Wednesday, August 30, 2006

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Day Off

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What big fun. I called this in while waiting in line for the ferry, that would take us from Bainbridge Island to Seattle in 14 minutes. It was a beautiful ride.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Bye Bye Mollie

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Recorded while in transit to the Sketch Way.

A real time Mollie Adventure

Mollie is witticism in action

And I quote...
"I really don't want to take that bug home with me, I hope he doesn't climb into my bag or my pants."

Musical precedents

So many of you are familiar with Boethius

and his attempt to "include Pythagorean elements within a reconciliation of new-platonic and Aristotelian elements." And as you also know, he was into discerning the mathematical basis for music, trigger the monochord story of music history books everywhere. You may further recall that he spoke of 2 types of music

Musica Instrumentalis - the lowest level, music that is sounding, both by means of instruments and voices.

Musica Humana - the 2nd level, refering to the physical and the spiritual and the real world symmetry of the body and how that is a real world manifestation of the God Guys magic.

Musica Mundana - The music of the spheres, the harmony that stands as the foundation of all the world and all of the universe.

Ok, that all said I was interested to discover Johannes Scouts Erigena (810-886)

This picture is not near as engaging as that of Boethius and I apologize for that, but he also had a classification system of music. How fabulous, what makes it really interesting is that his system, although similar, utilizes 2 classifications.

Musica Naturalis - music that is not made by man but rather it comes from the divine. Which includes the music of the spheres and the harmony of the body and the soul.

Musica Artificialis - artificial music, that created by man, a manifestation in tangible of sound

That all being said as a longwinded introduction that sort of lays the groundwork for a realization that I had while turning this information around and it randomly combined with something that had come up in my conversation with John Luther Adams, about a year ago. He helped me to understand that there are two types of music that I write. I have been considering the question of, "what kind of music do I write?" and the fact that I have a strong interest in writing music that is more concerned with acoustic phenomena, yet there is a part of me that enjoys writing technically challenging pieces that are really more about the player than about acoustics and the limitations of perception. That all being said, I was interested to see that I am way out of date. So I guess when people ask me what kind of music I write I can reply that it is Medieval and depending on the piece, it is of the spheres or worldly.

"The respect for one note" - nice quote eh? Maybe it is better to think of respect for one sound, not one note?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Ani DiFranco

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Live at the Marymoor.
We hung out some with the woman who gave us the tickets and her boyfriend, they were nice. My guess is she will drop him. It felt good to see an outdoor show and it was a bit ironic that Ani had lyrics that hit the military upside the head, "I do not support the troops" yet the guy in front of us was obviously a big fan and also decked out in his Army Airborne uniform. Ani also spoke some about her pregnancy, who knew, well I suppose a lot of her adoring fans did, but I didn't. Finally, the bass player and the percussionist that she had with her were pretty good. They were underspoken in terms of playing, but it was obvious that they were very gifted musicians and they did a great job of filling out her songs, atleast as much as she allowed room for. I got the feeling that her songs were pretty hard to fill out because they were already pretty full with her being present. Problem with that is there were only a couple of places to make some interesting deviations while most of them were live playing of things you would hear on a record. Maybe I listened to to many jam bands and am therefore prejudiced. All in all, it was fun to hear some live sounds and watch many women dance. I mean, how often is a concert 90% women?

Monday, August 14, 2006


Guillaume de Machaut :: of Ars Nova fame!
Onward is a cheer that I ofter heard from my teacher (and then some) Bob Cogan. I think he ended most every lesson with it and it makes more and more sense to me the further I make it through my time on this planet.

Today I was working in a garden pulling some weeds when I received a call from a good friend and a classmate at NEC Matthew left me a message that he just got a contract from Schirmer to the effect that they were picking him up and are going to function as his publisher. I am so happy for him. This is the perfect thing for him. If you know him you know that he is exactly what they want and it will help him to build his career.

As I spent my evening reading through a text on 16th century counterpoint I would intermittently consider this development and eventually I started to consider what it tells me about myself. First, I am very happy that a close friend is getting the recognition that he deserves. Then I began to toy with the idea of "what if this had been me?" Then it occured to me that this is not what I want, well not now at least. Logically this is something that I should want, but why is it not something that I am jealous of or desire? So I returned to Jeppeson's "16th Century Counterpoint."

As I read on I came across the statement below and I began to understand why I was not jealous after this milestone that my colleague had attained.

"The decisive factor really appeared at the beginning of the 16th century, when the need for making music serve the ends of poetic expression was first clearly manifested."
page 33 if you want to check out the context.

Throughout our time at NEC Matthew was busy cranking out score after score in a language that, while evolving, was not accounting for what I considered the zietgiest of 21st century America. (Please don't misconstrue that as a critique; I enjoy and appreciate what Matthew writes). What I find missing is the push forward to incorporate the multidisplinary digital age that is here. My goal is to combine my interest of cognition and my love of "pure sound" - what I like to think of the appreciation of music as a formal organization of sound, as an object and as a concept. Eventually the idea formed in my grey matter that I have not gotten to the level of fluidity in my particular musical quest that Matthew has.

