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Claude-Achille Debussy – Clair de Lune (Mondglanz, Mondschein, Moonlight), Suite Bergamasque, Debussy, pianoforte.
La Suite bergamasque fu composta per la prima volta nel 1890-1905. “Claude Debussy suona le sue opere migliori” Claude Debussy, Piano Roll, 1913.
Dal 1903 al 1913, Claude Debussy registrò molti dei suoi brani su rulli di pianoforte. Debussy si rallegrò della qualità della riproduzione, dicendo in una lettera a Edwin Welte: “È impossibile raggiungere una perfezione di riproduzione maggiore di quella dell’apparato Welte. Sono felice di assicurarvi in queste righe il mio stupore e la mia ammirazione per quanto ho sentito. Sono, egregio signore, vostra fedelmente, Claude Debussy.
Con più di un secolo di vita, queste registrazioni ci permettono di ascoltare il grande compositore suonare le proprie opere. Debussy fece le sue ultime registrazioni quando aveva 52 anni e soffriva di cancro, nel 1913. Morì meno di cinque anni dopo, il 25 marzo 1918.
I rulli per la riproduzione del pianoforte erano generalmente realizzati dalle esibizioni registrate di musicisti famosi. In genere, un pianista si siede a un pianoforte di registrazione appositamente progettato e l’altezza e la durata di tutte le note suonate sarebbero contrassegnate o perforate su un rullo vuoto, insieme alla durata del pedale di sostegno e di sordina.
La riproduzione di pianoforti può anche ricreare la dinamica dell’esecuzione di un pianista per mezzo di perforazioni di controllo appositamente codificate posizionate verso i bordi di un rullino musicale, ma questa codifica non è mai stata registrata automaticamente.
Diverse compagnie avevano modi diversi di annotare le dinamiche, alcune tecnicamente avanzate (sebbene non necessariamente più efficaci), altre segrete e altre ancora dipendenti interamente dalle note scritte a mano di un produttore discografico, ma in tutti i casi questi geroglifici dinamici dovevano essere abilmente convertiti in speciali perforati codici necessari ai diversi tipi di strumento.
Il modo di suonare di molti pianisti e compositori è preservato durante la riproduzione del piano roll. Gustav Mahler, Camille Saint-Saëns, Edvard Grieg, Teresa Carreño, Claude Debussy, Manuel de Falla, Scott Joplin, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Sergei Prokofiev, Alexander Scriabin, Jelly Roll Morton e George Gershwin sono tra i compositori e pianisti che hanno suonato registrato in questo modo.
Il famoso Clair de lune di Claude Debussy è il terzo brano della Suite bergamasque per pianoforte, un’opera il cui titolo è stato scelto tanto per l’amore del suo compositore per i suoni delle parole quanto per le sue implicazioni rinascimentali (sebbene l’opera possa essere giustamente descritta come qualcosa di un omaggio ai clavicembalisti francesi di un tempo).
Il re bemolle maggiore di Clair de lune è scelto perfettamente, la melodia scintillante in terze parallele (con sordina, richieste di Debussy) sapientemente bilanciata dal tempo rubato meravigliosamente dissonante che la segue. Durante la sezione centrale un poco mosso di Clair de lune, la musica si gonfia ben oltre il pianissimo dell’apertura, e nel suo culmine si potrebbe dire che il giovane compositore ha creato più della luce del sole che della luce della luna; gli incessanti arpeggi possono ben essere esagerati, ma si possono comunque apprezzarli.
Piccoli frammenti di questi arpeggi si fanno strada nella ripresa della musica di apertura, e ai toni rotolanti della sezione centrale vengono date alcune misure per perorare ancora una volta la loro causa prima che la cadenza cromatica finale, un momento di assoluta tranquillità, sia resa .
Clair de Lune è una poesia francese scritta da Paul Verlaine nell’anno 1869. È l’ispirazione per il terzo e più famoso movimento dell’omonima Suite bergamasque di Debussy del 1890. ‘Clair de lune’ (‘Moonlight’) è dalla prima raccolta di Verlaine Fêtes galantes (Gallant Parties, 1869).
Nirvana: the 100 most inspiring musicians of all time
The members were Kurt Cobain (b. Feb. 20, 1967, Aberdeen, Wash., U.S.—d. April 5, 1994, Seattle, Wash.), Krist Novoselic (b. May 16, 1965, Compton, Calif., U.S.), and Dave Grohl (b. Jan. 14, 1969, Warren, Ohio, U.S.).
Nirvana was an American alternative rock group whose breakthrough album, Nevermind (1991), announced a new musical style (grunge) and gave voice to the post-baby boom young adults known as Generation X. From Aberdeen, near Seattle, Nirvana was part of the postpunk underground scene that centered on K Records of Olympia, Washington, before they recorded their first single, “Love Buzz,” and album, Bleach, for Sub Pop, an independent record company in Seattle.
Nirvana refined this mix of 1960s-style pop and 1970s heavy metal– hard rock on their first album for a major label, Geffen; Nevermind, featuring the anthemic hit “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” was the first full expression of punk concerns to achieve mass market success in the United States.
Nirvana used extreme changes of tempo and volume to express anger and alienation: a quiet, tuneful verse switched into a ferocious, distorted chorus. In the fashion of many 1970s punk groups, guitarist-singer-songwriter Cobain set powerful rock against sarcastic, allusive lyrics that explored hopelessness, surrender, and male abjection (“As a defense I’m neutered and spayed,” he sang in On a Plain).
Imbued with the punk ethic that to succeed was to fail, Nirvana abhorred the media onslaught that accompanied their rapid ascent. Success brought celebrity, and Cobain, typecast as a self-destructive rock star, courted controversy both with his advocacy of feminism and gay rights and with his embroilment in a sequence of drug- and gun-related escapades—a number of which involved his wife, Courtney Love, leader of the band Hole.
Like Nevermind, the band’s third album, In Utero (1993)—which contained clear articulations of Cobain’s psyche in songs such as “All Apologies” and “Rape Me”— reached number one on the U.S. album charts. By this point, however, Cobain’s heroin use was out of control. After a reputed suicide attempt in Rome in March 1994, he entered a Los Angeles treatment centre. In a mysterious sequence of events, he returned to Seattle, where he shot and killed himself in his lakeside home.
Subsequent concert releases, notably Unplugged in New York (1994) and From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah (1996), only added to Nirvana’s legend. In 2002 the greatest-hits album Nirvana appeared and included the previously unreleased single “You Know You’re Right.” That year, a collection of Cobain’s journals was also published.
Today’s Lesson (1): “Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise”
A piano player can be sounding like a full orchestra: that’s great!
However, that also means that it is quite difficult to achieve it! The piano player can play bass, melody and accompanying chords, so making a nice harmony and a fair balance between all of that.
So, how to do that? And how to deal with a new tune?
Step 1: Learn the Tune (the Melody)
Background: The tune we’ll look at now is “Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise”, a song with music by Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein II from the 1928 operetta The New Moon. One of the best-known numbers from the show, it is a song of bitterness and yearning for a lost love, sung in the show by Philippe (tenor), the best friend of the hero, Robert Mission (baritone). Then, it became a famous Jazz Standard, performed by many artists, as Chet Baker, John Coltrane, George Benson, Sonny Clark, Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Wynton Kelly, Frank Sinatra, etc. etc.
This tune is fairly easy to learn, and has a lot of room for exploration and level of improvement. Everyone should know it. It can be found in nearly all Real Books, and a copy is included in this article, as well.
The first step in learning a tune is memorizing it (the melody) as quickly as possible. How to do that? Repeat and repeat is key! If you have some music knowledge, take attention to the chord progressions, the tune parts and its phrases.
First, play the melody and the bass notes. Repeat the process over and over again until you get it. Resist the temptation to do anything else than learning the melody and bass notes. Any improvisation, filling in, licks, reharmonizations, or anything else will simply prolong the memorization experience. Once the tune is learned, there will be plenty of time to experiment with it. The second reason is that at a Jam Session, everyone would play the chords written in a fake sheet music. Nobody would know your reharmonizations, so it is important to always remember the original way a tune goes.
