that also reappears many times. While it is hard to say that this principal theme is in any specific key due to this chromaticism and clustered texture, it does seem that C serves as a tonal focus around which the opening material revolves.

May 2, 2011

Con los pies en el suelo y la cabeza en las nubes


One time I fell in love and it sounded like Mendelssohn.  It sounded like the Kinks and like Johnny Cash.  It sounded like Dolly Parton in the summertime and Steve Reich’s Music for 18 played at double tempo.  It sounded crazy out of control and completely mundane. Oxymoronic in it’s entirety.  It sounded like Clara Rockmore’s Lost Theremin meets hardcore and zydeco while themes from Strauss's Salome kept trying to creep in.  Sam Cooke waking up and The Cramps to go to sleep.  Stylistic fusion so entangled nothing made sense and there were no genres and everything disappeared.  Jacques Dutronc singing Wagner.  It sounded like everything and nothing.

Apr 28, 2011

Minimal Mysticism: analyzing Arvo Pärt’s “Fratres”


Arvo Pärt’s “Fratres” is a beautiful piece that emulates many aspects of the minimalist musical idiom while also emphasizing Pärt’s mystical beliefs. Pärt (1835-) is an Estonian composer whose work has become an important facet of the 20th century musical landscape. While he traversed through many different genres when he started composing, writing in a neo-classical style at first and experimenting with twelve-tone music before turning to minimalism, the minimalist style he developed which he came to call “tintinnabuli” is what he is most known for. Inspired by his mystical experiences with chant music, Pärt developed the genre and referred to it as “tintinnabuli”, from the Latin word tintinnabulum, which means bell. Based on a conceptual process similar to the minimalist approach, Pärt’s tintinnabular music is characterized by an arpeggiated voice that outlines the tonic triad and a second voice, which moves diatonically in a stepwise motion. The minimalist tendency to use limited harmonies and repeated rhythmic figures is also present in his work. As Pärt himself described,

“The complex and many-faceted only confuses me, and I must search for unity. What is it, this one thing, and how do I find my way to it? Traces of this perfect thing appear in many guises- and everything that is unimportant falls away. Tintinnabulation is like this… The three notes of a triad are like bells. An that is why I call it tintinnabulation.” (Pärt, Arvo, Pinkerton)

Mar 6, 2011

Stravinsky's dreams

It's said that Stravinsky composed the "Dance of the Adolescents" in Rite of Spring based on a dream he had of a young girl dancing herself to death while a group of elders stood around her and watched. This haunting notion is ever-present in the mood of the piece. There is something so dark and so beautiful about the dream and it is this same eerie intrigue that makes the music so irresistible. Yesterday I got the wonderful opportunity to page-turn for Susan DeWitt Smith while she played the two-piano arrangement of Rite of Spring at the Keller Auditorium in Portland, Oregon. Being so close to the dark and intense energy was an absolutely unforgettable experience.


short analysis of the dance of the adolescents:

The pounding polychords (an E major triad and an Eb seventh chord) in the second piano part which are played with an eigth note rhythm and displaced accents that destroy any feeling of meter, introduce the darkly tense mood of this piece and serve as the only tones that are heard for the first 8 bars. The use of this dissonant bitonality introduced immediately not only serves to set the mood of the piece but also becomes a form of structure in the piece which jarringly seems to almost interrupt many of the melodic motives that are introduced.

Dec 28, 2010

Sueños Silenciosos.

En mis sueños no creo que suene música.  No creo que haya tocado nunca un instrumento en un sueño.  Mis sueños suelen llenarse de acción o fragmentos de conversación que enmarcan un panorama de lo sucedido de una manera vaga y clandestina en la conciencia.  Para una persona que suele pensar en notas y frases musicales, creo que el sueño puede que sea el único lugar donde para mi exista silencio.

Dec 8, 2010

Scriabin's scribbling


Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915) was an innovative Russian composer and pianist. While in the later years of his life he developed an increasingly atonal musical language that preceded twelve-tone composition; his earlier compositions emulated more of a late-romantic idiom. In his later periods, Scriabin was driven by his spiritual mysticism. He developed synthetic chords like the Prometheus/mystic chord; he also claimed to have synesthesia and although he didn’t differentiate between major and minor tonalities, he developed a color wheel based on the circle of fifths, which assigned colors to different key areas. Heavily influenced by the polish composer Fredrick Chopin, Scriabin’s earlier work is very different from the complex harmonies and textures that later came to characterize his compositions. In these years he wrote in the Romantic musical idiom and also composed in forms frequently used by Chopin (preludes, nocturnes, etudes, mazurkas).