His language is something that is more advanced in terms of maturity and fluidity than mine. This being the case, I have yet to arrive at a place where I have authentically articulated what is stirring in my head. That being said, I began to reflect in my compositional output and while I am thrilled with components of various compositions, they are in a sense, incomplete, in that they lack synthesis of expression and conceptual model. And thus, I continue onward, in an attempt to realize the full depth of what I imagine.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Modal Maddness!

A random picture from our Honeymoon that I like.

I have been spending my study time focused on 16th century counterpoint, Mass construction principles and Palestrina's "Pope Marcellus Mass". This has been very rewarding and interesting, in fact I am going to try and attend a Mass in Latin this weekend just to get a better understanding.

The thing that is really great though was a letter that I came across in the Norton Critical Score for the Marcellus Mass written by Bishop Bernardino Cirillo to Messer Ugolino Gualteruzzi in 1549. In this document he goes into a brief description of the "ancient meanings of the modes." I just love this, using specific organization of pitch material in order to influence people behavior. I can think of any number of totalitarian regiemes or advertising agencies that would love to utilize this info. While this is often illuded to as common knowledge, I have not come accross such an explicit bit of writing as this.

Now the subject is this-that music among the ancients was the most splendid of all the fine arts. With is the created powerful effects that we nowadays cannot produce either with rhetoric or with oratory in moving the passions and affections of the soul. With the power of song it was easy for them to drive a wise mind from the use of reason and bring it to a state of madness and willfulness. By this means it is said that the Lacedaemonians were incited to take up arms against the Cretans; and that Timotheus was roused against Alexander; that a young man of Taormina was induced to set fire to the house is which his beloved was concealed; that in the sacrifices of Bacchus people were roused to frenzy; and similar effects. And the mode or species that incited this state of mind was called Phrygian.

To this species there was opposed another, called Lydian, with which men could be easily withdrawn from teh condition of frenzy and maddness into which they had been plunged by the first kind of music.

The third was called Dorian, which attracted and moved the affections of the soul to gravity and modesty, and with so much strength and force that it was not only difficult, but almost impossible for anyone hearing it to bend his spirit toward a vicous or ignoble action. They say that Agememnn, on going to the Trojan Wars, left a Dorian musician with his wife Clytemnestra, whose task it was, by means of his music, to charm her away from infidelity; and Aegisthus could not corrupt her until he had the musician murdered. This kind of music was always highly valued and esteemed.

Then we have the fourth species, called Mixolydian, by which anyone hearing it was immeadiately moved to tears, cries and lamentations; this was used for sad and mornful occasions.

WOW!! Imagine what this guy would say about Rap music or that crazy music of Milton Babbitt etc... What I really like is that he takes the time to not only catalog what the music does, but then goes on to let us know that music that moves people "to tears, cries and lamentations" is to presricptively be used "for sad and mornful occasions." Now that would never have occured to me, but I more of a simpleton and have never been one for understanding such complex relationships.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Wine Tasting

We are have a wine tasting with Mollie and in an effort to be productive, I will try to puts updates as we go.

:: Sutter Home Muscati 2005 :: This is pairing well with Strawberry.

Christopher :: Sweet and fruity, a little bite from the alchohal.

Christine :: It's Good

Mollie :: Refreshing, a nice summer sipper

:: Little Boomey Shira 2004 ::

Mollie :: Heavy and more flavorful of the reds I've had

Christopher :: Deep, rich, pairs well with dark chocolate. A bit of tanic, maybe this would improve with a couple years in the cellar?

Christine :: This is a red wine that I like, and I don't usually like red wine. It didn't give me a headache.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Some study, Some Fun

A random Wrangell sunset for you.

So returning to the cannon has been an illuminating undertaking. I am amazed to learn that I inherently understand formal design in ways I could not imagine even a year ago. I am unhappy to report that my sight singing has not grown exponenetially. But it is all a lot of fun actually. I am happy to report that I can hear music when looking at it, which should trasnlate to singing capability. Maybe the disparity is that I have higher standards for my singing than I once did. Ah the process of learning, how I love it. I am approaching a routine, singing in the AM, then counterpoint (16 th century this month, 18th next month) then on to part writing and form and analysis. Somewhere in there I read up on some history and correlate that with listening. It seems that my curriculum is rather parrallel in each aspect, temporally speaking so that is reassuring. There is so much to work on though. At least it is interesting.

Tonight Christine and I met with Molly and we all had a wonderful time drinking our prefered beverages and discussing health care and social policy. Molly is one smart cookie it was very interesting to contrast her perspective on health care with that of Christine and then with my own. I think it is just wonderful that Molly and I have had the opportunity to hang out in Boston and Seattle and I find it interesting to contrast our discussins then and now. Not only have we changed our orientation to life (marital status, age, professional progress etc) we have different city to react to and with. Even our orientation to the sun is different here!

Finally I should note that there has been an independent report of the Wrangell Wedding. Lisa is a great person and we had a good time shooting the shit one afternoon. She was home early from work and I was home so we just sat on the front lawn and discussed the world and what a strange and interesting place Wrangell is. I belive that she indicated that I was a bit more strange than she would have anticipated, which just goes to show that I was a born actor! And here is a shot of my bride on that spectacular evening. We spent the night on a house boat and this a self imposed digial image on her part. Note that the flowers were generously donated by people throughout Wrangell, care of their gardens, as there are no floral sales locations.