Part 1 Music Today
Project one – Listening to Music in the modern world
This is a section that I am looking forward to exploring. I have decided that I am going to investigate and listen to each and see where things take me and approach the genres with an open mind, throwing any previous held prejudices out of the window.
I know that I have not heard all genres so I am going to listen , research, see how things progress and note my thoughts, feelings and outcomes. I am not sure what my childhood listening genre would be defined as but I am obsessed by 80s pop music and love a good pop song from that era.
As far as classical music is concerned I would consider myself a complete beginner and do feel the need to go in-depth to get a better feel and understanding. I have chosen a number of composers, researched their life and works and asked Apple Music to select some of their works for me.
Johanne Sebastian Bach – hard copy of these pages contained in personal notes
I am very new to classical music and chose Bach to start. I throughly enjoyed listening to all these pieces. There were some that I had heard before and were familiar to me. I especially loved the unaccompanied cello suites, these were so passionate. Whilst I enjoyed the choral pieces and found these uplifting, I am more drawn to pieces which are written for strings in both major and minor keys. Some of the pieces I recognise from advertisements, even though they are only excerpts but I do prefer them in their original versions.
The pieces left me feeling uplifted and even the pieces in minor keys had a certain quality to them and I generally found them relaxing. For the choral pieces I had a picture of them set in very grand churches and cathedrals – they would be most effective performed there as that is what their original intention was.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – hard copy of these pages contained in personal notes
As I listened it became apparent to me that I recognised a significant number of these pieces, especially The Marriage of Figaro. I did, however enjoy the Piano Concertos. The pieces are so beautiful and full of expression, sometimes complex but with the orchestration, powerful and uplifting. I found them bright and cheery.
I recognised the excerpts from “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik”, they were so very familiar to me. I instantly recognised the Piano Sonata No 11 in A major. I was very surprised at how many of these pieces I actually knew. The vocal pieces and the minor key pieces I found to have a strength to them.
I find Mozart uplifting, cheery and on the whole uplifting, a I feel a sense of happiness in listening to these.
Ludwig Van Beethoven – hard copy of these pages contained in personal notes
Beethoven has been quite an education. I find him to have a grandness and the pieces are very expressive, my favourites being the symphonies and the piano concertos and upon listening there is a strength and emotional content to them. Due to the depth of emotion in some of the pieces I found myself transported into the piece and losing myself in its power. The piano pieces were extraordinary using the entirety of the keyboard to convey drama, delicacy and emotion.
Richard Wagner – hard copy of these pages contained in personal notes
I had a little knowledge of Wagner after seeing a few programmes about him on BBC4 and I knew that his works brought about two responses – love or hate. Listening to these pieces I am indifferent. I found them heavy with too much for my ears to handle but they were brilliant pieces. His work was outstanding but I do believe that you really have to be passionate about him to throughly enjoy his works. I can enjoy a few excerpts but I believe a full performance would be a little beyond me.
Igor Stravinsky – hard copy of these pages contained in personal notes
I was very surprised by Stravinsky and I recognised some of the pieces. This music seems to be military in style and that sort of music which you would immediately associate with Russia and dare I say it communism. I recognised some of the ballet works too. I enjoyed listening to him.
Sir Harrison Birtwistle –hard copy of these pages contained in personal notes
It pains me to day this but I found this composer very difficult to listen to. I didn’t enjoy any of the pieces finding it noisy and not to my taste. I persevered in the hope that I would enjoy some of it but sadly I didn’t.
Even thought this is a sub genre of classical music I approached it in-depth and sought out the artists that a were suggested in the course notes. Again I have used Apple Music to teach out suggested pieces of music and maybe some additional ones.
THOMAS ADES –hard copy of these pages contained in personal notes
I am not hugely impressed with this composer but now and again I heard pieces that I thought “oh I like that” so I think there are some aspects of his work that I will enjoy if they come up in the future and there may be some that won’t. I would put myself firmly in the middle with regards to this composer.
KARLHEINZ STOCKHAUSEN – hard copy of these pages contained in personal notes
I do like Stockhausen. I listened to a fair amount of his works and liked it. I do find him hard to define but I did like the variety in his work and the electronica feel to it.