Scriabin’s Prelude Op. 9 for the left hand is a beautiful example of one of his earlier pieces. After injuring his hand at the age of 20, supposedly practicing Liszt’s Don Juan Fantasie, Scriabin wrote this Prelude and the Nocturne that follows it so he could play music with only his left hand. The piece begins with a two bar melodic motif that is then transposed directly down a half step in the consecutive phrase (m3-4). Because the piece is written to be played with a single hand, the melodic range is small, for the most part staying within an octave. For this same reason, the melody is mostly scalar with step-wise motion and very few leaps.

Dec 7, 2010

Teeth are the most existential of all bones


“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk,
 mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or
 say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles
exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop
and everybody goes "Awww!” - Jack Kerouac 



Today I was informed of a death.  The death of a gentle and mad soul.  “Angel Mark’ use to hang out in front of the coffee shop we frequented as misfit teens.  When we  would sit on the dirty pavement in tattered jeans smoking cigarettes and talking about books he would hand us newspaper to sit on.  He would tell us the angel’s spoke to him and told him things about us.  That they watched over us.  With that crazed look in his eye, his scruffy beard, and his clumsy shuffle he would stare at you for a few moments before one of his spiritual comments. “Teeth are the most existential of all bones”.

Dec 5, 2010

Que tinguem sort

Que tinguem sort,
que trobem tot el que ens 
va mancar ahir.

 It's hard to write sincere lyrics. Maybe it's just learning to train yourself to think in a specific way...in the way that people train themselves to dream lucidly...I'm not sure.

My grandmother spoke the lyrics of the song "Que tinguem sort" at my grandfathers funeral. The song starts with the words "If you say goodbye to me let it be on a clear and sunny day, let all the birds keep singing their harmonies". I guess I've been thinking about saying goodbye to people and the piece that you keep when you part ways with somebody and these words keep playing through my head. The emotionally profound tone and the lyrical simplicity are making me all sentimental and stuff.

Near, Far, Wherever You Are.


video


Titanic song interpretation.

Dec 4, 2010

What teleporting would sound like

"Hay épocas en que uno siente que se ha caído a pedazos y a la vez se ve a sí mismo en mitad de la carretera estudiando las piezas sueltas, preguntándose si será capaz de montarlas otra vez y qué especie de artefacto saldrá" -T.S. Eliot


Sometimes I feel like I am outside of my body looking at myself. It happens quite often when I feel completely despondent; watching my life pass before me without feeling like I'm actually participating. But then there are moments or phrases or songs or feelings that remind you of what is important and all of the sudden you're snapped back through the time warped abyss that so far removed you and placed back in the mess of it all. Maybe this curse of alternate realities doesn't plague everybody but every living thing can be affected by sound and everybody nostalgically ties certain memories to specific sounds.

Dec 3, 2010

AMADEUS for RockDoc Night

My friends have recently been holding a small gathering once in a while which they call "rockdoc night": a night in which we take turns picking a rock n' roll documentary to watch.  The inaugural night of rockdoc however had nothing to do with rock and roll.  The 1984 academy award-winning film Amadeus, which I hadn't seen since I was eight years old, is really well done! The way the music is incorporated in the movie fits perfectly and creates the dramatic tone that is maintained through out the film. The story line is captivating and although it is over 2 and a half hours long, the audience isn't allowed a moment to lose interest. Although the historical validity is somewhat questionable, the plot was entertaining and the music was great. While watching it I did start to wonder how it is that a type of movie like this impacts the general public. Most people don't know much about Mozart and this hollywood movie while historically inaccurate does expose the public to some knowledge about the composer. Is it better to have a slightly misinformed audience or a completely ignorant one? I'm not sure...

I guess it's hard to gauge the validity of most of the information we are exposed to in the first place. While it is constructive to approach sources critically, we are still susceptible to all sorts of intellectual typos and we are also impressionable creatures who retain information we are exposed to. That's why it is the responsibility of the people in charge of putting out the information to educate consciously. I'm not sure if the producers of Amadeus were aware of their moral obligation but it is still one of my favorite movies.