Musicians have a tendency to skip over trouble spots, because we don not like them. Obviously, this negative for the learning procedure. It’s important to start at the point of trouble and work it until it is solved. If there is a problem in a specific point, start right at the notes that are giving you problems. Play slowly and evenly and with a metronome, if you can. As you learn that passage, spread out in both directions by a beat or two, and play it again. Rinse. Repeat as necessary. That way, you will be able to learn it mistake-free. If you play classical music, you should practice trouble spots in the same way.
Start learning and playing the tune SLOWLY, and the try to achieve the real tempo step by step, never losing control. This practice is also valid for any instrument practice and any musical genre, as well.
Step 2: Left Hand
The left hand is our bass player, and sometimes the drummer, and almost always the weakest link in our solo playing. Why is this? It’s because Jazz piano players often concentrate on playing improvised melodies, as if they were horn players. This means single note lines. The actual thing about this, is that we have at our disposal 88 notes and 10 musicians (fingers) at any time, so why not use them all?
So, now play the tune (melody) with your right hand and chord voicings (or the full chords, as well) with your left hand.
Chords are defined by 3 elements: Root; Guide Notes; and Color Tones. Guide Notes are the essential part of information of any chord for identifying its chord family, while Color Tones may be omitted or reinforced as desired, depending on the context.
• Root: the key center. • Guide Notes: the third and seventh of any chord, define the chord family (i.e., Major, Minor, Dominant). • Color Tones (tensions): the ninth, eleventh and thirteenth of any chord, they add flavor to the chord, without changing its essence (chord family).
According to Mark Levine (*), one of the simplest ways to start playing chords is by playing just their guide notes. Jazz pianists like Wynton Kelly, Kenny Drew, and Bud Powell, from the 1950s, established this technique, which remains an effective way of playing chords used by many performers.
(*) Mark Levine: The Jazz Piano Book, available from our Library.
Step 3: Bass and voicings (guide notes or chords).
Practice (still…) the tune, playing the bass (left hand) and voicings with the right hand, mastering the guide notes.
Chords: Root and Guide Notes only.
Triads:triads are chords that contain three sounds: root, third and fifth.
Four-note chords add the seventh to the basic triad sound, as the below figure, also with inversions:
Practice tips: play arpeggios and scales in all keys. Play arpeggios of triads and four-note chords. If the song has lyrics (like this one), read and sing it, and try to interiorize what the composers wanted to communicate.
Step 4: Putting it all together.
Well, now you have mastered the left hand, have the right hand under control, so it’s time to sound like a professional and play it sweet and tasty.
Once again, start simple and slowly. Play the melody and the bass line. Then, play the bass notes with 7th’s or 3rd’s, and play the melody. Try also to combine both hands, for example, you can play the bass and 7th (or the 3rd) with the LH and the 3rd (or the 7th) with your RH, all together, searching for a comfortable both hands position on the keyboard.
Remember: the RH is the singer of your hand band. You have five digits to do whatever you want, as long as you keep something in mind:
THE MELODY MUS COME OUT.
Try all the things you read above and see what you can do. Try stuff and practice, that’s the key to success! Enjoy!
Louis Daniel Armstrong (August 4, 1901 – July 6, 1971), nicknamed “Satchmo“, “Satch“, and “Pops“, was an American trumpeter, composer, vocalist, and actor who was among the most influential figures in jazz. His career spanned five decades, from the 1920s to the 1960s, and different eras in the history of jazz. In 2017, he was inducted into the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame.
Armstrong was born and raised in New Orleans. Coming to prominence in the 1920s as an inventive trumpet and cornet player, Armstrong was a foundational influence in jazz, shifting the focus of the music from collective improvisation to solo performance. Around 1922, he followed his mentor, Joe “King” Oliver, to Chicago to play in the Creole Jazz Band. In Chicago, he spent time with other popular jazz musicians, reconnecting with his friend Bix Beiderbecke and spending time with Hoagy Carmichael and Lil Hardin. He earned a reputation at “cutting contests“, and relocated to New York in order to join Fletcher Henderson‘s band.
With his instantly recognizable rich, gravelly voice, Armstrong was also an influential singer and skillful improviser, bending the lyrics and melody of a song. He was also skilled at scat singing. Armstrong is renowned for his charismatic stage presence and voice as well as his trumpet playing. By the end of Armstrong’s career in the 1960s, his influence had spread to popular music in general. Armstrong was one of the first popular African-American entertainers to “cross over” to wide popularity with white (and international) audiences.
He rarely publicly politicized his race, to the dismay of fellow African Americans, but took a well-publicized stand for desegregation in the Little Rock crisis. He was able to access the upper echelons of American society at a time when this was difficult for black men.
(The video is muted by default; please, unmute it).
0:00 – Kiki’s Delivery Service 4:32 – One Summer’s Day 8:36 – My Neighbour TOTORO 12:46 – Symphonic Poem “NAUSICAÄ”
30:22 – MADNESS 34:38 – The Legend of Ashitaka 40:14 – Princess Mononoke 44:49 – TA･TA･RI･GAMI (The Demon God) 51:40 – Ashitaka and San 56:02 – Madness
1:00:36 – Symphonic Variation “Merry-go-round” 1:14:22 – The Wind Rises’ Suite No.2 – A Journey (Dream of Flight) – Nahoko (The Encounter) 1:18:03 – The Wind Rises’ Suite No.2 – Caproni (An Aeronautical Designers Dream) 1:19:31 – The Wind Rises’ Suite No.2 – The Falcon Project – The Falcon 1:22:25 – The Wind Rises’ Suite No.2 – A Journey (The Wedding) 1:23:36 – The Wind Rises’ Suite No.2 – The Refuge 1:26:15 – The Wind Rises’ Suite No.2 – Nahoko (I Miss You) – Castorp (The Magic Mountain) 1:30:06 – The Wind Rises’ Suite No.2 – Nahoko (An Unexpected Meeting)
久石譲 Joe Hisaishi : Studio Ghibli Experience, Part 2Music Video 公開
久石譲オフィシャルYouTubeチャンネルに、新しいミュージックビデオ「Joe Hisaishi : Studio Ghibli Experience, Part 2」が公開されました。
0:00 – Kiki’s Delivery Service 4:32 – One Summer’s Day 8:36 – My Neighbour TOTORO 12:46 – Symphonic Poem “NAUSICAÄ” 30:22 – MADNESS 34:38 – The Legend of Ashitaka 40:14 – Princess Mononoke 44:49 – TA･TA･RI･GAMI (The Demon God) 51:40 – Ashitaka and San 56:02 – Madness 1:00:36 – Symphonic Variation “Merry-go-round” 1:14:22 – The Wind Rises’ Suite No.2 – A Journey (Dream of Flight) – Nahoko (The Encounter) 1:18:03 – The Wind Rises’ Suite No.2 – Caproni (An Aeronautical Designers Dream) 1:19:31 – The Wind Rises’ Suite No.2 – The Falcon Project – The Falcon 1:22:25 – The Wind Rises’ Suite No.2 – A Journey (The Wedding) 1:23:36 – The Wind Rises’ Suite No.2 – The Refuge 1:26:15 – The Wind Rises’ Suite No.2 – Nahoko (I Miss You) – Castorp (The Magic Mountain) 1:30:06 – The Wind Rises’ Suite No.2 – Nahoko (An Unexpected Meeting)
Mamoru Fujisawa (藤澤守 Fujisawa Mamoru), professionally known as Joe Hisaishi (久石譲 Hisaishi Joe), is a Japanese composer who composed a lot of music for Studio Ghibli movies. The first major scores he composed were Hajime Ningen Gyatoruz and Robokko Beeton.
Hisaishi was born as Mamoru Fujisawa, on December 6, 1950 in Nakano, Japan. At the age of five, he started taking violin lessons, at which he made rapid progress. At the age of nineteen, Hisaishi enrolled at the Kunitachi College of Music, where he majored in composition. He then started working as a typesetter for ‘minimalist’ music, where he gained valuable experience in the works of the ‘New York Hypnotic School’.
