Listening for work and pleasure

My listening habits vary. Occasionally I go through lean periods where I lose the spark and stop being curious, interested, and inspired. Curiously enough, these periods appear to coincide with a loss of creativity in the dance studio. I have yet to work out whether this pattern of activity is inevitable but it does happen from time to time. Still, it so happens that I am currently in a period of mass music consumption. I actually feel like I am struggling to hear enough; particularly new things. It got me to thinking about how I devise and perform music for the  dance studio, and how others go about it. Having spent a childhood playing mostly from printed music and learning  pieces (although mostly not what my teacher had requested) I now learn music almost exclusively by ear. But I don’t particularly learn melody by rote, I listen to the noises the music as a whole makes and then try and recreate them with a piano. In a way, the harmony and melody are mere byproducts of the overall waveform that I hear and reinterpret for 88keys. The biggest difference I believe is learning rhythms. These are what interest me most as a ballet pianist. Sometimes by re-articulating the harmony, ie playing discords, particularly in an ostinato pattern it reinforces the strength of the rhythm as the ear is drawn to it. Just as there are passages in Rite of Spring that could be mistaken for musique concrète or modern stuck-groove tracks. I’ve always tried to make the piano sound bigger than it is. My piano teacher at college always encouraged me to think orchestrally, assigning instruments to voice lines. Now I try and recreate anything I can on the piano, always thinking about the overall sound. I find my hands and fingers are usually ahead of my conscious thoughts. Sometimes they get it pretty close first time, on other occasions it takes a few more goes. It means you can learn style from recordings of authentic performers- pretty much from anywhere in the world. I’m hung up on Brazil at the moment and need to learn some more of the music from that massive country. It means you can listen to music being played over 100years ago from all over the world and learn it and bring it to the dance studio. And its the spirit of the recordings and music that makes all the difference to me. Good music is not necessarily precise, rehearsed, polished, or tonal. Similarly it is not just frequency, modulation, noise, or information. There is something extra that is hard to quantify and analyse, and even if you can only capture a little of it, then you are onto a very good thing.

So here’s some tunes for you. Hope you like them. Kamikaze and I double teamed at Reel Rebels Radio a few weeks back covering on the Cooking by Candlelight show. Please check it out below. More to follow as I sat in for Kamikaze himself last week as he is off cycling round the North of England and Scotland until sometime next week. Excellent!

Cooking By Candlelight (Reel Rebels Radio) 01.11.12 by Ferretboy on Mixcloud

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