Author: tuan ngo


Africa in the Americans: Rhythmic Connection of Cuba and Brazil

Africa in the Americans: Rhythmic Connection of Cuba and Brazil

Africa in the Americans: Rhythmic Connection of Cuba and Brazil was a performance at symphony space. The orchestra is led by pianist, composer, and director Arturo O’Farrill. Arturo O’Farrill is a jazz musician, a pianist, composer, and director of the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra. He is notable for Afro-Cuban jazz. He has received two Grammy Awards and four Grammy nominations. He also trains and utilized other musical forms such as free jazz and experimental hip-hop. The orchestra is consist of 4 trombone, 4 trumpets, 5 saxophone, drums, bass, piano, bongos, congas, Brazilian shaker and DJ booth. The list of instruments I could expect what it would sound like.  I expect it to have a wide range of dynamic covering from low to high tones. I was sitting on the upper level to the left just proximally 10 feet away from the stage. Taken this into consideration this perhaps affected the way I perceive the music. Rather than being in the middle where is equal music dynamic distribution.

The movement has a dense texture because numerous of instruments playing simultaneously. Instruments such as the saxophone and percussion instrument pitch and timbre are distinctive. It is difficult to perceive the piano, shaker, and the DJ instruments. When many instruments are playing simultaneously. The chances of each instrument drowning out the other are likable.  Continuing, each instrument was playing repetitive notes. Also, they are using the staccato technique. Sometimes there would be trumpet and saxophone come in to play a melody on top of the uniform base. The uniform base is formed by varies of instrument repeating notes. When the melodies played by the brass instrument created a contrast and also highlighted their melodies. The conductor would also signal for sforzando. The brass player would play staccato notes that are a higher pitch. This is also another method of this motif to have short breaks then proceed back to their uniform melodies. During the 3:00 time period there is a small part for soloing trumpet. The rest of the instrument pause temporary with exceptional of the bongos. The bongos would steady continuously strike along the solo trumpet. This technique provided foreshadow sound and accompanied the trumpet. This instrument does not exceed the pitch of the trumpet. The audience could focus on the sound of the trumpet easier rather than another instrument that is doing individual motif. The Dj could be heard sometimes as cutting. It has a a scracth sound. It would cut the notes up and repeat it. At the 4:31 the audience could see the utilization of unity. Each piece is continuous playing but all instrument stop at the same exact time. Rather than the constant sound, it provided breaks that give a dissonant sound effect. The orchestra ending was unique due to a utilization of sforzando. The group would make a sudden stop and quickly played again. While the bongo played its own fast pace melodic motif to also provided contrast to the uniform sforzando.

Overall the movements are able to utilize a uniform staccato base and built short solo accompany by uniform sound. They also emphasize on sforzando since is one of the main contrast points of the movement. This particular orchestra insinuates a “live” atmosphere since it has a lot of dynamic and quick tempo. In the past, I attended orchestra that utilized legato and tells a story. Those pieces insinuate mellow emotion. Additionally, I think it was able to achieve that emotion because of the minor keys, minor usage of sforzando and pitches.  While these pieces remind me watching a Caribbean or Spanish parade where there are live performances. The music insinuates nothing short of excitement.




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:

Lucky Chops Fuky Town Cover

Tigue at the Pregones Theater


Music is intriguing by the way it sounds and the through a 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 exposed to John Cage composition. Cage has an unorthodox way of composing music. He would squeaky ducks, place flower into water fill bathtub, a sound of streams releasing from a boiling pot and many another unorthodox way of making music. I found it interesting because the concept was a showcased in 1960 which is futuristic for its time. Nowadays those sounds are available as a 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 tonnes 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 time 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 composed 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 compositions lasting one hour and thirty minutes 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 revolving what seem to be a screwdriver 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 instrument 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 the 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 resolves 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 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 play their instrument in a precise method. As number one is being called Carson begins to use his left hand to rake across the drum, as for number two he begins 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 unscrew the back cover with a screwdriver. 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. Meanwhile, Amy detaches one the electric guitar wire and begins to hit her palm to the neck of the a 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 pitch and resonant of the bang guitar linger over other instruments. 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 a puzzle was” as the trio announce to the audience and trio simultaneously provided sign numbers with their finger. The index finger is being 2, the third finger is 3 and so forth.  This composition seems 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 density. However, after the transition, the altered guitar have the highest density.

The third composition the trio utilize an 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 repeats melody that other instruments 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  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 reminds 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 be 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 an array of creativity with their method of performance to utilizing household items as an instrument. They pay homage to past composer that forefront these methods 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 pushes the boundaries by utilizing binary form to each of its composition that keeps the audience anticipated. The audience would anticipate and guess what would come after this unorthodox movement.