had to try it for myself...
Peter Ablinger - Hannah Schygulla

The last day! (I still have Day 28 left - which I will post in a few days, and one comment that I said I would finish.)

I'm so glad this is over! It was impulsive to start. I'm sure I revealed all kind of god-awful limitations, prejudices, embarrassments. Oh well...

The meme concentrated too much on the past - I grew tired of recalling things. I think for a 21 year old, who has a much shorter past, last year's song and what you will play at your wedding are probably much more cogent concerns. I do have musical memories, and some of the music I have come to know brings order and comfort to my life. But actually I'm very interested in what I don't know, and what lies ahead. (And I hope that much lies ahead!) I'm interested in what other people like, and why they like it.

So for this last one, I'm going to choose something I discovered this year, something that I'm still listening to, and still very much enjoying. One last time, I recommend the CD - it's unusual, thought-provoking, and belongs very much to this time. And it swings in its own way.
Rachmaninov - Adagio from Symphony No. 2 in E minor

I'm temporarily skipping Day 28 (A song that makes you feel guilty). The Rachmaninov piece is continued on a second YouTube. This is a good recording, but I am used to the old Philadelphia/Ormandy recording.

My dad used to manage an amphitheater in a State Park. I have many wonderful memories of the summer nights I spent there as a kid. The theater was at the base of a canyon wall and had magnificent acoustics. I loved to wander around the place by myself a couple of hours before the theater opened. It was a time filled with quiet energy - the time when the actors were putting on their makeup, when stage technicians were moving scenery into place, and before the audience was seated.

The sound technician, John Brantley, who had been a horn player (and later became a physician), had really good taste. In this quiet time he would often play orchestral music on the theater's sound system (which was also first rate). Without a doubt, my favorite thing he played was this movement from Rachmaninov. It filled the canyon with such beauty. When I was eleven or twelve years old, I thought that the long, winding clarinet solo at the beginning of the movement was really the most beautiful music I had ever heard. I haven't listened to it in years - and I'm surprised how it still floods me with memory and emotion.

My little brother, Miles, died in 1996 from AIDS. My parents followed him in the next decade. I would give anything in the world to turn a corner and suddenly see them.
Schoenberg - Suite, Opus 29 (Septet)

I've always loved this piece, and would give anything for the opportunity to play it. This is the Variations movement. Both the Boulez and the Craft recordings are good. It's a classic modernist piece that belongs to its time, but is always bold and inventive.
One Amazon admirer writes: Razor-sharp 12-tone hardcore work, features curious sonic effects...Noted old binary dance steps give the work the appearance of something like Decadent/Expressionistic Austrian jazz: very scary, and very Schönbergian.
Another: The Suite, Op. 29, is a world in itself. It is absolutely harmonious and even melodious, ,but harmony and melody have been put upside down and right side left. Some will say it is right side wrong, but forgive them because they don't know what they are talking about. It is true he does not work on the basic notes of the scale but rather on their antagonistic second tier notes, background degrees. To end up on another note than the tonal sounds awkward, unbalanced, chaotic, but Schoenberg thus shows, demonstrates and illustrates the fact that all the music before him is just a convention that has been elaborated over some thirty centuries and that it has no naturalness at all. All music is man-made and then it can be de-constructed, re-constructed and even manipulated. Schoenberg thus manipulates tonal notes and basic rules dealing with them, but he also manipulates intervals and systematically works with undesired intervals, supposedly unharmonious intervals, both within the musical line of one instrument, or between the musical lines of two instruments supposedly playing together and there they definitely play one against the other in the orchestra. Chaotic they say? Absolutely not, except if you take chaotic in the meaning any physicist is going to give to that word when dealing with Brownian movement. But that chaos creates the most stable and ponderous, forbidding and imposing matter that can exist in the world. Schoenberg just implements that chaos to music and if you listen to it in order to rebuild the experience you may have in real daily life where everything is chaos and yet order at a higher level over this chaos you get fascinated and enthralled, but also awed and impressed...

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines, CEGID

J.S. Bach - Vater unser im Himmelreich (BWV 682)

I'm a little uneasy about this one.

