acroyear: (danse me)

  • Warmed up the system to various Pink Floyd


  • The closing credits suites from Pirates 3
  • "Obliviate" - the opening music from Harry Potter 7.1 (painful scene, that...)
  • Abduction of Barry - Close Encounters
  • The Conversation - Close Encounters
  • The Dress Waltz - Jerry Goldsmith's score for Legend
  • Gentle Giant - Ben Bartlett, from the score for Walking with Beasts (the giant being the 25 foot tall Indricothere)
pop 80s time
  • As the World Falls Down and Within You - David Bowie from Labyrinth
  • Invisible Sun - The Police
  • Synchronicity II (many miles away) - The Police
  • Enjoy the Silence - Depeche Mode (enjoy [ profile] dawntreader90 )
  • Loving the Alien - David Bowie
  • Sweet Dreams - Eurythmics

now some rock

  • Emminence Front - The Who
  • I Burn For You - Sting (Bring on the Night version)
  • A Recurring Dream within a Dream - Alan Parsons (a mash-up of Dream/Raven from the classic '76 album)
  • No Quarter - Led Zep (the Song Remains The Same version)
  • Space Dye Vest - Dream Theater (forgot how cool this was)
  • 3 i 2 - ProjeKct One

and we'll wind it down with the classic Steve Hackett halloween trilogy

  • The Steppes
  • Vampyre with a Healthy Appetite
  • Darktown

and 2 more just to keep things going while i pack up the lights

  • Home by the Sea - Genesis ('93 live version)
  • Sheltering Sky - King Crimson

so in spite of hunting the classical down, i didn't play any today. oh well...

acroyear: (danse me)
...started late as traffic was horrible getting out of Tysons.  Got in just in time for 6 kids...hope I didn't miss everybody else...

This year I'm going to shuffle up a bit more (having put together an ipod mix)
  • The Gathering - Herbal Movement
  • Stick Men - The Firebird Suite (yes, Stravinsky played on a Chapman Stick, a specially made Touch Guitar, and all the percussion Pat Mastelloto can muster)
  • Alan Parsons Project - A Cask of Amontillado
  • BOC - Veteran of the Psychic Wars (one of my all-time seasonal favs)

  • Peter Gabriel - I Don't Remember
  • Ozric Tentacles - Pyramidion
  • The Fixx - The Sign of Fire
  • Pain of Salvation - Ashes

  • Pink Floyd - Marooned
  • The Gathering - Nighttime Birds
  • The Beatles - Tomorrow Never Knows
  • Uriah Heap - Lady in Black

  • Metallica - Enter Sandman
  • Pink Floyd - One of these Days (Pompeii version)
  • The Cure - Lullaby
  • The One Eyed One Horned Flying Purple People Eater

  • King Crimson - Dangerous Curves
  • The Police - Synchronicity 2 (another of the regulars each year)
  • David Bowie - Time Will Crawl
  • Pink Floyd - Welcome to the Machine

after this, things had been quiet out there for some time, so I switched to classical/movies and brought it inside...

  • Pirates of the Caribbean 3 - Hoist the Colours Suite
  • Webern - 6 Pieces for Orchestra (Sir Simon Rattle)
  • Stravinsky - Rite of Spring part 2 (Michael Tilson Thomas)
  • The Dark Crystal - Finale

  • Ligeti - Lux Aterna (from 2001)
  • Varese - Deserts (2nd Interpolation)
  • Close Encounters - The Abduction of Barry (oddly, these last three are all in very similar styles so I almost couldn't tell when they changed!)
  • Mahler - Symphony 7 mvt 1 (MTT again)

  • Takemitsu - Funeral Music from Black Rain (Marin Alsop)
  • Prokofiev - Alexander Nevsky Cantata (Previn)
  • Star Trek IV - Crash and Whale Fugue

and with that, I think I'll call it a night...

oh, and it was wiggle's first trick-or-treat outting!

acroyear: (each must dance)
it is very interesting to compare the background music for various Yosemite Valley (or Grand Canyon or Yellowstone) documentaries over the years, the type they would show or sell at the visitors center. Each generation assumed it was creating a soundtrack to last, yet each sounds pretty well dated and is more a distraction than a support to the wonderful visuals each has.

