Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A chilly winter violin


The violinist in this recording is Federico Agostini, whose work can add warmth to your bones in this chilly winter. He is also the hero of this video, along with the composer Antonio Vivaldi. You must watch this video. Its mood matches the music. What a great way to hone your senses to classical music!

The music changes at the 2:48 mark -- and the mood of the video, the images, corresponds to this shift. And then again at 4:58.

Music evokes images. You can imagine scenarios as you listen to the music. The more you can imagine, the more you will like classical music, or any art, or life. This terrific video will aid you in this quest.

You can also not imagine


Share this story on facebook, twitter, and elsewhere and introduce others to 'classical music in simple language'.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Polyphony - many yet one

You read about polyphony in the last article and you are much smarter about it. Polyphonic music is used in films to act against the images on the screen. Remember, here the music itself is not polyphonic. The effect is. If the images are happy, sad music is used and vice versa. This effect is the polyphonic effect. The music needs to just oppose the emotions of the images. The viewer is made to take notice of the dichotomy of emotions. Films can also use actual polyphonic music as a standout piece. Here's an example from the remarkable film 'All About Lily Chou Chou'.


Share this story on facebook, twitter, and elsewhere and introduce others to 'classical music in simple language'.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

You already know about polyphonic music

You definitely know about polyphonic music in films. It's when the background music does not complement the action on screen. The music, as well as the images, has an independent line of thought.

Imagine a scene wherein the city is under destruction. People are yelling and dying, and definitely in that order. You can put in homophonic music (homophony) that complements the images; sad music or anything that complements the doom on screen. Or you can put in happy music, that does not complement the images but 'does its own thing', that is, it is independent of the images on screen. Happy music and destruction on screen, that would be polyphonic music. Also vice versa. (Here's a violent example from Reservoir Dogs. One minute mark onwards.)



Polyphonic music was first written around the year 900 in London, as per recent discoveries. Let's step out of the


Share this story on facebook, twitter, and elsewhere and introduce others to 'classical music in simple language'.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

A Czech in America

"My own duty as a teacher, I conceive, is not so much to interpret Beethoven, Wagner, or other masters of the past, but to give what encouragement I can to the young musicians of America. I must give full expression to my firm conviction, and to the hope that just as this nation has already surpassed so many others in marvellous inventions and feats of engineering and commerce, and has made an honourable place for itself in literature in one short century, so it must assert itself in the other arts, and especially in the art of music." - Antonin Dvorak  [source]

This post is about a foreigner defining the musical soul of another country; a foreigner creating native music of/for another country.


Share this story on facebook, twitter, and elsewhere and introduce others to 'classical music in simple language'.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The peace of Pater Noster

Theists and atheists share the commonness of belief - in God or against God. Both schools are sacred in the sense that they are committed to their thought.

It is out of such commitment that you produce good music, art and science. And as children of a certain togetherness, you are obliged to partake such hallowed creations. This is how civilisations may be built.

Pater Noster is the Lord's Prayer; a christian prayer taught by Jesus to his disciples. The rendition below gave me


Share this story on facebook, twitter, and elsewhere and introduce others to 'classical music in simple language'.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

An oboe full of life

We listen to a most brilliant composition. Like watching a flower bloom, and sending your heart into bliss.

There is so much win in this under 4-minute piece! A continuous expression of joy.
There is so much melody!
And the oboe!

How romantic is that oboe. How indulgent. Over the rhythms of life, overseeing them, and yet with them. Indulging the strings, and playing along with them. And then, briefly, breaking away from it all.



Share this story on facebook, twitter, and elsewhere and introduce others to 'classical music in simple language'.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A bouquet of melodies

Bouquet of Peonies on a Musical Score
by Paul Gauguin (source)
You select the finest flowers for a bouquet. Likewise, a composer selects the finest music for a suite. But while a bouquet of flowers fades eventually, the suite is everlasting.

Suite is a French word indicating 'sequence'.

Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky had composed a ballet called 'The Nutcracker'. The ballet was not a success, but Tchaikovsky extracted a twenty minute suite that is immensely popular and loved.


Share this story on facebook, twitter, and elsewhere and introduce others to 'classical music in simple language'.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Not so soon, bassoon


The photo, and the paragraph below are the works of The Bassoon Brothers.
We have an important mission! We want you to enjoy the bassoon! Whether you play it or just appreciate the instrument’s tone and versatility we want to share our enthusiam about the instrument with the world. We also want to prevent the extinction of our wonderfully versatile family of double reed instruments by encouraging as many of you as possible to take up what is commonly called the “belching bedpost”. If that is totally out of the question, at the very least, enjoy it and tell your friends that it is not an oboe!
What a wonderful undertaking to save the bassoon. We need such missions and


Share this story on facebook, twitter, and elsewhere and introduce others to 'classical music in simple language'.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The queen played the harp

The much-maligned queen of France, Marie Antoinette loved her clothes, hunts, privacy, scandals, affairs, bitchiness and the harp.

