Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hashtag Armada

The embeddable Tweet above is a follow up on Hashtag Armada's Twitter-based composition project.
Each game starts with a set of parameters, such as “solo piano, 4/4, 140 bpm.” A composer writes one measure, then tags someone to write the next one. He or she can describe the measure they have written to whomever they have tagged, but their description is limited to a single tweet. The first round has just been completed. Parameters for the next round will be posted here shortly.

Their project is pretty cool! More than 25 composers from all over the world participated. To view the score, click here.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Night recording

You find a cassette. It is the music of your dreams. What does it play?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Polymorphism: theme and variations

In object-oriented programming, polymorphism is the ability to create a variable, a function, or an object that has more than one form.

This, along with encapsulation and inheritance, gives object-oriented languages their power.

In music, polymorphism happens across the centuries: in theme and variation pieces, tone rows and even the abstracted instantiations of contrapuntal rules across modes.

A few favs:

33 Variations on a waltz by Anton Diabelli, Op. 120

Theme and Variations. David Oistrakh (violin), Frida Bauer (piano)

Tema con Variazioni from his Suite No. 3 for Orchestra.

From the Met Opera:

Alban Berg's opera Wozzeck uses a Passacaglia, an old Baroque form of Theme and Variations where a bass ostinato (repeated figure, sometimes known as a “ground bass”) is played again and again with variations, sometimes so complex that the original “ground bass” figure can no longer be obviously discerned.

Berg wrote 21 variations on this passacaglia theme (Ex. #1a). (Note, that each of the 12 tones of the chromatic scale is used once before any other tone returns again. This “tone row” consists of the notes E flat, B, G, C sharp, C, F sharp, E, B flat, A, F, A flat and D. This is the basic concept of “12 tone” music, which Berg used exclusively in his only other opera Lulu.)

The only time this theme can be obviously heard is the very first time, played by a solo cello, first repetitively and toward the end of its first statement in a dotted rhythm (Ex. #1b).

Want to learn more? Check out The Met Opera’s teaching materials on Wozzeck.