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Béla Bartók and his music
Béla Viktor János Bartók (25 March 1881 – 26 September 1945) was a Hungarian composer, pianist, and ethnomusicologist. He is considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century; he and Franz Liszt are regarded as Hungary’s greatest composers.Through his collection and analytical study of folk music, he was one of the founders of comparative musicology, which later became ethnomusicology.
Paul Wilson lists as the most prominent characteristics of Bartók’s music from late 1920s onwards the influence of the Carpathian basin and European art music, and his changing attitude toward (and use of) tonality, but without the use of the traditional harmonic functions associated with major and minor scales.
Although Bartók claimed in his writings that his music was always tonal, he rarely uses the chords or scales of tonality, and so the descriptive resources of tonal theory are of limited use. GeorgePerle (1955) and Elliott Antokoletz (1984) focus on alternative methods of signaling tonal centers, via axes of inversional symmetry.
He rarely used the simple aggregate actively to shape musical structure, though there are notable examples such as the second theme from the first movement of his Second Violin Concerto, commenting that he “wanted to show Schoenberg that one can use all twelve tones and still remain tonal”. More thoroughly, in the first eight measures of the last movement of his Second Quartet, all notes gradually gather with the twelfth (G♭) sounding for the first time on the last beat of measure 8, marking the end of the first section.
The aggregate is partitioned in the opening of the Third String Quartet with C♯–D–D♯–E in the accompaniment (strings) while the remaining pitch classes are used in the melody (violin 1) and more often as 7–35 (diatonic or “white-key” collection) and 5–35 (pentatonic or “black-key” collection) such as in no. 6 of the Eight Improvisations. There, the primary theme is on the black keys in the left hand, while the right accompanies with triads from the white keys. In measures 50–51 in the third movement of the Fourth Quartet, the first violin and cello play black-key chords, while the second violin and viola play stepwise diatonic lines.
On the other hand, from as early as the Suite for piano, Op. 14 (1914), he occasionally employed a form of serialism based on compound interval cycles, some of which are maximally distributed, multi-aggregate cycles. Ernő Lendvai analyses Bartók’s works as being based on two opposing tonal systems, that of the acoustic scale and the axis system, as well as using the golden section as a structural principle.
Milton Babbitt, in his 1949 critique of Bartók’s string quartets, criticized Bartók for using tonality and non-tonal methods unique to each piece. Babbitt noted that “Bartók’s solution was a specific one, it cannot be duplicated”. Bartók’s use of “two organizational principles”—tonality for large scale relationships and the piece-specific method for moment to moment thematic elements—was a problem for Babbitt, who worried that the “highly attenuated tonality” requires extreme non-harmonic methods to create a feeling of closure.
The cataloguing of Bartók’s works is somewhat complex. Bartók assigned opus numbers to his works three times, the last of these series ending with the Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 1, Op. 21 in 1921. He ended this practice because of the difficulty of distinguishing between original works and ethnographic arrangements, and between major and minor works. Since his death, three attempts—two full and one partial—have been made at cataloguing.
The first, and still most widely used, is András Szőllősy‘s chronological Sz. numbers, from 1 to 121. Denijs Dille subsequently reorganised the juvenilia (Sz. 1–25) thematically, as DD numbers 1 to 77. The most recent catalogue is that of László Somfai; this is a chronological index with works identified by BB numbers 1 to 129, incorporating corrections based on the Béla Bartók Thematic Catalogue. On 1 January 2016, his works entered the public domain in the European Union.
Béla Bartók‘s Mikrokosmos Sz. 107, BB 105 consists of 153 progressive pianopieces in six volumes written between 1926 and 1939. The individual pieces progress from very easy and simple beginner études to very difficult advanced technical displays, and are used in modern piano lessons and education. In total, according to Bartók, the piece “appears as a synthesis of all the musical and technical problems which were treated and in some cases only partially solved in the previous piano works.”
Volumes one and two are dedicated to his son Péter, while volumes five and six are intended as professionally performable concert pieces. Bartók also indicated that these pieces could also be played on other instruments; Huguette Dreyfus for example has recorded pieces from Books 3 through 6 on the harpsichord.
In 1940, shortly before they emigrated to the United States, he arranged seven of the pieces for two pianos, to provide additional repertoire for himself and his wife Ditta Pásztory-Bartók to play.
All of the six volumes progress in difficulty, namely:
Volumes I and II: Pieces 1–36 and 37–66, beginner level
Volumes III and IV: Pieces 67–96 and 97–121, moderate to advanced level
Volumes V and VI: 122–139 and 140–153, professional level
The list of pieces is as follows:
Volume ISix Unison Melodies (I) (a) Six Unison Melodies (II) (b) Six Unison Melodies (II)Six Unison Melodies (III)Six Unison Melodies (IV)Six Unison Melodies (V)Six Unison Melodies (VI)Dotted NotesRepetition (1)Syncopation (I)With Alternate HandsParallel MotionReflectionChange of PositionQuestion and AnswerVillage SongParallel Motion with Change of PositionContrary MotionFour Unison Melodies (I)Four Unison Melodies (II)Four Unison Melodies (III)Four Unison Melodies (IV)Imitation and CounterpointImitation and Inversion (I)PastoraleImitation and Inversion (II)Repetition (II)Syncopation (II)Canon at the OctaveImitation ReflectedCanon at the Lower FifthDance in Canon FormIn Dorian ModeSlow DanceIn Phrygian ModeChoraleFree Canon
Volume IIIn Lydian ModeStaccato and Legato (I)Staccato and Legato (Canon)In Yugoslav StyleMelody with AccompanimentAccompaniment in Broken Triads (a) In Hungarian Style (for two pianos) (b) In Hungarian StyleContrary Motion (2) (for two pianos) MeditationIncreasing-DiminishingCounty FairIn Mixolydian ModeCrescendo-DiminuendoMinuettoWavesUnison DividedIn Transylvanian StyleChromaticsTriplets in Lydian Mode (for two pianos) Melody in TenthsAccentsIn Oriental StyleMajor and MinorCanon with Sustained NotesPentatonic MelodyMinor Sixths in Parallel MotionBuzzing (a) Line against Point (b) Line against PointDialogue (with voice) Melody Divided
Volume IIIThirds against a Single VoiceHungarian Dance (for two pianos) Study in ChordsMelody against Double NotesThirdsDragons’ DanceSixths and Triads (a) Hungarian Matchmaking Song (b) Hungarian Matchmaking Song (with voice) TripletsIn Three PartsLittle StudyFive-Tone ScaleHommage à Johann Sebastian BachHommage à Robert SchumannWanderingScherzoMelody with InterruptionsMerrimentBroken ChordsTwo Major PentachordsVariationsDuet for PipesIn Four Parts (I)In Russian StyleChromatic Invention (I)Chromatic Invention (II)In Four Parts (II)Once Upon a Time… (a) Fox Song (b) Fox Song (with voice) Jolts
Volume IVNotturnoThumbs UnderHands CrossingIn Folk Song StyleDiminished FifthHarmonicsMinor and Major (a) Wandering through the Keys (b) Wandering through the KeysGame (with Two Five-Tone Scales)Children’s SongMelody in the MistWrestlingFrom the Island of BaliAnd the Sounds Clash and Clang…IntermezzoVariations on a Folk TuneBulgarian Rhythm (I)Theme and InversionBulgarian Rhythm (II)SongBourréeTriplets in 9 8 TimeDance in 3 4 TimeTriadsTwo-Part Study
Volume VChords Together and in Opposition (a) Staccato and Legato (II) (b) Staccato and Legato (II)StaccatoBoatingChange of TimeNew Hungarian Folk Song (with voice) Stamping DanceAlternating ThirdsVillage JokeFourthsMajor Seconds Broken and TogetherSyncopation (III) (a) Studies in Double Notes (b) Studies in Double Notes (c) Studies in Double NotesPerpetuum mobileWhole-Tone ScalesUnisonBagpipe MusicMerry Andrew
Franz Schubert – Trout Quintet & Variations on Trockne Blumen & Piano Trio. Martin Helmchen, Christian Tetzlaff, Antoine Tamestit, Marie-Elisabeth Hecker, Alois Posch, Aldo Baerten. PENTATONE PTC 5186334 (2009).
