Bach is Back

These Bach Chorales are being downloaded at an ever-increasing rate. Listeners from all over the world are clamoring for more! Well, listeners, here are three more for you. And I have to tell you, I think number 56 is the best one yet.

I hope they bring as much happiness to you as they have brought to me. Because let’s face it, we could all really use a bit of that right now.

Number 56
Number 55
Number 54

Check out these paintings by David Hockney. He certainly knew how to use color.
Do you know why people sometimes wear complementary colors? For the compliments, of course.

https://www.cnn.com/style/article/david-hockney-the-splash-auction/index.html

Name That Film

This song is from an Academy Award winning film. I’m pretty sure. In any event, I have been working on it all day and it’s time to get it out into the world.

It was written over 100 years ago by Scott Joplin. He was born on November 24, 1868 and he passed away on April 1, 1917. He was an American composer and pianist. He is also known as the “King of Ragtime” because of the fame achieved for his ragtime compositions, music that was born out of the African-American community.

During his brief career, he wrote over 100 original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet, and two operas. One of his first and most popular pieces, the “Maple Leaf Rag”, became ragtime’s first and most influential hit, and has been recognized as the archetypal rag. Joplin considered ragtime to be a form of classical music and largely disdained the practice of ragtime such as that in honky tonk.

For more on that: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Joplin

The Hits Are Back

3/4 Time

And here are some thoughts I thought worth sharing:
– Did you know that before I became a vegetarian I was in “Burgers and Acquisitions?”
– Do you like ambience? Take an ambien.
– I am a guitar player, which means I often fret.
– Even thugs sometimes need hugs.

– Nipples always come in pairs. You can’t have one without the udder.

Ahoy, Mateys

Today seems like a good day for a song about the ocean. It reminds me of the people I knew in the Navy, before we all drifted apart.

How about a 300 year old Bach Chorale to start us off?

I took this melody:

And added some chords:

Moon River…..

Bonus Tracks:

And don’t forget, all 100 Classical Songs can be played in the music player at the bottom of every page on this site, along with some other “creations.”

And Now For Something Old

See if you can name these Classical Masterpieces. Or not. It is entirely up to you. No pressure. I will give you a hint: The composers (in alphabetical order) are Bach, Beethoven, Grieg, Mahler, and Mozart.

And remember all of the songs I have posted in the past 2 years can be played in the music player at the bottom of every page on this site. With no cost to you!

Also, if you didn’t already know this, you can adjust the speed of each song while it is playing. Click on the three dots, and choose to either slow it down or speed it up. I like the first song here on 1.5 speed.

And way back in 2020, I re-harmonized the previous song during my “music teacher” phase. Here it is again with lots of loud instruments:

The Bills are Favored Over the Chiefs this Weekend”

Here Comes the Sun

Actually, there goes the sun. But it will be back in the morning.

Today’s song isn’t classical but it is still a classic. It’s not completely done, but I need to take a break. And this song needs to be out in the world now, not later.

Here are my versions of The Beatles Here Comes The Sun“:

Acoustic Guitar and Bells
Electric Guitar and Synth and Bells

once more with feeling

A while back I posted a song called On Green Dolphin Street. That version wasn’t, how should I put this, very good? It had no right being out in the world. So I re-did it just for you. You know who you are.

That reminds me of the time someone asked me if I was “lean and mean” when I was in the military. I said no, I was more like “starched and parched.”

Traditional Version
Funky Version

And here is song number 44 in our classical music countdown. It is probably the shortest song in the book, with 17 measures. This is an excerpt from Prelude in A Major, by Fryderyk Chopin (1810-1849):

The Swan

Song Number 41 in our big countdown of Classical Music is called The Swan. It is from The Carnival of the Animals by French Composer Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921).

Synth Version
Piano Version
Guitar Aversion

According to galaxymusicnotes.com, Camille Saint-Saëns was widely heralded as a teen prodigy, as he started exhibiting perfect pitch at the age of two. He was also considered to be unparalleled on the organ and had very few competitors who matched his skills on the piano. He performed his first public concert when he was only 5 years old, accompanying a Beethoven sonata on the piano. His style can be best depicted as subtle, exuding a restrained yet cool essence. One of the world’s best pianists at that time, he was one of the first to actually create recordings of his works.

The Carnival of Animals,” also known as “Le Carnaval des Animaux,” is one of his most famous works along with his Third Symphony, various piano and cello concertos, his opera “Samson et Dalila,” and his tone poem “Danse macabre.”

