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Oct. 31st, 2013 @ 06:32 pm Thriller Free Zone 2013
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danse me
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  • Warmed up the system to various Pink Floyd

soundtracks

  • The closing credits suites from Pirates 3
  • "Obliviate" - the opening music from Harry Potter 7.1 (painful scene, that...)
  • Abduction of Barry - Close Encounters
  • The Conversation - Close Encounters
  • The Dress Waltz - Jerry Goldsmith's score for Legend
  • Gentle Giant - Ben Bartlett, from the score for Walking with Beasts (the giant being the 25 foot tall Indricothere)
pop 80s time
  • As the World Falls Down and Within You - David Bowie from Labyrinth
  • Invisible Sun - The Police
  • Synchronicity II (many miles away) - The Police
  • Enjoy the Silence - Depeche Mode (enjoy dawntreader90 )
  • Loving the Alien - David Bowie
  • Sweet Dreams - Eurythmics

now some rock

  • Emminence Front - The Who
  • I Burn For You - Sting (Bring on the Night version)
  • A Recurring Dream within a Dream - Alan Parsons (a mash-up of Dream/Raven from the classic '76 album)
  • No Quarter - Led Zep (the Song Remains The Same version)
  • Space Dye Vest - Dream Theater (forgot how cool this was)
  • 3 i 2 - ProjeKct One

and we'll wind it down with the classic Steve Hackett halloween trilogy

  • The Steppes
  • Vampyre with a Healthy Appetite
  • Darktown

and 2 more just to keep things going while i pack up the lights

  • Home by the Sea - Genesis ('93 live version)
  • Sheltering Sky - King Crimson

so in spite of hunting the classical down, i didn't play any today. oh well...

Oct. 31st, 2012 @ 07:04 pm Tonight's Thriller Free Zone...
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danse me
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...started late as traffic was horrible getting out of Tysons.  Got in just in time for 6 kids...hope I didn't miss everybody else...

This year I'm going to shuffle up a bit more (having put together an ipod mix)
  • The Gathering - Herbal Movement
  • Stick Men - The Firebird Suite (yes, Stravinsky played on a Chapman Stick, a specially made Touch Guitar, and all the percussion Pat Mastelloto can muster)
  • Alan Parsons Project - A Cask of Amontillado
  • BOC - Veteran of the Psychic Wars (one of my all-time seasonal favs)

  • Peter Gabriel - I Don't Remember
  • Ozric Tentacles - Pyramidion
  • The Fixx - The Sign of Fire
  • Pain of Salvation - Ashes

  • Pink Floyd - Marooned
  • The Gathering - Nighttime Birds
  • The Beatles - Tomorrow Never Knows
  • Uriah Heap - Lady in Black

  • Metallica - Enter Sandman
  • Pink Floyd - One of these Days (Pompeii version)
  • The Cure - Lullaby
  • The One Eyed One Horned Flying Purple People Eater

  • King Crimson - Dangerous Curves
  • The Police - Synchronicity 2 (another of the regulars each year)
  • David Bowie - Time Will Crawl
  • Pink Floyd - Welcome to the Machine

after this, things had been quiet out there for some time, so I switched to classical/movies and brought it inside...

  • Pirates of the Caribbean 3 - Hoist the Colours Suite
  • Webern - 6 Pieces for Orchestra (Sir Simon Rattle)
  • Stravinsky - Rite of Spring part 2 (Michael Tilson Thomas)
  • The Dark Crystal - Finale

  • Ligeti - Lux Aterna (from 2001)
  • Varese - Deserts (2nd Interpolation)
  • Close Encounters - The Abduction of Barry (oddly, these last three are all in very similar styles so I almost couldn't tell when they changed!)
  • Mahler - Symphony 7 mvt 1 (MTT again)

  • Takemitsu - Funeral Music from Black Rain (Marin Alsop)
  • Prokofiev - Alexander Nevsky Cantata (Previn)
  • Star Trek IV - Crash and Whale Fugue

and with that, I think I'll call it a night...


oh, and it was wiggle's first trick-or-treat outting!



Dec. 28th, 2011 @ 01:23 pm the mortality of musics...
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each must dance
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it is very interesting to compare the background music for various Yosemite Valley (or Grand Canyon or Yellowstone) documentaries over the years, the type they would show or sell at the visitors center. Each generation assumed it was creating a soundtrack to last, yet each sounds pretty well dated and is more a distraction than a support to the wonderful visuals each has.