Jean Reinhardt (23 January 1910 – 16 May 1953), known to all by his Romani nickname Django, was a Belgian-born Romani-French jazz guitarist and composer. He was the first major jazz talent to emerge from Europe and remains the most significant.
Reinhardt’s most popular compositions have become standards within gypsy jazz, including “Minor Swing“, “Daphne”, “Belleville”, “Djangology”, “Swing ’42”, and “Nuages“. Jazz guitarist Frank Vignola claims that nearly every major popular-music guitarist in the world has been influenced by Reinhardt. Over the last few decades, annual Django festivals have been held throughout Europe and the U.S., and a biography has been written about his life. In February 2017, the Berlin International Film Festival held the world premiere of the French film Django.
Stéphane Grappelli (26 January 1908 – 1 December 1997), born Stefano Grappelli, was a French-Italian jazz violinist who founded the Quintette du Hot Club de France with guitarist Django Reinhardt in 1934. It was one of the first all-string jazz bands. He has been called “the grandfather of jazz violinists” and continued playing concerts around the world well into his eighties.
For the first three decades of his career, he was billed using a gallicised spelling of his last name, Grappelly, reverting to Grappelli in 1969. The latter, Italian spelling is now used almost universally when referring to the violinist, including reissues of his early work.
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Thelonious Monk’s Harmony, Rhythm, and pianism (Part 1)
On February 28, 1964, jazz pianist, composer, and group leader Thelonious Monk (1917-1982) graced the cover of Time magazine, then America’s major newsweekly. Coming at the height of the civil rights movement and amid dawn-ing recognition for African Americans’ achievements, it was a true breakthrough into mainstream media for him and for jazz.
The moment was short-lived, with rock-and-roll’s ascendancy to cultural dominance just around the corner, but it was also well-earned: Monk had been producing extraordinary music—often under difficult social and personal circumstances—for almost two decades, and would continue to perform for another nine years.
Gnomic and inscrutable, he also magniﬁed, for better or worse, popular clichés about the jazz artist as insouciant, hipster weirdo—aspects played up in Time’s account, and undoubtedly part of the reason its editors had singled him out, for the moment, as jazz personiﬁed.
Yet despite the typecasting, Monk was actually an unlikely icon, musically and personally. Jazz comprises a cluster of genres bound loosely by a symbiosis of individualism, commercial concerns, and high art leanings, but even given this, Monk’s playing was in many ways too idiosyncratic to ﬁ t in to any niche. His music differed more from his contemporaries than theirs did from each others’. His small hands and distinctive piano technique often gave cause for his very skill and competence to be called into question, sometimes not without reason. Such perplexities complicated Monk’s reputation and that of jazz itself, which he was both part of and apart from.
And as if to enhance this otherworldly aura, after touring and recording almost continually from the late 1940s until the mid-1960s, he simply faded away. He stopped playing piano soon after his last record-ings in 1971 and retired into semi-seclusion for the last decade of his life. Yet both his musical legacy and mythic status have continually strengthened ever since.
Our own lifelong obsessions with Monk’s music started in the 1970s. It was a romance of recordings: the only performances we ever saw were on ﬁlm, and that was much later. For us back then, “Thelonious Monk” was an outré persona conjured by liner notes and cover art. The cover of one LP— Monk’s Music, from 1955—showed him writing music while perched in a child’s red wagon, donned in hipster’s garb and sunglasses; another— Underground, his last Columbia recording, from 1968—set Monk as WWII French resistance ﬁghter, seated at an upright piano in a barn hideout, with several open bottles of wine, a live cow, weaponry, and a captured Nazi in tow.
These manufactured images suggested ways for the public to digest the music: Monk as idiot-savant, genius-child, rebel-recluse—a collection of quirky, individualistic, American countercultural personas. But, however these images may have hooked us as teenagers, we could not fail to hear his music as indispensable. His deadpan playing, stocked with “scribbled lightning”, and jabbing, stabbing, amazing chords, textures, rhythms, empty spaces, and clusters, was riveting, at once instantly recognizable, diverse and unpredictable, and full of the divine laughter that made it both deadly serious and hilariously funny. It invaded our musical selves-in-formation and led to insatiable ﬁxation. Of course, we were among many trying to internalize Monk and make him part of us. This chapter harvests fruits of our Monk incubation, and the friendship built partly from it.
Here we also position Monk to represent the multiplicity of jazz, some-thing for which no one artist or performance is suited, and yet, for the same reasons Time chose him, no one is as well suited as he. Our aim is not so much to depict the dimensions of Monk’s style as it is to show what he was able to achieve on one particular occasion. We consider a renowned April 1957 solo piano recording of “I Should Care” (hereafter ISC) , a song composed around 1944 as a number for the boilerplate Hollywood movie Thrill of a Romance and known to the public through recordings by Jimmy Dorsey, Frank Sinatra, and others. It appeared repeatedly on the 1947 hit parade and was almost immediately adopted by Monk, (pianist) Bud Powell, and myriad other players.
Our choice of a “standard,” rather than one of Monk’s numerous seminal original compositions, is deliberate, allowing us to focus on the deeply symbiotic relationship between Monk and the jazz mainstream, a microcosm of the relationship between jazz and American popular music as a whole.
