Posted in Part 1 - Listening ST, Uncategorized

Mass Music, Part 2

In this post I will list the Renaissance and post-Renaissance mass compositions I’ve listened to, which include some 20th century neo-Renaissance pieces. All the compositions I’ve listened to are linked to my post for Research Point 1.1 here.

Polyphonic Renaissance Mass Pieces

Josquin des PrezMissa Pange Lingua (c. 1515)

Josquin wrote around 20 cyclic masses, making a compendium of all techniques of mass composition from his time, while introducing several new ones. As listening to all of them would take up too much time, I decided to focus on one of them. While I wanted to take a look at the new technique of solmization syllables, such as in his famous Missa Hercules Dux Ferrariae, where the cantus firmus is based on the syllables of the Duke’s name, in the end, I decided to take a look at Missa Pange lingua. Beside the use of imitation, what I found the most interesting is the way the Gregorian hymn Pange lingua has been transformed under the paraphrasing hand of Josquin, with the work completely organized around its melodic material, each movement with the motto beginning, being a type of variation and fantasy on the hymn. I was really absorbed to comparing the original hymn to its modified treatment, especially in Agnus Dei – the movement I enjoyed the most. I believe Josquin really put the Gregorian melody into the contemporary context of his time. In this sense, this Ordinary mass cycle shows how polyphonic techniques at the time weren’t used just as showcases of preferred musical taste with a set of compositional rules, but also a tool by which musicians could engage with the now detached old gems of music, under the new consideration that is supplied with novel techniques. I truly enjoy this type of historical interactions when studying the stylistic approach to music.

Orlando di LassoMissa super ‘Osculetur me’ (1582)

Although Palestrina is known as the hallmark of the Renaissance polyphonic mass compositions, I decided to also check out Lasso’s output of mass music, especially since he wrote around 60 of them. What I found very interesting about this mass is its use of the double-choir antiphonal music, reminiscent of the Venetian style of polychoral techniques, perhaps even being its precursor. I really tried to have my ears spot the differences in sonority between passages for one choir and those with both. However, I found this very difficult to accomplish, probably because my ears, used to the modern music, aren’t sensitive enough to spot these as contrasts, but only as barely-noticeable dissimilarities.

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina – Missa Papae Marcelli (c. 1562)

Palestrina, of course, made the biggest achievements in the field of mass composition, writing for all types of masses, influencing many future generations with his technical accomplishments. I have heard several of his mass pieces, and here decided to finally to listen to Missa Papae Marcelli, as it was historically significant when the Council of Trent raised the concerns over polyphonic music. The mass is based on the freely composed new material. What enjoyed the most was the contrast between the Credo and Gloria movements in the homophonic and declamatory style with block chords, and Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus Dei in the florid, imitative style. Used here for the first time, this is a feature that will appear in all Palestrina’s subsequent masses.

Post-Renaissance Mass

Claudio MonteverdiMissa in illo tempore (1610) and Gloria a 7 voci (1640/1641)

I chose these two mass compositions by Monterverdi to compare the two styles of music that have appeared in Baroque music – stile antico and stile moderno. Indeed, the difference is gigantic. Missa in illo tempore is truly reminiscent of Palestrina’s style, with much everything the same, only organs added and clearer cadences, while Gloria a 7 voci, sounds very baroque, with many instrumental flourishes and continuo. It is interesting how one genre of music, in this case, the mass, can survive both as the practice that is preserving the old traditions, and as the practice that looks into the future. Continue reading “Mass Music, Part 2”

Posted in Part 1 - Listening ST

Mass Music, Part 1

In this part of the listening log, I will list the mass compositions I’ve listened to. I’ve included different historical periods and styles, which I’ve divided into two posts with several sections. In this post I will list the Gregorian mass chants and early polyphonic mass music. All the compositions I’ve listened to are linked to my posts for Research Point 1.1 here.

