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Electronic Funk Jazz Mixtapes Podcast R&B Soundtrack

Re‧mi Do

Summer encounters.

Syreeta  |  I Love Every Little Thing About You
Mulatu Astatke  |  Mulatu
Omar  |  Music (What I Live For)
Lewis Taylor  |  Lucky
The RH Factor  |  Poetry ft. Q-Tip, Erykah Badu
DJ Mitsu The Beats  |  Right Here ft. Dwele
Chaka Khan  |  Love Has Fallen on Me
Georgia Anne Muldrow  |  Blackman
Aloe Blacc  |  Find Your Way
Sly & The Family Stone  |  Sylvester
Marvin Gaye  |  What’s Going On (instrumental)
John Williams  |  Theme from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”
Maze feat. Frankie Beverly  |  Feel That You’re Feelin’ (New Orleans, 1980)
Dorothy Ashby  |  Wax and Wane
Esperanza Spalding  |  Sunlight
Koop  |  Whenever There Is You
Don Blackman  |  Holding You, Loving You
Four Tet  |  Angel Echoes
Jazzanova  |  Little Bird ft. Jose James
Kool & The Gang  |  Summer Madness (London, 1975)

Mixed by El Mahboob, June 2012
Dedicated to Nina & Queen Peace

Re‧mi Do
‧ an affirmation to my daughter
‧ the first three notes of the famous musical signal from the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind
‧ three key signature areas (re for D/D-flat, mi for E major/minor, and do for C) where songs in the mix are grouped together. I’ve used the technique of harmonic mixing/selecting to unite or contrast songs.

The copyrights for these recordings are the intellectual property of the artists, though the corporations take the credit and the money. I own nothing. Support music.

Categories
Composers Mixtapes

Steve Reich Keys, a Mixtape, Vol. 1

The idea for this mixtape came to me about a year ago, after an exchange with an online friend. Steve Reich has often described the role of keys and chord cycles in his compositions. This retrospective treats Reich’s oeuvre as a meta-cycle of chords, by pitch matching one track to another where their endpoints share a common harmony (an application of the DJ technique of harmonic mixing).

Sometimes the shared harmony is present only for a few seconds, long enough to make a link. Sometimes the keys match; sometimes only a subset of pitches does. Occasionally, the voicing matches exactly, or the pairing otherwise exposes the uncanny in Reich’s rigour.

There’s no intentional comment or structure in the selection of pieces, which are usually single movements from a larger work.

No software alteration of the pitch of the original tracks was used. The pitch matching relates to the key signatures as written, performed and recorded.

Tracklist & Artists
(harmonies and/or keys at start & end points)
Timings factor in crossfades where applicable

0:00:00-0:04:37
Mallet Quartet, III. Fast (2009)
So Percussion
(G Lydian or A11/G in D; A11 leading to Dsus2)

0:04:37-0:08:53
Music for 18 Musicians, Section I (1974-76)
Steve Reich and Musicians
(Dsus2 in D)

0:08:53-0:13:02
You Are (Variations), II. Shiviti Hashem L’Negdi (I Place the Eternal Before Me) (2004)
Los Angeles Master Chorale, Grant Gershon
(A11/G in D)

0:13:02-0:15:17
The Cave, Act 1: West Jerusalem (May-June 1989), III. Genesis XII (1990-93)
The Steve Reich Ensemble, Paul Hillier
(G Mixolydian; A Lydian or B13/A)

0:15:17-0:17:46
The Four Sections, II. Percussion (1987)
The London Symphony Orchestra, Michael Tilson Thomas
(A Lydian or B13/A)

0:17:41-0:20:53
2×5, II. Slow (2008)
Bang on a Can
(A Lydian or B11/A; F Phrygian dominant in key of B-flat minor)

0:20:37-0:28:06
Different Trains, II. Europe-During The War (1988)
The London Steve Reich Ensemble, Kevin Griffiths
(F Phrygian; Gmin11/D)

0:27:25-0:29:59
Three Tales: Hindenburg, III. A Very Impressive Thing to See (1998-2002)
The Steve Reich Ensemble, Synergy Vocals, Bradley Lubman
(D dominant in G minor)

