Author Topic: Maestro J’s Classical Music Appreciation Hall  (Read 1831 times)

Shee

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Re: Maestro J’s Classical Music Appreciation Hall
« Reply #15 on: October 09, 2009, 05:27:36 pm »
Sergei Profokiev.  Concerto no........4?  G minor.  The real deal.

Daniel Krispin

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Re: Maestro J’s Classical Music Appreciation Hall
« Reply #16 on: October 09, 2009, 06:54:47 pm »
Dvorak's 4th movement from his New World Symphony. Always liked that one since childhood.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yctfXIqugXc

Also, though it's already been mentioned, Orff's work, though I think the person who mentioned it is probably thinking more along the lines of the most famous song, the 'O Fortuna' from the 'Fortuna Imperiatrix Mundi' segment. Personally, I think that the second song in that part, 'Fortuna Plango Vulnera', is superior. However, I will grace the work with a repost, especially considering this quite interesting version of it: this is the first two songs strung together.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AP_CSQgBPpQ

« Last Edit: October 09, 2009, 07:13:07 pm by Daniel Krispin »

Lord J Esq

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Re: Maestro J’s Classical Music Appreciation Hall
« Reply #17 on: October 06, 2011, 07:32:01 pm »
Good evening, and welcome to Musical Masterpiece Theater, a service of the Sedulous Boation Corporation. As ever, I am your host, Lord J. Alistair Cooke, Esquire.

Classical music threatens its admirers with obsolescence. We could blame the peasantry for being too unsophisticated, but we would be wrong to do so, for they were never responsible for the institution’s health. Classical music is and has always been for those who have the mind to appreciate it, and the money to seek it out. Even today, when classic masterpieces sell alongside popular hissing for pennies on the latter’s dollar, few people want to buy them. Even today’s modest classical music institutions are financially tenuous.

Many people have suggested that the way forward is to bring classical music to “the people,” those vaunted successors to the peasantry of old. Love of music is a human constant, after all, and classical music is not simply one flavor among many others, desirable only to those who enjoy its taste. It is objectively superlative, pleasant of figure and gracefully built. Shouldn’t more people enjoy it, if only they were encouraged by their peers to give it a chance?

Perhaps not. Tempting the masses with excellence is a fool’s errand. They want bargains and gratification, and flattery. But I do support the initiative of trying to popularize classical music. I have said before that I consider the symphony orchestra to be humanity’s finest invention to date, and, if one is willing to occasionally risk being affirmed in her or his cynicism by taking a chance and offering something excellent to the public, then classic music is certainly one of those propositions worth chancing.

Thus, I do not view “classical music” as merely the domain of long-dead composers who wrote music in a very specific style and achieve recognition today through the performances of their work by symphony orchestras. I extend my consideration of classical music to include all highly structured symphonic work, including that produced for motion pictures and video games, and I even go farther to include smaller musical assemblies below the orchestral level, and instruments not typically considered classical. Indeed, to me, this is not the least bit controversial. Classical music is self-evidently classical music, no matter where it comes from, defined by its symphonic qualities and structural complexity, and not its pedigree. Many other forms of music qualify as classical in addition to whatever specific genre they occupy.

