So here we are. It is December 28th, and our last music appreciation for the year of 2020, and what a year it has been.
Our landscape of music has changed dramatically, and that is to be expected. We’ve risen to the challenge of learning new technologies, tried to adapt our old habits and joys, and been faced with the reality of what is possible.
some of us have had all the time in the world to play or sing, and none of the energy or creative drive to o so. Some of us have no time, but the wish to do so. Some of us, and this is particularly true for me have swung wildly between feeling inspired and driven to create, full of solutions and ideas, and then melted into a soggy mess of despondency and despair and depression.
There are no ‘shoulds’ for our creative selves in this time. Please do not let that voice shame you if you feel you should be creating art.
what I want to give you tonight are some avenues of possibility, ways of being musical that you may feel drawn to exploring in the coming year.
The thing is, you’re already doing one of them. You’re here, right now, and that’s enough
A wonderful and achievable goal for all of our ukulele and guitar players, if you want to learn this specific tune, I will link to a resource on youtube, of a free tab/sheet music and video lesson of this piece. Even if you only learn the first 4 bars. It will be worth it. You can do it
But this avenue is ‘ find a goal for your music, a skill you would like to develop, a particular song you would like to learn, something specific. something you can break into smaller steps and work through, and be ok with slow progress. Take advantage of the resources available. Youtube has so much to offer you. and you are descerning students. IF the lesson isn’t jiving, if the teacher doesn’t seem like someone you want to listen to. Then head to the next one.
I’m going to read clemmys intro to this piece, from “Year of Wonder” By Clemency Burton Hill
Find something simple, that you already know, or you can learn easily in a sitting, and do it a million times. Use it as a meditation to block out all other distractions. Be mindful if you share a space. maybe warn your peeps that it might be a good time to go for a walk. and do the thing you know how to do well, and do it many times.
This is a wonderful meditation of an old time tune called “old Granny Blair’ that I learned in the middle of a field in the middle of the night at a music festival from my friend justin hoffenberg.
This is Pharis and Jason Romero From the album “back up and push’
If you are someone who really benefits from accountability, one of those folks like me who needs a gig, or a lesson or a performance to actually get their shit together to practice then I would suggest finding a fellow human and either do a “show and tell” once a week, jump on zoom, show where you are at in the process, it can be short, they show you where they are at even if no progress is made at least you did the thing.
Or - Learn a song, devide and conquer, one person figures out chords, one figures out lyrics, teach the parts to each other. Learn both parts. Just do one song. do it so many times that you can take turns playing it on zoom with the other person muted. then switch. For a moment, one at a time, you will get to play together.
This is Jo Miller & Laura Love Singing Blue Railroad Train Blues from the album Jo Miller & Laura Love Sing Bluegrass & Old Time
You don’t need to play. let the dust gather on the case, on the vocal chords. Explore the possibilities of the whole of the history of recorded music at your fingertips. available.
Find an album, Make sure it’s THE WHOLE ALBUM.
Set it up on what ever device you use, to listen, one with no adds or interruptions.
turn all ringers off.
cover all screens
Lie down in the middle of the floor.
and press play,
do not get up to unload the dishwasher.
or fold the laundry.
Lie on the floor and listen to the whole damn thing, all the way through.
Do this once a week,
Do this every day,
Spend the whole weekend,
If you need ideas on albums to listen to I’ll start a list, we can all contribute to it and I’ll post it.
This week in honour of Tony Rice We’re going to listen to the titile track of church street blues. But I may just lie on the floor after this call and listen through the whole shebang.
Tony Rice - Church Street Blues
Thank you everyone who sent in submissions and shared their inspirations tonight.
Heather H's Pick:
Heather W's Pick:
I have to admit I am a bit of a grinch when it comes to Christmas decorations and music. I’m pretty sure this started with having to learn choir, concert band & orchestra Christmas repertoire starting in September/October as a student, and organizing, planning and then pulling together the Christmas recital. It got to the point where I would flatly refuse to teach any christmas rep before Dec 1st, and then I’d also conveniently plan to take all of December off from teaching.
But through out the years, and all of the seasonal events and rehearsals I’ve done, in all of its myriad of forms I have always loved Leroy Andersons Sleigh Ride. Composed in 1948, it was not originally written to be a Christmas song.
I have performed this piece multiple times on trumpet with Concert Band, Violin with orchestra, and vocally with a choir. It is a wonderfully challenging piece, and I never seem to tire of it, I always wish that it was longer, it’s always over in a flash. I must admit that when I finally progressed to playing lead trumpet in grade 12, I had to hand the horse whinny solo at the end to one of the more junior band members because my attempts sounded like the cross between a kazoo and an Elk Bugle.
I think playing 2nd Violin in the Ocean Side Youth Orchestra was my favourite iteration. Both for the part (Interesting, supportive, but not too challenging) and the camaraderie of the beautifully nerdy fellow teens & adults that were in that ensemble.
Blue Danube - Johann Strauss II of Austria
Another classic, timeless composition and one that will likely be familiar to most, as this is much used in film, advertising and on any ‘essential classical’ repertoire list.