Kaija Saariaho – hard copy of these pages contained in personal notes
This is composer is not for me. I find that the melody is completely ruined by noise. It may be deemed groundbreaking in the eyes of some but I think its dreadful. It is depressing and it really does not speak to me. I like a melody that is not ruined by bleeps, pings and squeaks like some of this is.
TRISTAN MURAIL – hard copy of these pages contained in personal notes
I could not find anything more and to be honest to make a judgement I would need to hear more.
WOLFGANG RIHM -hard copy of these pages contained in personal notes
The first one that I listened to I found amazing with the voices, where the melody was totally done via voice, it was breathtaking and I enjoyed the whole piece. The second piece I found beautiful with the choral work and I appreciated how it interacted with the melody. It was peaceful but with a haunting beauty to it. I enjoyed these two pieces and I think he’s a modern composer that I could actually listen to.
COUNTRY MUSIC – hard copy of these pages contained in personal notes
I found investigating and reading about the roots of country music interesting but as for the music where do I start? Lyrically I find that they are story based, so they are a story set to music. I however found some of the lyrics totally hilarious – I mean “She thinks my Tractor’s Sexy” this particular piece left me wondering if I was actually hearing things!!
I class the majority of these songs as depressing lyrically usually involving someone that has been killed, drunk, not got a drink, or lost a love. There were the songs that I had heard before and that I would class as famous songs and I recognised a number of them which had been covered by other artists.
Do I like country music? No, its not really for me but I can understand its mass appeal and some of those artists considered country have crossed over successfully into the mainstream music charts. I didn’t dislike them all but there were only a handful that I liked.
DANCE MUSIC(EDM) -hard copy of these pages contained in personal notes
This encompasses such a wide spectrum of styles that I took the suggested artists as my examples. This whole section was a pleasure to listen to. Kraftwerk inspired so many artists and many of them are bands that I grew up listening to – I had heard of other bands in the EDM spectrum,but I had never sat and listened to them. I am not a fan of modern EDM but I do enjoy what Daft Punk release and I have heard the odd track from other artists in passing. I am beginning to enjoy more artists from the current crop through a podcast that I listen to but they are specifically curated and usually include artists that I already am a huge fan of. A brilliant section for me to indulge in.
EARLY MUSIC –hard copy of these pages contained in personal notes
JEAN-BAPTISTE LULLY -hard copy of these pages contained in personal notes
This section surprised me and I really enjoyed what I listened to. At the time of listening I was studying Grade 6 Music Theory and I found this section relevant to some of the elements that I was covering and as I needed to know at times which period a piece covers Ireally helped me.
I enjoyed the choral pieces and the ones which contained harpsichord and voice. I found these very helpful in my studies.
I have come to the conclusion that I much prefer early classical music and classical music to that of contemporary classical music and I feel I appreciate classical music more now that I have done this in-depth investigation
FOLK MUSIC – hard copy of these pages contained in personal notes
Listening to this playlist I was pleasantly surprised by the music and I had heard a number of the tracks before, but this really gave me a deeper insight into this genre. I enjoyed reading about the derivation of folk music and have become less ignorant of it as a consequence, realising that I have made assumptions about this genre which are entirely wrong and I have a new found appreciation for this genre.
JAZZ -hard copy of these pages contained in personal notes
This is a section that I really enjoyed. There was so much choice to listen to but I stuck to the essentials and chose Jazz Vocal.
Again I had heard some of the tracks and as I listened I heard more of the lyrics and the musicality. Reading about the history of jazz I enjoyed discovering the roots and its golden years. It is a genre that I would revisit again and I would like to see Jazz live if possible.
REGGAE– hard copy of these pages contained in personal notes
I loved this section and I had never heard Bob Marley in such depth before and that was an eye opener of a pleasant sort. Reading through the history of Reggae I had no idea of its links to Rastafanarianism, which in itself was revealing and I throughly enjoyed learning about this.
I had no idea that Ska was linked so that in itself was a learning curve. I liked what I heard but listening to UB40 I realised that I am not such a fan of theirs and I remain indifferent to their sound
I am pleased that I chose to discover this and discover new music.
RAP -hard copy of these pages contained in personal notes
I did not enjoy this section. I found some songs that I knew and would never had slotted into this genre. However a number of the tracks on here had such bad language that I felt it was too much. It was the overuse of the language I objected to. I also found some of the songs misoginistic however the women hit back but I didn’t not enjoy these. Rap really is not my thing and whilst some tell great stories the genre isn’t for me.
