During this semester, I have had the privilege to learn and play with many different musicians here at Lehman College, including Mr. Allan Molnar and his Jazz Ensemble. He welcomed me as an unofficial member and this past month I have watched them rehearse to perform an instrumental jazz composition called Blue Bossa by Kenny Dorham. The style or genre of this song is called Bossa Nova which is a mix of Samba and Hard Bop Jazz. Blue Bossa is a jazz standard comprised mainly of II, V, I progressions and is played in either a minor or a major key. In this piece, the two keys are not relative major or minor keys. The form might be described as ABCB since the second four measures and the fourth four measures are identical. The 3rd four measures could be called the bridge since it is played in a different key. Blue Bossa was played in C minor. The piece starts of with  the bass guitar and the drums. The bass line is playing around the II, V, and, I chord. The drums are playing the bossa nova which is a style of drumming typically used in the Jazz with a Latin influence. I often use this style of drumming myself in the Latin Jazz ensemble. It isn’t played as aggressively as other drum patterns would be.  The rim click simulates the click of a clave. The hi-hat simulates the shaker. 8th notes can also be played with a brush instead of a drum stick to further simulate a shaker. The piano follows to decorate the rhythm with minor chords and its arpeggios to break it down. The trumpet comes in next with the main melody or theme of the song. The first time around it gives more of a staccato sound, but then when it repeats, the trumpet stretches out the notes more the second time to more of a legato sound with some fills for the remaining count in the measure. The trumpet continues to improvise during the solo with different variations of the main theme. A low saxophone comes in after and eventually picks up the pace with a quick solo playing in what sounds like 32nd notes with ties. The piano solo comes in after which is my favorite solo of the piece. I feel like it decorated the tune and fit extremely with all the chord progressions. Lastly, the bass solo follows and all other instruments except percussion stop playing. The drums keep the rhythm while the piano throws in some high pitch chords to decorate the bass solo. The main trumpet theme played with trumpet returns closing out the piece. I enjoyed watching this performance and personally enjoy listening to Blue Bossa as well as playing along to it. It is a jazz standard and is a good song to play along with because it is played at a moderate tempo and is good for beginners and musicians who want to practice this style of music. It is a good song for beginners to practice with improvisation over chord changes because it’s slow and has an easy to follow harmony.

Competition for Student Artists at CUNY

Are you preparing an original composition for our class concert? Does it engage ideas of diversity? If so, consider entering it in the first ever competition for students: Strength In Us.

The richness of the City University of New York (CUNY) is defined by who we are: the most diverse University system in the nation. CUNY’s history and our future is built around opening doors of higher education to all students from across the globe who strive to learn, study, and share knowledge.

Strength in Us is a CUNY-wide student challenge with the goal to encourage students to submit creative work that depicts:

  • the importance of a more just, diverse and inclusive campus climate;
  • what an idealized future would be like if CUNY became the global leader in furthering active and respectful inquiry; or
  • ways students might spearhead efforts to advance educational opportunity at CUNY for students from around the world

4 Prizes to be Awarded:

Grand Prize: $1500
First Honorable Mention: $1000
Second Honorable Mention: $750
Third Honorable Mention: $250
The winners of Strength in Us will be decided via crowdsourcing by YOU!

Strength in Us Page 2

Strength In Us

Rehearsal Time: Thursday April 20

As I mentioned in class today, I have to go out of town tomorrow, April 20. Please use the class hour to rehearse with your group for the Class Concert, which is planned for Wednesday, May 10.

You should all be in an ensemble by now. If not, be sure to get in touch with your colleagues.  Please write in the Comment Section below, the members of your group and what piece or pieces you have planned.  If you’re not in a group, but are seeking one, write in the Comment Section!

You are welcome to invite others from the college to participate with you! (I’m thinking of the group looking to perform Snowforms: if you have colleagues who sing, why not invite them to participate?)

What shall we all perform together as a group piece? We have performed Tuning MeditationIn CThe Great Learning, a variety of rhythm games from Stridulations for the Good Luck Feast. There are other graphic scores we could interpret together as a class. Let me know what you’re interested in trying as a large group. We’ll discuss the votes on Monday!