In 1974, Hisaishi’s career gained speed after a composition that he wrote for an animation movie titled “Gyatoruzu” earned widespread praise and acclaim. Hisaishi’s other works during this time included composition for “Tekuno porisu 21C” and “Sasuraiger”.
In 1981, Hisaishi released his first album titled “MKWAJU” and his second album, titled “Information” in 1982. It was also in 1982 that he adopted the stage name “Joe Hisaishi”, inspired by the legendary record producer Quincy Delight Jones. Then, in 1983, Hisaishi met film director Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki was greatly impressed by Hisaishi’s “Information” and “MKWAJU” and he asked Hisaishi to compose for his future films.
Hisaishi’s collaboration with Miyazaki would help him achieve great fame, Hisaishi wrote the scores for “Laputa: Castle in the Sky” in 1986, “Porco Rosso” and “Princess Mononoke”. Hisaishi’s works between 1980 and 1988 included scores for “Mobile Suit Gundam Movie II: Soldiers of Sorrow”, “Mobile Suit Gundam III: Encounters in Space”, “Arion”, “Robot Carnival”, “Crest of the Royal Family”, and “Totoro”. In 1983, he also wrote the score to the highly popular science fiction television series titled “Mospeada”, which went on to be used by Carl Macek for “Robotech”. Two of Hisaishi’s greatest works were also composed in the 1980’s, these included scores for “Sasuga no Sarutobi” and “Futari Taka”.
Hisaishi is also highly reputed for his scores for anime productions. He has been credited for theme songs for highly popular productions, including “Hello! Sandybell” in 1981, “Maho Shojo Lalabel” in 1980, “Ai Shite Knight” in 1983, “Creamy Mami, the Magic Angel” in 1984, and “Kimagure Orange Road: The Movie” in 1988.
These also included Hisaishi’s collaborative works with Hayao Miyazaki, for whom he also composed scores for “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” in 1984, “Kiki’s Delivery Service” in 1989, “Spirited Away” in 2001, “Howl’s Moving Castle” in 2004, and “Ponyo” in 2008. According to BBC, Hisaishi also received training in anime compositions from renowned anime composer Takeo Watanabe, who was extremely famous for composing the scores to “Cutie Honey” and “Lone Wolf and Cub”.
Hisaishi went on to create his own recording label, which he titled “Wonder Land Inc”. He was then honored with being commissioned to write the soundtrack for the 1998 Winter Paralympics. Hisaishi’s solo career was also very promising as in 2004, he went on a piano tour with Canadian Musicians. In 2006, he released another studio album titled “Asian X.T.C”.
Hisaishi also wrote the score for “Departures”, a film that won the Academy Award for the Best Foreign Language Film. Joe Hisaishi himself has been highly decorated for his works. He received the Medal of Honor with purple ribbon by the Japanese Government in 2009. He is also a six time winner of the Japanese Academy Award for Best Music, which he last won in 2011.
Born April 14, 1957 in Arkhangelsk in a family of professional musicians. Father – Pletnev Vasily Pavlovich, accordion player, graduated from the Institute Gnesin. Mother – Olga Pletnev, pianist.
Shortly after the birth of MikhailPletnev‘s family moved to Saratov. Father became a teacher of the conservatory, mother – concertmaster of the Conservatory. A year later, in connection with problems with housing, the family moved to Kazan. Musical inclinations Misha Pletnev appeared very early. In the next three years, a musician seated in front of favorite stuffed animals, painted and cut paper musical instruments and distributed them to their пЇп?п?я€я?я?п°п?, and then began to conduct. This was the first orchestra Pletnev. At 7 years, Michael entered a special music school for ten years of the Kazan Conservatory in piano teacher to KA Shashkin. In 13 years he was transferred to the Central Music School at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory in the class E. Timakin.
In learning, he was indefatigable and active, had its own approach to the studied material, different independent judgments and thoughts that could defend his point of view. A gifted teenager trying to make the fullest use of school. At age 16, Mikhail Pletnev received the Grand Prix at the International Youth Competition in Paris (1973). In 1974, he entered the Moscow Conservatory in the class of Professor I. Flier, a prominent pianist and teacher. Professor then picked up a very difficult student, a very hard nut to the uncompromising nature of. Once Flier mentioned that at one session with this young man, he spends as much strength and nerves, but on his two solo concerts …
Success does not take long to. In 1977, M. Pletnev awarded the first prize at the V All-Union Piano Competition in Leningrad in 1978, winning a gold medal and first prize at the VI International Piano Competition PI. Tchaikovsky in Moscow. Member of the jury, a great American pianist and teacher, SW. Leaf said: “We Pletnev strong musical intelligence, a broad outlook. But this does not mean that he is one reason. He has that balance of heart and mind, which is so necessary in a musician “.
“I am extremely grateful – said after the competition M. Pletnev – that she gave me 3,5 years of study and close communication with Yakov (Flier died Dec. 18, 1977). Shortly after the death of Y. Flier, M. Pletnev comes to class under the leadership of L. Vlasenko (at the time the student Flier), laureate of the Tchaikovsky. By the way, the entire program for the Tchaikovsky Competition, I had time to prepare, under his leadership and in this important competition, as it were on its behalf “. Triumph of the competition marked the beginning of world fame, Mikhail Pletnev.
In 1979, Pletnev graduated with honors from the Conservatory, in 1981 – postgraduate studies with L. Vlasenko and became an assistant in his class. After some time, Mikhail Pletnev there is a piano class at the Moscow Conservatory. Since 1981, he was a soloist Gosconcert, constantly expanding its repertoire, which included the works of different eras and styles.
In the vast performing luggage Pletnev, pianist, is a work of Bach and Beethoven, Scriabin and Shostakovich, all the legacy of the piano by Tchaikovsky, the recently discovered seven fugues of Grieg (World Premiere!) And Schumann’s Symphonic Études. In its asset – the product of the major forms of Haydn, Mozart, Chopin’s “Danse Macabre” – a paraphrase of Dies Irac for piano and orchestra by Liszt, Piano Concerto by Grieg, Liszt, Rachmaninoff. Particularly noteworthy Pletnevskie interpretation, his transcription for piano works by Tchaikovsky.
Pletnev appears on the stage not only as a soloist, but also as an ensemble player in partnership with clarinettist Michael Collins, as part of a quintet of soloists Rossiyskogo National Orchestra. Thank virtuoso pianist firmly entrenched for Mikhail Pletnev with most of his first speeches. It is compared to Horowitz, Mekelandzheli. “The main thing for Pletnev – idea, thought – believes the music critic of F. Fahmy, – to think for him – so do. Strongly constructive logic, this pianist subordinates all. And even his brilliant technique as it fades into the background … “interpretations performed Pletnev works to conquer his emotional depth and spirituality, a bright personality and perfection.
Passionate temperament Pletnev is behind some external asceticism, but it is deep psychology, characteristic of his game, able to keep the audience in breathless attention. He has been a constant success on tour in Russia and abroad.
Pletnev, pianist, played with remarkable conductors, such as Abbado, . Ashkenazi, . Barshay, . Blomsted, . Gatti, . Gergiev, . Giulini, . Inoue, . Maazel, . Nagano, . Pesek, . Slatkin, . Telemann, . Fedoseev, . Haitink, . Shiloh, . Jarvi etc., . with world-class ensembles: Berlin, . Munich, . Israel, . London, . Czech, . Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, . French National Orchestra, . Berlin Symphony Orchestra, . Bayreuth Symphony Orchestra, . Copenhagen Festival Orchestra, . Symphony Orchestra of San Francisco, . Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, . Symphony Orchestra of Santa Cecilia, . Chamber Orchestra of Europe,
In May 1995, Pletnev made in Berlin with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra under K. Sanderling in a concert to mark the 50 th anniversary of Victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.
M. Pletnev gives regular recitals throughout Europe, Japan and the U.S.. He knows music lovers in Amsterdam, London, Paris, Rome, Vienna, Copenhagen, Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Bonn, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Brussels, Milan, Zurich, Basel, Geneva, Lucerne, etc..