Gregorian Mass Chants

As I have mentioned in one of the posts linked above, the Gradual and Alleluia compositions were considered the musical high points of the mass and their sequences. Beside these Proper items, I have also listened to some chants from the Ordinary of the mass.

Christus factus est and Ecce Sacerdos Magnus

What I’ve found particularly interesting is how these two graduals, both in 5th mode, demonstrate the technique of centonization, being a kind of extreme case by having almost identical melodies, with only differences arising from the accommodating of the different texts. As can be expected from the form of gradual, they are very florid and melismatic.

Alleluia Dominus in Sina and Spiritus Domini

Like the graduals, both these chants are very melismatic, especially the alleluia sections with its jubilus. Although I really enjoyed the graduals, I find alleluias to be my favorite chants from Mass proper.

Christus hunc Diem and Veni Sancte Spiritus

What I observed immediately is how distinct the sequences sound from the graduals and alleluias. These two are direct continuations from the two alleluias I’ve listed above. Whereas before I did the research, I probably wouldn’t have noticed any difference, now I can clearly distinguish the stylistic discrepancies that arise from the age of composition coming from disparate periods – sequences being the new Frankish additions to the graduals and alleluias from the old Gregorian repertoire. Indeed, the stylistic dissimilarities, especially in the movement of the melody and the treatment of the text, are very audible once you know what to listen for, and I am glad I now know how to approach these specific areas of Gregorian chant, in a sense, gaining stylistic consciousness, despite the fact that many would consider Gregorian chant to be one uniform style of music.

Kyrie VIII and Kyrie Rex Aeterno – I found it very engaging, comparatively listening to the original Kyrie and its trope. Interestingly, this is the only Kyrie that hasn’t been grouped in the Kyriale by its trope. The reason may perhaps be the late origin of the trope. It includes both the addition of text and the melodic changes, making the original Kyrie much more complex. 

Early Polyphonic Mass

I tried to include all the polyphonic mass forms that appeared until Renaissance, including organum and the first Ordinary cycles, however organum compositions in particular were really difficult to find.

Organum Rex caeli, Domine (9th century)

The earliest organum were based on the sequences for alleluias and graduals. This one in the oblique form is based on the sequence Rex caeli, Domine. What I enjoyed the most was the drone effect that is characteristic for the oblique organum.  Continue reading “Mass Music, Part 1”

Posted in Project 2: Palestrina and the Mass

Research Point 1.1, Part A3: Post-Renaissance Mass

This is the final section of the first part of the research, the task of which is to write about mass music in its historical, stylistic and other contexts. While the first post was dedicated to the early monophonic mass, and the second to the polyphonic mass, here, I will describe how the Renaissance mass affected the music of subsequent generations, tracing its legacy from Baroque to Modern period. While I followed the chronology rather strictly in the previous two posts, here the ordering will be very loose, due to my predominantly stylistically-driven considerations.

At the beginning 17th century, the music began transitioning from Renaissance to Baroque, and Italy took the lead as the place of both the preservation of the old and the creation of the new practices, with three distinct traditions of mass writing taking hold. (Atlas, 2006: 119) The preservation of old, contrapuntal a capella conventions associated with Palestrina was named stile antico, while the music composed in the new practice was named stile moderno, and this stylistic awareness paved way for the development of the concept of style consciousness, which became a defining premise of Baroque music. (Buelow, 2004: 41)

Stile antico, with its controlled treatment of dissonance, was primarily based in Rome (Fig. 1), the center of musical conservatism, continued by composers such as Bernardi, Draghi and Lotti. (Apel, 1969: 509) However, it still filtered Palestrina’s style through ‘seventeenth-century ears’, where the music now showcased a clearer sense of tonality and cadences, surface and harmonic rhythm. (Atlas, 2006: 119) Not only that, but as Arnold and Harper (2001) stated, although the mass compositions are frequently designated as a cappella, this does not imply unaccompanied performance, but rather, the organ frequently supported the voices, further emphasizing the harmonic elements of the composition.


