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Classical Music Challenge - Brahms Symphony no. 1


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#1 coopsdeloops

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 09:25 PM

Background
As a classical musician, I wanted to do a friendly little competition here at CP to spread along two of my favorite hobbies, cigars and classical music. If you choose to participate in the challenge, I thank you for your participation in advance, as the intention of this thread is to expose some people who might not normally listen to classical music to a fantastic work, and to share a bit of the generosity that I've been given and shown by my Brothers of the Leaf here.

I frequently talk to others about Classical music and am always puzzled by how intimidated people are. Some people just assume that it is old and moldy, and even though they haven't listened to much of it, it surely must be boring. Others believe that you must have a degree in music to understand any of it, and therefore they simply don't give it a listen. Still others think that classical music has a place in society: in elevators and shopping malls to slow down street kids.

I perform in various groups including the Phoenix Symphony and sometimes my friends come to hear me play. When I ask them if they enjoyed the concert, I usually get an answer similar to, "Well, I liked it, but I don't know about music so I'm not sure if it was good or not." Whenever someone gives me one of these answers or looks, I usually tell them the same thing, which strangely sounds like our advice when it comes to picking cigars to smoke: "Listen to what you like, and don't listen to what you don't like." If it sounded good to you, then you liked it. If it sounded like noise, then you didn't like it. It's really as simple as that.

Classical music is about conveying a message. The intention of any composer is to express themselves through their written music (besides making a living by selling it). The intention of a musician is to express themselves through the music in a way they can’t be accomplished through any other medium. When done effectively, this process often tells a story or gives the listener images in their mind of what the composer might be trying to communicate. The whole process of listening, interpreting, and visualizing is what makes music-making so special.

Today music is used in a variety of ways, ranging from film scores, to advertisements. Music that was composed hundreds of years ago has been used to tell stories that take place in virtually every time period. Some examples are:The Challenge
Listen to Johannes Brahms’ Symphony no. 1, all four movements by April 14th. Decide if you want to write a story on a movement, two movements, or all movements. Write a short summary of a story that you believe the movement(s) communicate EDIT: 400-1000 words. Send your summary to me via message to me by the deadline. I will read all of the summaries, and select what I believe are the FIVE most creative and post all five on APRIL 16th without the names of the authors. At this point, I will open up a poll and allow readers to vote for their top picks. There will be a first, second and third prize.

You can listen to any recording or video that you might own. The story can be as vivid or as general as you wish. You can continue the same story from movement to movement, or you can begin a completely different story for each movement. It can be a serious story, a funny story, or a matter of fact story. It can be in a narrative-only form or have a little dialogue. The story can be about humans, animals, or anything else. The story may take place in modern day, or any time in the past.

One recording of Brahms’ Symphony no. 1 is here:Some things to think about:
  • Can you describe a certain instrument as being a character or characteristic of a protagonist or antagonist?
  • Are there parts that are repeated? What does the repetition say about the music?
  • What moods/emotions are brought out from the music?
I believe Brahms’ Symphony no. 1 is a masterpiece, and is easily accessible to everyone. I think anyone has never heard classical music can listen to it for the first time and enjoy it in the first listen.


An Example – Beethoven’s Symphony no. 5 mvt. I
(479 words according to MS Word)

Time markers indicated correspond with this video

A man is fleeing in fear, and takes four steps, pausing to listen if his pursuer is near. He takes another four steps, listening again. Running through a dark cold castle, the hallways are narrow and he runs not knowing where he is going other than to get away from the enemy who is after his life. It is a feverish nightmare, one where the lines between reality and illusion is blurred, only clarified by the pain of his shins bumping into a side table here, a doorway there. For a split moment, he slows, (:40), asking himself, “What if the man has gone? Perhaps he gave up and left?” While he ponders this, he hears his pursuer coming up the stairs around the corner and quickly begins to run again this time the adrenaline coursing through his veins. “I must be losing him!” he cackles (1:02). The speed of the pursuit increases until he loses awareness of where he is and where the pursuer is as well. Four steps, followed by four more. The cat and mouse game continues.

“I will catch you!” yells out the pursuer (2:44), and a shudder of terror rips through the man again, this time putting the fear of death in his soul. As the man leaves the castle for the outside maze (like the big one in the Shining), he is closely followed by his pursuer. The man takes a few steps, and the pursuer takes a few more (3:02). This balancing act takes place until they finally see each other and the chase is on! As the pursuer finds his way out of the maze, he believes he has lost his enemy until finally the pursuer emerges (3:54). Both draw swords!