Monk’s decision to create a personalized, at least seemingly improvised (though in fact hardly at all) rendition of a popular song is itself “standard” practice for jazz. In general Monk’s taste in standards leaned toward the popular music of his youth, but he seems to have had a particular fascination with ISC: he recorded it at least four times for as many record labels, over a span of twenty years. Our chosen ISC is especially concentrated and allows us to frame Monk’s idiolect against the background of some of the era’s musical conventions and their milieu.
Jazz, Monk, and Modern Jazz Technique
Jazz and Jazz Analysis
In the United States jazz was long ago pronounced “America’s classical music,” a phrase used so often as to now elude original attribution. Many Americans regard this African-American form as a birthright and know it when they hear it, even if hard-pressed to say what it is that makes it “it.” Born in late nineteenth-century New Orleans, it long ago permeated global culture, provoking cultural responses by the 1920s in places as distant as Japan and China.
To have even a passing acquaintance with Western culture is to have some awareness of jazz as an idea involving musical self-expression through improvisation. Beyond the “jazz buﬀs” that live in every country, this awareness can be expressed in indirect, idiosyncratic ways: a “jazzy” turn of phrase in a Bollywood production number, a rural Japanese man belting Sinatra-style while fronting his local high school’s jazz band, or a lip-synching crooner in a Manila transvestite bar. These and thousands of other appropriations attest to jazz’s potency.
Jazz history is often described in terms of a series of fast-morphing eras (until a pluralistic stasis set in after the mid ’70s)—Dixieland, hot jazz, swing, bebop, cool, hard bop, free jazz, fusion, and so on—whose musics evolved but were also retained in coexistence. Throughout, it has been girded by poly-rhythmic, cyclical, repetitive principles tracing back to the West African music of slave ancestors, the dialects of song and rhythm in earlier African-American music (the blues, spirituals, etc.), the strophic ballad and popular song forms of Anglo-America, and the harmony and instruments of European art music. Jazz digested, synthesized, and transformed all of these.
The bebop style of Monk’s era was typically played by combos of up to six players comprised of piano, stand-up bass, drum trap set, and possibly electric guitar (all comprising the rhythm section) , fronted by saxophone(s), trumpet(s), or trombone(s). Most performances use the melody or “head’” of a popular song or a newly composed tune to launch solo improvisations stated over the tune’s cyclically repeated harmonies, which are rendered by the rhythm section in constantly changing accompaniment patterns.
Rhythm section members also take solos. Bebop players such as Charlie Parker (saxophone), Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet), and Bud Powell (piano) perfected a vocabulary of scales and patterns that brought out the color and quality of the “changes” (the chord sequence) while ﬂying far from the original melody.
Jazz is improvisation, and the image of the spontaneously creative soloist, playing instinctually, is powerful. Some players can and do spin off very different solos from take to take and/or from night to night, but most draw from a personal lexicon of phrases, large and small, that constitute a player’s style. The degree to which great improvisers plan their solos varies, and the line between improvisation and composition is ﬂuid. Aﬁcionados have always known this, but today the ready availability of myriad “alternate takes” by Charlie Parker, Monk, and innumerable others proves that jazz improvisation can be a highly calculated act. The ﬁxed, solo arrangement of ISC we selected is a case in point.
Jazz analysis, like all analysis, begins with listening, and is a multistage process proceeding from general stylistic features to consideration of players’ own styles, and ﬁnally to the details of a performance.
Knowledgeable listeners weigh a critical mass of musical markers including instrumentation, form, harmony, tempo, and rhythmic subdivision to identify and appreciate individual players. Even should such a listener ﬁrst hear a recording of ISC “blind-folded”—that is, without being told who is playing—and fail to recognize Monk’s musical signatures, he or she could still place the music at circa 1945-1965. This was an era encompassing related styles (bebop, cool, West Coast, and more) that we refer to for convenience as the era of modern jazz.
The integrity of any durable genre rests on the tensile strength of its basic principles; Monk’s relationship to modern jazz is a characteristic one of testing these strengths. Among the features relevant to this performance are certain types of harmonic and rhythmic complexity seen in relation to musical form, and a range of ways of laying these out on the piano keyboard. To analyze ISC in terms of these features, we will ﬁrst survey their treatment in the genre. Then it can emerge how Monk mobilizes rhythm (especially ﬂ fluctuations of tempo) and harmony on the one hand, while retaining form and melody on the other, to create a layered, asymmetrical reading of this standard song.
We later refer to a full transcription (ﬁgures 4.5 and 4.6) through which we can ﬁ x the performance in our minds at a glance. But even though we made every eﬀort to make it accurate in pitch and harmony (though one can never be sure) and urge the reader to play it, not even a note-perfect performance will make it sound like Monk. This is because he plays with an embodied hand and ﬁnger pianism that even neurological and psychological description could hardly capture, let alone conventional music notation.
Monk’s touch at the keyboard vividly shapes surface rhythm and the envelope of the sound—its attack and decay contour. Playing it is worth doing, how-ever, to encounter the sonic diversity of his style and wealth of unexpected piano sonorities.
Form and Fusion
ISC is composed in one of a small number of easily recognizable thirty-two-measure popular song types of the era (the top staff of ﬁgure 4.1 gives the melody). It consists of two sixteen-measure periods that are parallel, in the sense that the ﬁrst eight measures of each are identical and the second eight differ. This can be thought of formally as ABAC, in which each letter designates eight bars of melody and chords (actually the very ﬁrst measures of B and C are also the same). Songs of this genre were written to be recorded by professionals and, if successful, were published as sheet music for amateurs.
The sheet music arrangements, distributing the tones of the chords in various ways on the keyboard, were dispensable, but the harmonies were also represented by shorthand chord symbols (about which more below).
A lead sheet consisting of these symbols over a single staff with the notated melody circulated among jazz players; a version of this can be seen by combining the top staff of ﬁgure 4.1 with the ﬁrst row of symbols below the second staff. This version is from The Real Book, a latter-day “fake book” (originally a samizdat anthology of lead sheets for standard tunes and modern jazz compositions).
The “double period” form of ISC stems from European models. In non-jazz performances, such as for ﬁlm or singers’ nightclub acts, the songs last only as long as their words; that is, the music is read oﬀ the arranger or com-poser’s notation and repeated (with preplanned small variants) as many times as necessary to sing the entire lyric. This is as it would be in many a Brahms Lied or an aria da capo in Mozart opera.
But jazz is a deep fusion of European and African music. This integration of independent, but in many ways compatible, musical systems was not only an ingenious cultural project directly contradicting the segregated social realities of America, but could be seen as providing that society with a compelling model of how to overcome those difficulties.
