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14 Feb 2013

A couple of curious facts about Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach is one of the most exuberant composers of the past. It is still barely understandable how it became possible to write down all of his compositions on paper: according to the roughest estimate, Bach’s entire life would have hardly been enough to record all of his sheet music, even if the composer had taken down only the final version without pausing for a single minute.

Johann Sebastian Bach

The music of J.S. Bach, one of the most famous composers in the world today, fell into oblivion for a long time, shortly after his death. It was considered out-dated und unfashionable in the epoch of Classicism. And even though Bach’s works were highly valued in the narrow musicians’ circles at the time, it was only due to the efforts of another German composer – Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy – that J.S. Bach’s musical heritage became available to the general public.

Bach’s skillful playing always evoked listeners’ admiration. But the great musician only retorted that his performing was not worth that much praise, as one just needs to hit the right key at the right time – the organ would do the rest. It’s known that the competition between Bach and his famous virtuoso contemporary Louis Marchand was never completed as the Frenchman, fearing the inevitable defeat, simply fled shortly after arriving in Dresden.

It’s hardly possible to overestimate Bach’s influence on composers of the next generations. According to New York Times, Bach is ranked number No.1 on the list of Top 10 most prominent composers of all time, including Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, Debussy, Stravinsky, Verdi, Brahms, Wagner and Bartok.

Three compositions by J.S. Bach – "The Well-Tempered Clavier", the "Brandenburg Concerto No.2" and the "Gavotte in Rondo" – are among the 27 best pieces included in the "Voyager Golden Record", a collection of the best music samples made by the human race for the spacecraft Voyager.

22 Dec 2012

The Magic of Christmas

Over 20 billion mails are about to be sent this December on the eve of the most joyful holiday of the year – Christmas. Kids will be looking forward to the arrival of generous Santa in anticipation of the long-awaited presents, millions will be spent on diamonds (more than any other time of the year) and every now and then a Santa-daddy will get stuck in the chimney delivering his load of gifts.

Christmas music

This is the magic of Christmas and today we would like to set aside the regular duties and color your festive preparations with some cheerful notes of Christmas music. In tribute to this blessed holiday, our composers at MusicaNeo have published over 1000 works for the season. We have gathered them in our Special Christmas Collection.

Whatever is meaningful, whatever is important, whatever is beautiful – may it be yours this holiday season and may it radiate into the lives of your loved ones.

Have your own Christmas magic!

27 Nov 2012

Contemporary Composer: Mr. Computer

music folder

Two generations have clashed in trying to decide what the ubiquity of personal computers will bring to music composing. While younger musicians are all inspired by the vast opportunities in music creation, most of elder composers are really concerned about the possible devaluation of the human aspect in music.

When Casio synthesizer appeared on the market in the early 80-ies, no one was too worried – its easily recognizable analogue sound could not equal the powerful human composing. But computer age set in quickly and the choice of music opportunities provided by computer extended abruptly. A professor of the University of California, David Cope managed to surprise, shock and even revolt the public when he presented his Emily Howell to the world. No, she’s not his wife or student. Emily is a computer program able to compose music pieces that are no worse than what contemporary composers produce.

In its first version (EMI) ‘she’ was mostly doing historic reproductions. For example, you put a Beethoven or Mozart inside, Emmi analyzes it and gives out a new piece that sounds as if composer himself wrote it. The new Emily developed her own style on the basis of those reproductions’ database. Now it became interactive: professor could approve or disapprove of her short pieces sharing his music tastes, and Emily took into account such a feedback and worked further. Year 2010 even saw the first CD by Emily – “From Darkness, Light”.

So what’s that makes composers anxious about computer-created music? The main counter-argument is usually the superfluous perfection of the sound. Computer plays an ideal melody with the right rhythms and tempo exempting the ear from work and imagination from functioning. Musician no longer has to reproduce this or that note in mind endowing it with own shape, color, character – all work is done for him.

ensemble

On the other hand, there is broader public involvement in music. One doesn’t need to have music education and endless hours of theory to compose a short original piece without much effort. All there should be is an electronic device, proper software and itch. Sampler, sequencer, synthesizer are all on board. Brooklyn rock back Parts & Labor even released an album that was wholly composed of samples submitted by fans. Isn’t it amazing to be part of your favorite band’s album in such a way?

It’s a big virtue to be able to find balance in our attitude to things. Maybe, after all, it doesn’t make a stupendous difference how music was created if the result is worth giving a listen.

So would you accept Mr. Computer to musician’s community?

27 Nov 2012

Miracle Music Brain Cure

We‘ve often heard of relaxing music, chilling music and even healing music. But it’s doubtful that anyone has thought that music is about too close to curing serious diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. Studies show it is. The truly marvelous stories of Trevor Gibbons and Rande Gedaliah are still a rare but a significant phenomenon.

Rande had been diagnosed with Parkinson and when her condition deteriorated badly and resulted in legs failing under right during showering, she knew things were getting worse fast. The 60 year old woman reached to turn on the shower radio where some good old music was on. What she feels… her leg – it moves easily, she rises to her feet and feels like dancing! From then on, the woman never parts with her music player having composed specials playlists there: rhythmic songs like those by Bruce Springsteen for a faster walk, and calmer motifs like Queen’s hits for strolling.

Trevor was a carpenter. After a bad accident resulting in two strokes and a serious spinal injury he was deemed almost incurable: unable to speak and move. However, after intensive music therapy during a few years at the rehab center (playing piano and vocal practicing), Trevor not only retrieved his speech and walking ability but since then has composed 400 own songs and released 3 CDs.

Neurologists claim that music has a certain ‘miracle effect’ that, however, can be scientifically explained. Our brain is constructed in such a way that it can respond to the rapid external rhythm provided by music. Listening to music you allow the sound pattern tap into your brain in a form of organized neurons’ movement and synchronize your body with its melody.

listening to music

Yet even more effective is playing music yourself, when your brain obtains intensified coordination. Rick Bausman, a musician himself, organized a special Drum Workshop for people with Parkinson’s. According to his words, patients acknowledge that playing rhythmic Caribbean and Cuban melodies on bongos, congas and drums alleviates their physical moves making them more flexible, controlled and with less shaking. Even those at late stages of the disease feel the changes.

Even though music therapy hasn’t been yet developed to such an extent where serious brain diseases were able to be cured in every individual case, it still does affect positively our mental state. Music’s an easy way to assuage stress, depression and pain.

Listen to music!

 
   
 
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