Waking up in 7/8

January 20, 2010

This morning I woke up in 7/8. [For non-musicians repeat over and over: 1212123 and accent the ones a little bit and you’ll get the feel.] It was the Bulgarian Radio State Vocal Choir (from “Le mystere des voix bulgares”) on the Johnny Carson Show. Take a listen and focus on two things: the time signature — sing along “1212123” and then listen to how much 2nds are a part of their music. The duet after the first big section is one clear spot filled with 2nds. I find it fascinating how little they move considering the microtimers going off in their brains. They sway a bit, look very happy and have beautiful beaming faces. I listen to this and I can’t sit still.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

rico4usa January 20, 2010 at 8:06 am

Thanks, Roger. These ladies are incredible. I can’t sing 1-4-5 intervals a cappella, let alone something like this. I can’t imagine a performance like this on a mainstream network these days that would run for more than 3 minutes. I’ll bet this opened up some eyes, ears and minds when it was first broadcast. Do you think the ladies understand the concept of “Dixieland” in the last song? What a surprise that was!

Leonid January 20, 2010 at 11:31 pm

Roger, thanks.

This type of music de-mystifies, arguably, some of the Stravinsky’s work, such as, say, Les Noces.

The composer’s creative mind had transformed a lot of Russian folk material. To be sure, he had a unique style, but his fantasmagorical music ideas did not come out of nowhere.

Bulgarian signing has its own distinct flavour. But I have to say, some of old Russian folk songs almost sound like blues, Muddy Waters, in terms of rhythms and even harmony. It gets pretty intense and complicated, rhythmically and harmonically, with all the syncopation and strange dissonances. All this material was very well alive in Stravnisky’s childhood days, so he absorbed this stuff naturally.

(unfortunately, later in the XX century, Gorbachev killed the Russian village, with his notorious perestroyka and glasnost. people in villages now sing Mariah Carey and drink vodka;

thus, if the Russian soil produces another composer of Stravnisky’s caliber, it will likely be a peculiar “pop-Stravinsky”)

Stravinsky mentions in one of his letters he had a dream to visit the Bulgaria. Unfortunately, it never materialized.

In any event, great music! The dissonances work so well in the texture. Bulgarian did a good job with all this!


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