 

Drone Mass

Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson performed his Drone Mass with ACME, the American Contemporary Music Ensemble, and Theatre of Voices. This performance was held at Duke University and was conducted by Donato Cabrera. Drone Mass is a contemporary oratorio with eight movements sung by a vocal ensemble (TOV) accompanied by a string quartet (ACME). The string quartet had one cellist, two violinists, and one violist. The vocal ensemble had two sopranos, one mezzo, one alto, two tenors, and two bass. The movements included a drone produced either by Jóhannsson’s modular synthesizer or by voices and instruments that would mimic the sound of a drone. Jóhannsson’s drone would often produce a deep, rumbling effect. Most, if not all, of the movements were in a natural minor key or mode. The vocalists used limited vibrato and would often continue without rest, producing a haunting or hypnotic effect. The hymn they sang was a series of vowels inspired by Gnostic texts from the Nag Hammadi Library.

In the first movement, voices alternated the theme in F# natural minor. Strings accompanied with a rhythmic bass and then strings played the theme with the voices, and then returned to rhythmic bass, all ending on I7.

The second movements showcased the importance all of voices and instruments. The voices sang vowels on the beat. As the strings and voices alternated in similar repeated themes, never resting together, so it began to sound like a fugue.

The third movement had the first appearance of the drone. A low drone tone on E faded in. Bass sang alongside the drone, then the tenors. Strings slurred in an upward motion producing a very sharp sound like faint squeaking in the background. Then the strings repeated an E natural minor arpeggio as the altos alternated tones of E minors with different vowels. The tenors and bass repeated a syncopated bass rhythm as the drone faded out.

In the fourth movement the bass sang alone, slurring tones in a downward motion and would rest. The cellist slurred tones up and down, pushing hard on the bow, creating a tense, unpleasant sound. The other strings joined in doing the same creating dissonant tones. The bass, tenors, and alto repeated this slurring theme with “Ahs.” The voices then called out and answered with the theme several times, in a crescendo.

The fifth movement was in B minor. One violin repeated a simple 4-note motif and then the cello joined for harmony. The second violin played the theme in sync with the first violin. The violins would gradually go in and out of sync while the cello played its own theme. The voices sang vowels on the tones of B minor.

The sixth movement was more about the dynamics. Voices sing vowels in F major as strings sustain tones for the bass. The violins repeated a melancholy theme in F major. All crescendo then one by one the voices and instruments very gradually decrescendo.

In the seventh movement, the drone fades in on D. Individual voices would take turns connecting one interval to create the melody. The deep, rumbling drone bent in and out of D, becoming more rough and thick before it faded out.

The final movement was in E minor. The voices sounded together in an improvisational way in which no rhythm could be heard. The voices alternated sustained tones from the key of E minor. One voice singing a high A# created an unexpected texture. The cello created a drone effect but would slur in a downward motion from B, scaling down a major third, and then a perfect fifth. Voices in tutti repeated this slur, creating more tension, and suddenly ended on the lone cello on G, slurring down to E, to B, then down to E. This would repeat as violins created an unpleasant high pitch sound. The strings alternated in downward slurring. Voices layered on more texture and dissonance by alternated the same slurring motion but beginning on different tones. One by one the voices would call out different tones of the chromatic scale. The voices fade out and the piece ended as the high pitch strings faded out.

Jóhannsson’s Drone Mass was moving with a sense of stillness and mystery. The vocalists were very good but not as virtuosic as I would expect in a work so vocally focused. This work catered to my love of vocal music from the Baroque era. The drone added foundation and an ancient sound to an otherwise modern work. Jóhannsson is better recognized for his original scores for the films, The Theory of Everything (2014) and Arrival (2016).

