Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Very nice guitar playing…

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Written by LeisureGuy

1 December 2017 at 3:17 pm

Posted in Music

At the Met Opera, a Note So High, It’s Never Been Sung Before

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Zachary Woolfe reports in the NY Times:

It lasts just a split second, almost imperceptible in a two-hour score. It’s over too quickly to summon the dogs of the Upper West Side or to break any nearby windows.

But brief as it is, the A above high C that the soprano Audrey Luna reaches in Thomas Adès’s new opera, “The Exterminating Angel,” is so high, it has never been sung in the 137-year history of the Metropolitan Opera.

High C has been hit by the thousands. D’s and E’s, too, are rousing but not uncommon. F’s have been rarer, and G’s and A flats rarer still.

But a high A — a combination of genetic gifts, rigorous training and psychological discipline over two fragile vocal cords — is monumental, and unprecedented at the Met, according to its archivists.

“There’s a particular thrill about that high coloratura range,” Mr. Adès said in a phone interview. “When I hear the conventional high C of a soprano, I want to say, ‘Show us what else you’ve got.’”

“I’ve practiced up to a C above high C in the past,” she said in an interview in her dressing room. “So I know it’s in me. But it’s just nothing I’ve performed on any stage before.”

“When I saw Ariel the first time, it was like a dare,” she added, referring to the “Tempest” score. “And this is a double-dog dare.”

In “The Exterminating Angel,” based on the 1962 Luis Buñuel film, Ms. Luna plays Leticia, an opera diva who is part of a blue-bloods dinner party, the guests of which find themselves mysteriously unable to leave at the end of the evening. The vocal demands are a workout for almost every performer onstage. . .

Continue reading.

Video clips at the link allows you to hear her sing. The whole article is interesting and worth reading. Later in the article:

Adding to the excitement of the high A is its placement in the score. Unlike in other high-flying parts — the imperious Queen of the Night in “The Magic Flute,” the spunky Zerbinetta in “Ariadne auf Naxos,” the long-suffering title role in “Lucia di Lammermoor” — there’s little time for Ms. Luna to warm up: The A is her very first note, sung before she’s even visible onstage. (She sings it again a short time later, as the party guests, in a surreal portent, leave the stage and re-enter.)

Written by LeisureGuy

7 November 2017 at 10:31 am

Posted in Art, Music

John Coltrane Draws a Mysterious Diagram Illustrating the Mathematical & Mystical Qualities of Music

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For the musicians among my readers—if any. I thought this Open Culture post by Josh Jones was quite interesting, though I am far from being a musician. It begins:

In a post earlier this year, we wrote about a drawing John Coltrane gave his friend and mentor Yusef Lateef, who reproduced it in his book Repository of Scales and Melodic Patterns. The strange diagram contains the easily recognizable circle of fifths (or circle of fourths), but it illustrates a much more sophisticated scheme than basic major scale theory. Just exactly what that is, however, remains a mystery. Like every mystical explorer, the work Coltrane left behind asks us to expand our consciousness beyond its narrow boundaries. The diagram may well show a series of  “multiplicities,” as saxophonist Ed Jones writes. From the way Coltrane has “grouped certain pitches,” writes vibes player Corey Mwamba, “it’s easy to infer that Coltrane is displaying a form of chromatic modulation.” These observations, however, fail to explain why he would need such a chart. “The diagram,” writes Mwamba, “may have a theoretical basis beyond that.” But does anyone know what that is?

Perhaps Coltrane cleared certain things up with his “corrected” version of the tone circle, above, which Lateef also reprinted. From this—as pianist Matt Ratcliffe found—one can derive Giant Steps, as well as “the Star of David or the Seal of Solomon, very powerful symbolism especially to ancient knowledge and the Afrocentric and eventually cosmic consciousness direction in which Coltrane would ultimately lead on to with A Love Supreme.”

Sound too far out? On the other side of the epistemological spectrum, we have physicist and sax player Stephon Alexander, who writes in his book The Jazz of Physics that “the same geometric principle that motivated Einstein’s theory was reflected in Coltrane’s diagram.” Likewise, saxophonist Roel Hollander sees in the tone circle a number of mathematical principles. But, remaining true to Coltrane’s synthesis of spirituality and science, he also reads its geometry according to sacred symbolism. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2017 at 5:28 pm

Posted in Music

5 takeaways about gigging in a blues band (when you’re an academician)

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Julia Simon (pictured above) writes at Oxford University Press blog:

For the last 16 years, I have been “supplementing” my day job as a professor by gigging in blues bands. There are advantages–that are also disadvantages–to the double life.