Fig. 1. View of Rome with Saint Peter’s and the Castel Sant’Angelo Seen from Tiber (Marlow, c. 1721–67) Continue reading “Research Point 1.1, Part A3: Post-Renaissance Mass”

Posted in Project 2: Palestrina and the Mass

Research Point 1.1, Part A2: Polyphonic Mass

This is section 2 of the first part of the research point, the brief of which is to write about the mass, its history and musical structure. In the previous section, I traced the early monophonic mass, while in this post I will give an outline of the mass and its form in the development of the polyphonic music.

Prior to c. 1250, the Gregorian chants that were being used as the basis for early polyphonic music were frequently the Mass Proper items (Apel, 1969: 508), especially the elaborate responsorial forms, which were considered the highest musical points of the mass. The earliest form of polyphony is the note-against-note organum – parallel and oblique, which I wrote about in this research for composing music 1 unit. The sequences of the responsorial Proper chants – Gradual and Alleluia (or Tract which is used instead of Alleluia during Lent and Requiem Mass) were the first to serve as the melodic material for organum. The sequences arose from the enthusiasm of Frankish composers for writing melismas, who tended towards replacing the repeat of the Alleluia and its jubilus (melisma on final a of the word) with an even more extended melisma called sequentia. The sequence evolved further, increasing in size, sometimes ten times as long as Alleluia and its jubilus, thus becoming more than a simple extension of the Alleluia melisma. With the addition of text, called prosa, the sequence was established as a separate musical form, whose syllabic structure (due to the added text, but ironic in a sense, since it developed from melismas) and clear melodic phrasing allowed for polyphonic treatment. Next to Alleluia, it was also placed after the Gradual. This is not the least surprising, since the sequence became a unique musical form of the Franks that could finally rival the expressiveness and artistry of the melismatic Graduals of the old Gregorian composers. (Crocker, 1986: 34-35)

For the early organum forms based on the sequences, the polyphony meant singing the same melody, only 4th or 5th below. However, by the 11th century, not only was the organal voice now above the main melody, but the parallel and oblique motions combined with the new contrary motion in the free organum, and the melody now differed between the voices. As the polyphony was developing, largely in the Aquitanian region, the main drive at the time were the poetic experimentations of the versus – the rhyming, scanning, strophic chants of the 1000s, which provided polyphony their ingratiating melodies, such as at St. Martial (Fig. 1). (Crocker, 1986: 63)

Fig. 1. Illustrations of Abbey of St. Martial in Limoges, left (1594) and right (1901) Continue reading “Research Point 1.1, Part A2: Polyphonic Mass”

Posted in Project 2: Palestrina and the Mass, Uncategorized

Research Point 1.1, Part A1: Early Monophonic Mass

The first part of this research point is learning more about the mass, its history and musical structure. It is a very exciting topic for me, since I could link in my old research posts from composing music 1 unit, which allowed me to go over this extensive subject in much detail. As such, due to the depth of my research, I will divide this point into several posts. In this section, I will talk about the early monophonic mass, with a particular focus on the Gregorian chant.

Mass is the celebration and commemoration of the Last Supper, also called Eucharist. The name is derived from the Latin words ‘Ite, missa est’, translated as ‘Depart, the congregation is dismissed’, which appears at the end of the service as the dismissal of the assembly. However, there are some debates over the semantics of this vesicle and whether it simply designates the dismissal of the congregation or indicates a deeper meaning, as Pope Benedict XVI and the catechism referred to it in connection to the word missio – the mission. (Suerte Felipe, 2010: 90-93) In this regard, the vesicle is understood as the missionary nature of Christianity, denoting that the faithful are sent to put into practice what they have learned, and use the graces they have received during the liturgy in their daily lives.

Whichever the case, the origins of the mass is in the evening ceremonial meals, called agape or love feast. (Fig. 1) I wrote about this topic in a research for composing music 1 unit here. As I have indicated there, this type of meal was usually accompanied by singing, however, not only related to the Jewish ceremonial meals, but was also prevalent in the overall cultural context of the time, in other words, present in other religious settings, such as pagan cults. Due to some abuses described by Paul at Corinth, however, the Eucharist divorced from the evening meal, becoming a Sunday morning celebration.


