Daily Prompt: Strike a Chord

Do you play an instrument? Is there a musical instrument whose sound you find particularly pleasing? Tell us a story about your experience or relationship with an instrument of your choice.

As those of you visiting won’t know, I am a music student. I play the Cello, Piano and a bit of Bass Guitar. For content purposes, I won’t go on about them, but another instrument that has captured my heart of late – the French Horn.

The French horn is a beautiful instrument. Not only can is sound brassy, and perform a number of fanfares including the brilliant off-stage fanfare in Strauss’ ‘Alpine Symphony‘, but can produce the most sweet, lulling tones which carry you away in the stuff of dreams. It can blend very well with other sections of the orchestra – a particular favourite combination of mine is horn and strings – as well as come out of the texture. I have a few horn players a friends (they’re handy to have around for non-horn-playing horn-lovers like myself), and I’ve played in orchestras with them several times.

I’m always amazed at what horn players are put through in an orchestra – we played a new piece of music in an orchestra recently where the horn section screamed at the top of their range for extensive amounts of time (the composer clearly had no idea what these poor people had to go through) – since then, we have been reissued parts where the string section now plays their parts following many complaints about exhausted lips. God damn brass players…

This is the horn solo from Brahms’ Symphony No. 3, 3rd Movement. This particular recording, done by the legendary Berlin Philharmonic, showcases the extraordinary range of tones that the horn can have.

Next is this extract of the Berlin Phil. performing Dvorak Symphony No. 8 with conductor, Claudio Abbado. This is a showcase for horns cutting through the texture of the orchestra, in this case with crazy trills that you can see as the horn players lift up their instruments!

So yes, the horn is a favourite of mine at the moment, I hope you see why.

On another matter, I am attending sixteen concerts in August as part of the Edinburgh International Festival, where I will be hearing outstanding ensembles such as The Sixteen and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra perform in the Usher Hall. Since I’m going to so many concerts it was suggested to me that I write a review on them. So that’s what I plan to do during August – and they will all be posted up here on the blog!

Other chords a-striking:

A Summer Book List

Hello again! Now that summer is in full swing, with unexpectedly good weather here in Edinburgh, I thought a change of theme to something more jolly would be fitting – hence the new theme! When there is a nice day – which for me tends to be a fresh, gentle breeze, partly cloudy sky and temperature around 14 degrees – I am drawn out to the bookshops (Waterstones and Blackwells are the two nearest to me; both are useful for different things). I always go to Blackwells first, since it is the closest to where I stay. For a few years now I’ve been obsessed by Japanese culture and the Japanese language, following my travels there a few years back. I have failed miserably at finding a teacher, despite having tried to do 50/50 language tuition over the internet with someone who has disappeared in a manner of speaking (I am too repulsive, even over the internet?!), so my Japanese is basic at best. The thing I feel quite good at though is, despite having no teacher, I’ve learnt all of the hiragana and katakana characters,  and am also building up a good knowledge of the kanji characters, of which there are considerably more.

Being a major anime and manga fan, I am naturally drawn to Japanese names. They catch my eye. I realised this as I was in Blackwells, and the works of Haruki Murakami, a previously unknown writer to me, stared at me from their throne on the third shelf down from the sign ‘Fiction’. Amongst his most known works are The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, 1Q84, and Norwegian Woods. I haven’t bought these books yet, however I’m slowly building up my Summer Book List:

  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami (£8.99)
  • Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Haruki Murakami (£8.99)
  • A new Japanese textbook which is much friendlier and easier to follow (£63.99)
  • The Kodansha Japanese Kanji Dictionary (£55)

Unfortunately I haven’t got £137 to spare on books. Life is tragic, especially the part about literature. Literature is tragic, especially the part about life. Dum tee-dum…

 

Summer’s Near: Let’s Get Down to Music

Hello everyone – apologies for being so late. This is my first post in around 57 days! I’ve been very busy with school work etc., however now that things have died down I can write a bit and share some more of my favourite music and talk about some things that I’ve been getting up to.