The 70s attempted to use contemporary orchestral scoring to heighten the drama, but comes across as unnecessarily dark and tense.

The 80s countered by restoring friendliness to the parks through the synth-heavy newage vibe, which didn't last and now sounds as dated as disco (some artists like Kitaro are immortal but this particular stuff is quite dead). Think the same reason many people had the rock portion of Ladyhawk (I don't mind and quite like Ladyhawk, but I understand why many don't care for it).

The 90s countered that by going back to full orchestral scores in a neo-romantic vein (trying to restore what Grofe had mastered in his Grand Canyon Suite), but that tended to continue to over-dramatize the landscape, a landscape that doesn't need any help in producing drama. Still others latched onto the Clannad/Enya led "natural" synth sound, which like the 70s scoring, tended to make things too heavy for what one saw.

The 2000s followed (or led) Ken Burns in going to all acoustic instrumentation, mostly guitars and pianos, plus a lot of native american percussion and whistles and an occasional soft keyboard wash. Today that certainly sounds the most "natural" and feels the most comfortable, but I wonder if that too will sound dated to me in 10 years.

maybe I'll remember this post when we get there...
Nov. 27th, 2011 @ 03:22 pm Behold the power of spin...
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coyote1
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J Edgar Hoover warned Richard Nixon not to attend the premiere of Bernstein's Mass (at the Kennedy Center), implying that it wouldn't look good for the President to be seen hearing an anti-war statement in a Latin* text...

...specifically he was referring to the phrase Dona Nobis Pachem.

* (Latin being the "language" of the Catholics, who were still being seen as non-American and mostly Democratic Party voters at the time, my how things change...)
Oct. 31st, 2011 @ 08:40 pm shortest Thriller Free Zone ever...
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danse me
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started 6:15, ended by 7:45.  Not even 30 kids (and for a moment, with 2 "rushes" of 8-10 kids, I was worried we'd run out of stuff...).  Totally a classic rock evening this year...
  • soundchecked to Pink Floyd (Dogs, Welcome to the Machine, One of these Days, Careful with that Axe Eugene)
  • Alan Parsons (Tales of Mystery and Imagination)
  • Sting's I Burn For You
  • Police's Sync II
  • Zep's No Quarter (Live version - first time on the playlist in a few years...)
  • Beatles Tomorrow Never Knows/Within You Without You (from Love), then the new Love remix of Fool on the Hill...
  • Genesis's Home by the Sea (1 and 2, Live '93)
  • and wound down with a handful of Steve Hackett pieces (incl Darktown, A Tower Struck Down, and Clocks)
Lots of the usuals DIDN'T get played this year, it seems...
Jul. 26th, 2011 @ 07:52 am on improvisation as a form of composition
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ponder this
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Bill Bruford:
Arnold Schoenberg allegedly offered the notion that all composition is just very slow improvisation, and I accept the corollary to be true, that improvisation is extremely fast composition. Things sound best to me when the composed sounds improvised and the improvised sounds composed. I was always most comfortable in the cracks between the two.
Jul. 7th, 2011 @ 12:28 pm Writer's Block: No. 1 hits
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tea rutles
Which is your favorite classic Beatles’ song, and why?

I'll assume that by "classic" one is explicitly ruling out the mash-ups on Love, right?

Doesn't help.  My fav at any moment is based on a mood.  If I'm childhood-nostalgic, it'll be something from Magical Mystery Tour.  If I'm contemplative it'll be In My Life or Eleanor Rigby.  If I'm in a mood to challenge my childhood Beatles memories, it'll be Tomorrow Never Knows or Glass Onion.  They've too much variety in those mere 9 years to limit things to just one...
Jul. 5th, 2011 @ 10:27 pm in which i agree with Sandow...
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bernstein teaches
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Abstract? - Sandow:
Often people say that classical music -- instrumental music -- is abstract, and therefore not easy to understand. Thus, as one commenter said a few days ago, it can't be compared to baseball and movies, which aren't abstract, and therefore are things that people can readily understand. To understand classical music, by contrast, takes education. And preparation.

But I don't think this is true.
And I generally agreed, posting the following:

I certainly wouldn't have talked about "abstraction" as being a differentiation between Music and Baseball. I merely commented that in Baseball, all the players are playing the same basic game. In classical music, orchestras don't necessarily play the same stuff, so comparisons between orchestras can be more apples-oranges than comparisons between sports teams. It doesn't matter what any particular piece is, it is the fact that if one orchestra plays Takemitsu and the other doesn't, than one can't necessarily rate them against each other when it comes to Takemitsu.