To deny this yet hold up classical music as excellent is to declare oneself a snob, and that is something that your dear Lord J. Alistair Cooke, Esquire, would never do! Therefore I should very much like to share with you a piece of music that could not possibly be called pretentious, even as it surely could never fail to be called classical.



~~~~~ * ~~ *** ~~ * ~~~~~
Today’s Recommended Masterpiece: “New Planet / Rabbit / School Chum” & “A Clue / Finnegan’s Return / Leg Trick / Dirt Trick / Tiger Thoughts / 2nd Samurai”
Star Trek: Volume 3 – Shore Leave and The Naked Time
GERALD FRIED (b. 1928)

As you can see this is not one single piece of music, but in fact nine different musical cues collected into two distinct performance pieces. They were scored by Gerald Fried for an episode of the original Star Trek, “Shore Leave,” a tale of the Enterprise’s visit to a beautiful planet where mere thoughts quickly became reality.

Captain Kirk encountered Finnegan, a rival and practical joker from Kirk’s cadet days back at Starfleet Academy. “My own personal devil,” Kirk said. On the shore leave planet, Finnegan appeared exactly as he had looked then, having not aged a day despite the passage of years, and he wasted no time punching Kirk in the face, just like old times.

That’s the story behind the first piece of music. The “New Planet” refers to the shore leave planet itself. The “Rabbit” section refers to Dr. McCoy’s encounter with the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. “School Chum” is the introduction to the theme for Finnegan himself. Finnegan’s theme is not like anything else in the episode soundtrack. Just like regional accents, classical music has accents. Finnegan is an Irish caricature, scrapping for a fight and laughing like a maniac. (One has to be prepared for 1960s-era racism and sexism when watching the old Star Trek.) His theme is based upon the style of Irish traditional music. You will recognize it as soon as you hear it.

Television music scores are usually written to be modular. This saves money by allowing the producers to use the same music across multiple episodes. Much of the music from this episode appears elsewhere in the series. Finnegan’s music, however, was so ethnic in nature, and so distinctive on top of that, that it rarely showed up again beyond that one episode. It ended up being an expensive embellishment upon the most farcical of characters. But all was not lost; the music made Finnegan considerably more memorable.

The second piece of music, and the stronger of the two, covers events later in the episode. Finnegan returns, still itching for a fight. What follows is probably the best Captain Kirk fight scene in Star Trek history. Finnegan leads him on a wild goose chase across the glades and gullies of this paradisaical planet, laughing maniacally the whole time, and the two of them beat the ever-loving stuffing out of one another. Meanwhile, this playful, impish music is playing in the background. The two don’t hate each other. They just want to beat each other senseless. It’s absolutely delightful!

“Shore Leave” was Gerald Fried’s first work for Star Trek. He went on to score other episodes, and he is the one who wrote the famous Kirk versus Spock fight theme which became probably the most memorable in-episode music from any episode or series of Star Trek. (If you’re ever watching a parody of a Star Trek fight, and overly-dramatic music starts playing, it’s probably the Kirk versus Spock fight theme.) Maestro Fried had a talent for making use of the relatively small orchestra available to him to achieve a wide variety of sounds, and his themes were always distinct and often memorable. They not only conveyed a lot of dramatic depth, but, seemingly paradoxically, they could also usually be ripped apart and spliced into other episodes without losing much of their impact.

Of all his contributions, why am I sharing his relatively obscure Irish kitsch music? Well, for one thing because I like it. I liked it so much that it, together with Finnegan himself, inspired me in my own art. But, for another thing, I’m sharing this piece in particular because, when it comes to recycled music in film and television, if you have a discerning ear then you can tell the difference between music written explicitly for the action on the screen and music recycled from another source.

Most of Fried’s other Star Trek work showed up again in other episodes, but Finnegan’s theme was so much a part of the caricature of Finnegan himself that it was simply not recyclable—not generic enough. It was too distinctive. And I think that’s a good thing. My view is that the best music is so distinctive that it loses much of its interchangeable quality. Finnegan’s theme would probably do okay if it was recycled for other scenes involving fisticuffs with an Irish prankster, but even then you’d have to be careful to make all the individual components mesh with the action—a difficult feat! Finnegan’s theme is distinct in great part because of its accent. To the typical American ear, it has an “Irish” flavor to it, although some people would mistake it for “Celtic.” Either way, it stands out and attaches itself to our own stereotypes about Irish people.

But Finnegan’s theme is also distinct in great part because it is very well-written. Most importantly, it is melodically complex. One of the reasons I don’t give more credit to composers like Hans Zimmer is that their melodies tend to be generic and simple—because they like to eschew major melodic work in favor of endless variation on a few leitmotifs. Fried’s melody for Finnegan’s is, while straightforward, quite well-developed as a self-contained musical premise, and correspondingly distinctive. A simpler way to say it is that it’s catchy.

But this excellent composition goes beyond just the melody. The dynamics are rich, surprisingly so! In television music, there are usually only two volumes: loud music that plays when nobody is talking, and soft music that plays when they are. Finnegan’s theme crosses several dynamic ranges, enough so that to hear the soft parts well the loud parts are going to be quite loud indeed. This may not actually have been a good idea for the television space, but in a standalone context it adds considerable depth to the piece. Dynamics, after all, comprise an entire dimension in the musical space. This is something that pop music as a whole never figured out.

Another aspect to consider is the fact that Maestro Fried brings out the different voices of the orchestra in so complementary a fashion that it almost inspires the imagery of a story. That is, the music itself seems to tell a story of its own, with the individual instruments playing the parts of the characters. In both pieces, the oboe introduces the melody in a sassy, impish fashion. The strings become a gallery of fiddles, chirping in staccato and singing as though they were in an Irish jig. A blunt and overbearing xylophone—like Finnegan himself—follows the melody along during the later fight scenes, making sure the listener won’t miss the melody for the action on the screen. The brass is put into the role of reiteration—of “hitting home the point”—something which brass is well-suited to do, given its ability to be powerful at lower dynamic levels.

All of these elements are the hallmarks of a piece of music composed with deliberate intention, masterful skill, and artistic passion. I don’t know what Fried himself thought of Finnegan’s theme when he wrote it, but I’m sure he was able to say that it represented the character and even stands on its own as a listenable piece of music—as you will shortly have the chance to decide for yourself.

One noteworthy point: You could make a strong case that Sol Kaplan, who scored the music for the Star Trek episode “The Doomsday Machine,” was a more intelligent composer who wrote even more technically sophisticated scores in the television sphere than Gerald Fried did. You would be right. However, Kaplan’s melodies aren’t as instantly catchy as Fried’s are—a testament to the well-developed melody—and, in a medium where the listener’s attention is fixed primarily on the action and dialogue on the screen, catchiness is very powerful.

Not to mention eminently populist.

Now, therefore, let’s get to the music.



~~~*~~~
Today’s Masterpieces:
“New Planet / Rabbit / School Chum”
“A Clue / Finnegan’s Return / Leg Trick / Dirt Trick / Tiger Thoughts / 2nd Samurai”

It has been a few years since I last shared music here, and since then I have come to realize that, because I own (a license to use) the content in question, I can legitimately provide this music to you for educational purposes. After all, that’s the point of the thread. That makes me happy.

As usual, I will only make these pieces of music available for a short time. After that, you should buy them yourself. They are available for a dollar apiece at Amazon, or you can buy the entire album—and there is some very interesting music on it!
« Last Edit: October 10, 2011, 08:12:38 am by Lord J Esq »