Friday, February 24, 2012

The Last Five Years

Today marks the five year anniversary of MMmusing. I know it might seem like I've given up blogging since there have been no postings here for more than two months, but the truth is, it's just been a busy time and the blog been's on casual hiatus (hibernation?).

However, I have every intention of keeping it going, with lots of ideas for posts and multimedia creations buzzing around in my head. I know that long breaks are bad form if you want to build a blogging audience, but as much as I like the idea of a regular flow of ideas, I also think of this five years' worth of material as something more permanent - not exactly a book, but not something completely ephemeral either. There's a lot of useful content that could be more usefully archived, and that's one of my goals in the months ahead, to repackage the content and make the case that I've done something. Stay tuned.

But today's a big anniversary day, so I thought we'd celebrate with something new as a way of giving myself a round of applause in style. The quick backstory: I've been talking to our music majors about Steve Reich's Clapping Music, and we tried to perform it as a group in a class recently. (More on that to come, perhaps.) I then sent out an email with links to a bunch of YouTube versions - none better than this one starring Angie Dickinson, by the way (proving that classical music needs more Angie Dickinson) - and one clever student wrote the following on my Facebook wall the next day:
Clapping music
On two pianos
With Danses des Adolescentes chord
Well, yes! I'm a little sad I hadn't thought of this idea myself* (though proud to have such students around), but I did spend some time inputting it into Finale, and you can see/hear the results below. Not only does it use the famous polychord from Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, but because that chord is famously comprised of two different consonant sonorities (an E-flat 6/5 chord and an E chord), I let each chord take its own part. The way Reich's piece works is that the first part continues with the exact same rhythmic pattern throughout, while the second part repeats the same pattern but phase-shifting at regular rates, so that the pattern gets tilted against itself. (Watch here.)

Although I'm sure some of the purity of the original concept is lost, I kind of like hearing the two patterns in opposing tonalities and registers - it makes the back and forth a little more clear. But you can judge for yourself.

Happy MMmusing Day!

(with thanks to Wesley N. for the idea!)

Go here to read my first-ever post from Feb. 24, 2007.

* I'm sure I've written about The Rite of Spring more than any subject on this blog. Just search "rite" in the blogger search box at the top left.

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