At take-off career, pianist Pletnev made his debut as a conductor (1980), and then served as guest conductor with many leading orchestras in the country. In 1990, the dream come true musician – to create an independent symphony orchestra. Music and the credibility of the human M. Pletnev brought his orchestra to numerous talented performers, instrumentalists.
Since its founding Rossiyskogo National Orchestra (RNO), and until 1999, Pletnev is the artistic director, chief conductor and president of the foundation RNO. Exactly one year after the establishment of the orchestra was made in the Vatican, the residence of John Paul II. In subsequent years, the famous band toured in the U.S., . Japan, . Southeast Asia, . performed in major music centers of Europe, . at music festivals in Rome, . Belgrade, . Berlin, . Vienna, . London, . Amsterdam, . Geneva, . Madrid, . Sicily, . in concert halls in smaller cities,
The orchestra gave many concerts at home: in Moscow, . St.Petersburg, . Samara, . Togliatti and other cities along the Volga, . Voronezh, . Vologda, . participated in the festivals of Tchaikovsky in Izhevsk and Klin, . Rachmaninov festivals in Nizhny Novgorod, Tambov and, . Festival, . dedicated to the 60 th anniversary of Alfred Schnittke, . etc.,
The chamber orchestra participated in the “December Evenings” at the Museum of Fine Arts A.S. Pushkin. His orchestra Pletnev brought into the category of the best symphonic ensembles of the world. In the program the orchestra are the masterpieces of domestic and foreign music: works by Tchaikovsky, . Rachmaninoff, . Rimsky-Korsakov, . Stravinsky, . Shostakovich, . Haydn, . Bruckner, . Beethoven, . Mussorgsky, . Liadov, . Ravel, . Scriabin, . Taneyev, . Lyapunov, . Weber, . Konyusa, . Delibes, . Prokofiev, . Mozart, . Rossini, . Brahms, . Strauss, . Schnittke, . Shchedrin, . Gubaidulina, . Artyomova …
The Russia National Orchestra under Mikhail Pletnev in a short time received widespread international recognition and is listed in the top ten best orchestras in the world.
This is the only symphony orchestra in Russia, who was invited to write on the known Western-European company “Deutsche Grammophon”.
Russia National Orchestra opened the front Pletnev, conductor of the truly limitless possibilities, allowed to blossom in full force to the conductor’s talent. In October 1993, MikhailPletnev, conductor London Symphony Orchestra, replacing the last minute sick M. Rostropovich. Almost immediately, a second concert was organized with the orchestra, where Pletnev acted as a conductor and performer at the same time.
In May 1994, in Berlin at the celebration for the withdrawal of Allied troops from Germany, Pletnev enthusiastically conducted the Berlin Symphony Orchestra. Maestro Pletnev invited to conduct many orchestras of the world. Among them: LA’s, . London, . Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, . National Symphony Orchestra of Turkey, . Radio Orchestra of Northern Germany, . Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Scottish Chamber Orchestra, . Birmingham Symphony and the Budapest Festival Orchestra, . Stockholm Radio Symphony Orchestra, etc.
Bright creative nature Mikhail Pletnev harmoniously manifested in his composing activities. He – the author of Triptych for Symphony Orchestra, the Piano Quintet, Fantasy on Kazakh themes for violin and orchestra, transcriptions of fragments of the ballet “Anna Karenina” by Rodion Shchedrin. “Prologue” and “jumps” from this ballet, he has included in the program contest named PI. Tchaikovsky and successfully performed in concerts. Pletnev pereorkestroval I and II of the piano concertos by Chopin, created a Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra, made a piano transcription suite from the ballet “The Nutcracker” and “Sleeping Beauty”.
In 1997, he wrote a classical symphony in 4 parts, in 1998 – Viola Concerto with the dedication SW. Bashmet. Premiere of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in a transcription for clarinet, Pletnev made specifically for M. Collins (UK), held in 1999. Traditional Christmas speech Rossiyskogo National Orchestra in the Tchaikovsky Hall in 1995 resulted in a performance-concert – a musical-choreographic extravaganza “The Nutcracker”. Mikhail Pletnev again surprised the music world, creating an entirely new genre of representation. Interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s ballet
The idea occurred to him in Votkinsk, the birthplace of the great composer. Production extravaganza performed in choreography S. Golovkina – Director of the Moscow Academic Choreography School. The orchestra and conductor M. Pletnev – magical Drosselmeyer – housed in the back of the stage and danced in front of them young ballet students with. Golovkina framed children’s choir “Vesna” (Head On. Ponomarev), and a magician with words. Belza acquainted the audience with excerpts of works of Hoffmann, Dumas, and M. Petipa.
Normally unflappable, Pletnev felt magician, plunging the room into the air fantastically beautiful musical fairy tale. Another student days, M. Pletnev recorded his first LP, released by Melodiya. This is carried out in studio recording of his competition performances.
Since then, many speeches’ pianist in various countries recorded the largest television and radio stations, released his cassettes and CDs. Piano album with recordings of Scarlatti (EMI – Virgin Classics, 1996), according to Music Magazine “Gramophone”, “this is the most beautiful game, which only can be. One execution of Scarlatti would have been enough to secure Pletnev a place among the greatest pianists of all time “.
His recording of works by Tchaikovsky, among which Pletnev‘s piano transcriptions of suite from the ballet “The Nutcracker” and “Sleeping Beauty”, included in the anthology Philips Classics “Great Pianists of the XX century”. CD “Homage to Rachmaninov” is written M. Pletnev, in 1998, near Lucerne, in the home of the composer, pianist, played the piano Rachmaninoff – a magnificent Steinway, which were sealed in a documentary film T. Palmer, Sergei Rachmaninov – Memories “(NVC Arts).
Since 1993, Pletnev cooperates with the firm Deutsche Grammophon; compact discs with recordings of the pianist have earned the highest evaluations of criticism. Recorded on the disc: piano concertos by Mozart and Haydn, Konzertstuck for piano and orchestra Weber, keyboard sonatas K.F.E. Bach, Grieg’s works, including seven fugues, “Rondo Capriccioso, Mendelssohn,” Runaround Dwarfs “Liszt’s” Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini “and” Variations on a Theme by Corelli, Rachmaninoff, disc of Chopin’s compositions called “the best record in 1997 “.
In the same years on CD-ROM company Deutsche Grammophon Rossiyskim National Orchestra conducted by M. Pletnev recorded: Six Symphonies, . “Italian Capriccio”, . “Manfred”, . overture-fantasy “Hamlet” and “Romeo and Juliet”, . fantasy “Storm” and “Francesca da Rimini”, . “Solemn Overture 1812” by Tchaikovsky, . Three Symphonies “Utes”, . “Symphonic Dances”, . poem “The Bells”, . “Slavonic Dances Dvorak, . Third Symphony, . “Poem of Ecstasy” and “Prometheus” Scriabin, . cantata “St. John of Damascus’ Taneyev, . Overture from the opera “Freelancer” and “Oberon” Weber, . symphony, “Baba Yaga”, . “Magic Lake”, . “Kikimora” Liadov, . Beethoven’s Violin Concerto arranged for clarinet M, Pletnev (soloist M. Collins), concerts Glazunov, Myaskovsky, Prokofiev, Kabalevsky, and much more
At the peak of fame and success of Mikhail Pletnev decided at the beginning of the 1999/2000 season to resign from the Artistic Director, . Chief Conductor and President of the Rossiyskogo National Orchestra, . claiming such a serious step to, . that the execution of administrative functions creates a certain lack of time, . and so, . that he wanted to concentrate fully on their creative work – the composer, . pianist, . conductor.
The team set up for him the title – “Honorary Conductor Rossiyskogo National Orchestra.
For great service to Russia’s musical culture Pletnev – one of the most brilliant artists of our time – was awarded the Order of Merit to the Fatherland “IV degree (1997), . awarded the title: People’s Artist of Russia (1989), . Laureate of State Prizes (1982, . 1993), . Laureate of the Lenin Komsomol (1978), . Honored Artist of Udmurtia (1979), . M. Pletnev – Laureate Award (1996) – “Best Pianist of the Year” (a kind of musical “Oscar”).
