September 28, 2018

Episode 15 - illumine Part 2

This month we bring you the second half of our concert/podcast series featuring David, Jodie, and Kaitlyn of illumine!

They are an innovative and incredibly accomplished trio bringing new life to classical music all over the world.

Learn more about out more about illumine here.

Catch up on Part 1 here.

This episode includes:

0:00 S&DMM+Illumine Theme - Arr. David Mathew Brown (2018)

1:55 Four Miniatures for Flute and Drum Kit – David Trum (2018)

I: A playful, dancing movement inspired by Latin American rhythms. Listen for:

•The ABA form of the piece (Theme – Contrasting Theme – Return)

•The B section’s use of long tones to complement the active, busy rhythms of the A section

*Sean Arawjo is the composer of the contrasting theme.  In the first edition of this piece, the B section was an open improvisation, but we loved one of Sean’s improvised melodies so much that it gradually became canon.

II: A rhythmically driven movement that strikes a slightly sneaky tone. Listen for:

•The first theme and second theme, which are in keys a tritone apart (G minor and Db Major), yielding fun, dramatic transitions

•The points when the flute and drums are rhythmically in sync, versus other points where they play opposing one another, filling the gaps in each other’s phrases

III: A quirky movement that showcases the flute’s extended techniques and welcomes the timbre of the hi-hat into the drums’ palate of sounds. Listen for:

• The point after the first statement of the opening theme, immediately restated in rhythmic canon, with the drums delayed by two beats

•The flute cadenza, involving harmonized singing while playing

IV: A return to the danceable and grooving with a movement full of rhythmic surprises. Listen for:

•Tom-toms, tuned specifically to provide bass notes that harmonize with the flute’s melodies

•A saturation of rhythmic figures that play with cycles of 5 – for example, the opening: 1 2 34 5 – 1 2 3 4 5 – 1 2 – 1 2 3 4

20:25 Eternity is like unto a Ring – David Trum (2018)
text by John Bunyan and the composer

Program notes by the composer:

“This piece is a reflection on the relationships between time, love, and eternity, with English writer John Bunyan’s poem ‘Upon Time and Eternity’ framing the work as the text for the first and final movements. The rest of the text is self-composed, though I pulled much inspiration from the writings of Robert Browning, Henry Thoreau, and C.S. Lewis.

Just as ‘The Ring has no beginning, middle, end,’ this piece forgoes a linear narrative structure and instead exists largely within one musical moment, which is explored one layer at a time. This gradual unfolding of musical layers also parallels the introspective journey of the text, as it slowly proceeds from the universal to the more intimate and vulnerable.

I have always loved music that plays with time and context- specifically the way that musical context can frame our experience of a melody or idea. The Sigur Rós EP, ‘Ba Ba Ti Ki Di Do’ [consisting of three tracks of atmospheric electronic music that can be played simultaneously to make one new piece] has long inspired me to explore similar tricks within live, notated music. I am also a huge fan of the sound and aesthetic of backwards audio, as in classic psychedelic rock like Hendrix’s ‘Are You Experienced?’ and The Beatles ‘Tomorrow Never Knows.’ Through this new composition, I have been able to indulge in both of these passions. Over the course of the piece, musical motives and even whole movements overlay, intertwine, and appear in reverse- revealing new insights and relationships between them.”

Text and structure schematic 

37:15 Shower Thoughts – Sean Arawjo (2018)
text by Reddit.com “Shower Thoughts” users – respectively – u/slimmaslam, u/JohnBolia, u/waterdam, u/OyVeyzMeir, u/Gilfmagnet

The piece is based on a popular subreddit, wherein users share “miniature epiphanies” that they have, highlighting the oddities of the familiar. “Showerthought” is a loose term that applies to the types of thoughts you might have while carrying out a routine task like showering, driving, or daydreaming. At their best, Showerthoughts are universally relatable and find the amusing/interesting within the mundane.

