Friday Favorites 11/15/2013

quartetA theme I’ve often pursued here on Older Eyes – Bud’s Blog is the love of music.  The love of music seems to come so naturally to me that I’m startled when someone says, I really don’t like music … or even, It’s OK … as long as it’s in the background.   Music has such power to lift my spirits … or even lead them into sadness if that’s where I need to go … that I can’t imagine life without it.   I’ve always been inclined to credit my Mom for my love of music, but is it the fact that she exposed me to a wide range of musical styles or just her genes that had me loving classical music in high school and jazz in college?  An article in Australian Geographic cites a new study that indicates that Your taste in music develops through experience, and is not something you’re born with.   The study also found that with practice, humans can learn to recognise the pitch of unfamiliar musical chords or instruments. Once able to do this, music they previously found unpleasant, or dissonant, becomes enjoyable.  In summary, you’re not going to understand music unless you make an effort.  It’s my experience that few adults who haven’t grown up with the love of music are willing to make that effort.

My Mom was an exception.  Like my Dad, she believed in being educated, even if college wasn’t an option.  She decided she was going to learn about classical music.  I remember an LP she bought titled, Classical Music for People Who Hate Classical Music.  It was filled with excerpts from easily accessible classical pieces like The William Tell Overture.   Later, she subscribed to a Time-Life series that sent a new classical recording every month so, when she listened, I listened and I reached junior high as likely to be humming the Grand March from Aida as I was Heartbreak Hotel.   Because I was familiar with a wide range of styles, I was open to developing my own tastes.  Mom liked powerful, bombastic pieces … I gradually gravitated toward Baroque music and smaller ensembles, even solo violin.  And I fell in love with string quartets.  Properly, a string quartet is an ensemble consisting of two violins, a cello and a viola … or a piece of music written for such an ensemble.  As such, loving string quartets requires that you love the violin, an instrument the sound of which seems to be an acquired taste.   To me, a beautifully played violin is one of the most sensuous sounds in music.   No?   Listen to this:

But I digress.  String quartets.  Joseph Haydn’s Opus 76 consists of four string quartets written around 1796 when Haydn was employed by the court of Prince Nicolaus Esterházy II.  According to Wikipedia, These quartets are among Haydn’s most ambitious chamber works, deviating more than previous quartets from the expected sonata form, and emphasizing thematic continuity, seamlessly and continually passing motives from one instrument to another.  My favorite is No. 3 in C Major, nicknamed The Emperor String Quartet because Haydn quotes an anthem he wrote for Emperor Francis II.  This is the second movement, widely regarded as an excellent example of scoring for strings.

Have a lovely weekend.

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2 Comments on “Friday Favorites 11/15/2013”

  1. As a classical singer who doesn’t have a lot of music theory under her proverbial belt, I can certainly attest to the bit about learning to recognize pitches in unfamiliar chords. The first two times I hear a particularly complicated or atonal/non-chromatic piece or section, I can’t fathom how it’s going to work together. By the third time through, I’m starting to see it. By the fifth, I’m getting it pretty well. Soon it seems it couldn’t possibly go any other way.

    This is a timely post. My sister just asked via Facebook for recommendations for running music. (Nevermind I don’t know who the hell she is, taking up running.) I submitted four hours worth of classical music to run to – Badass Classical, I like to call it. She nixed it.


    • oldereyes Says:

      I know nothing about music technically speaking and also have some difficulties with atonality, which usually keeps me away from many modern classical works and some more avant-garde jazz. I like melody, and as I get older, more often soothing or uplifting melody. And, oh, yes, sad melody.

      Back when I was a runner, I had a very eclectic running tape for my Sony Walkman. I wonder if I have the playlist anywhere.

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