Music to Relax, Queensryche, “I Will Remember”

It has been a while since I’ve done a “Music to Relax,” post. But the time has come and Happy 2014 to those of you who’ve been holding your collective breaths waiting for the next piece of music to slow your heart rate and send you into musical Nirvana.

After a 3 mile run and while walking back to the house, Queensryche’s, “I Will Remember,” shuffled through my iPod. What a great song to regulate the body and bring my heartbeat back to a resting rate.

Queensryche was once a noted heavy metal band of the 80’s, unfortunately, now known more for fighting like little babies over use of the band’s name, etc. Much like Styx and their ex-band mates have gone through.

Although they were  a metal band this is such a peaceful tune. The song employed a unique sound, a little dark with a melodic, harmonized guitar solo. Vocalist Geoff Tate’s usual over the top operatic runs gave way to some extremely controlled phrasing, without relinquishing his powerful voice. Some of his best work in my opinion.

Take a trip back to the 80’s, relax and Enjoy!

View previous ‘Music to Relax’ posts.

Music to Relax, Debussy, “Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune”

DebussyThis is one of Debussy’s most popular pieces. “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun.”

Impressionist music was often dreamy in nature and this piece fits right in that category. The dreamy quality of the melody is achieved using the whole tone scale. Whole tones on guitar are achieved by skipping on fret each time you advance on the neck. On piano you would skip one key(whether black or white.) There are only two whole tone scales….think about it???

Debussy achieves the lush sonority with his orchestration in the strings and his use of tall chords…chords with extensions, 9, 11, 13s etc. The sound of the harp also adds to the piece’s calmness.

The video again has an amazing animated score which may visually help you enjoy the music so try and follow along!

Enjoy!

Music to Relax, Spring has Sprung, Copland “Appalachian Spring”

SpringWelcome to Spring everyone!

I know for those of you back East it was an extremely rough winter. In San Diego not so much we had our bits of rain and frost, but, also plenty of 70 degree plus days, as well.

(Shameless plug, “Sunny & 70“)

Thought I would honor the first day of Spring with Aaron Copland’s famous piece, “Appalachian Spring.” Beautiful melodies, lush orchestration and a pastoral setting of Americana, including his use of the Shaker tune, “A Gift to be Simple.”

Copland was a very innovative composer of the 20th Century, however, became known for and remembered much more for his ‘romanticized,’ settings of Americana which only accounted for a brief period of his compositional output. If you are interested try the following link for a different look into Copland’s work.

Who’s ready for summer?

Enjoy!

Music to Relax, Berlioz “Un Bal,” From “Symphonie Fantastique”

In the past, I have written about relaxing music and what makes it relaxing. The words that I come up with over and over again are spacing and open-ness. Most of my previous posts focused on these traits in regards to the harmonies(chords) and rhythms.

In ‘Un Bal,’ Berlioz uses another technique in addition to these, orchestration. One of my favorite aspects of composing and listening to music is that of orchestration. The combination of instruments and timbres(sounds). When in the hands of a master, I believe, that even inferior melodic/harmonic music can be made great.

Berlioz often uses sparse groups of instruments including solos. When the music does get more dramatic he tends to feature the strings and woodwinds over the heavier brass timbres, of the later Romantics such as Mahler and Wagner. The use of a harp adds to the dulcet nature of the piece.

Enjoy!

The creator of the embedded video supplies some great commentary. For those of you trying to gain insights into classical music make sure you check out their other videos, as well.

Music to Relax – Ravel, Pavane Pour une Infante Defunte

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving vacation. Getting back to the work grind is going to be tough this week especially for those of you lucky enough to have had some time off for the holiday. Once again my friends I am here to help you chillax and set an aural soundtrack to get you in a groove for the week ahead.

I was first introduced to this piece when I just began ‘serious’ study of music in college. There was an arrangement for a guitar quartet that I was lucky enough to be a part of and have loved this piece ever since. There are several arrangements of the Pavane for a variety of instrumentations including solo piano and guitar. My favorite , in the video below, is a symphonic version. Ravel was a master of instrumentation  as can be heard in this piece and his other compositions such as, “Bolero.”

Ravel along with his contemporary and French countryman, Debussy, were the leaders in the music of the Impressionist movement. A period in music history that generally stretches from 1875-1925.