Currently, Mikhail Pletnev continues his concert activity. His performances are always of great interest and are held with great success, and the tour is not painted one year ahead. Mikhail Pletnev – a brilliant creative person, and most importantly, he – Musician with a capital letter.
Mikhail Pletnev has no rivals for the extraordinary creative versatility. He is interested in many things: philosophy, theater, reading newspapers, enjoys jazz, indifferent to soccer and tennis, is well versed in the technique. Speaks English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.
Many of today’s musicians are, on some level, self-taught. Some of us are mostly or entirely self-taught musicians, which has become increasingly possible due to the abundance of free information and increasingly-accessible tools/instruments available today on the internet. Unfortunately, many self-taught musicians have a shared weakness: music theory.
Before we dive into the music theory deep end, I want to preface the following information with a few thoughts and notes on the context of these lessons and how you can actually benefit from them. ‘Theory,’ by itself isn’t helpful, but tools and application of knowledge can be indispensable. I believe that most people fail to learn (or fail to remember) music theory because they try to learn/are taught the theory without relevant context or meaningful application. If I want to learn to play pop songs on my guitar so I can sing those songs, do I need to learn anything about scales? No, probably not – and if I try to learn them I’ll either fail out of boredom or I’ll forget what I learn because it isn’t relevant to my goals. If I want to learn how to write a great melody, on the other hand, musical scales are the building blocks for melody and harmony and this information is extremely valuable to understand.
I’ll do my best to explain why each lesson may be useful to you, but you don’t have to use every trick on this list. If there’s a specific effect from the examples below that you enjoy, use that lesson. Try adding it to your next piece, or try adding it to an old piece to breathe new life into it. If you like the effect and understand how to replicate it, it becomes part of your compositional “bag of tricks” and can be called upon later.
Enough context – on to the meat and potatoes! Today, we travel back in time to 1997 (yes, it’s been that long) to dissect the main theme from Final Fantasy VII. This theme is one of the more recognizable RPG themes ever written, and the motif from the piece is sprinkled throughout the entire Final Fantasy VII soundtrack which provides an excellent cohesion between the various different settings and events of the game. This piece is jam-packed with little musical tricks, so put on your learnin’ caps and buckle up. Ready? All right, everyone – let’s mosey.
Lesson I: Using Intervals in Melody Writing
Why this lesson is important:
A great melody is priceless, and Final Fantasy VII’s main theme has a simple, beautiful melody. Writing an effective melody is all about balance, and writing a balanced melody can be very difficult when you’re actively trying to write an interesting melody. What makes a melody interesting is contrast and balance between the different elements within. Intervals are one of those critical elements you need to balance, and if you struggle with consistently writing melodies that you don’t hate you may want to take this lesson to heart.
An interval is the distance between two pitches, but not all intervals are created equal. If terms like a “major third,” “perfect fourth,” or “perfect fifth” are completely foreign to you, I would pause here and watch this video by Joshua Taipale of Ongaku Concept to get up to speed in less than 8 minutes.
I could write pages on this topic, but for the sake of pacing and attention spans I’m going to zero in on the first part of the main melody of this piece and how intervals are being used intelligently. Within a melody, you can move from one note to another either by a step or a skip. Stepwise motion is when the distance between two notes is either a major or minor 2nd interval apart. If looking at a keyboard, if you were to play all of the white keys in ascending order you would be playing in ascending, stepwise motion. To put it another way, if the letter names of two notes are next to each other in the alphabet, it’s a step. Any interval larger than that would be considered a skip.
As a general guideline, melodies should contain mostly stepwise motion. The following 4-bar excerpt contains the main melodic material that the entire piece is built on, including the main motive of the game which appears in many forms throughout this piece and several others. The red lines indicate steps and the blue lines indicate skips. As you can see, this melody contains mostly steps but uses skips sparingly to create the most interesting moments of the melody:
The red lines are “steps,” and the blue lines are “skips”.
There are a few things that this accomplishes. First, it creates contrast within the melody by using a balance of mostly-stepwise intervals and a few intelligently-placed skips. If you wrote a melody that only used steps it would be more susceptible to sounding boring or predictable. If you wrote a melody that only used skips, it would generally be less appealing to most listeners because their ears would have a hard time following the sporadic motion as the melody jumped up and down all over the place. The phrases “variety is the spice of life,” and “everything in moderation,” should both be remembered when writing a melody. For more supporting evidence, listen to the first major melodic phrase of the Star Wars theme (9 steps, 6 skips) by John Williams or the first phrase of Nascence from Journey (12 steps, 5 skips) by Austin Wintory.
Another way to effectively use intervals is to emphasize a specific interval that is less common, more colorful, or larger than the rest. The first two measures of that same excerpt contains the main musical idea that echoes throughout this piece in different forms and creeps its way into several other tracks on the game. The interval between the first and fourth notes are the most prominent/important of the phrase and, arguably, the entire soundtrack. What interval does Uematsu use at the center of the game’s most frequently-heard track, reoccurring musical idea, and – as a result – the hero’s theme? A major 7th, of course. See what he did there?
The most prominent musical idea in Final Fantasy 7 is built around a major 7th interval.
How you can apply this lesson:
Whether you start writing a melody by improvising or simply writing down the ideas that pop into your head, you should see how you’re currently intervals and be mindful of any patterns that arise. You may find that you’re barely using stepwise motion, or that you’re skipping all over the place. Some people unknowingly write melody after melody without ever daring to use intervals larger than a 3rd or 4th, which is the equivalent of painting with only half of the color palette. Unless you’re incredibly clever, using the same intervals all the time will make it more difficult for new melodies to sound distinct from the rest. You can also proactively choose a specific interval to highlight something specific in a video game, like a character’s theme, a dramatic event, or specific emotion that recurs throughout the game.
Lesson II: Basics of Keys, Scales, and which Chords to Use
Why this lesson is important:
If you’re a painter, you need to know which colors work together well. Music is similar, and if you haven’t had any formal music training you may struggle to find which chords and notes ‘work’ as you compose. By understanding a little bit about keys, scales, and the chords that fit together, you can quickly identify the most common chords available to you in the key that you’re writing in. In other words, this helps remove a lot of the guess-work that may leave you hunting and pecking at the keyboard until something sounds right.
This is kind of 3 mini-lessons crammed into one, but that’s intentional because they’re so closely dependent on one another.
The “key,” or “tonality,” of a piece of music tells you a lot of information before you even hear the first note. If I’m writing a piece in the key of A Major, I know that ‘A’ is the root or home pitch of the piece and the A Major chord is the ‘tonic’ or home chord. Most of the time, a piece in A Major will start and end with an A Major chord or note. The first chord acts as an anchor for the listener, establishing ‘home base’ in their mind before you take them on a musical journey which will usually end with a return to home, as any good journey should. This is another one of those guidelines that is not hard-and-fast rule, but you will find this to be true with most western music from pop songs to Beethoven symphonies.
In FF VII’s theme, the majority of the piece is in E Major and the sections written in E Major will be based on the E Major scale – which means that most of the musical material within that piece will be built with the 7 pitches contained within the E Major scale. As a result, the primary chords used in the E Major sections of the piece are chords that you can construct using those same 7 pitches of an E Major scale. In E Major, your scale contains the following pitches: E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D# and the chords you can build using those pitches are E Major (E, G#, B), F# minor (F#, A, C#), G# minor (G#, B, D#), A Major (A, C#, E), B Major (B, D#, F#), C# Minor (C#, E, G#), and D# diminished (D#, F#, A). While many songs and pieces stay strictly within these constraints, composers will often use this information as the foundation of their piece but explore musical ideas that reach past those limitations.
Most (or all) of a piece written in E Major will use the above notes and chords.
