Later On

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

Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Quartet for the End of Time/The Crystal Liturgy

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Simon F.A. Russell writes:

Olivier Messiaen‘s Quartet for the End of Time premiered on 15 January 1941 in the prisoner-of-war camp where the composer was interned during World War Two. To celebrate the 75th anniversary Sinfini Music commissioned me to create an animation around it. Working with Prof. Marcus du Sautoy I used the piece to explore Messiaen’s complex relationship to mathematics, music and religious belief.

Written by Leisureguy

27 May 2022 at 1:12 pm

Posted in Art, Music, Video

Comparison of 4 guitars priced at: $200, $2000, $20,000, and $200,000

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The video will allow you to judge only appearance and sound, but (as is pointed out) playability is also very important, and they comment on that.

Written by Leisureguy

20 May 2022 at 11:18 am

Beat out that rhythm on your feet — podorythmie from Quebec

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This morning I chanced across an essay in the NY Times by Eric Boodman (gift link, no paywall), a reporter for STAT who has written for The Atlantic, Undark, and other publications.  His essay begins:

When I was 17 or so, I worked evenings at a dentist’s office. At first, it carried the thrill of a secret world: The office building was locked — just me and the janitors and the whir of the autoclave. Then it was stultifying. I worked for only two hours at a time, but those two hours stretched out endlessly, a canvas for my teenage dread and insecurity. The families I was calling with appointment reminders often mistook me for a machine. I was there to develop some kind of work ethic, but all I could think about was the awful, oobleck-like quality of time. I tried singing between calls. I looked for constellations in the ceiling tiles. What I remember working best — what still works, when I feel the trapped-bug flutter of a panic attack starting up — is foot percussion.

It’s a ubiquitous sound in Québécois traditional music, a galloping pattern that musicians beat out with their shoes while playing, giving them a Dick-Van-Dyke-like dynamism. If you wanted to be fancy and ethno-musicological, you’d call it podo-rythmie, from the Greek for “feet” and “rhythm.” If you wanted to be down home and colloquial, it would just be tapage de pieds, or foot tapping. In English, it’s sometimes referred to as “doing feet.” It’s the secret weapon that allows a lone fiddler to make a whole room get up and dance.

At my high school in downtown Montreal, my classmates were . . .

Continue reading (gift link, no paywall).

That sparked my curiosity, so I went to YouTube and first found a set of three short basic instructional videos (first, second, third), and then a video of a conversation (with foot-tapping) between two practitioners, one of whom (Alain Lamontagne) originated the term podorythmie. The conversation video was followed by a demonstration with the two playing (violin and harmonica), with rhythmic foot-tapping.

With those as background, I understood more of actual performance, such as this 4-minute clip:

 

Written by Leisureguy

30 April 2022 at 6:59 am

Posted in Daily life, Memes, Music, Video

Ravel’s Bolero, performed by Wiener Cello Ensemble 5+1 on one cello

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27 April 2022 at 11:34 am

Posted in Daily life, Music, Video

“Happy birthday” in various styles

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Written by Leisureguy

27 April 2022 at 3:46 am

Posted in Humor, Music, Video

Radu Lupu – Schubert – Impromptu no.3 in G flat major D899

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And now, for something completely different:

See also “Happy Birthday, Radu Lupu!” — “Trying to understand his phrasing, timing, or the effect his bear-like posture at the keyboard has on the sound yields only partial results. The whole is greater than the sum of its ingredients.”

Written by Leisureguy

21 April 2022 at 7:30 pm

Posted in Art, Music, Video

Shugo Tokumaru / Katachi

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21 April 2022 at 7:26 pm

Posted in Movies & TV, Music, Video

It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)

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Written by Leisureguy

13 April 2022 at 6:49 pm

Posted in Jazz, Music, Video

10 of the greatest classical composers of all time

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I like classical music and I like lists, so Tim Brinkhof’s article in Big Think is a natural. It begins:

Like Greek sculptures or Renaissance paintings, classical music has stood the test of time. Compositions that were written several centuries ago are being played at an equal if not greater frequency today than when they were first performed. The most famous composers — Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven — have acquired an almost ubiquitous presence in the world; even if you know next to nothing about these people, you certainly have heard their music.

