Stealing is great

The best way to get better at your craft is study the work of others and practice. And steal. There was a whole phase in contemporary music when quoting famous pieces was in vogue. The art of “mashup” is when your material is, essentially, other people’s stuff (plug for Girl Talk; I never danced harder […]

Holst – Jupiter

Kirei neeeeeeee…. I had never heard this piece until it came as one of the preset ringtones on my Japanese cellphone. Trying to fit so much intense melodicism through that tiny little speaker didn’t really do it justice though, I have to say. For a while, it even served as my alarm clock sound in […]

J.S. Bach – Prelude and Fugue in C# Major

From The Well Tempered Clavier.  Two tracks: [Audio clip: view full post to listen] These two are particularly charming!  They are the fifth and sixth pieces within the Well-Tempered Clavier, and carry with them a certain spunk and personality — Bach was clearly writing with the intent of showcasing the tonal possibilities of all twelve […]

Flos Ut Rosa Floruit

A Notre Dame conductus from sometime around 1200. I’m worn out from writing admissions essays. If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it’s missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe. This is haunting — only the most perfect consonances were treated as […]

Stevie Wonder – I Don’t Know Why, For Once In My Life

Wow — the difference in quality in writing and composition between these two songs is pretty staggering, but Stevie absolutely was learning as he went.  The return of Diana Ross in this one, for those who were wondering what was about to happen after that last clip a few days ago. If you can see […]

Stevie Wonder – My Cherie Amour

The goodness just keeps coming.  Here’s more Stevie, live in his youth: If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it’s missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe. More tongue-clicking at 1:29!  And he looks like he’s sitting particularly low at the keyboard; […]

Leonard Bernstein – Something’s Coming (West Side Story)

This is a delightful track that bears closer scrutiny.  It begins in an ambiguous 6/8 and 3/4 that also has an overriding 4/2 feel in the vocals that combines two measures at once.  This is already incredibly clever, but at 0:38, suddenly we’re thrown for a loop into 4/4, with syncopated melody.  Then, there’s a […]

Composers, Creativity, Vacuums.

Composers and musicians have never ever ever created new music in a vacuum.  The idea that a musical genius could ever lock himself (I still struggle to find a good gender-neutral pronoun) in a dark room and produce music is flawed from the start — this refutation is not a new idea, and is bandied […]