Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cristofori's Dream

As the music begins we find our selves in little Italian village. It is the
1700's. The sun is going down and the stars are coming out.  Looking through
a leaded glass window we see Cristofori hard at work in his harpsichord
shop. (picture Walt Disney's Geppeto)

It has been a rather long and frustrating day for Cristofori as he has been
putting in long hours and hoping for a breakthrough on his new invention
(which will eventually transform the harpsichord into his imagined piano

With the days work done, Cristofori puts his tools aside, lays his head down
on his workbench, and falls to sleep.

As Cristofori sleeps, he begins to dream. And as the music continues, two
beautiful dream goddesses appear. Through their impressionistic dance and a
dream sequence,  Cristofori is shown the evolution his invention will go
through in the next several hundred years. He is also given a sense of the
tremendous impact the piano will have on the world of music.

Eventually Cristofori finds himself standing in a balcony overlooking a
beautiful concert hall. Center stage is a 9' concert grand piano and a full
symphony orchestra which are now playing together as the piece is reaching
it's musical peak.

As  the peak is reached, everything begins to slowly spin and spiral
downwards. Cristofori awakes very inspired by his dream and even though it
is still the middle of the night, he relights his candle, reaches for his
tools, and goes back to work.

Now the music slowly begins to wind down much like a child's music
box.....and as the very last chord of the song sounds...Cristofori's
harpsichord... changes magically into a piano.....Cristofori's Dream.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Night Thoughts of a Baffled Humanist

I was talking to a long time friend a few days ago about the current state of affairs that not only our nation faces but that the planet as a whole faces, i.e., the economy, the worldwide demonstrations, pollution, etc... He mentioned that he was going to send me an article but forewarned me that it was a bit long and difficult at times but that he thought I would appreciate.

I found this article very interesting and wanted to pass it on in part because I thought it covers so much that we take for granted and also because it is so well written… It was written by Marilynne Robinson who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2005...

Night Thoughts of a Baffled Humanist
By Marilynne Robinson

This brings me back to the subject of competition, great ally of austerity. There is the ancient habit of competition among nations, for the biggest fleet, for access to commodities, for colonies, for the technologies of warfare. Even cultural competition is ancient; for example, the Roman desire for an epic to compare with Homer’s. I know Americans are supposed to believe in competition. I think it is wasteful and undignified in most cases.

Our competition with the Russians, insofar as it was cultural, was harmless to moderately beneficial. Insofar as it was military, it was disastrous for both sides. I am speaking of those stockpiles and everything that has gone into the making of them. But the story that has currency is that we competed with the Russians and we won. So there is a heightened and ongoing zeal for competition, without a continental power on the other side of the earth to dignify the role of competitor. Since September 11, 2001, some have attempted to put radical Islam in the place of godless communism. But the Muslim world is too diverse, too important to Western interests, too indifferent to the Tchaikovsky competition and speed skating, to fill the role. In need of the focus that comes with having an alien and threatening government to contend with, an appreciable number of Americans choose to consider their government alien and threatening, and, for good measure, socialist. Again, this kind of thinking is eminently compatible with austerity, as the redistributive activities of government are exactly what they choose to be austere about. Other alternatives include returning tax rates for the very wealthy to historically typical levels and cutting subsidies to oil companies. Or there could be a candid admission that the responsibilities of the government involve it in great expense. None of these options ignite populist zeal. This is reserved for attacks—call them “austerities”—directed toward public schools, Social Security, national healthcare, the laws that protect air and water quality.

Read more…   


Friday, January 13, 2012

Notes on Composing…

My own process in becoming a composer was really through osmosis.  My early musical influences fed the fires of inspiration and motivated me to begin writing my own songs.  Those were very primitive to start with, but as my experience and influence widened, my attempts at composing followed suit.  I never received any formal training in composing, my process began at 10 years of age, and I’ve spent a lot of time using trial and error as a method as well as imitating my favorite songwriters as I went along.  If you want to fast track your composing skills, you may want to investigate the many books and methods available that will help you to understand the rules and ways of composing.  Of course having a sense and knowledge of music theory is also highly recommended.

I must say that nothing really beats listening to the masters as a way of ear training and inspiration...masters in all genres...allowing their music to really get under your skin, giving you excellent examples of well written material and templates you can use for your own attempts. There is nothing wrong with imitating and even attempting to re-write a piece you love in order to discover the structure, form, and flow of the piece.  Learning to dissect songs...discovering chord progressions, keys, scales and modes used to create the melodies, will get you headed in the right direction.

You may ask yourself; OK... so what shall I compose? Where do I find inspiration?  Do my compositions need to be about anything?

Life experience, your relationships with friends, family, and loved ones...this is rich ground from which to gather emotions that can be translated into music.  Your spiritual life and connection to the soul and so called higher realms can also serve as great jumping off points for your composing.

Many composers, including myself, have also found inspiration in concepts and themes i.e., mythology and religious stories, world and social events, holidays, famous people etc.  This is sometimes referred to as program music.

And there is also what some serious composers would call music for music sake.  Music that just flows, creating its own conversation, with no serious subject matter or concepts to express, just the sound and texture of music making its own way...a world of sound unto itself.

To create a memorable piece of music, a piece that really connects to your audience is a worthwhile goal.  You may be able to create music that has this effect, but there are no guarantees.  However, the muse may touch you on the shoulder someday and inspiration may strike! However...if you are not prepared or if you have not at least begun to do the work...the muse may smile and laugh as it disappears... and you will have to wait for another day.... a day when hopefully you are more prepared.  :-)       

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Spiritual Significance Of Music

Music, like spirit, is invisible. Yet it moves us to sing, dance, laugh,
cry, even march to war, to heal, and pray, Music has the power to bring
thousands of people together to celebrate. What else in life has this power?
Everything on this Earth eventually crumbles and returns to the dust of which
it was made. Only Spirit remains. Great music endures centuries, outliving it’s
creators and performers. Music, being so related to spirit, is not only a
wonderful tonic, but an inspirational force and powerful ally that can lead one
out of spiritual darkness alleviating emotional, physiological, and physical pain;
restoring and refreshing the soul. Is it the voice of God? The sound of nature?
Music, like spirit, like God, is indeed invisible and humankind will be wise to
recognize it’s healing and spiritual significance, and they need only to listen!