Ethan hein

Ethan Hein - Teaching Myself the Bach Chaconne with Ableton Live

Ethan Hein - Teaching Myself the Bach Chaconne with Ableton Live:

Gorgeous though the chaconne is, my enjoyment has been hampered by my inability to figure out the rhythm. All classical performers insist on doing extremely expressive (that is, loose) timekeeping. I don’t have the sarabande rhythm internalized well enough to be able to track it through everybody’s gooey rubato. Bach’s rhythms are complicated enough to begin with. He loves to start and end phrases in weird spots in the bar–the very first note of the piece is on beat two. So I needed some help finding the beat. A chaconne is supposed to be a dance, right? Bach wrote those note values the way he wrote them for a reason. Did he really want performers to assign any length they felt like assigning them? My gut tells me that he didn’t. I suspect that he probably played his own music in tempo, maybe with some phrasing and ornamentation but still with a clearly recognizable beat. I imagine him gritting his teeth at the rubato that modern performers use. Maybe that’s just me projecting my own preferences, but this sense comes from listening to a lot of Bach and performing some too.

So, I wanted to hear someone play the chaconne in tempo, just to hear how it works. And since no one seems to play it that way, I finally went and got the MIDI from Dave’s JS Bach MIDI page and put it into Ableton Live. I added a bunch of triple meter Afro-Cuban drum patterns to help me feel the beat, and had them enter and exit wherever I heard a natural section boundary in the music.

My personal favorite way to enjoy this piece is by performing it on vibraphone, but this is cool too. :)

Noteflight as a DAW | The Ethan Hein Blog

Noteflight as a DAW | The Ethan Hein Blog:

Notation software was not originally intended to be a composition tool. The idea was that you’d do your composing on paper, and then transcribe your handwritten scores into the computer afterwards. All of the affordances of Finale, Sibelius and the like are informed by that assumption. For example, you have to enter the notes in each measure in order from left to right. If you’re copying from an existing score, that makes sense. If you’re composing, however, it’s a serious obstacle. I can’t speak for all composers, but I’m most likely to start at the end of the bar and work backwards. If I want to put a note on the last sixteenth note of the bar in the MIDI piano roll, I just click the mouse on that beat and I’m done. Notation software requires me to first calculate the combination of rests that’s fifteen sixteenth notes long. I’m told that Dorico has finally addressed this, and lets you place your notes wherever you want. Noteflight, however, follows the model of Finale and Sibelius.

This is a super fascinating explanation of the way modern students are learning to create music on a screen. And I can vouch for Dorico that yes, it deals with note input in a non-linear way, much the same way a MIDI editor functions.

You kids like the wrong music

Ethan Hein back at it again with a great post deciphering the idea that it doesn’t take musical ability to be a popular singer these days…

You kids like the wrong music, part two:

It’s true, we don’t expect unamplified and unedited singing at Caruso’s level anymore. But we expect a lot of other things. For one thing, we expect singers to write their own material, which Caruso didn’t do. For another, we demand a lot of studio technique that Caruso would have found unbearably alien. To say that “edited” recordings are of intrinsically lower musical value than live recordings makes no sense. By that standard, we should require that all movies be plays that are filmed in real time. Film acting isn’t the same craft as stage acting, and unamplified stage singing isn’t the same craft as studio singing. Some people manage to master both crafts, but not many.

So much great stuff here. Read the whole thing.