Monday, May 02, 2016

Diabelli Project 108 - Solo Marimba

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 weekI continue with this solo marimba piece. I'll be sitting down soon and looking at all these fragments to see if they fit together -- or at least suggest ways that one can lead to another.  While some of the sketches use four mallet technique, for this sketch I started with the premise that the player would only use two mallets. What it immediately suggested to me was something quick and nimble.

While it is a fast section, I used the upper and lower registers to suggest two parts -- melody and accompaniment.

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, April 29, 2016

Spam Roundup, April, 2016

There's spam, and then there's spam so oddly written it's somewhat amusing. Here's a roundup of some of the "best" comments I received this month from spambots around the world. 

Le bonehead mot

- I know this website presents quality depending articles or reviews and additional stuff, is there any other web page which gives these kinds of stuff in quality? [We only do quality-dependent work here, pal.]

- Great goods from you, man. I've have in mind your stuff prior to and you are simply extremely fantastic. [And a simply extremely fantastic thank you to you!]

- It's actually a pleasant for me to visit this web page, it includes helpful information. [Nothing like a pleasant to make the day better.]

Lumbering Along with Emotion

The Straco Express Layout, Part 23 - Lumbering Along continues to be a high-traffic post. The subject is a small, inexpensive vintage Japanese toy truck. Who knew it could elicit such strong emotions?

The original "Lumbering Along" post only showed one
Nomura lumber truck. Perhaps this photo of a pair will
boost traffic even more!
- I do accept as true with all the concepts you've presented in your post. They're really convincing and will definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are very quick for novices. Could you please prolong them a little next time? [Long, drawn-out posts. Great idea.]

- But have you ever thought how much stress are you providing your own loved ones. [Geez, Louise, it's just a dime story toy! Lighten up!]

Fastidiously yours

For a long time, the word "fastidious" cropped up frequently in these comments -- always used incorrectly, of course. Recently, the word appears less frequently. Although I did receive the following comments on my 2013 post, Fastidious Spam.

- Spot on with this write-up, I really believe this site needs far more attention. [We can all benefit from a more fastidious attention to detail.]

- Incredible story there. What happened after? [They all lived fastidiously ever after.]

-I am regular reader, how are you everybody? This paragraph posted at this web page is in fact fastidious. [!]

That's all for this month. Just accept this as true and don't worry about the stress to your loved ones.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Isidora Žebeljan: Chamber Music

This was a difficult release to review. It was easy to form an option (I really enjoyed it). But trying to describe Serbian composer Isadora Zebeljan's music to someone who's not familiar with it is something of a challenge.

The liner notes gave it a try: "Isidora Žebeljan grew up listening to Serbian, Romanian, Hungarian and Gypsy music. This music, with its melancholic and passionate melodies, rich with ornaments, and its complex and elusive rhythms... defined the basic outlines of her musical thinking." True, but that's only part of the story.

Žebeljan's music also incorporates elements of jazz, pop and older classical traditions in her music -- and fuses all those disparate parts into an organic whole. While the external characteristics change, there's something underpinning each of these works that's consistent. I think it's the emotional honesty of the music. Kudos to the Brodsky Quartet and their associates for recording this program of truly inventive chamber music.

The disc opens with the Polomka Quartet, short 2009 serial work with outbursts of lyricism. The Dance of the Wooden Sticks for horn and string quartet has a more tonal and Slavic feel to it. This is a technical showpiece for the horn, beginning with a slow introduction then moving to a rhythmic "dance." New Songs of Lada for soprano and string quartet (2006) is a cycle of poems by anonymous 18th and 19th-century Serbian poets. I found soprano Anete Illié's voice particularly warm and full, giving these old poems a rich patina.

Žebeljan's Sarabande for piano had neither the serialism of the Polomka Quartet nor the folk elements of the New Songs. Rather, it was music that just seemed suspended in air, quiet and ethereal. By contrast, A Yawl on the Danube for soprano, piano, string quartet and percussion had an earthy quality to it. I loved the way the honkytonk-sounding piano and the string quartet would go off in different directions at times.

The Song of a Traveller in the Night for clarinet and string quartet showed yet another side of Zebeljan's character. This angular, loose-limbed composition sounded straight-up post-tonal. (I told you hŽebeljan's music is hard to describe.) The Pep It Up Fantasy for soprano, piano, string quintet, and percussion ends the program. It's a wonderfully complex work full of intricate rhythms. The soprano seems to float serenely above all the bustle, which nevertheless sounds connected rather than detached from the voice (at least to me).

If you're familiar with Isadora Žebeljan's music, then there's nothing I need to say, save that the performances are all top-notch. If you're not familiar with her work, then I encourage you to listen to some sound samples before downloading (or purchasing the CD). This is music that I just don't have the words to describe adequately.

Isidora Žebeljan: Chamber Music 
Polomka Quartet; Dance of the Wooden Sticks for horn and string quintet; new Songs of Lada for soprano and string quartet; Sarabande for piano; A Yawl on the Danube, scene for soprano, piano, string quartet and percussion; Song of a Traveller in the Night for clarinet and string quartet; Pep It Up, fantasy for soprano, piano, string quintet and percussion 
Brodsky Quartet; Anete Illié, soprano; Stefan Dohr, horn; Joan Enric Lluna, clarinet; Isadora Žebeljan, piano; Miroslav Karlovič, percussion; Boban Stošič, double bass; Premil Petrocič, conductor 
CPO 777 994