0:29:52-0:33:15
Triple Quartet, III. (1999)
Kronos Quartet
(D dominant in G minor; E minor)

0:33:16-0:37:41
Nagoya Marimbas (1994)
Bob Becker, James Preiss
(E minor; Esus7)

0:37:33-0:40:16
New York Counterpoint, II. Slow (1985)
Evan Ziporyn
(B Dorian or E11)

0:40:17-0:45:03
City Life, III. “It’s Been a Honeymoon – Can’t Take No Mo'” (1995)
The Steve Reich Ensemble, Bradley Lubman
(B Dorian or E11; D dominant in G)

0:45:04-0:55:06
Daniel Variations, IV. I sure hope Gabriel likes my music, when the day is done (2006)
Los Angeles Master Chorale, Grant Gershon
(E minor; D dominant in G)

0:55:04-0:59:34
WTC 9/11, III. WTC (2010)
Kronos Quartet
(Dsus leading to G dominant; D-flat sharp 11 in F minor)

0:59:34-1:06:25
Variations for Vibes, Pianos & Strings, II. Slow (2005)
London Sinfonietta, Alan Pierson
(D-flat sharp 11 or E-flat 11/D-flat in A-flat major; C11/B-flat in F)

1:06:25-1:11:29
Duet (1994)
The Smith Quartet
(C11/B-flat; F major)

1:11:25-1:16:11
The Desert Music, First Movement – Fast (1984)
Steve Reich and Musicians with members of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Michael Tilson Thomas
(F Mixolydian; D Dorian minor)

1:16:06-1:24:45
Vermont Counterpoint (1982)
Ransom Wilson
(D minor leading to G Dorian minor; Asus7 in D)

1:24:45-1:31:33
Double Sextet, III. Fast (2007)
eighth blackbird
(A11/E; A11, A-D dyad)

1:31:34-1:44:09
Piano Counterpoint (2011), from Six Pianos (1973)
Vincent Corver
(D major; B minor)

1:43:34-1:56:23
Come Out (1966)
Steve Reich
(B minor, approximately a quarter tone sharp)

1:55:44-1:57:59
Proverb (1995)
Theatre of Voices with members of The Steve Reich Ensemble, Paul Hillier
(B minor)

Compiled and mixed April 2012

Creative Consultant: Ashil Mistry

There is a version of this mix available which includes the complete track of Proverb. Send me a private message.

As part of the ongoing study and critical appreciation of the music of Steve Reich, this post falls under fair use. The copyrights for these recordings are owned by record companies ECM, EMI, Nonesuch, and Signum Classics, and not by me.

If you enjoy this music, please purchase the original recordings.

Categories
Archive Compositions

Madra, for string quartet

This work has had two incarnations. It began as Gram, a modular short score for variable instrumentation. It consisted mostly of single measures with repeat signs and a suggested number of repetitions shown just above. The title page indicated the score could be played by two percussionists and/or piano/synthesizer and/or string quartet. Performers were essentially invited to arrange the music themselves.

When Gram was workshopped by the Madawaska String Quartet, leading to an eventual premiere and recording, I was obliged to create a traditional score and set of parts. I gave the piece a new title, Madra.

It was at that point a fully realized, collaborative work. After several live performances it was recorded for commercial release. The recording plays below, followed by my notes from Madawaska’s CD prefab (available from the Canadian Music Centre and on iTunes).

Madra was composed in 1999 and revised in 2002, immediately after I participated in Madawaska’s composer workshop. Its title is also the first name of my maternal grandmother, to whom the work is dedicated. She was a farmer and schoolteacher in the Canadian West. I recall she would play hymns on the piano in Sunday school when I was very young and perhaps there is an echo of that here.

The quartet is in one movement with five sections: slow, fast, slow, fast, very slow. There are a number of audible influences on the piece: the repeating canons and modularity of minimalism; the polyrhythms and hocketing of Central and West African traditional music; and root-chord progressions from popular music. The harmony is diatonic, and there are measured amounts of harmonic stasis as found in some medieval vocal music and modal jazz.

