Monday, December 25, 2023

Once upon a time...

Once upon a time, I wrote my first twenty-first century fugue back in December, 2015. (I do have one ancient twentieth century fugue as well.) I've played this fugue at some point just about every year since, but have never been happy with the original piano recording I made on an out-of-tune piano. So, the other day when I found time on a beautiful Steinway to record my new "O come, all ye faithful" fugue, I did a few takes of Fugue in Royal David's City and definitely improved on the old version. (A better organ version is still on the to-do list.) 

Just in case you don't know the original tune which famously opens every King's College Lessons and Carols service, here it is. Some of the verses are printed below as well.

MMerry Christmas!

1 Once in royal David’s city
stood a lowly cattle shed,
where a mother laid her baby
in a manger for His bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little Child.

2 He came down to earth from heaven
who is God and Lord of all,
and His shelter was a stable,
and His cradle was a stall:
with the poor, and meek, and lowly,
lived on earth our Savior holy.

3 And our eyes at last shall see Him,
through His own redeeming love;
for that Child so dear and gentle
is our Lord in heav'n above,
and He leads His children on
to the place where He is gone.

4 Not in that poor lowly stable,
with the oxen standing by,
we shall see Him, but in heaven,
set at God’s right hand on high;
when like stars His children crowned
all in white shall wait around.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Old Faithful

This will be short, but as the year comes to a close, I've used an old technique to get me to do something I otherwise might not do. In this case, I submitted a new Fugue on Adeste Fideles as title of the prelude for tomorrow afternoon's second Christmas Eve service. The fact that this fugue didn't yet exist was just a way of writing a check that I'd have to cash.

For better or worse, the check has cleared, and I even have a couple of recordings to show, one a rather overblown virtual organ fest and the other a quiet run-through on piano this morning. As with all of the two-dozen or so hymn fugues I've written in the past few years, I've often thought of these as primarily functional and flexible, so I like the idea that this fugue can reach a grand and triumphant conclusion - or remain a mostly calm, contemplative piano meditation. 

What with the busyness of the holidays and three church services tomorrow, I haven't exactly perfected this piece or the recordings, but these will have to do for now. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 21, 2023

'Tis the Season

Back in 2014, the 50th anniversary year for Terry Riley's iconic aleatoric masterpiece In C, I was inspired by a pun (as so often) to create a holiday homage. It may have been that the pulsing C's which traditionally anchor performances of Riley's work first reminded me of jingle bells. I can't remember for sure, but once I made the "In C  → In Season" connection, there was no going back. Best of all, I think it really works.

Rather than the 53 generic riffs in C Major that Riley devised, I used melodic snippets based on well-known seasonal tunes. Thus, part of the game of listening is to hear these various melodies emerge from the texture and intermingle in unexpected ways. You may read about the origins of In Season here, and I highly recommend a visit to this dedicated page which includes an embedded virtual performance and links to the score and instructions. 

Although I forced some family members to play along back in '14, I've never assembled a real performance...until this year, when the combined high school and middle school bands at the school where I work performed it. I don't have a recording yet of that performance, and I likely wouldn't share it anyway as it was necessarily under-rehearsed. And, though I think it was a real success, I realized how challenging it is to perform for young musicians. They've spent so much of their early years of training learning to play at the right time, with a clear sense of meter and how things fit together. Although In Season demands a very strong sense of rhythm, it's not easy to play confidently when the concept of a downbeat quickly evaporates.

So, I had the idea of creating a new virtual performance for the blog this year. Just as performing this music is more challenging than a quick glance at the score might suggest, creating a decent virtual performance was/is..a big headache. Since my 2014 virtual performance mostly featured orchestral instruments, I decided to go more with a mallets/electric/plucked/synth ensemble this time. I hoped it would be easier to get satisfying sounds, but creating a good mix that feels "of the moment" is daunting no matter what instruments are used.

By the far, the most fun and instructive (for me) aspect of creating this was working from start to finish in a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) rather than a score-based setup. The advantage of the DAW is that each of the fourteen melodies can be encoded as a MIDI loop which can be dropped onto a beat grid and then looped as desired simply by dragging. No worries about messy ties over barlines. There was still a lot of decision-making about when to pause a given instrument and how to think about having it converse with the others. In our recent performance with students, I emphasized often the important of having them take many breaks simply to listen rather than play constantly. This was in part to keep them from being overwhelmed. With MIDI, the "players" can go on forever without a break, so I had to make decisions about putting spaces in - fewer still than would be likely in any live performance.

