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music

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Dusting off My Saxophone

Zoot the Muppet When I was in junior high school, my parents bought me a lovely alto saxophone and I started playing in the junior high and then high school bands. Mostly it was a lot of honking and such, but I had fun. I tried playing a little more in college but quickly gave up on that. I essentially put my horn away more than 20 years ago.

Then, for Christmas last year, Jacque (you know, my wife) took my horn to a repair person. Over the decades it had become torqued (a natural thing for saxophones to do, what with all the holes on one side) and essentially unplayable. It got completely disassembled, straightened out, tightened up, and made fabulous all over again!

A few months after that, I decided that I needed to take lessons again. And so, on 29 May 2013, at 2:00 PM, I met with David Hall – the same man who resurrected my horn – and recommenced my musical training.

The good news is that I could actually play a little. I could even get a reasonable tone out of it. Woo hoo! And now, I could say much more, but I have to go practice.

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MMJ4M 05: Interactive Ear Training

Chapter 05 of VJ Manzo's book Max/MSP/Jitter for Music is about constructing an application for ear training with musical intervals. I have separate screenshots for each of the twelve steps in this exercise but I've condensed them into a single video below.

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1UhAQ8N7GQ]

Completed:

  • Max/MSP/Jitter for Music, Ch. 05: Interactive Ear Training (12 exercises)
  • Patches can be downloaded from http://db.tt/GBYLb0vY (Dead Link)
  • UPDATED LINK: Patches can now be downloaded from http://j.mp/1iy19Xl

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MMJ4M 04: Scales and Chords

After a long, long time, I'm back and working on Max/MSP/Jitter. (I've got to get these incompletes finished!) I started chapter 4 of VJ Manzo's excellent book Max/MSP/Jitter for Music over a year ago and just finished it today. What's funny  is how much my interests have changed since then – I'm much more interested in Max for music now than in using it just as a stepping stone to Jitter and data visualization. My goal is also to start using Max/MSP to work with my saxophone, as well as Ableton Live. Many, many good things.

Anyhow, that's Chapter 04: Scales and Chords for now. Screenshots are above, YouTube links are below.

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZiJQpqMbwxo]

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2hA5SOj2Mg]

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_I_pkhU1IM4]

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSzI_lq5ENQ]

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VQkLqpBva8]

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMM8jD1dpiI]

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kU9niZUQCF4]

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2g00aNGQaB4]

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ni6dpRGvj6w]

Completed:

  • Max/MSP/Jitter for Music, Ch. 04: Scales and Chords (21 exercises)
  • Patches can be downloaded from http://db.tt/GBYLb0vY (Dead Link)
  • UPDATED LINK: Patches can now be downloaded from http://j.mp/1iy19Xl

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Wub Wub Wub

Okay, so I discovered dance music a few months ago. I've got my big headphones on and I'm listening to very loud dubstep. To quote Lyle Lovett (in another context), "that doesn't make me a shallow person, does it?"

You don't really have to answer that question, you know.

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MMJ4M 03: Math and Music

I'm going cross-eyed now that I've finally finished working through the fourteen thousand exercises in Chapter 03 of VJ Manzo's book Max/MSP/Jitter for Music. (Well, it felt like fourteen thousand. And, as VJ may drop in on this post, I'd like to emphasize that it's an excellent book and very thorough. I think I just tried to do too many at one go.) Anyhow, after an extended break to work on other pressing matters (like an academic job application), it's nice to be back into things. I can tell that Max has many, many more things in store for me. That being said, here's my progress report in pictures and video.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84zwxpPhof0]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bubD9lxOi2A]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhgV_AYdTGI]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjQKdq77Xp0]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1tqT4U0CSQ]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQNd7VGlk20]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idEIChNztZg]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhXmEyf9I00]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfcTrqxpMpk]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQrRux4F-hw]

Completed:

  • Max/MSP/Jitter for Music, Ch. 3: Math and Music (15 exercises)
  • Patches can be downloaded from http://db.tt/GBYLb0vY (Dead Link)
  • UPDATED LINK: Patches can now be downloaded from http://j.mp/1iy19Xl

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In Praise of Multitaskers

I'm listening right now to "Central Park in the Dark" by Charles Ives. And while he may not have been a multitasker in the purest sense, I love Ives because he was phenomenally successful in his music (even though much of it was never performed while he was alive) and in his day job as — of all things — an insurance agent. (In fact, I understand that Ives' work in estate planning is taught to this day.) Nice to see the analytical and artistical (a neologism in the spirit of Ogden Nash) coexisting so nicely. I've always admired his music so much because he was just too enthusiastic to be restricted by things like harmony and time signatures — a joyful, exuberant cacophony. (See, especially, the "orchestral raspberry" at the bombastic end of his Symphony No. 2. You can see and hear Leonard Bernstein conducting this piece on YouTube right here. The fun begins at 11:30 (where the brass come in) and peaks at the very end, at 12:38. Whee!)

And, while we're at it, it looks like Ives was also an accomplished athlete, having been the team captain and pitcher for the Hopkins Grammar School baseball team:

Way to go, Charles!

