Archive for the ‘Music’ Category
I haven’t done enough with music, but it may be that I don’t hear aspects that are clear to others. However, I did enjoy this Open Culture column on 12-tone music, particularly the NY Times video. I plan to list more systematically to classical music now.
Sometime in the late 80’s I attended a Forth Interest Group presentation by a guy who had written a very small and compact Forth program (typical of Forth programs) to write musical notation. He used the printer port as input, and you could simply type in the music to have it displayed (and printed) perfectly formatted in musical notation. I’m struggling to remember… The note values (eighth note, quarter note, half note, etc.) were “sticky” because if you type one quarter note the next note is also highly likely to be a quarter note. If the note value changed, you keyed the change, and the program would assume that value until another change.
Getting the elliptical shape of the notes just right was a challenge, but the great thing about programming is that, once you do get it right, that solves it forever. The phrasing notations, the spacing and line-up with the lyrics—he had solved all that, using a microcomputer (a late 80’s microcomputer) and Forth. Several publishers were intensely interested, as you might imagine. As I recall, he started the program so he could format church music for his church. It was an astonishingly good and capable program.
But here’s how they did it before (and apparently after his program—wonder whatever became of that).
Interesting post with video at Open Culture.
Once again via Open Culture, where you can find the other two movements:
Quite fascinating. Here’s the first part:
Part 2 and more information in this post by Colin Marshall at OpenCulture.com.
At last, we’re finally moving into a recognizable slice of science-fiction future.
In September of 1935 Paramount Pictures released a nine-minute movie remarkable in several ways. Symphony in Black: A Rhapsody of Negro Life is one of the earliest cinematic explorations of African-American culture for a mass audience. It features Duke Ellington and his orchestra performing his first extended composition. And perhaps most notably, it stars Billie Holiday in her first filmed performance.
The one-reel movie, directed by Fred Waller, tells the story of Ellington’s “A Rhapsody of Negro Life,” using pictures to convey the images running through the musician’s mind as he composed and performed the piece. Ellington’s “Rhapsody” has four parts: “The Laborers,” “A Triangle,” “A Hymn of Sorrow” and “Harlem Rhythm.” Holiday appears as a jilted and abused lover in “A Triangle.”
Holiday’s only previous screen appearance was as an uncredited extra in a nightclub scene in the 1933 Paul Robeson film, The Emper0r Jones. Symphony in Black was produced over a ten-month period. Holiday was only 19 when her scenes were shot. She sings Ellington’s “Saddest Tale,” a song carefully selected by the composer to fit the young singer’s style. “Saddest tale on land or sea,” begin the lyrics, “Was when my man walked out on me.” In the book Billie Holiday: A Biography, author Meg Greene calls the performance “mesmerizing”:
Symphony in Black marked an important milestone in the development of Billie Holiday, the woman and the singer. Ellington’s deft handling enabled Billie to distinguish herself from other torch singers. She did not wear her emotions on her sleeve; instead, she revealed herself gradually as the song unfolded. Hers was a carefully crafted and sophisticated performance, especially for a woman only 19 years old. This carefully woven tapestry of life and music was the origin of the persona that audiences came to identify with Billie. Other singers such as Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland may have more successfully established and cultivated an image, but Billie Holiday did it first.