Monday, November 16, 2009

Someone Must Be Mistaken

If you notice to your right, there is a new graphic in my sidebar. Apparently this blog has been ranked 37th in the classical music category on wikio's (a European blog ranking website and news aggrigate) new ranking system for the month of November. HOORAY! Does that mean someone actually reads this thing? Doubtful.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Nightmare is Done!!

Well, it is done.

I have finished re-transcribing my lost band piece.

Ultimately I feel it is a better piece for it, but there were moments in the old version I just couldn't fully recapture. Not that the new notes in those spots aren't good, they are just different.

And I have decided that transcription is better left to others!!

I now truly understand the phrase "My Brain Is Fried"

on a side, but related, note - I am happy to say my little back-up hard drive is working swimmingly. One traumatic experience too late, but a safe guard for the future none-the-less.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

It Has Happened....

So I have been working on a fairly large Wind Ensemble piece the last several months, and I was very happy with it, and I finished it yesterday. So I go to get ready to print and make an audio file for it to send to the director that will be playing it. Well, in some weird bizarre happening that I still don't understand, when making it into an audio file Finale merged the files or something, and now I am not able to retrieve my Wind Ensemble piece. It blows my mind what happened.

So after several hours of hairy cary and trying everything I could possibly think of, I have resigned this piece to the graveyard of oblivion and must start anew.

I have never lost a piece due to computer error in the 13 years of using Finale. It saddens me like nothing else. So, here is to learning your lessons the hard way!! Today, I go out and buy an external hard drive to back everything up. (I am sure, it will be every hour on the hour for quite some time.)

This very stressful experience got me thinking about fresh starts. I have scrapped pieces before and started anew (even in the final stages of them) and in the end, sure it is twice as much work, but it always is for the better. Maybe this is fate's way of telling me that this piece wasn't as good as I thought it was.

I was able to make the audio file of the piece, so, I will be flexing my feeble transcription skills over the next few weeks trying desperately to piece together the lost piece.

So, lessoned learned, back everything up a hundred times over!!!!

I'm sure glad I have a comfy office chair.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Discovering a long discovered

With my recent infatuation with LP's and what a different sound it is (and better) it has opened up a world that was already open. Obviously when searching through piles of records at local thrift and antique stores you come across a lot of the "old standby" repertoire of the classical world. Beethoven, Copland, Mozart, etc... Which has been quite fantastic really. It's one of those things that, as Kris Tiner said to me recently, you own those CDs but how often do you listen to them. Which is absolutely true. So I have been rediscovering all this great symphonic literature from the 19th and early 20th century by the greatest composers and conductors that have ever lived.

But one thing that has really opened my eyes is Bach. Now, of course, Bach has always been there in the background through countless academic courses of Form and Analysis and voice leading chapters and what not, and the appreciation, and admiration of his craft is always an underpinning of the musical thoughts of most people I think, whether they know it or not. But I don't think I have ever truly discovered Bach for myself until now.

I saw a quote by Glenn Gould, arguably the greatest Bach practitioner that has ever lived, saying that there is always a moment in each musicians life when he discovers Bach for the first time. I have heard that quote several times and always just kind of thought "oh that silly Glenn, what a strange and wonderful fellow". But now I think that has actually happened. I always was in the mindset of "oh yeah, Bach and his fugues, what pretty little things... hooray for Bach". But recently I picked up several records of his Well-Tempered Clavier, some keyboard concertos and, my favorites, several records of his organ music. And this has brought me into the world of Bach. Not that I am going to run out and start writing fugues and chorales and so forth, but there is a depth of listening that I have never had before. And now I see that Gould was right after all.

So now I say Hooray for Bach!! and off I go to listen to E. Power Biggs play some beautiful chorales.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

New Hobbies

In the recent months I have been converting my parent's record and tape collection to the computer for archiving purposes. And in the process I discovered a few things. First off, my folks have the most eclectic taste in music I have ever seen, and second, I have discovered the world of vinyl, and what those purists have been talking about for all these years.

So after this discovery I made a trip to Amoeba and scoured our few local record stores, and even found a nice store over on the coast on vacation, in an attempt to create a small collection for myself of my favorite music from pre-1980. It is quite a daunting world, what labels mean what, and when is mono better than stereo etc... but it has been fun and I have found some really sweet records.

The sound on Vinyl - particularly mono vinyl (The Miles Davis/Gil Evans records in particular) are just so deep and rich. More so than any CD I have ever heard. The analog sound is just better. And I am convinced that, since that is how your brain naturally hears, it makes it literally easier to listen to. Just awesome. Anyway, if anyone has the means to investigate some good records, I highly recommend it. It blew my pre-1980 musical world wide open.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Enchanting New Artist

In my quest to find new musical people of various genres of music I have come across another person whom I consider to be a bit of a gem. Laura Gibson (2) by inmemoryofradio.

