Thumbs Up and Arooj Aftab at the Kaufman Music Center

On March 4th I once again attended the 2017 Ecstatic Music Festival presented by the Kaufman Music Center. The concert featured Thumbs Up, a collaboration from modern jazz pianist Vijay Iyer, along with the pedal board effects of guitarist Rafiq Bhatia, drummer Kassa Overall, and rap lyrics by Himanshu Suri also known as “Heems.” The concert also featured the hypnotic vocals of Arooj Aftab, who uses classical Pakistani and North Indian vocal melodies combined with Sufi poetry. Aftab also freely incorporates various other instrumentalists into her sonic landscape such as musician Yusuke Yamamoto who played a bass amp-driven synthesizer, drummer Nathan Ellaman-Bell, and Argentinian pianist Leonardo Genovese.

The night’s performance began with Arooj Aftab’s blend of ethereal and international sounds. This is the second time I have witnessed a live performance of Aftab, whose music has the ability to accommodate the improvisation and participation of varies instruments. The first time I saw her was on August 11, 2016 at the David Rubenstein Auditorium at Lincoln Center. In that performance, her ensemble consisted of a saxophone, harp, cajon drumming, piano, and bass synthesizer effects. I remember being impressed by how easily jazz, classical, and ethnic elements fused together in her presentation. This performance just as well embraced varies genres and sonic textures. Her lyrics are sung in free time following the tradition of classical Pakistani and North Indian songs, and being such, they float above the modern pulsing and droning synthesizer effects of Yusuke Yamamoto. Together they create a modern hypnotic ambience from the timbre combination of an ethereal voice, which is soaked with a reverb effect on the microphone and the heavy low pulsing synth grooves coming out of a Hartke Bass amplifier.

In contrast to the more free form of Aftab, the drummer, Nathan Ellman-Bell, incorporated Latin rhythms with compound meters of 3/4 and 6/8. I suspect he did this in collaboration with Argentinian pianist Leonardo Genovese. Both drummer and pianist showed great chemistry with one another and frequently exchanged smiles as they grooved together. Genovese also displayed chromatic and dissonant sections in his playing, which did not feel over saturated as the tension dissolved easily in the ambience of Aftab and Yamamoto. In fact, the dissonance employed by Genovese served as a nice counterpoint to the mellow and hypnotic lyrics. The dissonance did not become overbearing, but actually enhanced the return to the ethereal realm of Aftab’s long and sustained vocals. This collaboration was a well-balanced allegiance between dissonance and fluid lyrical poetry.

The second performance of the night featured Hip Hop lyrics pertaining to the South Asian American experience and political commentary by Queens’s rapper Heems, along with rhythmic piano, beats and effects by Vijay Iyer. The guitar player Rafiq Bhatia offered different sustained drone and wash effects through an intricate pedal board, which he controlled by an expression/volume pedal. He replicated and created various guitar effects that were labeled as “shoegazing” within the early indie rock movement due to guitar players constantly staring at their effect pedals that they controlled with their feet. The drummer Kassa Overall also had an interesting drum kit as he included bongos and other smaller drums, which he would occasionally play with a padded percussion mallet. The overall sound of the ensemble incorporated Rap lyrics criticizing the over usage of combat drones, the appropriation of Hindu culture by the modern yoga culture, and the South Asian experience of growing up in Queens.

The concert ended with the Thumbs Up ensemble inviting Arooj Aftab to join them for the closing number. Once again Aftab provided a hypnotic ambience with her vocals while Heems delivered a higher energy rhythmic rap chorus. The guitar effects along with the piano effects and drumming also culminated in the climax of the night with much of the audience standing in applause.   It was nice to experience a concert with so many South Asian American artists. It stands as a testament to the rich diversity and affluent global culture within the arts of New York City.

Roomful Of Teeth performance @ Kaufman Music Center

On Sunday, March 14th I went to see a live performance at the Merkin Concert Hall, Kaufman Music Center in downtown New York. The event was a part of the ongoing Ecstatic Music Festival. The show was broadcast live through WNYC and hosted by John Schaefer. The program for the evening was filled with wonderful new compositions commissioned by the performing ensemble. The roster of composers whose work was featured included Nick Zammuto, William Brittelle, Toby Twining, Fred Hersch and Caroline Shaw.

