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23 Sep 2015

Composers & Dogs: Curious Cases

Composers & Dogs: Curious Cases

If you have a pet at home you should agree that once we choose to take care of an animal – dog, cat, parrot, ferret, horse and what not! – these creatures become a big part of our life and can’t but influence it, whether we want it or not.

We generally know the outstanding classical composers by their music legacy and it is what we love them for. But just like all ordinary people, music genii lived their non-musical lives full of human trivia that sometimes made a huge impact on their creative work. Today let us look at some interesting cases of relations between composers and dogs. Some were inspired by their own favorite pets, others had good fellowship with someone else’s dogs, and some were greatly distracted from work by the four-footed beasts.

Let us start with Frederic Chopin. No, he did not have a dog of his own. But his lover – George Sand – did. It was a small dog she called Marquis and he and composer hit it off pretty well. Chopin would often mention the dog with great warmth in his letters to Sand. Marquis also got into composer’s work: the Minute Waltz (the Waltz in D-flat major, Op. 64) composed by Chopin in 1847 was originally titled “The Little Dog Waltz”, and it is believed that Marquis’ chasing his own tale served as inspiration for writing this playful music piece.

Another example of a composer’s affection towards someone else’s dog is the case of Ludwig van Beethoven and Gigons. Gigons was the name of Therese Malfatti’s dog. Therese used to be Beethoven’s student as well as his romantic passion. The famous bagatelle “Für Elise” is said to have been composed for the young lady in 1810, the year when Beethoven opened his feelings and proposed to her. "Unfortunately, the girl refused to marry the 20-years-older composer, to his great dismay. The only way Beethoven still felt related to Therese was his friendship with Gigons: he would mention the dog in his letters to a friend taking joy in the dog’s company.

Speaking of true dog fans, Edward Elgar was obviously one of the most dedicated ones. Too bad his wife Alice was against them, so Elgar could not have one at home during the 30 years of their marriage and only enjoyed occasional communication with his friend’s dog. It was George Robertson’s pet Dan who was later portrayed in the Enigma Variations (No. XI). After his wife’s death, Elgar was accompanied by two dogs till the rest of his life – Marco and Mina (The English Cocker Spaniel and The Cairn Terrier). Even during his work trips he would address his beloved pets over the radio and they reacted excitingly hearing their master’s voice from the speakers. Once Elgar even talked to Marco and Mina on the phone firmly ordering them not to bite the cushions.

The dogs did not always act as creative inspiration to composers. In some cases they could become the biggest distraction! Thus, an English composer Ethel Smyth once took her St. Bernard dog Marco to a rehearsal of Brahms’ Piano Quintet. The great author of the quintet himself was present there. To Smyth’s huge confusion, in the middle of the performance Marco entered the room and walked closer overthrowing the music stand of a cellist. Luckily, Johannes Brahms turned out to be a dog lover himself and was only pleased at the sight of the dog.

A more complicated dog-distraction took place in the life of Richard Wagner who, despite being a dog lover (he used to have a King Charles Spaniel, a Labrador and a Newfoundland), tangibly suffered from one in 1861. At that time Wagner was struggling to complete his opera “The Mastersingers of Nuremberg” and meet the deadline by 1862. One of those days he saw a bulldog tied in front of the house he lived in and decided to free him from the chain. He did so, but the dog managed to bite his hand which caused a serious thumb infection. The 6-months inability to write, of course, served as justification for not meeting the deadline. However, the ungrateful dog’s bite resulted in an overall 5-year delay period needed to accomplish the work.

Some dog-and-composer relations were way stranger, though. Louis Hardin, for instance, took a pen name Moondog after his dog Lindy who, according to Hardin, howled at the moon like a wolf. The “Moondog” composer would dress as a Viking and walk along the 54th Street of New York.

A German composer Hans Werner Henze, being a huge fan of all “English”, would speak to his dog James in English only. And the French song maestro Reynaldo Hahn named his dog after a philosopher from Voltaire’s novel – Zadig – and would write letters to him, saying how much he would love to become a dog himself.

Perhaps one of the biggest dog fans among contemporary avant-garde composers is George Crumb. He is not only fond of these animals in everyday life but has dedicated a tangible part of his repertoire to them. That is first of all the 1998 suite “A Dog’s World” dedicated to all the Crumb family dogs ever owned. One of them, a white fluffy dog Yoda, appears on the “Bad Dog! A Portrait of Crumb” DVD cover.