So this is Beethoven’s A Major Sonata for Cello and Piano, performed by no other than Jacqueline Du Pre and Daniel Barenboim. It’s a piece that I’m working on over the summer, along with the 1st movement of Prokofiev’s Cello Sonata. I hope you enjoy it – I’m not going to write anything on this piece yet until I’ve played it more and understand it more – and enjoy the calmness of the opening!

It’s June – nearly the end of term for us – and summer is tantalizingly close. My friends and I are feeling trapped in our claustrophobic society of musicians, and our even smaller friend group. What do we feel is the cure? *HOLIDAYS* Usually I feel like planning holidays kind of defeats the purpose – they’re supposed to be stress free and easy-going – however this time, I have pretty much booked out my holidays, promising myself that I will do certain things.

Thing number one is a family holiday to Paris. Family holidays, to me, have bad connotations; when I think of family holidays, I remember the many years where my mother, brother and I would travel around Europe and Scandinavia, and my brother would then act-up and make the holiday an absolute misery. Now, seven or eight years later, my mother and I can speak far more French than back then; however my brother, fifteen months my junior, I feel will act-up still. Maybe it’s just an association I make with my brother, and it’s unfair to expect that kind of childish behaviour from him, yet I cannot imagine family holidays going smoothly at all!

Number two thing to do is the second of two orchestral courses I’m doing with the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland (NYOS). I love orchestral courses – orchestral playing is invaluable, and you get to play some amazing music. That being said, these courses are a big commitment financially and physically, and a whole week of intense music-making takes its toll on your other work.

Thing number three is composition I must do over the summer for when I get back at school in September. Next year, we have to write several pieces that get recorded and sent away for examination. I set my marker high as I felt like my teacher expects me to produce increasingly good work. After conversing with my friend who studies composition more seriously than I, and who is a fellow cellist, he challenged my to writing a concerto-form piece for solo instrument and chamber orchestra, as he had done the year before. Of course, I had to take up the opportunity; however, we write in completely different styles – I write in a traditional, Romantic style and he writes in a contemporary, boundary-pushing style. As he suggested that I do this I thought that maybe I could combine the two and do a kind of Neo-Romantic concerto (abomination). I think that it will be a good exercise at the very least, and I look forward to doing it!

Number four thing to do is the general music making and practising I must do. During the holidays I hope to do some concerts with my friend, who is a flautist, up north near where she lives. Hopefully this will helped quench my thirst for travelling and freedom – it was the French composer Debussy who thought that inspiration could not come without travelling to different places regularly (I’m pretty sure I read that in an essay recently). In addition to this, I have new repertoire to learn over summer, including the Beethoven I shared, and my teacher is certainly keeping me busy.

I think that I’ve been in Edinburgh for too long – although it’s a bright, bubbly and interesting place I feel bored and restricted by it. Perhaps I need to travel a bit and spend time in a new place: it can only be good for me.

Ooh I do like a bit of Fauré

Hey everyone! Sorry for not blogging for absolutely weeks however I was busy in orchestral rehearsals for the last two weeks and I had little time for anything else. Recently I have listened to far too many Russian, hearty, gutsy and loud symphonies and orchestral works. I have resorted to my quieter, more conservative choral music. One of the composers I was listening to was C. V. Stanford, an extremely underated Romantic choral composer, and whose work, Bluebird, I am pretty sure I have shared on this blog already, however if not here it is again:

This is actually one of my favourite pieces of music and is certainly my favourite piece of choral music. I find it so serene and peaceful, complete with amazingly simple imagery of a lake (I always imagine it at dawn – with mist hanging over) and bluebirds. Stanford was predominantly a religous choral writer, writing for the church services and for organs, however this text that he sets is quite refreshing after hearing a lot of Christian texts that he put to music.