SOUL -hard copy of these pages contained in personal notes
I was surprised at a number of the tracks on here as I would not have classed them in this genre. There were many songs that I had already heard so I skipped those and played the unfamiliar tracks.
I enjoyed this section but some artists were a no go, for a start I absolutely cannot abide Mariah Carey and her whining voice so I skipped her and a few others. I was reminded of some forgotten tracks in here which was good.
As I play bass guitar I am drawn to a strong bass line and this section covered that. It is good to find a new groove that you haven’t discovered before
There is such a diverse number of artists in this category and most if not all I was familiar with. I chose a playlist with a varied number of artists, some of which I hadn’t heard music by. What struck me was that years ago these were actually classed as pop music so am I a rock fan or a pop fan? Probably both. Further to this category I decided to diversify a little into the heavy metal side of rock. I am a fan of some heavy metal bands such a Led Zeppelin and Motley Crue so I chose to listen to four bands which I was not that familiar with. Black Sabbath, Slipknot, Iron Maiden and Metallica.
I really liked the musical elements of Black Sabbath but I really did not like the voice of Ozzy Osbourne, so it ended up not appealing to me for that reason alone. I was so unimpressed that I couldn’t finish the playlist. Slipknot were okay but I really enjoyed Metallical and Iron Maiden. I have seen Metalica live in a 20 minute set which I enjoyed at the time. I hadn’t realised that I had heard so much of both the latter but it never registered that I was listening to these two bands.
OPERA-hard copy of these pages contained in personal notes
I left this section until last as I was dreading it. However my reactions to the music have left me surprised. Much of what I listened to I had heard previously but without the accompanying vocal and again it was a case of not realising that some songs/tunes are actually from a music or opera.
I further shocked myself by actually enjoying this section tremendously. Some vocals were a little on the screechy side (is screechy an actual word you can use?) at times and I do prefer a male vocal to that of a female but saying that some of the female vocals are beautiful. I particularly enjoyed the voice of Bryn Terfel and I know some people do not like Wagners “Ring Cycle” but I particularly enjoyed the excerpts from that.
Project two – Music in Modern Contexts
The qualities of pop music
What makes pop music good or bad?
Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
This is a classic rock song on an epic scale. It is verhy rock and very opera at the same time. I love this song as it is well crafted. The vocals are sublime but it successes as it moves along with beautiful piano, soaring lyrics and a huge crescendo.
I believe this became popular as it was nothing like anything that had gone before it. People were curious and it had a music video to accompany the song which is now iconic in itself. This all contributed to a popular combination and a successful song.
ABBA – Waterloo
Combinung Napoleon in a pop setting of fixed time for Eurovision. Back in 1974 almost everyone in Europe watched the contest and songs were accessible to millions of people, guaranteeing the winning artist a sure fire hit right across Europe. ABBA were in the right place at the right time – singing this in English on the night as opposed to their native Swedish. They captivated the audience with their unique song and their unique look on the night.
This became a huge hit across Europe with the Eurovision win and everyone discovered this amazing band, including me, who still has the original issue of this song in her 7 inch vinyl collection.
Stevie Wonder – I just called to say I love you
Before I state my views please let me state that Stevie Wonder is a genius but this song I absolutely cannot stand I think it is the worst thing he has ever recorded.
I find it lyrically flat and the vocal whiney. That may sound strange but to me it feels like a money lyric and sound. I do believe that this became popular because everyone loved Stevie Wonder and some believed he could do no wrong and made it a hit. But for me it is his worst. Dreadful and a chart topper.
Mariah Carey – Fantasy
I will choose this song as it is the first in a long list of dire music that has had me reaching for the nearest mute or off button. I am not a fan of hers, it’s that awful whiney voice but the vocal on this is awful. I do feel she should just hold onto the one note and not warble it all ways as this, in my opinion, sounds like she has taken the whole song by the throat strangled it. It was very popular on its release as it did fit in with the musical sounds of the time, if that makes sense, and it set her to be a musical icon. A musical icon in my brain I am still trying to work that one out.
