Friday, April 09, 2010

Introductory Classical (with the Rabidrunner)

 I have this 21st century pen pal.  I call it 21st century because the penmanship is accomplishment mostly through e-mail.  There have been some cards here and there, but most of our correspondance is through e-mail.  Do you know about my pen pal?  It's Megan.  We write volumes to each other.  We write about frustrations and funnies, about anxieties and aspirations, and about disappointments and Derring-dos.

I think everyone should have a pen pal.  Even little Yahoo #1 has decided he wants one. (Yes, it's that exciting.)   Having Megan as a pen pal is joy, I tell you.  For Megan knows how to write.  Each thrown-together note that she sends is a literary masterpiece; complete with organization and swanky words.

The funny thing about Megan and I, however, is she's a night owl who stays up until 2:00ish on most nights.  Me?  Not a night owl in the slightest.  I'm a morning person and have always been.  I'm up around 4:45 on most days.  Normally, she sends her note in the early hours of the am.  So on the joyous occasions that I wake to an e-mail from my fine friend, it ensures the current day will be among the brightest of days.  Here's my response to one such early morning e-mail:
My alarm went off at approximately 4:49 this morning. Approximately, yes because there were some seconds there and I don't know how accurate the mePhone is in comparison to the atomic clock.  The clock and its seconds however, is not important.  What is important, is that I switched to my e-mail immediately and here's what I read:

"This is the longest email in the world.  It's a story of sorts." 
I jumped out of that bed all sorts of giddy.  Today would be wonderful for I have an e-mail story from the one, the only, the beloved, Megan. 

It was then and there that I decided that your e-mail deserved it's very own listening spot in my day from hell.  During the run, I made mental plans for the best time to do so.  I decided breakfast would be best.  I scrambled some eggs and slopped them among the three plates, threw some milk on the table then sent myself to seclusion so as to give your story my full attention.

It's true.  I get excited over the e-mails Megan sends.  But my excitement for Megan is not what this post is about.  I'll admit that my excitement for Megan is rather obnoxious.  Even her sister Rookie-Cookie asked why I don't just marry her.  I told her it was because she hasn't asked me yet.

Anyway, the point of this post is Classical music, not Megan.  But the point of this post was positioned by Megan.  A few e-mails ago, she asked for Classical music recommendations.  I responded with a whole bunch of questions to see which type of classical music she likes. She had also asked about U2 coming to town.  Here's my response:
You sent an e-mail about U2.  I think we'll pass on the U2.  I like U2, Spouse likes U2, we just aren't stadium people.  Snobbish, right?  Snobbish.  In regards to classical, I would suggest you begin with Handel's Water Music.  What type of classical do you like?  Do you like it dark and mysterious or light and cheery?  Most composers are one or the other.  They are rarely both.  Chopin is great if you like piano.  Corelli is great if you like baroque.  Mozart is always good.  There isn't anything Mozart that I don't like.  And Beethoven?  Beethoven is among my favorites. 
Perhaps I should start some classical music posts?  That would be fund.  Perhaps I could do period posts.  That show music periods and who resides in which and examples of each.  Now that sounds fund.
(Notice that I misspelled "fun" twice.  Twice! It's "fun" not "fund"!)

Classical music is defined by the time in which it was composed.  I hope that one day I'll be able to hear something and determine which century the music was composed, but I'm not there yet.  I figure that these here posts are a start to that.  I believe there is no better way to learn about something than to write about that something.  So here we go!

Classical Music is term used often to describe music that is of the non-popular.  By non-popular, I mean non-Britney Spears and non-Muse and non-Perry Como.  Classical music is composed for one instrument, several instruments and sometimes a voice or 80. Classical music must have "form:," such as concerto, sonata, opera, symphony, étude, suite, symphonic poem, or dance music.  And by dance music, I mean the waltz or tango.  Not that techno rave stuff. 

A concerto is a musical score that features a particular instrument.  An example of this can be found in: Mozart's Clarinet Concerto II: Adagio. 

A sonata is difficult to describe.  Generally, it's a piece of music that adheres to tonal principles and has many movements.  Which reminds me of joke.  What do you call a turd on a piano bench?  Beethoven's 2nd movement!  And speaking of Beethoven, his Tempest Sonata, Movement 3 illustrates one of the movements in a sonata.

An Opera is what my Sister sings.  Opera is a form where singers perform a dramatic type of play and sing all loud and colorful and stuff.  Here's a little Love Duet from Puccini's Madame Butterfly or the Habanera from Bizet's Carmen.  And speaking of opera, many moons ago, The Sister was singing some opera at the Spoletto Music Festival in South Carolina. I was able to go.  One of the operas she was performing (can't for the life of me remember the name) was seriously "R" rated.  It's one thing to see the humping in a movie, but seeing it live kinda freaked me out.  Especially with the parents sitting next me... 

A symphony is long, drawn-out complicated piece of music for lots of instrustments.  How's that for simplification?  Gustav Mahler's Symphony #1 and Handel's Water Music and Rossini's William Tell Overature are examples of symphonies. 

An étude is a musical composition that features a particular instrument. Études are generally difficult and are crafted so as the musician can develop a particular skill.  Examples include Chopin's Revolutionary Etude Op 10 and 12 or Heiter Villa-Lobos' études for guitar. 

Suites are musical pieces meant to accompany other acts like opera or ballet.  Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite is an example.  Here's the Russian Trepek.

For the symphonic poem, I'm just going to quote wiki. "A symphonic poem is a piece of orchestral music in a single continuous section (a movement) in which the content of a poem, a story or novel, a painting, a landscape or another (non-musical) source is illustrated or evoked."  Did you get that?  Me neither.  But here are some examples:  Franz Liszt - Les Preludes and Felix Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream. 

Dance music is strictly that: Music you can dance to.  Gabriel Fauré's Sicilienne Op78 is my favorite tango and Brahms's Waltz in A Flat Major is among those most popoular of waltzes.

Traditionally, classical music was inspired and commissioned for religious purposes and can be broken down into eight basic periods:
  • Medieval  500 - 1400
  • Renaissance 1400 - 1600
  • Baroque  1600 - 1760
  • Classical 1730 - 1820 
  • Romantic 1815 - 1910
  • 20th Century 1900 - 2000 
  • Contemporary 1975 - Present
  • 21st Century 2000 - Present 
Stay tuned for a complete break-it-down of each period with examples.  I cannot wait!  Now if only we can get April 15th over with...


Moe said...

you sure you want to take this on, with the sis and the parents ready to pounce on any inconsistencies or wrongisms you spout?

kidding of course. go for it..

rabidrunner said...

That's the point of this exercise -- to position myself for pouncing. So, pounce away! (I'm seriously being serious.)

Aubrey said...

So...aren't you glad it wasn't me doing the horizontal mambo on stage? Talk about weird...fortunately for our family, my voice type is rarely the romantic interest in Opera. :)

Jessica said...

Um, you're smart.

And, you said humping. That's funny. Except when you're watching it with your parents.

Sparks said...

Neglectful pen pal here.

I am not kidding, I printed this out so I could read it on the run. I love to learn new things and I love it 'specially when I don't have to do the work to learn them.

I'm in the process of downloading every single thing you linked to. I am a music moron and I'd really like to do little things to rectify that.