Dec 2, 2010

days of gray and nostalgia







Esta canción es que casi me hace llorar cada vez que la oigo. Me hace pensar en la distancia, la nostalgia que se acumula hasta formar un peso pequeño que siempre desequilibra.  Me hace pensar en todas esas personas que llevo conmigo aunque no lo sepan; personas que te cambian tan profundamente que después ya no eres lo mismo que eras antes de conocerlas.  A esas personas quiero dedicarles esta canción porque pienso en ellas cada vez que la oigo.  Para los traficantes de sueños y las caricias de morfeo, para las canciones al oido y las que se gritan demasiado fuerte, para el beso de despedida en el aeoropuerto y el abrazo que te espera al aterrizar.

The elephant that left an impression


Debussy’s piece “Jimbo’s Lullaby” opens with a left hand melody based on a d minor pentatonic scale whose oriental mood and slow tempo meant to be played “deux et un peu gauche” evoke the image of a playful elephant. At measure ten the mood begins to shift, and at mm.19-20 the piece moves away from the d minor tonal center and seems to focus more on the pitches F and G; these polychords seem to suggest at a feeling of bitonality which is reinforced by the secundal harmonies that move from V-I (F and G move to C and D). By highlighting F and G as tonal hubs, the listener feels aurally removed from the d minor key so that when the opening melodic motive is weaved in again at measure 28 accompanied by the secundal harmonies of F and G, it is harder to recognize and more dissonant; almost sinister. Through the use of the whole tone scale (beginning at measure 41) the tonal center is further obscured. This dissonance, created by unusual harmonies, the whole tone scale, and an obscured tonal center, saturates the overall mood of the piece; turning what would be simple French lullaby melodic motives into more interesting and eerie sounds.

opening bars
The 2/2 time signature, restrained tempo, and the dynamic marking which range from p to ppp give the piece a playfully relaxed feel further characterizing the elephant toy the piece was inspired by. The rhythmic and melodic motives that occur throughout the piece also create a sense of structure needed in a composition that lacks a clear tonal center and traditional harmonic cadence. One example is the rhythmic motive that occurs in the left hand in mm. 53-54 which is then repeated in the right hand in mm. 56-57. The opening melody also comes back a third time at measure 62 and in this reiteration it is clearly recognizable. Because of the clear return of the opening melodic motive toward the end and the more dissonant middle section, the piece almost feels like it has a ternary-type form and is then followed by a sort of coda which begins at measure 76 where Jimbo starts to slow down the slow pace of his clumsy step and the note values become longer and the melody seems to drift off ending on a final B flat.

Nov 29, 2010

A Radio With Guts


I like the idea of unstoppable music.  Music that no matter how much it is battered and thrown about it keeps playing with a subtle intensity.  I think being a musician or any type of artist it is easy to feel discouraged at times...a lot of the time.  There are so many mornings I wake up and ask myself what the hell I'm doing.  Sometimes I go through spells where I hate music.  Moments where I can't listen to anything but want to hear everything.  I think I started writing because I realized that half of what I say shouldn't be said out loud.  Loud; a. marked by intensity or volume of sound. b. obtrusive or offensive.  I think I started making music because I realized half of what I wanted to hear I couldn't find.  I think I'm still looking.  Because no matter how much I hate it at times and want to abandon it, it keeps following me, sitting in my passenger seat making trite comments about the sky; but it never leaves, a constant reminder that we're still alive, still making noise. Unstoppable.  And that's why I'm still here singing to you on a long distance phone call, why I stay up at night trying to figure out what three notes your refrigerator is humming.  Charles Bukowski knows what I'm talking about...

A Radio With Guts

it was on the 2nd floor on Coronado Street
I used to get drunk
and throw the radio through the window
while it was playing, and, of course,
it would break the glass in the window
and the radio would sit there on the roof
still playing
and I'd tell my woman,
"Ah, what a marvelous radio!"
the next morning I'd take the window
off the hinges
and carry it down the street
to the glass man
who would put in another pane.
I kept throwing that radio through the window
each time I got drunk
and it would sit there on the roof
still playing-
a magic radio
a radio with guts,
and each morning I'd take the window
back to the glass man.
I don't remember how it ended exactly
though I do remember
we finally moved out.
there was a woman downstairs who worked in
the garden in her bathing suit,
she really dug with that trowel
and she put her behind up in the air
and I used to sit in the window
and watch the sun shine all over that thing
while the music played.