Fig. 1. Fresco of Agape feast (2006) Continue reading “Research Point 1.1, Part A1: Early Monophonic Mass”

Posted in Other

Article on St. Vincent’s Paris Burning in the Revisitation of the 1960s Baroque Rock

In September, I started a Singing and Songwriting course at the Point Blank Music School in London. Most of the things we learn are related to the popular music and music industry, involving how to use different software and hardware. However, I realized that I can publish an article I wrote for one of the assessments on this blog. In the article I give an exhaustive analysis of St. Vincent’s Paris is Burning in relation to the 1960s Baroque Rock genre. This is a bit different for my blog in terms of content, but nonetheless relates to my musical journey, which is why I decided to include it under the ‘Other’ category. Here is it is:

Revisitation of 1960s Baroque Rock in St. Vincent’s Paris is Burning:

Classical Music Motifs in the Evocation of Historical Themes and the Musical Destruction of the Genre.

Paris is Burning is a popular song composed by the American singer and songwriter Anne Clark, known professionally under her stage name St. Vincent. It was first released in 2006 as a part of her EP, and shortly after included in her 2007 debut album Marry Me. Revisiting the baroque rock genre that emerged in 1960s and faded by 1970s, the song stylistically differs from her rest in its distinctive use of classical music motifs in order to recall the past revolutionary and war-time eras, when the civil disorder was expressed through radical and violent means. In this article, I will identify these musical motifs and how they have been modernized and filtered through the lens of contemporary popular music, providing social commentaries relevant to our own era, as well as how they confront and ultimately destroy the baroque rock genre itself.

Beginning with a short outline of baroque rock, the genre originated in 1960s as a part of the flourishing counterculture, establishing itself, as Gulgas (2017, pp. 22-23) points out drawing from the ideas of the literary theorist Susan Sontag, by bridging the gap between the polarized binaries of ‘high’ and ‘low’ art, through the intertextual and referential layer of incorporating classical music into rock. Furthermore, primarily characterized by what Gulgas terms ‘the postmodern nostalgia’, baroque rock is a genre where the past is musically rearticulated into the present as a type of ironic detachment and interpretation. Among the musicians who explored the postmodern nostalgia and its idea of non-linear time are the Beatles with songs such as Yesterday and In My Life, Rolling Stone with As Tears Go By, The Kinks with The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, The Left Bank with Walk Away Renee, and others. All of these songs tackle the notion of memory by utilizing the musical borrowings from classical music, such as string and brass quartets, baroque counterpoint and instrumentation, etc., in order to appropriate them into an ironic, tenderly bittersweet depiction of one’s sentimental remembrance, in which the past is perpetually repeating in one’s experience of the present. Although often grouped as a baroque rock song, as I will now examine, St. Vincent’s Paris is Burning not only challenges the role of baroque rock musical strategies by slanting its representation and understanding of temporality, but it is essentially what I would call, an anti-baroque rock song. 

The opening of Paris is Burning is a short brass quartet introduction in the minor dominant region of the Ab minor key, in which the song is set, as a stately, but already dim anticipation of the tense and dark atmosphere, which is soon to emerge in a considerable discrepancy to the light mood of the 1960s baroque rock. Despite the pentatonic melody resulting from the minor dominant region, which would rather appear as the major dominant in classical music, the timbre of the brass instruments transforms the phrase into a type of rustic sound, which invokes the feeling of bygone epochs of Western musical traditions. Yet, in the last moment of the brass introduction, the listener will suddenly notice the modern manipulations added to the final notes, such as the striking, unexpected artificial crescendo and the change to a computerized timbre, suggesting the present day and its technology lurking and controlling the instrumental soundtrack. This sharp, electronically-accomplished rise in dynamics, makes the listener aware, at the very beginning of the song, of the contemporary lens through which the past is looked upon, revealing the modern sound editing processes that were concealed in the 1960s baroque rock songs. Along these lines, the instance could be seen as a musical example of the breaking of the fourth wall, an idea introduced by Brecht in regards to theatre and performance. (Brecht, 1964, pp. 91-92)

