The Math Album (Vol. 1)

Black – Asymptote
Blue – Mathematic Blues ((you could skip this one))
Red – Mathphobe
Green – Pythagorean Suite
Beige – Tau
White – Pi

I can promise you there is both rhyme and reason to every one of the songs. Please note that “Volume 1” implies multiple volumes to come.

Socials Symphony

For my final socials assessment, I created a symphony of sorts to go through my entire TALONS socials experience. My thesis statement is: “If we can look at both our successes and mistakes, not looking strictly at one or the other, we can learn to better ourselves for the future.”

PDF of the Score

The music

A symphony is divided into four parts, and I used the four parts to represent the four terms of socials I had over the last two years.

The first movement portrays the first half-semester of year one. The chordal structure is quite simple, basically staying on the root chord for most of the piece. It has a sound of innocence and simplicity. The music has not yet developed into something too intellectual or thoughtful quite yet. It represents me as a new TALONS, unaware and unsure of much of what goes on in my life and in the lives around me. A very unassuming and simple outlook.

The second movement is a darker and more somber sounding piece. It is more developed and more complex than its predecessor, but it is still moderately basic. It follows the basic ii-V-i chord progression throughout and does not deviate from this progression. Granted, it is more interesting and has a lot more going on. This represents the second term of grade 9. It represents me, trying to present myself as knowledgable and wise to others as well as to myself. Creating sounds that on the surface seem complex (and are to a certain degree) but take no real risk or “out there” ideas.

The third movement is a step away from what has been going on previously in the piece. It uses only two or three instruments at a time and has them going as duets for the entirety of the piece. It’s a break from the instrumental set up previously used and is significantly more harmonically complex. It’s now the beginning of grade 10 socials and represents me trying something new. Trying to think differently and look at every perspective (or instrument) for their ideas and opinions and how they can shape the overall outlook on an idea (song).

The final movement is the conclusion of both the “symphony” and socials in TALONS. This is the most complex movement, taking ideas and building off of both the mistakes and successes of the previous movements. It is a piece that is more mellow and calm, not being too dramatic, cheesy, corny, or simple (or at least desperately trying not to be). It gives more instruments in the ensemble a chance to shine and express the beauty that lives within every instrument. This is really a metaphor for my current way of thinking and how I can learn from my mistakes and successes and build off of them to be continually creating a better version of myself.

Blackout Poetry

Marching up and down for eons,
Fleeing southward and reclaiming lost territoryblackout-poem
So poorly understood
Seething
A single footstep is taken on the backs of the amniotic

Odysseys to their home
Reaching
From island to island
The patient observer will stare you in the eye

 

For me, this poem was about nature beginning to reclaim its land. Using pages 10 and 11, I made a poem that speaks a little about how the natural world, both at home and abroad, has been brutally mistreated, miscalculated, and misunderstood, and how it would be to come back. I wanted to show the feeling of being upset or dissatisfied of the present situation, yet also giving the reader a chance to take a deep breath and imagine a way to overcome this with a higher sense of calm or settling despite the situation (as the second stanza I feel does).

These pages had a lot of vivid imagery that leaped out to me, with some really interesting and powerful sentences. Using as many as I could to fit with the idea that I constructed as I noticed phrases in the pages, I ended with the poem you see above.

The painting above is by Canadian artist, Forshaw Day. The title of the work is called On the Nouvelle River Bay of Chaleur. I chose this image as I thought that it would be important for the painting to come from a Canadian artist. The painting itself is a beautiful reflection of the natural world that lives in Canada. The tipped over canoe could be representative of man’s departure from nature, and the surrounding hills look prepared to engulf what humans have left and to carry on. As well, the gentle tones and textures present in the painting relate with the line “the patient observer will stare you in the eye”. When looking at this painting, the viewer (or observer), calmly and patiently observes the wondrous and majestic existence of nature and in doing so, stares life right in the eye.

As My Love for Slovenia Grows

IN-Depth Update Post, not a post on the great country of Slovenia

I believe that I have single-handedly increased the views on Ambrož Čopi’s soundcloud by 34%, and you can trust that math is correct.

Promotional PDF score

One of the beautiful things about choral music is how it transcends cultures, religions, and languages. The last piece, Otče Naš, means “Our Father” and is a piece set to religious text, and the remaining two pieces are non religious. The remaining pieces are set to Slovenian poetry, which is some of the most beautiful poetry I’ve ever read. Despite all of these factors that one might think would deter someone from appreciating music, people all around the world can listen to and enjoy music from anyone. Through this project, I have also learned a good amount of Slovenian and could recite to you some Slovenian love poetry (which is really the greatest reward of all).