Nov 24, 2010

Django: The Gypsy Legend

When Django Reinhardt was born in 1910, the life he entered was one in which stealing was a means of survival, but also one in which music was a means of celebration. Although the term “gypsy” has taken on romantic implications over the years, the Romany lifestyle was not, and is still not a romantic utopia. Django’s family lived in a caravan and traveled around Europe trying to make by as best they could.The gypsy culture was heavily centered on music; the violin, banjo, accordion, and other musical instruments were easy to transport and playing music in exchange for coins was also a source of financial income. From a very early age, Django was constantly surrounded by music he influence of his gypsy lifestyle, of the European culture, and of the American jazz scene are what made him one of the most important figures in jazz.

In a time in which jazz was not widely accepted, Django and Grappelly formed a wonderful duo that captivated the audience. Jazz was regarded as the devil’s music.Django produced a type of music that touched the hearts of jazz enthusiasts around the world. As Stéphane Grappelly said, “ ‘He did more for the guitar than any other man in jazz. His way of playing was unlike anyone else’s, and jazz is different because of him. There can be many other fine guitarists, but never can there be another Reinhardt. I am sure of that”

Nov 22, 2010

Górecki and innovation


After reading about the death of the polish composer Henryk Górecki I started thinking about musical innovation and what inspires someone to expand the way they think about music. Although in his later years his music was classified as minimalism and much of his work was extremely religious, the composer innovated music as one of the leading figures of the Polish avant-garde in the post-Stalin musical panorama. Many musicians, from Shostakovich to the punk bands that formed as a reaction to the conservative suburbs in which they lived, oppression seems to have cultivated some of the most astounding types of musical innovation.

I then stumbled upon this video of a man playing crystal glasses that also seemed very innovative and to stem from the discomfort of his situation. I think street performers present an interesting concept in the sense that they almost work against the system. As a music student, so many people constantly ask me what I'm going to do with my life and how I expect to make money, because making a living off of music is just unrealistic (or so they think). But the street performer like many people of gypsy culture (Django Reinhardt included) are forced to pick up an instrument to make some money. It's interesting how differently music can be approached. Anyway, this street performer playing classical tunes on these glasses is really talented so I hope he can at least support himself doing it. I guess I'd like to think talented musicians can always live off there art. "isn't it pretty to think so?" -Ernest Hemingway

Nov 17, 2010

Satie composes some slices of pear


Erik Satie
Three Pieces in the Form of a Pear (Trois morceaux en forme de poire)
-       1. Maniere de Commencement
-       2. Prolongation du Meme
-       3. Moreceaux 1: Lentement
-       4. Morceaux 2: En Leve
-       5. Morceaux 3: Brutal
-       6. En Plus. Calme
-       7. Redite. Dans le lent
Composed: 1903
Length: c. 13 minutes and 20 seconds
Orchestration: piano 4-hands

Erik Satie was a joker: an eccentric composer who saturated his work with humor, parody and critique. Whether playing motives from the Funeral March in Chopin’s sonata, leaving elaborate and at times ridiculous directions over measures in his scores or parodying Puccini’s operas, he found a way to use his wit and humor to poke fun at pedantry and musical restrictions in a beautiful and elegant way.

Nov 7, 2010

Uno de esos dias

"Todo pasa y todo queda
pero lo nuestro es pasar
pasar haciendo camino
camino sobre la mar"


Antes, hace dos o tres años era una persona llena de pasión.  La música y la literatura eran mis dos grandes amores, lo que llenaba de sustancia mi vida día a día.  Pero ahora…ahora me siento como si alguien hubiera tirado un cubo de agua encima de esa flama que tenía quemando dentro de mi ser.  Antes me pasaba el día leyendo, escribiendo, tocando…quería ser una artista, una intelectual.  Quería tener opiniones y poseer ideales por los cuales estaba dispuesta a luchar hasta la muerte.  Ahora, lo que escribo no me gusta y la música se ha convertido en un tipo de rutina mecánica y ya no se quien soy.  Por mis propias inseguridades no me atrevo a tocar. No me gusta la atención que conlleva.  Y en cuanto a lo que escribo, a veces no creo que eso sea lo mío…es decir, se como montar la formula pero la voz artística susurra desde un puesto triste y monótono.  No se que hacer.  Pueda que me este dando cuenta de que realmente, la creatividad tampoco es lo mío.  Es lo que quiero, más que otra cosa en el mundo quiero crear… pero hay días que me despierto y pienso que no es suficiente querer algo, que se tiene que llevar dentro y que realmente es hora de que me dedique a otra cosa.  Vaya mierda

Nov 4, 2010

A tribute to Carles Santos!

