Thursday, November 21, 2013

Concert Report #3

            This past Sunday at 4 pm I attended my third concert for my blog post. Unfortunately, I was not able to attain a program, but the name of the person I listened to was Sean Cotty. The concert was his senior piano recital, and it was very enjoyable. Going alone gave me an advantage to listen to the technicalities of the music even more. I arrived to the concert about ten minutes early so I was able to listen to Sean rehearse before he actually started performing. He warmed up with different types of scales, like the major and minor scale. Right before he began the actual concert, he received a pep talk from what I’m assuming was his professor. He told him that it didn’t matter if he messes up or if sometimes the technicalities weren’t perfect; what really mattered was the performance that he gave and to make sure that the audience felt the emotion that should pour out of the songs that he played. He did in fact successfully portray the emotions that the audience was supposed to hear. The first composition that he played involved something electric along with it. It was a very interesting piece that used what I would call diminished cords that were pretty dissonant. It was definitely a modernistic approach to the classical music that I was expecting to hear. The melody was hard to identify, and there was no distinct rhythm throughout the piece. The texture was something different from what I had ever heard before. Honestly, I did not really like this particular piece because I did not find it pleasing to the ears at all. My mind was instantly changed when he began his next song. It was definitely a more classical piece, which was much more pleasing for me. There was a clear meter of 4/4 and the tone was very light. The melody was obviously heard in the higher keys on the piano, played with the right hand. The left hand on the piano was used to play mostly the chords and the deeper tones that you hear throughout the piece. This could be called a polyphonic texture, since the hands are playing different things at the same time. Even though I didn’t particularly enjoy the first piece of the concert, I thought that it would have been cool to hear something with the electronics again, just with some notes that ended on more closed cadences rather than a numerous amount of open ones. The next song that was played was very similar to the second. It was still in the classical genre, but it had much more deeper tones throughout the piece. There was still a distinct 4/4 meter, and the phrases were all closed and sounded pleasing to the ear. The melody was again clearly played on the higher notes of the piano. Despite having the same meter, the rhythm was a lot faster and sometimes it was a little syncopated. All in all, this concert was not my favorite. I did enjoy the more classical pieces, but the electronic piece threw me off a little bit. I would’ve also liked to hear more diverse pieces, but I did still find it enjoyable. Anytime I can be entertained with music, I find it very rewarding. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Rite of Spring


Thesis: In Stravinsky’s nature inspired “Rite of Spring”, he uses the aspects of fragmentation, disjunction and stratification to express the 20th century aesthetics if modernism.

First Paragraph: talks about the fragmentation in this piece, meaning the breaking up of the music into smaller parts

Second Paragraph: I will transition into the disjunction in the piece, explaining the short gestures and that there is not a lot of connection between the different sections

Third Paragraph: I will transition from disjunction to my final point of stratification, or the different layers of music throughout the piece

            Igor Stravinky’s “Rite of Spring” was the most influential piece of music in the 21st century. It made an extensive impact on the way music was played and listened to. At the time, this work was not accepted by the people who came to the ballet, the music even induced a riot to occur at its opening. This is because of the new style of music that broke altogether from the Romantic past, modernism. Modernism was a completely different approach to the world of music, making music sound chaotic or unstable. The music was known to reflect the turmoil in the world going on at its specific time. In Stravinsky’s nature inspired, “Rite of Spring”, (minutes 6:20-7:30) he uses the aspects of fragmentation, disjunction, and stratification to express the 20th century aesthetics of modernism.
            Because there is an unclear phrase structure throughout the piece, there was bound to be fragmentation occurring rather often. Fragmentation is the breaking up of music into smaller parts. This can be seen in the piece when the timpani’s played at 6:32, 6:36 and some other parts. It plays two distinct deep notes one after the other, causing the seemingly longer parts to be shortened by the timpani. This puts the measures into fragments, which makes it hard to discover a meter or phrase throughout the piece. The melody, played by the strings, is what the timpani cuts into these non-distinct fragments. One of the major qualities of 20th century modernism, fragmentation, was definitely heard throughout this section of Rite of Spring.
            In addition to the fragmentation heard, there are also plenty moments of disjunction, another large aspect of the modernism era. Disjunction is the short gestures heard throughout the piece, making the connection between sections seem non-existent. This can easily be heard in the time slot from 6:44-7:00. When the brass comes in for their short sections, it sounds random and disconnected. This is because the percussion, piccolo and string instruments are all playing a completely different thing at the same time that the brass is coming in. This texture gives the feeling of the oxymoron, an organized chaos. I could not find one distinct melody in this section, but the brass definitely did stick out when it made its musical appearance. The disjunction heard in this particular part was very evident, providing yet another from of 20th century modernism.
            The form of modernism that was witnessed most not only in this section of music, but the whole piece, was stratification. Stratification is the different layers of instruments being played at the same time. It is seen frequently but to focus on one section, seconds 7:10-7:30, contains a great deal of this form. You can hear the different layers specifically in the strings, timpani sections, brass instruments, and the woodwinds. They all add various timbers to the piece that give it the structural layers that stratification consists of. The various layers give the piece more texture and it is still unknown to where the melody lies. 
            Taking aspects from the primitive world of tribal sacrifices and traditional dance music from Russia, it was no surprise that people were astonished when this music was first laid upon their ears. The modernistic style that Stravinsky brought into the world changed the pathway of music forever. People at the time would’ve called it terrible or just “noise” but currently we are able to establish the true art behind Stravinsky’s modern ideals. He brought the qualities of fragmentation, disjunction and stratification to life, giving a brand new meaning to music in the world. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

