Blog: Open Intervals
One of the main observations I've had since I moved back to the U.S. (from Germany in 2008) is this:
We live in a culturally poor culture.
There are a lot of bombastic experiences to be had here, you can go on a show that's all about "ninja warriors." You can go on national/international television and be lambasted for singing out of tune. You can be 8 years old and be called the next big opera singer.
That isn't culture, though. It may include expectations, backgroun…
A couple of months ago my Virtual Assistant and I were discussing how under-funded the arts are in both our countries. (She lives in another country.)
I work in music and languages, she works as a Virtual Assistant, which means she does everything from graphic design to email marketing and everything in between.
We don't make cogs.
We don't fix cogs.
We don't run factories which make cogs.
We don't build and maintain the vehicles and roads which deliver cogs to businesses and individuals.…
A lot of people (yell) talk about culture these days.
That yelling, I mean "talking," is part of our culture.
Our culture is loud. Obnoxiously loud.
Our culture is filled with strife and conflict. People are "always angling for something bigger/better/faster/more."
Our culture is exhausting.
Because conversations happen on a very laser-focused matter, out of context, without thought for the big picture. The big whole-of-everything.
The big whole-of-everything is our societal culture, which…
One of the coolest parts about singing with the Elm Ensemble is finding out all the cool connections people have to other musicians, conductors, and composers.
The Elm Ensemble conducted an interview with Peter Mercer-Taylor, who reseached the adaptions we recorded of these five American Classical Hymns. You can read the interview here (there's a link to his book, too).
Then you can check out all five recordings here:
The Elm Ensemble has published several more videos, this one being Life From Death is Jesus' Doing.
It's from the Southern Harmony, which is a hymn and tune book used for singing and teaching singing. Southern Harmony and Shape Note, which is the specific way that the notes are shaped to indicate which pitch they are on the scale.
Interestingly, it took two degrees, a 5-year stint in Germany, and returning to the U.S. before I'd ever heard of or sung anything from the Southern Harmony book or …
Six or seven years ago somebody asked me to sing a St. John Passion. It was two rehearsals (for the solos only), three performances, and I believe two sound recording sessions.
The offer was something like $250.
At first I wasn't sure if he meant $250 per call or $250 total. $250 total would have been less than minimum wage.
I tried to clarify, and he proceeded to berate me to take the gig because "All of my colleagues had accepted the same amount of pay."
So he first offered…
The tritone is a fantastic interval and it signals something significant: a change, a resolution, an ending, or it signals more mysterious things are ahead.
Tritones need to be resolved. Music theory says so.
So does your ear.
Nobody would like West Side Story if Maria's name were only sung as Maaa-reeeee... Did you sing it in your head?
It has to be resolved.
The tritone is dissonant to our ears, and we want the consonance of the resolution.
This interval used to be referred to as "the de…
After crying through the news last night and this morning this popped into my head.
Bach BWV 170, Movement 3
Wie jammern mich doch die verkehrten Herzen
die dir, mein Gott, so sehr zuwider sein:
Ich zittre recht und fühle tausend Schmerzen,
wenn sie sich nur an Rach und Hass erfreun.
My English translation:
How they wail at me, these backward hearts,
who are so contrary to you, my God.
I just shake and feel a thousand pains
when they rejoice in revenge and hate.
The Elm Ensemble has recorded "Let All Together Praise Our God" for Christmas.
The recording is now up on YouTube.
I hope you enjoy it! It was really fun making this recording.
Merry Christmas. :)