In the 40 bars of music that make up the main/most memorable sections of Uematsu’s piece (0:51 – 3:15 on the OST version), the melody adheres strictly to the pitches available in the E major scale. As for the chords, there is only 1 bar that uses chords containing pitches outside of the E Major scale in this section. Being limited to only 7 notes may sound… well… limiting, but as Uematsu has illustrated: You can color inside the lines and still make amazing music.
Now, all of those letter names can give you a headache if you’re constantly trying to remember which letters belong where. For this reason, roman numerals are frequently used to describe scale degrees and chord progressions. By using roman numerals to describe and think about music, we can focus on the relationship between chords, scales, and music and know that – no matter what key you’re in – those relationships stay the same.
For example, one of the most common chord progressions in pop music is I – V – vi – IV (upper-case = Major chord, lower-case = minor chord). No matter what key you’re playing and what note/chord you’re calling home, you can play this chord progression relative to your key. Thus, a I – V – vi – IV progression in the key of C Major would contain the following chords: Cmaj – Gmaj – Amin – Fmaj. The same I-V-vi-IV progression in E Major would be Emaj-Bmaj-C#min-Amaj. It’s way easier to analyze music and learn about music theory using Roman numerals because the Roman numerals stay the same no matter which key you’re talking about.
How you can use this lesson:
Whether you compose the melody or the chord progressions first, you’ll quickly establish a tonal center. If a new melody hits you while you’re humming in the shower and you run over the keyboard/guitar afterwards, you should be able to look at the pitches you’re using and determine which key you’re in. Once you’ve established the key, you know which scale to use and which chords belong with that scale as a result – thus eliminating the hunting/pecking method of randomly playing notes and chords until you stumble upon something that sounds like it might fit. You know what fits before you ever put pen to paper or hit the record button.
Lesson III: Cadences
Why this lesson is important:
Most music will do two things very well: create tension, and resolve that tension. Cadences help our music have a sense of resolution or finality at the end of a section or piece. If you’re already writing music, you’re already using cadences – you just might not know which cadences you’re using – and how often. This lesson helps you understand how to bring a piece/section back “home,” using a cadence, how you can trick your listeners and take them in an unexpected direction, and more.
A cadence usually refers to the chord progressions located at the end of a passage or piece of music, and will often refer specifically to the last two, three, or four chords of that music. There are a few different types of cadences that we can use depending on the situation or desired effect, but for this post I’ll be talking about two specific cadences that appear in the main theme from Final Fantasy VII.
An authentic cadence is when a passage or piece ends with a V – I chord progression. This is the most common cadence because it’s a very strong progression that sounds very natural to most listeners.
A deceptive cadence, on the other hand, tricks the listener by setting them up to EXPECT an authentic V – I cadence… but ends on an unexpected chord instead, leaving the listener hanging. A commonly-used deceptive cadence is the V – vi cadence, during which the listener expects to hear a I chord after the V chord but instead hears the music resolve in a vi chord. Not only are they tricked, but they are tricked and left to wallow in a minor chord instead of a happy, resolute major chord. Mwahahaha…
After building up the excitement of the piece for awhile, Uematsu uses a deceptive cadence to end a section on a vi chord. Since we’ve heard a V – I cadence with this part of the melody several times by this point, the vi is a total curve ball – which makes it interesting. More importantly, this minor vi chord sets us up nicely for the next section, which is much darker and more ominous than the rest of the piece.
How you can use this lesson:
Obviously, if you’re looking to end a piece or section as resolutely as possible, you should probably use the authentic cadence: V-I. Having said that, you should also take a look at how often you’re using V – I cadences in your music already. If you find yourself ending every single piece you write with a V – I progression, it might be time to do a little more reading on cadences and harmonic progression so you can keep things interesting. Also, gaming music is unique in that a lot it loops – indefinitely! This creates an interesting challenge, and knowing a bit about cadences can help you manage them more effectively to end sections, pieces, or lead into looping sections. For a great example of a unique cadence leading into a loop, listen to Barret’s theme. Pay close attention to the very unconventional cadence which throws a very desperate, pained emotion into the music for about 15 seconds before the otherwise positive-sounding piece repeats itself.
Finally, it’s important to keep the melody in mind when approaching a cadence to avoid a train wreck. Your ear will probably avoid this problem for you if you’re writing the melody and chords at the same time, but you don’t want to accidentally paint yourself into a corner with a melody that’s very difficult to harmonize at the end of a section. Regardless of how cool the last 2 bars of melody may sound by themselves, your entire piece may suffer if you’re forced to harmonize them with a weak cadence. This is especially important when composing the melody by itself before touching the harmony, as it will be more difficult to “hear” how a melody will lead from one section into another (Happily, I’ve found this to be one of those things that you can hear when you’re doing it well, but easily miss when you’re doing it poorly).
Lesson IV: Ostinatos (or, Ostinati)
Why this lesson is important:
If you’ve listened to any video game music, you’ve probably heard several ostinatos. Ostinatos are massively useful – especially in game audio – because they can act as an anchor for the listener while simultaneously driving the rythmic pulse of the music. Ostinatos probably made up a large percentage of early game audio, which needed to leverage repetitive rhythmic patterns to provide a harmonic progression while supplementing the percussion of the music. If you’re writing chip tune music, you may already be using ostinatos without even realizing it and if you’re aware of what they are and their function you can make more deliberate choices in your tracks. For more “modern” game scores, the function of providing an anchor – even for a single section within a larger piece – becomes a powerful tool to create contrast or provide a thematic effect without actually having a theme.
What is an ostinato, exactly? Basically, a musical phrase that repeats itself throughout a piece of music – usually within the same instrument/voice, and often at the same pitch. Ostinatos might take several forms, including a baseline pattern that repeats itself across a chord progression, a stand-out percussion phrase, or the left-hand piano part in a good old fashioned boogie. This may seem like an extremely broad definition, but hopefully a few examples can help reign us in a bit.
In Final Fantasy 7’s theme, we’re going to focus on the section that follows the 2nd video from Lesson III above. After Uematsu dumps us into a minor key, the piece transitions from a hopeful, lush sound to a very ominous, foreboding section. In my opinion, the use of an ostinato in the piano (OST version) or bass strings (orchestral version) creates most of the tension that can be felt during this section.
Not only does this little phrase reinforce the fact that we’re in a minor key, but it stays on the same pitches throughout most of the section to specifically reinforce the Emin chord (which is a “i” chord, using Roman numerals). In addition to reinforcing this new tonality, this creates tension throughout the section as the ostinato continues to reinforce an E minor chord while the rest of the music throws in chords like a crunchy-sounding Emin6 (an Emin chord, plus a C# note) or an F#maj chord.
Ostinatos are extremely prevalent in video game music. In the early days of game audio, the hardware limited composers to a handful of channels and possible sounds to work with. For example, the NES had 5 available sound channels – two of which were usually reserved specifically for the lead melody and harmony. That leaves 3 channels/lines to establish the harmonic progression AND the drive the pulse of the music. Yikes. Keep in mind that each of these channels were capable of playing a single note at a time, which provided an even greater challenge!
Lesson V: Borrowed Chords
Why this lesson is important:
As stated earlier, a standard piece of music will be composed almost entirely of the same 7 chords made of the same 7 pitches. While you can build an entire career within those constraints, with a little extra sophistication you can bring a little more color to your music by using Borrowed Chords. Basically, this gives you more chords to choose from when harmonizing a melody.
A Borrowed Chord is a chord borrowed from the key parallel to the one you’re writing in. Parallel keys are major and minor keys that share the same root note. E Major and E minor are two different keys that use two different scales, but they both use E as their root note. Because they use different scales, they use different pitches and – since chords are built with the pitches of the scale – they contain different chords as a result. The parallel key to E Major is E minor, which contains the chords E minor, F# diminished, G major, A minor, B minor, C major, and D major. Why not ask your good neighbor, E minor, if you can borrow a cup of sugar and a C Major chord for a little while? That’s what neighbors are for.
Remember in the last lesson when I said that Uematsu uses chords in E Major for the main sections of the piece with the exception of 1 bar? In that single bar, he adds a little magic by harmonizing the melody with chords borrowed from E minor. Boom. Magic.
