Music

Staccato

19 hours ago
A Minute with Miles
Mary Noble Ours

Staccato is the Italian word for “separated,” or “detached.” Staccato notes are notes that are not sustained for their full rhythmic value: they come to a short stop, which separates them from notes that follow. They also usually have a clean, sharply articulated start. The opposite of staccato is legato, which means “connected.” Composers often specifically indicate that notes or passages should be played staccato, and they do so by placing dots, dashes, or little wedges over the notes in question.

Song Cylces

Mar 27, 2020
A Minute with Miles
Mary Noble Ours

A song cycle is a set of songs whose texts—often by a single poet—are linked by a common subject, mood, or story. Though the songs of the cycle are all individual entities, they’re designed to be heard together.  And if the marriage of music and poetry in the song represents a 19th-century Romantic ideal, the song cycle carries that ideal even further, allowing for an expanded range of expression, a deeper exploration of the individual psyche.

Musical Borrowing

Mar 26, 2020
A Minute with Miles
Mary Noble Ours

For centuries, composers of classical music have been borrowing and adapting ideas and styles from popular music. Renaissance composers, for example, based Roman Catholic masses on popular tunes. Later composers made liberal use of folk tunes and folk styles of all kinds, and modern composers have borrowed freely from jazz and blues, among many other popular styles. But here’s what we sometimes forget: It’s always worked in the other direction, as well.

Guitar History

Mar 25, 2020
A Minute with Miles
Mary Noble Ours

I’ve been reading about the guitar lately, and here’s what I’ve found: When it comes to the history of the guitar, the only thing that’s certain… is that nothing is certain. Did the early plucked ancestors of the modern guitar make their way to Europe from Asia and the Middle East? Possibly. There are tomb paintings from ancient Egypt, after all, and Hittite stone carvings from over three thousand years ago that show guitar-like instruments, not to mention an actual guitar-like instrument from Egypt that’s 3500 years old.

Arrangements

Mar 24, 2020
A Minute with Miles
Mary Noble Ours

To make an arrangement of a musical composition is to rewrite the composition for a new set of musical forces—to rewrite a wind quintet for string quartet, for example, or to transform a string quartet into a piano trio. In the process of arrangement, a piece may be altered in all sorts of ways, but the original composition always remains recognizable. And arranging is an art in itself—it can be done ingeniously and beautifully, helping us to hear a piece with fresh ears—and it can be done clumsily, and badly.

A Capella

Mar 23, 2020
A Minute with Miles
Mary Noble Ours

The term a capella is one of the more familiar Italian terms we run into in the music world. When applied to vocal music, a capella simply means “without instrumental accompaniment.” But you may find the derivation of the term interesting. The literal meaning of a capella in Italian is “as in the chapel,” or “in the style of the chapel.” And what has the chapel got to do with it?

Beethoven's First Piano Concerto with Phillip Bush

Feb 17, 2020
Bradley Fuller, South Carolina Public Radio

Not long after his arrival in Vienna in late 1792, a young Ludwig van Beethoven was beginning to make an impression in the musical city. The Austrian capital had only a year prior lost one of its other famous residents—Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart—and Beethoven showed promising signs of carrying the composer’s legacy forward into a new century. Like Mozart, Beethoven was skilled as both a performer and a composer, using talents in one specialty to highlight those in another. 

Bradley Fuller, South Carolina Public Radio

Late nights are a frustrating fact of life for many musicians. Too often, the time after sundown is all that remains for performing, practicing, working against an upcoming deadline, or agonizing over an artistic quandary.

But for composer Thomas Palmer, a senior studying composition and clarinet performance at the Unviersity of South Carolina School of Music, there’s inspiration to be found even in the drudgery of a sleep-deprived state. His reed quintet Red-Eye (2019), recently published by Murphy Music Press, is a musical representation of staying up late.

Bradley Fuller / South Carolina Public Radio

Those who insist that speaking about music is akin to dancing about architecture would do well to take a few preliminary steps with Columbia-based conductor Nisan Ak. A native of Istanbul, Turkey, Ak knows that a little preparation before taking in a performance can go a long way.

David Ball (second from left) and his band.
Courtesy of the artist

Country music has made and broken careers for close to a century now.  David Ball of Spartanburg is one of the survivors, enjoying a long career in the field.  In high school he joined the legendary acoustic trio Uncle Walt's Band, playing a blend of bluegrass, blues, swing and folk, "and then that of course led me into Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family," he recalls of his introduction to country. 

Columbia Native's Country Music Dream Lasts a Lifetime

Sep 12, 2019
Bemo Prince, at the mic, with some of his band members.
Courtesy of the artist

Country music finds fans in a variety of ways, most often by either hearing the music on the radio or seeing country artists play live.  That's the way Bemo Prince of Columbia became a country music fan.  "My daddy took me to hear...Snuffy Jenkins and the Hired Hands, and I was hooked."

Country Music

Sep 2, 2019
Dwight Yoakam plays a Martin D-28 guitar. Yoakam is among the 76 of the 101 country music artists interviewed for the series who signed two Martin D-28 guitars.
Courtesy of Jared Ames

Since its first publication in 1968, Bill C. Malone’s Country Music USA has won universal acclaim as the definitive history of American country music. Starting with the music’s folk roots in the rural South, it traces country music from the early days of radio into the twenty-first century. In the 2019,  fiftieth-anniversary edition, Malone, the featured historian in Ken Burns’s 2019 documentary on country music, has revised every chapter to offer new information and fresh insights.

Tom Strange

During a rare moment of down time at the Carolina Music Museum, located in Downtown Greenville, I had a chance to bring my microphones, some music and another pianist to sit down and try out the historic keyboard instruments from their Facing South exhibit that will soon be wrapped up to make room for a brand new collection of such extent to warrant a name change.  Lisa Kiser is the principal keyboardist of the Greenville Symphony Orchestra. She will perform works by Mozart and Liszt on pianos from 1791 and 1863.

How South Carolina Music Producers Make Songs Music to Our Ears

Jul 9, 2019
File picture of a microphone.
vanleuven0 via Pixabay

Many famous musical artists have been heavily influenced by their audio producers, but Joe Miller, a music producer who owns and operates the Sounds Like Joe recording studio in Rock Hill, South Carolina, describes his job in humble terms. “I like to consider my artistic domain, I move air and people hear it,” he said.

Producing music is defined by taking music written by an artist or composer and transforming it into a high quality, professional studio sound. It involves several tough decisions that producers must make when there are several options available. 

Selecting the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra

Jun 7, 2019
Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra members carry their insturments in downtown Charleston
Victoria Hansen

They are sure signs of Spoleto in downtown Charleston; instrument toting musicians and scorching heat.  Among the jostling violin cases, is Shannon Fitzhenry.  She’s back for her second year with the annual Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra, one of 92 musicians chosen to play.

“The goal is to get up in time to warm up before rehearsal,” she laughs.  The Charleston native grew up with Spoleto, but admits she didn't fully appreciate it until she  moved away to study music at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Maryland.

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