Laura Gibson

Not really sure how to classify this one, so I won't. If you dig Colon Maloy (lead singer of the Decemberists) at all, this is sort of in that vein. In fact she opens for him on a regular basis and they are featured on each other's records.

You can check out her HUSH records website here, and her myspace page here. There are also some Youtube videos of her (particularly of her opening up for Colin).


Monday, July 13, 2009

An Evening of Another World

I had the great opportunity Saturday night to go see some live music downtown. Thanks to Kris Tiner, who never fails to bring in great artists for his Metro Galleries series, and also never fails to deliver a stunning performance himself. Saturday night opened with Kris and Chris Schlarb, a guitarist from Long Beach, playing some absolutely mesmerizing reflective music with Trumpet + Electronics/Guitar + Effects. After buying one of Chris' albums Interocean by his group I Heart Lung (featuring Kris Tiner as well as many others) and listening to samples of his Twilight I was hooked. It is really beautiful and introspective music and really allows the listener to be sucked into its timelessness. He has also done some beautiful music for a new video game called Night Game coming out on the Wii this fall. You can check out some video of the game and Chris' music here.

Second set was done by returning artists Jeff Kaiser and Stuart Leibig. Jeff on Trumpet + Electronics and Stuart on Contrabass Guitar + Effects. It was a very interesting set and was a very natural flip side of the first set. This set had much more bite to it and an intensity of sound that just can't be rivaled. Jeff really seems to have a control over his gear and how far he can push it that is quite amazing. Stuart had such a command of what he was doing with a sea of floor pedals and effects boxes etc... that it was amazing just to watch him work his feet and occasionally hands, all over the many buttons and knobs and dials to make some really interesting foundations and even grooves for Jeff to work off of up top. It really was a night of contrasts.

I don't really listen to much electronic media and it is always a treat to hear it live and watch the musicians manipulate their equipment. I think that is something that is a little lost when listening to this kind of music on CD. And occasionally the musicianship gets covered up with the novelty of gadgets and buttons. It is a fine line, that not many are willing to tread. Kris has a really interesting approach to it that I think more people should take into consideration when venturing into the electronically manipulated sound world.

Keep bringing in those artists Kris! Thanks!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Take A Lesson

My father found this album a while ago and has lent it to me for my enjoyment. It is really an amazing project that has been a long time in the making and I must say, it creates a fantastic experience.

The Playing For Change project has two identities. Number one they have set out to unite the world through music, this album being the first culmination of that idea. They have spent four years traveling the world recording musicians from everywhere, and I do mean everywhere. So even though most of the musicians on any given track have never met, they are now part of the same ideas. Featuring songs by Bob Marley, Peter Gabriel, Bob Dylan, Sam Cooke and many others, including some originals for this album. It is a really interesting product and I recommend highly.

The second part of Playing For Change is the foundation to build music schools for children around the world. Most recently they have just finished a music school in the Congo. During which they recorded "Talkin' Bout A Revolution" by Tracy Chapman with some local musicians involved in getting the school off the ground.

I applaud these efforts for musical unification, and I applaud the results of this collaboration from hundreds of musicians from all over the world. It is a great example of good music coming from good people, even if they are thousands of miles apart.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Radiohead Arrangements (yikes)

A few months ago I was asked to do some arrangements of a couple of Radiohead tunes for small chamber ensemble. 

They are somewhat a mix of what is on the record and the arrangements done by Christopher O'Reilly for solo piano

The concerts went well and the arrangements got a really good response and I finally got the recordings so here they are.

I hope they aren't too sacrilegious.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Another New Artist

Here is another new artist (well, new to me) for your sampling. If you are one of those people who tend to enjoy things of a minimalist nature (especially when they attempt to avoid all the normal minimalist pitfalls) this might be an artist for you.

James Blackshaw

He is a guitar player (most often 12 string, which is really nice) who writes some interesting minimalist textures, most often for himself on guitar and piano (someone else on piano, he doesn't have four arms), which is a pretty nice combination, often using some kind of drone instrument or technique. All in all, I find it soothing and creates many of those moments that I enjoy that makes time become irrelevant to your existence, which is my preferred state of mind.

There are some interesting YouTube videos of him here, you can sample his music on his Myspace page and there is a pretty nice interview with him on Pitchfork (which, incidentally is a pretty nice site for perusing.)

He has several albums you can check out.

Many people don't enjoy these kinds of textures, and I understand that, and have been criticized for enjoying this stuff, but there is just something about it that makes me happy and calm. Steve Reich puts me into a trance, if that makes any sense at all.

in any case, check him out... ENJOY!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New Artist

If at any point in the musical spectrum you fall down on the folk side of things you should check out this young artist. Barely 18, just graduated from high school this young guitar/banjo/mandolin player and sultry singer has already made herself a name around the folk world and hopefully will continue to do so. Really nice tight songs, beautiful vocal lines and some really great lyric work.

you can check out some of her performances on youtube.

