#Writing #MusicMonday: the little prince – a ballet in two acts by The Cartesian Reunion Memorial Orchestra, composed by Lloyd Rodgers

Cover - the little princeLast week I said that Philip Glass would come up again, and as a positive point of comparison. Well, here we are.

I know almost nothing about Lloyd Rodgers, apart from that portion of his music with which I have had time to acquaint myself.

Well, that and the fact that all of his work, compositions and recordings, are explicitly dedicated to the public domain, no rights reserved(!).

I know what you’re thinking: “Okay, he’s a rank amateur, fiddling around with a part-time hobby, his stuff sucks, so he just puts it out for free because nobody’s going to pay him for it.” Or something along those lines.

And you’d be wrong on every particular. Rodgers has been composing, performing, and recording since at least 1975. His compositions, while modern (and thus avant garde to one extent or another) are clearly the work of a mind in comfortable command of music, and knowing what it wants to do with it. And it is of a caliber that I am sure he could sell it to that segment of the market that made possible the careers of Glass and John Cage.

It is solid, professional and, to my ear, very, very good.

Today’s work, the little prince, is the most classical-sounding piece of Rodgers’s that I’ve listened too, heavy on strings, though with a vibraphone bringing in a more modern feel than “classical” or the presence of a harpsichord might otherwise indicate. And given my fairly limited experience with contemporary composers, the only real point of comparison I can make as for sound and mood is an odd one: it reminds me, in feel, of Philip Glass’s more recent score for Universal’s original Dracula film (the one with Bela Lugosi).

I’m not even sure that’s a fair comparison. For starters, I like this album very much, but my one experience with Glass’s Dracula score led me to dislike it — although that was probably mostly because it was badly mixed on the DVD I was watching, frequently overriding the dialogue and ambient sounds in the film. Music wise, however, the two feel related to me.

Another thing that might be keeping me from full appreciation of the little prince is that I have zero familiarity with the children’s book that inspired it.

Nevertheless, this is nearly an hour of truly excellent modern classical music, and it is entirely in the public domain thanks to the composer.

(I’ll note that I’m the one who explicitly put the CC0 license on it, but as Rodgers’s site puts everything into the public domain, I’m only doing it for clarity.)

Download the little prince — a ballet in two acts by the Cartesian Reunion Memorial Orchestra free from the Internet Archive, or get it directly from Lloyd Rodgers’s own website in either WAV or MP3 form.


CC0

To the extent possible under law, Lloyd Rodgers has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to the little prince – a ballet in two acts.

#Writing #MusicMonday: Cylinders by Chris Zabriskie

coverThis both is and is not the first work by Chris Zabriskie I have shared with you for Writing Music Monday.

Zabriskie was one half of lo-fi is sci-fi, whose first album (of demos) I shared for Lyrical April. But this is his first solo work I’ve gotten to, despite all his work being Attribution-only.

Among the less obnoxious post-modernist literary types — you know, the ones who actually have something to say, rather than just posturing and expecting everybody to praise their superiority merely because they know how to sneer at everything — there is the idea that a novel, especially if it is experimental in any way, must teach you how to read it (or how to interpret it) in its opening pages.

So, for example, Catch-22 has, in its first few chapters, the story of The Soldier Who Saw Everything Twice, which very neatly encapsulates the madness of war, its effect on the minds of warriors, the utterly insane and useless ways authorities respond to those effects, and how soldiers not in authority must go along with the insanity in order to get anything at all, but not so much that they lose their own minds in the process. The one chapter is almost a blueprint of the entire novel, and prepares the reader for the madness that lies ahead.

This idea can certainly be carried over to film, where it is considered good screenwriting to have the first ten pages (and thus, first ten minutes) of the script be a sort of a primer for the audience for the rest of the film. The diner conversation in Reservoir Dogs is, metaphorically, an introduction to who each of the characters actually is, even though at least one isn’t revealed till the climax in fact. The opening of The Shawshank Redemption puts you in the position of every character in the movie except for Andy Dufresne, not knowing whether he’s cold-blooded or merely aloof, so that once you learn that he’s actually the most honest man in the story, you also have the heartbreak of realizing that by the time you learn it for certain, you realize he’s been corrupted (to an extent) as well.