The ensemble performing these new compositions was none other than Grammy award winning group ROOMFUL OF TEETH, an outstanding vocal octet made up of 4 female and 4 male singers that specialize in modern music utilizing extended techniques such as Tuvan throat singing, yodeling, and other techniques from non-western music. They have a rich, expressive and full sound with a wide tonal palette. Because the pieces were commissioned specifically for this group the music made good use of their capabilities.

As I walked in the beautiful theater (unfortunately a few minutes after the beginning) they were getting ready to perform a piece by Nick Zammuto while the host interviewed the composer and asked about the piece and compositional process. The title of the piece was “ToBeGinAGain” and it is written in 6 movements for 8 voices and synthesizer, played by the composer himself. Each movement featured a different soloist singer who stood next to the synth on a separate microphone and put on earphones (perhaps listening to a click track) while the rest of the vocalists provided accompaniment and Zammuto played with the rhythms and pitches that the soloist sang into the microphone. The manipulation of the sounds was purposefully done with a degree of randomness that created an interesting effect when interacting with the singers. I could hear pitch modulations, rhythmic delays and interesting harmonic effects provided by the synth and enhanced by the other singers. To me, the music was ethereal and buoyant, definitely tonal but mostly modal, with rich harmonies and interesting rhythmic devices. There were no cadences or predictably symmetrical phrases. This music reminded me of the soundtrack of a 1988 cult classic animated movie called “Akira”.

The performance was conducted by the group’s musical director, Mr Brad Wells. He was interviewed by the host briefly and talked about the collaboration with the different composers. He also pointed out that some of the pieces were being performed live for that audience for the first time in New York.

An interesting detail that I observed was that all of the performers and the conductor were using digital tablets instead of standard sheet music (which makes more sense and is cleaner and neater than shuffling through pages in the middle of a performance).

The second piece of the program, titled “Overtonework” by Toby Twining, was not performed for some reason. Apparently they cut it from the program perhaps because of time limitations. Next, they sang a piece named “Two Haiku” by composer Fred Hersch. The poem was commissioned to be written as an homage to a recently deceased renowned jazz vocalist Steve Zegree. This piece was performed a cappella, and it was interesting to hear the group singing music with lyrics: two beautiful haiku written by Mary Jo Salter.

After a brief intermission, the main dish of the evening! An outstanding work by Pulitzer-prize winner Caroline Shaw titled “The Isle”. The composer could not attend the event due to other commitments. Shaw is also an excellent vocalist who sometimes collaborates with Roomful of Teeth PLUS a renowned violinist who tours and records with her own string ensemble. Before the performance, the director talked a little bit about the composition, explaining that the inspiration behind it was Shakespeare’s The Tempest”. This piece was considerably longer than the others and used some of the dialogue from the play. I could hear musical quotes from Caroline Shaw’s previous collaboration with Roomful of Teeth titled “Partita for 8 voices”.

The evening was filled with wonderful music and an amazing display of virtuosity. After the program was performed and the group got offstage, the audience gave them a standing ovation and they returned for an encore: an interesting arrangement of the music of a popular new TV show which I cannot recall the name of.

Here is a link to a performance featuring Caroline Shaw on lead (in the first piece) as part of the Tiny Desk concert series.

Wednesday March 8: Music Industry Guests

Reminder that we have 2 guests visiting Lehman tomorrow to talk about how to make it in the music industry today.

William Derella manages artists with DAS Communications. You probably know some of their artists (Fergie, Black Eyed Peas….)

Julie Gold is a songwriter who won a Grammy for Song of the Year for this song which you may have heard.

They will be visiting us in the Carmen Hall Multimedia Center, Wednesday March 8 at 12:30pm

 

Making Music in the 21st Century

Tigue

Tigue is a Brooklyn-based trio with a unique sound that combines contemporary classical music with art-rock.  Their most recent album, “Peaks” was described by New York Music Daily as an “imaginative, distinctive, hypnotic yet kinetic blend of indie classical, minimalism, post-rock, and drone music.” Their diverse performance at the Pregones Theatre on March 1st put several of these styles on display.  The program for the night consisted of three pieces: An Index of Possibility, commissioned from composer Robert Honstein; New Work, commissioned from composer Jason Treuting; and Quilts, composed by Tigue’s own Keyboardist/Percussionist Matt Evans.

