Author: Janette Tilley

Create Your Personal Website: Tuesday May 30

WordPressYou can create a personal website very easily using the same tools we used this semester for our course blog.  And your site doesn’t have to be a blog: it can be an “electronic press kit”, a professional resume, or a place to promote your music and help people learn what you have to offer.

If you’d like to learn how to use WordPress to build your website, come to the workshop on Tuesday, May 30 at 1:00pm.  We’ll work once again in MU-412, the computer lab. I’ll walk you through the basics of WordPress site building and show you some tools that will help you create a professional public image.

Entering the Final Stretch!

Congratulations, everyone, for a successful concert on Wednesday.  This was the most polished and professional performance that I have seen and heard from a class and you are all to be congratulated!

Now to business: we have only 2 classes remaining and then the Final Exam scheduled for Monday, May 22 at 8:30am. I will post an outline of the exam soon (later today or tomorrow) so that we can use some of our class time next week reviewing and preparing outstanding responses to the questions.

We’ll also continue our conversation about environmental music by looking at a few composers who have composed site-specific pieces and works that expand theatrical performance to a global scale.  Of note: there will be a performance of John Luther Adams piece Ten Thousand Birds in Morningside Park on Sunday at 3pm.  Free. This is a great opportunity to experience a site-specific environmental work.  There will be more to come on Make Music Day, June 21.

Finally, if you are interested in learning how to build your own website to promote you and your music, I can give a little workshop on Reading Day or the following week after finals to walk you through using the Commons to create your own WordPress site.   Let me know if you are interested by replying in the comments.  Let me know if you’d prefer Reading Day (Friday, May 19) or a day after exams are over.

Planning for the Class Concert May 10

We had a great preview of the performance groups today and I wanted to summarize what we talked about in a post so that you have a record and can jump in with comments and updates.

Wednesday May 10 concert @ 12:30 with a Tech run-through at 9:30

Monday May 8: Dress Rehearsal during class time.  I’ll see if I can book the Recital Hall for this.


Finalized list of stage “needs” due next week, May 1. This should include all microphones, cables, music stands, chairs, piano or anything you intend to use for your performance.

Groups that didn’t get to play their piece in class today will get their chance on Monday.  We can also perform something together as a whole class.  Let’s start Monday’s class with the Tuning Meditation and see where it takes it us, now that our ears are so much bigger!

Here’s the program so far (not in any particular order):

Spiegel im spiegel, by Arvo Pärt performed by Jose Lopez and Amber Milan

Pitch City, by William Duckworth performed by Jose Lopez, Juan Baez, Olivia Cipriano, Alejandro Marrero

LOL conceived and performed by Gregory Morelo, Michael Stephens, Dasom Park, Bladimir Taveras, Alejandro Marrero, Gustavo Nuñez

Snowforms by R. Murray Schafer performed by Shayna Cody, Suheiry Rivera, Devin Negroni, Rose Kaufman

David and Abigail by Anthony Puentes performed by Akeem Edwards, James Nitis, Tuan Ngo, Anthony Puentes

TBA: Daniel Silva, David Rivera, Jesus Morel

TBA: Emil Garcia, Clapping Music???

What else did you have in mind? Let me know about additions to the program. Images and other projections are welcome.

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!


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.

January 5, 2016: Steve Lehman & Selebeyon to present New York Premiere and New Recording
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 :




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

Small Change to the Schedule

Hi everyone,

just a quick note to alert you to a small scheduling change. I decided to switch 2 of our topics so that we will cover Minimalism in a week’s time and I’ve moved the issue of Music & Politics down to the end of March. I’ve also included a couple of new readings for next week. If you can skim them before class on Monday, that would be great. Certainly have them skimmed by Wednesday to help our discussion.

Oh, and we’ll start Wednesday’s class with another short quiz: another definition of a major term that we’ve studied so far. Quiz starts promptly at 9:30 and ends, promptly at 9:40.

Making Hyperlinks

Hey everyone,

I’ve noticed that many posts on the blog aren’t taking advantage of all the text styling features that are available, most importantly, hyperlinks.

Hyperlink definition
Google’s definition

A hyperlink is an internet-friendly sort of footnote, in which you actively take your reader to your source, without having to fill the page with all that ugly URL language.  It can be a good way to introduce your reader to websites of interest, and further reading.  I’ve seen great URLs so far to websites and reviews, but the reader has to cut-and-paste the long text.  We all prefer hyperlinks.

Here’s how to create them:

Highlight the text you want to make an active link.

Select the “link” button from the top of our editing window.  It looks like this:

Link Button

Then cut-and-paste your URL into the box that opens and hit “Enter”



I look forward to being able to link to your interesting research with each new post!

Ideas for February Blog Posts

Have you attended a concert yet? Don’t let February pass you by: it is the single best month to attend a concert of contemporary music in New York City! Check out the Calendar to find an event happening when you are free.  Take advantage of today’s holiday to attend a performance of music by African-American composers.

If getting out to a concert this month is difficult, you might want to write a review of new recording or respond to an issue in the press, or write a post that is timely (look for composers celebrating birthdays right now, for example.  Some ideas: Philip Glass (Jan. 31), John Adams (Feb. 15), John Corigliano (Feb. 16), Gyorgy Kurtag (Feb. 19))

Review one of the albums or pieces that won a Grammy last night.  Since our course is mostly about “art” music we should start by looking under “Best Instrumental Composition” and then anything with “Classical” in the title, such as “Best Engineered Album, Classical”, “Best Orchestral Performance”, “Best Opera Recording”,  “Best Choral Performance”, “Best Chamber Music / Small Ensemble Performance”, “Best Classical Instrumental Solo” etc.   You might be pleasantly surprised by the music you discover here. Of course, we shouldn’t ignore Jazz and many other genres, but I think that Beyoncé and Adele get enough press without our help.

You might write something that is relevant for Black or African American History Month. Do a little research about a composer or an issue that is relevant today. Here’s is an article about a recent recipient of the Grawemeyer Award who was “deeply humbled” by the award, but questioned the lack of racial and gender diversity in the concert halls. (Remember, March is Women’s History Month, so look for topics that might be appropriate for future posts). Here’s another article in which several prominent African-American composers discuss race in contemporary music.