Posted in Different styles, Music literacy, Music stories

The Four Seasons

The Four Seasons, by Vivaldi, are exquisitely written and the Spring theme is one of the more famous melodies out there. But why did Vivaldi write it?

The Four Seasons is a concerto, one of over 500 written by Vivaldi, who was born in 1678 and died in 1741. The thing about this concerto, though, was that it was radically different than all of the other concertos written at this time. What was different about it? It was themed. Up until this point, concertos were just….concertos. Typically labelled by what key they were in, each movement was typically titled by the tempo, or speed of the piece.

But Vivaldi radically changed the musical landscape around him in writing The Four Seasons. You see, he encouraged the players as well as the audience to use their imaginations. If you’re listening to music, do you typically associate it with a season? Probably not. But, if you listen to the Spring movement, and you’re thinking about all of the things that happen in springtime, it doesn’t take much work to imagine the music being the background for it.

We can definitely thank Vivaldi for many masterworks of music that are in the world today. Personally, one of my all time favorite choral works is his “Gloria”.

Check out Gloria, The Four Seasons and many other compositions by Vivaldi. You may find a new favorite classical composer!

Posted in Challenge, Different styles, Music literacy

Enter Sandman

I came across this video and was amazing. Larnell Lewis is a drummer who plays with the jazz band Snarky Puppy, one of my favorite jazz groups! The whole point of the video is that he listens to the song once, and tries to drum along with it. Watch and see what happens.

I tell students this all the time. While your eyes, hands and feet are helpful for music making, hearing is essential. You noticed (and it was pointed out on the video) that for about half of the song, he was just listening and noting, not trying to play along. Then near the end, he was doing a little bit of “air drumming”

But it was what he did after he listened that was the most important. He walked back through the song. No matter what style, music can be broken down into sections. And that’s exactly what he walked through. And he kept up really well!

Of course, he’s a drummer with years of experience and practice. For me, I’ve never really challenged myself to do something like this on piano or organ. I’ve done it from time to time on the trumpet, trying to pick out melodies and play along, but never really an entire song.

Honestly, for musicians, this is a huge challenge, and I totally love that he took it on. Especially a song that he had never heard of at all. I loved what he said at the about challenging yourself to try different styles. It does make you a better musician overall and definitely stretches your boundaries. You may not find something that you like, but you have a deeper appreciation.

The Harmanny Music Education Podcast will be coming soon! Stay tuned!