She also does a really nice cover of The Decemberist's "Shankill Butchers" as well as a really interesting rendition of Tom Waits' "Come On Up To The House".


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Metempsychosis for Sale

Metempsychosis is now for sale at ThatNewMusicWebsite

If you don't know what that is, check it out. It is a very interesting idea created by Christopher Brubaker. You can upload PDF files of scores and sale them for whatever you deem them worth. You can also upload papers and recordings etc... 

An interesting idea that seems to be doing quite well, so I thought I would put up a piece and see what happens. 

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Twangy Africa

I just discovered recently that Bela Fleck has a new album, Throw Down Your Heart. In 2005 he went to various regions of Africa to study and discover the origins of the Banjo, which, it turns out, is an African instrument by birth. While there he discovered some amazing musicians and played with them and recorded with them and came up with some very interesting music. Really amazing stuff.

Also, he is touring with Toumani Diabate with his Kora June 11-19 and also August 3-8. The tour doesn't come close enough to me for me to be able to see it, but man that would be something to see... and hear.

you can check out the website for the African project here

Monday, April 20, 2009

David Hykes

I recently discovered this very interesting gentleman. David Hykes is a long time composer-singer from New York that helped spur the contemplative music scene back in the mid-70's and is still going at it with his Harmonic Chant and his Harmonic Choir.

He has a pretty cool website that gives some interesting bits of info about himself as well as his connections with many spiritual leaders and many different festivals and programs and so forth. I have been really into this sort of meditative, transportive music lately. (which, funny enough, spurred from a long bout with listening to nothing but morton feldman, in particular the string quartets). 

anyhow, worth some listening, I have been enjoying several of his CD's lately... they are available at Amazon and other fine conglomerate retailers.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

An Event

If you happen to be in the Modesto/Turlock area in Northern California I have two upcoming performances featuring Metempsychosis as well as two Radiohead arrangements I did for small chamber ensemble (Fl, B. Cl, Marimba, Pno, Vln, Vcl). This concert is at CSU Stanislaus and there is an earlier performance on April 4th at the Deva Cafe in Modesto California. 

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Another gone

Henri Pousseur passed away yesterday at the age of 80.

I have enjoyed numerous pieces of his. He had such a variety of style and ideas. Maybe we should all be more like that.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Music Form & The Mind

Recently I was reading a book by James Tenney all about "Clangs" and "sequences" in music. Clangs being just groups of sounds, either horizontal or vertical, and sequences where collections of these sounds. There were all kinds of tidbits of a lot of technical jargon about how these groups of sounds effect form and create form etc... 

and then I was reading a book entitled "The Psychology of Music" by Seashore. Where, for an example of the content, there was a lengthy look at vibrato, what makes it pretty, why we like it and how much the average vibrato deviates from the pure tone (using some very complicated graphs). 

This is all well and good, and, for the most part, was actually very cognitively interesting. But it got me thinking. Even though it is all interesting and these two people obviously went to great lengths to break apart music and analyze it on these minute, almost atomic levels and I appreciate their academic research and endeavors, but when it all comes down to it, who cares. In the Seashore he went on about how we can scientifically analyze music on an emotional level. It was really bizarre. I still can't quite understand how he worked that but I have come to grips with my failure. 

I have always had some issues with this kind of analyzation and breakdown of music. I know it is there, it exists, I have had to do quite a bit of it and all that, but when it comes to actually creating something musical, I actually go to some length to disassociate my mind from these aspects and allow things to organically unfold as they see fit. So, outside of the academic world, and geeks like me, what does this atomic level of analyzing really mean, and what are we suppose to do with it. People don't actually compose grouping things into "Clangs" consciously and so forth. 

One thing Tenney did talk about, which I liked, was when he was talking about music forms, traditional forms in particular (i.e. Sonata, Rondo, Fugue etc...) he made the distinction that these are not forms, but formulas

I am not really sure what my point is in writing, but it got me thinking about the purpose of analyzing music in this way, and does it really serve a functional purpose. 

Another fine example is Forte's "Structure of Atonal Music". This book goes beyond the horizon of Set Theory and takes it to levels that I can't even imagine. And in the end, who cares how many times set 3-12 is transposed and smattered throughout "The Rite of Spring". In the end it still caused riots and still is one of the great 20th century pieces and no one is the wiser... especially given the fact that Stravinsky did not do it purposefully. Which further begs the question, why impose analytical and formal functions on music that was written without those tools. Take that Schenker!!!

It really chaps my hide.