When Smokey Sings

Who, through long days of labor,
And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
Of wonderful melodies.

Such songs have power to quiet
The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
That follows after prayer.

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Day is Done (excerpt)

When Smokey Sings

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pianoforte

His creativity increasingly extended to music. Though he never took formal piano lessons, he could pound out a simple melody by ear. “Even when he was a little kid,” remembered his sister Kim, “he could sit down and just play something he’d heard on the radio. He was able to artistically put whatever he thought onto paper or into music.”

—Charles R. Cross, Heavier Than Heaven

Aaron Copland invents the sound of pop music

Aaron Copland invented the sound of pop music. In two works from the early 1940s – the Violin Sonata and Appalachian Spring – he introduced a specific, independent harmonic entity which has defined pop music since 1970. This harmonic entity consists of a chord built a fifth above the root. 
 

Aaron Copland: Sonata for Violin and Piano (1943)

Copland, Violin Sonata


 

Aaron Copland: Appalachian Spring – Ballet in one act for full orchestra (1944)

Appalachian Spring


 

Here are just a few of the many famous pop songs that have used this chord…

“So Far Away” (Carole King)

“If You Leave Me Now” (Chicago)

“Josie” (Steely Dan)

“Sailing” (Christopher Cross)

“Love’s Theme” (Barry White)

“One On One” (Hall & Oates)

“Beth” (Kiss)

Beth

“You may contribute a verse…”

H. C. Benedict, “Original And Unique The P. and H. Process Of Negative Development” (1939)

The question, O me! so sad, recurring — What good amid these,
O me, O life?

Answer.

That you are here — that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

—Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

I’m thinking of you Mary Anne…

Call out the volunteers ’cause my heart’s a flambé

Harry Wayne McMahan, “The Television Commercial” (1954)

I gotta time it right so it’s warm when you get it
Turn up the heat just a little bit higher
It was a good idea but I think I overdid it
I can’t reach the oven and the kitchen’s on fire…

 

“Burn Three Times” – Utopia

“But the most important thing that you can take advantage of in the world of music is to see yourself.”

Carol M. Highsmith, “Playing for $1 in a hat…” (2011)

“But the most important thing that you can take advantage of in the world of music is to see yourself. I eventually got to the point where music meant to me self-exploration more than anything else…and I encourage everyone here to be brave in that respect, to be fearless in that respect…that album ‘A Wizard, A True Star’ which was such an abomination to everyone at the time it came out eventually became the signature moment in my career…”

Todd Rundgren – Berklee Commencement Address 2017 – YouTube

Can you hear me, the sound of my voice?
I am here to tell you I have made my choice…

 

“Just One Victory” by Todd Rundgren

Remembering Allan Holdsworth

I was saddened to read recently of the passing of Allan HoldsworthThis is a transcription I did a long time ago of his “In The Dead Of Night” solo. I saw him in the fall of 1983 and remember how much he inspired me.

“Hats off, gentlemen—a genius!”

—Robert Schumann, Review of Chopin’s variations on Mozart’s “Là ci darem la mano,” Op. 2 In “Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung”, Vol. 33, no. 49 (December 7, 1831)
 



Corner Of The Sky

Coronet Instructional Film
 

“I too am sometimes sad and lonely, especially when I walk around a church or parsonage.
Let’s not give in, but try to be patient and gentle. And do not mind being eccentric…”

–Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh, March 16, 1877

“Only when he touches earth does he, like Antaeus, recover his true strength.”

Bain News Service, “listening to records” (detail)

“Only when he touches earth does he, like Antaeus, recover his true strength.”

—Letter from Ivan Turgenev to Pavel Annenkov (referring to Tolstoy) quoted in Isaiah Berlin, “The Hedgehog and the Fox”

“Drink to me only with thine eyes”

Drink to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kiss but in the cup,
And I’ll not look for wine.
The thirst that from the soul doth rise,
Doth ask a drink divine;
But might I of Jove’s nectar sup,
I would not change for thine.

–Ben Jonson, Song—To Celia: “Drink to me only with thine eyes” (excerpt)
 

young-man-and-woman-in-an-inn-1080
Frans Hals, Young Man and Woman in an Inn (1623)

“You do something not because you want to — you do something because you have to.”