LUCKY CHOPS: Friday FUNKY TOWN

Original Funky Town from the 1980’s

 

 

It was a Friday night heading downtown as I was transferring to a different train. I overheard a live music performance. I follow the sound and found the live performance group. The group was performing on the upper level of the 34th Street–Herald Square. Infuse with the crowded and train noises the group perform a higher pitch. The logic allows the instrument pierce through the ambient sounds. Their name is Lucky Chops and they are a brass instruments group. Chops consist of tuba, trombone, trumpet, tenor saxophones, baritone saxophones, and drummer. The group was performing a cover of Funkytown by Lipps Inc compose in the 1980s. The original song instrument was hi-hat cymbal, electronic guitar and majorities were digital interface sounds. The transition from original instrument to brass group and 1 drummer was astounding. The group did not use distinctive instruments from the original track. However, was able to still perform distinctively to the original. The baritone saxophones player started out solo with repeated melodies. Soon after it was joined by the other. The drummer serves as a drone melody. While the trumpet has the most distinctive sound because it has a higher pitch. The tuba, trombone, tenor saxophones, and baritone saxophones synchronize with each other as they play repeated melodies. Proceeded by distinctive high pitch sound of the trumpet. The baritone saxophones player went back to a quick solo which provided a bass sound. As he played he is dancing to each of the notes. Doctor B from my chorus class inform me that performer from vocalist to wind-related instrument utilize several of body movement to produce more sound rather than just standing still. The baritone saxophones not only entertain the audiences with his in sync dancing. He was able to produce more wind force from his lungs. At 1:10 Tenor saxophones player call out “Here we go, 1,2,3” which signal the group to fuege the chorus. Tenor saxophones is very distinctive during chorus because of assorts of melodies. The melodies range from low to high pitch notes. The notes seem to transition from sixteen notes to whole notes. The music transitional at the 2:00 time mark. It forefront the tenor saxophones and baritone saxophones playing a 3 noted repeated melodies. While the drummer played hi-hat along with each notes of the saxophones. At the 2:16 mark the band played a called and responds styles. The trumpet would play alternating melody at a high pitch. While on the second beat the saxophones would ostinato. I would consider this piece to be ternary form because I hear 3 distinctive talea. Not only has the performance sounded live because it was played in front of me but the location of the station provided reverb. The reverb allows notes to be more sustaining and constant. In the video, it shows the band transition into another piece. However, during my event the group stops after Funky Town. Overall, it was a great learning experience. I was able to hear a brass band converting a non-piece into brass band format. The group was able to utilize the original motif and replicate it with brass instruments that are recognizable to the audience. Hearing music is one thing but seeing a live performance is another thing. I was able to see the performance in synch with the music. They were moving their feet and body to each down or up beats. Theatrically people that often vibe with their piece are comfortable with it or practice extensively. Each performance was not stiff and express body language as they played. They were not triggered or distracted by the audience noise and train noise. Lucky Chops are a fine definition of “live performance” because their performance extends beyond notes that could be read on staff paper. I recommend people check out their website for their next appearance. The group sometimes pops up in New York City. However, at the moment they are touring different part of the world.

 

Official Website: http://www.luckychops.com/

Lucky Chops Fuky Town Cover

Distance Future ; Minimalism at its finest

For March, I decided to do a recording review for the album Distance Future, sung and written by French musicians Delphine Dora and Sophie Cooper. This album is the perfect blend of mystery and relaxation in the most strangest way. If i close my eyes and listen i just can not tell if i should be scared or calm. These two musicians edited together some highlights of a visit to Todmorden Unitarian Church in England. A review i read on this album from Pitchfork was that it sounds like “wordless hymns sung by ghosts” and that is probably the best words to describe this album. The voices as they sing through the church echo around sounding like ghosts echoing though halls.

This album is considered “Experimental” because the two musicians were improvising in this church and found a sound that is unlike their own from their own previous albums. The album was voted #19 for 2015’s Best Experimental Album and i can see why. It is unlike anything i have ever heard before and it brings minimalism to another level for me, i mean how much simpler can it get, walking into a church and singing through to create hauntingly beautiful echos.

Delphine Dora and Sophie Cooper are extremely underrated. It is almost impossible to find information on them online and its sad because they have a lot of talent and deserve to be in the spotlight a bit more. I think this album helped that a bit but definitely not enough and i hope i can help just a little by bringing these women into peoples attention.

