...or, if you prefer to do your own singing:
The 12 Musings of Christmas
The backstory is that I'd just gotten a computer powerful enough to import and edit video (remember when that wasn't routine), so on the drive down to see our large assortment of adorable nieces and nephews that Christmas, my sister and I hatched the plan of making a movie. Dickens' tale seemed the obvious choice, and somehow the casting all worked out pretty easily too. Since many of the actors were under the age of 6, the basic process was to feed lines one at a time and shoot. I made all sorts of videoing mistakes, such as not realizing that when I stopped (not paused) and then restarted the camera, I'd lose the last few seconds of the previous take. This, and the realities of shooting the whole thing in a couple of days with young children (and those annoying child labor laws) meant that the editing task that followed presented some . . . challenges. Although it took me almost two years to brave the task, I had a great time working within these rather tight constraints.It's amazing to realize that the Scrooge and Bob Cratchit from this production are now college freshmen, and the even younger "Christmas girl" is dancing the Sugar Plum Fairy this weekend for an excellent ballet company. My oldest daughter was only a toddler at the time, so she only toddles on and off screen briefly in the party scene. This movie is definitely a ghost of Christmas past.
The final product is quite charming, and even features some special effects that tested the limits of the bargain-basement software I used. Of course the cute kids carry the film (my then 1-year old daughter makes a tiny cameo walking through the party scene), but the aesthetic point to be made here is that the constraints become a part of the language of the work. I wrote about that (and another family movie) in a past post, how certain flaws that would be unacceptable in one context are actually positives in another. (I was thinking something tangentially related the other day listening to Kermit the Frog sing on a Christmas album; that goofy, shaky voice would not be acceptable from just any singer, but our associations with Kermit's persona make it meaningful. Maybe the same could be said of Bob Dylan's voice, although his sound isn't as polished as Kermit's.)
A New Lexicon of Musical Invective: The YouTube Commentariat as Aesthetic Arbiters for the Petit bourgeoisie #fakeams peer-review: kate97485It's true that this "work" was also initially panned by me, but what do I know?
— Michael Monroe (@MMmusing) September 30, 2011
The beauty of this song for mashup purposes is that it's already so soupy that it blends quite naturally, like Campbell's® in a casserole - and what better to blend it with than itself? Instead of "double the Johnny [Mathis]," I've enlisted Mr. Tony Bennett to man the other half of this duet, and as an added bonus, Tony's in a different key! Yet, because both arrangements are so schmaltzy and mellow, with their hazy rhythms and beds of sappy strings, the blend doesn't sound stridently dissonant - just blurry and, well...trippy. And, quite frankly, the Mathis version was pretty trippy already; I'm just helping it towards its logical conclusion...
To be specific, Mathis is in D-flat, and Bennett's a whole step up in E-flat - like some sort of global appoggiatura. As with my Callas-Fleming "Canon a 2 Tempi," I just set these guys off at the same time by synchronizing the "Chestnuts," and then let the individual phrases fall where they fell. Tony pulls ahead pretty early, but things settle into a satisfying, lazy back-and-forth for much of the rest of the song. My favorite happy coincidence is how Mathis finishes up (technically, his version is supposed to go over the bridge again, but I cut that) and then fades into the end of the Bennett playout, so we get an almost Coplandesque final cadence. Almost.I'm probably as proud of the visuals as anything else, but at this point the music sounds pretty right to me as well; there's something genuinely intoxicating about letting the mind drift back and forth from tune to tune and key to key. And you may have noticed that this tune I once derided now proudly serves as the emotional climax of my In Season medley. Although it's been said many times, many ways, perhaps "Merry Christmas" hasn't been said bitonally often enough.
"The In C iPad app can even be interpreted as underlining the factory-like aspects of the piece. The performers, the cogs—the workers, just like so many others—have been replaced by technology: cheaper, more efficient, more pliable."It's true that the "community" aspect of the music is lost when it's just me working the buttons on an iPad screen, but the app underlines another important aspect of In C and In Season and so many mashups (more on those in days ahead) - that random or semi-random juxtapositions can lead to all sorts of satisfying possibilities. Yes, it's true that a great performance of In C probably depends on performers who know how to listen and make good decisions in the moment, but the outcome still relies on chance much more than the typical jazz improvisation. I'm not sure how many more times I'll "play" the app (my fear is that every time I open it, I'll be lost to the world for an hour or so), but it's like magic watching/hearing varieties of interlocking patterns (Riley called them "fantastic shapes") emerge. I know that I'm exercising some limited amount of control, but the texture is so rich that I have to admit that many of the most delightful intersections simply seem to materialize on their own.
"This claim has been around in print since at least 1979. And it's completely bogus.This simplistic analysis overlooks the fact that the leap up to that "e d" descent has a very strong fingerprint which I discussed in this post. The three shared pitches are easily the most important structurally. You can follow that link to read more about my reasoning, but, as with "Under the Sea" and "We are the World," the proof of the connection is that I heard it before ever thinking about it. (And yeah, sure, the tunes then go in completely different directions; the point is that just a few pitches, shaped in a certain way, are enough to make a distinct melodic character.)
Can You Read My Mind: C E G e d
Death and Transfiguration: C D E e d
Of the five notes, three are the same and two are different. And after these first five notes, the rest of the melodies are completely different."
|Riley's first five "elements"|
|Riley's epic #35|
|MMmusing's first five fragments|
“...he only performed enough of each to make it recognizable, three or four seconds. This was just long enough to engage one’s own memory of each work, and Chopin’s genius became clear: only two seconds was enough to bring the entire etude into focus in one’s memory, so strongly characterized were each."It's a wild idea, but true of course that hearing just a few seconds of music can set off much longer loops in our inner ear. In Musicophilia, Oliver Sacks describes a man who once "heard" an entire side of a Mozart LP only to discover, on going to turn the record over, that he'd never started it playing in the first place - but he still heard the whole thing. Technically, he imagined hearing the whole thing, but if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, maybe it can still make a sound in your imagination. (Did you hear that?) That's a little off-point, but it's part of the experience of this new little piece that your musical memory is sent in multiple possible directions. By the way, note that for those familiar with In C, the soundworld first evoked by Riley should also emerge as one of the recognizable building blocks of this new "tune." Nonetheless, this isn't pretending to be In C Lite. In Season is its own thing.
Michael, I don't know you but I want to thank you so much for uploading this to YouTube. My father, George Pastic, passed away at the age of 86 on November 4th 2014, just six short days after losing his wife of 62 years in a tragic car accident. The accident happened on Oct. 30th. George had been ill for two years and my 83 year old mother and my younger brother Russell, had been caring for him at home. When mom was killed, he simply lost his will to live. This short film truly embodies my father's love of music, storytelling, the power of simple images, and most of all, his love for people. I hope that, at some time in the future, my family can afford to release it on DVD.Such sad news (an obituary for Pastic and his wife is here), but the film is certainly a wonderful tribute to Pastic's artistry, as beautifully described by his son. After seeing Pastic's comment, I noticed that an "official release" of the film on YouTube bad been posted back in August. You can view it here.