“You can take my life, but you will not take my soul!” exclaims the man as he turns to see the red eyes of his pursuer, a Gargoyle-looking demon (oboe solo 4:07). The battle begins and the fight is bloody and fierce, until the moonlight shines upon the man, offering a moment of encouragement and resolution, but the clouds quickly cover over the moonlight (5:05). As the fight continues, the man gains the upper hand, slaying the demon by cutting one arm off, and then brutally stabbing it in the side. Momentarily thinking the demon has died (5:42), the man drops his guard. Suddenly, the demon rises fighting more fiercely than ever, as they fight their battle up a cliff. Finally, the man stabs the demon through the heart, ending the battle with a victorious riposte (6:35). As he walks away, the demon finally attempts one last sneak attack, only to have the man end the battle once and for all with a slash to the chest, the arm, and finally the a decapitating blow (6:55).


Good luck to everyone who is participating, and I hope you enjoy the music!

Edited by coopsdeloops, 31 March 2012 - 12:32 PM.


#2 AVB

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 10:11 PM

I think you are asking a lot but good luck with your contest.

#3 coopsdeloops

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 10:28 PM

I think you are asking a lot but good luck with your contest.


True, I think it is a lot too, but people seemed enthusiastic, and realistically, I think timewise it's probably about the same as going to a grocery store, buying a habanero, coming home, setting up a camera, eating it, howling and moaning for 30 minutes, and trying to recover. Plus it won't give you the runs the next day.

#4 AVB

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 11:32 PM

Yeah but only ONE guy is doing that. I do applaud your effort at being unique and thinking out of the box.

#5 kann

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 12:47 AM

I used to listen to "art music" (as it was called by my old prof) a lot several years ago. Not so much recently, though, as I don't have much exposure to it anymore. The hard drive I had all my old BBC recordings on crashed a while ago and I didn't have it backed up. All those discs are in storage semi-permanently, as well. Hmmf...

Re: Beethoven's Vth... I was told by more than one classical musician (one of my old professors was lead oboe for the Little Rock Symphony Orchestra) that this piece told the story of how Beethoven viewed his deafness and ensuing madness (was it mercury poisoning, IIRC?). Not sure if this was theorized after the fact or if he supposedly let this on to someone. However, it is sort of similar in nature to the "chase" you outlined above: Beethoven trying to escape from the inevitable.

I might give it a go. It would be a good way to get back into the music, again. I'd love to go check out one of the symphony orchestras over here, but it's kind of hard with the kids. The last one I attended was in 2009 in Little Rock. They performed a special "Music of Disney" set which was actually really cool.

#6 coopsdeloops

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 01:29 AM

Re: Beethoven's Vth... I was told by more than one classical musician (one of my old professors was lead oboe for the Little Rock Symphony Orchestra) that this piece told the story of how Beethoven viewed his deafness and ensuing madness (was it mercury poisoning, IIRC?). Not sure if this was theorized after the fact or if he supposedly let this on to someone. However, it is sort of similar in nature to the "chase" you outlined above: Beethoven trying to escape from the inevitable.


That's interesting. Never heard that before. I'll have to do a bit more research into this.

Thanks for the tip. My friend's sister is 2nd Bassoon in Little Rock. Is that where you're from? Good luck Kann, and glad you're willing to give it the ole' college try!

#7 coopsdeloops

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 01:37 AM

Personally, I prefer to hear Beethoven's Symphony no. 5 like this...



#8 kann

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 02:09 AM


Re: Beethoven's Vth... I was told by more than one classical musician (one of my old professors was lead oboe for the Little Rock Symphony Orchestra) that this piece told the story of how Beethoven viewed his deafness and ensuing madness (was it mercury poisoning, IIRC?). Not sure if this was theorized after the fact or if he supposedly let this on to someone. However, it is sort of similar in nature to the "chase" you outlined above: Beethoven trying to escape from the inevitable.


That's interesting. Never heard that before. I'll have to do a bit more research into this.

Thanks for the tip. My friend's sister is 2nd Bassoon in Little Rock. Is that where you're from? Good luck Kann, and glad you're willing to give it the ole' college try!


Gibson, I think his name was. Really nice guy. I'll have to try and look him up again. We went to a few performances at Robinson Center in Little Rock. We were stationed there for a little over ten years (2000-2010), though I am originally from northeast PA and my wife from Syracuse, NY.

#9 Pugman1943

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 11:36 AM

Well Cooper, this sure isn't going to be a slam dunk, is it? However it brings two things to mind that I would like to share with the brothers as encouragement and perhaps as a starting point. For those of you who knew or heard of the Lone Ranger, listen to his theme. I can't recall the title right now, but the music you have heard and will be framilar to your ears, yet look how it was used.

A second suggestion is even better, A movie called Mr. Hollands Opus. He teaches music to kids who don't GET it. So one day in a class he plays a classical piece and the kids die listening. Then he says, here is the Cosmic Comets doing it ( same song, just crazy wild kids like it music).

This will be our chance to write the story for this piece, much like an opera.

This should bring out a creative side of the BOTL's we've never seen.

Well BOTL's, the line has been drawn. Let the games begin.