Jazz harmony has roots in African melody based on ﬂexible, unstandardized ﬁ ve- or seven-tone scales, but it acquired new depth of ﬁeld (the range of colors and sensations of unique relation to a stabilizing “tonic” center that harmony evokes) by ingesting Europe’s twelve-tone chromatic scale and its system of functional harmonic progressions. At a time when European composers largely eschewed it, jazz took up the mantle of enriching functional harmony.
Figure 4.1. Melody and four harmonizations of I Should Care, with chord roots and harmonic functions.
Figure 4.1 (continued)
Jazz form evolved to become a cycle of harmonies reminiscent of analogous (though briefer) cycles in much African music, as well as in circular European forms based on a repeating bass line, such as the passacaglia. African cycles are conﬁgured with rhythmic and melodic patterns. These are given multiple, varied repetition, with the patterns locked in and aligned with the unchanging cyclic structure. Such isoperiodicity also deﬁnes most jazz, with regularly recurring chord progressions (“changes”) instead of rhythms or melodies.
Variation may last for as many cycles (isoperiods) as the soloist per-forms, organized by the harmonies linked to the cycle. Cycle and progression, seemingly as contradictory as circle and line, thus reconcile.
So that Monk’s style can soon be broached, let us pause to clarify our usage of three terms already in play:
• Harmony: one of three essential functions of motion or rest perceived from pitch combinations at a given place in the form. These are the stable tonic (T) and the unstable dominant (D; leading to a tonic) or subdominant (S; leading to a dominant). • Chord: speciﬁc root (fundamental tone) and quality (interval structure and sound) of a harmony speciﬁ ed by the lead sheet. • Voicing: the speciﬁc, registrated pitches used to realize a chord.
Harmonic progression in European art music evolved from a conception of counterpoint that wove the simultaneous tones of concurrent melodies into a few stable chordal structures while retaining nuances like anticipation, suspension, and other kinds of melodic dissonances—tones that do not belong to a stable chord and that must resolve to those that do, else the tone combination parses as unstable. Stable chords contain only three tones in European practice. Such triads come in and out of focus when the music’s polyphonic strands either line up or diverge.
Counterpoint oversees the management of dissonance, and this process, at various orders of magnitude, generates both harmony and form in great variety. Western music’s variation forms, similar to jazz in some ways, act to restrain this tendency. But more culturally signiﬁcant and musically distinctive is the fact that counterpoint, with its prolongation of dissonance and harmonic progression, historically urged Western music in extremis to long operas, symphonies, and other noncyclical structures. In jazz, counterpoint and dissonance shape melodic lines and chord progressions, but cyclic structure prevails.
The role of harmony is to identify, with particular colors (i.e., chords and voicings), the region of the cycle through which one is passing. Jazz harmonies are glued to their positions; nothing can dislodge them. It is not the chords themselves that are glued there, but their harmonic functions, and this allows (as we shall see) for many ways to substitute diﬀerent chords of equivalent function, or to severely alter chords so long as their function is preserved. The functions have such a forceful progressive logic that the practiced ear can distinguish which of the many tones that may be sounding are operative in establishing the harmony, and which are more or less ornamental.
Even if crucial tones are absent, expert listeners can infer harmonic function from the context.
What identiﬁes harmonies and how they are realized in sound must thus not be thought of as the same thing; indeed, the two can vary seemingly to the point of severing their relationship—but not quite.
Harmonic Principles and Chords
Songs like ISC are composed in the tonality of one of the twelve equal- tempered chromatic notes, and end with tonic harmony, though some, like ISC, do not begin with it. The tonality, which may be major or minor in quality, shifts ﬂuidly and temporarily at many points in the cycle. We restrict discussion to ISC’s home key of D major for illustration; ﬁgure 4.2a shows the root-position triads (major, minor, or diminished) in open note heads with Roman numerals, indicating the scale tone that is the root of the chord, on the ﬁrst line below the staff.
The second line below the staff labels each with tonic (T), dominant (D), or subdominant (S) function. With rare exceptions, a jazz chord has a harmonic meaning only if it can be conﬁ dently heard as having one of these three functions. Thus III and VII chords are rare in jazz major keys because the former is function-ally ambiguous and the role of the latter is understood as a weak version of V.
In fact, each of the S, T, and D functions is normally linked to a single chord, which progresses to one of the others strongly because their roots are a ﬁfth apart: II for S, V for D, and I for T. IV and VI chords are very often heard as equivalent to ii (note that the roots of ii, IV, and VI together form a II triad). The constituent tones of III, IV, VI, and vii chords may appear as voicings of other chords, or the chords may function in other keys where they play the roles of II, V, or I.
Jazz chords and voicings were inﬂuenced both by the tonal language of other African-American forms such as the blues, and by the sonorities of early twentieth-century French composers like Debussy and Ravel.
Evolving style came to allow sevenths (tones that are the interval of a seventh above the root; shown with black note heads) not to be considered dissonant, and to inhere to virtually all chords.
This is also true of many other nontriad tones (ﬁgures 4.2b and 4.3), but sevenths are essential and assumed. Adding them to triads produces seventh chords of various distinctive qualities depending on the type of the triad and the size of the seventh. The major seventh chord (labeled M7) has a major triad plus major seventh. The dominant seventh chord (labeled 7) is the same but with a minor seventh. The minor seventh chord (m7) has a minor triad plus minor seventh, and in the half-diminished seventh chord (m7b5) the minor seventh is joined to a diminished triad.
These are labeled in the fourth line below the main staff of ﬁgure 4.2a.
Mention of the half-diminished seventh chord occasions a brief diversion into the role of major and minor tonalities in jazz. The exact nature of this relationship is multifarious, varying from era to era and player to player, and intertwined with devices absorbed from other practices such as the blues. As with much European tonality, the distinction between major and minor modes is retained as an overall aﬀect—in other words, tunes are one or the other—but in actual practice the two freely commingle. In essence, this comes down to the unique case of the half-diminished seventh chord, built on the second degree of the minor scale.
Consider that in D major in jazz, one may often encounter an E-rooted seventh chord that uses Bb, from D minor, instead of B, making the chord a half-diminished seventh rather than a minor seventh. Also, as shown above the staﬀ in ﬁgure 4.2a, the VII chord in D major has the same root and half- diminished-seventh quality of the II7 chord in B minor, so it can be used to temporarily change to that key, or even to B major. And by playing a half- diminished seventh when a tonic function is expected, jazz musicians can create a chain of II–V progressions. This is our ﬁrst example of “chord substitution,” a principle of harmonic modularity at the core of jazz practice (see “Chords and Voicings” below).
In jazz, motion from S to D to T functions usually reﬂ ects root motion by ﬁfth, as in the iconic ii–V–I progression. Mastery of jazz harmony involves the ability to manipulate ii–V–I in all keys and combinations. In D major, II–V–I is most simply expressed as Em7–A7–DM7, which occurs twice right at the beginning of ISC, but the same functional progression, transposed and with substitutions, occurs in many places throughout the song. In the fake book (the lead sheet) version shown in the second staﬀ of ﬁgure 4.1, the vocabulary is varied, close to what an accomplished player might actually play, and the progression is sometimes interrupted. For example, the II–V in mm. 8 and 24 suggest that a richly chromatic F major is coming, but the progression is not allowed to complete.
