21 November 2014

Just the odd thought, really

Finished watching the Tim Burton Planet of the Apes a second time. I do rather enjoy it. Curiously, I did not notice that I did not know the name of Mark Wahlberg's character, until I watched the end credits scroll along, this second viewing. Nice that the credits mention Rod Serling as a contributor to the old 1968 script.

This week saw some progress on The Mysterious Fruit;  relaxing this evening, and recharging, the better to make good progress tomorrow.

Much more than I had expected, I've been enjoying the '80s incarnation of The Twilight Zone.

Home Stretch Approaching

Excellently productive choir rehearsal last night.  The Concert Order is in its third draught, and it was time to share it 'round;  and for the most part, no panic ensued.  We also found, in the Timetable which I had prepared (apparently, a shade hastily) an omission and erratum ... the omission being Christmas Eve (!!!), the time of which service remains t/b/a.  The erratum was the date of the Concert (the dangers of copy-&-paste). Still, all was sorted out, or as much as it was necessary at this point to sort out.

We began (after warm-ups) with the Wassail Song.  Now, I tried in earnest to rustle up a free download of The Typical Harmonization, and repeatedly came up empty-handed, so I fell back on The Oxford Book of Carols.  (For ease of my choir's reading, I prepped an edition with just the four verses we shall sing.)  One slightly tricky wrinkle in the tenor, but I can sing along with them.

Next we rehearsed Calypso Christmas, with our young electric bassist.  A page here and there is on the high side for my sopranos, but when warmed up they should do fine.

We then reviewed Lord of the Dance. We hadn't looked at it since the Sunday we sang it with the handbells; so, a shade rough, but not at all in bad shape.

There then followed a sort of "sing-along" rehearsal of Sweetest Ancient Cradle Song, as I had brought a CD with a MIDI sound file of the brass (and choir), the better for everyone to hear all that's going on, earlier than our rehearsals with the brass. We listened (and more or less sang) once; then talked a bit ... I assured the choir that we shall be taking the Vivo section less briskly, though of course we could not adjust the tempo of last night's CD. Naturally there were a few places where we slid out of sync with the playback, but everyone went more or less with the flow. We did the same a second time, and a bit better; and I think everyone found it a productive communal exercise.

We then had just sufficient time to go over Sunday's anthem a bit, and we shall be able to polish that well come Sunday.

Next week, since the holiday erases our Thursday rehearsal, my choir have graciously agreed to rehearse on Tuesday evening.

In the spirit of the Concert Order not yet being etched in stone, one item of Tuesday's business will be to make a decision concerning 'Round the Glory Manger. I'm fine one way or the other: whether we decide that we only need a little refining rehearsal to get the piece into shape, and we keep it; or we decide that the effort is a bit more than our schedule will allow, and we drop it. There is music enough in the program, that dropping the piece will not by any means make the concert too short.

19 November 2014

Down time, lawn mowers, & baby powder

Steve Hackett and friends playing selections from the ancient Genesis songbook. Smashing show.

18 November 2014

... did The Stroll

Rather than wait 20 minutes, standing out in the cold, I walked up and down a sheltered walkway (cool enough, in its own right) to get the blood circulating, keep warm (-ish), and get some more of the day's step count in.

For part of the course of this modest exercise, I overheard part of a conversation (nothing of any delicate nature). There was a fellow Bostonian, and a friend returning to Boston from Montana. The returnee expressed regret that "the Garden" was no longer the Garden. The welcomer offered reassurance:  for a while it was "the [name of former corporate sponsor] Center," but now it is "the [name of present corporate sponsor] Boston Garden."

The returnee was mollified.  For myself, mercy upon me for reflecting that, the name notwithstanding, there cannot have been anything remotely garden-like about this venue for many decades.

17 November 2014

Scheming the Avocado

First of all, although this was the fifth Avocado, it is not (or, it is no longer) the last.  Per Masha's suggestion, there will be seven Tiny Wild Avocadoes.

The first through the third of the set I composed in my sort-of-improvisational mode.  For the fourth, I drew up the "chord progression," as it were, and then gradually discovered how I wished the three players to unfold it.

For the fifth, I decided to go back to a compositional game I have frequently played, of rhythmic processes.

Let's go to Illustration #1:

You note, Gentle Reader, that the top row of figures consists of four subsets.  The numbers represent quarter-note values (i.e., 1 = a quarter-note; 2 = a half-note; 3 = a dotted-half-note), and so the series of numbers represent a series of rhythmic values.  The first and third subsets (marked A) are the same.  The second subset (B) is actually the same as A, less the concluding element (1);  and the final subset (B1) is the same as B, less its concluding element (3).  So my first idea for the piece was that this repeating series of rhythmic values would govern the two violins, who would play at the octave, one pizzicato, the other sustained tremolo.

The pitches for the violins I improvised;  the pitches, too, are in a (non-atonal) series of 25, which repeat out of phase with the rhythms.  These pitches you can see (and deployed in the rhythms charted above) in Illustration #2 (that part of the page marked AREA 2):

(AREA 1 is irrelevant to our present discussion, being a sketch for the third Avocado.)

The lower line of figures in Illustration #1 is also a series of rhythmic values, intended for the viola, which I derived from the violins' rhythmic series as follows.  First:  Where in the first series, there were two consecutive 2's, I struck the second (hence the X's — or at least the first four of the X's — beneath the top row of figures).  Second:  The 1's from the violins' series were retained without change.  Third:  To all the other values (save the final 2 of B1, marked with that deviational X) I added 1.

Then I devised a series of pitches for the viola, independent from that which I composed/improvised for the violins.  It was different both in being shorter, nine notes (and non-repeating, and atonal-ish), and perfect fourth-ey.

AREA 3 of Illustration #2 I drew up on the flight from Atlanta back to Boston.  Well, AREA 2, as well, only I had gotten AREA 2 right, where I found that I had gotten realization of the viola part (i.e., the game of applying the rhythmic value series to the pitch series) wrong.  And though I discovered that I had gone wrong, and made an attempt to fix it ... I found it something of a visual mess.  So I inscribed it RE-DO (as you may see), and realized that I could simplify the matter with a sheet of graph paper.  (This graph paper was in my three-ring binder from the time that I was working out the rhythmic profile of the Thelonious Monk tune "Evidence.")

The result is the apparently not musical, but refreshingly clear and reliable, Illustration #3:

So, there we have it:  pretty much all of the "stuff" of the fifth Avocado, a piece which (I think) I still managed to make musical, and not just . . . a chart.  But, perhaps I am mistaken . . . .

Here and there

My old bios do not seem appropriate for today's modern life style.

It's a soggy morning, rolling in to Boston on the bus. But, as it's my first workday after a wonderful week away from the office, why should it not rain? I shall have the shelter of my cubicle.  And I am perforce reminded of how fortunately clement the weather was all the while I was in Atlanta.

It will be a good day. 

16 November 2014

Back in the saddle

Put together "in house" editions (mostly for clarity of reading) of He Is Born (translation of the traditional French carol, Il est nĂ© le divin enfant) and the Wassail Song for my choir's Christmas concert.  Delighted that my choir members have assented to a Tuesday rehearsal so that we do not lose a rehearsal the week of Thanksgiving.  Now to break up the MIDI of Sweetest Ancient Cradle Song into "cues" so that we can use it for rehearsal this Thursday.