African Drum and Dance Ensemble Concert Report #2

On Thursday, October 24th, at 8:15 PM I attended the African Drum & Dance Ensemble Performance. One thing that was special about this performance, was that beforehand myself and about 15 other people had a hour long session learning how to use these drums and some of the history of the music. We learned about the different symbols engraved on the various drums that meant different inspirational things such as peace or tranquility. We also learned how to create different rhythms on the drums by going around in a circle and each person making up their own distinct rhythm from our imaginations. It was interesting to hear everyone’s different styles, and to make rounds with the different rhythms. If we hit the center of the drum, the deepest noise came out of it, which was like the bass line of the music. If the side was hit, it was called the tonal part, and there was also another way to hit it, called the slap. All three different ways of hitting the drum made very different noises and that was also interesting to hear. I really enjoyed the class that I got to take, and it really opened my eyes to the varieties of music out there. Right after the hour-long class, we headed straight to the concert, which was simply amazing. From the beginning I was instantly intrigued and was moved so greatly by the music and dancing. It was so much to listen to and I wanted to get up on the stage and dance with them! The first song was called Calabash and it was performed by the Seminar class. It was a traditional song and dance from Mali, and it was very upbeat and intense. There was not one second during any of the songs that I wasn’t amazed by the intense drum beats or the stylistic dancing. There were many more songs performed, called Gyil, Kundun, Sinta, Gahu, Jare, and Adjogbo. I’d say the two most memorable pieces were the two performed by the African Drum and Dance Ensemble rather than the Seminar class. These two were Jare and Adjogbo. They both featured a guest from Africa named Sulley Imoro. The culture and greatness he brought to the stage made everyone shine even more. He was accompanied by students that have actually taken the class in Africa, which made the performance that much more believable. During a few of the songs, there was singing that was done in the African language, which added to the texture of the different instruments being played. This type of music is not very comparable to anything that we learned in class. It is its own genre of music that I found so interesting, fun and amazing. I definitely enjoyed this concert thoroughly and would recommend anyone to go see it in the future if given the chance. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Romanticism Painting

                 In this beautiful painting, “Wanderer Above Sea of Mist” by the German artist, Caspar David Friedrich, it is obvious to see the Romantic ideals. It was painted in the prime of the Romantic Era in 1818 with oil on canvas. In the foreground of the picture, there is a seemingly young man standing on a vast rocky scenery which appears to be very high. He is gazing into the distance over a sea of mist or fog. It is left up to interpretation why this man would be standing in this spot. With the title being “Wanderer Above Sea of Mist”, it leads me to think that this man is an adventurer. That he is exploring the unknown to fulfill his curiosities in some way. This ties in with the characteristic of romanticism, the rugged individual. From this perspective it is obvious to see that this man is by himself and from the title you get the feeling that he is a dreamer as well, which is another name for an individual. He is alone in his ways of travel, but that fits in with the aesthetics of romanticism perfectly. Another aspect of romanticism that could be seen in this painting is a longing for the infinite. This may not be something that is thought of right away at first glance of this piece of art, but when you think harder about it, it can be seen. In my mind, I thought, what is this man thinking? Why is he all the way on the top of this rock? I came to believe that he was searching or longing for something, which ties into the longing for the infinite. Lastly, the most obvious romantic aspect of this oil painting is the glorification of nature seen within it. Everything from the gorgeous sky, to the mysterious mountains in the distance, to the wispy fog and jagged rocks, nature is caught in a purely authentic form in this artwork. Romanticism was the start of a whole new generation of art, and I think it was one of the greatest eras without a doubt. The whole new approach and idea of Romanticism gave an attitude to art that was never seen before. The “Wanderer Above Sea of Mist” was an excellent example to explain the true ideals and aesthetics of the Romantic Era.