Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Arvo Pärt & His Music (Part II)


In my understanding, tintinnabulation, a method of composition devised by Arvo Pärt, is a method of composing a sort of counterpoint by which one voice sings or plays a melody, usually in stepwise motion, while the other voice or voices maintain the harmonies by simply outlining the chords.
Several Pärt pieces utilize this method. I believe it is most easily heard in his Magnificat, a 4-part choral piece in which a single voice, usually in a lower register, sings the melody, while the other parts outline the harmonies, singing only those pitches found in the chord. This results in a continuous stream of dissonances and resolutions, many of which are minor seconds, perhaps the most dissonant intervals. The Magnificat's opening displays a similar effect with two voices singing in unison before one branches off to sing a melody that sort of encircles the droned pitch.


This leads me to another musical thread that seems to be extremely common in the music of Arvo Pärt: Dissonance. In his online paper, Music, Emotion and the Brain states,, Geetanjali Vaidya states, "It was found that the varying degrees of dissonance caused increased activity in the paralimbic regions of the brain, which are associated with emotional processes." This seems to support the already natural feeling of emotion expressed through dissonance. Music known for its dissonance and resolution, like Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings, seems to elicit a certain emotional response that is even felt physically in the body. Arvo Pärt takes advantage of this psychological connection and includes a wide variety of dissonance in all of his music, some of which ends the piece and is never resolved.

-Taylor Baldwin

Monday, April 28, 2008

Arvo Pärt & His Music (Part I)

The Estonian composer Arvo Pärt writes music that seems to reflect some ominous depth within the soul. Each phrase is fraught with emotion, like brief, desperate outbursts; it's almost like overhearing someone pleading through angst.

Contributing to these feelings are the various compositional techniques that he employs in his works. Dissonance, drones, and the lesser-known tintinnabulation, a technique which Pärt himself developed, all come together to create this sense of connection with the human condition.

I will write further about these compositional techniques as seen in his music later. But for now, acquaint yourself with Arvo Pärt and his music, if you haven't already. The Silouans Song is a nice start. Also, the orchestral-choral Berliner Messe (which I have not found an online recording to) and the choral Magnificat (which has several less-than-exemplary recordings online) are both also good options.

To be continued...

-Taylor Baldwin

Beethoven Sonata Analysis

This YouTube video gives a good example of some melodic analysis of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 1 in F-minor. The analysis here is a melodic/thematic analysis and is extremely brief, only covering the very first few seconds of the Exposition. The analysis I plan on presenting here will consist largely of Form Analysis and Harmonic Analysis. Hopefully, the video piques your interest.


Summer Goals, continued.


Now this is something that I do, but not regularly enough. I have been doing fairly well over the past several years, but a few months ago I injured my joints on snowboarding trip and fell out of the habit of working out. Now that summer is peeking through the clouds with some degree of consistency, I know that before long we will be in swimming season. I would like to work up to where I was before, lifting and running several times a week. Only now, I have created a set of goals specific to particular exercises. Perhaps, I will share those later. Accountability on this one comes courtesy Aaron Girdner and Tim Fraticelli.

Out of the House by 9am

There wasn't really a shorter title that I could come up with for this one. But this goal has in mind the basic principle of "Early to bed, early to rise..." I'm confident that if I can get a start on my day, I can get some sort of momentum going. This rule will really force me to get out of the house and on with the tasks at hand, whatever they are. It may be the gym, studying at a coffee house, practicing piano, or riding my bike. I've already been working on this one for a little while now, and I'm finding that it works.

Now, with all these goals I have to remember to focus on one thing at a time. I need to allow myself to make some sort of schedule and stick to it for a few weeks before adding in the next component or goal. Here's to the summer and what lies therein. And here's to looking back in a few years thankful that I had laid the groundwork for my future successes.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Summer Goals

Here are a few items I have decided to work towards this summer. Most of these goals have at their core, the purpose of increasing my productivity and really moving toward some larger goals that I have.

Ride My Bike

This being my first summer living downtown, I'd like to take advantage of the area and ride my bike around of some of the surrounding neighborhoods. These older neighborhoods are in a large way undergoing a massive renovation as older occupants move out and younger tenants come in. Many of these houses have already been purchased by wealthy families and renovated into detailed and ornate works of art. The canopied streets come courtesy of large, venerable trees. This stress-reliever will contribute to my overall contentment and relaxation, which hopefully keeps me more productive.

Beethoven Sonata Analysis

In my area of art, the final product is often lost. The interpretation of a piece may be recorded, but as an art, the performer is limited in his creativity. What final product can come from the hours of study at the piano that may be preserved forever? The perfect interpretation really comes from the mind and is never fully realized as sound, for no performance ever comes out entirely as planned. Because of this, it seems befitting to put myself to work on some sort of music research. I'm not completely certain of what the future holds for the great amount of effort I would put into this analysis (there are 32 sonatas, most with 3 or 4 movements), but I am confident that this is the first step towards the creation of something that might be more concrete (i.e. essays or articles). I've already finished a loose outline of the first half of the sonatas, so there should be some content to post here soon.

Start Blogging on a Regular Basis

I have been blogging on and off for the past several years. It is one of the few things that brings me a lot of consistent satisfaction. Even the idea of amalgamating in text the thoughts and ideas of my life over time contributes to the feeling of creating something more concrete. Maybe the practice of writing will serve as an investment for the future, where I hope to eventually write something with significant length.

To be continued...


Monday, April 21, 2008

RIP Ramen


It's been a wonderful few weeks, but I'm slowly realizing that perhaps you don't really have a place in my diet anymore.

Don't get me wrong. It's not because I'm not poor. And it's not because I don't enjoy the 700 calorie days or the $10/month grocery budget. It's just. Well. There's nothing in you. Except salt. And some carbs, I guess. My body is sending me messages that seem to indicate that it thinks it's about to die.

So, with today's grocery run, I took the first step away from you and towards a better future. A future in which protein and flavor play more prominent roles. Yes, I can hear you saying, "カップル時間食糧を毎日にすることを楽しみなさい."

* But I don't care. I may have to make sacrifices, but that's part of being an adult.

There is a place for you in my heart. Always.

And I still have like 3 packs of you left, so I mean... we'll hang out still.


*Roughly translated, "Enjoy making food for a couple hours everyday."