As the brass instruments and their ceremonious quaver and crochet notes fade, the soft and thin-sounding acoustic guitar takes over with the fast broken arpeggio semiquavers in high register. Having a quality similar to the fast arpeggio passages and note repetitions that would be often played on harpsichord and other plucked-keyboard instruments, the guitar nods to the age of baroque and classical music. Interfering in this texture is the hollow ringing of the hi-hats that is repeating fast rhythmical patterns, suggestive of the percussive patterns usually heard in marches, which constitute a large part of classical music repertoire, with famous examples, such as Radetsky March by Strauss and Grand March by Wagner from his Tannhauser. However, with its slow tempo, minor key and gloomy mood, Paris is Burning touches on a specific type of march – the dead or funeral march, such as Alkan’s Marche Funebre Op. 26, Ferdinand David’s Marcia Funebre, Mahler’s funeral march from Symphony No. 1 and similar. As I will describe, the dry- and cold-sounding, mechanical sonorities of the funeral march music stand in stark opposition to the lyricism of the 1960s songs I have mentioned, placing the listener in a certain historical context accompanied by the actualities of killings, executions and massacres. Yet, by being interlaced into the modernized facet of the song, these elements are also ahistorical in the sense of portraying the timeless nature of militarism and death that overshadows all history of humanity, including our own age.

The first verse begins with the appearance of the voice in the topline, as the bass kicks in with deep slow notes. The sound of the voice is very echoey, giving a feeling as if it is calling from distant past, broadcasted over an old radio or similar device. The lyrics are in epistolary form, being spoken words of an imaginary letter:

I write to give word the war is over,

Send my cinders home to mothers,

They gave me a medal for my valor,

Laden trumpets spit the sooth of power.

                                                                                                                    (St. Vincent, 2006)

While in the 1960s baroque rock songs the lyrics recollect the past in relation to personal, everyday life circumstances that have been romanticized through memory to express nostalgia, here, although addressed in first person form, the lyrics are presented in an official and factual way, as if written by a soldier figure indifferently reporting about the events from a revolution or battle, unfolding during a period of historical unrest. Stripped from the baroque rock’s ironic sensibility, the past is encapsulated not as somebody’s experience of it, but as somebody’s historical documentation of it. It’s also interesting to discern that the brass quartet already anticipated the idea of trumpets, mentioned now in the last line of the verse, showing the independence of the soundtrack in relation to the topline; it is not just a passive background pastiche for the voice to recount the past as in 1960s songs, but just like the topline, it has its own active temporality in the construction of past.

The pre-chorus begins with the thickening of the texture and louder dynamics, as the thin, repeated guitar notes are replaced by the stronger timbre of the computer-generated, siren-like ostinato, and the hi-hats are simultaneously taken over by the kick drum, joined in with the bass, in order to fortify the dark pulsation of the funeral march. Meanwhile, the voice switches from the deep to middle register, no longer being echoey, but ghostly in quality with the added sound effects, illustrating the universal deception of the sovereign forces in war and revolution, delineated by the lyrics that allude to Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “sleep while I slip, poison in your ear.” After this, with the ascending low-register guitar notes reminding of the lute, the short instrumental break climbs into the chorus, which alternates in texture from the unison playing of topline’s melody by the lute-like guitar, to the even stronger thumping of the funeral march pulse. At the same time, the voice became percussive in the articulation of the words, alternating between the chest and head voice, the latter implying the operatic and classical music singing styles.