Measures 17-20 bring a dovetailed chain of II–V motions, each one leading to the next, as the arrows show. All staves of ﬁgure 4.1 and all harmony in ISC can be explained in II–V–I terms.
Dominant function chords contain the crucial interval of the diminished ﬁfth (also known as the tritone) between the third and seventh. In the A7 chord, this means C#7 and G. The tritone’s distinctive sound is absent from major and minor seventh chords, but their occasional substitutes, the bor-rowed half-diminished seventh and the dominant seventh sonority itself—which does double duty as tonic in blues forms—include it. The interval impels forward motion in II–V–I progressions, which sometimes concatenate and elide into strings of descending tritones in inner voices, creating, if art-fully done, a spinning vortex of dominant resolutions. The approach to and departure from the tritone is more expansive in the music of Monk’s era—and certainly to an even greater degree in Monk’s own music—than it is in classical music; it is without question the most important source of the feeling of harmonic progression in the music.
The tritone is the structural hub orienting and ordering the tremendous vocabulary of idiomatic chord voicings.
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100th Birthday Tribute To Legendary Jazz Pianist And Humanitarian Dave Brubeck
Dec. 6 marked the 100th birth anniversary of Dave Brubeck. In 2003, he was named a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress, and he is one of the most impactful performers and composers in both classical and jazz circles. His career spanned six decades, and he is remembered not only for his brilliant piano playing and composing but also his cultural ambassadorship and relentless work in anti-racism.
WABE music contributor Dr. Scott Stewart joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes to discuss Brubeck’s life and legacy.
Brubeck was not only a legendary composer and pianist. He was a staunch supporter of racial equality and integration for Black Americans during the civil rights era. In 1960, he canceled 23 out of 25 performances on a tour of southern colleges because of racial injustice. The bassist in the Dave Brubeck Quartet, Eugene Wright, was a Black man, and many of the colleges demanded a white substitute. Brubeck refused, and this cost him $40,000.
Stewart says, “It’s remarkable that Dave Brubeck had such far-reaching influence both within in the arts world and in culture. He talked the talk and walked the walk in making very clear his views on racism, bigotry, hate, and marginalization of the Black community. He was not only ahead of his time; he may have been ahead of our time.”
Brubeck is known for his signature albums such as “Time Out,” “Time Further Out,” and “Jazz Impressions of Japan.” He passed away on December 5, 2012, at the age of 91. He was known as one of the most influential American jazz artists of the 20th century.
Brubeck’s sheet music is available in our Library!
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Ludwig van Beethoven was a complex man consumed by a towering genius – all the more remarkable for the deafness with which he struggled. He lived a life driven by an unquenchable need to make music. His legacy is music that still delights, challenges, and moves us. Born in Bonn, Germany on December 17, 1770 (or perhaps a day earlier according to some records), Beethoven had a miserable childhood. He was one of seven children, only three of whom survived to adulthood. Although he loved his gentle mother, Maria, he feared his hard-drinking, demanding father, Johann. His father had no great talent, but he gave music lessons to the children of the nobility. From the time Ludwig was a small boy, turning the iron handle of window shutters to hear the musical noise, the child had been absorbed by music. His father recognized the boy’s ability and nurtured it, possibly because he saw it as a source of income.
In 1787, when he was seventeen, Beethoven made his first trip to Vienna, the city that would become his home. There, he was quickly immersed in the life of Europe’s cultural capital, even playing the piano for Mozart. Mozart’s prediction was: “You will make a big noise in the world.”
Beethoven’s stay was cut short by a series of family tragedies. He returned to Bonn to his dying mother. Shortly after, his infant sister died. When his father lost his job, Beethoven had to take responsibility for the family.
After his father’s death in 1792, Beethoven returned to Vienna for good. The serious boy had grown into a man who was by turns rude and violent, kind and generous. He helped raise money for the only surviving child of Johann Sebastian Bach, who was living in poverty, and he donated new compositions for a benefit concert in aid of Ursuline nuns.
Despite his temper, Beethoven attracted friends easily. He studied piano with composer Franz Joseph Haydn. And even though the student-teacher relationship failed the two remained friends. In Vienna, Beethoven also met Mozart’s rival, Antonio Salieri – the man rumored to have poisoned Mozart. Salieri was kind to Beethoven and, in return, Beethoven dedicated three violin sonatas to him.
Beethoven’s struggle to hear…
At the age of twenty-eight, just before writing his first symphony, Beethoven began to lose his hearing. He tried every available treatment and, at first, there were periods when he could hear. But in the last decade of his life he lost his hearing completely. Nevertheless, he continued to lead rehearsals and play the piano as late as 1814. Possibly he “heard” music by feeling its vibrations.
As time passed, Beethoven became more and more absorbed in his music. He began to ignore his grooming, pouring water over his head instead of washing in a basin. On one of his beloved country walks, a local policeman who assumed he was a tramp arrested Beethoven. His rooms were piled high with manuscripts that nobody was allowed to touch. He had four pianos without legs so that he could feel their vibrations. He often worked in his underwear, or even naked, ignoring the friends that came to visit him if they interrupted his composing.
Watch out for that temper!
The stories about Beethoven’s temper became legend: he threw hot food at a waiter; he swept candles off a piano during a bad performance; he may even have hit a choirboy. His intensity spilled over into his family life. He became embroiled in a bitter custody battle for a nephew who attempted suicide to escape the family animosity. Perhaps he was terrified and furious about losing the world of sound. Perhaps he was completely preoccupied by the need to create. Despite his behaviour, he was admired and respected for the music that poured from him. He knew that it moved his listeners to tears, but he responded, “Composers do not cry. Composers are made of fire.”
What about the women in Beethoven’s life?
With his talent and his larger-than-life personality, Beethoven was popular among women. Although he never married, he dedicated such pieces as the Moonlight Sonata and Für Elise to the women in his life.
Beethoven, Thunder and Death
In November 1826 Beethoven returned from his brother’s estate to Vienna in an open wagon. By the time he got home he was ill with pneumonia, from which he never fully recovered.
Late in the afternoon of March 26, 1827, the sky became dark. Suddenly a flash of lightning lighted Beethoven’s room. A great clap of thunder followed. Beethoven opened his eyes, raised his fist, and fell back dead. He was fifty-seven years old.
Ludwig van Beethoven’s funeral was the final demonstration of the esteem in which he was held. On March 29, 1827, twenty thousand people lined the streets, while soldiers controlled the grieving crowd. Nine priests blessed the composer’s body.
