Posts Tagged ‘early music’

Choir never gets old.

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Yesterday was my first concert singing with Cantori Domino. As one of the biggest choir dorks I know, the past two choirless years were a kind of hell for me. It feels good to get the cobwebs out of my vocal cords.

We sang Claudio Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers, 400 years after it was written. We performed it with soloists, double choir, and orchestra. What amazing music; I loved the intricate counterpoint and how he weaved the Gregorian chants into each section. Monteverdi’s was the perfect time period where the Renaissance sonority met the rich Baroque sound, two of my favorite things.

I even had a tiny solo. Well, it wasn’t really a solo, because I sang two verses in Ave Maris Stella (one of my favorite tunes) in unison with two other people. I was even able to emit sound despite my customary stagefright. It took many cups of hot cider and the entire first half of the concert for me to warm up my voice.

I’m getting to know the choir members slowly. Even though rehearsals are no-nonsense (with a few jokes thrown in), I often snicker in the back row quietly to myself. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.

If you’re curious about the piece we performed, I’d highly recommend the John Eliot Gardiner version.

Current favorite song

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

I’ve been listening to Blue Heron‘s Dufay CD in the car recently. My favorite is Track 15, “Par droit je puis bien complaindre et gemir.” I found a recording by a different artist on YouTube:

When looking for the lyrics and their translations, I stumbled upon the program for the concert I’d gone to for the Early Music class I’d taken in 2006. I had bought their CD during the reception after the concert.

Par droit je puis bien complaindre et gemir,
qui sui esent de liesse et de joye.
Un seul confort ou prendre ne scaroye,
ne scay comment me puisse maintenir.

Raison me nuist et me veut relenquir,
espoir me fault, en quel lieu que je soye:
Par droit je puis bien complaindre et gemir,
qui sui esent de liesse et de joye.

Dechassiés suy, ne me scay ou tenir,
par Fortune qui si fort me gueroye.
Anemis sont ceus qu’amis je cuidoye,
et ce porter me convient et souffrir.

Par droit je puis bien complaindre…

By rights may I well lament and moan,
I who am deprived of happiness and joy.
Not one single comfort can I find anywhere,
nor do I know how I can survive.

Reason harms me and is about to abandon me,
hope fails me, wherever I may be:
by rights may I well lament and moan,
I who am deprived of happiness and joy.

I am pursued—I know not where to turn—
by Fortune, who thus harshly makes war on me.
Those I thought friends are enemies,
and this I am forced to bear and suffer.

By rights may I well lament…

The above recording has two vocal parts, and the bottom two lines are instrumental. The Blue Heron recording was all vocal. I happened to stumble upon pages of this book, which discusses it is unknown whether or not the bottom two lines should be sung or played. Listening to the two versions, I think it sounds beautiful either way. That tied my mini research together pretty well.

Sometimes I can’t believe that this music is 600 years old.

Canon L’Homme Armé

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

I spent the past two days recording a piece I thought up on a whim! It’s a canon based on a popular (back in the 1400s) Renaissance theme, L’Homme Armé.

I recorded the parts on violin. I’m pretty new at learning the violin, so it doesn’t sound all that good even though I spent 5 hours recording the violin parts. The poor intonation hurts me more than it hurts you, trust me. But..! I just wanted it out there. You may listen to it here if you wish.

I’m just joking.

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

Going into the new year listening to early music must have influenced me more than I’d thought. I keep singing Gregorian chants to myself. In the past week, I thought of a way to harmonize the famous chant Dies Irae, and it hasn’t left my head since. It’s so corny that I had to do it. In fact, the only way I could have the courage to do this was by convincing myself that it’s just a joke.

Listen to Diesirase (0:40)

Not surprisingly, the score looks a bit like those Gregorian chant manuscripts, too. I got lazy with the notation.

I’ve been on an arranging kick lately. I should get back to working on my original compositions.