The abstraction comment is a bit off, and you're right on the Wagner-Brahms, but it goes a bit earlier than that to Berlioz as the one who most developed the early "Tone Poem". Beethoven hinted at it in the Pastoral, but insisted these notes in the score were mere suggestions and it isn't necessary to envision brooks and picnics and a storm and a sunset (or centaurs and bacchus and zeus in the Disney version) to hear the Symphony 6 as Beethoven intended. By contrast, Berlioz's work demands that the listener understand the plot he is presenting in the score. Bernstein once commented that there's really only one piece of Berlioz's in the rep that *doesn't* have some literary attachment to it.

In spite of Schumann, Brahms and Bruckner (the latter two did produce a Mass or two) and their history of non-program music, the 19th century was far more associated with literary arts than not. And not just in Opera, as many instrumental works of Berlioz and Mendelssohn through to Debussy, Sibelius, and Strauss can attest. Work after work that follows a plot (Night Ride and Sunrise, Alpine Symphony, Sorcerer's Apprentice, all the way to Schoenberg's Transfigured Night) or paints a vivid picture (Oceanides).

For all of his abstractions, for all of his aesthetic claims that "music can express nothing", even Stravinsky wrote far more music with a non-musical and plot-driven association (be it ballet, theater, or religious) than he did "abstract" pieces like Concerto for Piano or Symphony in Three Movements.

I often refer to a Mahler symphony as "film music for which I don't have the emotional baggage of having actually seen the damn film". If one can't glean a plot of some type out of the Tragic Symphony, one isn't trying (or one is explicitly trying not to, which is also an acceptable way to listen to Mahler).
Jun. 27th, 2011 @ 04:26 pm on orchestras...
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allegro people
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Why my criteria matter - Sandow:
Why should it matter, to measure orchestra quality in such detail?

Because, to begin with, we for the most part discuss how well orchestras play only in the most general way. We have an idea, let's say, that Cleveland (or at least this used to be the belief) stands above most American orchestra. Or that Berlin might be the best orchestra in the world. But what exactly do we mean by that?

Or we think that San Francisco, under MTT, stands very high. But do we mean that their programming does, or their playing? How does their playing rank, compared to other American orchestras their size?

Compare this to what any baseball fan knows. You're a Mets fan? If you're serious about it, you know their strengths and weaknesses, position by position. Stellar shortstop, really good third baseman (though he's injured), promising young first baseman (also injured), left fielder who forgot how to hit.
Well, repertoire matters, and hand-in-hand with that is the expectations by the audience (as well as the musical director and the orchestra itself). A local orchestra may not be expected to take on Ligeti or Takemitsu, or may be expected based on the conductor to take on new (generally tonal) music more often (Seattle under Schwartz, or Baltimore under Alsop, both of whom are champions of new composers, and new American composers at that).

So, too, the San Francisco you cite - I really don't know MTT's tastes beyond what shows up on the PBS shows, which are mostly early and late Romantic, or tonal 20th Century (Copland). Even his late-period Stravinsky recording was with the LSO. For those that don't "live with the orchestra", its hard for us to know how large a range of material it is they play.

So in this, the baseball analogy does somewhat fall short. In baseball, everybody plays, well, baseball. Orchestras are judged by the quality of the "core" rep (the Beethoven cycle, the Brahms cycle, the Wagner operas, Stravinsky's Rite, Debussy's Faun), the diversity of works they play in a particular period, and the diversity of periods they can play, much of which is the decision of the board and the orchestra's leads when they select a music director.

This is different again from baseball where the owner (representing the board) selects the manager who drives the emphasis from there. In orchestras, the members have a say in who they pick, which in turn has an impact on what they play as well as how well they play it.

Thus, a comparison of De Moines vs NYPO is much more an apples-oranges comparison than it is to just compare a minor league ball team with a major...and that's even before the ways an orchestra can rise above its status under a talented leader, like Birmingham under Rattle did throughout the 90s (who still knew his limits - Birmingham played a number of Mahler symphonies, but he never recorded the 9th with them...).
Jun. 27th, 2011 @ 12:39 pm On Orff
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allegro people
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Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise: World War II Music:
[Strauss and Orff's] surrender to Nazi overtures is an ineradicable stain on the biography of each; but the music itself commits no sins simply by being and remaining popular. That “Carmina Burana” has appeared in hundreds of films and television commercials is proof that it contains no diabolical message, indeed that it contains no message whatsoever.