To figure out what makes classical music so alluring, you first have to define what it is. As the composer and music educator Angus Davison points out in a blog post, many of the qualities and characteristics we tend to associate with classical music don’t really hold up when you compare one composer to another. Some say it’s all about rhythm and harmony, but in this regard Mozart has more in common with modern pop music than his own contemporaries.

Others prefer to focus on the instrumentation. Classical orchestras mostly consist of old-school instruments like pianos, cellos, violins, trumpets, and tubas. However, these were just restrictions of the times in which the musicians lived, not the style in which they worked; the living composer Steve Reich, for example, incorporates electric guitars and other electronic sounds into his music, which is still recognized as unmistakably classical by listeners.

“What all classical music has in common,” Davison concludes, “is something intangible, more an essence than anything else: a set of values.” These values are “excellence” and “inquiry.” Excellence, because classical composers display unparalleled technique. Inquiry, because they know — as Arthur Schopenhauer once said — that music has the potential to be a direct embodiment of the human experience. When they compose, their highest aim is to realize that potential.

Hundreds of musicians have managed to do so with great success. Below, readers will find an overview of the 10 greatest classical composers of all time. This is by no means a definitive ranking. Rather, it is a distillation of various internet lists drawn up by authoritative sources such as music blogs and radio stations, not to mention publications like The New York Times and BBC Music Magazine, which polled 174 of the world’s leading composers.

Rankings are inherently appealing, but they can also be contentious. As the biopic Amadeus illustrated so successfully, our justified but admittedly overbearing obsession with geniuses like Mozart has diverted attention away from other, equally interesting musicians, like the child prodigy’s ill-fated rival Antonio Salieri, or Saint Hildegard, a medieval abbess and polymath known for her sacred monophonies. They do not appear on this list, but deserve a listen just the same.

10. Johannes Brahms

Brahms is routinely featured on concert programs. Because of this, the technicality of his compositions are often taken for granted, while their revolutionary aspects tend to go ignored. Listeners like to refer to his music as academic, but it could also be deeply personal. According to biographer Karl Geiringer, Brahms’ String Sextet No. 2 can be read as a commemoration of his engagement to Agathe von Siebold, which Brahms broke off due to his own insecurities.

“The musical politicians of our day call Brahms a reactionary,” the musicologist Alfred Einstein explained in his book, Music in the Romantic Era. “Others say that Brahms demonstrates practically that in the Classical forms something new can still be said. Not still, but always—so long as our music remains, this will be the situation. For these forms are derived from . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

9 April 2022 at 12:34 pm

Posted in Daily life, History, Music

Beethoven – Moonlight Sonata Nightmare (Dubstep Remix)

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Written by Leisureguy

27 March 2022 at 7:55 am

Posted in Music, Video

One wonder of the internet: Instant radio

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Ted Gioia’s column today begins:

A few days ago, Frank Dominguez of WDAV, a classical radio station in Charlotte, sat down to have lunch at his computer. He opened an email with the latest radio ratings from Nielsen. But what he saw left him dumbfounded.

“I found that I had to really focus and look closely to make sure I wasn’t misreading what I saw,” he explained, “because I was completely unprepared for what the ranking showed.”

His tiny station was now the dominant player in Charlotte. As general manager of the station, Dominguez knew this had never happened before in the city. The next day he learned that it was an even larger achievement. As he proudly announced on the station’s blog, “this was the first time a classical music station has ever led its market in the modern era of radio ratings.”

Continue reading.

That was far as I got before I copied “WDAV” and pasted it into my browser, clicked on the station, and clicked to start listening to the program then airing, “Night Music with Frank Dominguez,” with a Ukrainian pianist playing Bach.

Written by Leisureguy

24 March 2022 at 6:36 pm

The Case for Super Vinyl

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Regular vinyl. The idea is to make Super Vinyl better.

Ted Gioia has an interesting idea.

I.

I have often made enthusiastic comments about the opportunity to revitalize the music business with Super Vinyl.

But what exactly is Super Vinyl? Am I just blowing smoke? And what kind of smoke, exactly?

I haven’t given a precise definition, because it’s more a dream than an actual product. But it’s a realistic dream. Millions of music fans have embraced old vinyl, creating the fastest-growing segment of the recording industry. So why can’t you make something like vinyl, only better?