I: This introductory movement embraces the concept of minimalism in a few different ways. The instrumentation is a nod to minimalist icon Steve Reich, and can be performed on a budget of literally $0. The text is fragmented in a way that creates several distinct statements, each with a different meaning, out of one sentence. Listen for:

•The irregular phrase length of the vocal line (12.5 beats), the beginning of which is punctuated by clapped accents in parts 4 and 5 throughout the piece. These accents always occur where the words “I’m Lucky” fall in the phrase, whether the vocal line is being stated or not.

•The superimposition of the accents in parts 2 and 3 (every 8 beats), and the few times when the two groups of accents line up

•The final statement, “I’m,” which stands alone as a complete sentence (“I am.”), and is the only word of the movement not accompanied by claps

TEXT by u/slimmaslam:

I’m lucky to be broke at a time when minimalism and sustainability are in style.

II: This flowing, quirky waltz consists mostly of consonant harmonies intended to represent pleasing smells. The tuba is featured in this movement and was chosen mostly for its versatility, however its aural proximity to a certain type of bad smell was also a factor. Listen for:

•The expansive range of the tuba, which begins its opening accompanimental figure in the low register (G1), then jumps up several octaves for a melodic solo in measure 5

•The flute taking over the second half of this melody in measure 9, as the tuba reverts to accompanimental material

•A soaring vocal line, which is set in a high tessitura (range) – lending a measure of class and dignity to what is one of the sillier texts of the broader work

•Rapid harmonic shifts that occur after the main theme, building intensity until the instrumental recapitulation

TEXT by u/JohnBolia:

One big difference between men and women is that when a woman says “Smell this…” it will usually smell nice.

III: The ambiguous meter (often 5/4, but with frequent shifts) and atonality of this movement create a sense of unease, intended to evoke the feeling of being lost and afraid. Listen for:

•A tenuous groove established early on by the drums

•Extended flute techniques used throughout the piece: whistle tones, tongue stops, residual tones, and diffuse tones

•Pointillistic texture, which becomes more active and chaotic, reaching its peak just before the final punchline

TEXT by u/waterdam:

Imagine being naked in a room with people speaking a different language, and they all want to touch you. That’s the life of a dog.

IV: Movement four is a jazzy Christmas carol for the modern era. The repetitive text reflects the numerous and often similar stories of workplace (and everywhere-place) harassment brought to light since the #metoo movement began. In order to appeal to the widest audience possible with this important message, the harmonies, form, and style are all conventional. Listen for:

•The theme, stated in the saxophone and violin parts prior to the vocal entrance, reinforcing its familiarity

•A shift in the piano and drums, signaling the B section

•An improvised section after the return to A, and before the vocal reprise

TEXT by u/OyVeyzMeir:

This is not the year for mistletoe in the workplace.

V: Reading from a multi-colored graphic score in this movement gives each performer the freedom to interpret their own musical line. Listen for:

•Three spoken iterations of the text, each with slightly different inflection

•A steady rhythmic pulse emerging from the middle of the piece

•The interaction between pitched instruments: they are sparse and atonal at the beginning and end, but establishing an F# tonal center in between

TEXT by u/Gilfmagnet:

Music is just wiggly air.

55:50 Improvisation 1 - Dreamy

TEXT submitted by audience member:

Sleep tight, sweet dreams, angels guide.

1:09:48 Improvisation 2 - Muscular

TEXT submitted by audience member:

Oh to have arms like Jodie! 

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 Our friends illumine join us this month to chat and present new works from our Eternal/Ephemeral concert series in June. illumine is: Kaitlyn Waterson (Mezzo-Soprano), David Brown (Violin), and Jodie Levine Brown (Piano). 

David Brown arranged this month's theme and brilliantly incorporated themes from Sean and Dave's pieces (in addition to his own). Tune in to part two to hear how those themes develop!

Find out more about illumine here.

