Bouncing from one YouTube video to another, I recently came across a great series of films on Afro Cuban Rhythm – with very clear explanations of how the rhythms are layered. The central protagonist is maestro of Cuban rhythm, drummer Ignacio Berroa. There are some very good musicians involved, but I’ll let him introduce them to you.
Key to understanding the whole thing are the two main rhythms of the clave (although the qutoed graphic below from Wikipedia includes three – the extra one begin in 6/8). Note the interesting etymology of the word clave:
noun – one of a pair of wooden sticks or blocks that are held one in each hand and are struck together to accompany music and dancing. Origin: 1925–30; American Spanish, Spanish: keystone < Latin clāvis key
This little graphic from Wikipedia may help to outline the key rhythms:
At the end of the 5th video (and running well into the 6th) there is a chance to see if you can keep the clave part going once they temporarily drop out of the music. Now there’s a challenge for you.
A piano piece by Brahms received its premier 158 years after its composition. Albumblatt (sheet from an album) was discovered by musicologist, Christopher Hogwood in Göttingen, Germany. It was tucked in the pages of a guest book which also contained signature fragments of other composers. Leaving a complete piece was exceptional. Like many composers, Brahms was a recycler and the theme also appears in his Horn Trio.
p.s. Christopher Hogwood came to the then Huddersfield Polytechnic to give a talk on early music when I was in First Year (1979/80). I’d been asked to wait outside the entrance to the hall to direct any visitors uncertain of where exactly to go. Along strolled a very relaxed man, casually dressed in the kind of rainbow jumpers which were all the rage at the time. He looked through the glass into the hall and said cheerfully, “not a bad crowd.” He then wandered off and, a few moments later, was introduced to us as Christopher Hogwood – a natural communicator and a fantastic player.
It’s hardly surprising that, in a culture of written music such as the western classical tradition, the look of the music has become more complicated throughout its centuries-old develpment. If you’ve not had the opportunity to see some more out there scores, there is a great collection on the YouTube channel of the enigmatically named ch252525.
Here is an example (click the link above for more):[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/XpCfdRVXG1E?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
p.s. the Google Ad on screen is not part of the score 🙂
I was chuffed to come across this catchy tune and inventive video by Clog and The Quirks, featuring former and current pupils of North Berwick High School:[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/O7CCrpJ5ZEc?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
I’m just back from what has now become an annual East Lothian charity event, organised by our very own Maxine Wilson on behalf of Macmillan Cancer Support. Instrumental Instructors in East Lothian schools put forward soloists and small groups for two (different) programmes. Tonight’s – the first of two – was sold out. I had two hats this evening: one as accompanist for former NBHS singer, Zoe Moskal-Guy, and the other directing a small group of MGS guitarists.
By coincidence, I sent off today the master of Love Burns – an album featuring Zoe and me, along with some very special guests. In a few weeks 1,000 copies will be delivered and the website www.loveburns.co.uk will go live. Watch this space…
Playing with the small MGS group (7 pupils) was a treat. We played a piece which we aired in 2010’s East Lothian Showcase Concert – that time with a much bigger group – around 40 players. With only 7, everyone can hear one another and it’s possible to play in a much freer way, without the necessity of a rigid beat to keep together. I was extremely proud of their sensitive performance – and grateful to all for cheerfully giving up their evening for this worthy cause. Many thanks to all involved.
This was the 2nd nice event of the week, coming a few days after Sunday’s ELjam Showcase Concert in the Brunton Theatre. It’s nice to see pupils (and staff) from across the county coming together in such positive settings.
Long fascinated by the crossover between music and language, I was delighted to come across a dissertation by Jonathan Pearl entitled Music and Language: The Notebooks of Leoš Janáček. The Czech (or more accurately Moravian) composer was taken by the idea that character was manifest in prosody and strove to come up with melodies for his operatic characters which were true to the music of their speech.
Jonathan Pearl does a much better job of explaining it – either here in the full-length dissertation or here in a shorter version (look for Eavesdropping with a Master: Leos Janácek and the Music of Speech). Very interesting reading!
Illustrating this idea with a single YouTube clip is tricky so instead let me embed a clip of one of Janáček’s most famous non-operatic works – the final movement of his Sinfonietta, conducted here by Pierre Boulez. Listen out for great trumpet section work at 5:00:[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/d5QBSMjdIFI?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
Below is a clip of former NBHS pupil, Zoë Moskal-Guy, performing the traditional Irish ballad, She Moved Through The Fair, at The Meadows Festival 2011. Now approaching end of her 1st year at the Academy of Music and Sound (Edinburgh branch), Zoë formerly represented the school and the local authority in concerts, Burns Suppers, musicals (Les Miserables; Guys and Dolls; Back to the 80s; Fiddler on the Roof) and out of school events (VOCAL Conference @ Marine Hotel; Head Teachers’ Conference @ John Muir House; Well-being Scotland Conference @ Our Dynamic Earth; Commonwealth Forestry Conference @ EICC). Also featured in some of the linked video footage are former NBHS pupils, Callum Devine; Fraser Fulton; Bess MacArthur; Polly Waters. We wish them well in their careers, with many thanks for all the playing!
This is the best example I know of a song with a very free meter – at times so free it disappears altogether:[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/rOU2b9zZrDY?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
Tidying up at the end of a primary school day, I was delighted when two P5 girls helped out without being asked. For some reason, best known to themselves, they burst into an animated version of Two Little Dickie Birds. Then one suggested, “why don’t we play that song?” I replied, “we could, but I’m wondering if it’s more of a poem than a song. If we took the words away, would there be any tune left for us to play?” After a moment’s reflection, one said:
Da dada dada da, dadadada da –
Da da dada – , da da da –
Dada da dada – , dada da da –
Da da dada – , da da da –
The inflections in the voice were identical to the version with words.
So, what is the prosodic equivalent of the popular line, “I’m a poet and didn’t know it?”
What's life like for an instrumental instructor in East Lothian?