The 70s attempted to use contemporary orchestral scoring to heighten the drama, but comes across as unnecessarily dark and tense.

The 80s countered by restoring friendliness to the parks through the synth-heavy newage vibe, which didn't last and now sounds as dated as disco (some artists like Kitaro are immortal but this particular stuff is quite dead). Think the same reason many people had the rock portion of Ladyhawk (I don't mind and quite like Ladyhawk, but I understand why many don't care for it).

The 90s countered that by going back to full orchestral scores in a neo-romantic vein (trying to restore what Grofe had mastered in his Grand Canyon Suite), but that tended to continue to over-dramatize the landscape, a landscape that doesn't need any help in producing drama. Still others latched onto the Clannad/Enya led "natural" synth sound, which like the 70s scoring, tended to make things too heavy for what one saw.

The 2000s followed (or led) Ken Burns in going to all acoustic instrumentation, mostly guitars and pianos, plus a lot of native american percussion and whistles and an occasional soft keyboard wash. Today that certainly sounds the most "natural" and feels the most comfortable, but I wonder if that too will sound dated to me in 10 years.

maybe I'll remember this post when we get there...
acroyear: (coyote1)
J Edgar Hoover warned Richard Nixon not to attend the premiere of Bernstein's Mass (at the Kennedy Center), implying that it wouldn't look good for the President to be seen hearing an anti-war statement in a Latin* text...

...specifically he was referring to the phrase Dona Nobis Pachem.

* (Latin being the "language" of the Catholics, who were still being seen as non-American and mostly Democratic Party voters at the time, my how things change...)
acroyear: (danse me)
started 6:15, ended by 7:45.  Not even 30 kids (and for a moment, with 2 "rushes" of 8-10 kids, I was worried we'd run out of stuff...).  Totally a classic rock evening this year...
  • soundchecked to Pink Floyd (Dogs, Welcome to the Machine, One of these Days, Careful with that Axe Eugene)
  • Alan Parsons (Tales of Mystery and Imagination)
  • Sting's I Burn For You
  • Police's Sync II
  • Zep's No Quarter (Live version - first time on the playlist in a few years...)
  • Beatles Tomorrow Never Knows/Within You Without You (from Love), then the new Love remix of Fool on the Hill...
  • Genesis's Home by the Sea (1 and 2, Live '93)
  • and wound down with a handful of Steve Hackett pieces (incl Darktown, A Tower Struck Down, and Clocks)
Lots of the usuals DIDN'T get played this year, it seems...
acroyear: (ponder this)
Bill Bruford:
Arnold Schoenberg allegedly offered the notion that all composition is just very slow improvisation, and I accept the corollary to be true, that improvisation is extremely fast composition. Things sound best to me when the composed sounds improvised and the improvised sounds composed. I was always most comfortable in the cracks between the two.
acroyear: (tea rutles)
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I'll assume that by "classic" one is explicitly ruling out the mash-ups on Love, right?

Doesn't help.  My fav at any moment is based on a mood.  If I'm childhood-nostalgic, it'll be something from Magical Mystery Tour.  If I'm contemplative it'll be In My Life or Eleanor Rigby.  If I'm in a mood to challenge my childhood Beatles memories, it'll be Tomorrow Never Knows or Glass Onion.  They've too much variety in those mere 9 years to limit things to just one...
acroyear: (bernstein teaches)
Abstract? - Sandow:
Often people say that classical music -- instrumental music -- is abstract, and therefore not easy to understand. Thus, as one commenter said a few days ago, it can't be compared to baseball and movies, which aren't abstract, and therefore are things that people can readily understand. To understand classical music, by contrast, takes education. And preparation.

But I don't think this is true.
And I generally agreed, posting the following:

I certainly wouldn't have talked about "abstraction" as being a differentiation between Music and Baseball. I merely commented that in Baseball, all the players are playing the same basic game. In classical music, orchestras don't necessarily play the same stuff, so comparisons between orchestras can be more apples-oranges than comparisons between sports teams. It doesn't matter what any particular piece is, it is the fact that if one orchestra plays Takemitsu and the other doesn't, than one can't necessarily rate them against each other when it comes to Takemitsu.