Look, the truth is, I could easily spend dozens of hours perfecting this, but at some point I had to remember I had a family and settle for something which is still spontaneous in many ways. I did have fun converting the DAW "score" into an interesting visual as well. Although the "notes" are tiny, it's color-coded so you can see which track is doing what. (You'll have to determine for yourself what the instruments are, but they should go more or less left to right across the stereo spectrum.*)

I realize a skeptic might look at this or Riley's piece and figure it's all kind of random and silly (I know because I was an In C skeptic for decades!), but there is a real order and sense of structure which I believe emerges. You can see the fourteen snippets below. Here's what I wrote back in 2014:

I think [the] large-scale structural aspect of In C is under-appreciated (at least it was under-appreciated by me for decades), and in a small way, I've tried to create some structural flow within my holiday jumble. Most obvious is that the more rhythmically busy patterns occur in #6-11, bookended by the two longest and slowest fragments, #5 and #12. (Note also that #5 ascends and #12 descends.) #3 leads very naturally into #4, both by shared dotted rhythm and the G-F-E connection. #4 ends with the same rising G-C that begins #5. Only C-D-E-F-G are used through the first five fragments. A appears only in #6 and #8-12, with the leading tone B appearing only in the climactic #10-12. (There's a sense in which 9-11 transitions into A Minor, the relative minor of C, and then the expansive #12 brings us back to C.) The final fragment, #14, is the only one not to include C, so it serves as a kind of implied dominant that might lead back...

Having now been through this piece many times with students and via virtual work, I can affirm that these features consistently shine through, although I hope new and interesting things happen each time as well. Give it a listen! Then go play it!

* The instruments used are basically an acoustic guitar, an electric guitar, a synthy guitar, an electric piano, a harp, a synthy keyboard, marimba, bells, vibraphone, synth, and electric bass.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Sondheim Slanted Evening

Hopefully the post title is reason enough to be wary of where we're headed here. Just two years and one day ago, I was writing a tribute to the remarkable creative force behind Company, Sweeney Todd, and Into the Woods, and here I am presenting a couple of silly distortions of his exquisite musical/lyrical ideas. But it certainly comes from a place of affection.

First up, a couple of months ago, I mentioned seeing just a two-bar cadential figure shown in a question on a Facebook group and I knew at once I'd played this flourish.

It took me a bit of time to realize it's the closing gesture (hear at 2:29 here) from On the Steps of the Palace, Cinderella's big number from Into the Woods. When I mentioned this to some friends online, one repeated a suggestion she'd made before about combining Sondheim's Steps with Borodin's lovely orchestral tone poem In the Steppes of Central Asia. Ultimately, I failed to resist this temptation.

As it happens, I was making this around the same time as I was converting Schubert's Erlkönig to a major key, and we were discussing major/minor modes in a couple of theory classes, so I found it interesting that the "key" to getting Borodin and Sondheim to play nice together was to set the former's plaintive minor key melody against the latter's major key ostinato accompaniment. (If you don't know the originals, you may follow the links in the previous paragraph.) 

This turns out to be a nice way to look at the concept of relative major and minor keys, keys which are "related" because they basically use the same set of pitches but with a different starting/ending note. One simple way to say this is that if one starts on the sixth note of a major scale (down two from the original home pitch which can be called 1 or 8) and follow the scale trail up to the same note, one ends up with the major key's relative minor. Thus, Borodin's minor key melody, which begins on scale degree 5 can actually be harmonized in major simply by treating each scale degree as if it is two lower. The same pitch is now treated as scale degree 3.

I'm sure that sounds quite pedantic, so here's a quick demo. 

First you hear Borodin's melody more or less against his original minor key harmonies, starting on scale degree 5. (This version is already transposed to the key [B Minor/D Major] I used in my mashup below, and the meter has also been switched from Borodin's 2/4 to Sondheim's 6/8, with a few other melodic adjustments.)

Then you hear the exact same melody against the repeating accompaniment vamp Sondheim uses in his song, except the vamp is downshifted from D Major into the same B Minor as the melody.

Finally, you hear the exact same melody against Sondheim's original accompaniment, this time shifted back up to its original D Major. Though not all minor-key melodies transfer so easily (I think it helps that the original minor key melody does not use scale degrees 1 or 2), this one actually works fine against the new harmonies - but it certainly sounds different! It's worth noting that one reason this mashup sort of works is that both Borodin's melody and Sondheim's melody (which you don't get to hear here) spend a lot of time over pedal bass notes (basically meaning the lowest note in the accompaniment doesn't change).