The video below is one song off off of Delphine Dora and Sophie Coopers album Distance Future.It is not the best recording of this but if interested in hearing more please visit Delphine Doras bandcamp website and listen to the whole album to get a real sense of what these women can do.

Chick Corea – Three Quartets Band – Michael Brecker, Eddie Gomez, Steve Gadd

Chick Corea is known as one of the greatest pianist and composer that jazz has to offer. Chick is known for his famous jazz compositions such as “Got a match?” , “Spain”, and etc. He performed a concert on April 22, 2003 at the Blue Note Club in New York City. In this performance, Chick has three great musicians right beside him which did an outstanding job. Michael Brecker – saxophone, Steve Gadd – drums and Eddie Gomez – upright bass (also a bass player I admire). Before starting the first piece, chick speaks to the audience and explains how his music career was divided between Classical music and Jazz. As a jazz performer, he also incorporates many techniques from the classical era into jazz to give it more organizations and his pieces are going to be presented as Qua

rtet No. 1, Quartet No. 2, etc just like classical music.

Quartet No.1 starts off with a piano introduction which the upright bass responds to. Chick’s piano playing brings energy to the musicians as if he were playing percussive rhythm melodies. I’ve noticed his playing pushes the musicians to respond faster and come up with creative improvised solos. The first solo is started by Michael Brecker on saxophone. Brecker begins his solo playing long notes looking for an open spot to enter his solos. If any one could notice on his solo, he stopped and smiled which can be a way to express or communicate with the musicians or the crowd in Jazz. He also hits high notes which has a similar timbre to the trumpet. Brecker begins to switch over to chromatic scales and his tone starts to turn distorted. By watching Brecker, I compare him to Charlie Parker with his fast fingering. (If any one can compare to another sax player please do so)

As the saxophone softly finishes off his solo, Chick continues off and closes the solo with some melodic lines on the piano which are jazz melodic ideas but with the techniques of Baroque music. After his melodic line, piano and bass perform a Tutti together and introduce Eddie Gomez on upright bass. Gomez starts his playing high notes on the upright like as if he’s telling the crowd “it’s my turn to solo”. The upright bass is one of the instruments that is really difficult to play fast scales and to add on, there are no frets on the upright. The way Gomez solos on the upright, reminds me of Charles Mingus. Mingus played a lot of fast scales which Gomez might of inherit and played on this performance. As anyone could notice, Gomez sings what he plays on his solo. The bass and drums have a unique relationship when it comes to walking. It also sounds as if Gomez inherits a lot of Ray Brown’s walking techniques. In this performance Chick Corea gets together a quartet of creative musicians. aside from their great harmonic features, these musicians bring together chemistry that makes it seem as if they were playing together for many years or in other words, they work as a team which is really important in a ensemble.

Where Jazz and Hip Hop Meet…

For at least the past fifty years, the most important and exciting site of new fusions of music has been in Jazz. Perhaps this is owing to its roots in collective improvisation and musical play, or in Jazz’s consistent pursuit of innovative timbres, rhythms, and forms. Fusions with Latin music go back at least to Charles Mingus (Haitian Fight Song) and the innovations of Miles Davis in fusing Jazz with Rock (See his Bitches Brew) seem to have opened up the possibility of many others. In the past few years, a new fusion with rap and hip-hop has been showing us ways in which two African-American musical innovations can come together in a sort of musical dialogue.

The group “Sélébéyone” takes its name from a Wolof word, meaning “intersection” or a place between the borders where two entities may meet and transform into something entirely new.  That is exactly what happens in their music where the border of hip hop (rap) meets at the edges of jazz. They performed numbers from their recent self-titled album as part of the Ecstatic Music Festival at Merkin Hall on March 27.

