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  • feedwordpress 09:01:43 on 2018/11/14 Permalink
    Tags: Aaron Copland, Appalachian Spring, , , , , music history, , tempo,   

    “To suffer the penalty of too much haste, which is too little speed”*… 

     

    Johann-Sebastian-Bach

    Pop and rap aren’t the only two genres speeding up in tempo in the breakneck music-streaming era: The quickening of pace seems to be affecting even the oldest forms of the art. Per research this weekend from two record labels, classical music performances of J.S. Bach have also gotten faster, speeding up as much as 30 percent in the last half century…

    The fascinating details– and a hypothesis as to what’s going on– at “Even Classical Music Is Getting Faster These Days.”

    *Plato

    ###

    As we pick up the pace, we might wish a harmonious Happy Birthday to Aaron Copland; the composer, writer, teacher, and conductor was born on this date in 1900.  Known to his peers and critics as “the Dean of American Composers,” his signature open, slowly-changing harmonies– e.g., in “Appalachian Spring“–  are typical of what many consider the sound of American music, evoking the vast American landscape and pioneer spirit.

    220px-Aaron_Copland_1970 source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:30 on 2018/05/07 Permalink
    Tags: Brahms, , , , music history, polyphonic music, polyphony, Tchaikovsky,   

    “The only truth is music”*… 

     

    The earliest known practical example of polyphonic music – a piece of choral music written for more than one part – has been found in a British Library manuscript in London.

    The inscription is believed to date back to the start of the 10th century and is the setting of a short chant dedicated to Boniface, patron Saint of Germany. It is the earliest practical example of a piece of polyphonic music – the term given to music that combines more than one independent melody – ever discovered.

    Written using an early form of notation that predates the invention of the stave, it was inked into the space at the end of a manuscript of the Life of Bishop Maternianus of Reims.

    The piece was discovered by Giovanni Varelli, a PhD student from St John’s College, University of Cambridge, while he was working on an internship at the British Library. He discovered the manuscript by chance, and was struck by the unusual form of the notation. Varelli specialises in early musical notation, and realised that it consisted of two vocal parts, each complementing the other.

    Polyphony defined most European music up until the 20th century, but it is not clear exactly when it emerged. Treatises which lay out the theoretical basis for music with two independent vocal parts survive from the early Middle Ages, but until now the earliest known examples of a practical piece written specifically for more than one voice came from a collection known as The Winchester Troper, which dates back to the year 1000.

    Varelli’s research suggests that the author of the newly-found piece – a short “antiphon” with a second voice providing a vocal accompaniment – was writing around the year 900.

    As well as its age, the piece is also significant because it deviates from the convention laid out in treatises at the time. This suggests that even at this embryonic stage, composers were experimenting with form and breaking the rules of polyphony almost at the same time as they were being written…

    More background at “Earliest known piece of polyphonic music discovered.”

    [TotH to @pickover]

    * Jack Kerouac

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    As we hum along, we might send melodic birthday greetings to two descendants of the author of the piece above:

    Johannes Brahms, the pianist and composer who was a stalwart of the Romantic Period, was born on his date in 1833.

     source

    And Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Brahms’ Russian Romantic counterpart– the first Russian composer to make an international impression–  was born on this date in 1840.

     source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:34 on 2014/09/16 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , music history, piano, Steinway,   

    “When a great genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign: that the dunces are all in confederacy against him”*… 

     

    Genius follows its own law of gravity. It migrates in ever greater numbers to where it thrives. Hence places like Silicon Valley – and attempts to replicate it elsewhere, like London’s Silicon Roundabout. The phenomenon is older than the microchip, of course…

    Watch the centers of creative gravity migrate through Europe, from 1400 to 1950, at “The Geography of Genius.”

    ###

    As we put on our sailin’ shoes, we might recall that it was on this date in 1853 that Steinway & Sons sold its first piano in the United States.  The company had been founded in March of that year by Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg, who’d started making pianos in his native Germany in 1935 (and who didn’t officially change his name to “Steinway” until 1864).  Working in a loft on Varrick Street in Manhattan, he called his first U.S. piano “Number 483″ as he’d built 482 pianos before immigrating.  It was sold to a New York family for $500.  Over the next thirty years, Henry and his sons, C. F. Theodore, Charles, Henry Jr., William, and Albert, developed the modern piano; almost half of the company’s 127 patented inventions were developed during this period.

    An “Original Style” Steinway piano like #483

    source

    * Jonathan Swift

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:56 on 2014/06/16 Permalink
    Tags: , , music history, Nancy Baron, Palm Springs, , , ,   

    “The trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off”*… 

     

    A small town with a booming tourism industry, Palm Springs, California, has long served as a celebrity retreat, retirement community, golf destination, and desert oasis. Photographer Nancy Baron, who lives part-time in Palm Springs, takes us behind the classic veneer of the city’s resort glamor in The Good Life > Palm Springs, a new monograph…

    To Baron, Palm Springs is one of those misunderstood neighbors. With its crystalline pools warmed by triple-digit desert heat and one of the largest concentrations of mid-century modern architecture in the country, the city–which has been a popular resort since the early 1900s– evokes a particular image that may not do its layered identity justice. “Palm Springs is a brilliant example of the American Dream;” Baron describes, “springing from nothing out of the desert sand, continually reinventing itself with hope, determination, and the belief that everyone is entitled to The Good Life.”…

    Baron’s photos, of her Palm Springs friends and their homes, cars, and closets, seek to broaden our concept of the city–though it still looks pretty glamorous to us…

    Read– and see– more at Shaunacy Ferro‘s “Photo Essay Of Life In Palm Springs Makes Me Want To Retire Immediately.”

    * Abe Lemons

    ###

    As we cool it, we might recall that it was on this date in 1967, up the coast of California, that the Summer of Love kicked off:  the Monterey Pop Festival opened.  The Fest featured California acts– e.g., The Jefferson Airplane and The Mamas and the Papas– but is perhaps better remembered for the first major American appearances by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Who, and Ravi Shankar, the first large-scale public performance of Janis Joplin, and the introduction of Otis Redding to a large, predominantly white audience.  (The Beach Boys helped conceive the event, and were originally slated to headline; they pulled out as the material that became Smiley Smile wasn’t ready, and they didn’t want to do old material.  The Kinks and Donovan were also meant to appear, but could not secure visas.)  With the exception of Ravi Shankar and Country Joe and the Fish, all acts preformed for free, with all proceeds going to charity.

    In fact, the first rock festival had been held just one week earlier at Mount Tamalpais, north of San Francisco: the KFRC Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival But because Monterey was more widely promoted and heavily attended, featured historic performances, and was the subject of a successful theatrical documentary film, it became the inspiration and template for future music festivals– including, as your correspondent can attest, the Woodstock Festival two years later.

     source

     Happy Bloomsday!

     
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