            An Index of Possibility could be classified as an experimental percussion piece.  For the entire piece, which lasted about half an hour, all three members played only percussion instruments.  The first “movement” of the piece began with percussionist Carson Moody slowly scraping the circumference of a flower pot with what looked like a screwdriver.  After about a minute, Percussionist Amy Garapic began playing a pattern of repeating tones on a xylophone, creating a sound reminiscent of church bells.  Evans sporadically added rapid rolls on a glockenspiel.  The second segment of the piece began with Garapic loudly striking a bass drum (and almost causing a few heart attacks in the audience).  It saw the group break into a fast, steady beat, with the xylophone and glockenspiel alternating between two notes, and the loud bass drum sounding periodically.  A third segment had the group return to some of the motives created in the first.  Garapic returned to the sound of church bells, with rhythmic augmentation resulting in single notes ringing out for five seconds at a time.  Shortly thereafter was an eruption of percussion sounds, created by more traditional instruments such as glockenspiel, bongos, wood blocks; and less traditional “instruments” such as a round saw blade and a bourbon bottle.  The instruments were set up in a semi-circle and one could see and hear the beat traverse across the semi-circle and back, each instrument given a few moments of prominence.  I found most interesting how the piece blended tonal and atonal elements.  There were quite a few moments when a melody could almost be made out before it retreated back into noise.

After the conclusion of the first piece, Tigue members paused to explain and set up for their next piece, New Work.  Because of Evans’ interest in mathematics, Tigue commissioned a piece based on the number patterns from Sudoku.  Without going into depth about how it worked, Tigue members began reciting a rhyme and then a stream of numbers.  They followed by intermittently sounding their instruments; Garapic playing a bass guitar, Moody on a drumset, and Evans on a miniature, or “toy” piano (according to him).  After observing Tigue alternate between recitation of numbers and playing sounds for several minutes, I could deduce that each number had a corresponding sound.  While not exactly pleasing to my ears, it was very interesting to see and hear (in person) a formula influenced by Schoenberg’s twelve-tone.  The end of the piece was quite unique; with each member stopping to “fix”/mess with their instruments and turning three amps on, creating [intentional] heavy, overbearing feedback on the sounds of their “work.”

Tigue’s third piece was my personal favorite. “Quilts” is a minimalistic rock-like piece with a danceable rhythm.  Evans told the audience that he composed the piece so that both Garapic and Moody could “rock out” on drum sets at the same time, while he played a keyboard with one hand and a shaker with the other.  Garapic played what looked like a traditional rock drum set while Moody played one with several bells and cups.  The piece was quite repetitive, with Evans alternating between four or five chords for the duration.  Likely a result of the minimalism, I noticed my brain filling in the piece with melodic lines that weren’t actually there.  I couldn’t help but feel that the mood created by the sustained organ and syncopated drums was very reminiscent of early 2000s post-punk such as The Strokes and Interpol.

In conclusion, Tigue put on a diverse and exciting performance that highlighted several different styles and kept the attendees engaged with experimental sounds and audience interaction.  In addition to creating an interesting brand of music that allowed audience members to draw parallels to indie rock, classical, and serialism, Tigue succeeded in creating a myriad of different sounds; making it nearly impossible for audience members to not be aurally pleased at some point in the performance.