No one can know better than you

Why the blood in my veins is blueish red

Why my soul yearns so loudly

What happiness should mean to me.

No one can know better than you

Why there is you and I.

Marko Margon

Ti in Jaz (You and I)

As for non-Slovenian choral music (as if there is such a thing), there has been one piece that I have been listening a lot to recently, titled Hide Thy Face. It is composed by Allan Bevan and is recorded on the album Sacred Reflections of Canada – A Canadian Mass, recorded by the Canadian Chamber Choir. (click here for the recording and the website to Allan Bevan’s website). The piece does a lot of interesting theory things that I really appreciate and the music itself is quite enjoyable. Through analyzing the piece, I’ve learned some things about how to employ very few lines of text, and how form can sometimes work.

For my own compositions, I was feeling quite patriotic and arranged my own choral arrangement for our national anthem. You can find the score here, and the audio file over here. As well, I’m in the midst of arranging the folksong, Danny Boy (known aliases include Londonderry Air, generic “British Folksong”, among others). Below is a recording of my playing of the tune. You can see how I’m trying to include some ideas for some lines and chords for my choral arrangement in the recording. https://soundcloud.com/benjaminsigerson/danny-boy (for reasons unknown, this particular track refuses to embed itself, so please click the link).

AND (I bet you thought I was done), I’ve purchased two books on harmony and counterpoint, written by composer and conductor and Harvard, the late Walter Piston. Reading these books have helped me understand some concepts and learn what certain words mean and what this progression means, and so on. Because of this, I’ve been using the terms consonant and dissonant as much as I can, not only because it makes musical sense, but also because it makes me sound much smarter than I am.

With in-depth just over a month away, there is still much I can do. You can be sure that I’ll be doing a lot more composing in the time between now and in-depth. Who knows, it might even be in Slovenian…

Regarding De Bono, I often find myself “using a concept without being aware of the concept (you) are using” (121). For example, I’ll write homophonic choral lines without knowing what in the world a homophonic line is. When I use these unidentified compositional concepts in my music, my mentor will point them out to me and we will discuss their value and their potential importance. We talked about the concept of text in choral music and the great importance of it. The concept of text in choral music leads to many other concepts within composition, such as phrasing, range, purpose of the music, and so on.

In my learning, alternatives can be guaranteed. It mostly takes place in the editing process of my composition. Just like in English, there are many ways one can say something. instead of saying “Hey Jeff, how’s it going?”, one could say “Good evening Geoffrey, how is life treating you?”, or “Yo J my man, what’s hanging?”. If you were producing an R&B album then the latter greeting may be appropriate, but if Jeff is not well equipped with street lingo and is in fact recording an R&B album in Latin, then that greeting my not be appropriate. Music is same in this sense, that the way you “say” things and present yourself have to serve the text and make sense musically. This can be difficult for me when writing music, as there can be some musical ideas that I really like but might not be the best fit for the song I’m presently composing. As well, the way that I might write something might not make the most sense for singers and can/will be altered. “Progress, energy, change, improvement, and simplification are all based on the search for alternatives” (122). My mentor will point out to me when certain lines don’t make the most sense for a part, or if a line could be improved rhythmically or otherwise.

Composing will always be a learning process for me, and I’m more than happy to keep learning. I’m excited to finish my arrangements I’m working on now and am also looking forward to pieces I will write not only for this project, but for a long time after.

British Co-lost?

In the year 1864, a form a representative government was established in British Columbia. 86 years prior to that, James Cook discovered the land that Aboriginal Peoples had been living on for over 8,000 years. And in 1867, Canadian confederation took place without British Columbia. As a Canadian, born and raised in the western-most province, I’m interested to discover BC’s involvement (or lack thereof) in confederation and I believe that the answers of my questions will prove to be interesting.

  • For what reasons did Confederation happen without BC, and why did BC not appear to make to big of an effort to be a part of this?
  • Why did British Columbia ultimately decide to join the Confederation of Canada?

British Columbia, Pre – Confederation

British Columbia was populated after the last Ice Age, with records of human habitation dating back at least 8,000 years. On the coast, several First Nations emerged, including the Tagish, Tsimshian, Haida, Tlingit, Kwakiutl and Nootka, while inland lived the Carrier, Interior Salish and Kootenay.

Europeans didn’t arrive on the Pacific coast in significant numbers until after the voyage of James Cook in 1778 and the mapping expedition of George Vancouver in the 1790s.