And the last one for now. There’s an experimental composer Laurie Anderson who, together with her husband Lou Reed, organized a concert in Sydney (2010) for a very specific audience – dogs only. The concert was performed near Sydney Opera House at a very high pitch (too high for a human). Anderson said that while preparing the performance she took ‘expert’ advice from her dog Lollabelle.

Humans and animals have been inseparable for years, one way or another. And history remembers so many more examples of their curious interaction. What similar cases can you think of? Maybe you have a curious story of your own? Share in comments!

02 Jul 2015

The Joy of Collaboration

By Heather Houghton.

The Joy of CollaborationThis month it has been a joy, and a challenge, to work with three other musicians in preparation for recording the last songs of my second CD. A flautist, a violinist and a pianist in separate and repeated sessions have provided valuable critic into my music. Amending the scores has been good experience and a great preparation for the third creative work: we have the skeleton of a musical which we hope to return to in writing the music in the autumn. Is we meet other singer songwriters we find many who do not commit their creativity to music scores: so I endorse the great work of MusicaNeo. A recent upgrade to the excellent free software of NCH Crescendo Music Notation Software is a great help. So get composing this summer but don't forget to take time to publish your music scores so more can collaborate with you. In the last year I have had the inspiration of working with five different groups - different churches - to bring one of the new songs off the second CD. Such would not have been possible with scores being available ahead of our arrival via MusicaNeo! :)

Check out my scores for the first CD.

16 Jun 2015

Within Three Steps of Success: How to Become Featured

Within Three Steps of Success: How to Become FeaturedThe number of authors publishing sheet music at MusicaNeo is rapidly growing and is already approaching 1500. Therefore, the success of your sheet music store is becoming more and more dependent on your “visibility” at the platform: how often the links to your sheet music and site appear in the sections featuring composers and their work. Those are mainly the sections at the homepage: “Featured Members”, “Spotlight”, “Centerstage”, “Featured Sheet Music”, as well as the MusicaNeo Blog, newsletters and social networks – Facebook, Twitter, Google+.

Adding music scores to the MusicaNeo catalogue is not enough to guarantee the successful sheet music online publication. It is important to keep in mind that the more interesting and diverse information about the composer, his/her creative work, worldview, etc. is seen by MusicaNeo users – the bigger the interest of potential customers, the bigger the demand for composer’s sheet music.

It’s no secret that showing up frequently in the featured sections significantly increases the number of visitors of your personal site and raises the probability of purchases. MusicaNeo wants to offer all authors an equal chance to be noticed. As before, every composer has a free opportunity to be represented in the most popular sections of MusicaNeo. But this summer you can influence our choice! You have to make only three steps.

Become One of the 12 Featured Members of the Month

  1. Your personal site at MusicaNeo should contain at least 10 music scores. Not more than 50% of them should be available for free.
  2. Fill the description of your personal site, add your photo and some biographical data.
  3. Send us a text about your creative work, music views, plans and upcoming events – a post to be published in MusicaNeo blog. At our Facebook page you will find the list of suggested topics and inducing questions.

Advice: Do not forget to subscribe to our Facebook page and be the first to learn about all special offers and events!

Get Your Music Video Featured on the Centerstage

  1. Upload the sheet music of the composition to the MusicaNeo catalogue.
  2. Add the sheet music link to the description of the YouTube video that you would like to get featured at the MusicaNeo homepage.
  3. Send us the link to the video together with information about the composition.

Add Your Composition to our Featured Sheet Music

  1. Upload a quality sheet music file and an audio sample of the music piece that you would like to see among the Featured Sheet Music.
  2. Write a description of the sheet music. It can be either a description of the author’s vision, performing notes and comments, the history of the composition or any other info about the work. What inspired you? What difficulties did you encounter in the process of its creation? What do you want to tell the listener through this music? Send us the link to the sheet music.
  3. Let your colleagues and friends in social networks know about your personal site at MusicaNeo. Ask them to “like” your site and leave a review to your sheet music at MusicaNeo. The social network buttons are located at the main page of your personal site as well as directly on the compositions’ pages at MusicaNeo.

