Entry 026


In the End, You Are Not Alone
~What I learned from listening music~

Before I start with anything, I share this lesson learned: when going to a performance night, be sure to charge your camera battery to its full strength. You wouldn’t want to miss the great songs unrecorded because of this neglect, resulting in your camera flashing the “low battery” icon then suddenly shutting down. Sure I was a victim.

Speaking of a performance night, I attended the concert “From Classical to Jazz” presented by the Winds and Percussion Department of the UP College of Music, held at the Abelardo Hall Auditorium on 9 February 2012.

It started with a live performance of the “Pambansang Awit” in a stately band rendition. No-one could help but sing the words silently while our minds wafted in pure admiration to the tune. (By the way, I loved the trilling flutes part.)

I prefer going to college-based concerts than the lavish ones staged at cultural institutions for the raison d’être that less decorum is required in the former setting, while the latter subjects you to comport oneself in the noblest conduct.

I’ll prove my point. One instance, at this concert, was when one performer suddenly hurled a cloth (which I think was to be used to lessen the resonance of the drum) to the concert bass drum player who was two persons away. And I was rather amused, and so were some in the audience, with one shouting “More!” to repeat the act. And we all laughed.

This kind of informality suggested an unrestricted mood at the concert—driving away rigidity—truly a display of an irrepressible student spirit.

I managed to record two pieces played by the UP Symphonic Band, as conducted by Prof. Rodney Ambat. Please care to listen:

Hannover Festival, Phillip Sparke

Symphonic Episode I, Satoshi Yagisawa

Next were the performances of each set of instruments akin to each other—like a quintet of woodwinds; a family of clarinets; flutes; a quintet of brass, tuba and euphonium; and others. But what caught my attention as I got hold of the program sheet were the piece to be performed by a group of tambourines and a piece by three snare drums. I thought to myself, “What could these percussion instruments do on their own?” (See below for the night’s repertoire.

You see, I used to regard percussion instruments as simply an addition to an orchestra. They cannot do solos, as I thought then, and they play minor parts in a piece—clashing cymbals, descending chimes, rolling drums, shaking tambourines, among others. But I was proven utterly wrong.

The usual loved instruments—violin, flute, saxophone, clarinet, cello, trombone, oboe, (piano), etc.—all can play on their own and rise to musical prominence in a concerto, while percussions are usually limited in playing, albeit significant. For example, I really look forward to the cymbals part in Gioachino Rossini’s “William Tell Overture”.

I would always love to hear the rousing rolls and strikes on the timpani. Thinking about it, percussions give more ornamentation to a piece, something that other instruments cannot achieve.

It is that something that makes a piece special and attaching to memory, actually. Some that I really like that make use of timpani and drums reasonably are several background themes of the Neon Genesis Evangelion series and movies. Here are samples:

Perhaps I’ll relate these thoughts to a more practical sense.

I liken instruments to people. There is the famous line “No man is an island”. Here is the context from which the phrase is included:

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.  If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

(from Meditation XVII of Devotions upon Emergent Occasions by John Donne; e-text link: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/23772/23772-h/23772-h.htm)

By the way, the phrase talks about death or the separation that comes with it.

But I have a slightly different view. Although every land form on this earth is connected geologically with the seabed, but to the eye, an island will always be a separate piece of land from the mainland, and it will always be alone.

Now, some people, in the minority I think, are content living alone and on their own, without needing an attachment to society. Of course it cannot be absolute but to some extent some of these people detach themselves from the circles of others. One example is the emergence of hikikomori in Japanese society.

What I am saying is that one can still survive without the help of others; one can shine amidst the crowd, for how long I do not know.

Like in music, we often celebrate the virtuosi with their solo instruments. But seldom are percussions featured as soloists, there are (one is the timpani which I dearly enjoy listening to) but seldom.

But watching the concert made me realize that tambourines can make good music, too, as well as snare drums (see the repertoire below). Amazingly they can but not that often as the music scores are scant compared with the more common symphonies and concertos. (I regret not having recorded these parts to prove my point but you can search for YouTube videos of the pieces “Six Slick Stix Click Licks” and “Fanfare for Tambourines” as performed by other groups.)

What I thought as “less important” instruments can make awe-inspiring and fun music together. And in the end, they actually make a difference in a larger orchestral work, owing to their unique sound and sonorous features.

Bringing this talk to a human level: Individually one can stand out and shine among the rest, or even venerated for one’s skills and possession of coveted qualities. But to make it noble, one needs the rest to enrich it and adorn it with meaning.

I have a friend who plays the clarinet, mostly given the solo part, but when he plays with a quartet or a quintet or a band or an orchestra, he perfectly blends well. His music becomes united and one with the others that it is irrelevant to gauge the sound of one to another rather it is wise to take all the sounds together as a united musical entity.

Together, they will all create music that pervades the depths of the intellect and heart, and as a whole of the soul.

You can be alone, feel alone, and do unaccompanied sometimes, but in the end, you inevitably take in the companionship of others—to make beautiful “music” together.

***

Here are records of the jazzy part of the concert, performed by the UP Jazz Ensemble headed by Prof Raymundo Maigue.

Tuning Up by Toshiko Akiyoshi and Quincy and the Count by Sammy Nestico

Another Lazy Day by Sammy Nestico and Jazz Police by Gordon Goodwin

***

The repertoire that night was this:

From Classical to Jazz
09 February 2012, Abelardo Hall Auditorium
Prof. Raymundo Maigue, director

UP Symphonic Band
Persistence (Richard L Saucedo)
Hannover Festival (Phillip Sparke)
Symphonic Episode I (Satoshi Yagisawa)

UP Clarinet Quartet
Aragonaise from the “Carmen Suite” (George Bizet, adapt: Marco A Mazzini)

UP Clarinet Ensemble
excerpt from 1812 Overture (P.I. Thaikovsky; arr: Mark Lenin Cantimbuan)

Woodwind Quintet
Quodlibet (Arne Running)

Flute Choir
William Tell (Gioachino Rossini)
Stars and Stripes Forever (John Philip Sousa)

Horn Quartet
Carmen Suite (George Bizet, Arr: Kerry Turner)

UP Horn Ensemble
Tico Tico (Zeguinha Abreu, arr: Roger Harvey)

Jazz Saxophone Quartet
Banana Rag (Christian Daguet)
Hip Is What (Bruce Evans)

Brass Quintet
Quintet – Allegro Vivace and Con Brio (Malcolm Arnold)

Snare
Six Slick Stix Click Licks (Goldstaub)

Percussion Ensemble
Fanfare for Tamborines (John Alfieri)

Tuba and Baritone Euphonium Ensemble
Thunder and Blazes March (Fucik and Laurendeau)
Mood Swing (Lennie Niehaus)

UP Jazz Ensemble
Tuning Up (Toshiko Akiyoshi)
Quincy and the Count (Sammy Nestico)
Another Lazy Day (Sammy Nestico)
Jazz Police (Gordon Goodwin)

***

Sorry if I straggled in writing this. I was writing what popped on my mind. Thanks for reading.

By the way, thanks to  a friend who gave me a  complimentary ticket to the concert. I am indebted to you.

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