To complete my silly little arrangement, we open with the major-key melody which opens Borodin's tone poem, then transition into Borodin's main tune (now contextualized as major) and, of course, we end with the flourish that got me into this mess in the first place.

Now as if that wasn't silly, I ran across a discussion in a Sondheim Facebook forum which resulted in someone jokingly proposing a mashup of The Ladies Who Lunch from Company with the technopop classic I'm a Barbie Girl. Someone else suggested the title, The Barbies Who Brunch, and my mind started racing again.

Although this might seem particularly absurd, the aging alcoholic bitterly singing about the "ladies who lunch" might be thought of as a cautionary tale about where a plastic Barbie lifestyle leads. Joanne sings derisively about Barbie-esque women who live glossy, empty lives. And speaking of "major vs. minor," the "Barbie Girl" song, though relentlessly upbeat, is in a minor key which gives it a bit of a dark undertone, while Sondheim's depressing anthem is a great example of a sad song in a major key.

In this case, most of the music is Sondheim's, with lyrics inspired by "Barbie Girl" and some melodic quotations from the pop tune mixed in, most notably in the accompaniment. 

By the way, a case could be made that Sondheim would be most offended by my frequent use of slant rhyme here (brunch/such ~ world/girl ~ Ken/him). He's generally not a fan of rhyming only halfway, as well described here. "Using near rhyme is like juggling clumsily." Oof. However, I feel like the slant rhymes help pay homage to the pop idiom - and, they were the best I could do in the middle of an otherwise busy day.

This mashup probably won't make much sense if you don't know both songs reasonably well (see links above), but I think it kind of works. Notice I only tease the idea and don't continue with the main body of Sondheim's song, but I am pleased with the Bossa Nova Barbie beat that ends this:

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Concentric Circles: Nardini → Kreisler

Time and again, I return here because of some happenstance by which I make unexpected connections between two works. We've had:

In the last few weeks, I've been doing a lot of accompanying of young string players, and it's provided opportunity for a couple of unexpected new discoveries. The first connection came up two weeks ago when I had back-to-back rehearsals for a concerto competition with a violinist playing the first movement of Prokofiev's first concerto and a violist playing the first movement of the Walton Concerto. I adore the former, but do not know the latter well, having only played it once years ago on short rehearsal - although I did once make this [warning: viola joke] "director's cut" video

Anyway, after some rehearsing of both, I started to notice a strange kinship between the two concerti. Each first movement begins with a quiet, lyrical, flowing melody for soloist in compound meter. Each progresses to increasingly busy passagework with relentless sixteenth notes, and each ends with the opening melody in solo winds while the soloist decorates with graceful, perpetual motion flourishes. [Worth noting it's pretty unusual for a concerto first movement to begin and end softly/slowly.]  I mentioned this to a couple of musician friends, and one (a violist) sent me a link to this remarkable article by the violist Atar Arad who makes a compelling case that Prokofiev's 1923 concerto served as a sort of hidden model for Walton's 1929 work. 

I'll leave it to you to read the article (which has some very detailed analysis) and follow up on these connections, but again, what was most interesting to me is that the dots connected naturally for me simply by playing the two pieces within the same hour. In addition to the openings, you could compare the violin passagework at 3:46 with viola passagework at 4:00 and the ending sections which begin at 8:05 [Prokofiev] and 7:10 [Walton]. If you backtrack from the endings, you'll see that each composer links to the closing section with slow, intense, dissonant double-stops for the soloist. But there are many other likenesses to be found.

Then, Friday night I accompanied a series of student recitals which included a not well-known concerto by the 18th century's Pietro Nardini. This turns out to be one of those works of somewhat dubious origin which was most likely assembled in the 19th century or later and thus has more Romantic stylistic features. There's an interesting and somewhat entertaining discussion of this concerto as a pedagogical work (apparently unpopular with many students?) here.

Honestly, as a student concerto I was not finding it that interesting to play, but there is a striking, heartfelt passage towards the end of the first movement that caught my ear. The violinist plays a soaring sequential idea (same two bars repeated several times with each repetition a step lower) over a "circle progression." Circle progressions (in which chords roots move up by 4th or down by 5th in a way that recalls the "Circle of Fifths") are very common, but there was something about this one that just felt...emotionally right. 

I then realized it was reminding me a similar progression in Kreisler's Praeludium and Allegro, an all-time favorite "meant to sound old" piece - which I had rehearsed about twenty minutes before! Lo and behold, both works are in E Minor and the progressions basically use the exact same chords except Kreisler indulges in a few more major sevenths, a sonority not super common in Common Practice Period Harmony, but which adds an extra layer of pathos to both sequences.