So, why is this so special? There are a couple of reasons that this particular usage of borrowed chords is a fantastic example. Assuming that the melody was composed before the chord progression, Uematsu – whether he noticed or not – could’ve easily found himself painted into a corner if he didn’t know that borrowing chords was possible. If you follow through a textbook lesson for learning to harmonize a melody, you’ll first be taught to harmonize with chords that contain the melody’s pitch at any given time. If the melody is playing a C, the triad chord you choose has to contain a C.
If Uematsu chose to harmonize his existing melody with chords containing the melody’s pitches, he would’ve been limited to a small handful of options – none of which produce a particularly strong or remarkable chord progression. Happily, a lot of the rock music that likely influenced him used this technique and other similar tricks to keep things interesting.
How you can use this lesson:
Take a look at a piece – either an old one, a new one, or the next one you haven’t even started yet. Figure out which key it’s in, and then look up what chords are available from the parallel key. Remember – if you’re writing in C Major, the parallel key is in C minor. A quick Google search will help you find a list of the chords available in that parallel key. Next, figure out which chords you’ve been using behind your melodies and experiment with substituting chords from the parallel key – especially when you feel like the chord progression could stand to be a little stronger.
Lesson VI: Common-tone Modulation
Why this is important:
You could write music for years without ever using modulation, but adding a modulation – or key change – to a piece of music creates a very dramatic effect. You can use a modulation to create an epic, rising effect (see Lesson VII). Alternatively, you can use a modulation to go from a major (happy-sounding) key to a minor (sad/ominous-sounding key) as Uematsu did in Lesson III, where he uses a deceptive cadence to pivot us into a minor key. Regardless, the use of modulations in music is not only common amongst great composers and song writers – it’s fun and interesting! A very easy-to-use technique for modulation is called common-tone modulation, and so we’ll start there.
Imagine that your favorite TV show has just aired its series finale, and the network has decided to produce a spin-off show that – while belonging to the same genre as the original show – is very different than what you’re used to. How do they pull off these new shows without losing the entire audience from the original series, thus avoiding the need to start over from scratch? By leveraging a character who existed in the first series and will continue on in the second series. This character provides an anchor of familiarity and a point of reference for the new series, and a common-tone modulation works in a similar fashion.
Modulation, as I stated earlier, occurs when the tonal center of a piece of music changes. This results in the use of a new root note, scale, and set of chords as per Lesson II above. While this effect can be totally awesome to use in your music, you shouldn’t just dump your listeners into a new key without an anchor or some sense of familiarity. That would be very jarring and unpleasant to listen to, even if the average listener can’t articulate why it’s unpleasant. If you don’t want your modulation to sound like you accidentally played a wrong chord and decided to run with it, you need to use an anchor to pivot your piece into the new key.
In a common-tone modulation, you leverage a repeated or sustained note from the original key as a bridge to carry the music into a new key which also contains that note. For example, if you’re in the key of C major and ending a section with a C major chord, you may modulate into G major by way of the G note, which is found in both the C major chord and the G major chord. In OST version of Final Fantasy VII’s theme, a commom-tone modulation is used to raise the piece from Emajor into Gmajor, by using B as the common-tone.
How you can use this lesson:
This technique isn’t rocket surgery, but it’s very effective so long as you’re using it very deliberately. To begin using this technique, I would recommend choosing (or writing) a piece of music with a strong melody or a very catchy ostinato (think Jenova). This technique works well with both looping- and scored/cued music that may accompany a scene, trailer, or event in the game. Because video game music is short-form music by nature, the modulation point should be chosen very carefully and would best be used to transition to a new section or to repeat an existing section of music as Uematsu did with the above excerpt. By modulating and repeating the exact same musical material in a new key, an emotionally lifting effect is achieved while content is recycled in an interesting way.
Finally, keep in mind that – because most video game music loops – if you modulate to a new key you will ultimately have to modulate back to the original key at some point. Make sure to plan/write accordingly!
Lesson VII: Common-chord Modulation
Why this lesson is important:
As discussed in Lesson VI, modulation creates variety in your music – which is especially important in music that will be heard repeatedly throughout gameplay. The more tools you have at your disposal to keep it interesting for the player, the better. Common-chord modulation is another method for changing keys in your music, and if you’ve become comfortable with the other lessons in this post you have all of the knowledge you need to execute this technique effectively.
A common-chord modulation is achieved by transitioning from the original key to the new key through a chord that occurs in both keys. Just as a common-tone modulation uses a shared tone to anchor the listener through the modulation, a common-chord modulation uses a shared chord – called the pivot chord – to make the transition between keys.
For example, you’ll remember from Lesson II the key of E Major contains the following chords: E Major, F# minor, G# minor, A Major, B Major, C# Minor, and D# diminished. If I wanted to modulate to the key of D major, I could use any chord that occurs in both keys as my pivot chord. The key of D major contains the following chords: D major, E minor, F# minor, G major, A major, B minor,and C# diminished. This gives us two possible options for our pivot chord – F# minor and A major – because these chords exist in both keys.
For this example, we’ll actually be looking at the same exact place in the music as we did in Lesson VI – but not the version found on the original soundtrack. This time, we’re going to look at how that modulation occurs in the orchestral version. Recall that in Lesson VI above, Uematsu uses a common-tone modulation to make the jump from E Major to G major on the OST version of the track. On the Final Fantasy VII: Reunion Tracks album released in 1997, Uematsu collaborated with Shiro Hamaguchi to arrange this theme for a full orchestral performance. It’s a gorgeous arrangement with some additional ear-candy built into it, including the new common-chord modulation from E Major to G major.
BUT, that’s not all. The real magic is which chords they used as the pivot chords. Remember the borrowed chord example from Lesson V, when Uematsu borrows a bVI and a bVII chord from the parallel minor key to spice things up a bit? I’m not sure if this was by original design or a happy coincidence that was allowed to happen because of the keys Uematsu chose to use in the original soundtrack, but they were able to use the borrowed bVI and bVII chords as the pivot chords! It’s a little easier to digest if you see the Roman numeral analysis and hear the modulation in the video below: http://www.youtube.com/embed/PUyfi6KodzY?controls=0&showinfo=0&rel=0
See what they did there? In E Major, that same bVI-bVII chord trick we’ve been hearing uses C major and D major chords. The destination key of G major contains both of those chords (IV and V chords, respectively), and as a result they use the bVI – bVII chord progression in E major AND as a IV – V – I progression in the new G major key (an authentic cadence, as per Lesson III). Mind. Blown. Effectively, they combine Lessons II, III, and V in order to pull off the common-chord modulation. See accompanying illustration:
How to use this lesson:
Choose a piece you’re working on, or one that you’ve already finished. Decide where you’d like to place a modulation (perhaps repeat a section that already exists?), and use this Wikipedia page to identify the relative minor and closely-related keys. Choosing from these closely-related keys will be easier to modulate to, as they already share several common tones/chords. While using borrowed chords to modulate to a new key is a neat trick, it’s not necessary to try until you’re comfortable with a basic common-chord modulation.
Next, all you have to do is pick a key you’d like to end up in. Experiment by playing your melody/ostinatos in the original key followed immediately by the destination key. Remember that each modulation will have to return to the original key if your music is looping, so you’ll have to modulate twice.
Conclusion and Next Steps:
Phew! Still with me? That was a lot of information, and you should not try to implement all of these at once. Get comfortable with one new technique until you’ve internalized it before moving on to the next one. Just like in an RPG, it’s all about gradual progress and accumulating new skills, abilities, and Materia along the way. Take your time, and have some fun with it.
Final Fantasy game & Music
Final Fantasy VII is a role-playing video game developed by Square (now Square Enix) and published by Sony Computer Entertainment as the seventh installment in the Final Fantasy series. Released in 1997, the game sparked the release of a collection of media centered on the game entitled the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. The music of the Final Fantasy VII series includes not only the soundtrack to the original game and its associated albums, but also the soundtracks and music albums released for the other titles in the collection.