The abstraction comment is a bit off, and you're right on the Wagner-Brahms, but it goes a bit earlier than that to Berlioz as the one who most developed the early "Tone Poem". Beethoven hinted at it in the Pastoral, but insisted these notes in the score were mere suggestions and it isn't necessary to envision brooks and picnics and a storm and a sunset (or centaurs and bacchus and zeus in the Disney version) to hear the Symphony 6 as Beethoven intended. By contrast, Berlioz's work demands that the listener understand the plot he is presenting in the score. Bernstein once commented that there's really only one piece of Berlioz's in the rep that *doesn't* have some literary attachment to it.

In spite of Schumann, Brahms and Bruckner (the latter two did produce a Mass or two) and their history of non-program music, the 19th century was far more associated with literary arts than not. And not just in Opera, as many instrumental works of Berlioz and Mendelssohn through to Debussy, Sibelius, and Strauss can attest. Work after work that follows a plot (Night Ride and Sunrise, Alpine Symphony, Sorcerer's Apprentice, all the way to Schoenberg's Transfigured Night) or paints a vivid picture (Oceanides).

For all of his abstractions, for all of his aesthetic claims that "music can express nothing", even Stravinsky wrote far more music with a non-musical and plot-driven association (be it ballet, theater, or religious) than he did "abstract" pieces like Concerto for Piano or Symphony in Three Movements.

I often refer to a Mahler symphony as "film music for which I don't have the emotional baggage of having actually seen the damn film". If one can't glean a plot of some type out of the Tragic Symphony, one isn't trying (or one is explicitly trying not to, which is also an acceptable way to listen to Mahler).
acroyear: (allegro people)
Why my criteria matter - Sandow:
Why should it matter, to measure orchestra quality in such detail?

Because, to begin with, we for the most part discuss how well orchestras play only in the most general way. We have an idea, let's say, that Cleveland (or at least this used to be the belief) stands above most American orchestra. Or that Berlin might be the best orchestra in the world. But what exactly do we mean by that?

Or we think that San Francisco, under MTT, stands very high. But do we mean that their programming does, or their playing? How does their playing rank, compared to other American orchestras their size?

Compare this to what any baseball fan knows. You're a Mets fan? If you're serious about it, you know their strengths and weaknesses, position by position. Stellar shortstop, really good third baseman (though he's injured), promising young first baseman (also injured), left fielder who forgot how to hit.
Well, repertoire matters, and hand-in-hand with that is the expectations by the audience (as well as the musical director and the orchestra itself). A local orchestra may not be expected to take on Ligeti or Takemitsu, or may be expected based on the conductor to take on new (generally tonal) music more often (Seattle under Schwartz, or Baltimore under Alsop, both of whom are champions of new composers, and new American composers at that).

So, too, the San Francisco you cite - I really don't know MTT's tastes beyond what shows up on the PBS shows, which are mostly early and late Romantic, or tonal 20th Century (Copland). Even his late-period Stravinsky recording was with the LSO. For those that don't "live with the orchestra", its hard for us to know how large a range of material it is they play.

So in this, the baseball analogy does somewhat fall short. In baseball, everybody plays, well, baseball. Orchestras are judged by the quality of the "core" rep (the Beethoven cycle, the Brahms cycle, the Wagner operas, Stravinsky's Rite, Debussy's Faun), the diversity of works they play in a particular period, and the diversity of periods they can play, much of which is the decision of the board and the orchestra's leads when they select a music director.

This is different again from baseball where the owner (representing the board) selects the manager who drives the emphasis from there. In orchestras, the members have a say in who they pick, which in turn has an impact on what they play as well as how well they play it.

Thus, a comparison of De Moines vs NYPO is much more an apples-oranges comparison than it is to just compare a minor league ball team with a major...and that's even before the ways an orchestra can rise above its status under a talented leader, like Birmingham under Rattle did throughout the 90s (who still knew his limits - Birmingham played a number of Mahler symphonies, but he never recorded the 9th with them...).

