Emotional while listening...

Posted: 6/13/2017 2:06:28 AM

From: Los Angeles, California

Joined: 2/27/2017

Whoa! coalport- Even though this is Theremin World, I saw an email in my inbox & was very surprised to see you had replied- I was not expecting a reply from the very person I saw in that video! This helped me in knowing I made a good decision posting a very personal moment-I was hesitant, however. The video shows some of the interior of the Hoffman- I believe it's when the camera is panning over the tube chassis-that's when I lost it & bawled. I think some of the textures and blemishes are what hit me as to the history of that divine instrument. The music was definitely a catalyst to that reaction. I can tell "It has seen some sh*#t" as they say. Amazing....thank you for your response-it has made my week!

Posted: 10/12/2017 10:26:16 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

While on vacation last month we hit every used book and thrift store we ran across in and around Hendersonville, NC.  Music CDs seem to be hitting the recycling stream, going for 50 cents or a dollar, so it's fairly painless to take chances on artists and bands one doesn't have any knowledge of.  Some duds, but many are quite good.  

The most interesting one is "Back to the Earth" an obscure 2001 CD by a band named Nylon.  No, this isn't the Icelandic girl group, but a male female duo where the dude is credited with everything, and the woman is credited with lyrics and vocals, and someone else does the drumming - you won't find anything about the band on the internet, and I could only come up with a few hits on the dude.  The liner and CD printing was clearly done on an inkjet, and the CD is a CDR.  The CD is damaged so the first song has a lot of "chuffing" dropout going on, but fortunately the rest of the songs are in good shape.  Other than background, I don't hear any evidence of the woman singing anywhere, unless her voice is placed so low it sounds male?  The songs are a little bitter, poppy, quite varied, and addictive - I've listened to it dozens of times now.  A couple songs seem oddly familiar, like old classics (but they obviously aren't), the last song sounds rather like Crowded House.  I really like the guitar work and the overall production.  Gobs of work goes into this sort of thing, sad to see it fading into obscurity before it even had a chance.

Picked up Laura Allan's 1996 CD "Hold on to your Dreams" which is pretty good, here and there you'd swear you're listening to Shawn Colvin.  This made me buy her 1999 CD "Telegraph" used off Amazon, and it's even stronger, with a strong early Cheryl Crow vibe.  The web tells me Laura fell off a roof and screwed up her arm which took years of therapy, and she's tragically since passed (cancer).  Life is crazy.

Found "Are You Earthed" and "Six Modular Pieces" CDs (both 2000) by the band Appliance.  Interesting repetitive guitar / bass / drums / synth / vocal work.  So I also snagged 1999 "Manual" and 2001 "Imperial Metric" used off Amazon, they're nice too.  I believe the band is now defunct.

Posted: 10/18/2017 6:08:46 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

Particularly appropriate for TW:

Posted: 10/19/2017 12:47:16 AM

Joined: 10/23/2014

Symphony No. 3 by Henryck Gorecki sends chills down my spine, especially when Dawn Upshaw is singing.  



Posted: 12/28/2017 3:03:27 AM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

Orbiting Orbit / Orton

Not a "reduced to tears" kind of thing, but in some way much more insidious.  A fellow grad student Zaid turned me onto William Orbit and I'll be forever thankful to him for that.  Over the years I've acquired Orbit's entire oeuvre, and hands down I have and still do listen to it more than any other music in my collection.  The only CD I haven't warmed up to is the second "Pieces in a Modern Style".  His "Rare Orbit" has a couple of Beth Orton tracks - I didn't know they were a thing early in her career - which got me looking into where the songs ended up in terms of publication.  Turns out they were on Orton's first CD "Superpinkymandy" issued in 1992 to a micro 5k pressing in Japan.  I know little of Orton, and am pretty turned off by her later hesitation vocal tic, but Superpinkymandy has been the only thing I've played for weeks.  The full album is on youTube (link) and it's been a non-stop ear worm for me, peak Orbit / Orton - it intrudes on everything I do including sleep (but in a good way).