 – Canadian Encyclopedia

1849 saw that over 50,000 indigenous peoples resided in the place we call BC, as well as a handful of european settlers who, the same year, established the colony of Vancouver Island. Up until 1858, the general location of BC was comprised of two fur trading districts, under the watchful eye of the Hudson’s Bay Company. However, that year, it all changed. Gold was discovered and hundreds upon hundreds of people came with every rise of the sun to try their luck and test their abilities in the hopes of striking gold. About 30,000 people rushed to the Fraser River and prompted Britain to establish to create a separate colony which they named British Columbia. This establishment of BC was one year after Galt, Cartier, and Ross proposed confederation with 33 articles in the Courier to Canada.

In 1984, word of Confederation had reached the west coast, and that got some of the people talking. Naturally, that year, the British made sure a form of representative government was formed in BC, and they were still a British Colony. Three years later, Confederation took place, and British Columbia was not a part of this new Dominion of Canada.

A journalist named Amor de Cosmos began a movement to confederation, which turned out to be quite popular. Forming the Confederation league in 1868, and in the spring of 1870, it was debated at legislation. The next year, terms were discussed between Canada and British Columbia, and so on July 20, 1871, British Columbia was a part of Confederation.

So now the question remains, why?

By making BC a part of Canada, that would make the economy more stable for BC, as the economy was slipping. It would also protect BC from potential attacks from both Alaska and the states below them. For Canada, it would build the transcontinental railroad, which was a huge factor for them. It would also allow Canada to have a vast hold on an enormous amount of land.

Now Canada was a nation that reached from sea to sea. Ahead was the monumental task of building a railway that ran across the continent.

– CBC

Naturally, the Aboriginals were left out of this entire process.

What’s left?

My findings show that the reasons for confederation for BC is greatly similar to the Confederation that happened on the East Coast. It also shows just how quickly things came to be for the Province of British Columbia, and how swiftly the political, geographic, and population landscapes changed. My remaining questions revolve around exactly who was involved in making BC a reality, and how that might have effected how efficiently things got done.

http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/british-columbia-and-confederation/
http://www.cbc.ca/history/EPCONTENTSE1EP9CH3PA2LE.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Columbia
https://apps.gov.bc.ca/pub/bcgnws/names/39106.html

Sing Me A Song

Continuing my competitive choral endeavours, I wrote a piece for another competition. This competition is called “Sing Me a Song” and it is sponsored by the Lieutenant Governor of BC. The purpose of this competition is for school-aged students to write and perform their own pieces about Canada, writing music inspired by this country. This theme is particularly important as it is the 150th anniversary of confederation this year. (I am getting quite good at writing music specifically for Canada’s 150). The piece I wrote for this is called “Land of Snow” and is a relatively simple chart, as it had to be learned and performed by singers in a short amount of time.

The link to the score can be found here.

(Thanks to TALONS singers Anika, Billie, Hira, Tori, and Mellissa, as well as TALONS percussionist James)

As you listen to this song, you may be saying to yourself, “Gee those lyrics are kinda ehh/weird/strange”. And you’d be correct, since I was the one to write the lyrics. I am discovering that being able to write my own poetry/lyrics would be incredibly helpful in order to write choral music that does not borrow text from another poet. That has become one of my new goals is to somewhat develop my writing abilities.

As for meeting with my mentor, we did some more editing of my previous song, just for learning and seeing how some things could have been arranged in different ways. As well we looked at some music by Samuel Barber and a bit more of Ambroś Čopi (whom I particularly like). Reincarnations by Samuel Barber is the piece(s) that we looked at and I did a bit of analyzing of. The Čopi piece, Ti in Jaz, is one of my favourite pieces of music written and, well I could write paragraphs and essays on the beauty of that piece but maybe later.

De Bono’s Many Hats

White Hat – This is employed in my mentor meetings when discussing music theory subjects, as well as looking at composers and their way of writing music. The music theoretical difference between the writing of Čopi and Bach is quite different and it’s easy to see and hear. As well when looking at certain rules in music theory, such as what intervals make sense in a chord and such.

Red Hat – I use this hat when taking initial looks at a piece of music. I’ll listen to a piece my mentor picks out for me, or I’ll listen to something on my own, and there will usually be a chord progression or passage that I particularly enjoy. I’ll look at the score and then look at it more analytically and see why I like it (or dislike it), and not just know that I do (or don’t) like it. When it comes to the arts, and especially music, initial reactions are important to both the composer and the listener, so by making note of what I like just listening it to a piece for the first time or without real analytical thought is very important and is a fundamental part of appreciating music.

Black Hat – This hat is put on usually immediately after having a purely emotional reaction to a piece of music. As alluded to before in the Red Hat section, trying to understand why a piece of music makes you feel a certain way is incredibly important as a composer and is also important to the listener. This hat is one of the more worn ones in my mentor meetings, as well as when I work independently. For example, when we were editing one of the choral pieces I had written, my mentor had stated things that didn’t make sense in the score, such as “You shouldn’t write middle voices more than an octave apart” among other smart music theory rules.