Joe Dolce – Shaddap You Face
Worse ever number 1 keeping the sublime and much better “Vienna” by Ultravox off the top of the chart. It is a simple annoying tune sung in an annoying fake Italian accent and I do believe that the singer was actually an Australian. It worked in the UK as we do seem to like the novelty record here. It was simple and you could sing along to it. How on earth people preferred this to Vienna is beyond me. I guess it appealed to a wider audience, being bought by our parents and a generally older audience – bless them for hating out pop and making this number one.
World Music in A Multicultural Society
Klezmer Music hard copy of these pages in personal notes
I find this kind of music very tuneful and makes me feel like having a dance, I noticed that Benny Goodman was mentioned and I found some of his tracks to listen to just to see how it compared. To me, Klezmer Music has influenced a lot of swing and jazz music, I may be wrong but that is what I feel when I listen to it. With Benny Goodman there is a clarinet and a trumpet with light strings playing alongside. Lyrically the songs are light and airy and remind me of an Art Deco era and also the 1930s and 1940s. The big band sound also springs to mind here. I really like the influence on jazz that I feel the music has had. Goodman was the son of Jewish immigrants too and this music is associated with the Jewish people. Another gem of a number that I feel has been influenced by Klezmer is the iconic Frank Sinatra track “Fly Me to the Moon”, the version I heard featured Count Baisie. I also believe that a lot of the great composers of the 20th century are influence by Klezmer: Leonard Bernstein “Rhapsody in Blue”, the score for “West Side Story” and other songs George and Ira Gershwin Burt Baccharach There are many others that I could mention. All the above are iconic in their own right. Musically without a lyric they are focused on rhythm and jazz. Modern composers should be influenced by a single instruments be it clarinet, flute or trumpet, strings included. Storytelling through mere musical composition without a lyric, that should influence anyone.
Other world music styles
The following are listed with links and I have the pages saved in hard copy format in my personal notes
Project three – instruments of the Orchestra
Listening to instruments in the orchestra
🎼Mozart – Serenade No10 in Bflat K361 “Gran Partita”
An absolutely beautiful piece and one which left an impression on me – gentle yet powerful. I love the way in which all the instruments can be heard and you instinctively know which instrument is which. The harmonies produced are simply breathtaking.
🎼 Copland – Fanfare for the Common Man
I was wondering if this was the piece I thought it was and I was right but I have heard a much more modern take on this before I listened to this version. I was very impressed with its original setting and I adore the percussion elements in the piece.
🎼Elgar – Serenade for Strings
Even though this started very brightly, the hint of melancholia seeped in and increased throughout the duration of the piece.
🎼Bartok – Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta
This was an amazing piece! To be able to see this live must be something. very impressive. I love the way the timpani is performed in this and the percussion stands out.
In-depth examination – Brass
Horn – hard copy of these pages contained in personal notes
Tuba – hard copy of these pages contained in personal notes
Trumpet – hard copy of these pages contained in personal notes
Conveys a relaxed feeling and sometimes one of romance. They can sound light and airy, quick and also very gentle and soothing.
Strength, determination and masculine spring to mind. The determination to be heard, strength to succeed and I would expect brass to be at the forefront of male dominated operas, stories and film scores. Also conveys a regality. Example, the Star Wars theme suits its brass led theme. A strong story to tell. I guess you could also add a sense of darkness in here as in the character of Darth Vader he is a black, evil character.
Strings are playful, bringing the light colour to the piece, cheery thoughts and just meandering along like a flowing river. In a minor chord there is an element of melancholia but strings are nothing but versatile. A gentle graceful string piece and you could be led to dance. Strings can also convey a sense of romance too.
An amazing section which I didn’t;t realise had such versatility especially when playing the timpani. The piece I listened to made me in awe of its range. Percussion is strong.
Overall I believe I am mostly drawn to pieces of music which have it all, incorporating the majority of the orchestral instruments. If I had to be pinned down to a particular composer then I would say Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, as his pieces are the ones that I seem particularly drawn to.
Project four – Contemporary Classical Music
Contemporary Classical Music – hard copy of these pages in personal notes
Religious composers (holy minimalism)
Sir John Tavener –hard copy of these pages in personal notes
🎼The Lamb – a beautiful piece of music which I found very hard pressed to even placed in the contemporary music category
🎼The Protecting Veil – a different pice of music. Very powerful but I was hard pressed again to place this in a contemporary music category. I could hear the influence of Russia (he converted to the Russian Orthodox faith ) and this added to the power of the piece.
