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19 Dec 2013

“Maestro-in-the-Making”: Results of the Project

MusicaNeo’s educational project “Maestro-in-the-Making” has almost come to an end. We are extremely grateful to everyone who took part in it and helped to make it come true. Special thanks to the composers who responded to the call and created new wonderful music works for children.

Our team at MusicaNeo had to face a real challenge: 102 applications had been received, and each of them had to be considered thoroughly – the music experts listened to them repeatedly and analyzed each composition in detail. The incompleteness of some applications and the lack of audio samples in some cases significantly delayed the whole process.

Despite the tight deadlines composers managed to deal wonderfully with the task. Among the works sent in, there are music cycles and collections, compositions for school orchestra and choir. Unfortunately, we had to decline a few applications that came in after the deadline in order to preserve the equal conditions of participation for everyone. The style range turned out to be very broad: from melodic pieces with harmonies in the styles of classicism and romanticism to ultra-modern works that at times are very daring even for the ear of an experienced listener.

A few words about the criteria for selection. We took into account not only the artistic element but the educational value of the pieces as well. Special attention was paid to aspects concerning the social development of the little performers. We are convinced that performing in an ensemble is one of the best ways to cultivate communicative skills in children, to develop their attention and teach them to hear not only themselves but to listen to others, too. Besides, collective learning and performing of an interesting music piece is a great opportunity to spend a good time with friends! As a result, three quarters of the works selected for publication represent ensemble pieces. The booklet will also include bright compositions for solo instruments that will no doubt become a perfect adornment for any concert.

At the moment, the “Maestro-in-the-Making” digital sheet music booklet for beginners is prepared for publication and will soon become available for free download at a special page dedicated to the project. We will announce its publication additionally. All the selected works can already be downloaded from the composers’ personal websites at MusicaNeo.

The list of compositions included for publication in the digital music booklet “Maestro-in-the-Making”:

  • 10 Little Duets for Teacher and Student for 2 Flutes (Jordan Grigg)
  • A Little Hedgehog is Off to a Party (Vladimir Malganov)
  • Camel of Mine - Travels with a Three-Legged Camel (John Gibson)
  • Exercises and Etudes in the Country Style, Op.15 No.3 (Alexander Khodakovsky)
  • Fly, Carpet, Fly (Robert Barr)
  • I Own A Rocking Horse (Seth Evans)
  • Red Boy (Kirill Voljanin)
  • Sha-la-la Song (Dieter Angerer)
  • Suite for the Young (Malcolm Dedman)
  • The Farmyard (Sonja Grossner)
  • The Letter from Kansas for Piano Four Hands (Ariel Davydov)
  • Zita in Wonderland (Stephan Beneking)

In conclusion, we would like to once again thank everyone who supported our educational project and to wish all the participants further success in creative endeavors. Please follow our official blog announcements and take part in other upcoming projects by MusicaNeo!

Photo by Jabawokjayuk at the English language Wikipedia.

30 Oct 2013

What Time Does It Take to Appreciate Great Music?

Have you noticed that most of the music pieces you now consider great rarely took just one listen to fully appreciate right from the start? It can be really hard to start appreciating complex music at once and there may be a few explanations to that. Here are some.

Too Much at a Time

First of all, complex music is difficult to comprehend because it causes a sensory over-load to our perception. Our brain is built in layers, and it’s not possible to operate all of them at once. In this sense, we can compare the catchy pop music to a bubble gum – you enjoy chewing it for a little while but then it loses its taste too fast and becomes flat for you. That’s explained by the few layers your brain needs to process such music. On the other hand, if we take a complex symphony where the number of music layers is significant, our brain works differently: it learns them gradually, and once another layer is taken in, the next ones become even more anticipated. Such music can be compared to a good wine – it takes time for the aftertaste to settle in. But it’s important to understand that ‘music layers’ are not to be understood as just the number of music instruments involved. The following are to be considered ‘layers’ as well:

  • Various sounds effects
  • The depth of the lyrics (if present)
  • Music extras that are revealed when you listen to the same music on a different sound system

Mind them, too.

No Clear Structure

You may simply not hear certain notes or parts if you do or cannot envision the piece’s structure completely. That is another crucial moment besides the layers factor. If you can clearly see how the melody builds - when it reaches its climax, how it switches from one part to another and when it fades – your picture assembles into a unity. But listening to the piece for the first time will not allow you to predict how the music line will behave (unless it’s a basic 4x4 timing song with repetitive beats). Therefore, even when you consider some music “messy” at first – give it a chance to listen to it again.

Music Evolution

Today you may hear something new in the music you are used to listening to. Art is an ever-evolving phenomenon. To be a part of it, one has to grow with it, to be multi-faceted and flexible. We all favor certain music genres over others, but that doesn’t mean we should close up in a world of one style. Due to the constant interpenetration of music genres, you may not recognize some new elements in the habitual sound and get disorientated. Pop music didn’t come right after classical music, did it. Thus one needs to be open, stay informed and be interested in various music genres. Otherwise, you may rob yourself of the opportunity to benefit from the diversity of the music world.

11 Sep 2013

Digital Version of “Maestro-in-the-Making” Book

Do you remember our crowd-funding project “Maestro-in-the-Making”? Though the funds raised are not enough for holding the original large-scale competition, the book production and its distribution to schools world-wide, the money gathered will be still used to support the original idea – let children study music on works by contemporary composers.

