Monday, January 23, 2017

Diabelli Project 141 - Wind Trio

The Diabelli Project is about offering my weekly flash-composition sketches freely to all. Like Antonio Diabelli's theme, these sketches aren't great music. But perhaps (as in Diabelli's case) there's a Beethoven out there who can do great things with them.

This week's flash composition was another wind trio. I started with a simple idea -- an interval of a third (E-G) and just kind of watched what happened. Rhythmic development started to happen in the 6th measure. If time hadn't run out, I would have continued expanding the original motif. And this may well be a sketch I return to in the near future.

As always, you can use any or all of the posted Diabelli Project sketches as you wish for free. Just be sure to share the results. I'm always curious to see what direction someone else can take this material.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Line Mar Match Box Construction 036 - Rider

I found a Line Mar Match Box Construction Set from the 1930s, complete and with instructions. The box claimed the set made 100 different toys. I decided to test that claim -- one toy at a time. You can read all the posts for the Line Mar construction project at 100 Toys.

036. Rider

One thing's for sure: as I've built each toy, each new toy becomes somewhat easier to figure out. The rider is basically the same figure used for the 033 Acrobat, the 031 Rope Walker, and 030 Man. 

The horse, though, proved a little difficult to build. Because the two pieces that make up the head are identical, I had a difficult time getting them to sit properly. I could have pinched the sides of the top piece so it rested on the top of the piece underneath it, I suppose. But I'm trying to bend these pieces at few times as possible. Each bend weakens the fold a little more, and I don't think this paper-thin metal has all that many bends in it to start with.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Aaron Tindall's Tuba Transformations

Serious classical music lovers know there's more to the tuba than "Tubby." Aaron Tindall's new recital disc just shows how much more -- and it may surprise more than a few classical cognoscenti.

Tindall performs works of four contemporary composers with contrasting styles, in settings ranging from full orchestral accompaniment to unaccompanied solo. Virtually the entire range of playing technique is heard, and some extended technique as well.

The opener, Gunther Schuller's 2008 concerto No. 2 for Contrabass Tuba and Symphony Orchestra is the most conservative work in the program, written in a loosely atonal style that reminded me of the early 1960s. The tuba's lyrical passages, especially those in the lower register, are well-crafted and engaging. Tindall's crystal-clear articulation shows amazing control, especially with multiphonics.

Karlheinz Stockhausen's 2006 Harmonien is part of an unfinished cycle of solo instrumental works (one for every hour of the day). Tindall performs this solo piece beautifully. He seems to effortlessly slip between extreme registers while maintaining a sense of unity and overall structure. Tindall makes every note relevant and meaningful.

The 2013 Concerto for Tuba and Winds Ensemble by Dana Wilson follows, lightening the mood somewhat. It's a more accessible work, and Tindall's rapid-fire double tonguing has to be heard to be believed.

Are You Experienced? by David Lang closes the progam. It's the oldest of the four works (completed in 1989) but it's also the wildest. Composed for electric tuba, chamber orchestra and narrator, the work plunges the audience into a disorienting world of semi-consciousness. No, really -- the narrator explains that we've just been hit on the head as the music starts. Tindall's performance, though incorporating feedback, gutteral growls, and other extra-musical sounds is one I can only describe as musical. This isn't just noise -- there's a purpose to it all, and if you listen closely, Tindall will reveal it.

I'd recommend this release not only to anyone interested in contemporary music, but to composers and arrangers. If you want to know what the tuba is truly capable of, this should be your reference recording.

Aaron Tinall, Tuba
Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra; Jeffery Meyer, conductor
Ithaca College Wind Ensemble; Stephen Peterson, conductor
Ithaca College Chamber Orchestra; Jffery Meyer, conductor; Steven Stucky, narrator
Bridge Records 9471