Here they are played one after the other (by Pinchas Zukerman and Tasmin Little) and then - of course! - played simultaneously. Kreisler's work is one of the original pieces he originally credited to an "ancient" composer (Pugnani), but I would guess Kreisler would have known the already Romanticized Nardini concerto and might very well have borrowed these chords, whether purposefully or accidentally. 

Of course, both works go their own directions after starting these phrases with that identical progression, but each composer leverages the logical structure of a Classical progression (movement by descending fifths has a particularly strong sense of forward motion) to strengthen and stabilize their more Romantic melodic/dramatic components. I don't know if anyone else has noticed this or if I would have noticed if not for fortuitous happenchance.

Just a couple more observations about these works. The Nardini is a good example of a work which I think is partly undone by a not-great primary theme. Nothing wrong with the opening idea, but it's just generic, even though it seems to aim for drama. This is a topic I'd like to return to as there are some great works which I believe overcome subpar themes, and other works with fantastic tunes that don't lead anywhere satisfying. There's no reason the primary theme must be first-rate, but for lesser known works like Nardini's, it's more of an uphill battle to overcome a blah first impression.

As for Kreisler's Praeludium and Allegro, I really do love everything about this bit of pastiche and the only music of his I love as much is his first-movement cadenza for the Beethoven concerto - another case in which he's intentionally working within a more Classical aesthetic which I find merges well with his sentimental tendencies. (The first part of Kreisler's Sicilienne and Rigaudon is almost as good, but maybe leans a little too sentimental, although if we're talking Kreisler, I'll admit that I do unreservedly love this tune.)


P.S. This post includes further reflections on my affections for Romantic/Modern works intentionally meant to evoke Classical style. I should've added Prokofiev's 1st and Shostakovich's 9th to that list of lovably neo-classical symphonies.

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

It talks!

Just to put a bow on my previous post, I'm back with one more version of my Erlkönig in G Major. Though it might seem I'd taken this as far as I could, there was still a level of horror to unlock: have a creepy synth voice sing the new "translation" I'd made to go with the major/minor tonality flips. (Please don't mention that there is theoretically yet another step, which would be to have a real person sing this.)

So, what better day than October 31 to prove that Schubert had only begun to explore the darkness in his iconic song? There is lovely irony in the fact that turning the tune to major actually makes it more disturbing than the original. The same is true for the way a disembodied synth voice brings its own special kind of undeadness that no live human could quite achieve. I hope.

And no, the diction's not great (my choir members will note that I never seem to care much about diction anyway except as it affects sound/blend), but the price is right with this virtual singer software.

As it happens, I recently updated my "pinned" Twitter post to say:
To quote Sondheim: "I'm still here!" Check out my unique multimedia creations, many either visualizing or distorting (or both) the classics. YouTube: Blog (16+ years): Random Sampler (spin the wheel!):

Only later did I realized the "16+ years" might look like some sort of age restriction. I reasoned that I had in fact produced plenty of disturbing content over the years, and so that inspired the creation of this little playlist which might also be appropriate for Halloween. 

And in fact, though I did show Schubert's original Erlkönig to some lucky 8th Grade music classes today, I think they probably should be a little older before they hear it in major.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

A stranger's just a friend you haven't met

This is really just an update to the previous post. Having "translated" the music of Schubert's Erlkönig from G Minor to G Major, I was bothered that the text displayed was still Goethe's dark and tragic German. Although I'm not capable of re-writing the German, I decided I would translate the original into English. 

As it happens, the connections between transcription and translation have been of interest to me since I started the blog, as can be seen here among many other posts. (A search of the name "Hofstadter" on the blog will turn up lots more!) But most importantly, this will work better when you inevitably feel led to sing along.

So, here we have an updated version of the story. No more "stranger danger" or creepy dancing daughters. (See Goethe's original here.) Because I'm insane, I did try to adhere pretty closely to the stanza structure of Goethe's poem, but with, for example, appropriate switches from a late night ride in the cold wind to an early ride at dawn in the breeze. Notice that, just as my "transcription" of the original Schubert song into a major key is a distortion which is nevertheless defined by the original musical structure, this new "translation" also aims to be a distortion which is nevertheless defined by the original text. 

I think I've said enough:

But wait! There's more!