With these influences in mind, all of the rhythmic, melodic and harmonic content is derived from the three-note cell repeated at the beginning. Symmetry is employed in a general way throughout, especially in the vertical construction of intervals.

When I presented the piece to the Madawaska Quartet, it had very few dynamic or expressive indications – in a naive way it was an “Art of the Fugue” approach to scoring. More than merely realizing and interpreting it, Madawaska has infused Madra with tonal colour and kinetic direction beyond what I could have imagined while composing. They have given the music a voice, and a sense of light and weightlessness.

performed by The Madawaska String Quartet
Rebecca van der Post, violin
Sarah Fraser-Raff, violin
Anna Redekop, viola
Amber Ghent, cello

Recorded by Garnet Willis, St. Andrew-by-the-Lake Church, Toronto Islands, 2009
Mixed at Noisetree Digital
All rights reserved

Music and composer’s notes copyright Bruce Russell 2012

Categories
Uncategorized

Crab Canons (On Six Notes)

I.

‘g/e’      c”/f’      b’/g’      c”/a’      b’/e’      a’/f’
c’/a       b/g        c’/f        g/e        a/f         b/e

II.

d”/b’     c”/f’     b’/g’     a’/f’     d”/g’     c”/a’
a/f         b/g       c’/f      d’/b      c’/a       d’/g

(2001)

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Uncategorized

Compact Canon (On Four Notes)

 

 

 

(1995)

Categories
Journal Memoir

There is no past, only palimpsest

I once asked Madra, then in her late 80s and living in a retirement home, to tell me stories of her early days. She told me, “I’m too tired.” After she passed away, I cherished the short memoir she had written earlier in her life, and I typed it up. It was about nine pages in all.

I spend a lot of time archiving and documenting my own life and especially existing musical output. It is ultimately of no value to anyone but me. And yet, I do want to have stories to leave, even non-narrative, experimental music stories. All of this is for my daughter, hopefully less self-revision than continuity reaffirmed.

I’m documenting a past I’ll soon forget, if I haven’t already. I have a lot of newer pieces and unexplored ideas to attend to.

At the same time, I don’t believe in discarding, in “moving on” as though time is so linear, nor do I want to create work that is just a rewriting, colouring in over old lines. So I pay close attention to the layers underneath. It’s a personal approach, privileged by the luxury of a relatively quiet life. I’ve been lucky so far in not finding the need to stage my own creative auto-da-fé.

My wife said, memory is an unreliable narrator.

In a sense, all memories are falseI think only the sounds themselves speak with any feeling of truth about a time and place. The thing about musical sound is that no matter the vintage of its origins it is always created in the present, if it is music we are hearing at all.

Categories
Composers Compositions

John Williams is 80

(Originally posted on sleepsong, April 21, 2009. Happy 80th birthday, Maestro!)

When John Met Igor

Older fans of traditional film scores and/or 20th century music will know this one.

And almost everyone knows the main musical theme to the 1975 film Jaws, directed by Steven Spielberg and his first major success as well as generally being the first acknowledged Hollywood blockbuster.

Saying the shark theme is iconic is like saying Obama got a dog; saying it is iconic is beyond understatement. It is one of the most viral musical memes ever created. It doesn’t need a ringtone to stay in our consciousness.

Last summer I heard small children passing Jaws along – still – at a public wading pool, 33 years after it was written. Spielberg laughed at composer John Williams when the latter first played the little two-note riff on the piano for him. It’s fair to say the theme – which recurs constantly throughout the film although it’s only a tiny part of a very sophisticated score – is just as responsible for the film’s impact on pop culture as the visuals.

Only true music geeks know that the theme (properly, a motif) builds into chugging, razor-toothed chords straight outta Igor Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps (“The Rite of Spring”). Le Sacre is a ballet score that famously – along with the “primitive” choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky which it accompanied – caused a riot at its 1913 premiere. The direction of concert music was thus notoriously changed, and Jaws is easily the most well-known of many film scores that were directly influenced by it, in this case over 60 years later.