http://tiguemusic.com/bio

Jaco Pastorius – Live at Montreal Jazz Festival

It must have been a great experience to sit down and enjoy the good musical performance of Jaco Pastorius. Pastorius was a virtuoso bass player, who modernized the electric bass guitar playing skills using music theory and his amazing ear training. This concert took place in Montreal, Canada on 1982. The concert was involved with great musicians, which the following were, Jaco pastorius (bass), Peter Erskine (drums), Othello Molineaux (steel drums) ,Don Alias ( congas/percussion), Bobby Mintzer (saxophone), Randy Brecker (trumpet). With no introduction the band starts right of the bat with “The chicken”, a jazz tune composed by Pee Wee Ellis and made famously by jaco Pastorius. The band performed the piece different than the original. They have incorporated new modern rhythms and made it into a funky jazz tune. I guess they have been influenced by other musical styles that were around in the 80’s. As usual in jazz performances, every musician gets to solo in the performance. I was amazed the way Bobby Mintzer (saxophone) started off the solo using a tenor saxophone. Even though Mintzer was performing with a tenor, I’ve noticed a lot of Charlie Parker movements in his solo. Using a lot of chromatic ideas in his solo Mintzer managed to layout an incredible solo. Now one thing I found unusual were the steel drums. Aside from being an amazing bass player, Pastorius was also an experimenter which tried new instruments in his ensembles. I’m guessing Jaco replaced the jazz vibraphone with steel drums in order to receive a new sound and identity to his ensemble. Othello Molineaux (steel drums) did not only bring a Caribbean instrument into the performance, he also played an incredible solo on the first piece. He incorporated a lot of funky blues and jazz scales which is a usual role of the vibraphone in jazz. On the next piece, Bobby Mintzer grabs his bass clarinet and performs a spectacular solo by himself which leads slowly in to “Donna Lee”. Donna lee is a famous jazz tune composed by Charlie Parker on alto sax. But again, Jaco made the jazz tune even more famous when he performed the saxophone part on electric bass guitar. Donna lee is a fast tempo Bebop tune which I found really amazing when trumpeter Randy Brecker, played the melody line, as it was no big deal. Aside from playing the melody, he also laid down a great solo. As anyone would noticed, Brecker performed the same accents as the alto saxophone does in a solo, which I believe would be more difficult on the trumpet than the Saxophone. Finally, Jaco Pastorius gets his own chance to solo by himself and shows the crowd his best. He starts his solo by using harmonic notes on E minor while having a percussive bass rhythm in the background accompanying his solo. After his percussive solo, he slightly goes into the chord changes of “America” which he performs as a solo piece on the electric bass. Jaco Pastorius is considered the best of all time. Not because of his experiments, but because of his musicianship. It must of been great witnessing a great bass player with a great jazz band, live.

 

 

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Rose Kaufman

MSH 334

Collaborative Blog 1

March 6, 2017

Ladysmith Black Mambazo at Carolina Theatre in Durham, North Carolina

The nine Southern African Zulu members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo[i] quietly walked on stage and took their places behind their microphones. One microphone stood in front for the leading tenor and eight microphones stood behind. All members were clothed in matching blue and black dashikis and black trousers.

In their home language, Zulu, the bass, alto, and tenors sang a cappella in major diatonic harmony in the Southern African choral genre, Isicathamiya. I sat in first row of the second balcony and listened to their soft yet sonorous voices resonate throughout the auditorium. Following the first song, one of the tenors introduced the founder and songwriter of the group, Joseph Shabalala[ii]. He then introduced Shabalala’s youngest son, the youngest member of the group, Thamsanqa. He sang lead for their song, “Awu Wemadoda,” a song from a past album that was rerecorded for their newest album, Walking In The Footsteps Of Our Fathers.

In 1960, Joseph Shabalala formed a choir he named Ezimnyama[iii]. By 1965, Shabalala had developed the group into Ladysmith Black Mambazo, an established and competitive Isicathamiya[iv] and mbube group that included only family and friends of Shabalala. It was not until the late 1980s that they began to win Grammys and gained international recognition thanks to their work with Paul Simon on his 1986 album Graceland. In this performance at Carolina Theatre, LBM sang renditions of two songs from Graceland, “Diamonds On The Souls Of Her Shoes” and “Homeless,” which are featured on the new LBM album.

Joseph Shabalala and other members took turns giving short introductions to most songs, sharing the intended messages of each. Their messages were quite succinct when sung in English, including songs such as, “All Women Are Beautiful,” “Tough Times Never Late,” and “Long Walk To Freedom.” While introducing “Long Walk To Freedom,” the lead tenor expressed the song was a celebration of twenty-two years of democracy in South Africa after the end of the Apartheid[v] policy, a system of aggressive racial segregation and discrimination. The song is dedicated to Nelson Mandela and named after his 1994 autobiography. LBM and Mandela supported each other and their efforts to bring peace to South Africa. Mandela even asked LBM to accompany him at several of his ceremonies including his acceptance of the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize for human rights.

LBM incorporated light dancing in their performance including hand gesturing and footwork, which seemed to accompany the messages in their songs. They even involved some charming comedic acting to lighten-up the audience. To help the audience embrace their culture, they taught us a few Zulu phrases.

