From the category archives:

Music miscellanea

In a Facebook conversation, some of my nerd composer friends posted a picture of a mysterious [to me] stringed instrument. Another identified it as a zither, an instrument of which I had no knowledge and wonder how many do. As I searched for information about this odd instrument I stumbled onto another: the contra-guitar. Whoa! […]

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Sometimes I’m a bit slow. Two great musicians have been pushed in front of me lately and I don’t know why I never knew them before. Silly me. Peter Kazaras has encouraged me to investigate Bellini in terms of the way he handles dialog vs. arias. On the way I fell in love with a […]

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Being a smart musician

May 18, 2012

There is something to be said for a well-trained musician who shows up on time, shuts up, and performs their part perfectly. But when life gets challenging, working with a smart musician can make all the difference. One such “smart” musician saved my ass several times over the past week, and everyone involved in the […]

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The intelligence of dogs

March 19, 2012

This video of a golden retriever getting a B+ in solfege and pitch matching, along with many experiences with our dogs have caused me to completely re-evaluate my opinion about dog intelligence. This dog is doing what music teachers teach their students to do at the very beginning of their musical training. If you can’t […]

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Shucking CDs

January 28, 2012

I don’t know whether it’s the right verb, but “shucking” seems like the right word. I shucked corn for my mom as a boy, and as an adult, so the notion of taking the good part out of something and throwing away the undesirable part is called “shucking.” In our new home, I considered having […]

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Piano as Art

December 31, 2011

Check out a very new way of looking at pianos: Piano as Art. © 2011 Penny Putnam and Shauna Holiman BenisonStudios.com

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Mitchell Morris and I were researching the history of the famous Spanish-Mexican song by a Cuban-influenced, Spanish-born composer Sebastián Iradier Salaverri (Salaberri) (20 January 1809 – 6 December 1865), “La Paloma”. In our opera, the song looms over us as it was a song Angela Peralta sang her entire career. Here is one of the […]

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Revisiting Madama Butterfly

December 11, 2011

As I compose my own opera, I am learning and revisiting the master operas. This week I’ve been studying Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly.” Puccini did five revisions of the piece before he was satisfied. The press and audience were less than enthusiastic with the premiere, but its second performance was a success. The opening of the […]

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Operabase (wow!)

December 10, 2011

For those of you who are opera lovers, Operabase is an amazing resource of statistics about opera. For one who is writing his first grand opera, it was fascinating to see statistics on what are the most-performed operas, or composers in the world, or what country has more opera than any other. Pretty amazing stuff: […]

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Our party

October 30, 2011

Yesterday we had a Halloween party. From 3-7 was for families with children, and after 7 was adults only. It was a gas having a backyard full of little kids, mostly under 4. I realized that parents  appreciate these kinds of gathering of the clan so that their children can meet each other and play. […]

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