The second composer I was listening to again more recently was Gabriel Fauré, the 19th Century French music genius (at least I think so!). Most have heard something by Fauré in their lifetime, perhaps without knowing so, and his work Cantique de Jean Racine is a sublime masterpiece, one of his most famous:

This is very much a religious piece of music, telling of the grace of god, etc. Fauré had a strong belief in the afterlife, something recognised by his famous Requiem. This piece was written when he was just twenty years old, and is quite a masterpiece. I hope you enjoy these treats and I promise to get back into writing some bigger posts soon!

If you want to read up on Fauré then visit this Classic FM page: http://www.classicfm.com/composers/faure/

Daily Prompt: Born to Be With You

Got a soul-mate and/or a best friend? What is it about that person that you love best? Describe them in great detail — leave no important quality out.

Hello everyone! I apologise for not blogging in over a week, however I was caught up in a flurry of concerts, workshops and work – all of which are finished for the time being as term has ended now!

I know this may sound cheesy, but I was thinking a lot about music today and I realised how my cello is one of my best friends, and how music is my soul-mate. Right now, I have been going through a lot of stress for multiple reasons, and where some people have a partner/significant other, I have music to hold on to.

Having been thinking a lot (I do this well – I am over-analytical of myself and everything) about, yes, everything, I have found myself undergoing yet another process of change. In life it is important to change, despite it being utterly terrifying – I should know. That being said, everyone needs ‘a constant’ in their lives. This last week started with me feeling refreshed and awake, ready to do everything I needed to do (late night rehearsals, the biggest concert of the term, etc.), yet through the week things changed – I had restlessness nights, moments of extreme panic and worry, emotional challenges.

Going through life you must realise that changes in yourself and everything is natural, however something that I have been questioning is whether you can change back into someone you were. I was at a concert on Thursday night at the Usher Hall (that’s in Edinburgh, if you don’t know). My favourite living cellist, Steven Isserlis (amazing hair, amazing talent), was playing Dvorak’s Cello Concerto, my favourite cello concerto, with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. My teacher has known him for years, however I only just met him earlier this week. I only made the second half of the concert (the Dvorak was in the second half), and sat with three friends in the Upper Circle where we had a great view and great place for hearing Isserlis and the orchestra.

It was stunning. I can say to you now that I have never been to a better concert in my life, and that I was incredibly moved by his playing. I had heard this recording on YouTube before, however even though this recording is outstanding the concert was inhuman. We all faced each other after about six minutes of the concerto and were all starstruck. His technique and musicianship are flawless and absolutely incredible. There were moments in the second movement where I wanted to cry it was so beautiful. Everything about it was perfect. The piece itself is incredible, however I never knew music could be that perfect – and that’s saying something.

I think that it’s ironic how I describe music as ‘the constant’ in my life, however so much changes within the course of, say, a piece like the Dvorak Cello Concerto. I now appreciate how much music reflects our own humanity – it changes like a person would change, yet you still feel as if you can depend on it. Like some people, music can tie together a community, a group of friends. I was in a relationship with someone at the beginning of the year whom I had grown close to very quickly. She is a clarinettist, a fabulous one at that. Music brings people together like that, yet music changes people too. What do you think of that?

Other soul-mates:

