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How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci

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Villains, Unheimlich, and God Jun. 23rd, 2004 @ 03:26 pm
[Edit: apollinax suggested that I cross-post this to everyday_genius. I suppose we can look at it as "what do I like about music/things/life" answer and the qualities we (as a culture) choose to imbue to what we absorb through our senses.]

+"Too many notes, Mozart."+

I read this article about shifting perception's regarding Mozart, how each age's particularly tinted spectacles shifted him from devil-prince of dangerously complex music to the serene china figure on music's shelf. Do we love what we perceive as "the dark, the perverse, the transgressive?" I confess to having sympathies on what could be charitably labeled as "misunderstood" characters: the Steerpikes, the Snapes, the Hannibals of the world. The strange thing is, I don't love their cruelties but rather their complexities. The way that DPT (dark, perverse, transgressive) characters meticulously cultivate their surroundings: their trappings, their mannerisms and peccadilloes, the dark roads their presence on this earth implied.

It has been said that I have a personality that verges towards the curious and dispassionate, which I suppose is polite code for someone quite possibly prone to do unpleasant things. I have no idea why I prefer the things I do, all I know is that when I see something I like, it resonates with some internal force. For example: strange movies. My friends will occasionally shake their heads at my predilection for "creepy" movies. What makes "creepy?" Is it tapestry-like worlds? Is it rapid discussion and ambiguous ends? Is it the constant theme of unheimlich, that pulses vein-like through every dream where the mask falls off a familiar face, only to reveal the same blank face underneath.

I love the complexities of the world, I see it everywhere. Even in the desert, I can see the dunes and imagine the uncountable grains of sand, the footsteps of the few who have trod this way, the scuttling animals who manage to thrive, the formation of winds. Nothing is ever as simple as it seems -- thank heavens for that.

To love God strikes me as uncanny as well. His is a face we know, but cannot know with certainty. Stars beyond counting, disasters beyond awareness, and all nested in a human heart.

I love what makes me afraid, what makes me uncertain of my position on earth.

Let us get started. Jun. 19th, 2004 @ 09:04 am
Core Composer List: I want to see if these 10 composers are what we want to do- they come straight out of the book- and this does not bar the inclusion of other pieces that we can offer for comparison.  I'd like to keep this limited to 10 pieces with a set time limit on each.  The only liberty I took was using Puccini's La Bohème instead of Verdi's Aida, I am not against using Aida as opposed to La Bohème, but I'd like to use only one Opera.  If you feel that the entire group would be benefitted by the addition of one piece at the exclusion of another, now is the time to say so! 

What order should we begin our study? I listed the composers in random order, but we can use whatever order we wish.  Does anyone have a preference? 

Time Limit:  What time limit would best serve our needs. I was thinking that we set our order, and set up a schedule for which composers we will do when- this is mainly to help people understand what we are going to be studying, and at what time.  Is a week enough?  A month?  How long?  Should we have a schedule, or should we just work until we are through? 

Also, I've left this community open and unmoderated.  I thought we'd try this until there was a problem- however- if you'd like it to be closed and moderated, I can do that too.  Just let me know what would best suit your needs.

I can't wait to get started!  As soon as we pick the order, I'll begin assembling the tracks for study!
Current Music: Controlled Bleeding - Words (Of the Dying) [LP Version]

Request for Participants: Appreciation for great music from the classical canon Jun. 18th, 2004 @ 08:57 am
I am looking for input and participation.  I would like to create a forum to listen to various types of classical music, from different compusers, performed by different orchestras and conductors, and to discuss what the differences in what we hear. 

Here is an estimate of what I'd like to cover:

Great Music from the
Classical Canon

Here are ten selections of classical music widely considered to be the greatest pieces from the classical canon.  I can provide the music- so that we are all listening tothe same conductors, orchestras and recordings.  An initial discussion would be had on just the original listenings, and then we will later begin comparative listenings.

  1. Bach: Mass in B Minor

  2. Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 

  3. Mozart: Requiem

  4. Chopin: Nocturnes

  5. Brahms: German Requiem 

  6. Mahler: Symphony No. 6

  7. R. Strauss: Four Last Songs

  8. Debussy: Preludes

  9. Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring

  10. Puccini: La Bohème

I'd like to do the following excercises with these classical pieces:

Listen to the same piece of music played by different orchestras and conductors.  For example, listen to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony played by the Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Herbert von Karajan.  Then listen to the same Beethoven played by the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Benjamin Zander.  After listening to both, I'd like to discuss the differences in what we hear.

Listen for different musicians playing the same instrument.  One pianist's performance of Chopin's Nocturnes will sound very different from another's, even though it's the same instrument.  We will listen to the Noctures by both Vladimir Ashkenazy and Maria Joao Pires and listen to how each interprets the pieces differently.  How do they make their pianos sound different from one another?

Listen for patterns of tension and release.  All composers, regardless of genre, employ methods that ultimately involve the creation of tension and its subsequent release; rythmic variation, key change, rests, and harmonic movement all lead the listener along a path of motion, stillness, melodic highs and lows to the raising of musical expections and fulfillment.  We will each listen to one of the pieces from our curriculum and see if we can individually pinpoint the key moments of momentus: building and release.  Each person will try making a graph with a selection of music, and then apply the same excercise to one of their own favourite pieces of music.

This is a start and is compiled from a number of sources.  I am interested in doing this, and if there isn't a lot of interest- I'll just post my excercises and the results here in my own journal. However, perhaps if others are interested, we could make a community or establish something different.  I am certainly not qualified to lead this, although, I don't think a thing like this 'needs' a leader if the curriculum is well researched and the participants and thoughtful and motivated. 

I'd like this to just be a place to discuss music- classical and our own personal favourites- and to think seriously and with intention about what we enjoy listening to, and why we enjoy particular aspects of music over others.

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