Origin

Saint-Saëns composed “The Carnival of the Animals” in 1886, while he was enjoying some leisure time in a small Austrian village. However, he was skeptical that it might hamper his public image of being more matured and serious composer, as he feared it was a tad bit whimsical. He took his reputation extremely seriously, and he was sure that the piece would make the listeners laugh, as it was stuffed with musical jokes. So, he prohibited all public performances of the piece until after his demise, except one movement known as “The Swan.”

It was first premiered on the 26th of February 1922, almost 30 years after its creation. The piece consists of 14 movements forming a suite, and utilizes two pianos, a xylophone, strings, glass harmonica, clarinet, and flute. The composer offers an amusing portrait of various animals by utilizing various instruments – either singularly or via combinations. 

The Movements

Introduction and Royal March of the Lion

The introduction starts with a bold tremolo theme via the piano, playing a pair of opposite scales and subsequently introducing a “march theme” that prevails through it. The pianos occasionally offer low runs of octaves, resembling the roar of a lion. The movement concludes with a “fortissimo note” that includes a combination of all the instruments utilized in the movement. 

Hens and Roosters

The entire movement has a centralized theme played through strings and pianos, which resembles “chicken pecking at grains.” The piano offers a vast theme based on the crowing of a rooster. 

Wild Donkeys Swift Animals

The animals depicted in this movement are running at great speed, which is induced by a feverish and fast up-and-down motion of the pianos. 

Tortoises

The fourth movement is satirical and opens with a piano playing at a higher register, as the strings offer a slow rendition of the famed “Galop infernal.”

The Elephant

This section is marked with a perfect caricature of an elephant, as the piano offers a triplet figure resembling the waltz.

Kangaroos

It constitutes a pattern of “hooping clouds” which is preceded by grace notes. The chords get louder and faster while ascending and subsequently becomes soft and slow while descending.  

Aquarium

This movement is hugely musically rich, utilizing a glass harmonica, flute, two pianos, cello string quartet, and violins. The first piano opens with a descending ostinato, accompanied with the occasional glass harmonica at the end. 

Characters with Long Ears

The shortest movement, it has two violins alternately playing both low, buzzing notes and high, loud ones – resembling a donkey’s braying.

The Cuckoo in the Depths of the Woods

It comprises of a clarinet and two pianos. The clarinet plays a single ostinato as the pianos craft soft and massive chords.   

Aviary

This movement comprises of a flute, pianos, and strings, offering a background score reminiscent of the buzz in a jungle. The flute plays the role of the birds, as the movement ends with a quiet tone.   

Pianists

This piano offers a glimpse of a unique movement comprising of two pianos and strings. The transitions between the keys are marked with a blasting chord from all the instruments utilized.

Fossils

This movement utilizes a xylophone, clarinet, two pianos, and strings. The composer mimics his own works here, evoking images of skeletons taking part in card games. The violin and the xylophone play a prominent role, alternating with the clarinet and the piano.

The Swan

It offers a slow-moving melody through a cello, which is played over the rippling sixteenths through one piano and rolled chords through another. It resembles the swan’s feet which are hidden beneath the water. 

Final

The movement opens with the similar tremolo notes from the introduction, and are subsequently reinforced by the xylophone, glass harmonica and wind movements. The strings slowly build up the tension as the lively main melody gets introduced. The movement concludes with a series of 6 braying from the donkeys, portraying that the animal enjoys the last laugh, and is followed by a final group of C major chords.

A Carnival of Music

Saint-Saëns originally crafted his ‘Grand Zoological Fantasy’ keeping a small group of instruments in mind – one each of clarinet, piccolo, flute, double bass, cello, and viola, and two violins. He also included a few surprise elements – a glass harmonica, two pianos, and xylophone. However, recent performance utilizes a full orchestra, introducing more colors to his brilliant characterizations.   

The sounds of the instruments are exploited to perfection, painting the picture of the animals efficiently. The xylophone resembling the clattering of fossil bones, the double bass posing as an elephant. It’s the shape of music that swoons everyone to their feet – the trilling birds, the swans gliding with an elegant swagger, the hopping kangaroos etc. The composer also slips in the occasional musical pun to underline his point, for example, the tortoise slowly trundles off to Offenbach’s famous “can-can.” 

The composition was finally free of his shackles when Saint-Saëns passed away in 1935. The Carnival of Animals has, after all these years, become a classic in its own rights, portraying the composer’s subtle skills as he paints his very own musical carnival. 

Check out this recording from 1914: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MA1ffxiCOU8

(Now I understand what that Swan film was all about.)