Joy in dorian

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

I thought it’d be fun to arrange a Christmas carol this year, so I played around with my favorite carol, Joy to the World. Here’s what came out: Dorijoie (1:30).

sting and dowland

Sunday, February 4th, 2007

Today I found the article Sting’s ‘Labyrinth’: 16th Century Pop Music through a Renaissance music blog. Apparently, Sting made an album of John Dowland songs last year as a tribute to the Elizabethan composer.

The blog had linked to one of the songs in the album, and I was a bit disappointed upon hearing it. Like all the other songs in the album, it solely consisted of Sting’s voice and the lute (Dowland’s instrument), and I didn’t think that they complemented each other very well.

I went on iTunes music store, listened to previews of the songs, and read some of the reviews. There were two groups of people who wrote reviews: Sting fans and Dowland fans.
Most of the Sting fans gave the album five stars, because they loved Sting’s voice, and were pleased with the exotic lute music to which they weren’t accustomed.
People who had already listened to other Dowland recordings weren’t satisfied at all, and wrote that this isn’t how Dowland should be performed, and that Sting’s singing was very bad.
There was a third group of people who loved both Sting and Dowland, and thought that Sting did the music justice and also introduced Dowland to listeners who usually don’t listen that type of music.

I’m a Dowland fan, and not a Sting fan, and I personally didn’t love the recordings. But, I didn’t dislike them because Sting sings them in the pop style – in fact, I thought it was great that he interpreted them in his own style. What annoyed me was that the classical lute accompaniment didn’t mesh with the pop style at all. Sting’s singing and the lute part sound good separately, but they conflict when put together. Sting’s singing style crushes the delicate sound of the lute, in my opinion. It would have sounded better over electronic guitars.

I think that if Sting wanted to bring a more modern feel to the songs, he might have arranged the accompaniment for a pop band. In fact, I think Dowland’s pieces would sound awesome as rock songs or alternative music. Sting’s interpretation of Dowland songs still makes them sound like “old” music. I think Dowland would have found it appropriate to keep the melodies and harmonies of the songs intact, but have it performed with whatever instruments that are popular at the time.

Sting should have gone that extra step. Then I would have been happy. The CD looks pretty cool, actually, because Sting reads some excerpts from Dowland’s personal correspondences as well to paint a biographical portrait of him.

Listen to Sting’s version of “Can She Excuse My Wrongs.”

Sunday, March 5th, 2006

This semester is very intensive in music, and I love it so far. I’m taking three music classes, one which focuses on early music (from the years 800-1500), one which focuses on music after 1960, and one in which I’m writing a piano sonata (we’ll be writing string quartets during the second half). I’ve also been going to a lot of concerts.
Sometimes I have difficulty evaluating music that I listen to, but today I realized that the best way to remedy that is to go to concerts with friends. Today I went with a music major senior, and she knows all the professors closely, so we sat with one of them. During the breaks, we exchanged our ideas and opinions and I got a lot out of it.
Tonight is nice. There’s a listening quiz on Monday, so I’m listening to some pieces by Ligeti, Partch (who made his own instruments — click here and here for examples — to his own tuning system, which splits the octave into 43 scale degrees instead of the conventional 12), and others (I haven’t gotten to them yet). I made myself a pot of vanilla tea. Before that, I had a cup of coffee. The instant coffee I bought today is the most vile-tasting thing I’ve ever drunk.

That is not to say that I’m not doing any science. I have a biochemistry test on Monday, and I’ll be doing some programming on Matlab to solve batch reactor problems.

Tuesday, September 14th, 2004

Yesterday, Robyn and I went on the tennis courts and played tennis. Both our tennis experience consists of a beginners class that went on for a few weeks, and months of not playing. We were pretty horrible, but we had a good rally or two. I dunno when we’ll play again, maybe Thursday? It was fun.