From listening to these two pieces I must say that I really like the composer and would choose to listen to a live performance if I had the chance.
Arvo Part– hard copy of these pages in personal notes
🎼Spiegel im Spiegel – a beautiful piece of music. A gentle piano with accompanying violins. I was not expecting this and felt this was an older piece of music which I was more than happy listening to. (If I can call it older music). I enjoyed listening to this.
🎼Cantus in memoriam – This was stunning! The violins were amazing. I adored the tolling of the bell as it conveyed the religiosity but wasn’t too much in that instance. A wholly beautiful piece of music
🎼Symphony No 3 – a dramatic piece of work with vocals blended in beautifully. I was wholly impressed with the depth of the piece. Again this did not seem to fit into what I would call contemporary music.
Steve Reich –hard copy of these pages in personal notes
🎼Music for 18 musicians – I really am not sure about this piece. I heard it and I didn’t like it but I actually caught an interview with the composer on TV and they play an excerpt of this and it was amazing. I think that particular excerpt was its original inception and if so I liked that particular interpretation of it.
🎼Different Trains – this really was not for me.
Terry Riley–hard copy of these pages in personal notes
🎼In C – I was not keen on this to start, as it was just the same note but as the music progressed with this same underlying note which I assume is a repetitive C major I noticed that other instruments were being drawn into it. It began to take on a life of its own, with the constant central pitch it was strange, although on times the pitch was taking a step back from instruments entering the piece. It started off as annoying but then became much more enjoyable on the whole and at its climax a gentle repeating note.
Philip Glass-hard copy of these pages in personal notes
🎼Glassworks – the instant I heard the opening bars I thought, I have heard this somewhere before. The piano in opening is so beautiful and gentle, then onto Floe woodwind and some brass conveys movement, almost like a train on the tracks but made to sound like it’s nice the speed, akin to speeded up footage you see of a busy place. Islands I do believe I have heard before, maybe in TV or a film I am not sure. Rubric and Fascades have a similar feel to that of Floe and Islands. As the piece continues I am drawn in by the different sections of the orchestra that Glass uses and I throughly enjoyed listening to this whole piece.
I would really like to see this in a live setting if at all possible.
Brian Ferneyhough -hard copy of these pages in personal notes
🎼Mnesmosyne- I wasn’t overly keen on this piece. It was interesting but it didn’t do anything for me in a musical way.
🎼 Carceri d’Invenzione – I preferred this piece and found the flute and the range used in this utterly compelling
🎼Exordium – a beautiful piece and indeed the glissando is much in evidence in the sound. It is a very complex part for strings but I enjoyed it.
John Rutter- hard copy of these pages in personal notes
🎼Requiem- this is one of the most beautiful pieces of work I have had the pleasure of listening to. A religious piece but so beautifully arranged. The vocals are beautiful, simple and fit in with the music. The music differs between the movements, convening that particular religious meaning and it is very effective. As this is a Mass of the Dead you can hear this in the tone of the piece. Beautiful
🎼Shepherd’s Pipe Carol
🎼Cloudburst – Very different in comparison with Rutter as Rutter has a more simplistic harmony, whereas this is very complex. I wouldn’t even say this was a modern choral work, until there is a piece of text but even that doesn’t quite sound modern. It is a piece I enjoyed listening to. The ending using clapping was intriguing. It sounded like clapping to me anyway.
🎼O Magnum Mysterium – a beautiful piece. I lovee the way the vocal lines blend in and give the piece its reverence. The closing vocals are superb.
Microtonality and spectralism
🎼Gondwana – I thought this perfectly captured the breaking of the two landmass to make Earth. The tones coming through which did sound like synthesisers, perfectly captured the moment and it was not what I was expecting
🎼Allegories – couldn’t find anywhere to access this unfortunately
🎼Les Espaces Acoustiques – I was listening and watching this and I could not believe the sounds being made from the instruments. Truly was inventive. I did find it very hard to listen to though and the music is really not for me in that respect
🎼 Les Espaces Acoustiques 2 – Again the sounds being made astounded me but unfortunately this sort of music just isn’t for me.
🎼Down to A Sunless Sea – couldn’t not find this anywhere
🎼L’Heure des Traces – could not find this anywhere