I guess I should have worked something impressive up - but I just chose something from my YouTube site. This chorale prelude of Bach is a difficult piece, perhaps a bit austere. (It's a compositional tour de force - each hand plays two voices, one of which is the chorale tune. The chorale between the two hands is a canon at the fifth.) The other YouTube performances are from a distinguished group: Ton Koopman, Jean Guillou - the brilliant organist of St. Eustache in Paris, and Balint Karosi - a 1st prize winner in the Leipzig Bach Competition. (IMO Guillou's tempo is too fast, Koopman's - too slow.)

The organ is my adopted instrument - meaning that I came to it late, and never would have played it unless someone asked me to.

I started posting to YouTube a couple of years ago. I've found it's a little bit like posting on LJ - at least for me, but slightly more involved. At first I just used my camera for video, which was a bad idea. Then I acquired a video camera about a year and a half ago. This past Christmas my boss gave me another one. I've messed with iMovie a little - but for my purposes it really didn't add that much.

The motivation to post is also for me about like LJ - completely arbitrary. I have only posted things that I just learned. I usually do two or three takes unless the first one feels just right. Of the organ pieces, I prefer to only post pieces that aren't on YouTube at all, or that are underrepresented. The few piano things are complete throw aways. (I should actually put a few decent piano things out there.)
Haydn - String Quartet movement played on the accordion

Laugh - no, but smile - yes! Please allow yourself to get past the few seconds.

This is someone I have followed on YouTube. He is an amateur who posts a variety of things, all quite serious, played on the accordion and also on a pedal harpsichord. He sometimes combines the instruments. His playing of this movement from Haydn is full of warmth and charm. He explains on his YouTube profile that he had a hand accident several years ago, and his music making is, in part, because of that. He ends his profile with dankbarer und bewußter (grateful and conscious). I really love that - I think it's quite a motto.

I would be curious if anyone actually gives this fellow 5 minutes of time (or my guy from yesterday reading Rilke.) The thought depresses me a little. This week, I have given precious time of my own to follow Housewives of New Jersey and Project Runway. I guess it's hard to compete with those truly horrid harpies Danielle and Theresa of Housewives, and Gretchen of PR. I guess they're harmless, but I sometimes wonder. The hateful scowl on Gretchen's face as she witnessed someone else winning the challenge, and the heartbreaking tour the camera gives of the faces of Danielle's young daughters are lingering images.

Listening to my YouTube artist today, with his gentle touch of civility, brings me a welcome smile.
I think I'm going to pass on this day. I'm not sure, but at this point I think I will let those that survive me remember me in the way they see best. But I hope they would perform some composition of mine. And I hope they would read a poem or two that meant something to me in life.

I found this guy on YouTube reading a translation of the first Duino Elegy. I think that would do nicely. I discovered Rilke and his elegies when I was 18. They worked their solemn power on me as they have done to countless other readers. The subject of the first poem is about leaving life behind - so yes, I think it would work.

Spring can really hang you up the most - Rickie Lee Jones

What if Kennedy actually votes to affirm Prop 8 was unconstitutional? What will that mean for people like me in states like Texas? Will I still be in Texas, or want to be?

I'm sure I will marry Israel in the not too distant future. But I hope it will not be merely a symbolic act!

The particulars of our wedding will probably emerge closer to the actual event. There are a few songs I do associate with meeting Israel 28 years ago - just part of the soundtrack of our lives. Most of them would be a curious selection at a wedding. Nina Hagen was a shared favorite at that time. And there was a dusty, old standard from the 50s that I was working on with Jo Davis - Spring can really hang you up the most. There were several versions we listened to - Chaka Khan, Keith Jarrett, a few others. Israel liked the song too. I remember dancing to it in our old house on Tyler Street. Israel and me alone together, dancing in the dark.

M. de Sainte-Colombe - Chaconne Raportée À Deux Violes Esgales

For sublime melancholia, the viol music of the ancien régime is my choice these days.

Musical changes over a ground bass was a simple harmonic formula that generated profound outpourings (like the blues and jazz in our time).

