Saturday, April 18, 2020

a reason why chord theory matters for guitarists--translating a traditional tune into a bottleneck technique arrangement requires you to know your chord forms

Decades ago when I was in college and studying basic harmony and voice-leading I recall a fairly usual concern  coming up, "When are we ever going to use this?"  What's the point of learning root, first inversion and second inversion chord formations? At the time the instructor of the course said, "Well, there's no practical use to it at all, unless you want to be a musician."  That was the simplest answer a professor could give but as a guitarist I have had time to encounter, in my own experiments as a guitarist, plenty of real world reasons why knowing chord theory matters.  Let me give a for-instance that shows why you have to know your basic root, first inversion, and second inversion chord forms in order to do anything with bottleneck technique (more after the break).

Friday, April 17, 2020

William Byrd--Mass for 5 voices, performed by The Cardinall's Musick

Let no one think that because I linked to a recent microtonal choral work by Toby Twining I don't have any love for the monuments of choral music past.  I am more of a fan of Elizabethan era choral music than I am of microtonal music and I am particularly fond of Byrd and Tallis. 

Here's the Kyrie from Byrd's spectacular Mass for 5 Voices, just to make sure that today's posts to musical links get some of the earlier eras of music besides contemporary.  I like contemporary plenty but contemporary still builds upon the past and in Western contexts building on a past that includes William Byrd is, I think, always a good idea.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrgudFQ6-IE

Guitar Quartet Anemone perfoms "Bulgarian Rock 2020" by Ourkouzounov

As I recall, one of the comments Ethan Hein made about European music education is that it's more open to mixtures of "traditional" and "popular" styles than U.S. based music education can often be.

I "translate" that comment as an observation about work that develops fusions of "classical" with "not classical" styles, such as classical fusion with jazz or classical fusion with rock or classical fusion with whatever folk materials are at hand.

That's by way of coming back to the music of Atanas Ourkouzounov, whose "Bulgarian Rock 2020" for guitar quartet is contemporary "classical music", to be sure, but which is a charmingly rambunctious 7/8 Bulgarian prog rock dance for guitar quartet.  Link after the break

Toby Twining--Chrysalid Requiem, Dies Irae

Not that I'm really at all committed to composing microtonal or extended just intonation music myself (the classical guitar is in its most conventional form the most stuck-to-equal-temperament instrument an instrument can be), but I do like to listen to music that's composed without being tethered to equal temperament.  String quartets by Haba, keyboard music by Wyschnegradsky or Ben Johnston, especially the string quartets of Ben Johnston, I find that I can enjoy microtonal music.  Johnston's been my favorite because, to put it bluntly, Johnston was the microtonalist/extended just intonationist composer who didn't forget that tunes have to be in the music, which is not necessarily the case with, say, Easley Blackwood (although, frankly, I don't dislike the Blackwood string quartets, I just don't come back to them as listening experiences the way I repeatedly have with Johnston's quartets).

Anyway, having read Kyle Gann's wonderful recent book on the history of tuning systems I learned about Toby Twining's Chrysalid Requiem.  So, fair warning to people who aren't into microtonality or extended techniques in choral singing, don't click on the link but if you are ... a link to the Dies Irae from Toby Twining's Chrysalid Requiem is after the break

Francis Poulenc--Vinea mea electa from 4 Motets pour un temps de pénitence

A beautiful little choral work by Poulenc I remember from my college choir days

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RrbSOce1Uw

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

yet another semi-incubation period

I've been writing a bit less in light of recent developments irl, i.e. the whole global pandemic has led to lockdown conditions in Washington state that have ... to borrow a phrase Brain said to Pinky in a charming episode "... that would alter our plans ... ". 

So there's some projects I meant to have gotten  to by now that I haven't gotten to yet because things happen.

That said, I am still incubating a pretty long-form project that's been near and dear to my heart called Ragtime and Sonata Forms.  I'm only a few thousand words into the project as yet and it's probably only fractionally done.  When I finally, Lord willing, finish the project, I plan to post the whole thing in a series of posts here at the blog.  The key concept is demonstrating on formal and theoretical grounds how easily ragtime lends itself to sonata forms and how, as a genre of popular song in the 1890s through 1910s that is now better-known as a style of piano music, any fusion of ragtime as popular music (whether song or dance) and sonata forms has practical applications for post-ragtime styles of American popular music (which, in the United States, is functionally nearly every type of popular music style ever since 1897).

I've intended to eventually get around to Win Your War but there's nothing quite like a pandemic to help clarify how unimportant Mark Driscoll has thankfully become. He can peddle self-help books to the quasi-prosperity-charismatic scene and that is disappointing in light of what he has not really dealt with from his time in Puget Sound, but while I still consider it potentially important to eventually get around to addressing the ways in which his approach to spiritual warfare demonized dissent from getting his way back in 2008 and how his newer book recycles large swaths of that he's ... just not very important now. 

By contrast, I've finally had time to get the blog to the music and music history and musicology related stuff I wanted the blog to be about from the beginning, way back in 2006.  I'm still open to comparing notes with people on Mars Hill history stuff, however, which is why there's a big separate page with indexed posts and I notice that much of the traffic (such as it is) to the blog is related to that.  Glad to be of help to those who want to explore the history of the place but, as mentioned above, my incubating project for the blog this year is Ragtime and Sonata Forms.

Which still roundaboutly gets me back to something I noticed in chronicling the peak and demise of Mars Hill Church, which is a point I feel I have to stress a bit, that despite certain accounts that Mars Hill was taken out by liberal secular media or by Christians shooting their own depending on the podcast or interview context, the demise of Mars Hill involved a wide swath of people including Buddhists, secularists, and, yes, Christians with confessional convictions and political convictions ranging across what's popularly thought of the left-right spectrum.  My tendencies as a self-identified moderate actual conservative (as opposed to a neoconservative or reactionary) are sufficiently rehearsed here I hope I have merely to allude to them, but my hope is that pursuit of truth and knowledge can be conducted in such a way that whatever our various differences we can nevertheless find some common ground. 

My convictions are still Christian although I have come around to repudiating various forms of Christendom ... not that I want to bore you with that if you aren't already familiar with it, just that I have in the history of this blog taken time to stress my objections to modes of Christendom that have been embraced not only by the religious right that is more easily identified but forms of triumphalist Christendom that saturated the mainlines in earlier eras. 

So I'm not exactly sure when Ragtime and Sonata Forms will be ready to go but at least a good chunk of the writing has begun.

I also still want to get around to blogging about:

Matiegka's Op. 31 guitar sonatas

Angelo Gilardino's guitar sonatas (which are magnificent)

Dusan Bogdanovic's four guitar sonatas

Koshkin's two big solo guitar sonatas
plus the second half of his preludes and fugues although, honestly, likely to put that off until Selyutina records Volume 2

So, anyway, it's not that I anticipate not blogging so much as that the kind of writing I'm doing requires more time and care to put together.  The Nadia Bolz-Weber and Mark Driscoll comparison post, for instance, took quite a while to put together.  So I might post once or twice a week, maybe, but have the posts be several thousand words long.