Category Archives: Music – Theater

Be not afraid of greatness:some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. – From Act II, Scene V of “Twelfth Night”  by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Claude Debussy’s use of the tritone 

Introduction to Debussy’s Pianistic Language

Claude Debussy
Claude Debussy

This is the tritone scale.

Built by pairing two major triads a tritone apart, and then placing those notes in scale order, the tritone scale brings a nice level of tension to your lines that you can use to build energy when soloing over 7th chords in a jazz or fusion context.

Art music in the twentieth century encompasses a wide range of expression, forms, and media. The development of mass communication and easy travel throughout the twentieth-century has linked the world into a global community that allows the collection and blending of many sources. One result of this is that diverse musical sources including folk music, Classical Indian Scales, American jazz elements, and the musical forms of Asia among others, have been assimilated into the Western Musical Tradition.

Debussy-Prelude to a Fawn-Leonard Bernstein

Folk music assimilation began before the end of the nineteenth century as Western thinkers explored previously remote lands and cultures.  An important result of this travel was the use of folk modes, pentatonic scales, and whole tone scales derived from native music in works by composers such as Bartók, Stravinsky, and Debussy.  Non-diatonic scales based on modes and seemingly abstract intervals such as the half step and whole step proved tantalizing to composers during the last part of the nineteenth, and early part of the twentieth century.

See an analysis of Prelude to a Fawn by Leonard Bernstein next.

Continue reading Claude Debussy’s use of the tritone 

One for the money – Blue Suede Shoes

One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, now go cat go… That was Carl Perkins with Blue Suede Shoes. But where did the phrase come from?

Elvis Presley - Blue suede shoes 1956

The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes and The Phrase Finder cite a horse race poem that is likely the source of the phrase. In horse racing, the winners are termed:

  1. Win
  2. Place
  3. Show

The omission of “place” is noted in The Phrase Finder. This is likely poetic license, to make a short rhyme, used to start a race or event.
Excerpt from The Phrase Finder post:
In “The Annotated Mother Goose” p 259 the following rhyme is included:

“One to make ready

And two to prepare

good luck to the rider

And away goes the mare.”

And origins from Google Books.

 

The Minor third – a mystery revealed

The paradox of music-evoked sadness

Taruffi L, Koelsch S – Published October 20, 2014

music-evoked emotion
music-evoked emotion

Department of Educational Sciences & Psychology and Cluster of Excellence, “Languages of Emotion”, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany

This study explores listeners’ experience of music-evoked sadness. Sadness is typically assumed to be undesirable and is therefore usually avoided in everyday life. Yet the question remains: Why do people seek and appreciate sadness in music? We present findings from an online survey with both Western and Eastern participants (N?=?772). The survey investigates the rewarding aspects of music-evoked sadness, as well as the relative contribution of listener characteristics and situational factors to the appreciation of sad music. The survey also examines the different principles through which sadness is evoked by music, and their interaction with personality traits.

Continue reading The Minor third – a mystery revealed

R.E.M. Breaks Up After Three Decades

By Matthew Perpetua

Michael Stipe of REMSeptember 21, 2011 1:25 PM ET Michael Stipe of REM performs during the Voodoo Experience Festival in New Orleans.Sean Gardner/Getty ImagesR.E.M. announced today that they have broken up after 31 years together. “As lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band,” the band said in a statement on their official website. “We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished.”

In just over three decades as a band, R.E.M. released 15 albums including landmark works such as Murmur, Reckoning, Document, Out of Time and Automatic For the People. The band’s final album, Collapse Into Now, was released in March of this year. The band have plans to release a career-spanning greatest hits collection later this year, which will include a handful of new songs finished after the band completed Collapse Into Now.

“During our last tour, and while making Collapse Into Now and putting together this greatest hits retrospective, we started asking ourselves, ‘what next’?,” bassist Mike Mills wrote on the R.E.M. site. “Working through our music and memories from over three decades was a hell of a journey. We realized that these songs seemed to draw a natural line under the last 31 years of our working together.”

Mills insists that the band have ended their working relationship on very good terms. “We feel kind of like pioneers in this,” he says. “There’s no disharmony here, no falling-outs, no lawyers squaring-off. We’ve made this decision together, amicably and with each other’s best interests at heart. The time just feels right.”

“I hope our fans realize this wasn’t an easy decision; but all things must end, and we wanted to do it right, to do it our way,” says frontman Michael Stipe.

Ethan Kaplan, owner of the R.E.M. fan community Murmurs and former Senior Vice President of Emerging Technology at Warner Bros. Records, says that the band’s decision was influenced in part by label politics. “I suspected this was coming last fall,” Kaplan tells Rolling Stone. “If you remember, they weathered a lot of storms in this business, and have always operated on their own terms. [Warner Bros.] changed starting last September, and I think the demands on a band now to get a record out were more than they might have wanted to commit. I can understand that after how hard they worked for how long, the thought of going back to ‘paying dues’ with new label staff, in a very weird industry, was too much.”

In a 2007 Rolling Stone interview, Stipe summed it up nicely. “We didn’t set out for this to be a career. We just knew it was something we wanted to do, and we would stop when we didn’t want to do it anymore.”