Monthly Archives: August 2014

121: Notation

Okay, it’s too much work to throw random Wiktionary entries into post titles, so effective this post, I am no longer doing this thing that apparently unfairly tricks search engines into thinking I write anything of value. Two return values with one function, I guess.

I cannot get over Yujij Nomi’s “Nichijou 0 Ending Theme” (the music that accompanies the end credits for Nichijou Episode 0). There is nothing particularly musically redeeming, but it still sparkles with vitality that Nomi seems to radiate in his compositions. It carries itself gracefully with lush orchestration, creative harmonies, and well-placed progressions / modulations to stave off repetition. The piano part is not especially innovative but manages to avoid cliche: silken runs up and down the keyboard in fast arpeggios that kind of slide off at the end of each phrase. I doff my hat at the pianist who played this bit. The whole thing is lashed together beautifully with Sayaka Sasaki at the helm providing a wordless vocal line. The strings double her part, of course, but they are recorded at a distance, whereas Sayaka sounds in-your-face. She has a delightful singing voice – certainly not one that would carry her to the opera house, but more than enough to find her a comfortable place in any mainstream production.

The biggest draw for this particular piece is the rhythmic bombshell Nomi casually drops on us. “Nichijou 0 Ending Theme” is undoubtedly a piece in triple meter (the first theme to appear and all backing thereafter take the character of a waltz), but the primary theme alternates seamlessly between duple and triple meter (I suggest 2/4 out of convenience on the duple end; it seems to bisect each measure very carefully), eight bars in each. After eight bars of expository (which eventually becomes the secondary theme), the thematic material is stated properly: eight bars 2/4 and eight bars 3/4, twice over to cadence into a resolution (to enter the B section, a modulation to D flat major; to conclude the piece after recapitulation to the A section, a clean slide to a tonic chord in G).

I must stress that this is strictly something that only the melody leader need worry about. The rest of the orchestra carries on in 3/4 the whole time, all through the piece (song?). I can’t even imagine a clean way to notate this shenanigan, so I just write in two different time signatures between clefs and change signatures every eight measures. The preceding sentence ushers in an important point: I am so enamored with this piece that I am already sketching an arrangement for it. The pianoforte will never replicate the lovely cantabile sound requisite for this, but I am too caught up and invested to really care. These are interpretive problems, less a worry for the arranger.

…Who am I kidding? I don’t publish my arrangements. I’m the only one who plays them. This is going to be my problem no matter how I spin it. I couldn’t interpret my way out of a concert hall full of potheads. I’ve got some practice to play.

Sight reading is going at the usual glacial pace with Rachmaninoff’s fourth piano concerto, but for some reason the accidentals bother me no more. The slowest link in the learning chain is my poor technique which can only be straightened out with copious practice over time. The first and second movements are now completely read and almost altogether playable, but the third movement presents the thorniest reading of the concerto. I look forward to tackling it eventually.


Hare Hare Yukai

Picture me shirtless, disheveled, demented – dancing madly ’round the room like a moron. I don’t have tickets to see Jason Mraz, I don’t have tickets to see Taylor Swift, and I don’t have a private kissing pass from Emma Watson. I do have stage-side tickets to see Rafał Blechacz at the SFJAZZ Centre on for 14 October 2014 at 19:30. I’m in seat TA-1, which is “behind” the stage, keyboard-side. It’s a front-row column seat angled towards the keyboard. With any luck I will be able to observe Rafał’s beautiful form and superhuman technique from an up-high angle.

I look forward to this very much. If you see an ungainly young Asian man making a fool of himself in the upper-level seats behind the stage, I take full credit for any tomfoolery that falls around the area. I’m actually quite excited to hear Rafał attacking breakout repertoire for once: I think everyone will be anticipating Beethoven’s Sonata op. 13 (overplayed as it may be, I’ve seen one critic praise the interpretation as a fresh one). I for one hold a special anticipation for the Chopin Waltzes op. 64, the three of which I became acquainted with in Rafał’s first-round performances at the Chopin Competition XV in 2005. It has been almost a decade since his last on-the-record performance of the three waltzes, and I look forward to seeing whether they will be played anew or merely reforged from nostalgia. The fifth of the numbered polonaises (F sharp minor) will conclude the program. I am familiar with Rafał’s recorded account and Evgeny Kissin’s live performance at Carnegie Hall (echoing to me from years long past), but doubtlessly the atmosphere of the concert hall will add a certain spice to the piece.

As a not-very-particular postscript to this rambling, I am thoroughly enjoying my Moto X. Hats off to the new stock Android camera app (as new as 4.4 KitKat) and the Motorola-made camera app for actually making some sense with their numbering schemes. Instead of arbitrarily recording an initial point (the first picture taken) and starting their numbering from there (e.g. IMAG0001.jpg), pictures are now named with the capture time as the file name (e.g. IMG_20140809_20313736.jpg). Certainly, so long as you are careful to preserve modification times, executing

ls -tr 

will always list any aggregated list in the proper order. (If you do not understand what the above is, the man page is extremely informative.) Failing that, some simple bash runarounds with any EXIF utility will do the same (though not as neatly). Off the top of my head, I imagine something like

for f in ./*; do echo -n $(exifsomething "$f" --listwhateveryouwantespeciallyrelevantdates | grep "date"); echo "$f";  done | sort

would do the job. It’s clunky (look at the way I tried to get around a trailing newline from each call to the exif utility) and I’m too lazy to test it now.

But in my opinion, this naming scheme is the best. For all my clumsy bash work, this naming scheme will pay off the very most in the long run.

Good job, Google! And great job, Motorola, for a solid flagship-ish phone.