The Blue Danube composed in 1866. the piece was considered only a mild success, however,
Strauss adapted it into a purely orchestral version for the 1867 Paris World's Fair, and it became a hit.
I can tell you first hand that Strauss was not a violist, and probably used violas as the “someone needs to do this repetitive accompaniment part” so we’ll give it to those people, view of the instrument. For almost the entire 10 minutes your arm gets a work out in small repetitive motion as you play the “pah pah” of the oom pah pah. There is one 16 bar section of melody, which, with aching arms and numbed mind becomes a looming tower of “oh shit, don’t mess this up”.
Alexander’s Entry into Pskov - Movie Score Composed in 1938 by Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev a Russian Soviet Composer, for Sergei Eisenseins film Alexander Nevsky. The film is based on a 13th century legend/historical crusade event, and is a suitably epic story to go with score. Watching the film now has a nostalgic and fairly ‘monty python’ feel to the costume and production budget. This track is the closing chapter
The Triumphant Hero returns to the Glory of the Motherland. Man, Prokofiev did not care if it was hard, the choir is stratospheric in range, the percussion parts are intense, don’t get me started on the viola part. We did this one at Uvic in 2008 when I was there, it was so epic and fun, but there were many a tear shed and panicked hours of practicing.
Prokofiev adapted his original score into a cantata for chorus and orchestra
the movie is available for free, and without central adds on youtube. with CC subtitles. I haven’t actually watched the full production, just snippets.
The Danube Waves,
Written in 1880 by Romanian Military Band leader Iosif Ivanovici. This is possibly one of the most famous Romanian tunes in the world. I find it to be a delightful mashup between the Viennese Style of variations and the Bombastic and epic Slavic compositions. This too may sound familiar, as in the united states it is referred to as “the Anniversary Song, or the Anniversary Waltz. It is also a staple in the “Palmer Hughs Accordion Method”. So often we only get to hear the first couple variations and not the entire composition.
Delayed posting on this, but here are the tracks and info from Dec 7. as well as some of the recommendations from the group on shows and movies they have found entertaining.
Group brain storming:
The Center Will Not Hold
Ali's Curated Tracks:
Everything is Illuminated (2005)
A poignant, funny & Dark story
A young Jewish American man endeavours to find the woman who saved his grandfather during World War II in a Ukrainian village,
It’s incredibly entertaining, has stunning cinematography, mesmerizing music that all help guide a dark and challenging story.
This is probably my favourite sound track ever. Scored by Paul Cantaleon, with tracks from Leningrad, Gogol bordello and the Tin Hat Trio
This track is called ‘Fear of the South’ - By the tin hat trio.
Sound City (2013) - Fleetwood Mac Rumours
A Documentory on Sound City - Produced by Dave Grohl.
Sound City Studios is a recording studio in Los Angeles, California, known as one of the most successful in popular music. it opened in 1969 in the Van Nuys neighborhood of Los Angeles., the studio became known for its signature sound, especially in recording drums and live performances of rock bands.
Dozens of rock artists spanning five decades have recorded at Sound City, including Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Guns N' Roses, Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica, Death Cab for Cutie, and Fall Out Boy. Over one-hundred albums recorded at Sound City have achieved gold and platinum certifications.
The studio was privately held from 1970 until it closed its commercial services in 2011; for the next five years, it was reserved for a single tenant. Sound City was reopened in 2017 and has continued to host artists in the years since. The complex was the focus of the documentary Sound City (2013), directed by musician Dave Grohl.
It’s a really interesting insight into how the recording industry worked, how technology has changed and with it the sounds we hear have changed. Regardless of whether or not rock is your thing, the information and stories are very entertaining. Why is Tom Petty’s Free Falling so timeless?
I’d love to get a chance to record on a Rupert Nieve Board,
Yellow Submarine (1968) - yellow submarine
Need some light hearted trippy animation with the brilliant music of the beatles?
I guess there is a plot, in the sense that a Richard Scary book has a plot, but I don’t remember the plot, what I remember are beautiful colours, silly scenes and timeless music
Saving Mr Banks... (My notes are scattered here.. but it's a beautiful movie!)
The Sherman Brothers
Saving Mr Banks - Thomas Newman Score - Disney Plus
Tom Hanks as Walt Disney - trying to get the rights to make the book into a movie
The Sherman Brothers are responsible for some of the iconic Disney Songs that we know and love,
made up of Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman (born June 12, 1928).
The Sherman Brothers wrote more motion-picture musical song scores than any other songwriting team in film history. Film scores of the Sherman Brothers include Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Jungle Book (except “The Bare Necessities,” which Terry Gilkyson wrote), Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Happiest Millionaire, Charlotte's Web and The Aristocats. Their most well known work, however, remains the theme park song There's A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow and "It's A Small World After All." According to Time.com, the latter song is the most performed song of all time.
What do we do?
Join us to be inspired by music from around the world, no preparation, prerequisites, or practicing required. I’ll read a short composer bio, highlight some historically relevant material or interesting context, we’ll listen to a piece of music, and then take the time to reflect on what we heard, ask questions, and explore.