He was buried in a grave marked by a simple pyramid on which was written one word: “Beethoven.” Today his remains lie beside those of the Austrian composer Franz Schubert, in Vienna’s Central Cemetery. “I shall hear in Heaven” – Beethoven’s last words
Artists Who Have Also Faced Challenges
We are haunted by the idea of Beethoven, the composer of some of the most beautiful music the world has known, losing the sense that must have mattered the most to him – his hearing. He was not the only artist to have confronted, and risen to, such a challenge.
Francisco José de Goya (1746–1828), one of the great Spanish masters, became deaf in 1792 as the result of an illness. He continued to paint, but his work reflected his sadness.
The great French Impressionist painter Claude Monet (1840–1926) found his eyesight failing him late in his life. He continued to paint, studying his subjects so closely that the paintings appeared fragmented like abstract art.
Edgar Degas (1834–1917), another French artist began to lose his eyesight when he was in his fifties. He began working in sculpture and in pastels, choosing subjects that did not require careful attention to detail.
One of the finest artists to come out of Mexico was Frida Kahlo (1907–1954). She began painting in 1925 while recovering from a streetcar accident. Many of her paintings reflect the physical pain she suffered.
The Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890) suffered from seizures and depression. After quarrelling with fellow artist Paul Gauguin (1848–1903), he sliced off a piece of his ear lobe. Van Gogh committed suicide in 1890.
Itzhak Perlman (1945–), the wonderful Israeli violinist, became ill with polio at the age of four. As a result of the disease, Perlman performs and conducts from a seated position.
Beethoven’s Turbulent Times
Beethoven lived in a period of great turmoil. The French Revolution, which began on July 14, 1789, rocked Europe. The ideals of the French Revolution included equality and free speech for all. Within four years those fine ideals devolved into the Reign of Terror that overtook France and affected the rest of Europe. In 1798, Napoleon conquered Egypt, beginning his rise to power. Against the political upheaval, every aspect of human life seemed to shift. It was an age of change in ideas, the arts, science, and the structure of society itself.
An age of the musician: Earlier in the 18th century, the Church dominated the world of music. As time went on, the nobility began to enjoy music and even learned to play musical instruments. Composers and musicians were their servants. With his fiercely independent spirit, Beethoven challenged this notion. “It is good to move among the aristocracy,” he said, “but it is first necessary to make them respect.” When a nobleman talked while he was performing, Beethoven stopped playing to declare, “For such pigs I do not play!” Literature and art also flourished during Beethoven’s lifetime. The first edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica appeared in three volumes.
An age of exploration: In 1770 Captain James Cook circumnavigated the globe, charting the coast of New Zealand and eastern Australia as well as the Bering Strait. James Bruce traced the Blue Nile to its confluence with the White Nile in 1771.
An age of invention: John Kay patented the fly shuttle in 1733, making it possible to weave wide cloth. James Hargreaves invented the spinning jenny in 1765, which spun many threads at the same time. James Watt invented the steam engine, patented in 1769, and Robert Fulton initiated steamship travel. The first railroad in England began operation early in the eighteenth century.
Beethoven became a friend of Johann Nepomuk Malzel, the “Court Mechanician.” He invented the musical chronometer, which in time was refined to the metronome, a device that can be set to a specific pace to guide the musician. Beethoven loved the chronometer and even composed a little canon to the words “Ta ta ta (suggesting the beat of the chronometer) lieber lieber Malzel.”
An age of science and mathematics: Joseph-Louis Lagrange formulated the metric system and explained the satellites of Jupiter and the phases of the moon. Benjamin Franklin conducted his experiments with electricity. Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen. Edward Jenner developed the smallpox vaccine. Musician and astronomer William Herschel discovered Uranus.
An age of new pastimes: Coffee drinking – which Beethoven loved – became a part of social life. Gambling, lotteries, card-playing, chess, checkers, dominoes, and billiards all entertained people.
Human Rights and the Arts
Throughout history, artists have used their talents to comment on social issues. Beethoven – who lived through the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, a time of immense social and political change in Europe and the world – responded through his music. His only opera, Fidelio, is set in Spain and is based on the story of a nobleman who is unjustly imprisoned for threatening to reveal the crimes of a politician.
Beethoven’s third symphony, the Eroica, was originally dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte. The finale of his magnificent Ninth Symphony is based on a poem written by the German poet Friedrich von Schiller, with words and music that yearn for peace, joy, and the brotherhood of man.
Like Beethoven, we have lived through enormous social and political upheaval: world conflicts, the rise and collapse of nations, and devastating political oppression around the world. We have also seen hopeful changes, such as the creation of the United Nations as the principal international organization committed to building peace and global security.
In Beethoven’s time, as in ours, the arts have been a voice to rail against political oppression and to make us aware of the plight of those in the greatest need.
All the world over, ordinary men, women, and children have been moved to action through music. “We Shall Overcome” and “Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika” (God Bless Africa) are two songs that carried a tremendous amount of influence for Blacks in the US and in South Africa in their struggle against racism, inequality and injustice in the last half of the 20th century. And Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony rang out at the Tiananmen Square protest in 1989 and at the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1990.
Beethoven’s Famous Peers
Musicians Beethoven was not the only composer writing music in this period. Beethoven influenced Richard Wagner’s (-1813–1883) early instrumental works. Franz Liszt (1811–1886) “invented” the solo piano recital. Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901) composed great operas. Frédéric Chopin (1810–1849) and Robert Schumann (1810–1856) also belonged to this era.
British poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850), along with Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), began the English Romantic Movement in literature. Like Beethoven in music and Turner in painting, Wordsworth used nature as a theme in much of his writing. Here is an example of one of his best known poems: I Wandered Lonely as A Cloud by William Wordsworth I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o’er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. Continuous as the stars that shine And twinkle on the milky way, They stretched in never-ending line Along the margin of a bay; Ten thousand saw I at a glance, Tossing their heads in sprightly dance. The waves beside them danced; but they Outdid the sparkling waves in glee; A poet could not but be gay, In such a jocund company; I gazed – and gazed – but little thought What wealth the show to me had brought: For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood, They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude; And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils. 1804
The shift from the Classic to the Romantic tradition was also reflected in the work of painters and sculptors such as the Spanish master Francisco José de Goya and Swiss-born Angelica Kauffmann, who produced more than five hundred paintings in her lifetime. The painter who most closely paralleled Beethoven’s move to Romanticism was Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (1796–1875). Early in his career he painted structured landscapes, but as he matured in works like Ville d’Avray and Memory of Mortefontaine, he showed a more imaginative style, creating a filmy aura.
