Blog #2 (DUE by 1/27/15)

I. Did you find you could relate to the music of your peer’s DNA performance? Without saying if you liked this or didn’t like that, I would like you to reflect more on if you were or weren’t familiar with the the musical genres, styles, and approaches you heard. Did any particular performance inspire you to listen to more of that person’s influence?

II. Additionally, I would like you to tell me which Billie Holiday piece you’ve selected and why.

6 thoughts on “Blog #2 (DUE by 1/27/15)

  1. I very much want to complete Blog #2 in an expedient manner, but as of yet there is no prompt for this particular activity. For the sake of acuity, I wish to present the following comments as my input for the next Blog.

    Everyone did a great job yesterday (The second Dev. of Personal Style Class with Ran Blake). This is a comment that I am making with fear in my heart of hurting someone’s feelings if I would say “I liked this person’s DNA piece more than this person’s”. Never mind.

    I really enjoyed the melodies played in harmonics on the string instruments of the class (both Bilar and Dora, I apologize if I have no idea what the spellings of these two names are). I enjoyed the way the melody in Rex’s song moved through that chord progression which characterizes doo-wop music. I truly felt a sense of manic madness in the rough recording of Elliott’s setting of his poem. Robin’s music made me feel like dancing. Simon’s short speech before playing made me briefly perceive listening in a different mental headspace, but then I realized that I never really put more weight on any particular musical moment over another, and in the resulting mental tumult I didn’t actually absorb much of what Simon played. However, I do remember enjoying it rhythmically.

    This morning I went to Davis Square for a Taubman Method lesson, and was an hour early. I decided to go to a nearby Starbucks and ordered a chocolate croissant and hot chocolate, and bought an overpriced ‘seasonal fruit’ cup. I sat at a lengthy table next to several beautiful women.

    Marck’s piece on guitar is something that i heard before, and upon hearing it for a second time, I found these small items that I really liked. The rhythm in the section in which the lyrics are “you are a little…wonderful” and “i am a little…racecar driver” was satisfying, as well as the harmony.

    I must confess that still need to delve into American folk music more, as I still find myself not immediately connecting with it when it is presented to me contexts like the ones that Davey and Lucas presented. I think Lucas has a great voice and Davey a good sound on the mandolin. I think because of my background I don’t have the same kind of immediate emotional response to that sort of music. I have spent a lot of time exploring many, many genres of music, but folk is one of those that has eluded me over the years.

    I think I got to everyone. I think I was able to execute my piece in a way that made it’s intentions clear. I don’t know whether the lecture I gave about it ended up being at all coherent, but as I mentioned in class it is a piece related to the behaviors and mental states that arise as a result of addictions. It is important to note that many of things we are addicted to are not physically ingested chemicals. I hope to be able to address dependence issues and help other people deal with them in the future.

    1. I
      going to learn
      No more

      or gloomy sunday.

      No More has harmony that I really relate to. Although I have never experienced the kind of relationship that is described in the song’s lyrics, I hav experienced revelations about harmony and tonality related to consecutive dominant chords.

      Gloomy Sunday is full of moments in which Billie’s phrasing and tone bring me inner emotional palpitation. What I seek to get out of it is a step toward learning her exact phrasing, so I can float a melody instead of playing it in some routine rhythmic fashion.

  2. I loved getting to experience everyone’s DNA pieces in class on Tuesday. There were so many aspects that I enjoyed that it’s hard to make a concise list, but I’ll try to express the most poignant moments for me. As far as music that seemed closest to my own DNA performance, Lucas’s song was beautiful and I really loved the phrasing and emotional affect throughout. Pilar’s rhythmic playing during her piece was compelling and I found the collage-like structure to be very interesting. Burcu was very successful in embodying the two distinct sounds of a fretted and fretless guitar in her vocal piece. The piece that surprised me most was Robin’s. I do not have a wide experience with different electronic music, but I have heard of some of his influences on the previous blog. Witnessing that music live moved me more than I could have expected. I look forward to hopefully hearing more music of this live.