On Orff

Jun. 27th, 2011 12:39 pm
acroyear: (allegro people)
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise: World War II Music:
[Strauss and Orff's] surrender to Nazi overtures is an ineradicable stain on the biography of each; but the music itself commits no sins simply by being and remaining popular. That “Carmina Burana” has appeared in hundreds of films and television commercials is proof that it contains no diabolical message, indeed that it contains no message whatsoever.


Jun. 13th, 2011 02:45 pm
acroyear: (perspective)
Robert Fripp's Diary for Friday, 27th May 2011:
The House Where Music Lives.

In the house where Music lives, Music was sitting in Silence, when there was a knock upon the door. A musician had come to visit.

Who’s there? asked Music.
It’s me! replied the musician.
Go away! said Music.

The musician returned to the world of noise and soundings. After years of journeying to many musical cultures, and as an older and wiser player, the musician returned to the house where Music lives; and knocked once more upon the door, where Music was sitting in Silence.

Who’s there? asked Music.
It is you! replied the Musician.
Then why are you knocking? asked Music. You already live here!
acroyear: (allegro people)
Sounds & Fury: Requiescat In Aeternum:
After reading this "new strategic plan" for the Philadelphia Orchestra for emerging from its Chapter 11 bankruptcy, we feel a saner, decidedly more honorable plan would be for the Philadelphia Orchestra to convert that Chapter 11 into a Chapter 7 and have done with it — permanently. A Philadelphia Orchestra committed to a "cutback in concerts, from 92 to 78," and a "shifting of repertoire to include light classics ... Broadway music, film scores, and other pop genres" performed "in an environment that is more theatrical" is no Philadelphia Orchestra at all but a burlesque of a symphony orchestra.
Well, I disagree that film scores are inherently less than other contemporary music forms as each work should be judged on its own, there is something to be said for the "summer concert series" model. The NSO keeps things very successful by balancing their fall and spring seasons of "serious" classical with their summertime Wolf Trap performances to larger audiences, playing lighter faire like an annual Star Wars/Star Trek/Holst's Planets show, the Bugs on Broadway concerts, and a 3-day Gilbert and Sullivan production, plus other opera lite works and within that, a few classical heavies along the way like a Mozart or Verdi opera every couple of years.

In truth, its not transitioning to "lite" works, so much as diversifying, and for orchestras with such a large collection of works to choose from, that can't be a bad thing.
acroyear: (allegro people)
Renewable Music: How Virgil Thomson Decided Music Made No Sense:
For, if one can break the rules given by a strict teacher and receive, nevertheless, the teacher's congratulations, obviously music makes no sense.
acroyear: (fof earplug)
Renewable Music: Oscar rant obligato:
I do listen closely to sound editing and mixing, however, and find, as a composer, that the sound design is often the most interesting, subtle, and complex part of a film. As far as I'm concern, last year presented some classic examples of mainstream sound design done both very well and very poorly, particularly in the mix. But my ideas of what works or doesn't in a sound track seem to go against the grain: Inception took both sound Oscars this year, but boy, I thought it had a dog's breakfast of a mix.
I'm probably getting old, but increasingly I'm finding the sound levels in films to be overwhelming. If the original mix is muddy and indistinct (or filled with uninteresting elements), adding more volume (and more subwoofer) to the room is not going to help it.
acroyear: (fof earplug)
In reply to my FB post about watching the BBC Prom 2010 of Rattle conducting 3 works by Schoenberg, Webern, and Berg from their atonal period (1911-1920), and asking rhetorically again why I love that music, someone replied,
There really are some good (albeit mostly neoclassical) composers in the 20th century - Vaughn-Williams, Thompson, Copeland, Gershwin (that's about one every twenty-five years on average, but none of them worked much after 1950). the fact of the matter is that much 20th century music was "experimental" and like most experiments, it failed. I particularly remember one experimental piece that had breaking glass as the solo "instrument."
Needless to say, this got me started... )


Jan. 31st, 2011 09:21 am
acroyear: (feeling old...)
BBC News - Bond composer John Barry dies aged 77:
Composer John Barry, famous for his work on Born Free, Out of Africa and the James Bond films, has died in New York of a heart attack aged 77.
He composed one of my fav Disney scores, The Black Hole. I later found he did it around the same time as doing Moonraker and so both speak the same musical vocabulary in terms of keys, chords, and orchestration, and fit together nicely.