Beethoven the Musician
Beethoven’s initial purpose in coming to Vienna was to study with Haydn and to learn from the great master the style of Viennese classicism – a structured worldview where the form of things was more important than their content. Poetry, literature, painting and music of this Classic period were restrained and rational.
This formal, disciplined study, however, had little appeal to Beethoven’s unruly, irrepressible, revolutionary spirit. He absorbed just what suited him, and proceeded on his own course. Thus, we find, even in his first published compositions, a bold new voice in music. Formally, these early works still hark back to traditional classical forms. But the emotional intensity, rough humor, burning energy and bold modulations reveal a creator who has struck out on a new path.
By the 1800s, Classicism was giving way to Romanticism and this shift was evident in Beethoven’s music.
Beethoven and Romanticism
Romanticism valued imagination and emotion over intellect and reason. It was based on a belief that people are naturally good, that physical passion is splendid, and that political authority and rigid conventions should be overthrown.
Beethoven’s Romanticism transformed every kind of music he composed. One of his most popular compositions is the Moonlight Sonata, the second of two sonatas making up Opus 27. It became known as the Moonlight Sonata well after Beethoven’s death, when poet Ludwig Rellstab said that it reminded him of moonlight rippling on the waves of Lake Lucerne in Switzerland. Like all Romantic art, it appeals to the senses more than the mind.
Beethoven’s Romance no.1 for Violin in G, Opus 40 and his Romance no. 2 for Violin in F, Opus 50, written between 1798 and 1802, were called romances for their light, sweet tone, almost like a song. This is typical of the Romantic period in music: many pieces lend themselves to being sung as well as played.
Beethoven’s movement away from Classicism and toward Romanticism is clearest in his symphonies. Before Beethoven, symphonies, originating in courtly dances like the minuet, had conformed to the ideals of Classicism with rigid structure and rational form. Beethoven’s Romantic symphonies broke out of those confines and became large, sometimes epic structures that told a story and plumbed emotional depths.
Beethoven the Artist
Beethoven’s first public appearance as a piano virtuoso took place when he was twenty-five years old. He was to play his Second Piano Concerto, but two days before the performance it was still not finished and Beethoven was suffering from an upset stomach. He continued to write while a friend fed him remedies and, just outside his chamber, copyists sat waiting for the music as the composer finished writing each sheet.
His career would be full of such last-minute scrambles. On the morning of the concert to present an oratorio, Christ on the Mount of Olives, a friend found Beethoven sitting in bed, composing the part for the trombones. The piece had its first rehearsal at 8:00 a.m., with the trombone players reading from the original sheets of music.
Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony
By the time the Ninth Symphony premiered in Vienna in 1824, Beethoven was almost completely deaf. Nevertheless, he insisted on conducting the orchestra himself. He continued conducting even when the piece had ended because he could not hear that the orchestra had stopped playing. One of the sopranos tugged at his sleeve so that he would turn around to face the audience – an audience wild with applause.
Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony continues to move the hearts of people everywhere. It was played during the Beijing student protests in China in 1989 and at the dismantling of Germany’s Berlin Wall in 1990. It has become a symbol of unity, of love, and of the overwhelming power of music to change those who hear it forever.
Ode to Joy from Symphony No.9 in D minor, Opus 125
Praise and joy, immortal gladness Gift to all eternally. We give thanks for joy unbounding, Celebrate life’s harmony. Refrain (2x) Music’s magic boldly sounding, Bring together friend and foe. All unite as sisters, brothers. Sing with joy in lustrous glow.
What to Listen for
The “three periods”
The historian William Drabkin notes that as early as 1818 a writer had proposed a three-period division of Beethoven’s works and that such a division (albeit often adopting different dates or works to denote changes in period) eventually became a convention adopted by all of Beethoven’s biographers, starting with Schindler, F.-J. Fétis and Wilhelm von Lenz. Later writers sought to identify sub-periods within this generally accepted structure. Its drawbacks include that it generally omits a fourth period, that is, the early years in Bonn, whose works are less often considered; and that it ignores the differential development of Beethoven’s composing styles over the years for different categories of work. The piano sonatas, for example, were written throughout Beethoven’s life in a progression that can be interpreted as continuous development; the symphonies do not all demonstrate linear progress; of all of the types of composition, perhaps the quartets, which seem to group themselves in three periods (Op. 18 in 1801–1802, Opp. 59, 74 and 95 in 1806–1814, and the quartets, today known as ‘late’, from 1824 onwards) fit this categorization most neatly. Drabkin concludes that “now that we have lived with them so long … as long as there are programme notes, essays written to accompany recordings, and all-Beethoven recitals, it is hard to imagine us ever giving up the notion of discrete stylistic periods.”
Some forty compositions, including ten very early works written by Beethoven up to 1785, survive from the years that Beethoven lived in Bonn. It has been suggested that Beethoven largely abandoned composition between 1785 and 1790, possibly as a result of negative critical reaction to his first published works. A 1784 review in Johann Nikolaus Forkel‘s influential Musikalischer Almanack compared Beethoven’s efforts to those of rank beginners. The three early piano quartets of 1785 (WoO 36), closely modelled on violin sonatas of Mozart, show his dependency on the music of the period. Beethoven himself was not to give any of the Bonn works an opus number, save for those which he reworked for use later in his career, for example, some of the songs in his Op. 52 collection (1805) and the Wind Octet reworked in Vienna in 1793 to become his String Quintet, Op. 4. Charles Rosen points out that Bonn was something of a backwater compared to Vienna; Beethoven was unlikely to be acquainted with the mature works of Haydn or Mozart, and Rosen opines that his early style was closer to that of Hummel or Muzio Clementi. Kernan suggests that at this stage Beethoven was not especially notable for his works in sonata style, but more for his vocal music; his move to Vienna in 1792 set him on the path to develop the music in the genres he became known for.
The first period
The conventional “first period” begins after Beethoven’s arrival in Vienna in 1792. In the first few years he seems to have composed less than he did at Bonn, and his Piano Trios, op.1 were not published until 1795. From this point onward, he had mastered the ‘Viennese style’ (best known today from Haydn and Mozart) and was making the style his own. His works from 1795 to 1800 are larger in scale than was the norm (writing sonatas in four movements, not three, for instance); typically he uses a scherzo rather than a minuet and trio; and his music often includes dramatic, even sometimes over-the-top, uses of extreme dynamics and tempi and chromatic harmony. It was this that led Haydn to believe the third trio of Op.1 was too difficult for an audience to appreciate.
He also explored new directions and gradually expanded the scope and ambition of his work. Some important pieces from the early period are the first and second symphonies, the set of six string quartets Opus 18, the first two piano concertos, and the first dozen or so piano sonatas, including the famous Pathétique sonata, Op. 13.