Most of LBM’s songs were in the key of F# with diatonic harmony in a two-octave range of major triads, and a chord progression of I – V – I or I – IV – V – I. The singers would often slur in an upward motion to the first tone of a melodic phrase. The choir sang without a conductor and while most of the songs were in common time with syncopated rhythms, there were also songs that were difficult to measure because they were so expressive. The singers would make great use of their vocals like tongue rolling and click consonants from Southern African languages. They also used the clicks for rhythmic purpose in some of their English language songs. In the midst of songs the members would call out to each other in Zulu, sing birdcalls and other animal sounds, rhythmic humming, and whistling. This expressive form of singing and rhythm could be compared to some of the music we have been studying in class.

LBM’s last song lasted approximately fifteen minutes and was mostly the repetition of one phrase as members took turns having fun with expression, poking fun at each other, dancing, and encouraging the audience to sing along. Many songs were repetitious, repeating the same phrase with little change in dynamics. However, the repeated phrases always had a steady and continuous flow with a rhythmic pulse and a message; a desire for equality, kindness, compassion, and peace.

[i] Ladysmith Black Mambazo

[ii] Joseph Shabalala

[iii] Ezimnyama

[iv] Isicathamiya

[v] Apartheid

 

Juan Baez Monthly post

juan Baez feburary

 

 

After being in a teacher evaluation on wednesday february 25th and monday February 30th, 2017 talking about a rhythmic pattern called Clave. I was very interested in this type of evaluation because I knew that this is something that I was going to like. Tis is because I grew playing latin music and never notice how important this patter it. After listening to this person I learn where this patter came from and how it came to america and the Caribbean. One thing that I fount interesting is how it came to the American continent. He explain that in Africa is where this pattern started called clave. And that it came to us through the african slavery coming to this great nation. They showed us videos of african playing a type of music in witch one of the most noticeable pattern is Clave. And we listen to this pater also in Brazil in Samba, in the caribbean such as Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic as son Salsa Merengue and other genre and basically the entire american continent. In addition, some places of Europe and Asia where african slave were imported also have this pattern. Also, one thing that called my attention is that a classical symphony by Beethoven his fifth symphony was made an arrangement as a Caribbean style and it was amazing.

I am so amaze to this video because I myself played this piece in the way Beethoven composed it, and after I watch this video my mind was like in heaven. How an african pattern can change so much this composition by Beethoven. Basically it does not sound like a classical piece its like resurrecting Beethoven in cuba and he composing Classic Salsa Music; although I don’t think he will like. However, by knowing that this pattern come from Africa can we say that this arrangement has a caribbean or an african style because of the clave? I can say that this is a Caribbean composition because although it has a rhythmic pattern “clave” that comes from Africa each country has a way of style where they use the clave Samba is not the same as Salsa or son, they share the same pattern “clave” but each country has a different way to use it.

In the arrangement of the fifth symphony not only the clave was added also the tempo is very different and some instrument where also added like Conga, Drum-set, cow bell, timbales and even the piano way of playing was not classic at all, it added a “Tumbao” witch is a way to play salsa in the piano. In addition to change the genre to a piece from classical to a modern genre in this case “Salsa” does not only needs the clave it also needs some extra instruments like I mention before and play them in that style. The dynamics is drastically change and the instrumentation as well. Each instrument cant play in a classical way they need to adapt to a certain style so that the piece can be interpreted how the arranger wants it ti be.

To conclude the participation this two professors has a good knowledge and good back ground regarding this specific pattern. Also, I strongly believe that the clave rhythmic pattern did came from Africa but each country has make it its own in it own way by using their own culture and with this pattern. We see how different it is the fifth symphony of Beethoven with the salsa arrangement by Sverre Indris Joner and how important it is to add more instrument, rhythm and specific style of playing.

The Miraculous Mandarin Suite

I listened to Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra play a concert at Carnegie Hall. Although the company’s repertoire mainly consisted of Romantic works, they played my favorite piece by Bela Bartok, The Miraculous Mandarin Suite. The other works that were played included Brahms’s Piano Concerto No.1, Strauss/Alfred Grünfeld’s Soirée de Vienne (paraphrase on Die Fledermaus), Schubert’s Symphony No. 8, “Unfinished”, and Josef Strauss’ Frauenherz (A Woman’s Heart) Polka-Mazur Op. 166. Although all the these works were well done, the Bartok was by far the most interesting. As a dancer growing up I would watch many ballets and had the chance to watch this ballet performed in Prague. It stood out in my mind as it was not the kind of music that I was used to dancing to at the time, and overall a strange strange story. Everything I had been exposed to musically had been mostly tonal and graceful up until that point, Bartok changed the game. I didn’t even realize that people could dance to music like this. And even though the music was strange, it slowly grew on me. Now I listen to this piece years later as a musician, and I am immediately drawn back into that theater.