Yellow Hat – This hat is like a combination of the Red and Black hats. By looking for value in the music, you are looking for things you like, why it works, and appreciating the emotional response it elicits in the listener. In my meetings, this hat is worn when my mentor gives me a piece of music to analyse. Why would he give me this to look at and to listen to? And how can I use this in it’s most effective way?

Green Hat – Since this is the hat that helps with creativity, it is employed when I am writing music, or trying to think of ways that music works beyond the notes. What I mean by this is that when analyzing a piece of music, looking at the chord progressions and voicings is one thing, but seeing how the parts in the music serve an ultimately higher purpose that is the entirety of the song is not something that can be understood looking strictly at the intervals between notes. This sort of analyzing requires a higher level of creativity and understanding which my mentor gets me to do when we look at a piece of music. For example, we were looking at a Bob Chilcott choral arrangement of the popular Aesop’s Fables, and my mentor asked me things like “Why do you think he was able to write such polyrhythmic music and text?” and the sort of things like that, that really got me to think just beyond one or two bars in music.

Blue Hat – This hat is used at the beginning and end of my meetings. We discuss what we want to accomplish today, and then we decide on what we want to work on moving forward. This helps keeping me on task and just trying to accomplish one goal at a time, and not take on several in one go before properly understanding things that I need to know.

“Music is, for me, like a beautiful mosaic which God has put together. He takes all the pieces in his hand, throws them into the world, and we have to recreate the picture from the pieces.” – W. A. Mozart

A Little Nettled About this Whole Thing

Days after the Quebec Conference…

This is just getting out of hand.

I mean, come on. I cannot believe the state of the state right now. Look at all of this just happening around me! Confederation here, confederation there, hey look at that guy sitting by the pier over there, could he be just talking about the sea and su- no confederation yet again! I am truly at a loss for words. There are no words in any language on God’s green earth that can properly or fully express my dismay and overall disappointment of the people in Canada.

Don’t they know that we the people will lose power? Don’t they know that will lose power, after I’ve worked so hard for the prized position of co-premier? In my opinion, John S. MacDonald is much better than John A. I’m even the Attorney General, do you believe that? This system of governing, or as I like to say “doing things”, is much more effective for us being a small club of farmers and lawyers who just want to do their own thing and not be ruled by some power-hungry lunatic with a name so generic that fifty other men might be mistaken as the leader of the country.

I’ll tell you what, some political baboons even set up this conference in Quebec. In MY Quebec, right in front of me. The audacity! I’m this close to even going on a protest (but that would be too much, wouldn’t it?). Currently, my plan to combat this disaster is to run for the opposition when the time should present itself, and defend my beliefs but also the best interests of all the provinces of this land. This political menace of an idea must be stopped.

Dear brother, as you can tell I am rather upset. I am enclosing a photo of myself to show you just has irked I am by these developments. I hope all is well back home, I heard the pigs escaped. You’d best catch them before they turn feral.

That is how disappointed I am. If you have any last bit of wonder on how nettled I truly am, on a scale of 1-10, it’s at least 10.

Completing Part One of Many

Only a few days left until the submission date for my competition for the Vancouver Chamber Choir. I have run through the changes and made alterations to where I needed them and have had consultations with a couple of people that are well versed in choral music. I’ll be working on getting a piano reduction and recording of it soon, but for now the score will have to suffice. To see the finalized score, look here.

As stated in my previous posts, I am using the poem “Said the West Wind” by Canadian poet Isabella Crawford. I had my mentor go over the piece and make some suggestions on what I could edit and I have taken his comments into account. As well, I have got my mom to look it over as well, since she studied voice and has been teaching music for over 15 years. As well with making some changes of my own, I feel much better about the piece and hope it will do well in the competition. Of course, I’m not going into this competition to lose, but I’m just glad to be able to participate in a competition for choral composition. At the beginning of this project I wouldn’t have been able to do something like this, and just to feel strong enough in my compositional abilities now means that I’ve learned quite a lot, and that’s pretty good if you ask me.

