Classical music crash course – postlude

To everyone who squeezed into the Idler Academy for the Classical music crash course last night, it was good to meet you and thanks for your rapt attention and interesting questions … Scroll down on this blog for a closer look at the glossary of terms relevant to each era. Since many of you expressed interest, I’m hatching a plan for a full-blown Classical music lecture series at the Idler Academy, each of them examining a musical era in much more detail than last night, which was a mere taster. This might get going as soon as the next few weeks, but I’ll keep you posted with a post here as the plan crystallises. In the meantime, if you have any feedback or queries, or if you’d to put your email address on the mailing list, do drop me a line here. And here’s a reminder of what it was all about.

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Huntsman’s Funeral

Often talked about but rarely seen: the woodcut that apparently inspired the 3rd movement of Mahler’s First Symphony. Double-click on it for a closer look.  Eerie/unheimlich

Classical music crash course – glossary

For my Classical music crash course at the Idler Academy I”ve prepared a
quick glossary of the four key periods I”m covering, with a brief overview
and definitions of five key terms that are relevant to each. Enjoy!

 
Baroque music: c1607 to 1750

Essential elements? Dance-like feel behind much of the music; rhythmic drive; often still a polyphonic approach to composing; some extremely expressive music, with flamboyant vocal writing and extraordinary poetry; craftsmanship rather than self-expression.

Terms:

Tonic, dominant and relative minor:– the tonic is the home key, and the
dominant its closest relative, on the fifth of the scale. Relative minor is
the closest minor key to a major-key tonic, starting on the sixth of the
scale.
Pedal point: a device used towards the end of a piece when a note is held
to anchor the harmony; usually in the bass, and usually on the dominant.
Fugue: From the Latin fuga, its name describes how one voice chases another
in an imitative way, in this musical form based on imitation.
Polyphony:– music in many parts which act independently.
Stretto:– in a fugue, when a theme enters before the previous one has
finished in another part.

Classical era: c1750 to 1820

Essential elements? Balance and beauty; clear, elegant discussion of musical
ideas, avoiding extremes; plenty of conventions, often subtly contravened.

Terms:

Chamber music:– music with one instrument per part.
Compound duple time:– 6/8. Two beats in a bar, subdivided into three within
each beat.
Cadence:– two closing chords, like an Amen.
Sonata form:– the arrangement of an opening movement into three sections of
a musical argument: exposition, development and recapitulation.
Codetta:– a short passage that rounds a section off.

Romantic era: c1820-1910

Essential elements? The rise of the artist; combining music with other
arts; celebrating nature and individual nationhood; pushing the sound world
of opera and orchestra to the limit, and doing the same with the tonal
system.

Terms:

Programme music: music that’s designed to tell a story or paint a picture
(as opposed to absolute music).
Gesamtkunstwerk: Wagner”s idea of bringing several disciplines together to
make a perfect, all-embracing art form.
Thematic transformation: transmogrifying a musical theme during the course
of a musical drama.
Leitmotiv: in a dramatic context, a recurring musical theme that’s always
associated with a particular character or idea; aka idée fixe.
Tone poem or symphonic poem: a piece of narrative programme music painted on an orchestral canvas.

C20th era:

Essential elements? Music being pushed to the brink and a whole variety of
approaches emerging, some radical and others conservative: expressionism,
neo-classicism, serialism, electronic composition, modernism,
post-modernism, minimalism, post-minimalism ……

Terms:

Timbre: – the quality of a note produced by a musical instrument.
Bitonal:– having more than one tonal centre.
Ostinato: – a repeated rhythmic figure.
Diatonic: – based round a tonal centre.
Serialism: – a procedure that orders the 12 notes of a chromatic scale as the
basis for a piece of music; also known as twelve-tone composition.

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Ronnie Scott’s with Blue Harlem

04/03/2012
13:00to15:00
24/08/2013
13:00to15:00
13:00to15:00
31/05/2015
13:00to15:00



Great venue, great band

Tuxedo Jazz Orchestra at the Harrow Arts Centre

02/05/2012
19:30to22:30



More info and background on this great band here. I’m rubbing shoulders with some of the great British players of early jazz in this band, and put on gut strings especially for these gigs… This one is at the Harrow Arts Centre.

Tony Jacobs in Carmarthen

28/04/2012
19:30to22:30



Continuing my Welsh mini-tour with a date in Carmarthen – a Sinatra show with the irrepressible  singer and entertainer Tony Jacobs.  Details here.

Tuxedo Jazz Orchestra in Milford Haven

27/04/2012
19:30to22:30



More info and background on this great band here. I’m rubbing shoulders with some of the great British players of early jazz in this band, and put on gut strings especially for these gigs… This one is at the Torch Theatre in Milford Haven.

interviewing Denis Matsuev

21/02/2012



I’m interviewing the Russian piano virtuoso Denis Matsuev in London. Valery Gergiev might pop in as well, which would be exciting! This is a video interview for CultureRush, the arts arm of the TVs news channel Russia Today.

Chasing the Blues Away

11/02/2012
19:30to22:00



Appearing with Michael Law’s new Piccadilly Revellers at the Riverhead Theatre in Louth, in a celebration of popular music from the 1920s to the 1940s.

Le Caprice

29/01/2012
20:00to23:00
26/02/2012
20:00to23:00
25/03/2012
19:30to23:00
29/04/2012
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24/06/2012
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28/04/2013
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09/11/2014
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04/01/2015
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29/11/2015
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A jazz residency at the Richard Caring-owned Le Caprice, one of London’s most elegant eateries.