    A few months ago, I would say that I had a vague appreciation of Billie Holiday’s artistry but wasn’t necessarily a fan of her vocal aesthetic. My opinion changed last semester when my studio teacher Hankus had me spend a lot of time with her famous recording of “Lover Man.” Trying to match her sound vocally was very challenging, but this was the first time that I was tasked as an instrumentalist to try to embody her phrasing, beautifully supple and languid vocal ability, and timbre on my mandolin. Strangely enough, I found it easier to capture her sound on my instrument last semester. My bachelor’s degree is in classical vocal performance and Billie Holiday’s style seemed otherworldly compared to the singers I had to listen to for the past 4-5 years. The ease and natural delivery of the lyrics masks the compelling, varied phrasing contained within each verse. Working closely with “Lover Man” also clued me into the emotional affect coloring the different lyrics. I particularly love the coy and almost wry sarcasm of the line “Never had no kissin’/ ooo what I’ve been missin’.”

    The Billie Holiday piece I chose to work with is “Strange Fruit.” It is such a beautiful song with some of the most disturbing lyrics I have ever heard. Billie’s singing is absolutely haunting and eerie. I feel that this is an important song for me to engage with because many of the songs in the folk canon glorify and romanticize the pastoral beauty of the American South. I love these songs,but it is dangerous to forget the darker history from that region. To this end, I hope to synthesize and combine influences and familiar melodies from the folk/roots canon with “Strange Fruit.”

  3. One of the beautiful things about this school is how diverse the student body is. I think that was very clear when listening to the musical DNA’s of the people in the class. Of course sometimes it is hard to relate to the taste and the aesthetics of other musicians, but I think that with a little bit of empathy it is possible to appreciate things for what they are.

    I particularly remember Eliot’s setting of his poem. The lo-fi sound of the recording made me think of some avant-garde recordings of the 60’s. Priya’s voice made me think of Jeanne Lee, and the trio interactions reminded me of certain Keith Jarret moments with Paul Motian and Charlie Haden.
    Jon’s music has always striked me as humorous, but also deep and rooted in a tradition of pianists that I love. In a way, his music is very transparent in relation to his personality. I also really enjoyed Robin’s performance. I have always liked electronic music but had certain doubts in terms of the sounds people use in this music. In this particular case, I really liked the sounds.
    I also enjoyed the rawness and the rhythmic pulse of Mark’s piece.

    As for the Billie piece, I will be doing Good Morning Heartache. I had only heard the Paul Motian/Bill Frisell version of this song before, and it is fairly different to the Billie one. I really liked the simplicity of Billie’s singing on this one. She uses the perfect amount of melismas and delivers a very clear melody.

  4. I really enjoyed hearing everyone’s DNA piece and bearing in mind that these pieces are merely one tiny aspect of all of our musical bodies and minds. Tunes that really stand out to me several days later are Simon’s, who so beautifully played with silence and choice in his piece. Every time he strummed a note, I could see him hearing 100 different possibilities in his head and loved that. I was also moved by Burcu’s piece, in a style I had never heard her perform before. It was elegant and a beautiful meeting point of her harmonic sensibility and Turkish musical foundation. Marck’s song was perhaps my favorite and still rings in my head for a few minutes some days. Would love to hear this worked up where I could hear the subtleties of the piece a little better!

    I learned You’ve Changed for this assignment because I thought it was beautiful and Ran passed it along to me a few months ago. When I brought it to him last week in our lesson he seemed to like it but then said, “Why don’t you learn Gloomy Sunday if you have time?” I had been planning on getting this assignment out of the way early, but found that Gloomy Sunday resonated with me so much more. It’s lyrical themes are on a level that I associate with most of the tunes I learn and Billie’s way of singing is so dreary and so floating on top of her orchestra. I’m having some difficulty getting the harmony down but have absolutely fallen in love with the text and her interpretation of it.


  5. I enjoyed everyone’s DNA piece very much. Everyone’s performance was very descriptive and expressive of themselves which is something I always love to witness and something very rare to find. I loved how Elliot’s idea directly reaches to the listener, the communication between the musicians, also when I read the poem I loved it’s own rhythm too. The humor in Pilar’s piece and how she conveyed was great to hear. Simon’s intension in every note and how carefully he picks them was great. I loved Davey’s connection between his singing and playing, Robin’s music was so rich in textures but never got scattered which I loved. Lukas’ performance was very powerful and the way he presents the story through singing was amazing. I loved Utar’s phrasing, very meaningful. Also his dynamics and touch.

    For this week’s assignment, I decided to do ‘You Don’t Know What Love Is’ After I listened to the whole CD it was amazing to realize how her talking like phrasing becomes more free in 1958. I really think that this requires a different perception towards rhythm but it is just an intuitive thought for now. Therefore I picked a song from 1958 to be able to focus on the rhythmic aspect.


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