1. The Hours: Gigs are usually booked on weekends and evenings and don’t interfere with classes or meetings, but sometimes they run late into the night. In many college towns, the most popular drinking night is Thursday. In fact, I never saw as many students out and about in town as when I was packing up for a regular 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. gig in State College, PA. Students were everywhere, drinking, partying, falling down, and reveling, even in the snow. The down side to late night gigs is obvious: waking up early on Friday mornings when you get to bed at 2:30 or 3:00 can be tough, but there are unusual advantages to staying up late. First, you understand why your students have hacking coughs or fall asleep in class on Fridays and, therefore, are far less gullible about excuses. But oddly enough, Friday morning becomes the ideal time to schedule contentious meetings. Bleary and tired from playing until 1 and getting to bed late, Friday mornings I was often calm and patient, if slow to respond. I even deliberately scheduled a regular meeting of a senate committee I chaired on a sensitive, hot button issue at 8 a.m. Fridays because I knew that I would react slowly and keep my cool. As counterintuitive as it may seem, late night hours gigging can help productivity.

2. The People: Academics travel in restricted circles and don’t always have a chance to meet people outside of their regular orbits. Gigging forces you into unfamiliar circumstances that can be both beneficial and downright terrifying. On the positive side, you become aware of businesses (bars, restaurants, tap rooms) and how they function and connect with social networks in your community that you would otherwise never know about. You play county fairs, sleazy bars, fundraisers for bikers, as well as restaurants, tasting rooms, and popular drinking establishments. How else would I have ever learned that Alcoholics-Anonymous-style biker groups raise money for childhood burn victims (“send the burnt kids to camp”) or that winemaking is often a sideline for folks, like gigging is for me? The human connections include bandmates found on Craig’s List. Band members (and departmental colleagues) are like family members — you love them and you hate them. Problems with alcohol, pornography, anger, or a belief that you were abducted and probed by extraterrestrials all eventually surface. Meeting and interacting with a wider circle of people grounds me and, I believe, makes me a better teacher and colleague. At the very least, a little hardened by the road, certain looks of surprise and astonishment definitely cross my face less frequently in faculty meetings.

3. The Places:  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 October 2017 at 10:28 am

Interactive page with jillions of samples of various music styles

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Not every music style: Gregorian chants, for example, are not to be found. But lots. This is via Jason Kottke, who quotes:

This is an ongoing attempt at an algorithmically-generated, readability-adjusted scatter-plot of the musical genre-space, based on data tracked and analyzed for 1536 genres by Spotify. The calibration is fuzzy, but in general down is more organic, up is more mechanical and electric; left is denser and more atmospheric, right is spikier and bouncier.

But read his post for the link, and here’s an interesting note from the post:

I’ve been informed that if you hover over the name of a genre and then click on the “»”, you get a map of artists in that genre, each with a playable sample. Oops, there goes MY ENTIRE DAY.

The page is quite large and difficult for humans to scan, so I used the Ctrl-F “find” function of the browser to look for (e.g.) “jazz,” and was struck by the varieties of jazz it listed—and then with the click on “»”, a playlist of artists.

Damned impressive. The page itself notes at the bottom:

This is an ongoing attempt at an algorithmically-generated, readability-adjusted scatter-plot of the musical genre-space, based on data tracked and analyzed for 1536 genres by Spotify. The calibration is fuzzy, but in general down is more organic, up is more mechanical and electric; left is denser and more atmospheric, right is spikier and bouncier.

Click anything to hear an example of what it sounds like.

Click the » on a genre to see a map of its artists.

Be calmly aware that this may periodically expand, contract or combust.

How We Understand Music Genres explains how this thing got started.
A Retromatic History of Music (or Love) follows these genres across years.
The Spotify New-Release Sorting Hat uses them to cluster this week’s new releases.
We Built This City On follows them to their cities of origin.
Genres by Country breaks them down by strength of association with countries.
Songs From the Edges flings you through a blast-tour of the most passionate genrecults.
Songs From the Ages samples demographic groups.
Songs From the Streets samples cities.
Drunkard’s Rock wanders around for a really long time.
The Sounds of Places plots countries as if they were genres.
Every Place at Once is an index of the distinctive listening of individual cities.
Genres in Their Own Words maps genres to words found in their song titles.
Genre Politics compares genres to a sample of American political affiliations.
The Needle tries to find songs surging towards the edges of one obscurity or another.
The Approaching Worms of Christmas tries to wrap itself around things I usually fight.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 October 2017 at 11:13 am

Posted in Jazz, Music

In Memoriam: Glen Campbell (April 22, 1936 – August 8, 2017)

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Written by LeisureGuy

8 August 2017 at 2:27 pm

Posted in Music

Clara Rockmore’s beautiful rendition of Saint-Saëns’ The Swan on the thermin

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More here: another performance, and who she was.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 July 2017 at 8:50 pm

Posted in Music, Technology, Video

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