I think that part of what make a piece like The Miraculous Mandarin Suite so memorable is that the music itself is extremely visual. Bartok is able to replicate such specific emotions through his music, so that you almost don’t need the dancers to tell the story. The ballet is about a prostitute who is kidnapped by three criminals and forced to seduce men so that the criminals could rob them. The first man they trap is old and poor, the second is young and poor. They both are jumped and thrown out, but the last man is a wealthy Chinese man (the mandarin). He is jumped and the criminals try to murder him, but he is kept alive by his longing to embrace the prostitute. Once the two are united, the mandarin’s longing is fulfilled and he begins to bleed out and die. The ballet’s dark plot-line is evident in the music and although the suite is not the entire ballet, the story is still portrayed effectively through the music. I was transported back to the setting of a run down city with the chaotic opening. When the clarinet begins its solo, I could see the seductive dance of the prostitute from her window. Each time the criminals attacked, you could feel the victims fear through the tension in the music. I highly recommend listening to this piece on the wqxr website. The link is: http://www.wqxr.org/#!/story/vienna-philharmonic-orchestra-plays-brahms-schubert-bartok-carnegie-hall/ . I would skip to 1 hour and 49 minutes in so that you can hear the introduction to the piece, if you don’t want to listen to the other works.

Overall the concert was not cohesive enough. The juxtaposition of the romantic works against the modernism of Bartok was definitely dramatic, but it was too different. While all of the works had some folk influences, the execution together did not translate well. Standing alone each piece was excellent but played side by side it didn’t make sense to me. I think that the piece would have been better placed in the context of other modernists of his era. That being said I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra’s rendition of The Miraculous Mandarin Suite.

Bang On A Can!

 

An amazing concert I went to on January 9, 2017 at the Merkin Concert Hall was titled “Bang on a Can”. The band was made up of great musicians including six for most of the show and then eight during the second part of the show. The band not only played each instrument extremely well, but also seemed to have an amazing chemistry with each other and this in turn made each piece even more enjoyable to watch. The show featured seven composers who were great and their pieces were interesting and very colorful. There were eight pieces included in the show. Bang on a Can; a formidable concert based off of funds from the people’s commission, had its’ 30th year anniversary showcasing the owners, composers, and most of all the Bang on a Can’s All Stars. There was great dialogue from the Host John Schaefer, who is also the radio host of WNYC on the 93.9 FM radio station. There was a great ambience in the venue because it was warm, huge and full of seats. Before each piece was played, the composers were called onto the stage by John Schaefer and had a mini interview about the piece, and how they came up with the idea for the music.

During the first part of the show, the performers in the band stayed the same for all of the pieces and during the second part they added Eliza Bagg on violin and voice and Charles Yang on violin and voice as well. The band was incredibly amazing; their energy for each piece was impeccable and they did not even look tired at the end of the show, which was roughly two hours. It featured David Cossin on Percussion, Derek Johnson on Electric Guitar, Robert Black on Solo Double Bass, Ashley Bathgate on Cello, Ken Thomson on Clarinets and Vicky Chow on Piano and Keyboard. When they were required to do so, they lent their voices to pieces as well. I think that the performers made the show amazing by giving their all to every piece.

The first half of the concert featured two pieces from composers from different parts of the world. During this part of the show, the composers had to use field recordings. They were asked to record something new or old in the field of sound and then write music to correspond with what they found. The piece by American composer and co-founder of Bang on a Can, David Lang who received a Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for one of his pieces, was titled sunray. Anna Thorvaldsdottir from Iceland, whose works have been nominated and awarded on many occasions, wrote a piece that was titled Fields. The piece by Juan Felipe Waller who is a Mexican-Dutch composer was titled Hybrid Ambiguities and the settings of his works vary from symphonic orchestra to chamber music and electronics. The piece by American composer Nico Muhly, who has written over 80 works for the concert stage, was titled Comfortable Cruising Altitude. The pieces featured Field Recordings incorporated into them which were either old recordings or new recordings found in real life and I was pleasantly surprised at how seamlessly they were woven into the pieces.