As well, I recently participated in a choral workshop hosted by the Canadian Chamber Choir and spent my morning at this workshop at the Vancouver Academy of Music. At the workshop, I got to learn some singing techniques, such as how to prepare a breath, how to attack a note and so on. One of the biggest things I got was comparing your air to a stream of water coming out of a garden hose. If you need to reach a not way far in the back of your garden then you’ll need more water pressure. Whereas if you need to reach a note that’s sitting in a little pot on your windowsill, you’d better not attack it with power washer-esque force. It was perhaps more helpful more me as a singer than it was for me as a composer, but it was still interesting and informative for me to keep in mind when I am composing. At this workshop, I also got the opportunity to meet a Canadian composer named Jeff Enns. He is the composer in residence for the Canadian Chamber Choir and it was almost surreal to see him, as i’ve sung a number of his music. I went up and said hello and told him that I really enjoyed his work and that I myself and doing a bit of choral composition, and we talked about being a composer for a couple of minutes until he had to leave. It was really quite great to meet him and to talk to him and I’m glad that I did. As well, a few hours later, the Coastal Sound Youth Choir, the choir I perform with, did a concert with the Canadian Chamber Choir, so I had the amazing opportunity to sing with professional singers from across the country.

Upon getting critique and suggestions from my mentor and my mom, I employed patience in listening what they had to say and listening with intent. DeBono states that one should “…listen carefully and attentively and you should get more value than if you impatiently waiting for a chance to do your own talking” (67). Sometimes this can be difficult for me, as when I have a question I want to think about that question only so not to forget it when I get a chance to ask it, or I want to add a comment in the discussion and I can think only of my comment. And of course my mind is a drifter and has the ability to end up thinking about why the word “pants” is plural and not pay attention to the importance of voice leadings. However, I’ve been finding out there is are so many interesting things to learn that paying attention with purpose is in my best interests. As well, I’ve been trying to use the technique of repeating back what I’ve learned so that nothing gets lost in information transferring. This process has saved me a couple times when asking about certain harmonic “rules”. “…repetition indicates that you have understood what was said. It also clarifies the situation in your own mind” (71).

This week has concluded my project within a project or writing a piece for the Vancouver Chamber Choir’s Young Composer Competition. But I am far from being done with in-depth. I have plans to participate in another choral competition and submit to calls for scores. As well, I plan to write a piece for a side project that combines music and math in an album. And finally to continue analyzing pieces and write music for the sake of writing music and for myself.

Though one aspect of my project is complete, my studies in choral music are far from complete.

Whispers of Something Strange

5 November,1859

After careful consideration and much reflection, I have had a revelation, and epiphany of sorts. That there are few things in this world that are more perfect, more exquisite, more impeccable than the American government. As both a Parti Rouge leader and a member of the Assembly of the Province of Canada, we can (and should) look upon the political systems of our southern brethren like an institutional work of art. Oh, to be as liberal as they is but a dream. Of course, being a high ranking member of government, maybe I can change that. The whole idea of keeping our businesses and our trade within the province makes a lot of sense, and not allowing said economic endeavours interfere with political goings makes just as much. I’m sure that you, being an intellectual like myself, will agree.

I hear rumours of the beginnings of some unifying proposition. Some grand series of treaties that will bring together the provinces and Maritimes, or something of that nature. Like I said, they’re only rumours, but what if? This unification process would effectively eliminate the power to the provinces, thus effectively making me obsolete. Of course, we cannot have that, and for the sake of our nation divided, we could not support the unification of provinces. In any case, they are mere rumours, I will show no concern until I see a signed paper.

Otherwise, I hope all is well at home. I’m doing the best I can to make this place as good as we hoped it could be. I’m quickly finding out that my law degree is coming in handy in some situations, so those seven years of school are being put to some use.

Until I see you again

Your brother, A.A. Dorion

Snemma Norrænir Landnámsmenn

(Early Norse Settlers)

This source talks about the early settlement of Nordic explorers during the turn of the 11th century. The website is a transcription of the book The Norse Discovery of America by A.M. Reeves, N.L. Beamish, and R.B. Anderson. It talks about the first settlers like Erik the Red, and his son Leif Erikson, and how exactly they came to find Greenland and Vinland, the latter of which we now know as Newfoundland. It is a very detailed chronological history of the adventures of the Nordic explorers, as well as detailed information on the explorers themselves, beginning with the unfortunate manslaughter conviction and subsequent banishment of Erik the Red, to mentioning King Olaf of Iceland’s ulterior Christian motives, to Leif Erikson’s patriotic endeavours to attempt to colonize Vinland.

He had his arms full of grapes, and was devouring the fruit with all his might, and when spoken to by Leif Erikson, he only answered in his native tongue, “Weintrauben! Weintrauben!! Weintrauben!!!” He was born in a country where the grape grew, and […] the finding of grapes in this western world overwhelmed him with delight. The sagas tell us that grapes were found in great abundance on every hand, and from this circumstance Leif gave the country the name of Vinland.

http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/nda/nda27.htm