  1. Thirteen Time Zones Away and Still Side by Side | Kosher Adobo
  2. Neurosis From A to Z | The Jittery Goat
  3. From My Heart, with Love | From Hiding to Blogging
  4. Born to be With You – Bess you is my woman now. (Daily Prompt) | Roving Bess
  5. Bitten by the Love Bug!! [Wish Come True] | She Writes
  6. Daily Prompt: Born To be With You -Psychology Behind Choosing To Like People We Met | Journeyman
  7. EMILY AND JUSTIN: THE PROPOSAL | She Writes
  8. Daily Prompt: Born to Be With You | The WordPress C(h)ronicle
  9. Born To Be With You | The Magic Black Book
  10. DP Daily Prompt: Born to Be With You | Sabethville
  11. Born to be With You | Faith, Life and Compassion
  12. Be the Edward to my Vivian | Expressions
  13. Daily Prompt: Born to Be With You | seikaiha’s blah-blah-blah
  14. About a Panda | jigokucho
  15. Drama queen | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  16. Layers | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  17. Love, Life and Loss | MC’s Whispers
  18. My Soul Mate: Daily Prompt | ALIEN AURA’S BLOG: IT’LL BLOW YOUR MIND!
  19. I’m On Riot ! | Life Confusions
  20. Yearning for The One : a misguided human quest? Daily Prompt | ALIEN AURA’S BLOG: IT’LL BLOW YOUR MIND!
  21. She Loves Me | My Author-itis
  22. The one I love… | Life Sans God
  23. Born To Be With You (Daily Prompt) | Wordy Wings
  24. Recharging the Cell Phone | The Zombies Ate My Brains
  25. people let me tell you about my best friend | eastelmhurst.a.go.go
  26. Born To Be With You | The Giardino Journey
  27. Opposites Attract! | meanderedwanderings
  28. An ode to a soul mate who doesn’t exist | The Bohemian Rock Star’s “Untitled Project”
  29. He is the soul-mate because…. | The Gilded Lotus
  30. Cradle « Averil Dean
  31. My Sun, My Life | Flowers and Breezes
  32. In Step with an Angel | Speculative Paradigm Shifts
  33. The Rainbow Of My Life | The Insight of a young soul
  34. Welcome Back! | Views Splash!
  35. Born to be with You: Daily Post | Destino
  36. This Kid I Know: Michelle | Never Stationary
  37. How To Be A Best Friend | Never Stationary
  38. Zip you lips because loose lips sink ships | Lisa’s Kansa Muse
  39. “Give her the truth serum, NOW!” | I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
  40. Daily Prompt: Born to Be With You | My Atheist Blog
  41. Soul Mates | Kate Murray
  42. Born to be with you | Asianchemnerd
  43. Let Me Tell You a Secret | Out From Under the Umbrella
  44. Every Fiber of my Being | The Ravenously Disappearing Woman
  45. My ‘virtual’ best friend | Prompt Me Please
  46. Born to be with you? | An adventure? Alpaca my bags.
  47. An Open Letter To My Person | Sloppy Etymology
  48. Love Crime, Acts of Love, and wacky love bits: this week’s weird news « psychologistmimi
  49. we go together like a bird and a feather | the REmissionary
  50. Mr.Know-It-All | bratz626
  51. Dear Stephen, | 1+1-1=0
  52. The swale and the swirl of now. | The Seminary of Praying Mantis
  53. Daily Prompt: Born to Be With you | daniellemcfarlane
  54. Soulmate: BornToBeWithYou Daily Prompt | Starting Write Now
  55. Daily Prompt: Born to Be With You | Basically Beyond Basic
  56. How I Met My Beast, My Love, My Christopher | My Renaissance Blog
  57. My Person | Yellow Brick Road

Daily Prompt: Papa Love Mambo

What sort of music was played in your house when you were growing up? What effect, (if any) did it have on your musical tastes?

Well, apologies for another couple of days without a post, however I’m still hoping to get some emails from people who would like to do some guest blogging! Once again, if you’re interested in doing some writing on this blog, have a look at my Guest Blogging page – I’d love to hear from you!

Perhaps to many of my followers’ surprise, I hardly ever listened to classical music when I was small. Being brought up by my mother, we always used to listen to Simon and Garfunkel in the car, country music was also another favourite of mine. My taste in classical and indeed heavier alternative rock (something I haven’t really discussed on my blog) developed in my later years at primary school.

At home I still listen to a lot of this older music that I listened to in my early years, much of which I can play now that I’ve had extensive musical training. It influences a lot of stuff that I do. I’m in a band with three others – I play bass guitar – and when we’re writing songs my influences within them are very distinctly “country” sounds.