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The Woeful Inadequacy of iTunes Match

I can't believe it. I wait months for Apple's much-anticipated put-all-your-music-in-the-cloud iTunes Match service... I even go out of my way to a manual download and install when neither my Mac's "Software Update" nor iTunes' "Check for Updates" can find iTunes 10.5.1 (not a real hassle but it shows that I was motivated)... I'm ready to subscribe... and what do I get? The following promise:

and then THIS:

AAAAARRRGGHHHHH!!! So I have 58,580 songs that were not purchased in the iTunes store — over twice the legal limit. I think Apple should be proud of me for still using iTunes instead of sending some little box out to brush me off. Argh!

Ah, well, as long as I can wait another six weeks, I can still upload EVERY SINGLE SONG to Amazon's Cloud Drive, which will work nicely with the shiny new Kindle Fire that will show up on Thursday (and which I ordered six weeks ago on  the day that it was announced).

Update 1: MacWorld has already published a kludgy but tolerable solution to the 25,000 song limit in iTunes Match. It involves creating a sort of shell second library and syncing that (without affecting the complete, main library). It might be worth a try. Here's a link to the article with full instructions.

Update 2: I waxed eloquent about my soon-to-arrive Kindle Fire just two paragraphs ago. Then I read actual, hands-on reviews of the device and, well, it doesn't look so good. (Here's Wired's scathing review and a compilation of several others.) Well, zut, alors, as I learned to say in France. The estimated probability-of-return is high enough at this moment that I just ordered one of the other new Kindles, the wifi Kindle Touch, which will arrive next week. Wired was much kinder to this one. I have a little experience with another version of the Kindle and, just like they say, it weighs almost nothing, the battery lasts forever, and the e-ink is very easy on the eyes (especially in bright sunlight). Well, that may be the way I end up going. We'll see.

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The War Requiem by Benjamin Britten

Tonight we'll be going to see Benjamin Britten's War Requiem at the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City (here's their announcement). It's an enormous, gorgeous piece that, because it requires such a broad vocal cast, is rarely performed. I'm a huge fan of Britten's vocal work (e.g., the operas Billy Budd and Peter Grimes) and I'm thrilled this is happening. (The fact that it's just down the street from me — the Madeleine is at 331 E. South Temple — and that it's FREE only make things better.)

As a note, the piece was composed to celebrate the reconstruction of Coventry Cathedral, which had been destroyed during World War I. It uses both the text of the Latin mass and the poetry of Wilfred Owen, who was killed one week before the war ended. (That's his poetry in the picture above.) And, finally, here's the writeup in the Salt Lake Tribune this week.

Hope some of you can make it!

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Quarterly Music Report: 2011 Q3

organ1904 I decided that there was a significant gap in my cultural life: organ music. And so, that was the dominant theme this quarter.

Organ Music

  • Lots of Bach (the library has the Complete Bach set)
  • Bine Katrine Bryndorf
  • Duets and Cannons by Bowers-Broadbent
  • Buxtehude
  • Cameron Carpenter
  • Christoph Maria Moosmann
  • David Hicken
  • E. Power Biggs (I listened to him on 8-track when I was growing up)
  • Philip Glass
  • Marie-Claire Alain
  • Mendelssohn
  • Messiaen
  • Mozart
  • Reger
  • Saint Saëns
  • Virgil Fox
  • Widor

Other Classical

  • Alfred Brendel: The Complete Vox, Turnabout, and Vanguard Solo Recordings
  • Janáček: The Cunning Little Vixen, From the House of the Dead, Jenůfa, Káta Kabanová, and The Makropulos Affair
  • Messiaen: St. François D'Assise
  • Monteverdi: Madrigali Guerrieri et Amorosi
  • Saint Saëns: Misc. orchestral music
  • Scarlatti: The Keyboard Sonatas

Pop

  • Blink-182: Neighborhoods
  • The Book of Mormon (Listened to this about 1000 times and eventually saw it live in NYC)
  • The Kraftwerk box set
  • Lady Gaga: Born This Way (They were giving it away online and I still haven't actually listened to it)
  • Led Zeppelin box set
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers: I'm with You
  • Thundercat: The Golden Age of Apocalypse
  • 311: Universal Pulse

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Quarterly Music Report: 2010 Q4

opera-singer-1 To close out my music-listening-reporting for 2010, it's been more opera. And while the picture above is posted in jest, I actually love Wagner. And note the three non-opera albums at the bottom. Great stuff all around.

Opera:

  • Isaac Albéniz
  • Marie Nelson Bennett
  • Gaetano Donizetti
  • John Eaton
  • Carl Orff
  • Thomas Pasatieri
  • Sergei Prokofiev
  • Gioachino Rossini
  • Giuseppe Verdi
  • Jaromír Weinberger
  • Scott Wheeler

Choral:

  • Anonymous 4
  • Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Marc-Antoine Charpentier

Vocalists:

  • Barbara Bonney
  • Carlo Bergonzi
  • Cecilia Bartoli
  • Christa Ludwig
  • Diana Damrau
  • Fritz Wunderlich
  • Joan Sutherland
  • Jon Vickers
  • José Carreras
  • Jussi Björling
  • Kathleen Battle
  • Kiri Te Kanawa
  • Leontyne Price
  • Magdalena Kožená
  • Michael Chance
  • René Pape
  • Titta Ruffo
  • Will Perkins (my brilliant nephew, current working on a doctorate at Indiana University!)

Others:

  • Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach's piano sonatas
  • James Carter "Present Tense" (amazing saxophonist)
  • Digital version of "Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films"

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