Today, Nina and I spent an hour and a half working on the last section of our first Harmony and Counterpoint II homework. We had to harmonize a melody. It seems simple enough, but after incredulously reading over the line a few times, I discovered that it’s in Dorian mode! Our class doesn’t even cover that century! We wrote him a really confused e-mail, and he affirmed that it was indeed a Renaissance tune in the dorian mode, and not to worry about it so much. Evil! So we spent an hour and a half trying to find the best way to harmonize it. (Renaissance is out of the scope of our course.. it’s just supposed to be the Classical period!) I like my harmonization of it. Yay.

Other than that, I biked somewhere with a skirt on today. I had tights underneath, but I still felt uncomfortable, so I mastered how to ride a bike with one hand while holding my skirt down with the other. I walked back. I looked HOT, though! I mean, not while riding the bike. My outfit was great! I would have taken pictures of it, but I was too lazy. So maybe I’ll wear it again someday and take pictures of it then.

Thursday, March 6th, 2003

Oh man, the Masterworks concert was sooo great! We went first and we sang it so well! Mr. Rhodes made us stand all close to each other and we sounded really good. I could feel the notes echoing off each other’s bodies, and felt all tingly inside when we sang a nice chord. Anyway, then we listened to the Chamber Singers, which were also very good, and then we went up in the balcony and listened to Chorale. Man, Chorale is soooo good! I want to be in it, too. Haha but I don’t have room in my schedule for two choirs. Oh well. 🙂

It’s so funny, Steven, Sam, and I (and sometimes other people) always start singing a part of Byrd’s Mass and we keep singing until one of us misses an entrance or forgets how the rest goes. Today, when we went to CPK after the concert, Steven took out his music and we sang a part of the Credo while waiting to order.. it sounded sooo good. It’s so fulfilling to sing something so beautiful like that.. I wanted to cry.. I wanted to cry during the concert, too, and apparently Aimee cried while listening to the Credo. 🙂 Anyway, then we feasted on some really good food while closing our eyes and savoring the food.. and Steven kept quoting this random obscure movie in his voice.. “Who is she, Pablo?” etc. etc. Hehe, that silly Steven. Anyway, it’s so funny because I thought the music would go out of my head after the performance, but I’m still playing it in my head. I don’t want to listen to any other music right now, because I’d feel like I was destroying the music. 🙂 I’m soo so happy.

Oh yeah, and Charles let me have his hot chocolate! Yes!

We get to sleep in until noon tomorrow! Because of the weird testing schedule, school doesn’t start for us until a later time. How cool, this week’s been great! Friday’s a regular school day again, but that’s quite all right, because the math quiz and Acadeca test have been moved to Monday! *sigh* Lalalalaaa!

I wish you had come to the concert! It was sooo great. 😀

Friday, January 17th, 2003

Okay, sorry about my recent lack of posts. I was going to post something last night, but Blogger turned out to be down for system maintenance, so I just went to bed.

Yesterday, I was going to say that I love open fifths. I like holding down the pedal, playing a low open fifth, and listening to the overtones. It’s very calming. I also love minor 7ths. So of course I love playing stuff that includes plenty of those.

I started learning a new piano piece entitled Firefly. It is so amazing, but incredibly simple. Well.. at least, it’s not like Debussy.. it’s faster to learn. Actually, I only looked at the first two pages so far. Today I turned the page and discovered quintuplets (um.. what are they called? they’re like triplets, but five per beat). So I was like, “Whee, okay, I guess that’s enough practicing for today,” and put that away. In other news, I finished learning Debussy’s Clair de Lune. It’s soo beautiful, but I suck at playing it. I need to practice more.

Firefly is pretty simple, and Debussy has pretty complicated chords, but they are both beautiful just the same.

Right now my head is feeling woozy from all the music. I love the Renaissance stuff we’re doing in choir, and the pieces I’m playing for piano are great. These past few days I’ve been listening to my CD of Bach motets, too. Bach still rules, don’t worry about that.

I have so much homework, and next week is finals week. *sigh*