It was my birthday yesterday (whoop!) so I have to depart for a birthday meal at a restaurant with family. I hope you have a nice evening!

Other memories of music:

  1. Moon-rock | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  2. Rhythm | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  3. Music, Food and a Dash of Wild | Rose-tinted Rambles
  4. Daily Prompt: Papa Loves Mambo- How a Song Could Brings Back Beautiful Memories | Journeyman
  5. Hey, Hey Good Lookin’ & Divine Providence | The Jittery Goat
  6. Daily Prompt: Papa Loves Mambo | The WordPress C(h)ronicle
  7. A Whole Other Selection | Daily Prompt: Papa Loves Mambo | likereadingontrains
  8. Great Music Never Dies | Musings | WANGSGARD
  9. My Musical Memory Set List (Volume Two) | The Bohemian Rock Star’s “Untitled Project”
  10. Daily Prompt: Papa Loves… | seikaiha’s blah-blah-blah
  11. Daily Prompt: Papa Loves KISS | My Outlook on the World
  12. punk | yi-ching lin photography
  13. A Taste Of Honey | Lisa’s Kansa Muse
  14. Sabbatical Songs: growing up in Oxford | ALIEN AURA’S BlOG: IT’LL BLOW YOUR MIND!
  15. One Crazy Mom » Growing Up With Music
  16. Papa Loves Dylan | The Magic Black Book
  17. To Run in a Dream | The Nameless One
  18. Hats, spurs and belts | Kate Murray
  19. The One That Could Have Been [Ndifreke’s Story] | She Writes
  20. Songs Of Yesterday | Awake & Dreaming
  21. Wednesday’s Run | Oldman
  22. A Dream: An Open Letter to Air Supply | Kosher Adobo
  23. Punk | I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
  24. Will The Real Slim Shady Please Stand Up?! | Life Confusions
  25. 281. Hee Haw and Soap Bubbles | Barely Right of Center
  26. Daily Prompt: Papa Loves Mambo | Basically Beyond Basic
  27. Do The Diversity Dance. | Asta’s Space
  28. The Greatest Generation Had The Best Music | Just Visiting This Planet
  29. Daily Prompt: Papa Loves Mambo | A Mixed Bag
  30. Minutely Infinite | Rewinding the mixtape
  31. Let’s Not Go to the Beach | Green Embers
  32. My Score ::E.N.Howie’s Motivational Moments
  33. DP: TRIOS | DANDELION’S DEN
  34. The Origin of My Musical Taste | wisskko’s blog
  35. Girls’ Studies: Oh, How I Miss the Mix Tape | The Bookshelf of Emily J.
  36. Daily Prompt: Papa Loves Mambo | MythRider
  37. “Papa Loves Mambo” | Relax
  38. the music man | eastelmhurst.a.go.go
  39. Daily Prompt:Papa Loves Mambo | Love your dog
  40. Daily Prompt: Papa Loves Mambo « cognitive reflection
  41. Music – A Flash Fiction | My Little Avalon
  42. “My generation”…when did I grow up? | Brandtastic’s daily ramblings
  43. Forgotten Music | Flowers and Breezes
  44. We Forgot How To Music | Knowledge Addiction
  45. Daily Prompt: The Music of Yesteryear | Rolbos ©
  46. DP Daily Prompt : PAPA LOVES MAMBO | Sabethville
  47. Momma loved country! | Active Army Wife
  48. Songs of the Heart | snapshotsofawanderingheart
  49. From Classical to Pop, 20.03.14 | Markie’s Daily Blog
  50. Ain’t nothing but a Hound | Secrets from the Hound Cave!
  51. Mama Loves Mambo: Daily Post | Destino
  52. Daily Prompt: Music became my coping mechanism. | Willow Blackbird
  53. I Love A Little Bit Of Mambo | Musings of a Soul Eclectic
  54. Life is Hard
  55. Among the Whispers
  56. Mama Can’t Rap | (Don’t Be) Too Timid and Squeamish
  57. Growing up to Moms Music | mskirian
  58. Music in the house | Emovere
  59. Daily Prompt: Papa Loves Mambo | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss

Daily Prompt: Linger

Tell us about times in which you linger — when you don’t want an event, or a day to end. What is it you love about these times? Why do you wish you could linger forever?