Posted: 4/18/2018 9:09:39 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012


Last week the SO had the week off (spring break, our household necessarily follows the public school schedule as most of her piano students are at that age) which we used to move stuff around between the various bedrooms (we're currently in the second smallest, heading for the baby room some day) in a futile attempt to lower the overall entropy.  While dusting off the CD collection I decided to rip a small pile of them I hadn't give a proper listen to.  

Vonda Shepard's eponymous 1989 release was in that pile, and reviewing it sent me to the web to see what else she might have done and what she's up to now.  Seems she did a bunch of songs for the TV series "Ally McBeal" which unfortunately seems to have skewed her Amazon reviews for the worse ("Hate her new CD, not enough like her Ally McBeal stuff" and the like).  After sampling what I could there I ordered (used) "by 7:30" from 1999 and "Live - A Retrospective" from 2004 (which includes a DVD).  I've got two others on order but they haven't arrived yet.

I'm really impressed with Vonda's songwriting, singing, and piano and guitar playing.  Reminds me here and there of Tori Amos (who I can only take in really small doses) mixed with Carol King - intimate vocals & great piano.  She can really do the gospel belting thing too.  For your first exposure I'd recommend "by 7:30", it's more mature than her first album.  I normally cringe somewhat listening to live albums, but "Live - A Retrospective" showcases her excellent vocal pitch, range, delivery, and sense of timing (she claims no pitch correction was used, which I believe).

Apropos of nothing I suppose but Vonda married the famous producer Mitchell Froom (who was once married to Suzanne Vega), and her CD's don't suffer as a result!  Quite a few female singer / songwriters that I hugely respect have done the same (Sam Philips and T-Bone Burnette, Jen Trynin & Mike Denneen) and it seems you end up friends / lovers with those you hang around.

Good music is like a drug, I use it to consciously change my mood for the better.  Vonda's rocking my PC speakers as I type this, and I'm getting my fix for the day. 

Posted: 4/20/2018 7:47:45 PM

From: Germany

Joined: 8/30/2014

Emotional while listening, eh? Yeah, I get that, too!

How about this?
perhaps you might want to consider slightly turning down the volume


But those here are also nice:

Btw, anyone did those two above on theremin yet? They should do well on it, no?

One of the most beautiful voices on earth. At least in that time of his life. He later wanted to sing heavier roles and artificially thickened his voice, and that was the beginning of the end of his career.

Posted: 4/21/2018 4:23:42 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

But those here are also nice"  - tinkeringdude

I'm sure it's my failing, and I suppose I haven't given it a fair shot in the first place, but I've never been able to get into opera.  Most of it is the language barrier, but some of it is a reverse snobbery class thing, which unfortunately also kept classical music off of my playlist for far too long (I got over that with the help of Tomita, hearing my wife's piano lessons, etc.)

I'm struck by Lucia Popp's "reverse envelope" method of singing.  I downloaded the video, extracted the audio, and reversed it in Audition, and it (her voice, not the reversed accompaniment) actually sounds a bit more normal to me that way (I know, heresy!).  Some play Theremin this way, which is easier to do I think with the traditional "closer = quieter" volume axis as it entails an easy / natural drop of the left hand at each note transition.  I think both singer and Theremin player do this to some degree to mask pitch hunting.  Vibrato also does wonders for masking pitch issues.

Guiseppe Di Stefano's voice is quite nice!


Anyone else ever listen to a song where the lyrics are somewhat indistinct, have your head fill in the blanks with greatness, only to be massively let down when you finally get around to reading the lyrics years later?  This has happened to me more times than I can count.  

It very rarely goes the other way, but for me Vonda Shepard's songs have.  Most are ostensibly about love and relationships, as well as her music biz and creativity in general, but with a heavy dose of self-awareness and loneliness.  Much like early Ricky Lee Jones, she's able to humbly elevate it all to an almost noble level.

Another Vonda Shepard CD just came in the mail ("It's Good, Eve" - 1996) - not sure why good headphones aren't considered to be drug paraphernalia.

Posted: 4/22/2018 2:01:48 PM

From: Germany

Joined: 8/30/2014

I'm sure it's my failing, and I suppose I haven't given it a fair shot in the first place, but I've never been able to get into opera.  Most of it is the language barrier, but some of it is a reverse snobbery class thing, which unfortunately also kept classical music off of my playlist for far too long (I got over that with the help of Tomita, hearing my wife's piano lessons, etc.)