Friday, September 22, 2023

Changes both major and minor

 Recently, the following image made its way around on social media:

Schubert's Erlkönig is one of the most iconic works in the classical canon, helped a good bit by the fact that it shows up in many anthologies for music history/appreciation classes. Although Schubert is rightly celebrated for his hundreds of songs, it's a little unusual that this is often the standard-bearer since he didn't really write anything else quite like it, but it packs an incredible dramatic punch. The mercilessly cruel piano part might seem to be a disadvantage for getting the song performed, but the notoriety it adds has only helped to amplify the legend. (I once expressed this in J. Peterman form.) 

As it happens, I spent extra time with this song while leading a piano seminar at a chamber music camp this past summer. I wanted to expose the pianists - some of whom were playing pretty advanced stuff by Liszt, Chopin, etc. - to the crazy technical challenge this "accompaniment" represents. My idea was that, because its relentless repetition is what makes it so difficult, I'd have pianists trade off playing the repeating octaves/chords bar by bar, so it was also meant to be a sightreading challenge. In my "arrangement" for four pianists and two pianos, two students traded triplets while one played the left hand part and another played the vocal melody up an octave or two. This allowed for different levels of skill among those sightreading as well. I won't say we ever made great music out of it, but it was fun and right in my wheelhouse.

Speaking of my wheelhouse, I knew almost as soon as I read the posting above that I'd need to create a version of this song in G Major. To be clear, though Erlkönig is published in a variety of keys, they are all obviously minor keys, so the request for a major key is worth a chuckle, especially considering how that might alter its tragic ending. My best guess is that the requester wanted a version in E Minor, and asked for G Major because that has the same key signature, but what if someone really wants this music in a major key?

Well, it turns out to be less straightforward than one might imagine. There's a kind of casual way in which many think of major and minor as opposites. They are indeed used in opposition to each other often, but without going into detail, it's just not a pure binary distinction - especially if the music modulates, which Schubert's does often in this case. It's one thing to turn a simple melody like that of "Happy Birthday" into a satisfying minor key version which can seem like a kind of opposite, but once there are modulations, lots of things get murky. 

There is actually an entire cottage industry of well-known pop tunes in which major/minor has been reversed, such as here and here (more here), but modulation is generally not a big issue in such contexts. Once I started tweaking Schubert, I knew I was going to have to make some tricky decisions, but what fun! Schubert is particularly known for loving to switch back and forth between major and minor, sometimes turning on a dime, so he is an interesting subject for this experiment. My basic concept was to switch the primary minor sections to major while also converting the contrasting major-key sections (when the evil Elf King is sweet-talking his prey) into minor keys. There are some odd gear shifts that Schubert would certainly have never used, and a few chords (especially m.47 and m.49) that he simply would never have imagined, but part of the fun is to be surprised by these funhouse reflections.

I've long been intrigued by the idea of creating something out of the negative space defined by an existing work, and I hope to return to the idea if I find time this fall. In the meantime, enjoy the upbeat, frolicsome soundworld that exists somewhere on the periphery of Schubert's haunted house.

Just remembered this song also come up in this blog post.

UPDATE: New version with English lyrics now available!

Friday, September 1, 2023

A Canon for Kim

I don't post personal stuff too much here on the blog. Early on, I posted about the birth of my third child, a son who's now mowing down the Elgar Cello Concerto, so that was some time ago. But today happens to be the birthday of a very special person, my sister-in-law Kim. When she married my older brother almost forty years ago, she became part of my own large, tight-knit family - my fifth sister, as it were - and she's been a role model in countless ways.

She was perhaps the first piano major I really knew, some years ahead of my college days, and she also preceded me as a pianist-turned-organist (although she took real lessons!), a church choir director (again, she had legit training), and piano teacher. She also has done all sorts of things I could never imagine, including designing her own house and significantly re-designing another, running a school, homeschooling two daughters who have both grown into brilliant musicians and remarkable young women, and being an incredibly gifted cook who can graciously host small gatherings and large-scale events unbelievably well. She's done all this after surviving a terrifying encounter with cancer as a young mother.

The ongoing effects of radiation from way back have caused new problems which made us fear Kim would not make it to this birthday, but she's still fighting and inspiring many, many people. She is not the type to look for praise or lots of attention and I won't go into too much detail, though prayers for her are certainly appreciated! She is facing uphill battles, but with courage and hope - and surrounded by a lot of love.

