Saturday, January 20, 2018

Re-Inventing Bach

A couple of days ago, my blogging pianist friend Erica pointed me to a new edition of Bach's Two-Part Inventions in which the right hand and left hand parts are switched.



This is a fun idea, although I think referring to these inventions as "inverted" is a bit misleading because the notes still all go in the same directions. It's just a matter of shifting one part down a few octaves and the other up. However, you could say that having an idea like this tossed my way was like having a pebble tossed into a pond. A Lilypond, to be precise.

Because all of the Inventions are readily available online in Lilypond format, I snagged the notes for the F Major Invention No. 8 demo'd above and, because Lilypond is magic, did some quick little operations to:
  • truly invert the two parts (down is up and up is down)
  • play the original backwards (retrograde)
  • combine the inversion and retrograde operations
The results are more satisfying than I expected, although I admittedly have quirky tastes. Of course, Bach's tonal relationships work in such a way that flipping things upside down distorts a lot of the original context. Major often becomes sort of minor, final chords end up without the root on the bottom, etc. But I decided not to try to "fix" anything, but rather remain perversely faithful to the original. One might think of these "compositions" or "variations" as negative space defined by what Bach actually wrote. 

There are dissonant moments that sound like they could come straight from a 20th century contrapuntal master like Shostakovich, but I also think the pure energy of Bach shines through. Rather than write much more about them now, I'll just present this little "Theme and Variations" for your enjoyment (variations 2-4 are where the real fun begins):

THEME:


VAR. 1 - HANDS SWITCHED:


VAR. 2 - HANDS SWITCHED & INVERTED:


VAR. 3 - RETROGRADE:


VAR. 4 - RETROGRADE INVERSION:




Again, even if you don't like everything, I hope you'll find a few passages here and there to spark your interest.

Here's another example of me re-inventing some Bach:


Monday, January 8, 2018

Trumped up G & S

For some strange reason, this is the second year in a row in which my first blog post features our opera buffa presidency as material for...comic opera! You may recall that the ever-tweeting Trump recently described himself as a "very stable genius," and this has inspired a series of Twitter verses inspired by the ever-parodied Modern Major General song from The Pirates of Penzance.

A friend of mine suggested last night that I should try my hand at this. As I wrote on Facebook:
I said to myself upon hearing this challenge: "Resist!" .... I failed.
Honestly, my verses could use some work, but I'm proud of sticking with a single rhyme for all 24 lines - something even Gilbert didn't do. (I did depart from the Genius-General connection since that already seemed to have been mined a good bit.) I figured for blogging purposes I might as well make a singalong video since social media loves multimedia, so here's a hastily realized combo of text and tune:



If you know the tune and just want to read the words, you'll find them below.

Strangely, enough, this is my fifth Trumpopera creation. You can view them all, quirky as they are, via this playlist:



Relevant blog posts are here and here.

Happy New Year!



I am the very model of a modern US president.
I tweet my every thought without a thought for any one’s consent.
I know the mainstream media is something I can circumvent
Because no news is bad news, I just constantly sow discontent.

I never bothered learning how to follow legal precedent.
I’d rather cheat, harass, and lie. I see no reason to repent.
America will once again be great though lib’rals will lament:
It’s really only great if you are part of the top one percent.

It’s really only great if you are part of the top one percent.
It’s really only great if you are part of the top one percent.
It’s really only great if you are part of the top one, top one percent.

I’ll build a wall to keep out all the people who don’t represent
The folks like me who’d never be a sad illegal immigrant.
In short, I’m tall and great and went to Washington where I was sent
To be the very model of a modern US president.

~ ~ ~

To towers, steaks, and one great university my name I’ve lent.
My businesses are bigly cause I spent and spent and overspent.
I fired a lot of people who did not deserve employ-a-ment.
It made for great TV and made me famous as a malcontent.

I never really earned a thing not given by my par(a)ent,
But I know how to back out of a deal, I just don’t pay the rent.
I’ve got a button and will cause an internat’nal incident -
By making inappropriate remarks about the Orient.

By making inappropriate remarks about the Orient.
By making inappropriate remarks about the Orient.
By making inappropriate remarks about the Ore, the Orient.

I’ve had three wives; my new one has a European a(a)ccent,
But otherwise I do not trust a foreign-sounding resident.
In short I’m tall and great and went to Washington where I was sent
To be the very model of a modern US president.