At this point, the lyrics talk about the burning of Paris, which as Bentley (2016) suggests, isn’t connected to any concrete historical destructions of the city. Instead, I would propose that the song is using the imagery of Paris burning as a metaphor for the revolutionary turmoil that slowly swept the globe, which began with the 18th-century uprisings in France. Furthermore, the song also reflects upon the contemporary decades, considering their Modernistic and Postmodernistic tendencies in society and art, which are, as Larrissy (1999, p. 1) described, ultimately linked to Romanticism and its ideologies – the driving forces of the Age of Revolution. Whereas the approach of the 1960s baroque rock musicians to the classical music motifs was to provide deconstruction of the everyday, turning it into an environment where the fabric of one’s present and its familiarity are disturbed by memory, epitomized in the sounds of the past (Gulgas, 2017, pp. 24-25), the motifs are appropriated only as neoclassical stylistic flourishes. St Vincent responds to this, by using the classical music motifs in combination with the visions of Parisian revolt and destruction from the standpoint of New Romanticism, in order to demonstrate a larger historical fabric, one where the everyday is a “transition from a place not yet left behind, to another space it has not yet entered, and probably never will” (Notes on Metamodernism, 2010), an allegory for the state of our generation.

The above can be best recognized in the structural skepticism which occurs at the end of the chorus, where the topline introduces a semiotic proposal that the funeral march is instead a “black waltz”. In this exact instant, the listener begins to question whether the pulsations heard are actually a part of the word-painting – oom pah pah rhythm of the dance. As such, the pulsations illustrate the concept of the ‘familiar’ that at the same time has the ‘aura of the unfamiliar’, highlighted as an important feature of New Romanticism. (Notes on Metamodernism, 2010) However, the listener has been deceived, since the funeral march is the rhythm that carries on into the instrumental break, whose descending baroque sequential passage has been modernized into a fiery sound of the electric violin, bringing forth the repetition of the verse, pre-chorus and chorus. Yet, after the second chorus, we are once again cheated, since the oom pah pahs of the waltz actually do take over this time, changing the time signature and accelerating the tempo of the song from the stately 4/4 of the funeral march into the fast 3/8.

The outro waltz is the point of culmination of the whole song, initiating a sense of increasing agitation and anxiety through its whirling repetitiveness of the ostinato rhythm. Accompanied by constant gradations, such as the incorporation of the tambourines and claps, fast quaver notes of the fiery electric violin, countermelody of the electric guitar, and other elements, the texture, dynamics and musical motifs are more and more intensified, until the complete breakdown in fortissimo where the song ends. Waltz is an interesting choice, since as early as its emergence, it carried ‘revolutionary implications’ in contrast to the sophisticated minuet of the court, featuring the controversial close embrace of the couples and the continuous circular turning, which the early writers criticized to have induced vertigo and nervous symptoms. (Yaraman, 2002, p.5; pp. 7-9) Furthermore, the waltz in Paris is Burning is also comparable to the ‘dance-destruction trajectory’ (Mawer, 2011, p. 65) explored by the 20th-century classical composer, Maurice Ravel. Besides his famous Bolero, Ravel also tests the waltz genre itself in his La Valse, eliminating the sentimentalism of the dance in order to accentuate its machine-like nature, elevating “musical materials to their breaking-point”, as the mechanism and automation of endless circularity and ostinato prove to be cataclysmic. (Mawer, 2011, pp.150-155) Within this frame of reference, I would assert that Paris is Burning uses its black waltz to destroy the baroque rock genre, with the lyrics and the rising musical calamity painting an utter defeat:

Dance poor people, dance and drown,

Dance fair Paris to the ground.

