Inspired by Music?

Somewhere in my TBR stack, I have a short-story anthology inspired by music by Rush. And I know there are books that have been kicked off by certain songs or instrumental compositions. But only three times has music driven me to write something, in both cases scenes or chapters, not entire books (yet.) Continue reading

Happy Child-hoods: Or Why Alma is a little Strange, part ???

Did you have a family member sing you lullabys when you were young? A babysitter perhaps, or an aunt or grandmother? I grew up hearing “All the Pretty Little Horses” and “All My Sorrows (Soon be Over)”. And “Hush Little Baby” and “Scarborough Fair,” among others. Among the others were “Greenwood Sidie-O” and “The Great Silkie,” both of which are also found in the Child Ballad collection, one of the earliest indexed, cross-referenced and annotated collections of folk ballads and narratives. And neither are really what you might call children’s music. Not that that stopped my parents from playing or singing them, but it might help explain why I grew up a little bit Odd. Continue reading

The Orchestra Will Win

No matter how hard the choir may try, the orchestra will win. The trick is to outwit it, not out-scream it. Even if you are doing, oh, Beethoven’s Choral Symphony (9th Symphony) or Carmina Burana.

  1. Orchestras have strength in numbers. A 50 voice adult choir can cover up a single violin or bassoon if we try hard enough. Two trumpets? Probably not. A 60-piece symphony orchestra? Not going to happen. The orchestra will win.
  2. Orchestras do not breathe. Yes, woodwind and brass players have to release notes in order to inhale, but as a collective whole, orchestras do not pause for breath unless it is written into the score for some reason. Choirs have to breathe. If we take too long, the orchestra gets to the next note before we do and they win the race. The race is supposed to end in a tie, not a win. And it is almost always the choir’s fault, because . . .
  3. The orchestra knows how to read the conductor. He’s their conductor, they work with him all the time. The choir is new and has to learn. For example, I sang with a director who brought his hand down on the downbeat and lifted it on the up beat. Then I encountered a symphony conductor who lifted his hand on the downbeat and lowered it on the up beat. Even after being warned, the first run-through was Not Pretty. For reasons known only to instrumentalists, all orchestra conductors move more like each other than they do like choral conductors, and vice versa.
  4. When a choral conductor directs and orchestra, she focuses on the orchestra and trusts her choir. This often Ends Poorly, as the Grail Knight so eloquently put it. The most recent case was last year, when the choir encountered an orchestra score, a time-signature change, and singing off a choral reduction simultaneously. We never came in. The conductor never noticed. Only on the third run-through was our absence, ahem, noted.

With perhaps the exception of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which is a Super Choir with a orchestras that support them on occasion, the choir is there to augment the orchestra. All we singers can hope for is to be fast on our feet, watch, come in on time, stop on time, and remember not to try to overpower the instrumentalists. Because the orchestra is going to win.

New Year and Music Review

Happy New Year! Now go out and start writing/jogging/reading diet-cooking cookbooks/sitting quietly and meditating/being nice on FaceSpace/ or whatever else you resolved to do.

Gratuitous cat picture, because . . . cat. Athena got tired of me photographing something else and came to see what was diverting her Chief Petter and Feeder from her proper duties.

Gratuitous cat picture, because . . . cat. Athena got tired of me photographing something else and came to see what was diverting her Chief Petter and Feeder from her proper duties.

Two Steps from Hell Vanquish MP3

I’ve been a fan of Two Steps from Hell since their first release. “Protectors of the Earth” is Rada and Joschka’s theme music and has been since the first time that combat waltz played through my headphones. Two Steps was my introduction to what is now called Epic Music (music for movies that have not been made yet), although I’d been a soundtrack collector for many years. They are one of the few groups on my auto-purchase list for new releases. Continue reading

Chanukah 5776

The Amarillo Symphony orchestra decided to try something new this year. Well, actually there are several things new this year, one of which has me more curious about the structural engineering than about the music, but the ASO decided to try a Holiday Pops concert, with music ranging from a popular sing-along to classical to modern classical (“Sleigh-ride,” a John Rutter choral anthem), and more. The conductor, Jacomo Bairos, was rather surprised when everyone in the audience stood for the “Halleluia” from Messiah, but then he’s from Latin America, likely raised Catholic, and wasn’t familiar with that quirk of English and US Protestantism. One of the modern pieces was . . . different. Good different, but different.  Continue reading