One thing I love about this music is that you can hear the layers. There is the unchanging harmonic ground in the background. There are the notes of the melody lying above, which simultaneously articulate the harmony and comment on it. Then on top is the surface of decoration, which articulates the melody and comments on it. It is this surface that draws our attention with its amazing speech and rhythm - the pauses, the silences, the sudden surges of activity - the trills, turns, and flourishes (les agréments) that breathe life into each phrase.

I also love the dark, rich sounds of the instruments of this period: the sound of two viola da gambas; or two gambas, a harpsichord, and an theorbo.

This YouTube performance is very good - but the sound isn't quite optimal. There is a beautiful CD by Sophie Watillon that includes this piece, and others by M. de Sainte-Columbe and Marin Marais. YouTube has a track or two from this CD.
Pérotin - Viderunt Omnes

Ah bliss!   But what kind? There are so many.   I think I'll go with religious ecstasy of the 12th century.

I had a friend who was an avowed atheist. He curiously once said "I believe in God when I hear the B minor Mass".

This track comes from an incredible CD by the Hilliard Ensemble.
Tsukiyo no Kenshi - Christopher Yohmei Blasdel

I've been angry too much of my life. It took me too long to learn that anger is a corrosive, self-applied.

I guess the writer of the meme assumed the correct answer for this question would be some headbanger throttle that would lead to greater heights of anger - but that's not quite for me any more. I don't know if there is music per se that I turn to when I'm overcome with anger, but there have been a few books over the years. I don't feel like listing them because I really don't think it matters what they are - what matters is the effort to deal with anger. These books were usually from the Buddhist tradition - again not particularly significant to me other than they pointed in the right direction.

Though the words Buddhist tradition invoke some special musical memories. One of my childhood & high school friends was Chris Blasdel, who later became a noted player of the shakuhachi in Japan. He has lived in Japan since the 70s and has written a lovely memoir about his life's journey.

I used to see Chris about every other year when he would return to Texas to visit his family. But he ceased coming about 12 years ago when his family dispersed and their property (a large ranch) finally sold.

I also have earlier memories of visits from Chris in Austin. After he began his apprenticeship with Gorō Yamaguchi, he would often carry a shakuhachi with him, and sometimes give impromptu concerts (for us, and whoever else would be around). One in particular I recall was on the Texas A & M campus. We had driven from Austin to College Station to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with his sister Terry, who at the time was enrolled in veterinary school. On a wintry November day, as we walked around the campus, we found a large domed building which was unlocked. Chris sat on the floor in the middle of the marble dome and played. We climbed to a higher floor to watch and listen. It was magical.
Stravinsky - Scherzo à la Russe

The Scherzo à la Russe is a track on this CD. I bought it in 94 or 95. I immediately knew it was a great CD. It contains the ballet Agon and various smaller works by S. written in his American years, including the Circus Polka. The music is swift and full of energy (I think Stravinsky liked being an American.) The performances are very good - maybe the best these pieces have ever received. The CD has been discontinued, but I noticed there are a few on Amazon for about $5. It's well worth it.
Steve Reich - Eight Lines

I rarely listen to the radio any more. When I do it's usually in the car. My new car has six months of Sirius free. I've tried it a little, but so far still prefer the iPod on the phone. What I really like is the bluetooth connection! - my iPod just starts up when I turn on the car.

Propulsion, velocity - these are the qualities in music that suit the experience of driving.

The use of the word movement to denote parts of a musical composition originally meant just that: a particular kind of movement or motion (quick, slightly slow, very fast, etc.). In Baroque compositions, once a type of motion commenced, the motion didn't vary, but continuously flowed and pulsed until the next motion was supposed to start. And most of the motions were fast.

I really like driving to these fast Baroque "movements", and also the music of Steve Reich - which has a similar pulsing energy.

