From the category archives:

Lessons for Rufus

Charles Ives contacts Rufus

February 19, 2007

[Charles Ives has been granted permission from Rosemary Brown to correspond with Rufus Wainwright and Roger Bourland via instant messaging software. This is a transcript of their correspondence from this morning.] CI: Hello, hello. Mayday. Do you read me? RW: Yeah, hi. I’m here. Hello Mr Ives. CI: Call me Charlie. RW: You can call […]

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Rosemary Brown at the piano; Franz Liszt looks on. I was recently contacted by the famous, or infamous British weekend pianist and spiritualist, Rosemary Brown (1916-2001). Rosemary spent much of her life channeling new compositions by a variety of deceased composers including Liszt, Schumann, Beethoven, Debussy, Chopin, Grieg, and famous music writer, Sir Donald Tovey. […]

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My Dear Rufus, Silence is an important compositional element. Pepper it throughout your music and you’ll find it helps the music breathe. Phrases chunk better. Silence can range from complete silence that lasts for just a moment, to a long silence that lets a powerful chord or orchestral stab reverberate throughout the auditorium. Think carefully […]

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Rufus, I overheard some students working on their harmony exercises at the cafe last night. One said “No! You can’t do that; that’s parallel 5ths.” The other sighed in disappointment. I don’t recall your telling me why you couldn’t tolerate being a music student, but if this is what they were feeding you, I don’t […]

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[Scribbled on a postcard with a hand-cancelled French stamp on it] Cher Rufus, Knowing you to be the drama queen you are, you must promise me to write for the contrabassoon. It tone is an exotic utterance that is unique in the dark, murky underworld of the orchestra’s bass. There is nothing like it when […]

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Lessons for Rufus: the Oboe

November 3, 2006

Hector Berlioz (1803 – 1869), channeled by Roger Bourland My Dear Rufus, As I am not falling asleep this evening, I realized I need to tell you about the beauty of the oboe. Oboists can sustain the longest line of any of the wind or brass instruments. For that matter, they can sustain a line […]

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A new composition by Prof Berlioz! My dear Rufus, Thank you for the postcard from Berlin. I’m happy to hear that you are happy and healthy and musically productive. I have something I would like you to become extremely sensitive to. I want you to start paying attention to counter-melodies. You already have a great […]

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My dear Rufus, I read with interest that you are including a string quartet in your recent recording sessions. I also have read that you will be producing your next album as well. I hope that soon you will stop relying on others to orchestrate your music as well. The best way to learn how […]

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Dear Prof Bz As you know, I’m on tour in Europe. I’m working on a whole variety of things and incorporating the things you ask me to consider, I’m just having a hard time doing “assignments” you know, I was a terrible student and I guess I still am. Cut to the chase: let me […]

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Prof. Berlioz made the mistake of eating a chocolate dessert at dinner time and, like clockwork, woke up at 3 am. It occurs to him that he should introduce his young student to the great violinist, Paganini. Rufus: It occurs to me that I can trust you to be advanced enough to throw some spice […]

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