For this post, I took a CD of the Jaws score – as originally recorded and conducted by John Williams in Hollywood with a small studio orchestra in 1975, and a CD of Le Sacre – as conducted by Igor Stravinsky in New York City with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra in 1960, and cross-faded and mashed them up them DJ style. We hears Jaws first, then Le Sacre at 0:33, then Williams swims back into the mix alongside Stravinsky from 1:18 until the end.

Spring Bites

I have not altered the pitch nor speed of either recording, letting them kind of wash up (ahem) over each other. I created this audio file in real time using my CD turntables – no desktop software was involved.

Williams was in essence sampling Stravinsky to create the underpinning to Jaws, the way a hip-hop producer might loop a drum break from an old R&B/funk record to make a new-school beat. Of course, hip-hop wasn’t quite born yet in 1975.

Categories
Journal

Nina

I’m blogging on my tablet from the Caribbean, sitting above the beach, looking north to the water through the palms. My wife is napping in our room. It’s a new calendar year, the last month of my 44th year, and there’s hardly been time to reflect. I wanted to update in late December, but that month was as much a blur as the months that preceded it.

I’m not the old me, nor the new one really. More alternate timeline than reboot. As always, connections are cyclical. For simplicity’s sake–it’s a fresh start in a fresh year.

Islam. Marriage. A new home, for a while. New family/configurations/potentials. We’ve arrived through struggle, conflict, ordeals, explorations, prayers and blessings. We’re both aware of how fortunate we are and are both very thankful, Alhamdulillah.

(Yes, I know the last time I checked in about this I was a secular humanist. More on the subject another time. The Darwin card has not expired.)

We are a we. A real we, like I’ve never had the chance to experience properly. It’s my third time living on our street (in Toronto) since the millennium, and yet that’s unimportant to note. It’s the kind of reference to my past I’m trying to minimize. As I said to my wife just today, “I didn’t come still in the wrapper.” It’s a challenge for her, and it’s tough for me to think in reinvent mode all the time. It works out the way it should: we didn’t get here without accepting the landscape.

It’s a beautiful landscape, and I’m not referencing my current view with that metaphor, though the view is part of it; the result of commitment to it. We got here together, and I’m confident that, InshAllah, we’re going to shape and build a lot together in it.

Her name is Nehal El-Hadi. We met almost three years ago. She comes from a good, loving family. She descends from a line of healers, academics, poets, politicians, nomads. She’s lived in several continents. She’s incredibly bright, funny, supportive. A wiki when it comes to books, culture, hip hop, fashion, journalism, urban planning and the post-human future. A super nerd, like me. Most importantly, she not only tolerates but appreciates my frequent, tic-like lapses into music monologue/humming/drumming. We do things together because we both naturally want to.

We watch sci-fi together. By mutual default.

Soul mate? I know, I gave up on that notion years ago. I’m more than willing to discover it as the product of work/years. I get to explore the possibilities with a beautiful woman who considers me an equal.

Nehal is already a great wife, and a loving/loved stepmother. She’s someone who will be a guide for me and for my daughter Aderemi, and I hope we will be for her. Right now she’s enjoying our honeymoon the way I am not, and so, update submitted. Happy 2012.

Categories
Compositions

Cadence Canon (On Eight Notes)

g’/d’     b♭’/d’     b♭’/f#’      b’/f#’       b’/e’      a♭’/e’     a♭’/c’       g’/c’
a♭/c       g/c          g/d          b♭/d       b♭/f#      b/f#        b/e        a♭/e

(2008)

Categories
Compositions

Chord Canons (On Seven Notes)

I.

g”/c”     c”/f’      a’/f’        e”/a’       e”/b’      d”/b’      g”/d”
a/f         e’/a       e’/b        d’/b        g’/d’       g’/c’       c’/f

II.

b’/e’      b’/g’      d”/g’      d”/f’        f’/c’       a’/c’        a’/e’
a/c         a/e        b/e         b/g         d’/g       d’/f         f/c

III.

a”/d”    d”/g’     b’/g’       e”/b’      e”/c”      f”/c”      a”/f”
b/g        e’/b       e’/c ‘       f’/c’       a’/’f        a’/’d       d’/g

(2005)