This week on my 5 to 7 minute drive to work, I've been listening (on and off) to Reich's Six Marimbas, and to an excellent! Musica Antiqua Köln recording of Telemann's flute quartets.
A long walk - Jill Scott

I first heard this on the radio (once, I think). I turned into a store and bought the CD right then. I still like the song and the CD.
Pierre Boulez - Le marteau sans maître

[livejournal.com profile] cpratt said in a comment There are very, very few things I liked twenty years ago that I still like today - which I quote out of context. This prompted me to think a bit. I do feel somewhat unqualified to participate in this meme. The questions are obviously oriented to a pop/rock view of music - definitely not my forte. Words such as hate, love, favorite etc. are broad and sometimes not very helpful applied to classical music. If someone said I hate Mozart, what could that possibly mean? You would immediately wonder about exposure, background - all kinds of things.

When someone returns years later to Monteverdi, or the Jupiter Symphony, or Opus 111, they rarely think how immature!, or it was just a phase, but usually rather how could I have missed so much?, or this means such different things to me in middle age than it did in my 20s. That is not to say that tastes don't change, or that musical classics are static. We evolve, our tastes evolve. But if you are fortunate enough to have Byrd or Marin Marais or Charles Ives or Mompou as a companion, they remain your companion. Maybe not always with the same intensity, but in some way, always present. They define us more than we define them.

The works of the recent past are more in flux. Returning to them, I can be startled to find how much less or how much more they mean than when I first encountered them.

One easy example: Phillip Glass. I had an interest in his work in the 70s, and I could kick myself for failing to see Akhnaten and Satyagraha at the Houston Opera in the early 80s. Though I respect him and his early music, which was undeniably iconoclastic, it didn't take me long to tire of his formulae. His newer compositions are wearying and unchanging, and I can't imagine returning to the early ones. (In all fairness, I usually tune him out instead paying close attention.)

Instead of choosing a piece by Phillip Glass, I think I'll choose a piece that seems different to me every time I return to it - sometimes I think it is brilliant, sometimes simply overworked, sometimes exquisite, sometimes austere. It is Boulez's Le marteau sans maître, one of the most famous pieces of the 50s avant-garde. Although it can sound quite free and improvised, every pluck, zip, and thump is meticulously notated. The clip is a brief choreographed excerpt from the end of 2nd movement. There is also a YouTube of the entire movement. I do not hate Le marteau. It is a wondrous composition that sometimes puzzles me. I think currently I prefer Boulez's later works, which sometimes verge on sound experiments, to his earlier more Webernesque pieces.
It Never Entered My Mind - Miles Davis

1.I like simple, straightforward surfaces that give hint of complexities beneath.
2."Does this sound like me?"
 "Yes it does, but it's kind of sad too."
Lobo López - Kiko Veneno

I picked this CD up on a trip to Spain. I really don't know anything about Kiko Veneno.

The song is a pleasure, but there is no guilt.
No Surprises - Christopher O'Riley (Radiohead)

In the late 70s, my friends Elaine and Sherri would drag me to the punk clubs in Austin, which had a thriving scene. Oh God was that fun! The people, the garb, the jumping, the drinking, the occasional airborne bottle. I even enjoyed the earsplitting distortions coming from the stage. I couldn't possibly tell you any of the bands I heard, much less any songs they sang. To me the music was enmeshed with the whole experience. All of the elements were equally important, especially the listeners - although that word is far too passive for the role they played.

I enjoyed the punk scene ever much more than the quasi-religious posture that rock had had ten years before. The early 80s in NYC must have been the most fun of all! - I can even name some of those bands. (I experienced the same feeling of spontaneous group catharsis when I first went to the urban bear events in the 90s - especially in Chicago. Again, I really didn't distinguish the music being played from the dance itself.) I did try a few times to hunt down the CDs of this or that band, but disembodied from their true context, it just wasn't the same.

At least for me.

I know I'm unusual in this regard. I guess I'm just not much of a band person. (Though I should say that I am enjoying the YouTube's people are offering up for this meme - and learning a lot from them.)

So for this day (and probably the next day), I'm just going to submit a tune that is probably tangential to the concept of band. Christopher O'Riley plays a song of Radiohead. Band people would call this a cover, I would call it a piano transcription. If you like Radiohead (or even if you don't) and haven't heard his recordings of their songs - you probably should.



April 2017

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