We were able to visit her a few weekends ago, and with a few lazy summer days left afterwards, I decided to write a canon for her. To canon-ize her as a saint among us, one might say. I've actually never written a canon before, though I've written a lot of fugues and I've visualized Bach canons. This summer I learned that Greg Hayes, the longtime singing director at the chamber music camp my kids have attended for more than ten years, has often encouraged students to write canons. Upon his retirement from the camp this summer, we got to hear a few canons written and sung in his honor, and this idea stuck with me. So upon our return from that weekend visit, I spent a Sunday afternoon pushing notes around and then did a bit more finagling in the days that followed. 

The fascinating thing about a canon is that everything for an entire composition is encoded in just a small part of it. A little like a fractal, perhaps, although different in significant ways. This of course means that every little decision made about a note change here or there has implications elsewhere. I gave myself some leeway in not being obsessed with perfect voice-leading or rigorous harmonic definition, and I was happy with the result. (In fact, it was a goal from the outset to avoid having too clear a sense of a recurring progression.)

What interested me the most was creating a melodic fragment which contained all the information needed to produce a satisfying musical structure - not just parts that sound OK together, but the sense of beginning, building, and ending. Of course, the most famous and perhaps greatest of all canons* is really a set of variations on a ground bass which is satisfying not because the melody is only a small kernel, but because the variations develop slowly in complexity and richness. I genuinely love Pachelbel's ingenious creation, but, repetitive ground bass aside, its canonic melody is actually quite long. (Nevertheless, I find it brilliant how a single violin part can be used to produce such engaging counterpoint with itself.)

My choice was to write a sixteen-bar, four-phrase melody, which could simply be sung as a four-part round (Kim and her family of four love to sing). While rounding it into shape, I came up with the idea of adding two simpler phrases as a sort of interlude leading to the return of the first four. So there's a resulting ternary structure like so (with EF representing the two interlude phrases): ABCD EF ABCD. Because the interlude component is half as long as the primary melody, this means almost every section from beginning to end is a unique combination of segments. We get the following, with voice parts listed left to right:

  • A _ _ _
  • B A _ _
  • C B A _
  • D C B A
  • D C B
  • F E D C
  • F E D
  • B A F E
  • C B A F
  • D C B A
  • _ D C B
  • _ _ D C
  • _ _ _ D

If you look closely, you'll see that only the DCBA combination occurs twice, with its second occurrence at an appropriately climactic moment. I also used two other little cheats in working with the tune.  1) The last two bars of the canon begin with an upward leap of a 7th, reaching to the highest note in the whole thing, an admittedly unusual way to end a melody. When setting for SATB chorus, I worried this leap would be awkwardly high for altos and basses, but the melody also works with those final two bars down an octave. Dramatic Upward 7th becomes Perfectly Logical Stepwise Descent. So that end of the tune can function both climactically and as tension-release resolution. 2) The other cheat was to let each finished part sustain parts of a final chord to create a pedal effect at the conclusion. 

Here is the primary four-phrase tune:

The text comes from the final two verses of Proverbs 31, the end of a section beginning with the well-known verse: "A good wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels." Kim is a truly good wife and certainly more precious than jewels.

I haven't had a chance to record this properly, but I do have two recordings to offer. The first is simply played on piano, the second uses synthy orchestra sounds that make me wince a bit at first but eventually settle into a nice kind of grandeur. (When dealing with fake instruments, it's hard to resist the lure of reverb.) These notes won't end the suffering Kim is enduring, but they do pay meager tribute to the wonderful person she is. Happy Birthday, Kim!

* The recording of Pachelbel's Canon linked above, with all parts played by friend Albano Berberi, is far and away the best recording of this piece I've ever heard. And I would add that Pachelbel's strongest competition for "best canon ever" is the finale of Franck's violin sonata, although Franck is able to provide lots of variety by adding harmonies around the two-part canon, and he uses multiple non-canonic interludes with the canon returning in rondo style each time. 

Friday, February 24, 2023

I am sixteen, going on seventeen

It's been a slow start to 2023 here at MMmusing, but I couldn't let my sixteenth blogiversary pass by without acknowledgement. I've had a blog topic in mind for awhile, but haven't gotten around to word conversion, so I'll just offer a slight anniversary-related teaser for today since there is less than an hour to go this February 24.

Back in 2022, on my birthday, a Facebook friend offered the cryptic greeting "CCDCFE" on my wall. As I could not comprehend what hidden message these letters might portend, I chose to convert them B-A-C-H-style into a musical theme. Thus was born this tiny little dysfunctional birthday fanfare, which I think is rather charming and suitable for my blog's birthday.

more to come soon...about function, dysfunction, and the ways in which they can relate and define each other.