“You do something not because you want to — you do something because you have to. And I don’t mean you have to because you’re being told but there’s a compulsion within you, there’s an obsession…”

—Paul Stanley, Paul Stanley on Rock and Roll – YouTube

 

from-the-back-window-1080
Alfred Stieglitz, From the Back Window – 291 (1915)

“In those few minutes he saw himself and his life, saw the whole cosmos guided, ordered, and interpreted by the spirit of music…”

“Do you happen to know what a fugue is?” the Master now asked.
Knecht looked dubious. He had already heard fugues, but had not yet studied them in class.
“Very well,” the Master said, “then I’ll show you…”

In those few minutes he saw himself and his life, saw the whole cosmos guided, ordered, and interpreted by the spirit of music…

Many years later Knecht told his pupil that when he stepped out of the building, he found the town and the world far more transformed and enchanted than if there had been flags, garlands, and streamers, or displays of fireworks…

—Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game

“He had found means to get a little clavichord privately convey’d to a room at the top of the house…”

Margaret Dicksee, The Child Handel

From his very childhood Handel had discovered such a strong propensity to Music, that his father, who always intended him for the study of the Civil Law, had reason to be alarmed. Perceiving that this inclination still increased, he took every method to oppose it. He strictly forbad him to meddle with any musical instrument ; nothing of that kind was suffered to remain in the house, nor was he ever permitted to go to any other, where such kind of furniture was in use. All this caution and art, instead of restraining, did but augment his passion. He had found means to get a little clavichord privately convey’d to a room at the top of the house. To this room he constantly stole when the family was asleep. He had made some progress before Music had been prohibited, and by his assiduous practice at the hours of rest, had made such farther advances, as, tho’ not attended to at that time, were no slight prognostics of his future greatness.

—John Mainwaring, Memoirs of the Life of the Late George Frederic Handel

Car On A Hill

I’ve been sitting up waiting for my sugar to show
I’ve been listening to the sirens and the radio
He said he’d be over three hours ago
I’ve been waiting for his car on the hill…
Now where in the city can that boy be?

Fast tires come screaming around the bend
But there’s still no buzzer
They roll on
And I’m waiting for his car on the hill…

God help me, I’m in love with a thinker

Sometimes she tries to hide it from me
But when she starts talking over my head
It makes me dizzy
I’m just a cipher in her master plan
That’s what I get for working out of my league
And though she says that I have nothing to fear
I wonder what will be left when she’s finished with me…

Utopia, Love With A Thinker

He lowered his glasses and he said, “It’s only me…”

One of my great memories of John is from when we were having some argument. I was disagreeing and we were calling each other names. We let it settle for a second and then he lowered his glasses and he said, “It’s only me…” and then he put his glasses back on again. To me, that was John. Those were the moments when I actually saw him without the facade, the armor, which I loved as well, like anyone else. It was a beautiful suit of armor. But it was wonderful when he let the visor down and you’d just see the John Lennon that he was frightened to reveal to the world.

–Paul McCartney

“He do the Police in Different Voices” (A YouTube Mix)

Eliot’s original title for The Waste Land was “He do the Police in Different Voices.” The line, another quotation, comes from Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend (1864-65), and describes the foundling Sloppy’s skills as a reader of the newspaper—imitating the voices of the police in the crime reports. The Waste Land is composed of many voices, not always distinguishable from one another.

—Adapted from Pericles Lewis’s Cambridge Introduction to Modernism

Aaron Copland invents the sound of pop music

Aaron Copland invented the sound of pop music.

In two works from the early 1940s – the Violin Sonata and “Appalachian Spring” – he introduced a specific, independent harmonic entity which has defined pop music since 1970.

This harmonic entity consists of a chord built a fifth above the root.

Below I have highlighted the scores and given audio examples of both Copland works.

Copland, Aaron: Sonata for Violin and Piano (1943) for violin and piano

Copland, Violin Sonata

Copland, Aaron: Appalachian Spring – Ballet in one act for full orchestra (1944)

Appalachian Spring


 

Here are just a few of the many famous pop songs that have used this chord…

“So Far Away” (Carole King)

“If You Leave Me Now” (Chicago)

“Josie” (Steely Dan)

“Sailing” (Christopher Cross)

“Love’s Theme” (Barry White)

“One On One” (Hall & Oates)

“Beth” (Kiss)

Beth