We are compiling a digital mini-version of “Maestro-in-the-Making” book that will help young musicians find their musical path and are asking you to be part of it!

About the music booklet:

  • Digital collection of 10-12 best music pieces for beginners
  • Available for free download
  • Includes free license for educational purposes
  • Works selected by MusicaNeo team of music experts

In order to apply, please follow two simple steps by October 15:

Upload the piece to your personal site at MusicaNeo -> Email us once you have uploaded the piece you would like to see in the digital booklet, together with the additional materials - photo, bio, description of piece.

Requirements for your music:

1. We call for music pieces for one of the following instruments (or a piece for a group of instruments):

  • Piano/Keyboard
  • Guitar
  • Violin
  • Cello
  • Flute
  • Saxophone

2. You have to be the sole copyright owner

3. Level of difficulty: easy (with elements of a game aimed at developing child’s creative abilities and imagination)

4. Files to be uploaded to your site at MusicaNeo:

  • sheet music in PDF format
  • audio preview file

Requirements for additional materials:

  • Music piece description + composer’s short biography = up to 2500 symbols (in English)
  • Composer’s portrait – minimum 1200x1600 pixels

Please note that on submitting a piece for the “Maestro-in-the-Making” project you confirm your agreement to offer MusicaNeo a free unlimited, non-exclusive license for publication of the piece for 24 months, in case it is selected for publication in the booklet.

Please feel free to contact us for additional details.

03 Sep 2013

Moonlight Sonata and the Pyramid of Cheops: What Do They Have in Common?

Is there a connection between a music piece’s form and its impact on the listener? Why do some music works seem more beautiful than others? The ancient architects knew the answer to this question long ago.

The Great Pyramid of Cheops

The Great Pyramid of Cheops. Photographer: Berthold Werner. Source: Wikipedia

One of the Seven Wonders of the World – the Pyramid of Khufu (popularly known as the Pyramid of Cheops) – has been admired for its grandeur and perfect proportions by millions of tourists for years. A lot of its mysteries still remain undisclosed. Up to now, the scientists can’t explain the exact way this giant construction had been erected. But there is one indisputable fact about the pyramid: back in 2500 years B.C., the architects knew the “formula of harmony” – a special correlation between the sides’ length known as the “golden proportion”. This correlation is also the base of numerous architectural masterpieces, like the Parthenon and Notre-Dame de Paris.

Gioconda Leonardo Da Vinci, one of the most outstanding thinkers and artists of the Renaissance has also left a lot of mysteries for his descendants. His famous “Gioconda” is still one the most discussed paintings. According to one of the hypotheses, Leonardo endowed the woman depicted in his creation with his own features, which means that the painting could be Da Vinci’s self-portrait as a woman. Gioconda’s ephemeral smile carries some secret meaning that the experts still cannot interpret. In order to create that special impression for the viewer, the painter used many techniques, including the rule of the “golden proportion”.

It becomes obvious that there is a certain correlation between the parts of a work that helps us to experience positive emotions. The “golden ratio” phenomenon is observed when the ratio of the whole and the bigger part is the same as the ratio of the bigger part and the smaller part. Besides being used by the ancient architects, this correlation was mathematically proved in the Middle Ages by another great “Leonardo” – Fibonacci. He was talking about a special sequence of numbers that got the name of “the Fibonacci numbers”. Every number in that sequence is the sum of the two preceding numbers: 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34 and so on. Moreover, starting with the 5 - 3 ratio, every number is in the golden proportion with the preceding one. Mathematically, this ratio equals 1.6.

sunflower How did the ancient architects manage to discover the formula of the “golden proportion”? In fact, nature gives us hints whenever we are observant enough! One of the bright examples is a sunflower. The number of seeds in every row starting from the center corresponds to the Fibonacci numbers. Another hint is a nautilus conch. The lengths of the conch’s spirals are in the 1.6:1 proportion. This allows the conch to grow proportionally during the mollusk’s entire lifetime.

The “golden proportion” had been used in the music of many great composers, too. Let’s take the renowned music piece by one the world’s most famed composers – “Moonlight Sonata” for piano by Ludwig van Beethoven, and particularly, its mystical first part. (By the way, at MusicaNeo you can download for free the sheet music for the Moonlight Sonata as well as other high-quality popular works). After making some simple calculations we can state that the composer used the rule of the golden proportion in the first part of his piece.

The reprise is an important part of a sonata: it is often accompanied by a special feeling that can be compared to a catharsis. Taking into consideration this fact, let’s divide the first part of the sonata into two unequal segments: a bigger one – before the reprise (consisting of 42 bars), and a smaller one – starting from the reprise and till the end of the first part of the sonata (consisting of 27 bars). The proportion between the general number of bars and the number of bars in the bigger part is thus 69:42. Now let’s divide the number of bars in the bigger segment by the number of bars in the smaller one: 42:27. In both cases the result equals 1.6, which IS the golden ratio. This fact only proves the hypothesis that the rule of the golden proportion had been accurately used by the great composer.

But why does this correlation between the parts bring the magic feeling of harmony and beauty when we are listening to music, enjoying the paintings or looking at the sunflowers? The answer to this question still remains one of the biggest puzzles of the human consciousness.