Hmm, maybe I can sneak it in there...

Hey! Say, do you like "choir music", huh? Only partially the soloists are most prominent Also, it's not technically an opera, and since you're one to appreciate technical accuracy, you will even more appreciate listening to not-an-opera! Plus you can see Pavarotti *without* beard. I bet you always wondered...(not the dude in the thumbnail, that's Ghiaurov). And it's always nice to watch Karajan, hehe.

It's not the composers' or performers' fault that there is such an air of snobbery around this, give them a chance
(well, today's performers tend to suck at singing, so maybe not them. And the (post)modern stage settings tend to quite, *cough* shall we say, fully savor all artistic freedom, sometimes rather unsavory)

It's not exactly every one of them, but one opera (performance) I found very listenable in its entirety, just as music, is this:
Turandot, 1965 studio (Nilsson, Corelli, ...)

Alas, the uploader butchered "enhanced" the audio, but it's still better than that of the live recording with almost the same cast / different conductor of '61.
It is also quite a rollercoaster ride, which is why both those things were disliked by an ex colleague, it was too much for him, I guess people with a strong preference for "chill out music" can't dig it.

And, of course, you can always listen to "the parts where they don't sing". Everyone combines this with images of a ship fighting through the rough sea. Okay, it's part of the subject matter. But - as a kid, when I heard that music for the first time, before having the slightest clue what it's about, this was exactly the kind of imagery the intro invoked in me. Wherever the heck that came from. Lol, and this comes even from a CD called Wagner without words (apparently used in the movie "Excalibur"). I think I heard that the first time at the Expo 2000, performed by the Bavarian Police Orchestra no less, I was quite struck by its power.
Tomita also liked to create images with music, or with sound rather (and choose music that lends itself to creating images / does so by itself, and he gave final sonic touches). Some say he was playing too much with effects. I get why, thinking of the chicken vs. cat scene in "pictures at an exhibition", but I like most of his stuff.

I'm struck by Lucia Popp's "reverse envelope" method of singing

I'm not quite sure what that refers to. Opera singers tend to do a lot of different "swelling" effects, dimminuendi but also soft starts (sometimes!) and such, is it that?

I think both singer and Theremin player do this to some degree to mask pitch hunting.

If it's a slow start (dynamics) into a note what you mean, then I'm not sure, as it depends on the music (what's written or customary to style) what a singer will do (unless they're indulging).
What I took for masking "pitch hunting" is doing unwritten ad-hoc portamenti, mostly starting at a "not really arbitrary" lower place and quickly going up to the correct pitch. It gives the ear more measuring time I guess, but a well trained singer is supposed to just hit the pitch, even at large intervals Which the listener who did not read the score may not be disturbed by, and in some instances I think it's an improvement in some regards (not that I really know this stuff, just to me personally - e.g. when Franco Corelli starts a high note much lower first and goes up quickly, you can really gauge the heft and might of the voice, and if it's a scenario where the character must be heroic, that really fits)

Vibrato also does wonders for masking pitch issues.

Hehe, but only for so long! The short time that it is perceived as transitional, maybe, but our brains can apparently interpolate the center frequency if the supposed pitch has been roughly steady for a while, and if that center is off, it's off. Opera melody lines are, on average, a lot more stretched out in time* than pop singing, so, you can't hide for very long.

* probably, in part, for technical reasons of the times. Among them the very thing above. Big room with a certain amount of reverberation, big audience spread out wide. Doing very quick staccato singing all the time, I guess one couldn't make out all that much of a melody. (and it's hard to keep that up at substantial volume) It needs time to "fill the room", moreso the ear to clearly make out something additional to an already substantially loud orchestra at times. Some blip won't be heard well.
Well, at least that's my perception.

EDIT: (everything lol)
Wow, this editor is not quite WYSIWYG.

Posted: 4/22/2018 2:07:37 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

tinkeringdude, if you click the rightmost "less than greater than" button on the editor you can edit out all the tags, then click it again to see the result.

This new editor seems to stick unwanted tags everywhere, particularly when pasting.

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