                                                                          (St. Vincent, 2006)

Ending with “Dance fair Paris, ashes now,” the frantic waltz torments the listener with the nightmarish connotations of nostalgia and the destructive power of its fantasy, while the imagery of complete annihilation of those dancing the waltz attests to New Romanticism’s “finite with the appearance of the infinite” (Notes on Metamodernism, 2010) that haunts the twenty-first century. With the repetition of the brass introduction that fades with ritenuto into complete softness, the song concludes with the removal of the lens through which we observed the past. There is a sense of relief in the silence after the song’s ending, as the listener returns to the present-day and its ‘impossible possibility of another here and now.’ (Notes on Metamodernism, 2010)

In conclusion, despite often being categorized as a baroque rock song, St Vincent’s Paris is Burning actually epitomizes the antithesis of the 1960s genre in its distinctive approach to the classical music motifs. From its musical breaking of the fourth wall that makes the listener aware of the present day’s technology mediating the experience of the past, the soundtrack that has been liberated from the topline to have its own temporality in the construction of such past, to the destruction of the postmodern nostalgia in the modernized use of the borrowed classical music motifs, as well as the structural skepticism that occurs all throughout, the song offers a New Romantic perspective in the revisitation of the genre, wrecking it into the chaotic imagery of the Parisian ruins. As a result, despite the recent revivals of the genre in bands such as the Divine Comedy, Paris is Burning, once and for all, musically dismantled and sabotaged the main ideas of baroque rock, whose ironic sentimentality towards the commonplace and the quotidian in the form of the neoclassical soundscape has, just like the Paris in the song, been smoldered into ashes.


Bentley, D., 2016. CSFTD #28: St. Vincent – Paris is Burning. Too many blogs, [blog] 11 April. Available at: [Accessed 16 October 2018]

Brecht, B., 1964. Alienation Effects in Chinese Acting. In: Willett, J. ed. and trans., Brecht on Theatre. New York: Hill & Wang.

Gulgas, S., 2017. Looking Forward to the Past: Baroque Rock’s Postmodern Nostalgia and the Politics of Memory. Ph. D. University of Pittsburgh. Available at: [Accessed 18 October 2018]

Larrissy, E. ed., 1999. Romanticism and Postmodernism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Mawer, D. ed., 2011. The Cambridge Companion to Ravel. [Online] Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Available at: [Accessed 24 October 2018]

Notes on Metamodernism, 2010. New Romanticism. Notes on Metamodernism,


9 August. Available at: [Accessed 21 October 2018]

St. Vincent, 2006. Paris is Burning. In: Paris is Burning (2006) [EP] Nail Polish Manifesto Music.; Marry Me (2007) [CD] Beggars Banquet.

Yaraman, S. H., 2002. Revolving Embrace: The Waltz as Sex, Steps, and Sound. New York: Pendragon Press.

Posted in Project 3: Introduction to Species Counterpoint

Exercise 1.5

The final exercise of Project 3 is about completing two examples given from the Renaissance repertoire in imitative counterpoint. The two examples are adapted so that the exact imitation of the given voice will lead to harmony and texture falling into place. I will not give any analysis, since this exercise is quite straight-forward.

Here is my solution for example 1 from Palestrina’s Missa Brevis, the beginning of Sanctus movement:

exercise 1.5 a.png

Finally, here my solution for example 2, also from Palestrina’s Missa Brevis, this time the opening of Benedictus movement:

exercise 1.5 b.png

In conclusion, I really enjoyed all the exercises for Project 3, which brought me a great refreshment of my old knowledge about the counterpoint species devised by Fux. I should mention that it is this exercise that I found particularly interesting, since the examples are based on the actual pieces from the repertoire, which I never had the experience of working with before, but would only write counterpoint for the melodies written by my teachers for the purpose of practicing. Finally, take a look at my assignment solutions and the listening log, where I list the mass music I’ve listened to.

Posted in Project 2: Palestrina and the Mass, Uncategorized

Research Point 1.1, Part B: Music and Religion

The second part of this research point is to write a brief article of around 500 words (although I went a bit above this threshold, almost 800 words), regarding the connection between music and religion, interlacing my personal position with the material I’ve discovered. Below is my short essay on the topic.

