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Archive for the ‘Claude Debussy’ Category

[ATTENDED: December 7, 2015] Punch Brothers

punchChris Thile is a member of Nickel Creek whose last album I loved.  He’s also appeared multiple times on Tiny Desk Concerts (with several different bands).  And that’s where I saw Punch Brothers for the first time.

Punch Brothers are five guys–Chris Thile (mandolin), Gabe Witcher (fiddle/violin), Noam Pikelny (banjo), Chris Eldridge (guitar), and Paul Kowert (bass).  They play a sort of bluegrass, but with a lot of elements of classical music (their debut has a classical suite on it and now they cover Debussey live).  Other labels given to the band include “bluegrass instrumentation and spontaneity in the strictures of modern classical” as well as “American country-classical chamber music.”

That all goes a long way to not really describing what the band sounds like.

The five guys stood around one old timey microphone (like in the poster).  ANd they blew us all away. (more…)

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harperioctSOUNDTRACK: BROOKLYN RIDER-Tiny Desk Concert #44 (January 26, 2010).

brooklynThis is one of the darkest Tiny Desk Concerts I’ve seen.  Meaning it is rather poorly lit.  I’m not sure why it is so dark in the office–oh, I see that it’s 4;30 PM.  But this string quarter isn’t hindered by it (although they do remark on it before the final song).

The notes state that the quartet (two violin, a viola and cello) loves Debussy and Brahms but they also write their own music and have teamed up with a Kurdish kamancheh player (or as the one player states, a Japanese shakuhachi player and an electronics musician).

The first song, “Vagharshabadi Dance” is an Armenian dance written by an Orthodox priest named Komitas. And they are quite animated as they play it.

In the introduction to the second piece called “Second Bounce” (which is a companion to a Debussy piece, which they play next). Colin Jacobsen (violin) says that he based it on the way a super ball’s first bounce is expected but the second can go anywhere.  And the notes they play are often unexpected (and bouncy).  They’re also quite hard (the viola player (Nicholas Cords) says the piece hurts his hand).  That piece is only a trio–they wanted to mix it up a bit.

The Debussy piece “String Quartet in G Minor: 2nd Movement” is very nice.  It’s got a lot of pizzicato (from all the instruments) while the others play a cool riff.  Johnny Gandelsman (violin) sat out of “Second Bounce” but he gets some great “solos” in this one.  I don’t know all that much by Debussy, but I like this.

“Ascending Bird” is sort of their theme song–an arrangement of a Persian folk song.  It has some incredibly fast riffs (even from the cello (Eric Jacobsen)) and some interesting scratching on the strings.

Check them out here.

[READ: March 6, 2015] “The Monkey Did It”

I had just read a short story by Murakami, so I was interested to read this piece by Galchen, whose insights are, I think, spot on.

toricelliShe talks about Murakami’s latest book, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage and she uses the simile  that Murakami’s works are like Torricelli’s Trumpet or Gabriel’s Horn–finite space with infinite surface area.  And while I wouldn’t say that I thought of that myself, I would say that I have often thought that his stories seem so simple (at least in plot) but there is so much more in them.

I like the way that she talks about his books as having a plot that sums up pretty easily, but within the plot several other new threads are opened.  And they are more metaphysical at the same time.

In the novel friends vanish, but that is not the main plot.  Rather, Tazaki is haunted by the fact that his friends abandoned him some time ago.  His girlfriend Sara tells him he needs to figure this out.  So he sets off on a kind of quest.  Galchen notes that the girlfriends in his stories are always encouraging the main characters to do these quests. (more…)

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