She was a harpist and a simple woman, thrust into the French court and it's compulsory political pettiness.

Yet, we have been taught in schools, probably to bite monarchy in favour of our democracy, that Marie was a villain


Share this story on facebook, twitter, and elsewhere and introduce others to 'classical music in simple language'.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Classical music with a story

William Tell, the legendary Swiss patriot is forced to shoot the apple from his son's head. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images). Image courtesy NPR.

Today's music comes with a story -- it will help you delve deeper into the music. It will aid imagination!
And it helps that the music in focus is one of the most popular ever. The overture to an opera called 'William Tell', composed by Gioacchino Rossini.
Chances are that you have heard parts of this music (especially the finale) in advertisements, films and ... somewhere, you must have.

You were informed about the


Share this story on facebook, twitter, and elsewhere and introduce others to 'classical music in simple language'.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The musical theme

This under-two-minute piece by Michel Corrette will acquaint us with the musical theme.
Wikipedia has a good definition for the musical theme:
In music, a theme is the material, usually a recognizable melody, upon which part or all of a composition is based.
We will listen to the 'recognisable melody' in this composition by French composer Michel Corrette.



This piece is identified as


Share this story on facebook, twitter, and elsewhere and introduce others to 'classical music in simple language'.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

What is interpretation in music

We come to one of the most important and interesting topics in classical music. Interpretation. "I like this version better. It's slower and brings out the melody" or "I love how fast and jazzy this sounds".

And there's no need for any theory. The selected music is that powerful. It will add to your music wisdom! A hundred percent.

You know about interpretations, of course you do. Remember your favourite song, and then remember the covers of the same song; some of them have


Share this story on facebook, twitter, and elsewhere and introduce others to 'classical music in simple language'.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Bolero mystery


Can you stand Maurice Ravel's iconic composition 'Bolero' for its entire length of fifteen or so minutes (varies)? It has melody and apparent simplicity and is widely popular. So why not then? It sounds repetitive to many listeners. This is what Ravel thought of it:
"orchestral tissue without music" — of one very long, gradual crescendo. There are no contrasts, and practically no invention except the plan and the manner of execution. - Ravel on his own work, which is an iconic classical piece.
Also, Bolero is adored and loved so much, but then there's this
Perseveration, an Alzheimer's symptom, is the obsession of repeating words


Share this story on facebook, twitter, and elsewhere and introduce others to 'classical music in simple language'.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

An introduction to sacred music

Sacred music is an important aspect of classical music. Have a look at this exquisitely shot video of composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi's, Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen).

See how the camera moves over the instruments, how the singer raises her pitch without being too loud, the hands moving over the violins, the lute at the 2:45 mark, the magnificent church setting, the composure on the players' faces -- indeed there is much to absorb from this short video alone.


Share this story on facebook, twitter, and elsewhere and introduce others to 'classical music in simple language'.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Simple power of the piano

By Stephen Charles (courtesy)
Piano is a great way to introduce friends to classical music. There are new listeners who can't follow the violins and flutes and timpani and feel a little overwhelmed. They will take time to get used to to the melody of such togetherness.

Till then, there is the piano. It can absorb and translate the different melodies. If you like, you can play this video while you read the rest of the story.


Share this story on facebook, twitter, and elsewhere and introduce others to 'classical music in simple language'.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Ideal classical music for film?

English composer William Walton said this of film music:
"Film music is not good film music if it can be used for any other purpose."

He was excused from military service during the second world war to make music for war propaganda films and drive ambulances.

He was not enthused with the music he made for the film 'The First of the Few'. However his 'Spitfire prelude and fugue' became immensely popular and he extracted it from the film to release it as an orchestral piece. (Spitfire was called the most famous plane of World War 2)


Share this story on facebook, twitter, and elsewhere and introduce others to 'classical music in simple language'.

Monday, August 10, 2015

What is this 'Overture' in music?

The ‘Overture’ in Opera, and in mainstream movies. An old article published on theyoungindia.wordpress.com
Hear this, the Overture to Ruslan and Lyudmila (R&L), and have your hearts filled with joy. It made better this Sunday morning, muddled by the nonchalance of the rains, and the cruel indifference of the weather to the humidity. Do as I have, read something whilst listening to it, then leave aside the reading material, and sway to its energy, defined so fluidly by the violins and the flute, alternatively taking over the task to make you meditative. Leave aside the rains.