Music and Religion: The Layered Entanglement

From the historical perspective, although far from the contemporary understanding, in a loose manner, the interplays between music and religion may be traced all the way back to the prehistory, when, as Boivin (2004: 48) points out, ‘percussion and/or other sounds contributed to the creation of an appropriate spiritual or emotional state for viewing or creation of rock art in ritual context.’ In a peculiar way, despite the scarce information that is available regarding the music from this period, the rock art might represent the first musical artefacts that visually depict how early the humanity recognized the value of acoustics and sound-production for the mystical act of worship. Along these lines, the primitive societies today retained the force of music as a type of tone-magic in their percussive shamanistic rituals, often accompanied by trance.

The above contrasts the modern frame of reference, where music is seen to interact with religion, now in the institutionalized settings, in the sense of aiding wakeful and calm meditative states of devotion. This association can be observed in many organized religions across the world, and the scholars usually focus on the sacred music from one of the traditions as the area of their investigation, for example, trying to discover how the vocal music became the dominant form in certain religious landscapes, and how some particular sounds became emblematic of a certain tradition, such as om
in Hinduism, throat-singing in Buddhism, certain vocalizations in Islam, shofar in Judaism, and church organ and bell in Christianity. (Hackett, 2012: 17) Continue reading “Research Point 1.1, Part B: Music and Religion”

Posted in Woodwind Repertoire

Clarinet pieces

This is a list of clarinet pieces I’ve listened to, including some of my thoughts on each composition. While I focused on the unaccompanied and accompanied solo works, I also included interesting ensemble and orchestral compositions when these contain interesting clarinet sections.

Unaccompanied Solo Clarinet

Bela Kovacs – Hommages (1994)

This is a set of etudes dedicated to and written in style of nine composers: Bach, Paganini, Weber, Debussy, De Falla, Strauss, Bartok, Kodaly and Khatchaturian.

I was really amazed by these pieces. Firstly, I think the series proves how with ‘sufficient knowledge of styles, coupled with a sense of humor and a certain amount of fantasy’ (Kovacs, 1994) incredible music can be composed. This is something that I hope to achieve one day with my own pieces, and hence was very inspired by. Besides being a great introduction to different composers and styles, I was also pleasantly surprised by how the clarinet was made to sound like other instruments, having a kind of treatment that is specific for the instruments it imitates. Being a violinist, I first noticed this in Hommage a Paganini. The moderato section in 6/8 seems as if the clarinet is playing the spiccato or other jumping bows that go from G to E string, with even the chord crochet notes that sound as if played across the strings, which is idiomatic for violin. In the allegro molto section in 2/4, it is contrasted with the clarinet that sounds as if it is playing the rapid notes on long bows, with even some coloring changes that make it sound as if some sections are played on the darker, lower strings, while other on brighter, higher strings. Playing all these things that are idiomatic for violin, to me the clarinet almost sounded completely like a violin. Continue reading “Clarinet pieces”

Posted in For Project 14

Project 14 Research 2: Wagner’s Prelude to Das Rheingold – Drones in Western Music and Pastorale; the Ethereal Link between Music and Biology

I was quite intrigued by the research point of Project 14, which mentions Wagner’s Prelude to Das Rheingold and its sustaining gradation centered around one tone – Eb, and its harmony – Eb major, for 136 bars, which is approximately 4 minutes long. Erickson (1975: 94) calls it ‘the only well-known drone piece in the concert repertory’, being “long enough for listeners to feel the absence of root movement or chord progression.”

Indeed, beside the Prelude to Das Rheingold, Erickson (1975: 95) only lists two contemporary pieces as the examples of the Western experimentation with the drone – Rabe’s Was??, an electronical composition written around 1968, and Rush’s Hard Music, composed around 1970 for three amplified pianos. However, reading more about Wagner’s prelude, Deathridge (2008: 50) argues that the ‘powerfully suggestive musical idea’ has roots in the instrumental pastorale of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, adopting the devices of the genre – the drone bass, the lilting 6/8 meter, triadic harmony, which Wagner stretched out into ‘a ritualistic, static musical allegory’. This made me further investigate the genre of pastorale.  Continue reading “Project 14 Research 2: Wagner’s Prelude to Das Rheingold – Drones in Western Music and Pastorale; the Ethereal Link between Music and Biology”