This episode includes:

0:00 S&DMM+Illumine Theme - Arr. David Mathew Brown (2018)

05:17 Improvisation - Illumine, Sean & DaveRainy, in C

07:27 Improvisation - Illumine, Sean & Dave - Reggae, in F#

18:17 Opposite Day – David Matthew Brown (2014)

text, respectively, by Emily Dickinson, Robert Burns, an anonymous source, and the US Constitutional Committee of Style and Arrangement

I: I Felt a Funeral in my Brain

Brazenly opposing the text from the outset, Dickinson’s poem of agony and despair is bastardized by simple joyousness and frivolity. Listen for:

•Shameless representations of laughter (ie. high registral piano, violin trills, and onomatopoeic laughter in the vocal part)

•”Anti-Text Painting”: When the word is “down,” the music goes up; “beating” is represented by music box sounds, and “silence” is… definitively not silent

•The use of the violin as an accompaniment instrument

TEXT

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading – treading – till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through

And when they all were seated,
A Service, like a Drum
Kept beating – beating – till I thought
My mind was going numb

And then I heard them lift a Box
And creak across my Soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space – began to toll,

As all the Heavens were a Bell,
And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race,
Wrecked, solitary, here

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing – then

II: A Red, Red Rose

As sweet and romantic as the Dickinson poem is dark, Burns’ text is expressed through mechanical-sounding, unemotional, and sometimes atonal rigidity. Imagine a robot trying (and FAILING) to express love. Listen for:

•A rigid vocal line, designed to obstruct expressiveness

•”Sweetly played in tune,” which ends in an especially dissonant chord

•Repetitive statements of “Dies Irae,” the most popular medieval doomsday chant

TEXT

O my Luve is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.

So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
I will love thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only luve!
And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my luve,
Though it were ten thousand mile.

III: Eeny, meeny, miny, moe

This dopey children’s rhyme – the inspiration behind Opposite Day – is performed with severity and needless drama. Listen for:

•Relationships between the opening violin line and both the main vocal theme and “Catch a tiger…” violin part

•Depth and gravity provided by the piano tremolo on low B-flats

•Sweeping piano figures and melismatic vocal/violin lines, behaving as though the “Catch a tiger…” text is something profound

•Recitativo on “My mother…” for added drama

TEXT

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe,
Catch a tiger by the toe.
If he hollers, let him go,
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.

My mother says to pick the very best one,
and that is Y-O-U!

IV: The Preamble to the US Constitution

Perhaps all of this irreverence could be remedied with a little patriotism. Listen for:

•Again, frequent use of the violin as accompaniment – even omitting the piano for an extended section

•A quote from the beginning of Gustav Mahler’s 1st symphony (played in piano chords), and a chord progression inspired by Anton Bruckner’s 4th – referencing two red-blooded American composers

•Our National Anthem. Definitely.

TEXT

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

42:25 Improvisation - Illumine, Sean & Dave - "Old men, old friends sit on a park bench like book ends"

45:02 Improvisation - Frolicsome, in A

1:02:48 The Chimes of the Golden House – David Matthew Brown (2018)
text by the composer

In honor of the composer’s recently deceased grandparents, I. Eagle & Rita D. Levine, “Chimes” is a poetic tribute to their unconventional union that resulted in a large, joyous, and musical family. Adorning the house in which Eagle and Rita raised and partially raised their grandchildren, was a collection of 8-day mechanical clocks – each of which chimed at contrasting intervals and pitches. This, paired with Rita’s gilded decor aesthetic, was the atmosphere in which so many lifelong memories and relationships were established – and from which so much music originated. Listen for:

•Three distinct chimes: the Westminster chime of the steel tongue drum, the shrill chime of the triangle, and the oscillating chime of the piano

•A structure bookended by joyousness and rhythm, representing the energy of the house – and later, that of those homes belonging to Eagle’s and Rita’s descendants (“descendants of the vintage melody”)

•The static atmosphere created and in spite of dense orchestration during the line, “As dust, suspended…”