R&L is an Opera (theatrical performance set to music) in five acts, based on a poem by Alexander Pushkin. It is composed by Mikhail Glinka, often hailed as the father of Russian classical music. Behold, the Opera didn’t do wonders and Mikhail was


Share this story on facebook, twitter, and elsewhere and introduce others to 'classical music in simple language'.

Friday, August 7, 2015

The wicked 'can can' music

That damn song was the only reason I passed my periodic table tests in school. - YouTube comment
(Many of us have heard this music, but not recognised that it is part of the classical oeuvre)

We listened to French composer Jacques Offenbach's soulful Barcarolle in the last post. This time, we listen to his composition that is widely popular, great fun and also irritating. I have added some YouTube comments for this music, that appear in italics.


Share this story on facebook, twitter, and elsewhere and introduce others to 'classical music in simple language'.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The role of Barcarolle in 'Life is Beautiful'


Venice is a city in Italy. It is considered beautiful, and all of it is a World Heritage Site. They have gondolas, which are rowing boats that carry tourists. The gondola is driven by a gondolier.


The folk song sung by the gondolier is called barcarolle.

Barcarolle is also found in classical music, in the form of music set to the rhythm of the gondolier's stroke while rowing.

One of the most famous barcarolle is 'Belle nuit, รด nuit d'amour' from an opera by Jacques Offenbach. It has been used brilliantly by filmmaker Roberto Benigni in his film 'Life is Beautiful'. We are going to see the usage of this music in the film. The same music across two distinct emotions.


Share this story on facebook, twitter, and elsewhere and introduce others to 'classical music in simple language'.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

If we speak from our soul


If we speak from our soul, we can arrest people, amuse them, thrill them or even anger them in no time. Then why are we scared to bare our feelings, to speak what's on our mind? We can speak straight, yet speak kindly.

These thoughts gather me when I listen to Francesco Manfredini's 'Sinfonia in e minor'. The first two minutes of this music arrest me. That's all it takes for this composer to meet my soul.

His music speaks of a certain pathos that is identifiable even after some 300 years. Don't I always say, classical music connects to the soul?


Share this story on facebook, twitter, and elsewhere and introduce others to 'classical music in simple language'.

Friday, July 24, 2015

What is this 'cello'?


Cello is when you are deep and thoughtful despite people around you laughing.

Cello is when you are hopeful and courageous despite people around you sulking.

Other than that, cello is an instrument. It's bigger than the violin and the viola and heavier. In other posts we will talk about differences among the three.

So how does the cello fit in with the other string fellows (violin and viola)? That's what we are going to see today. This video is perfect for it.

It's a cello concerto which means the cello takes centre stage while other instruments sing around it.


Share this story on facebook, twitter, and elsewhere and introduce others to 'classical music in simple language'.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Your soul is classical

You listen to a tune and immediately connect with it. Why? That's your soul speaking, and it is suppressed.

Ever wondered why you don't like certain music? Is it a matter of taste? Or is it that you don't like it because you are made to not like it.

Music is overplayed now. There is too much music, constant music.

Music is not the ultimate relaxation. It is used these days to hide your real self. To ride over your soul. So you don't listen to your soul.

Music on radio, TV is bombardment on the senses. I would say you are made to like music through constant repetition; you get used to a certain rhythm, and then you want to listen to everything in that or closely related rhythm.


Someday, you may like the music you hate today because your senses are free from this bombardment.


Share this story on facebook, twitter, and elsewhere and introduce others to 'classical music in simple language'.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A melody in a storm

Imagine a storm. Dark clouds and dark winds gathering over the horizon. Screams and turmoil everywhere. Still, you have time for a melody. You take your partner's hand and run. Romance. Heroism in hope.

In such a stark situation, hope is the melody.
Imagine all these elements - storm, dismay, winds, terror and hope and faith in a four minute musical piece.

Such is the power of Johann Adolf Hasse's first movement of sinfonia in g minor.

Those who know about musical theory would find this an example of 'counterpoint'.

But you can know the same through listening and imagination.


Share this story on facebook, twitter, and elsewhere and introduce others to 'classical music in simple language'.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Miraculous Zelenka

The music in this post is about three hundred years old.
It is played and admired even today.

The music is haunting- fast, catchy, powerful.
Even though it's a 'miserere'; Miserere is a prayer for mercy.

Recall that you hear the 'bass type' sounds in metal and rock music.
Those sounds are not inventions. They have existed, always, in classical music. Here's a YouTube review about the 'metal-classical' music in this post.

"This is almost like Baroque Heavy Metal, with those chugging Basso Continuo, and virtually the Violas are ripping 16ths throughout the whole piece."


Share this story on facebook, twitter, and elsewhere and introduce others to 'classical music in simple language'.