          
Last week for a course I am taking, we were assigned to create a piece of abstract/conceptual music.  My piece was based on the concept of frustration.  Practicing the piano and playing a page of endless trills earlier the other day,  I threw my hands on the keys in despair and that is where the idea came from.  I started thinking of unconventional ways to use the piano and I decided to write a piece without using my fingers.  I started thinking about frustration: a primitive emotion that makes us act out in abrupt almost slightly violent ways.  I used the two things that frustrate me the most: music and distance, as the conceptual basis for my piece.  I took my frustration with trills out on the rythm and used that rhythmic idea for the structure.

Oct 24, 2010

The Horror of Sound


In preparation for Halloween I have been watching a lot of cult horror films (Suspiria, Dead Alive, Evil Dead, etc.) and have been noticing that absent the sound track, the movies wouldn't be nearly as frightening. I remember being little and when a scary part of a movie was about to come on I would always cover my ears instead of my eyes. It's amazing how sound can provoke certain emotions. Is it a societal code that has trained us to know what "eerie" or "scary" is suppose to sound like? Why do we associate dissonant sound with unpleasant emotions and major chords with positive words like "happy"? When was it that human nature began to label it's soundtrack with qualities like that?

Since medieval times people have related the sound of the tritone to the devil, but are we conditioned to associate sounds with emotions? Is it something we are innately born with or a product of our society? I guess all I can say is that for everyone who is a wimp, like me, covering your ears when the movie gets too scary is a great way to feel a little more comfortable with watching horror films.

Oct 23, 2010

Operation Opera

Last month I went to see the Portland Opera's production of Pagliacci and Carmina Burana, and as I stood in line waiting to purchase student/senior rush tickets, I was sincerely shocked by the audience that had gathered to attend this performance. There were middle-aged regular opera-goers, some children running around in little dresses, and a a line of around 200 students and senior (over 65) opera enthusiasts that wrapped around the corner of the block! There is a seat for everyone at the opera; a good production can move people of all different ages because the power of the music transcends borders of age and touches on something deeper inside all of us; bringing us all together to laugh and cry and listen.

The innovative approach Robert Lepage is taking in directing Richard Wagner's 16 hour epic opera the "Ring" cycle, will probably succeed in bringing together an even more diverse audience than the one I shared my experience with a few days ago. Is opera a genre restricted to a select few with some type of musical knowledge, or is it a more universally accepting form of art based on themes that resonate within everybody? Either way, by making something flashy and different you can't help but grab people's attention Intentionally or not, Lepage has created something that will most likely expose people to opera and to Wagner's music who may have other wise remained eternally despondent. The 24-stage-length planks that move and shift to form rivers and mountains, and the video projections that make dancers hung on wires look like mermaids swimming in water, among other visually captivating techniques will spike the interest of more than just the opera enthusiast.

Oct 18, 2010

Just a little 12 tone matrix















 12-tone matrix for Weber’s “Wie bin ich froh, No.1 Op. 25”

 
  Io         I11         I8           I10         I9          I6           I3          I7           I2          I5           I4           I1
F#
F
D
E
Eb
C
A
C#
G#
B
Bb
G
 G
F#
Eb
F
E
C#
Bb
D
A
C
B
G#
Bb
A
F#
G#
G
E
C#
F
C
Eb
D
B
G#
G
E
F#
F
D
B
Eb
Bb
C#
C
A
A
G#
F
G
F#
Eb
C
F
B
E
Eb
Bb
C
B
G#
Bb
A
F#
Eb
G
D
F
E
C#
Eb
D
B
C#
C
A
F#
Bb
F
G#
G
E
B
Bb
G
A
G#
F
D
F#
C#
E
Eb
C
E
Eb
C
D
C#
Bb
G
B
F#
A
G#
F
C#
C
A
B
Bb
G
E
G#
Eb
F#
F
D
D
C#
Bb
C
B
G#
F
A
E
G
F#
Eb
F
E
C#
Eb
D
B
G#
C
G
Bb
A
F#




RI                       


In “Wie bin ich froh”, Webern uses 12-tone composition to add structure to his piece. The first tone row that appears in the piece is: F#,F,D,E,Eb,C,A,C#,G#,B,Bb,G; this prime form appears many times