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Showing posts from September, 2014

Antonín Dvořák

Antonín Dvořák (1841 - 1904) Complete Works: Sheet Music from IMISLP:,_Anton%C3%ADn Contrary to legend, Antonín Dvořák (September 8, 1841 - May 1, 1904) was not born in poverty. His father was an innkeeper and butcher, as well as an amateur musician. The father not only put no obstacles in the way of his son's pursuit of a musical career, he and his wife positively encouraged the boy. He learned the violin and finally was sent to the Prague Organ School, from which he emerged at age 18 as a trained organist and immediately plunged into the life of a working musician. He played in various dance bands, usually as a violist. One of his groups became the core of the Provisional Theater orchestra, the first Czech-language theater in Prague, and Dvořák was appointed principal violist. Around this time, he also began giving private piano lessons, eventually marrying one of his students. During this early

David Byrne: How architecture helped music evolve

As his career grew, David Byrne went from playing CBGB to Carnegie Hall. He asks: Does the venue make the music? From outdoor drumming to Wagnerian operas to arena rock, he explores how context has pushed musical innovation.

Turloch O'Carolan: The Vivaldi Tale

An interesting episode is told of O'Carolan:—"At the house of an Irish nobleman, where Geminiani was present, Carolan challenged that eminent composer to a trial of skill. The musician played over on his violin the fifth concerto of Vivaldi. It was instantly repeated by Carolan on his harp, although he had never heard it before. The surprise of the company was increased when he asserted that he would compose a concerto himself at the moment, and the more so when he actually played that admirable piece known ever since as 'Carolan's Concerto.'"[1] It seems rather a pity to spoil this story, but it appears from O'Conor, who knew O'Carolan, that Geminiani never had the pleasure of meeting the Irish minstrel. Thus writes O'Conor:—"In the variety of his musical numbers he knew how to make a selection, and seldom was contented with mediocrity. So happy was he in some of his compositions, that he excited the wonder, and obtained the approbation, of a

Irish Dance: A History

Irish dance dates back to traditions in Ireland in the 1500’s and is closely tied to Irish independence and cultural identity.  Through history, these ancient dances were never documented or recorded due to Ireland’s occupation by England, which tried to make Ireland more “English” by outlawing certain traditional practices.  Many Irish cultural traditions were banned by the English authorities during the 400-year period that came to be known as the Penal Days. Despite this ban on cultural traditions in Ireland, Irish dancing continued behind closed doors. Because their musical instruments had been confiscated by the authorities, Irish parents taught their children the dances by tapping out rhythms with their hands and feet and making music through “lilting” (or mouth music somewhat similar to “scat singing” in jazz).  Irish dances came from Ireland’s family clans and, like tribal Native American dances in this country, were never formally choreographed or recorded. History records a v

Daily Practice: The Scale Set (major / relative minor)

On a calendar, plot a daily practice schedule of a different scale set each day.  That way you practice each scale in the circle of fifths, its arpeggio and relative minor with a group of picking patterns (for guitar and mandolin) and bowing patterns (for violin, viola and cello). Practice 2 octaves, always use 4th finger, root the first finger in each position.   For pickers, practice each scale and arpeggio with 4 quarter notes down up down up, 8 8th notes and 6 8th notes per note.   For bowers, practice 1 whole note (frog to tip), 4 quarter notes (middle to tip), 8 8th notes (upper 1/3rd to tip), 2 triplets (upper 1/3rd to tip) Calendar: Monday: C major, arpeggio; a minor, arpeggio Tuesday: G major, arpeggio, e minor, arpeggio Wednesday: D major, arpeggio, b minor, arpeggio Thursday: A major, arpeggio, f# minor, arpeggio Friday: E major, arpeggio, c# minor, arpeggio Saturday: B major, arpeggio, g# minor, arpeggio Sunday: F# major, arpeggio, d# minor, arpeggio Monday: C# major, arpeg

The Normans

The Norman Invasion and Conquest of England In the year 1066, the Saxon-Dane rulers of England were overthrown and replaced by new invaders.... The Normans.  By the end of the year, the old king was gone and the fate of the country was changed for ever. History of the Normans When William defeated Harold in AD 1066, the future of the Isles took a major change. For hundreds of years to come, it would be embroiled in wars in Europe and the Holy Lands. Civil unrest would be rife and the once proud traditions of the Saxons would be ground under the stone of a network of castles that covered the country. However, there is much more to the new rule than this gloomy picture paints! The Normans brought a whole new society which made the country what it is today. A common misconception today is that the Normans were "French." Strictly speaking this is not true although it is a widely held belief and, like most beliefs, has some basis in fact. Towards the end of the ninth century, the

The Pentatonic Scale

Dr. W. H. Cummings, one of the most eminent living English musicians, thus writes: "I believe the Irish had the diatonic scale as we have it to-day. It was the advent of the Church scales which supplanted that beautiful scale."  More recently, Father Bewerunge, Professor of Ecclesiastical Chant in Maynooth College, expresses his conviction as follows: "It is thought that the old Irish melodies contain within them the germ that may be developed into a fresh luxuriant growth of Irish music. Now, the Irish melodies belong to a stage of musical development very much anterior to that of Gregorian chant. Being based fundamentally on a pentatonic scale, they reach back to a period altogether previous to the dawn of musical history." ~ New Ireland Review, March, 1900. A pentatonic scale is a musical scale or mode with five notes per octave in contrast to a heptatonic (seven note) scale such as the major scale and minor scale. Pentatonic scales are very common and are found