Get into the Spotlight at the MusicaNeo Homepage

  1. Complement your sheet music catalogue at MusicaNeo with at least 50 music scores.
  2. If the MusicaNeo list of your compositions does not have the information about you, send us a text for this page with interesting details about you and your music.
  3. If you have other websites, add a link to your site at MusicaNeo and let us know about it.

Important: Please send us texts written in one of the main languages of our platform – English, German, Russian, Portuguese.

Step by step, with the help of the opportunities provided by MusicaNeo you can conquer the attention of your audience and achieve a wider recognition. In your profile – the Promotion Guide section – you will find further recommendations from our specialists on online promotion, as well as banners and widgets embed the list of music scores into other websites.

Your expert opinion draws interest to your creative work. Do not forget to leave comments to the compositions you liked and to the articles in the MusicaNeo catalogue. You can also review our service at our Facebook page and tell your friends and colleagues about the possibilities of online sheet music publishing using the “Invite a friend” function in your profile.

Use all opportunities at MusicaNeo to make your publishing business a success on the Internet!

20 May 2015

Sheet Music Publishing at MusicaNeo: Little Tricks

Sheet Music Publishing at MusicaNeoThe uniqueness of the music platform MusicaNeo consists in the fact that from the moment of creating a personal site to receiving the author’s fee the entire process of sheet music publishing is automatic. From time to time, our Customers Support team receives emails from composers and publishers with various questions: whether the information about a certain composition is correct, how to avoid difficulties, how to raise interest in their music. The following hints from the MusicaNeo administrators will help you with the nuances of publishing sheet music online.

  1. The process of your creative work promotion is not limited to sheet music publishing. A personal site at MusicaNeo is a powerful tool for promoting your music, while your photo is a business card – it is the first thing the visitors see on the portal at the homepage, in the Community section, in the Contemporary Composers Index and at other sections of the site. More attention is paid to personal sites well filled with information. It is important to create a distinctive atmosphere and start an open, honest “conversation” with the visitors to give them the key to understanding your music.
  2. Your site’s address is the place where your music lives! The more often you post this address in the Internet, the more people will learn about your creative work. Share it with friends, colleagues, your music fans – everyone who you would like to invite. It is the only way they can find their way to your place.
  3. Do not underestimate the description of your sheet music. The more interesting, figurative and detailed, the better. Provide recommendations and instructions for performers, describe the process of the composition’s creation, its graphic structure, as well as events and emotions that inspired you to write this music piece – any important moment related to the creative process. You never know, which information will become an impetus for the potential customer.
  4. Make sure to upload audio files and mark a few pages for the preview of your sheet music! It will significantly raise interest in new compositions that are still not known to the wider public. It also gives your composition a chance to make it to our list of Featured Sheet Music.
  5. It’s better to upload audio-samples in .mp3 format. In this case it will be possible to listen to your music right in the browser with the help of the built-in music player.
  6. When setting the price for a performance license, please take into consideration the fact that the licenses are sold only together with the sheet music file. It means that the price for a music score with a performing license should not be lower than the price for a music score without one (of course, except for the cases when the author aims to stimulate the demand for the licenses).
  7. Pay attention to what your sheet music looks like after publication. At the moment the official file format at MusicaNeo is PDF, and the page size is A4. You can speed up the appearing of your sheet music in the catalogue by uploading the scores in this format. Do not forget to leave at least 1.5cm of blank space at the bottom of the page for the automatically added information about the author’s rights.
  8. Talking about the author’s rights, it is essential to mention that any materials used in your sheet music – including texts and images – could be protected. Uploading the music scores, make sure that you own the necessary rights for publishing all materials used.
  9. The catalogues of music instruments, genres and authors at MusicaNeo contain more than 35 000 names and items. Before adding something new, please check if the instrument, genre or name you need is not already in the catalogue. Let’s take care of the clarity and brevity in music categories together, so that the process of search for your music scores is easier.
  10. Have you noticed an ambiguity in the title, a mistake in the sheet music or simply would like to change the price? There is no need to delete the old publication – it can be edited in your profile at any time. If there is a need to make changes in the list of authors or if you have difficulties – contact our Customers Support and we’ll correct everything as soon as time permits!

Do you still have questions regarding the publication of your sheet music at MusicaNeo platform? Visit our F.A.Q. section, send us an email or simply leave a comment under this article.

Photo: Music sheet by Toshiyuki IMAI, CC BY-SA 2.0, Flickr