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Grieg’s Lyrical Pieces

May 20th, 2011 by David Bird · Uncategorized

Yes, lyrical. Often too short. I had difficulty really interfacing with most of these pieces. Some with fairly arbitrary harmonic conventions, others too blatantly borrowing from danish and norwegian popular music, perhaps this could function well as wallpaper music in a nice upscale restaurant? Personally there’s not enough material in these to fully grasp my attention as a concert piece.

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Den Rosenkavalier

May 20th, 2011 by David Bird · Uncategorized

Strauss weaves in particularly dissonant symbolic motives throughout much of the piece in a sort of disorienting way. I enjoy the “crystalline” textures in the percussion during some of the dialogue. The melodic lines in the voice are incredibly well crafted, especially during the final trio, which is particularly magical. Here the layering of the melodic lines is incredibly powerful and anchored nicely in the instrumental accompaniment.

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Pictures at an Exhibition

May 20th, 2011 by David Bird · Uncategorized

I really enjoy the blunt harmonic rhythm in this piece. The brass arrangement is lush and develops in a fairly interesting manner. I can’t really disassociate the piece from Carl Stone’s Hop ken which is much better than the Emerson Lake and Palmer version rendition. I kinda enjoy how it subverts some of the blandness of Mussorgsky’s infamous melody through incessant repetition.

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Parsifal!

May 20th, 2011 by David Bird · Uncategorized

I’m always impressed by the gratifying moments of clarity in Wagner’s orchestrations. Throughout much of Parsifal Wagner develops ideas in an incredibly mature and paced way, creating a wide dynamic threshold for busier moments. Harmonically its mysterious, and very beautiful.

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Verdi’s Don Carlo Act IV

April 11th, 2011 by David Bird · Uncategorized

Verdi’s Don Carlo Act IV is a dark and beautifully developed act. I enjoy verdi’s careful use of ornamention at the beginnings and endings of vocal phrases. These orchestral insinuations, and the subtlety in these gestures support and map larger narrative structures. It also calls attention to these instruments in a sort of textual way, which is interesting especially after doing to Wagner readings for Tuesday’s class. I enjoy the ‘quiet pride’ in Verdi’s orchestrations, especially in this opera. It’s a sort of subtle compositional prowess which is often ignored.

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Cool Fish

February 28th, 2011 by David Bird · Uncategorized


The inventive addition of the double bass, opens a dynamic scope of harmonic color and pitch fields for Schubert to meddle in. He uses this for lively juxtapositions of timbre, making harmonic resolutions a noticeably vivid consolation. I actually found it quite unsettling until the first major harmonic resolution in the Allegro Vivace, as the dominant drones are a bit much, at least in the BBC legends recording I listened to. Out of the initial exposition, the bass takes a more contrapuntally supportive role in the ensemble and allows the cello to speak with more than an utterance of melodic opinion. The recursive “bubbling” figures in the piano, set atop a “galloping stream” motive in cello depict a blooming landscape that any melody could thrive in. Here, Schubert hits us with a succession of thematic gestures which get transfigured in subsequent solo sections.

I took a class last semester on representation in art and music and was surprised that this piece wasn’t discussed. Strauss was reported to have said that music can be used to describe anything, “even a teaspoon.” Although I don’t quite agree with Strauss, Schubert makes a rather convincing portrayal of this thematic landscape through rhythm, melodic contours and harmonic timbre.

According to Wikipedia, recent models of Samsung clothes washers and dryers play the Die Forelle melody as a signal that the cycle is complete. The fear of fish in our laundry machines still remains.

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Missa Solemnis

February 20th, 2011 by David Bird · Uncategorized

Like in Fidellio, Missa Solemnis vastly stretches the vocal palette to resemble the shapes and contours found in it’s instrumental accompaniment. These vocal passages are long winded, but not coupled in the organic contrapuntal motion found in the masses of Palestrina. They are projected rather angularly, and often timidly perched upon the rigid blockades of harmonic material forced from the instrumental accompaniment. I feel the instrumental ideas dominating not only the texture of the piece but the harmonic direction of the work as well, and the harmonic development is actually quite shocking. The rapidly evolving, nearly manic progression of thematic material makes it hard to walk out humming a particular movement. I often enjoyed the sparser solo passages which presented an intimacy nicely opposed to these ideas. Beethoven crafts a world of extremes, and through which structures a wonderfully powerful and dynamic piece.

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Hello Title

February 17th, 2011 by David Bird · Uncategorized

This is just a test, This is just a test, This is just a test, This is just a test, This is just a test

in the language lab…

omg <3 <3

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