David Lang said sunray was inspired by masonic shapes and bringing life to physical form in music. The piece had many dissonances and used cool pizzicato chords from the strings, repetitious modulation and subtle dynamic build-up. The percussionist literally played everything; he would switch from the vibraphones to bells. He used broken rhythms and the piece gradually got stronger and louder as the percussionist went to the drum set. David Lang indeed illuminated the building with his amazing piece.

Anna Thorvaldsdottir was one of the international composers that contributed to Bang on a Can. Her piece had live, natural textures that made you feel as if you were running through fields. She mentioned she was influenced by actual fields in Iceland to write this piece. Random piano and guitar trills and scale runs were used with clarinet tonguing, breaths and spits to give the song a natural live feel. The string section held long suspenseful notes and the drummer used like a choked snare sound by using conga drum slaps.

Juan Felipe highlighted a Korean Harp in Hybrid Ambiguities that was inspired by a friend. This piece was very experimental. That unique instrument had 96 tones, 12 semi-tones for each 8 notes in the scale. The drummer was smacking the vibraphones with the shaker; he used timpani, toms, and vibraphone. The bass clarinet held higher notes for a long period of time and the pianist which was also amazing helped create a hip-hop feel and pulse. The string section produced a speeding car sound. The guitarist used many chromatic notes. This piece was definitely awesome.

Nico Muhly was absent but Comfortable Cruising Altitude was ok. It used uneasy airplane noises, and babies crying on the plane. The drummer used a violin bow on his cymbal which I’ve never seen… ever. The decay and overtones of the crash cymbal were dramatically enhanced with one arc. The piece constantly resolved dissonances, had beautiful chords and there was deep distance between the left and right hand of the pianist covering low and high octaves. All of the pieces were adventurous and daring and the artists weren’t afraid to think outside of the box and make their pieces unique to their own personalities.

The artists in the second part of the show were American composers but that did not take away from how exotic and fresh the pieces were. There was a piece by Michael Gordon, a member of the Philharmonic known to add rock instruments to chamber music. His work was titled St. Remy from his opera Van Gogh and it happens to be his final movement. Julia Wolfe whose music pushes performers to extremes and demands audiences’ attention, composed a piece titled Believing and it included double bass chaos when he would move up and down sporadically. Then there were two pieces by Philip Glass, who has written music for experimental theater and Academy Award winning motion pictures, one titled Bed which has a consonance on off-beats from his opera Einstein on the Beach and the second one is titled Closing which included cello vibrato with shaking notes from his debut record Glassworks were included in the second part. Michael Gordon’s St. Remy was conducted by the clarinetist in common time but the band would start on an off-beat. There were group vocals from everyone on this song, there were a lot of half-step ascensions. Some of the lyrics used by the male singer and violinist were “I think I have done well”. These pieces were just as interesting and unique as the pieces in the first part of the show.

The show was amazing and very insightful. I enjoyed every piece, composer, and program. I learned plenty just from being in the front row, and I’m sure I got a different sonic experience being able to hear the unfiltered effect of the music. Thank you so much Professor Tilley, I definitely plan on going to more Bang on a Can concerts.

 

Tigue at the Pregones Theater

Tigue

Music is intriguing by the way it sound and the though process of composing. As we progress in time and as a listener we question what is consider “music” or just simply noise. During Music Since 1945 class session I was expose to John Cage composition. Cage has unorthodox way of composing music. He would squeaky ducks, place flower into water fill bathtub, sound of steams releasing from a boiling pot and many other unorthodox way of making music. I found it interesting because the concept was showcase in 1960 which is futuristic for its time. Nowadays those sounds are available as plug-in for digital music creating. Cage was also known to alter piano sounds by attaching screws, corks, and various of other things between piano wires. This allows some notes to be higher pitch and mute. Another composer that caught my attention that utilizes music beyond classical method is 12 tones introduce by Arnold Schoenberg and Josef Matthias Hauer. The technique is a means of ensuring that all 12 notes of the chromatic scale are sounded as often as one another in a piece of music while preventing the emphasis of any one note. Also overall gives the player to repeat the same single note every times is indicated. While it does not provide a wide range of octave it does have a clear message toward composing. This brings me toward to presenting a group name Tigue Music that utilize experimentalists and radicals method.

