Obama by Ran Blake 8/19/14

Here’s a piece I’m currently developing for our President, Barack Obama. There are parts that attempt to tap into what he’s thinking. The piece will be relatively brief but will have an added minute or two.

I would be interested in hearing feedback about which version you like or don’t like.

 Take 1

 Take 2


Recorded by Aaron Hartley using an iPhone 8/19/14

9 thoughts on “Obama by Ran Blake 8/19/14

  1. As a longtime fan I wouldn’t say any of them is better, they just express different things to my ears, being the better one just dependent on what you want to express with this new arrangement. For me, IMHO, the first version feels more familiar in the beginning, but turning sour at the end: what started as relatable to many of your better known works both in harmony and texture gets more daring and violent towards the end (am I hearing more augmented chords at the end, or is it just my ignorance? I hear definitely a stronger attack), as a metaphor of the hope of peace, harmony and relief from the belicist Bush years that was felt when he entered the White House and has pretty much vanished over the years. The second for me brings an overall expressionistic portrait of Obama, feeling a bit more straight-ahead through the frequent use of unison or just one-handed play, harmonies with a generally softer attack, less suspensions… More like a resolved vignette, a slightly uncomfortable noir vignette with peaceful moments but still pretty much outside the comfort zone. Whatever the one of both descriptions that matches better your intended message for this piece is the one I would recommend you to choose.

  2. Hi Ran, I hope you’re doing well!

    I liked the second more than the first.

    I listened to each only once, and I am rushed.

    The second started in a different key I believe. The delicate moments
    were much more so than those in the first. The development part which
    occurs at around the mid-point connected very well and was credible in
    the second. The clarity in the second was better, and the final line,
    showing aspiration, was a great ending.

    It’s fantastic, and I’m going to listen to it again. Congratulations!

    Dan Matheson

  3. In the second version I heard heroic optimism in the main theme, expressed with beauty…transformed through tension, dissonance, and harsh reality…finding it’s way to somber wisdom.

  4. I really enjoyed listening to both versions. I think this is an awesome idea, and I hope that someday our president gets to hear one.

    While I really like the more introspective transition that happens around 0:55 in the first version, my vote is with the second version. Overall I find it more thoughtful, more subtle, and the transition around 1:30 strikes me as particularly poignant.

    I look forward to hearing any developments on this wonderful piece!

    1. It’s wonderful to get the thoughts of this terrific musician, Ilona Tipp. I hope she will give Steve Mardon an okay to publish her thoughts on Obama in my monthly newsletter.

  5. Definitely #2 on the ‘Obama’ takes, Ran. It has the hook of the melodic theme informing the entire improvisation, which sticks in the listener’s ear.

    That reminds them even after the performance has completed of Obama’s own struggle…and ours with him in this time of darkness that we are all faced with. More power to your musical effort here, and make sure it gets to him – !

    Eric Ostling (pianist composer and fellow improviser)

  6. I prefer the first version because I love the harmonies you play throughout; specially in the beginning. Somehow I heard it as more melodic and I really related to the way the chords were changing; perhaps it’s just the way you play them. It was a nice contrast ‘cause it felt more like a “ballad”. I put it in quotation ‘cause I understand that might not have been your intention. The only other thing is that in both versions I wanted to hear the whole beginning melody/theme played again at the end in the same way. Aside from the fact that the melody is striking and beautiful, I think it would have felt like a conclusion, some kind of closure to the story. I really love that melody.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s