•A short fugue, leading up to the word, “counterpoint,” as the voice narrates – according to the poem – the entrance of each instrument, relevant to the instruments played by the family

•The use of the wooden backs of the drum mallets to create a colder, more stark effect during, “Stark bell tones…”

•The espressivo piano solo that concludes the piece, representing the composer’s mother (illumine pianist, Jodie), who – through her parents’ passing – inherits the mantle of matriarch. This is followed by eight bell tones for the eight grandchildren who grew up in the “Golden House”

TEXT

Music begins as the hour is struck. Offset by age, a chorus of metal voices enters the discordant song of the inevitable. The heartbeat of the house tolls with many perspectives – some over, and others understated. Together, they are unlikely but beautiful. Unfettered by the perpetuity of the song, its audience – young and old, at play and at work – live joyously within its realm.

As dust, suspended in rays of sun through the window, a timeless serenity exists between the hours. Deep, golden afternoons could be memories or dreams – vivid sentiments of an ethereal world. If not for the swing of the pendulum, surely no time would pass.

And in this, the meaning of the song is obscured – for time does pass, and the song becomes increasingly beautiful. A piano joins, its own distinguished peal harmonizing – enlightening its predecessors. It beckons a procession of fiddles, then flutes, each bestowing new vitality – new meaning to the venerable music.

Enshrouded in a benevolent counterpoint, the song achieves the impossible.

So many years later, the instruments have departed from a house devoid of its once gilded hue. Stark bell tones now herald the hour in the predictable synchrony of solitude.

And yet, they are the heartbeats of new homes, each with its own unlikely, beautiful perspectives and colors. Descendants of the vintage melody revel as in olden times, enchanted by nostalgia.

The pendulum swings; voices come and go – but the chimes of the golden house are eternal.

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Guitarist/Vocalist/Songwriter/Brother Justin Arawjo stops in to collaborate this month! We talk about our shared musical history, Justin's compositional process, and he gives us some music recommendations. 

This episode includes:

0:00 Episode 12 S&DMM Theme (Remix)

7:00 "I Collect Fire" by Justin Arawjo

16:21 "Suits and Lies" by Hammers To Fences

24:58 Composition 1 (Justin on guitar, Dave on Bass, Sean on Bells)

32:11 Improv/Comp 2 [Lyrics below] (Justin on drums and vocals, Sean on Guitars, Bass, Tenor Saxophone) 

39:41 Improv 2 (Justin on Guitar, Dave on Djembe and Drums, Sean on Flute)

44:15 Episode 12 S&DMM Theme (Original)

 

Forever unanswered

these questions die upon our lips
These moments are history's cancer
A memory carved on the side of our sinking ship
 
and if it's a problem of truth
well, what is truth anyway?
Anything they can say to absolve them
of all of the guilt and the greed and the lies and the hate
 
Blasted out of frame
the signal is the noise
and we proliferate death
I can barely breathe
Your name is in my lungs
We annihilate like stars across the burning void
 
The seeds are corrupted
The fruit all rotting on the ground
Any semblance of sense interrupted
by synaptic impulses firing without a sound
 
Untenable average
grows more mercurial by the day
These teeth, grown feral and savage 
will tear at the seams of the world that you wish to create
 
Blasted out of frame
the signal is the noise
and we contaminate life
I can barely breathe
Your name is in my lungs
We annihilate like stars across the burning void
 
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This month, we are proud to present the triumphant return of Sillyheart! Sara Murray, Sean's longtime friend and bandmate stops by and talks about music, life, and that time she accidentally called John Stamos 'Jesse'.

This episode includes:
0:00 S&DMM Sillyheart Theme

7:31 Dog Walk

17:28 What Do You Do?

39:38 F*ckin' Hooray

45:17 Wrong Person

50:25 Just Fine

Sillyheart Links: Bandcamp, Facebook

Sara's Business: confetti & co.

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Luke Jiorle, Levi Jiorle, and Zachary Van Why join us on this episode to talk about Luke's upcomming record, his unique aproach to songwriting, and music in general.
We also improvise, perform one of Luke's songs, develop a brand new one together, and present a sneak peak of the album!