This notion of a work of art teaching you how to appreciate it, within itself, very definitely applies to Zabriskie’s Cylinders. The first track is light, and almost sounds like someone just noodling around on the piano. And yet, every track that follows builds upon it, building up and out, priming and preparing the listener for what is to come, to the point that when “Cylinder Six” plays, it’s a viscerally thrilling experience, even though considered on its own, it’s hardly a romantic sweep, nor a crescendo of any kind. But taken in context of the rest of the album, it has the goose-bump feel of sudden revelation and release. And each track that follows just keeps building further.

The Free Music Archive page compares this album to Philip Glass and John Cage. I don’t care for the Cage comparison, but the Glass one is apt (and I’ll be using Glass as a reference point again next week). I don’t personally care for Glass’s work, or the part of it that I know, but the influence is definitely there, and what Zabriskie does with it is very much, very much to my liking. It takes some listening and getting used to, if you don’t go on sonic explorations very much. But the result is well worth the time you invest in listening.

Download Cylinders by Chris Zabriskie free from the Free Music Archive, or get it for one dollar (or as much more as you care to pay) from BandCamp.



Cylinders by Chris Zabriskie is licensed under an Attribution License.

Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://chriszabriskie.com/licensing.

#Writing #MusicMonday: De Luces y de Sombras by Jose Travieso

JoseTravieso-DeLucesYDeSombrasfrontAfter noting two weeks ago that I share very little classical music, I’m now flooding you with it, with a second album of solo classical piano in less than a month.

But it’s really good. Maybe not Bach good, but still good.

I’ve only shared one work by Jose Travieso before, the classical-mixed-with-avant garde album No More Faith (and because I’m still on strike against Jamendo, you can get it directly from the Internet Archive, too), an album I still think of very fondly, despite not having it in my listening rotation for some time.

This album, though, as I said, is pure solo piano, and doesn’t have any of the experiments with noise that No More Faith did.

De Luces y de Sombras (which translates to “From Light and Shadows”) is a gentle, contemplative piece that starts in silence and only slowly grows in your awareness.

The first movement, “Memories from the Beginning of Time”, quite literally starts in silence, and slowly sneaks up on you. This is not a track to play to drown out background noise until the crescendo at the very end.

The third piece, “The Gap”, is one of the ones I mean when I call the album contemplative. It has a distinct direction, but it ebbs and flows and ponders around even as it continues to its destination.

The final piece, which translates to “Broken Wings? Well walk!”, is a perfect capstone to the album, wistful and uplifting at the same time.

It is a short album, around thirty-four minutes, but it is exquisite.

Download De Luces Y De Sombras by Jose Travieso free from the Internet Archive, or get it directly from Travieso’s official site.


Creative Commons License
De Luces y de Sombras by Jose Travieso is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

#Writing #MusicMonday: Invent the Universe by Stellardrone

Cover“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

— Carl Sagan

And once again I bring you Stellardrone, the Lithuanian synth composer and musician whose Vangelis-inspired work puts him into my heavy writing rotation.

As with all of his other work, this album works both as pure background music, or as inducement to a reverie of exploring the cosmos. Virtually all of Stellardrone’s releases make explicit reference to Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, and this one is no different, with the above quote turning up at the most enthralling possible moment in the opening track. The rest of the album could easily back Sagan’s exploration of the universe in his “spaceship of the imagination”.

At this point, he’s only got two albums left that I’ve not shared, so I sincerely hope he puts out some new work soon!

Download Invent the Universe free from the Internet Archive, or get it from Bandcamp and send some well-deserved money Stellardrone’s way.


Creative Commons License
Invent the Universe by Stellardrone is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

#Writing #MusicMonday: The Open Goldberg Variations performed by Kimiko Ishizaka

Kimiko Ishizaka - J.S. Bach- -Open- Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 (Piano) - OGV-CD2-0It might seem a bit odd that I’ve not shared much in the way of classical music for Music Mondays.

It isn’t that I don’t like classical, because I do. Not to the depth and extent that I love jazz, I grant you, but my appreciation of Verdi, Tchaikovsky, and Rachmaninoff is boundless, and I also generally love Mahler and Beethoven, and others. I need to be in a receptive mood for it, which is not every day, but there is plenty of music I’ve shared for which I am much more rarely in the mood.

No, there have been two basic problems that have hindered my sharing much in the way of great classical works.

