Category Archives: Thoughts on Music
Posts with insights into Choral, Classical, and Chamber music. Also thoughts on music in general.
Robert Baldwin, Music Director for the Salt Lake Symphony, Music Director for the Utah Philharmonia, and Director of Orchestral Activities at the University of Utah shares more of his thoughts on the importance of rhythm, meter, and tempo in music. He shares that music is not a perfect mathematical equation and neither is time in a musical piece. There is always ebb and flow. There is always adaptation, especially in live performances.
I’ll be climbing out of the pit after the last run of Susannah tonight. It’s been a great experience, and full of potential for the pondering mind. Inevitability. Events that lead to something else. The Grand Finale. That incessant beat of the clock, metronome, and human heart; counting down to a predestined end. Is this where we find meaningful rhythm and flow? Or is it rather a stream into which we we enter, subdivide, and play? Always present. Welcoming us to participate.
The problem with the first example, is that it is too clinical, too easy. In my experience it’s also completely wrong. The thought that music, creativity, or life itself can be relegated to mere numbers is a popular misconception. Yes, music is math. Life is math. Yes, proportions, ratios and relationships certainly exist. But as human beings, our lives simply don’t operate this way. Science is starting to…
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Robert Baldwin, Music Director for the Salt Lake Symphony, Music Director for the Utah Philharmonia, and Director of Orchestral Activities at the University of Utah shares his thoughts on the importance of rhythm, meter, and tempo – an aspect of music often neglected when focusing on notes, pitches, timbre, sound quality, etc.
Dr. Craig Jessop, director of the American Festival Chorus, stresses this as well. Dr. Jessop uses “count singing” – a method he inherited from studying with Robert Shaw and the Robert Shaw Singers. This is where the notes are sung by singing “One, Two, Tee, Four”. This ensures the musicians keep an “inner pulse” going on inside their head when the time comes to put actual words to the music. It also helps musicians know exactly when notes are moving, beginning and ending of phrases, and note durations. Dr. Jessop swears by this practice.
I’ve emerged from the pit thinking about rhythm and tempo. I’m there all week with the orchestra putting together Carlisle Floyd’s opera, Susannah. There’s a lot that can go wrong on stage, and even more with this show as it includes live gunshots! All in all, it was a good first rehearsal. The only lingering issues are finding a consensus with rhythm and tempo.
Certainly, these are two things that are very important to my craft as a conductor. Tempo control, metric organization and rhythmic precision are all something that is a great responsibility for all of us–the conductor, singer, and orchestra. But behind all my admonishments to “watch the stick,” “play the subdivision correctly,” and “don’t rush (or drag),” there is a deeper truth to the importance of flow and rhythm in the music.
“Time is like a superglue, keeping our story in order as we navigate the world…
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Alfred Leger Lines Blog shares their interview with Richard Wesp, a choral director who taught in a school district for 57 years. He shares his thoughts on the importance of integrating Arts with any type of education.
We recently had the opportunity to interview Richard Wesp, an extremely popular choral director who spent 57 years teaching in the Forest Hills School District in Cincinnati, Ohio. Mr. Wesp is a recipient of both the Ohio MEA Distinguished Service Award and the CCM Distinguished Alumni Award. Having taught well over 10,000 students in his career before retiring in June 2011, he has had many opportunities to share his passion for music education with students, student teachers, and now, with other educators.
What is the value of music and arts education in the schools today and has it changed since you started in the classroom?
In the current trend of budget cutting, the arts remain an integral part of any complete education. Years ago, it may have just been a general feeling regarding how important the arts are, but now we have a large body of research that shows exactly…
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Robert Baldwin, Music Director for the Salt Lake Symphony and Director of Orchestral Activities at the University of Utah, shares his insight into Edvard Grieg’s “Holberg Suite” and Ottorino Respighi’s “Church Windows.” The Utah Philharmonia will be performing these pieces this Thursday at the Libby Gardner Concert Hall.
In Back to the Future, Marty McFly (played by Michael J. Fox) travels from 1985 back to the time when his parents were young, ancient 1955. He experiences all sorts of awkward situations, but in the end discovers that he shares many traits with his parents. In essence, they are not really much different (although he is a lot cooler, naturally). Marty learns valuable lessons from the past that help him alter the perspective of his own life (and, of course, save the day).
The human mind has always been fascinated with the past, whether it’s our individual lives, or the collective history of an entire civilization. We somehow believe that it is possible to find something important by studying the past. It might be lost wisdom. Perhaps it is secret knowledge. But in the end, all that we are really trying to do is understand something about ourselves.
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Robert Baldwin, Music Director for the Salt Lake Symphony and Director of Orchestral Activities at the University of Utah, shares his thoughts and techniques of how to connect to music through the breath. He describes how essential the breath is to how we live our lives as well as the motion of music. A wonderful article!
Life’s first breath. A pause filled with potential. Then you scream. While that may be the last time parents are overjoyed at hearing the sound, it is a reality of the beginning of life, the expression of potential. Certainly, genetics, environment and education will come into play soon enough. But I invite you to consider that first event: a breath, a pause, an utterance. Or put another way: Possibility, Preparation, Sound.
Our expression of music comes from this very personal space. No one can exist, sustain, or express life without it. The ancient Greeks had a word for breath: pneuma. Interestingly, this was the same word they used for spirit. They, along with people from many traditions, considered breath and spirit to be inseparable. A South American shaman uses breath as a magical curing device. A Christian mystic chants long phrases, intoning praise. Ancient mariners from many traditions…
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