Selebeyone
January 5, 2016: Steve Lehman & Selebeyon to present New York Premiere and New Recording
www.stevelehman.com
Photo by Willie Davis

The group consists of musicians from the United States and Senegal. Steve Lehman and Maciek Lasserre on saxophones, Damion Reid on percussion, bass player Chris Tordini, keyboardist Carlos Homs, and two rappers, HPrizm and Gaston Bandimic.

Bandimic raps in Wolof, the indigenous language of Senegal, Gambia, and Mauritiana. Wolof, interestingly, is not a tonal language, which means that pitch difference does not convey meaning (unlike, say, Mandarin) thus the rhythmic rush of the language and Bandimic’s rapping may come naturally from the language itself. HPrizm, by contrast, offered slower, more resonating lines, often taking advantage of his two-microphone set up, in which one was set to a high reverb, extending his words in a long echoing resonance.

HPrizm has been active in the experimental hip hop scene for some time, especially with his project, the Antipop Consortium Collective.

Drummer Damion Reid is perhaps best known for his work with the Robert Glasper Trio, the inventive trio that won a Grammy for best R&B album with just such a collaboration between Jazz and Hip Hop. His is a cymbal-centered style, that relies less on big resonating toms or typical snares and more on the variety of metals in his kit. This makes some sense in the context of Sélébéyone for the group tends to rely on robust synthesized sounds for its lower register, laying down big electronic textures to fill out those sub-audible ranges. Reid’s cymbals float above this this bass, producing an astonishing variety of timbres and resonances.

The saxophones created thick constellations of sounds, with long arpeggiated gestures that defy harmonic analysis. Lasserre, on soprano, created sonic depth with swirling motions that moved his horn closer to and further from his microphone. The reverb applied to the instrument gave it even more warmth. Lehman’s alto sax playing is virtuosic and defies easy description. The harmonic density of his solos is breathtaking.

The overall effect of this group is electrifying. On the one hand, the music is mesmerizing, with its thick electronic foundation and eddies of saxophones above it all, with shimmering cymbals and brittle piano above it all. On the other hand, their songs are formal structures with breaks for rappers in two languages. The electronics often use recordings of people, not in English, as a starting point, and it would be interesting to know if the rappers were engaging in ideas presented in hat recorded material. To a non-African listener, the effect is one of general African evocation.

HPrizm, Gaston Bandimic, and Maciek Lasserre all practice Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam which, in Senegal, has coalesced in the Mouride Brotherhood, founded in 1883 by Amadou Bomba, to whose memory the group’s last song was dedicated.

The group has uploaded the first song, “Laamb” on Youtube :

 

 

 

My performance “in C”

After being in class and talking about a musical composition called “in C” it brought me all the way back when I was and my old school Queensborough Community College. The reason that this happen is because I perform this piece about three years ago and the experience was amazing. Is experience was one of the best that I have ever had because it was a new piece it was not a classical piece as I am used to play but it was a modern piece that has no measures no time signature no key signature although the piece is called “in C”. Musician was not the only performers we also had dancers moving all around the stage while we playing this amazing piece. I would like to write about the rehearsal, the instrumentation, how it sounded like, how we merge all together and my experience.

 

For the rehearsal we had to look for a spot anywhere in the Back area of the stage we were so much musicians that we needed to stand out of the stage. area of the stage and get familiar with everything around. In addition, instrumentation was very random we had one violins, one violas, 1 electric guitars, electric Bass, a piano which sustain the note C throughout the whole piece, a vibraphone, a 3 xylophone and 3 singer and a flute (me).

 

When we started rehearsing it was a little bit hard at the beginning because each person needs to start on a measure and play it until you feel you could go to the next measure. In addition, you listen to all the other musicians merging one by one and the peas sometimes playing the same notes as you and sometimes doing something completely different. When the dancer word dancing I felt that they was not moving according to the temple of how we were playing they were moving very free in the stage. This piece made me think all the fetus development. I felt this way because, everything started so smoothly and little by little different Rhythm patterns combined with different pitch starting to merge it’s like a development something that it’s growing and at the end it comes back as the beginning with the piano notifying that it has giving birth.

