October 20, 2011
Nothing much to say here – by this time next week, I’ll be at the annual meeting of the Society for Music Theory in Minneapolis, MN. (I’m bringing a coat.)
Take a look at the program (.pdf). Anything you’d recommend? I have a list myself, and will give a full report when I return.
October 19, 2011
I finally finished the Milan Kundera books we have and turned my attention to a new book – The Postmortal by Drew Magary.
In the not-too-distant future, a scientist discovers a way to stop the aging process. From there, it gets weird.
I blazed through the book in two days – partially because it reads quickly (as befitting a blogger – Magary writes for Deadspin and Kissing Suzy Kolber) and partially because I didn’t want to put it down. The book spends some cursory time reflecting on the Big Issues of potential immortality, but is mostly a character study in how humanity – individually and collectively – reacts, evolves, and devolves. Sometimes the story drags, especially in the middle, but on the whole this is a wicked little text. There were moments I was genuinely skeeved out by how certain people reacted to being frozen in age, which to me is a testament to Magary’s imagination and talent.
I recommend this book. Magary can do more than the fart and boob jokes that populate KSK (though I do love those as well), and The Postmortal is proof of that.
October 18, 2011
What makes a good tone?
This is arguably the hardest and most personal question of all. There are some generic, catch-all answers (warm, round, focused sound), but when it comes to varying degrees of brightness/darkness of sound, well, put two euphoniumists in a room and you’ll get three answers.
I play with a darker sound, one more suited for ensemble playing. The challenge that those of us with a darker sound face is keeping the sound focused. When you darken the sound, there’s a certain amount of fuzz that is created in the sound. A nice dark sound still keeps a strong, easily-definable center to the sound. To contrast, my college teacher (the legendary and still amazing Earle Louder) had a comparatively bright sound, better for solo work.* Both viewpoints are valid, to be sure, but I have found that I personally control a darker sound better and have an easier time with intonation and articulation.
Whatever you do in creating your own personal tone, it’s important to develop a good base for the tone. Keep a nice open oral cavity so that you can pump tons of air into the horn. Keep those corners firm but never tense. Get good warm air from the bottom of your lungs. Stay relaxed.
How do you handle issues of tone?
*which is not to say that Doc Louder doesn’t sound good in an ensemble. He does. Oh man, does he ever.
October 13, 2011
I’ve been thinking more and more about the theory curriculum and how it is structured. Nothing new there; many a theorist has given thought to the basic four-semester undergraduate curriculum. That’s not where my thoughts are lately, though.
I’ve been teaching Scoring and Arranging this semester (a class I’ve taught before many times), but for some reason during the score study portion of class I’ve been paying extra attention to how contrapuntal and formal events affect timbral choices. This got me thinking – rather than three separate classes for form, orchestration and counterpoint, how about a one-year superclass in which all three topics are interconnected? (In case you haven’t noticed, the interconnectedness of the different aspects of the music curriculum is something that has always been an interest of mine. I
blame thank my first undergraduate theory teacher, Dr. Christopher Gallaher, because he was big into Gestalt theory.)
It’s a thought, anyway. What do you think?
October 12, 2011
I’m on this Milan Kundera kick. I just finished The Unbearable Lightness of Being and am now working through a short story collection, Laughable Loves.
At the office, I have Star Trek and Philosophy for lunch reading and Harald Krebs’ Fantasy Pieces: Metrical Dissonance in the Music of Robert Schumann and Peter Goodwin’s Morton Gould: American Salute for research material.
How’s about you?
October 11, 2011
Some of you have asked to see the score to Variations on a Greek Folk Dance. Here it is:
Variations on a Greek Folk Dance
If you’d like to hear a MIDI version of this, go here.