#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: 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: 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.

#Writing #MusicMonday: piano jazz by Andre zimmerman

CoverThis week, a bit more jazz, but different.

A Frenchman named Andre Zimmermann released this Attribution-only short album in 2013, and that is the sum total I know about it or the artist, other than what I hear when I play it.

And what is it that I do hear?

Something… different. When I first listened to the first track, “Duetto à Saint Ange,” I thought that maybe the album was mislabelled. It sounded more classical than jazz to my ear. And as the too-short album goes on, that classical mastery remains. Zimmermann is, I think clearly, a classically trained pianist.

Yet he marries that classicism to jazzy riffs gorgeously, and with something I can only call control.

It’s beautiful, utterly delightful to my ear. The utter mastery of technique married to the playful fun of jazzy exploration wins me over completely every time I listen to it, and I wish he would release more, under any license.

(Note: An Andre Zimmermann appears to have at least two albums available on iTunes, Expo 1: Jazz Conception and Expo 2: Jazz replique, and the clips I can hear on Rippletunes sound, to me, like the same musician, but with no actual info on either artist, I can’t verify this. And since I refuse to use iTunes, in part because of the licensing, I can’t listen to more than clips anyhow. But if you like this, you might want to check out the other albums.)

Download piano jazz by Andre zimmermann free from the Internet Archive.


Creative Commons License
piano jazz by Andre Zimmermann is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

#Writing #MusicMonday: Inner Mechanics by Peter Rudenko

Cover_2x_1_original[This is the last of my catch-up posts, and was intended to have been posted Monday, February 8th. It counts as my Valentine’s Day album this year, and yes it is late. There will be another post later today or tomorrow for this week’s album, and then I’ll be all caught up.]

Peter Rudenko is an extraordinary talent. All of his work is original, and all of it is just him on a piano, but it never feels like it needs more than that. (He does multitrack his recording to achieve his lush effects, but I don’t count that as a bad thing. Not at all.)

All you need do is listen to the very first track, “Peace Within”, to hear everything I love about him. Emotional, with overlapping complexities and a reserve that isn’t cold, but rather a bulwark against a greater flood of emotion.

If you like that, you need to listen to everything he’s released, all of it.

If you don’t… well, I don’t know what to say. We’ve got seriously different tastes, I guess. 🙂

Another thing about Rudenko that I admire is his very serious commitment to free culture. Everything he has released is under a Creative Commons Attribution license. Somehow, this hasn’t gotten him the notice that it’s brought to other composers yet, but it has gotten him a couple of IMDb credits, at the very least.

Download Inner Mechanics free from the Free Music Archive.


Creative Commons License
Inner Mechanics by Peter Rudenko is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

#Writing #Music Monday: Christmas by Dee Yan-Key

CoverDee Yan-Key is a German composer and musician who is incredibly prolific. He began posting albums to Jamendo at the tail end of 2012, and from then to now has released ninety-six separate EPs and full-length albums. He’s a one-man show, working purely through synthesizers as far as I can tell. And while the synths at times sound less than professional grade, his music is never boring.

I chose this album for a few reasons, despite it breaking my year-long streak of Free Culture music right before the finish line for 2015.

First, Christmas music isn’t Christmas music without some jazz in the mix, and there is vanishingly little Christmas jazz in the Creative Commons, at least that I have found so far. This album has moments that are undoubtedly jazzy, though it’s never going to make anybody’s all-time greatest list.

Second, it’s nearly an hour, and perfect for putting on in the background for gatherings or get-togethers. One shouldn’t have to be shuffling playlists every few minutes during the holidays.

Third, having listened to it several times, I think that Dee Yan-Key has a lot of potential, so getting his work out a little more can hurt nothing in helping him to reach it.

If last week’s share had a bit of the coldness of snowy winter to it, this week’s has some of the warmth of the fireside and an over-eager puppy excited at all the new things and new people happening around it.

Download Christmas free from the Internet Archive.


Creative Commons License
Christmas by Dee Yan-Key is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

#Writing #MusicMonday: Christmas Presence by Neil Dawson

coverLast week, we had an hour and 20 minutes of completely original, solo piano music. This week, I bring you nearly an hour of Christmas music that is a solid mix of traditional and original work, all done purely through a synthesizer.

Christmas Presence has a very definite New Age, Mannheim Steamroller feel to it. Except that I loathe New Age music; and Mannheim Steamroller, for some reason I’ve never been able to articulate, irritates me a great deal. Neil Dawson’s work here, though, I consider quite wonderful.

To be sure, it has a certain amount of that schmaltzy, cheap synth sound. But somehow I never mind it when I’m listening through. It never pulls me out of what I’m doing, makes me roll my eyes, none of that.

And he put a lot of work into it:

This is my second Christmas album, recorded in my home studio using a Yamaha Motif 6 keyboard for all voices including percussion. It took me nearly an entire year to complete this mix of traditional, contemporary and original arrangements and compositions. I hope you enjoy them!

It is, overall, entirely lovely and very much in the spirit of the season. Yes, schmaltz and all. If this doesn’t put you in the holiday mood, I’m not sure anything will.

And, really, I say “schmaltz”, but there’s a track titled “God Rest Ye Merry Exorcists”. Which is pretty much what you’d expect from that name, yet somehow also has moments that make me think of 1980s Hong Kong movie soundtracks (and I mean that in a good way).

But if you want a feel for what the album has to offer, condensed into one track, I suggest you give Dawson’s rendition of the “Carol of the Bells” a listen. If you like that, you’ll like the whole thing.

Download Christmas Presence free from the Internet Archive.


Creative Commons License
Christmas Presence by Neil Dawson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.