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A change of pace, let’s imagine for a minute that Lennon’s Imagine piece was written in the Baroque period. It could sound a little like this.
This Sonata in F sharp minor first appeared in a manuscript of other Scarlatti sonatas and pieces in Venice in 1742. However, virtually all the music in it is believed to have been written during or before 1719, the year the composer departed Italy for Portugal. This particular Sonata is short, even for Scarlatti — typically running about one-and-a-half minutes — and bears stylistic characteristics found in the toccata style of his father, Alessandro Scarlatti. The Sonata, K. 67, is thus almost certainly a very early work, predating the “before 1742” description in the headnote by as many as three decades.
Marked Allegro, the work brims with energy that would normally suggest a Presto marking. Not surprisingly, the piece requires a virtuosic technique to properly execute its difficult demands. The thematic material springs from the opening chord — a chord that spawns rich motivic activity that scampers breathlessly up and down the keyboard. In the latter half of this mini-Sonata there is some limited development of materials, but the kinetic drive of the music remains constant throughout, the busy manner never pausing to catch its breath or to settle into a calmer or sweeter emotional state.
You know this piece, just not the full form. Skip to 2:20 if its still a mystery. :)
Although in his lifetime Ponchielli was very popular and influential, in introducing an enlarged orchestra and more complex orchestration, the only one of his operas regularly performed today is La Gioconda. It contains the great tenor romanza “Cielo e mar”, a superb duet for tenor and baritone “Enzo Grimaldo”, the soprano set-piece “Suicidio!”, and the ballet music “The Dance of the Hours”, known even to the non-musical from its use in Walt Disney’s Fantasia in 1940, Allan Sherman’s novelty song, “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh”, and other popular works.
A toast, to Ok Go for rising to the challenge and leavening no stone upturned while baking up such creative music video. :)
Well, it is that time of year again, and nothing really says ‘Halloween’ like the good ole Monster Mash. I’ve found a couple versions, but I like the original the best.
Sometimes updated for the times isn’t always a good thing. I’m with down with Frank’s opinion in the ‘modern’ Monster Mash.
“Monster Mash” is a 1962 novelty song and the best-known song by Bobby “Boris” Pickett. The song was released as a single on Gary S. Paxton‘s Garpax Records label in August 1962 along with a full-length LP called The Original Monster Mash, which contained several other monster-themed tunes. The “Monster Mash” single was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on October 20–27 of that year, just before Halloween. It has been a perennial holiday favorite ever since.
Pickett was an aspiring actor who sang with a band called the Cordials at night while going to auditions during the day. One night, while performing with his band, Pickett did a monologue in imitation of horror movie actor Boris Karloff while performing the Diamonds‘ “Little Darlin’“. The audience loved it, and fellow band member Lenny Capizzi encouraged Pickett to do more with the Karloff imitation.
Pickett and Capizzi composed “Monster Mash” and recorded it with Gary S. Paxton, pianist Leon Russell, Johnny MacRae, Rickie Page, and Terry Berg, credited as “The Crypt-Kickers”. (Mel Taylor, drummer for the Ventures, is sometimes credited with playing on the record as well, while Russell, who arrived late for the session, appears on the single’s B-side, “Monster Mash Party”.) The song was partially inspired by Paxton’s earlier novelty hit “Alley Oop“, as well as by the Mashed Potato dance craze of the era. A variation on the Mashed Potato was danced to “Monster Mash”, in which the footwork was the same but Frankenstein-style monster gestures were made with the arms and hands.
The song is narrated by a mad scientist whose monster, late one evening, rises from a slab to perform a new dance. The dance becomes “the hit of the land” when the scientist throws a party for other monsters. The producers came up with several low-budget but effective sound effects for the recording. For example, the sound of a coffin opening was imitated by a rusty nail being pulled out of a board. The sound of a cauldron bubbling was actually water being bubbled through a straw, and the chains rattling were simply chains being dropped on a tile floor. Pickett also impersonated horror film actor Bela Lugosi as Dracula with the lyric “Whatever happened to my Transylvania Twist?”
About the composer (Francisco Tárrega) – Today’s guitar repertory contains centuries of music of various forms and stories. One particular man from Spain has redefined the modern guitar as a serious solo instrument by transcribing music from piano, contributing to the development of technique, composition of music, and furthering pedagogical studies. His name, Francisco Tárrega (1852-1909), is synonymous with the Spanish guitar.1 If one examines the music of Tárrega, different influences from Chopin to the folk music of the Iberian Peninsula utilize and require different performances of particular aspects of the music. Understanding the history also yields information to determine an appropriate affect of the piece. I believe these nuances help bring out the characteristics of and strengthen the affects of Tárrega’s pieces.
We’ll quietly file this under things that I won’t be able to play anytime soon. :)
Chopin’s Fantaisie Impromptu in c sharp minor is a technically difficult but also very fun piece to play, and it’s easy to see why it’s among Chopin’s most famous and popular works. It is interesting to note that the middle section was used in the song I’m Always Chasing Rainbows, which was a very popular song in 1918.
Fantasie Impromptu was composed around 1834 but published only after the composer’s death, contrary to his express wish that all unpublished works and sketches should be burned. The version that is heard most often was prepared from Chopin’s sketches by his friend Julian Fontana.
It is a relatively short piece in ABA form. The A section has a sweeping melody of sixteenth notes running up and down the keyboard, accompanied by triplet arpeggios in the left hand. It’s very fast and almost a little chaotic, while the softer middle section with its wonderful cantilena provides a good overall balance to the piece. The coda begins passionately, but calms down little by little, reintroducing the theme from the middle section in the left hand. The work ends peacefully.