What a wonderfully relevant DP today! I was talking with the 1st Violinist in our Schubert Quintet today and our tutor had told him that we were to leave the first movement of the Schubert String Quintet and move onto the second movement which we want to also perform, rather daringly, from memory.

The second movement has possibly has the highest moment of harmonic and emotional ecstasy in the entire piece – quite amazing writing just as we already expect from playing the third and first movements. So here it is, or at least a part of it as the video does not cover all of the movement (if you’d like to listen to the rest either follow the instructions on the video or listen to other recordings):

In the second movement there is a moment of stillness, chords lingering in the air, creating atmosphere and tension. In music, atmosphere can often be created by lingering in still moments of the music. For example, in Jan Sandström’s ‘Det är en ros utsprungen‘, which I’ve shared on the blog before as it is one of my all time favourite pieces, the original music by Praetorius has been slowed down – it now lingers – and the soloists singing the words are accompanied by a humming chorus which, even when the chords of the soloists change, do not alter their chord for ages. This adds to all the atmosphere, and that’s why I really like the piece:

Sometimes there is a chord, or chord progression, with specific arrangements of parts and notes that make such moments utterly beautiful, creating a perfect atmosphere. Sometimes even the deathly silence that lingers after a huge, loud section of music is the most atmospheric. ‘Lingering’ in music is so important, especially for manipulating emotions of players and the audience. When there are such moments that you love you do wish that you could stay there forever, never running out of breath or bow, until the moment whereby it becomes too painful to carry on. It really shows how amazing music is in truth.

Before I end, I would just like to invite anyone interested in guest blogging on the blog to have a look at my Guest Blogging page – I would be very interested to hear from you! Thanks!

Other lingering people:

  1. A Night At Billy Bronco’s | The Jittery Goat
  2. Daily Prompt: Linger- What Makes a Life Worth Living For | Journeyman
  3. The Last | Kate Murray
  4. A Monday free of an alarm call is wonderful, isn’t it? | thoughtsofrkh
  5. DP Daily Prompt: Linger | Sabethville
  6. Daily Prompt: Linger | The WordPress C(h)ronicle
  7. S. Thomas Summers: Writing with Some Ink and a Hammer | There Be Leprechauns
  8. Shared Lullabies: An Adult Who Wants to Stay Just a Little Bit Longer in Her Parents’ Bed | Kosher Adobo
  9. linger | yi-ching lin photography
  10. after that first bite, | y
  11. When Do I Stay Awhile? | Cass’s Useless Opinions
  12. Daily Prompt: Linger | seikaiha’s blah-blah-blah
  13. Hardships will not deter me from getting closer to my love | Outreach
  14. My pre-game Pre-Game | The Bohemian Rock Star’s “Untitled Project”
  15. Daily prompt: Linger | The Wandering Poet
  16. A Love Affair With Southern Italy | AS I PLEASE
  17. Home Sweet Home | Views Splash!
  18. Step by step | Le Drake Noir
  19. Daily Prompt: Linger | tnkerr-Writing Prompts and Practice
  20. Linger Longer… | Hope* the happy hugger
  21. Never fly solo | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  22. If ever | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  23. Love for lingering, drumming | Journey of a Culture Carrier
  24. Lingering longer | Sue’s Trifles
  25. The Trouble with Lingering | Wise Woman in Training
  26. Daily Prompt: Linger « cognitive reflection
  27. I see stars | littlegirlstory
  28. Linger At The Beach | Lisa’s Kansa Muse
  29. Lingering, all day today | sixty, single and surviving
  30. Linger | forgottenmeadows