 

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February 21, 2018

Episode 10 - Alex Bortnichak

This month we welcome Alex Bortnichak, songwriter/bandleader of Eating Club and drummer of The Sparta Philharmonic! We discussed his latest projects, his personal journey as a musician and songwriter, and the joys and challenges of recording outside a conventional studio.  We also played some wonderfully varied improvisations, from the snarling and rocking to the beautiful and meditative.  The episode includes:

0:00- S&DMM Theme (Sean on sax, Dave on guitar, and Alex on drums)

10:30- “Homing (Told You So)” by The Sparta Philharmonic

30:00- Improvisation 1 (Sean on Flute, Dave on guitar, and Alex on drums)

46:28- Improvisations 2 and 3 (Sean on flute, Alex on accordion/whistling, and Dave on djembe/vocals)

58:15- “Grand Junction” by Eating Club

 

Eating Club Links: Facebook,  iTunesSpotifyBandcamp  

Alex’s Solo Album: iTunesSpotify,

The Sparta Philharmonic Links: FacebookiTunesSpotifyBandcamp

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Composer Alexander Bornstein joins us via Skype this month to talk about his recent release Schematicthe ins and outs of scoring for film, and the state of the industry (current and future) in general. We also present three pieces we improvised simultaneously from opposite ends of the country and we feature two tracks from Schematic

Alex's Links: Website iTunes Spotify

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November 30, 2017

Episode 8 - Matt Wixson

This month, we spoke with Matt Wixson of Matt Wixson's Flying Circus! We talked a little about his compositional process, some favorite touring moments, and how hard it is to successfully play good ska. We present a song of Sean's that we all collaborated on, two of Matt's songs, and an improvisation that Sean and Dave did:

0:00 S&DMM Theme version 8 (Punk) 

1:21 Wherever I End Up - Matt Wixson's Flying Circus 

18:25 To The WhiteS(upremacists) - Sean Arawjo, Matt Wixson, Dave Trum, Zachary Van Why - Mastering by Carl Pannell

36:43 Improvised Duo - Sean & Dave

45:05 If We Let Ourselves - Matt Wixson

Matt's Links: MWFC Facebook  MWFC Bandcamp Matt Wixson Bandcamp

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October 15, 2017

Episode 7 - Eliza Waldman

We welcome Eliza Waldman this month, guitarist and singer of Eliza and the Organix! We improvised freely, played a little punk, and talked about her musical process. We also got to listen to "Trouble" from Eliza's new album Present Future Dreams: Part I and discuss how exactly the Organix accomplished the uniquely groovy-yet-etherial texture. 

Eliza's Links: Website Bandcamp Facebook 

Jeff Rosenstock: Bandcamp Quote Unquote Records (Tons of amazing pay-what-you-want albums)

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September 17, 2017

Episode 6 - Kyle Farris

This month we welcome our first non-classical guest: guitarist Kyle Farris. He and Sean reminisce about their punk rock high school past, we talk about the charity Kyle directs, and present a bunch of new pieces! This episode includes:

0:00 S&DMM Theme version 6 (Metal) - Guitars, Bass, Drums

4:42 The Drop D Disco by Only On Tuesdays (Sean and Kyle's band from 9th grade) - Guitar, Bass, Drums

9:39 Untitled Metal piece composed by Kyle Farris - Guitar, Bass, Drums

20:58 Improvised Percussion Trio 1 - Djembe, Shaker, Tom, Hi-Hat, Boom-ba, Cowbell, etc.

29:23 Structured Improv - Guitar, Flute, Drums

42:24 Improvised Percussion Trio 2 -  Djembe, Shaker, Tom, Hi-Hat, Boom-ba, Cowbell, etc.

46:54 Sound Collage - Six Months of Sean & Dave Make Music Themes

Donate to Kyle's Charity, The Way Home!

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