The first album produced was Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack, a compilation of all the music in the game. It was released as a soundtrack album on four CDs by DigiCube in 1997. A selection of tracks from the album was released in the single-disc Reunion Tracks by DigiCube the same year. Piano Collections Final Fantasy VII, an album featuring piano arrangements of pieces from the soundtrack, was released in 2003 by DigiCube, and Square Enix began reprinting all three albums in 2004. To date, these are the only released albums based on the original game’s soundtrack, and were solely composed by regular series composer Nobuo Uematsu; his role for the majority of subsequent albums has been filled by Masashi Hamauzu and Takeharu Ishimoto.
The Compilation of Final Fantasy VII began eight years after the release of Final Fantasy VII with the release of the animated film sequel Advent Children in 2005. The soundtracks for each of the titles in the collection are included in an album, starting with the album release of the soundtrack to Advent Children that year. The following year, Nippon Crown released a soundtrack album to correspond with the video game Dirge of Cerberus, while Square Enix launched a download-only collection of music from the multiplayer mode of the game, which was only released in Japan. After the launch of the game Crisis Core in 2007, Warner Music Japan produced the title’s soundtrack.
The latest album in the collection, Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII & Last Order: Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack, was released by Square Enix the same year as a combined soundtrack album for the game Before Crisis and the animated movie Last Order.
The original music received highly positive reviews from critics, who found many of the tunes to be memorable and noted the emotional intensity of several of the tracks. The reception for the other albums has been mixed, with reactions ranging from enthusiastic praise to disappointment. Several pieces from the soundtrack, particularly “One-Winged Angel” and “Aeris’ Theme”, remain popular and have been performed numerous times in orchestral concert series such as Dear Friends: Music from Final Fantasy and Tour de Japon: Music from Final Fantasy. Music from the Original Soundtrack has been included in arranged albums and compilations by Square as well as outside groups.
The incomparable Joe Pass plays the finest chord melody jazz guitar here before accompanying the equally gifted Ella Fitzgerald at an intimate concert in Hannover, Germany. There’s nothing finer to be found in the world of music. One voice and one guitar tells the whole story of harmonic and melodic truth. Sublime.
Pass found work as a performer as early as age 14. He played with bands led by Tony Pastor and Charlie Barnet, honing his guitar skills while learning the ropes to the music industry. He began traveling with small jazz groups and moved from Pennsylvania to New York City. Within a few years he had developed an addiction to heroin. He moved to New Orleans for a year and played bebop for strippers. Pass revealed to Robert Palmer of Rolling Stone that he had suffered a “nervous breakdown” in New Orleans “because [he] had access to every kind of drug there and was up for days […] [he] would come to New York a lot, then get strung out and leave.”
Pass spent much of the 1950s in and out of prison for drug-related convictions. In the same Rolling Stone interview, Pass said, “staying high was my first priority; playing was second; girls were third. But the first thing really took all my energy.” He recovered after a two-and-a-half-year stay in the Synanon rehabilitation program. Pass largely abandoned music during his prison sentence.
Pass was diagnosed with liver cancer in 1992. Although he was initially responsive to treatment and continued to play into 1993, his health eventually declined, forcing him to cancel his tour with Pepe Romero, Paco Pena, and Leo Kottke. Pass performed for the final time on May 7, 1994, with Pisano at a nightclub in Los Angeles. Pisano told Guitar Player that after the performance Pass looked at him with a tear in his eye and said “I can’t play anymore,” an exchange which Pisano described as “like a knife in my heart.”
In 1994, Joe Pass died from liver cancer in Los Angeles, California at the age of 65. Prior to his death, he recorded an album of Hank Williams songs with country guitarist Roy Clark.
Speaking about Nuages: Live at Yoshi’s, Volume 2,Jim Ferguson wrote:
The follow up to 1993’s Joe Pass & Co. Live at Yoshi’s, this release was colored by sad circumstances: both bassist Monty Budwig and Pass were stricken with fatal illnesses. Nevertheless, all concerned, including drummer Colin Bailey and second guitarist John Pisano, play up to their usual high levels…Issued posthumously, this material is hardly sub-standard. Bristling with energy throughout, it helps document the final stages in the career of a player who, arguably, was the greatest mainstream guitarist since Wes Montgomery.
Joe Pass in concert in 1974 playing his Gibson ES-175 guitar
New York magazine wrote about Pass, “Joe Pass looks like somebody’s uncle and plays guitar like nobody’s business. He’s called ‘the world’s greatest’ and often compared to Paganini for his virtuosity. There is a certain purity to his sound that makes him stand out easily from other first-rate jazz guitarists.”
He weaves his own fast-moving chords and filigree work so nimbly that it is hard to believe fingers can physically shift so quickly. Slight moustached, fairly balding, he frowns over his fretwork like a worried head waiter with more guests than tables but the sound that comes out could only be the confident product of years of devotion to the instrument… But it is when he plays completely solo, which he does for half of each set, that he comes into his own, because without hindrance of the rhythm section he can completely orchestrate each number.
Sometimes it is by contrasting out of tempo sections with fast-moving interludes, sometimes by switching mood from wistful to lightly swinging, sometimes by alternating single-note lines with chords or simultaneous bass line and melody-the possibilities seem endless. Luckily, there is a new L.P. by him which captures all this on vinyl, as someone has had the unusual good sense to record him all alone. It is called Virtuoso and rightly so.— Miles Kington on Pass in an October 1974 article in The Times.
As The Washington Post’s Adam Bernstein wrote in his obituary, Morricone “was impossible to categorize. His portfolio seemed to span every conceivable mainstream genre, including comedy, drama, romance, horror, political satire and historical epic.”AD
Bernstein also noted that Morricone “saw himself as a full partner in telling stories on-screen.” And that made him a rarity, not only as a composer who wasn’t content with providing wallpaper or easy emotional “beats,” but one whose music was great enough to take pride of place alongside larger-than-life actors and visual images.
Ask movie composers about their jobs, and most will say something diplomatic and self-effacing about simply being there to support the director’s vision; many will add that, if you are noticing the music, it means they’ve failed. The best movie score, they’ll tell you, is the one that doesn’t fade into the background but never stands out enough to be differentiated from the aesthetic and sensory world the film creates.
The audience can feel when that balance is off-kilter — when a too-lush musical score draws more attention to itself than to the people on-screen or when it pushes and prods us to laugh or cry on cue.
As gorgeous as Morricone’s music was for those directors’ movies, it’s the nine relatively modest notes from “Cinema Paradiso” that exert the most haunting power today. Giuseppe Tornatore’s wistful memoir about the small-town theater where a director fell in love with the movies feels painfully apropos when a pandemic has shuttered most American multiplexes. (It’s hard to imagine someone 20 years from now writing an elegiac paean to time spent scrolling through their Netflix queue.)
At a time when we’re missing movies more than ever, we’ve lost the man who captured that feeling better than anyone. But we’ll always have the achingly tender goodbye kiss he left behind.
Morricone rarely put a foot wrong in calibrating how much density, volume, narrative line and depth of feeling to bring to the movies he worked on. And, as often as not, he brought a lot, creating compositions that could elevate even the pulpiest spaghetti western or horror film. “Orca” might have been a forgettable B-movie about a ruthless killer whale, but Morricone’s exquisite theme for the film captured the grief and heartbreak that motivate the animal’s quest for revenge.
Similarly, the music he wrote for “The Mission” will last far longer than the actual film. In one scene, an 18th-century Jesuit missionary portrayed by Jeremy Irons plays the oboe in a South American forest, to the wonderment of the indigenous tribesmen who gather to listen. The scene is earnest to the point of condescension, but the piece Morricone wrote for it — called “Gabriel’s Oboe” — became one of his most enduring compositions.AD
It’s no surprise that Morricone’s most memorable work as an auteur in his own right was created in concert with filmmakers known for similarly ambitious visions: Sergio Leone, Terrence Malick, Quentin Tarantino. Over the course of his astonishingly long and varied career, Morricone wrote music for more than 400 films; although he received an honorary Academy Award in 2007, he won his first and only competitive Oscar in 2016, for Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight.”