In spite of his many awards, he wasn't perfect. He also did the best forgotten Lone Ranger film from 1981. :)
acroyear: (each must dance)
Renewable Music: Piano and Violin: Blunt Instruments of Bourgeois Education:
But I do wish to add two caveats. The first is that the orchestra (professional or amateur) relatively rarely uses pianos and though there can be many violins, we need violas and bassoons and horns as well. A world full of "Chinese Mothered" violinists and pianists will be a world in which violists, bassoonists and horn players will be valued more highly. (The "Chinese Mother" appears not always to be wise about economics.) The second caveat is that I want to work with and listen to musicians who are not only mechanically competent, but are honestly interested in the music and, generally speaking, cheerful rather than fearful about music-making. Unfortunately the tactical application of fear appears to be a major element of Prof. Chua's pedagogy; in all my experience of music, I have never seen any necessity for fear as an element in its production.
acroyear: (fof earplug)
Twitter / Al Yankovic: I love listening to early ...:
I love listening to early Beach Boys. Those are the kind of harmonies you can only get from YEARS of parental abuse.
acroyear: (allegro people)
Sounds & Fury: What's Wrong With This Picture?:
Germany has these two national TV networks, ARD and ZDF, see. For New Year's Eve 2011, ARD will be broadcasting live a concert by the Berliner Philharmoniker conducted not by their MD Simon Rattle, but by the Dude himself, Gustavo Dudamel. ZDF has the Staatskapelle Dresden live conducted by their MD designate Christian Thielemann with soloists Renée Fleming and Christopher Maltman (with the added bonus of a taped segment with Anna Netrebko and Erwin Schrott taped at the dress rehearsal). Here, in the good old U.S. of A., we have not two, but three (count em!) national networks with special programming for New Year's Eve 2011: NBC, ABC, and Fox. And what will they be broadcasting live? Let's see... NBC has late-night talk show host Carson Daly live with his musical guests Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj. Fox has "television personality" Nancy O'Dell live with musical guests Travie McCoy and David Archuleta. And ABC has...wait for it!...yes! Dick Clark (amazingly still) (a)live, with his perennial New Year's Rockin' Eve, with musical guests Jennifer Hudson, Willow Smith, Ne-Yo, Avril Lavigne, Drake, Jason Derulo, La Roux, Mike Posner, Natasha Bedingfield, Far East Movement, and Train.

What's wrong with this picture?

What's that we hear you muttering? Nothing at all wrong?


That's what's wrong with this picture.
Of course, it has been "wrong" this way for decades, so I'm not sure why he's complaining now.

What to complain about is the fact that for all the glory that 500 channels was supposed to give us, NOT ONE fine arts channel has survived. Bravo, A&E, Trio, Encore. Every single one that arrived with high hopes for being an alternative to the regular schlock (in Bravo's case, they started out as a PAY channel, one worth buying), and now is either shoving the worst of the schlock, or a rather humdrum batch of repeats from other channels, or is just plain gone.

Granted, PBS is running the Vienna Philharmonic (without Julie Andrews, who had already said "no" this year over Blake's health, and now, well...), but that's only an edited version of the full concert, and while we're at it, with 15 world-class orchestras here in the states (nevermind the 260 or so others), why can they only muster up attention for the WPO? For that matter, the bulk of the concert is going to be boring Strauss Family waltzes, quite possibly THE most boring output of 19th Century music.

acroyear: (perspective)
Robert Fripp's Diary for Saturday, 4th December 2010:
Personally & subjectively, this was strong & deeply moving for the player. Difficult to put into words the various rising-feelings, which, after all, is why a player picks up their instrument. A sense at times, and I type this lightly, of speaking for some without the voice to do so. Music speaks more directly to us than words, and at Ground Zero there is a wide spectrum of feeling present: witness, anger, reconciliation, healing, acceptance, peace. At times, I was close to tears. This former secular-cathedral to American financial power is now sacred ground.


acroyear: (Default)
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