In my previous Music to Relax Posts, I often mention the words open and space when describing the music. I thought I would expand on that here. Both terms ‘open’ and ‘space’ are multifaceted in musical analysis. They can refer to the rhythm, harmony, melody, texture and orchestration, as well as, any musical parameters. In order of the previous parameters this could mean; longer slow notes, chords that extend over the octave with little dissonance, stately themes and a lush character. This certainly does not mean that relaxing music can’t be dissonant, fast, chromatic, etc. Or that music that doesn’t follow these ideals can’t be relaxing. They are offered as generalizations which are often employed in music widely regarded as relaxing.

Perhaps a good illustration would be in visual arts. If you see a painting that is very busy and confusingly draws your focus in multiple directions it might be considered to raise tension in a viewer. Conversely, a portrait of a pastoral landscape with flowing soft colors and a subject that catches the eye easily would be more relaxing.

Enjoy and relax!

Guitar, Wine & Relaxation…a Black Friday Alternative, A San Diego Guitarists Performance Blog

Once again, I had the pleasure of performing at Orfila Vineyards and Winery in Escondido. This time the day after Thanksgiving.  I really didn’t know what kind of crowd to expect. Would everyone stay home? Be burned out? Turkey hangover? Shopping?

Well, the first sign it was going to be a nice crowd was there was no parking except the overflow. Walking up with my gear, it was packed. That always gets the musician juices flowing. But, it was also nice to see folks using their ‘Black Friday’ to relax. Even better they were supporting some locals over the big box chain stores. Including Orfila, myself and local jewelry maker Katy of KD Custom Jewelry, who’s always a pleasure to work with. Darn Good Food Truck was also there, but, I was so busy I never got a chance to go see what they were all about, sure they were ‘darn good’ though.

With the holiday season upon us, I only have one more scheduled public performance and you guessed it…I will be at Orfila on Dec. 2…3:00 to 5:30 PM. If you haven’t been to Orfila yet it is a must. There is truly something in this valley overlooking the vineyards that always  makes for a great relaxing day. If you are planning any events or weddings definitely take a look here!

Some photos of the day!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Music to Relax! Fight, “Reality, a New Beginning”

Alright, most of you are going to think I am insane!

Fight was a 90s heavy metal band formed by Judas Priest singer Rob Halford. They were not a thrash metal band like Metallica but very heavy nonetheless.  In addition to Halford’s powerhouse vocals Fight always had great, very crunchy very musical guitar riffs.

I know heavy metal isn’t for everyone. It is an acquired taste that grows over time, but, in my opinion well worth the time. Many amazing virtuoso musicians over the last 40-50 years have chosen this hard edged rock as their genre as it allows for musicality and creativity not afforded in other popular styles.

So how can this song be considered relaxing music? It is kind of like how you feel after a workout. Your endorphins release and you get what they call a “runners high.”  There have been times I was driving home from a rough day and cranked a band like Fight..probably a little bit towards full volume and it really helped me get all the aggressions out. It calms me right back down like a nice shoulder massage would.

This is definitely different than the typical pastoral music I usually share on my “Music to Relax” articles. Although I know it is not for everyone maybe you can obtain  more of a grasp on why people truly do love heavy metal music. There are other forms of ‘ugly’ music that people enjoy as well. Think of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring or some free Jazz that does not follow the ‘normal’ ideals of nice sounding music.

Keep your ears open my friends!!

Music to Relax – Debussy Arabesque #1

Hope everyone had an easy Monday! Regardless you might want to unwind a bit and I am here for you. This issue of ‘Music to Relax’, features the impressionist composer Debussy’s piano work “Arabesque.” Debussy wrote a pair of these and this is the 1st one.

The music of the Impressionist period began near the end of the 19th Century in reaction to ‘Common Practice,’ music with its roots in the Medieval period (500-1400), through the Renaissance(1400-1600), stylistically heightened in J.S. Bach’s hands in the late Baroque(1600-1750), continued through the Classical period(1750-1820) of Beethoven and Mozart and exploited through chromaticism and virtuosity of the Romantic composers(1820-1910, some say it has never truly ended.)
Regarding the chromaticism of the Romantic Period pretty much any note was fair game, but, the music still followed the basic rules of tonality and rules of the ‘Common Practice.’ All twelve notes could be used in any key…the basis of my blog name 12 Notes & the Truth!

Impressionists, who followed the art movement broke with these traditions. The result tended to be very lush relaxing wide open sounding music. They tried to make different sounds. Non diatonic scales and non functioning chords were trademarks of this period. However, Debussy and another composer Ravel were not fond of the term applied to their music.

If you want to play this and relax it should do the trick.

If you are looking for a music challenge try to think how this music sounds different than Bach, Beethoven, Mahler…etc.

Click here for previous ‘Music to Relax’ posts.
Enjoy!