Eyes That Can See in the Dark

a music journal
 

June 21, 2004 (link)

12:18 AM

I'm tired and want to go to bed, but wanted to get these in before the tournament starts:

Men's semifinalists: Roger Federer, Sebastian Grosjean, Tim Henman, Andy Roddick
Winner: Henman
Dark horses: the Croatians (Ancic, Karlovic, Ljubicic, Ivanisevic), and Jonathan Marray

Women's semifinalists: Serena Williams, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova
Winner: Venus Williams
Dark horses: Alicia Molik, Tatiana Golovin

Current music: Miles Davis - Live at Avery Fisher Hall, July 1, 1975

(Comments for June 21, 2004)

June 9, 2004 (link)

7:15 PM

Bits and pieces from here and there:

I've taken New Jersey Transit into Manhattan a bunch of times, but the train I took the weekend before last was a first for me: at each stop, it would let out a pair of beeps that were the exact same pitches (B-flat and F, if you want to know), and almost the exact same timbre, as the first two notes of the music you hear in Metroid when you go into the elevator areas. It might be a coincidence, but I like to imagine some NJT engineer putting it in there as an Easter Egg of sorts...

It may have been a surprise to some -- not least the man himself! -- but I can't help but pat myself on the back for calling one of the semis and the dark horse too.

I don't post here anymore, but if I did, I'd start a thread called "Taking Sides: Debussy's String Quartet vs. Ravel's". And I know what my answer would be, though it might be a bit surprising: despite the fact that Debussy is much closer to being my favorite composer, I've never felt much of a connection to his quartet, whereas I love Ravel's. I got to see the Composers Quartet play the Ravel about nine years ago (!), and they did a beautiful job of it, hooking me completely. The second movement in particular I found striking; I remember being disappointed when I bought a CD of the Ravel, as played by the Alban Berg Quartett (on a two-fer with the Debussy): it's pretty good, but the pizzicato sections of the second movement sound quite metallic and "twangy" in the violins -- probably because they're using their upper strings a lot, or at least plucking them pretty hard. When the Composers Quartet played that section, it had a very smooth, dry, almost woody sound, as though slightly veiled; maybe Matthew Raimondi and Anahid Ajemian used their lower strings to play the passage, or maybe they just didn't pluck so hard, or maybe they used a mute -- but whatever it was, it sounded gorgeous and far more nuanced. (So: maybe I need to hear a better performance of the Debussy?)

Someone got here searching on "guitar chords for Ave Maris Stella". Well, we here at Eyes That Can See in the Dark aim to please, so here goes:

First we have the opening section, which is far and away the trickiest part of the piece. I don't have the score to Vespro della Beata Vergine, unfortunately, but from what I can tell the intro is divided into four phrases of changing meter and length:

Phrase 1: 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 4
Phrase 2: 3 + 3 + 4 + 4 + 4
Phrase 3: 3 + 3 + 4 + 4 + 4
Phrase 4: 2 + 2 + 4 + 2 + 4 (could also be 3 + 3 + 4 + 4)

These changes feel completely natural -- to the point where, despite feeling like I know this piece backwards and forwards, I'd never noticed them as meter changes before sitting down to transcribe this. The denominator is probably the half-note (i.e. we're talking about 3/2 and 4/2), though again, without the music (which I've only seen once), it's pretty much impossible to say for sure.

With the rhythmic shape of the introduction in place, now the chords (using dots for placeholder beats):

D . . . | G . . . | G/B . C . | E, Am, Esus, E | A . . . |
Am . A/C# | Dm . C | Gm/Bb, Gm, A, Dm/A | A/C#, Dm, Asus, A | D . . . |
Dm . . | C . . | Am . G . | F . Gsus, G | C . . . |
C, Am | G, Em | Am . A/C#, Dm | Asus, A | D . . . |

Once you get past the introduction, there are basically two alternate sections to the song, both made up of four sets of 5-bar phrases in triple meter. Here's the "main" section, which features first a choir, then individual vocal soloists:

D . . | G . . | C . E | Am, E7sus4, E7 | A(m) . . |
Am, G/B, A/C# | Dm . C | Gm/Bb . . | Gm/Bb, A7sus4, A7 | D(m) . . |
Dm . C | C . Am | G . F | F, Gsus, G | C . . |
C . Am | G . Em | Am . A/C# | Dm, Asus4, A | D* . . |

As you'll probably notice, this is basically a rhythmically-displaced version of the introduction, with a few small changes. In the performance I have (conducted by Harnoncourt), that last D is sometimes D minor, and the chords at the end of the first two phrases often lack thirds; there's also a hemiola in the third and fourth bars of the third phrase.

And now the instrumental ritornello:

Dm, A, Dm | A . Gm/Bb | A . Dm | A . Dm | A/C# . . |
A/C#, Dm, C/E | F . C/E | F . Am | Bb . Gm/Bb | A . . |
A . Dm | A . Dm | C . Am | F, Gsus, G | C . . |
C, G, Am | Em . F | C, Dm . | Bb, Asus, A | D . . |

On my recording, the next-to-last bar sometimes sounds as if it's lengthened to four beats, or perhaps as if the A is on the downbeat of the next bar, with the D on beat 2...hard to tell.

The two sections alternate a total of four times, after which the material from the opening repeats. Finally, the (absolutely beautiful) ending returns to duple/quadruple meter, and is simply:

D . . D7 | Gm . . . | D . . . |

All this is very rough, and there are plenty of passing chords that I probably left out, but hopefully this will be useful to somebody!

Current music: first, Transport to Summer - live June 5, 1998; then, Pink Floyd - Obscured by Clouds; finally, Monteverdi - "Ave Maris Stella"

(Comments for June 9, 2004)

 

Current reading:

Euripides II, ed. Richmond Lattimore and David Grene

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