Thursday, December 05, 2019

How classical and jazz musicians compare in interpreting complicated rhythms

Adam Neely explains “How and why classical musicians feel rhythm differently”

He discusses concepts like “phase lock” and “flams” which matter a lot in percussion bands, especially with music of western African origin. European music traditionally had more gradual beats, when played by ensembles and orchestras.

However some composers have tried to introduce jazz and African rhythm concepts into solo or ensemble music with piano. I don’t know the details, but some of their software to handle these problems is quite sophisticated.

Neely shows examples of how “9/8” time, as in a hymn (“Blessed Assurance”) is 3+3+3, but in African music is often 2+2+2+2+1.
Neely plays short passages from Ravel’s String Quartet, and from the opening trumpet solo of Maher’s Symphony #5 (the rhythm derived from the Beethoven 5th).  The Ravel happens to be used by Neutraton and Sibelius Photoscore software as a sample.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Stanford, Symphony #5, with its curious Brahmsian passagalia for a finale

I want to share one more symphony of Sir Charles Villiers Stanford, Symphony #5 in D MajorL’Allegro ed il Pensieroso”, Op. 56 (1894).

The Ulster Orchestra is conducted by Vernon Handley. I have the Chandos CD.

I played this a lot around the end of 1989, when I was changing jobs, leaving Lewin-ICF and going to Uslico (to become Reliastar, ING, Voya).
The finale is an interesting Passacaglia in the minor key (D minor) that goes back to D Major for a sunset and then quiet coda. It sounds like Brahms. 

Friday, November 29, 2019

Stanford's vivacious Symphony #4 in F Major

Here is the score, along with the Chandos recording with Vernon Handley from the 1990s, of Sir Charles Villiers Stanford, Symphony #4 in F Major, Op. 31, 1888.

The key signature is usually associated with pastoral music (like Brahms Symphony #3), but this work is a joyous romp, especially the finale.

I can remember becoming familiar with this work in the early 1990s, when I would go on a lot of Adventuring hikes, living on an upper floor of the Country Club Towers in Arlington VA, with a view of the golf course across Glebe Road. Then things would change as Bill Clinton came into office and introduced “don’t ask don’t tell”.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Does a 4/20 as a time signature make sense?

I like to introduce topics I haven’t covered before on my blogs, and I am actually contemplating finishing a life-long big classical composition project (it’s actually about 3 projects if decomposed) of music that would revive post-romanticism with new ideas.


So I countered Adam Neely’s video about non-dyadic time signatures, specifically 4/20 – where the denominator is not a power of 2.  (Borodin used 1/1 for a scherzo of a symphony, but 1 is 2 to the 0 power). The extra measure is blended into the score (4/4 followed by a 4/20) by a technique called “metric modulation” with “rhythmic warps”.  I’m reminded of the effect of the second movement of Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique, but this carries the idea further.

He presents a catchy riff was a rock band with percussion and sax (like Bill Clinton, maybe) and has an electric keyboard with only two octaves (my Casio has all 88 keys, not sure how he uses it).
You could call this extreme syncopation.  In classical music, Beethoven, in the early Sonatas (which Jonathan Biss is writing about a lot on Facebook) discovered the value of syncopation and constant rhythmic variability.  Brahms, later on in the 19th century, would take this further (particularly).  In modern music, we think of Bartok and Stravinsky.  But you can imagine, say, a piano concerto (or solo sonata), with perhaps a last movement with this kind of syncopation in the solo part, yet consolidating, slowing down, and building up to a majestic climax at the end (or maybe dissolving into nothing – Beethoven’s Piano Sonata #7 is a good example). 

I wonder if Sibelius or Finale (with Photoscore or NotateMe) or other music writing software (like Dorico) accommodate such time signature. 

Neely walks on a street that looks like Brooklyn NY (is it near BAM?)
I know the folks in the Metropolis Ensemble (I last went to an event in January 2019), and I think I’ve heard of Neely there.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Max Bruch's very graceful Symphony #3 in the courtly key of E Major

Here is the Symphony #3 in E Major, Op. 51 (1887) by Max Bruch.

There is a considerable time gap between this work and the two earlier symphonies.  I have a Philips CD set of them somewhere. The Cologne Philharmonic is conducted by James Conlon.

E Major is supposedly the “courtly key” and is somewhat less common than, say, E-flat, in large works.

The work is rather gracious and jocular.  I got to know the work in the late fall of 1989, about the time I was leaving a job in a consulting company (a rather interesting experience in retrospect) and moving to an environment where I would work for twelve years and become an “author”.  The work tends to leave a peculiar imprint in one’s musical ear.
The finale is particularly self-referential. There is a reference to a similar passage in the finale of Schubert's Symphony #4 in C Minor, the "Tragic". 

Friday, November 15, 2019

Taylor Swift apparently told she can't perform all her old music live because she sold the copyright

Can musicians lose the right to perform their own music (or use it in a film or video)?

Taylor Swift claims this has happened to her, in a “feud” with Scooter Braun, who bought former licenser Scott Borchetta’s “Big Machine” and apparently she is not allowed to perform some of her older songs live.
Amy X, Wang discusses this in Rolling Stone, and there are denials from Borchetta. Corinne Reichert has a similar story for CNET.

This could get interesting in the EU, where now (as the Copyright Directive gets implemented) copyright filters aren't supposed to allow you to upload anything you don't own, and that might even include your own music. 

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Frivolous lawsuits over "plagiarism" of musical elements still trouble the popular music world

British musician David Bennett is reporting an increasing number of lawsuits in the popular music world over “plagiarism”.  Most of them are instigated by large music publishers and studios (public companies that have to maximize profits for shareholders – our form of capitalism), not original artists.

Bennett talks about the difference between plagiarism and “influence”, and gives 18 examples.
The “I-IV-V” sequence is so basic it can’t be copyrighted. What about riffs and syncopation patterns?

Popular songs are often written by whole teams now, he says. 

He talks about “One Direction” a lot.

He also explains a composition technique called “interpolation” from other songs.
Some of these riffs could have worked as motives in early Beethoven piano sonatas.