The band Tigue are composes of three performances: Mat Evans is keyboard and percussion, Amy Graphic is drums and percussion and Carson Moody is drums and percussion. The trio is base out of Brooklyn fused the precision of contemporary classical music with art-rock energy. The trio performed three composition lasting one hour and thirty minute at Pregones Theater.

The first composition the group utilize flower pots, metal sticks, metal plates, glass bottle, saws wheel, door bell,  metal panpipe. Mat began the piece by revolve what seem to be a screw driver around the flower pot.  This created low resonant sounds while other pieces are played.  The Trio hitting on objects that created ostinato. The drums at the end of each fragment place emphasis. Two instruments that have the highest pitches are the drum and panpipe. The piece begins to make a transition as each instruments played prestissimo. The piece overall has a lot talea of sixteen notes follow by heavy drums. This piece creates a feeling of infinite since there a lot of talea and ostinator insinuate anticipation toward listener. The listener does not know when the composition is going to resolve. When there is a transition it introduces somewhat new melodies and harmony but it resolve back to talea and ostinator. The composition motif created a subliminal infinite theme.

The second composition the trio began to sit on the floor with their instrument. Carson is on a drum with a small rake, Mat is on a mini wooden keyboard that may consist of one octave and a half and Amy is using an electric guitar. The group began to chant out simultaneously “This is a Mat favorite puzzle that we like is 1,3,1,3,3,2,4,1….” The group began to look down on a piece of paper that consists of only numbers.  As each person takes turn to read out numbers they began to played their instrument in a precise method. As number one is being call Carson begins to use his left hand to rake across the drum, as for number two he begin to hit the drum on the right side. While Carson and Mat played a specific note on their instruments. The beginning of the composition it was adagio then proceeded to allegro. As This provided the piece less distance from each instrument sound. Overall the transition provided the piece a more put together sounds rather individually sounds. The group began to make a dramatic transition. Mat start to flip over his mini wooden keyboard and un screw the back cover with a screw driver. He would use the same screw to screw back and forth on the board to create a grinding noise. The sound was at moderate pitch. Mean while Amy detaches one the electric guitar wire and begin to hit her palm to the neck of guitar. This created a loud heavy pitch and resonant. The other instrument can be heard as a grind and tapping sound. This transition of method created a lot of overlap sound. As the pich and resonant of the bang guitar linger over other instrument. The end of the piece the trio began to repeat the extensive list of numbers that they been following to the audience while playing their instrument. “ 1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 ..This was a puzzle of puzzle was” as the trio announce to the audience and trio simultaneously provided sign numbers with their finger. Index finger is being 2, third finger is 3 and so forth.  This composition seem to be using a logic like the 12 tone since each player was playing a specific  tone as each number are read. However, the piece does not have a clear melody or harmony.  The first movements all instrument seem to have the same desity. However, after the transition, the alter guitar have the highest density.

The third composition the trio utilize electric keyboard, drum set, shaker and glockenspiel. The drum repeats 3 notes as the melody meanwhile he using the shaker. The pianist is holding down one tone throughout which creates a resonant.  The glockenspiel is highlighted because is played at a higher pitch than other instruments. It also repeat melody that other instrument seem to surround it.  The song has harmony created by other repeated notes and continuous notes.  It is polyphonic. The glockenspiel has the most noticeable density. The instruments are able to work together because each instrument does not rise above the glockenspiel tone.  There is minimal variation. Most noticeable variation is the drummer  play the bass note then  a hi-hats and repeat. After short highlight by the drummer it would shift back to glockenspiel. The pieces have a lot of repetition but it captures the message of the melody. The piece remind me of the 80s style of a band playing rapid quarter notes. The sound also promotes dancing because of its tempo. This piece does connect to my life since I was playing a video game that takes place in Miami during the 80s and Latin radio station often would played this rapid pace of instruments .  During the performance I also rap over this beat in my head since it kept the same tempo.

Overall Tigue shows array of creativity with their method of performance to utilizing house hold items as instrument. They pay homage to past composer that forefront these method of making music such as dodecaphony and Extended technique. The three compositions insinuate the listener with feelings such as infinite, puzzle and logical thinking.  Their witty hand sign to connect to the audience and insinuated logical thinking. Tigue push the boundaries by utilize binary form to each of its composition that keep the audience anticipated. The audience would anticipate and guessing what would come after this unorthodox movement?