The middle period
His middle (heroic) period began shortly after the personal crisis brought on by his recognition of encroaching deafness. It includes large-scale works that express heroism and struggle. Middle-period works include six symphonies (Nos. 3–8), the last two piano concertos, the Triple Concerto and violin concerto, five string quartets (Nos. 7–11), several piano sonatas (including the Waldstein and Appassionata sonatas), the Kreutzer violin sonata and his only opera, Fidelio.
The “middle period” is sometimes associated with a “heroic” manner of composing, but the use of the term “heroic” has become increasingly controversial in Beethoven scholarship. The term is more frequently used as an alternative name for the middle period. The appropriateness of the term “heroic” to describe the whole middle period has been questioned as well: while some works, like the Third and Fifth Symphonies, are easy to describe as “heroic”, many others, like his Symphony No. 6, Pastoral or his Piano Sonata No. 24, are not.
Beethoven’s late period began in the decade 1810-1819. He began a renewed study of older music, including works by Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel, that were then being published in the first attempts at complete editions. Many of Beethoven’s late works include fugal material. The overture The Consecration of the House (1822) was an early work to attempt to incorporate these influences. A new style emerged, now called his “late period”. He returned to the keyboard to compose his first piano sonatas in almost a decade: the works of the late period include the last five piano sonatas and the Diabelli Variations, the last two sonatas for cello and piano, the late string quartets (see below), and two works for very large forces: the Missa Solemnis and the Ninth Symphony. Works from this period are characterised by their intellectual depth, their formal innovations, and their intense, highly personal expression. The String Quartet, Op. 131 has seven linked movements, and the Ninth Symphony adds choral forces to the orchestra in the last movement. Other compositions from this period include the Missa solemnis, the last five string quartets (including the massive Große Fuge) and the last five piano sonatas.
The Beethoven Monument in Bonn was unveiled in August 1845, in honour of the 75th anniversary of his birth. It was the first statue of a composer created in Germany, and the music festival that accompanied the unveiling was the impetus for the very hasty construction of the original Beethovenhalle in Bonn (it was designed and built within less than a month, on the urging of Franz Liszt). A statue to Mozart had been unveiled in Salzburg, Austria, in 1842. Vienna did not honour Beethoven with a statue until 1880.
There is a museum, the Beethoven House, the place of his birth, in central Bonn. The same city has hosted a musical festival, the Beethovenfest, since 1845. The festival was initially irregular but has been organised annually since 2007.
His music features twice on the Voyager Golden Record, a phonograph record containing a broad sample of the images, common sounds, languages, and music of Earth, sent into outer space with the two Voyager probes.
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Keith Jarrett – piano Gary Peacock – bass Jack DeJohnette – drum
13:51 Only the Lonely
20:02 Between the Devil and Deep Blue Sky
36:42 All My Tomorrows
Copenhagen Jazz Festival
Copenhagen Jazz Festival is a jazz event every July in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. Copenhagen Jazz Festival was established in 1979, but beginning in 1964 Tivoli Gardens presented a series of concerts under the name Copenhagen Jazz Festival with Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis and many others.
According to reports, the total attendance was 240,000 people during Copenhagen Jazz Festival in 2004. In 2006 the number of concerts increased to 850, and today Copenhagen Jazz Festival numbers more than 100 venues, 1100 concerts, and approximately 260,000 guests, making it one of the largest music events in Europe.
The founding of Copenhagen Jazz Festival in 1979 is closely linked to the jazz scene that evolved in Copenhagen in the 1960s, when the city served as a European home for American jazz musicians like Dexter Gordon, Ben Webster and Kenny Drew. An inspired music scene attracted even more American musicians and educated and inspired the whole Danish scene as well.
Through the 70s jazz music expanded in terms of genres and audiences, and reaching 1978 lawyer and project manager Poul Bjørnholt (from Københavns City Center) took the initiative to Copenhagen Jazz Festival, when realizing how local jazz clubs, public spaces, theaters and large venues could contribute to this collaborative event.
From 1979 and until the 90s the festival grew at a steady pace – making room for both international artists and local bands – and today Copenhagen Jazz Festival is its biggest ever with more than 100 venues in Copenhagen and over 1000 concerts. That makes Copenhagen Jazz Festival one of Copenhagen’s most important public festivals, attracting a broad international audience.
Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock, Tony Bennett, Dianne Reeves, Ralph Izizarry & Timbalaye, Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette, Thomas Franck Quartet, Chick Corea & Origin feat. Gary Burton, Ed Thigpen Trio, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Svend Asmussen, Palle Mikkelborg, Adam Nussbaum Trio, Ginman/Steen Jørgensen, Tys Tys.
Keith Jarrett was known, respected and loved by the Danish jazz public – as he also was but lovers of classical music – for with Michala Petri he recorded in 1992 six Bach flute sonatas, and in 1999 flute sonatas by Händel. The year that Michala Petri received the Sonning Music Prize, Jarrett had just been in Copenhagen to give a concert, but he had in fact been here several times since 1966, including a concert in Tivoli Concert Hall and at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival in 1999, when he gave a concert in the Circus Building, Copenhagen with great success.
The daily press
wrote, among other things:
“It was a revitalised Keith Jarrett who first received the Sonning Music Prize with the words: ‘Well, that’s nice’ and then sat down at the black Steinway, where he through his playing demonstrated what he had said in his speech: that he had not been put on this earth to receive prizes but to translate music […] Jarrett was very much alive. Almost danced at his grand piano. Got up, bent at the knees, ducked down, stood on tip-toe, sat down on the stool again. Improvised so the hairs rose on the back of one’s neck. And constantly emitted his characteristic laments during his playing. Was serious, yet went as far as to parody Victor Borge […]”
(Ivan Rod, Jyllands-Posten)
“Jarrett has a fantastic touch, a fluid and light playing style that allows him to be present even in the most diminutive ballad playing – yes, even when he scarcely touched the keys in Peacock’s and DeJohnette’s solo he could be noticed. Always curious to explore just how far the elastic could stretch, how far out he could entice himself and his musical companions. For almost two hours the elastic was stretched to breaking point, but not once did it snap.”
(Anders Jørgensen, Information)
“[…] At times he stands up when he is playing, at other times he is completely hunched over the keys. In that way he is part of his heart-rending phrasings, taking them further than the listener at first imagines, in the same way that a singer can impress one by singing incredibly long phrases at a single breath.”
(Eva Hvidt, Kristeligt Dagblad)
“[…] And yes, the trio comes in and goes out, and goes out and comes in to receive the standing ovation of the audience, and fortunately the three musicians return to their respective instruments. And yes indeed – here comes the loveliest imaginable interpretation of Victor Young’s beautiful ‘When I fall in Love’. The trio takes us on a fairytale excursion that is rounded off by Keith Jarrett – unaccompanied. A quite unique postlude that saves stars – at the finish.”
(Kjeld Frandsen, Berlingske Tidende)
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