#10 bluue13

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 11:53 AM

Well Cooper, this sure isn't going to be a slam dunk, is it? However it brings two things to mind that I would like to share with the brothers as encouragement and perhaps as a starting point. For those of you who knew or heard of the Lone Ranger, listen to his theme. I can't recall the title right now, but the music you have heard and will be framilar to your ears, yet look how it was used.

A second suggestion is even better, A movie called Mr. Hollands Opus. He teaches music to kids who don't GET it. So one day in a class he plays a classical piece and the kids die listening. Then he says, here is the Cosmic Comets doing it ( same song, just crazy wild kids like it music).

This will be our chance to write the story for this piece, much like an opera.

This should bring out a creative side of the BOTL's we've never seen.

Well BOTL's, the line has been drawn. Let the games begin.


Great movie, Ed. Most musicians do know it well. I show it at the end of the year every year to my 8th grade music class as a treat and I think they often surprise themselves with how much they enjoy it.

One suggestion coops... to make it more fair, I would just limit it to everyone listening to the same thing, say- just one mvt., that way you don't have some people writing 5 part stories and others only one. Seems to me it would be more balanced that way. Just my suggestion of course, it is your contest and you can do whatever the hell you want! I'm going to try my best to get it done by the close date.

Edit- have I mentioned that a well played oboe and English horn are two of my fav classical instruments to listen to? Do you double on the horn? Or just stick to the oboe?

Edited by bluue13, 31 March 2012 - 11:54 AM.


#11 coopsdeloops

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 12:30 PM

I gave the option of writing about one movement or about several with the intention that some one might want to write about one movement more specifically, as I demonstrated, while another might want to write a general overview of the entire story. I should make a length cap on it to clarify the length to make it more even as you suggested.

Glad you enjoy the oboe and English Horn. I own both and play both regularly. Oboe is one of those instruments where it either sounds quite lovely, or it sounds really, really really bad. It's also one of those instruments where everybody's brother's childhood best friend's cousin's stepsister played it back in 6th grade...

#12 kona1000

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 12:40 PM

I've got alot of homework, I can add this to the list.

Listened to the first movement this morning. This will be fun- gunna get the wife involved- I may need more time though.
That peice from the Shinning is pretty distrubing.

#13 Nimrod

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 01:47 PM

Interesting you play the Oboe.
I just recently became fascinated with the Oboe when I read this.

"Oboes in unison? Very Touchy....In my experience, this problem with unisons has never involved any other wind players. Maybe somebody should reinvent the oboe" John Cacavas

What is up with the Oboe?

#14 chiefmd

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 01:58 PM

You all make my brain hurt. :)

#15 AVB

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 02:00 PM

I think I have most if not all the PDQ Bach available on vinyl.

Personally, I prefer to hear Beethoven's Symphony no. 5 like this...



#16 rx2man

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 04:51 PM

Well Cooper, this sure isn't going to be a slam dunk, is it? However it brings two things to mind that I would like to share with the brothers as encouragement and perhaps as a starting point. For those of you who knew or heard of the Lone Ranger, listen to his theme. I can't recall the title right now, but the music you have heard and will be framilar to your ears, yet look how it was used.

A second suggestion is even better, A movie called Mr. Hollands Opus. He teaches music to kids who don't GET it. So one day in a class he plays a classical piece and the kids die listening. Then he says, here is the Cosmic Comets doing it ( same song, just crazy wild kids like it music).

This will be our chance to write the story for this piece, much like an opera.

This should bring out a creative side of the BOTL's we've never seen.

Well BOTL's, the line has been drawn. Let the games begin.



Mr Hollands Opus, good movie.

How about "The James Gang", the bomber.

http://starling.rine...usic/jgangc.htm

"And then "The Bomber," James Gang's magnum opus, and the best guitar work Joe Walsh has ever recorded. For years the Bolero section was deleted from Rides Again due to some legal hassle. Only the first few thousand copies of the LP had the Bolero, so not many people in the 70's got to hear "The Bomber" in its entirety. Fortunately, the Bolero has been restored with the 2000 release of Rides Again on CD, so listeners can again hear the entire suite, as it was originally intended to be heard."

I remember in 2000 when they song was played in it entirety. Driving down I 5 in Seattle, rainy night listening to 102.5 KZOK, "the bomber" comes on, long song, bolero kicks in and I could not believe it. DJ mentions how this is the 1st time they have been able to play the entire song. Had to go home and do a search on the net for the original bolero.

#17 coopsdeloops

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 04:35 PM

Just a reminder you have one week left to write up your little story! I estimate the entire challenge should take no more than an hour, and there will be three prizes. So far I have 0 entries, so the first person to enter a 400 word story might be the winner by default!

#18 chiefmd

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 09:26 PM

I wish you weren't trying to make us think :)

#19 Asel.mike

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 09:34 PM

I'm gonna try.

#20 coopsdeloops

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 04:40 PM

Just a reminder that entries are due tomorrow at midnight (technically Sunday morning, but who's counting)




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