First, part of my mission with Music Mondays is to seek out the new and unknown, to share things with you that you all but certainly would not have encountered otherwise. That’s not a hard and fast rule, mind, but it’s the way that I lean when I search out music to share here.

Second, while virtually all music thought of as “classical” is in the public domain, recordings of it are definitely not. Even when Creative Commons artists take on classical pieces, they largely release them under unfree licenses, with Non-Commercial and/or No Derivatives restrictions. Which, to me, is passing strange, but that’s how it tends to be.

There are, however, a few exceptions to that rule.

Meet Kimiko Ishizaka, classical pianist. In 2012 she ran a successful crowdfunding campaign through Kickstarter to fund the recording and release of her performing Johann Sebastian Bach’s The Goldberg Variations, with the full recording being released directly to the public domain through the use of the Creative Commons Zero license.

This project became The Open Goldberg Variations, and if you’ve never invested the time or money needed in exploring classical music, it’s a very good starting point. If you’re already a fan, listen to the recording anyhow. I’m not an expert in classical piano, not at all, yet it strikes me as an excellent recording and personal interpretation of one of the standard sets of works.

Download The Open Goldberg Variations free from the Internet Archive, or pay what you like (including nothing) to get it through BandCamp, and reward Ishizaka for her work and her dedication to freeing this music for everybody.


CC0 license

The Open Goldberg Variations performed by Kimiko Ishizaka is licensed under a CC0 1.0 Universal license dedicating it to the public domain, no rights reserved.

#Writing #MusicMonday: Lines by UP (Pasqualino Ubaldini and Paolo Pavan)

CoverPaolo Pavan and Pasqualino Ubaldini are, separately, two of the best jazz artists working in the Creative Commons.

I’ve previously shared two of Pavan’s albums, Inside and The Swing Of Things, and one by Ubaldini, Metissage.

However, to the delight of myself, if nobody else, they also team up and collaborate, creating sounds that are wholly different from their solo works, and they do it under the name of UP. Their first collaboration, which I shared previously as well, was an eponymous release that had a wide an eclectic variety of styles.

And that pattern holds through their second collaborative album, Lines.

The title track is upbeat, borderline-smooth jazz. The second track, “Nije”, has an early-70s fusion-funk jangly rough-edged synthesizers feel (makes me think of Ramsey Lewis a bit). Then the third track, “Talking about Petra”, goes into relaxed, urbane quartet cool jazz. That’s three tracks in, and it’s already all over the map. Yet, and of course, because this is Paolo Pavan and Pasqualino Ubaldini, it all works together brilliantly.

I’ve been waiting on posting this album a bit, because Pavan and Ubaldini have started up a new Creative Commons music site largely devoted to jazz, FreeSoundtracks.eu, and I was hoping to link to it there. However, it’s still not live yet — one imagines both men are just a little bit busy — so I’m linking to Bandcamp, where you get it under a Free Culture license, though you do have to pay to get it. But give it a listen on the site, and then try telling me it’s not worth it, because I’ll just laugh.

Download Lines by UP from Bandcamp


Creative Commons License
Lines by UP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

#Writing #MusicMonday: El Ultimo Peldano by Jaime Heras

UltimoPeldanoCoverContinuing my revisitation with the works of the now-retired Jaime Heras, I bring you El Último Peldaño.

As Heras explains, there are three original tracks, and the rest are remixes and reworkings of his early works, including pieces from the first WMM album of his I shared, Life in Bitville, which remains a personal favorite of mine.

This album, while having several pieces from Bitville, isn’t purely electronica. It wanders much farther afield than that. And while it has less thematic unity, the wandering also gives it a much wider scope.

You can read his own take on how the album came to be on the Archive page (scroll past the Spanish version to get the English), but in summary, Heras was asked to compose a few short pieces for a radio program called “El Ultimo Peldaño”, did so, then decided that they were strong enough to go longer than 20 or 30 seconds. So he extended those. In addition, the radio show used a lot of his older music, which he found gratifying but, like any artist anywhere, he began to feel they could be improved. So he did remixes and upgrades on those.

Thus, this new hour and nine minutes of quite excellent music.

Download El Último Peldaño free from the Internet Archive.


Creative Commons License
El Último Peldaño by Jaime Heras is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.