 

The way that we merge was so easily that you note and you know why you need to come in or when you need to change from a different Rhythm pitch pattern. They were Parts when we were performing that we were basically all of us play the same measure as an ostinato. In addition, throughout the whole piece the piano was marking the temple playing C all the way to the whole performance.
My experience in this performance was great because it was something new that I never experienced before something completely different in which you don’t need to have a conductor giving you the key to come in to play. Each one of us felt when it’s time to play and to switch the Rhythm pitch pattern and we went all through it very easy and smoothly.

please start on minute 21:47.

Brooklyn Youth Chorus’ ‘Black Mountain Songs’

The Brooklyn Youth Chorus’ sold out album release party for their debut album ‘Black Mountain Songs’ was very entertaining to watch.  The video was available on WQXR‘s website on Friday March 31st at 7:30 pm and was hosted by Helga Davis.  The Brooklyn Youth Chorus is made up of young children and the chamber ensemble accompanying them was made up of adults, and even one of the featured composers on the album was a part of it.  They performed at The Greene Space at WQXR, which is a reoccurring venue for them throughout the performing season.  Watching the video made me feel as if I was there in the audience being entertained in person by an amazing group of young children who are great at what they do.

The chorus performed many songs from the album and I have chosen to write about a few of them that spoke to me the most.  The first song that they performed showcased their talent but just enough to hook you in and to make you want to keep watching and listening to these talented children, and talented chamber ensemble.  For most of the song, there was only a piano playing lightly while the chorus sang.  This song was one of my favorites because it showed how talented everyone participating was and they sounded very professional.  This song was like dipping your toe into the water before fully submerging yourself in the pool of wonderful music that lay straight ahead waiting to hug your ears with wonderful sounds.

The second song performed was absolutely my favorite song.  It is called There is Sound and it featured violins, vibraphones, double bass, piano and cello.   The chorus sounded very angelic from the start of the song.  The reason why i enjoyed listening to this song so much is because it gives you that nostalgic feeling of a happy and peaceful time in your life.  To me it is one of those songs where you can close your eyes and tilt your head back to just completely envelop yourself in the voices of the chorus and then the perfect playing of the instruments.  Every note is played when it should be and the chorus hits every note that they are supposed to without missing a beat.  This song was so touching to me that once I finished watching the video, I went back and listened to this song again and it felt as if i was listening to it for the first time again but yet it felt so familiar.  The chorus’ words hit you like the chilled breeze a fall evening while the violins and cello are evoking the sense of watching leaves get slightly picked up by the wind while walking through the park.  A song hasn’t impacted my emotions the way this song did in a while, and it is refreshing to see that a youth chorus can do that to a musician.

Something that was very interesting to me was the fact that a composer of three of the songs on the album, including There is Sound, was also playing double bass and then electric guitar on a later song.  Richard Reed Parry is a core member of the indie-rock band Arcade Fire, and he is also a composer and musician among other things.  When the host asked him about transitioning from writing for a rock band to writing for the Brooklyn Youth Chorus he said the collaboration was exciting and something new and rewarding.  He mentioned specifically the last piece that they were going to perform because there was a direct collaboration with the chorus. He asked them if they wanted to extend the last part of the song and because they said yes and were excited about performing it, they lengthened it to meet their standards.  I think its amazing that a composer was willing to listen to the young chorus and actually agree with them and make the song even more amazing than it already was.

The last song performed was my second favorite only because There is Sound just captured my emotions and didn’t let go of them.  The chorus was haunting for this song and their voices are still amazing even after singing so many songs previously.  At the beginning of the performance, the violins and cello are playing softly as the chorus is singing in such a united voice that it just wraps you up like your favorite blanket.  The song then changes to being energetic and very catchy.  The chorus goes from standing still to not only singing but also stomping their feet and clapping their hands in unison.  This part seemed to be a lot of fun for the chorus to perform and it was very enjoyable to watch them.  This was a great song to choose to end the performance with and it leaves you knowing how talented the youth chorus is and how talented the chamber ensemble is as well.  This was a great video to watch and I can just imagine how amazing it was for those fortunate enough to be able to attend in person.