Let me remind you that the vinyl long-playing album was invented in 1948. Surely we can do something better nowadays, with all our advanced technology. I share more details below, but the basic concept is a physical object that retains all of the advantages of the old albums we love and cherish, but with improvements and enhancements.

The upside is enormous. If music companies could shift the basis of competition back to a physical medium, the high tech streaming platforms are at a huge disadvantage, and power returns to musicians and record labels. They would have an edge that Silicon Valley technocrats couldn’t match.

Fans would benefit too. They deserve something better than a world in which songs are treated as ‘content’ for a phone app. It’s clear that Google, Apple and other tech titans have different priorities than enriching the listening experience of music lovers. We have already waited too long for them to meet our needs, and just look at how little they’ve done. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons why old vinyl is a hot product again.

If a Super Vinyl product were compelling enough, large numbers of music fans might willingly pay $10 or $20 for a new album, perhaps much more. This would create revenue and profit growth that the music business hasn’t enjoyed since the compact disc boom of the 1980s.

Let’s do the math.

Assume that an exciting new music platform could attract 10% of US consumers, and each was willing to purchase one album per month at a price of $15. And let’s make a conservative guess that demand outside the US is t least equal to this.

How much revenue does this generate? Here’s my back-of-the-envelope calculation. . . 

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

19 March 2022 at 4:07 pm

St. Patrick’s Day with the Gardiner Brothers

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Written by Leisureguy

17 March 2022 at 10:30 am

Posted in Art, Daily life, Music, Video

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Orba, first impressions

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More info.

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16 March 2022 at 11:15 am

Wynton Marsalis: How the Rhythm Section Swings

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8 March 2022 at 10:35 am

Posted in Jazz, Music, Video

Piano’s Darkest Secret

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7 March 2022 at 8:28 pm

“Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” — Dinah Shore

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4 March 2022 at 10:41 am

Posted in Movies & TV, Music, Video

Two songs by Jude Perl

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Written by Leisureguy

2 March 2022 at 10:52 am

Posted in Music, Video

The Masses, Not the Classes – Irving Berlin

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TinyLetter.com has what I believe is an extract from Bob Stanley’s upcoming book Let’s Do It: The Birth of Pop. It begins:

When he was 24 years-old, Irving Berlin went from writing lyrics on napkins, and spilling soup onto people’s laps, to being tagged a revolutionary almost overnight. A singing waiter and an amateur songwriter, he found his own sound in 1912 with Alexander’s Ragtime Band. Some said it wasn’t ragtime at all, that it lacked the classic syncopation, and they were absolutely right. What Berlin did was to dip in and out of ragtime norms, throw in some Vaudeville, have fun with his songwriting, and create a definite New York sound. It was a song about ragtime, rather than ragtime itself; this difference would go on to provide fertile ground for academics and sociologists ever after, but no one outside of purists in St Louis and Sedalia gave two hoots at the time.

“Naturalness”, Berlin found, came to him as long as he followed his own basic lyrical rule – “Easy to sing, easy to say, easy to remember and applicable to everyday events.” More than seven decades later, Bill Drummond would write The Manual on how to make a number one record, but the first edition was Berlin’s. And as Drummond did with Doctorin’ The Tardis, a UK number one in 1987, Berlin added already familiar musical quotes to Alexander’s Ragtime Band, with a bugle call and a smidgen of Way Down Upon The Swanee River. He wrote songs the way a good cook can work with whatever is hanging around in the fridge. No one had done this before.

Alexander’s Ragtime Band was a hybrid pop song. It had a great hook, a memorable title, and it was easy to sing. It also melded a slight melancholy, that Berlin reckoned he learned from “Slavonic and Semitic folk tunes,” with the vogueish ragtime style which is what gave it a subtle, urban edge (he later wrote an essay called Song And Sorrow Are Playmates). It became so ubiquitous a hit that it lent itself to multiple soundalikes and follow-ups, not least from Berlin himself: He’s A Rag Picker in 1914 was based on the charge that he had stolen the tune for Alexander’s Ragtime Band from Scott Joplin.

Why was it so big? It was the first major hit to . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

21 February 2022 at 4:30 pm

When the fire comes down from Heaven, …

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Written by Leisureguy

18 February 2022 at 12:13 pm

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