French Music Watch Party!

French composers such as Debussy and Ravel were greatly influenced by the culture and style of Spain! Tune in today to listen to these connections, and learn how to amplify these aspects in your own playing! 

 

Find the start time in your time zone by clicking the photo or following this event link:                                          

 

https://app.tonebase.co/piano/live/player/french-music-watch-party-challenge-may-2022

 

     

 

We are going to be using this thread to gather suggestions and questions!                                                                     

  • What questions do you have on this topic?
  • Any particular area you would like me to focus on?
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  • I have done nothing on the French/Spanish theme.  I went sailing for a week a couple of weeks ago and had a terrific time but I have had a problem with my lower back since!  

     

    I considered whether the Spanish flavours in some of the works of Debussy and others was a form of exoticism, which led me to explore more the 'exoticism' within Debussy and came across the use of a racist term that has irritated me for years, which is in the suite called 'the Children's Corner, which Debussy dedicated to his daughter.  It's unfortunate that he infantalised [for his daughter?] the Cakewalk, which could be considered an emancipatory dance for African Americans both before and after slavery.  

     

    A connected post has led to a productive discussion with Ben Laude on the topic.

     

    It poses two questions for later discussion perhaps: 

    1. How do/did creative artists broker/mediate/negotiate oppressive political/cultural regimes in the past?
    2. How do we now, in the 21st century, broker/mediate/negotiate the works of those creative artists?

    It's arguable that such exoticism came from an anti-imperialistc stance from Debussy.

     

    On our [British] own imperialistic past was in full flight today with 'The Trouping of the Colour' and the start of the Queen's Jubillee celebrations.  Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, and his wife, the Duchess of Sussex [your Meghan Markle] are here, which is lovely to see.  They were not on the balcony along with a number of others, as they are not 'working royals', but there were shots of the Sussexes behind the scenes in Horseguards Parade. 

     

    Andrew was not present.  He has tested positive for COVID-19.  There is a God, or at least a very astute doctor!

    Like 1
      • Gail Starr
      • Recently retired MBA (international consumer products/luxury goods/classical music mgt.)
      • Gail_Starr
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Roy James-Pike I am so sorry to hear about your lower back issues.  I have similar problems, and I'll miss many practice sessions when that flares up.

       

      AND, I know exactly what you mean about the title of the piece in the "Children's Corner" Suite.  I would feel very strange printing it on a concert program in 2022.

       

      The royal pageantry does feel a bit out of place in modern times, but it must provide a sense of historic continuity that can seem stabilizing for some members of the community.

       

      Look forward to hearing you in the NEXT community challenge!

      Like
    • Gail Starr I don't think we should stop playing and performing pieces that have an unfortunate background.  Think of Wagner and anti-semiticism.  It would be better to set the pieces in their context, of which present-day some audiences may not be aware, changing the names where necessary.  

       

      The Cakewalk is a dance that was performed before and after the emancipation of slavery.  My view is that there was anti-slavery legislation in Paris at the time [and before] Debussy wrote the Children's Corner.  The piece was dedicated to his daughter and the title given to this piece may simply have been a gross error, be the reference to a toy that his daughter and many children at the time would have owned.  His thoughts might have been that he was supporting anti-slavery by including the ragtime rhythms in his work?  

       

      I recall that as late as the 1960's jams were sold with GW labels, which could be collected and sent to the manufacturer to claim a metal badge of the same representation!

       

      The present-day royal pagentry is not that old.  It started with Queen Victoria and was consolidated into the present format in 1952, when the coronation of the present Queen Elizabeth II was the first to be televised.

       

      The support for the monarchy in the UK is complex.  It is an institution, and is linked inextricably to the education of the elite.  The Cambridge and Oxford colleges were built originally by nobles to educate their male children - after Eton, or the other exclusive public schools [about 500 years ago].  Public schools are actually private schools in the UK.  The non-fee paying schools are called state schools or maintained schools.  

       

      Those elite colleges were linked inextricably to the Church of England.  The Queen is both Head of State and Head of the Church of England.  It is arguable that we would not have opera in the UK if it were not for the choral system in the private schools, followed by the Cambridge colleges.

       

      The church is inextricably linked to the judicial system, from the House of Lords [the upper chamber in Parliament] down to the magistrates courts. 

       

      Then, there's the military.  It is ironical that the military used to be the means by which less well-off boys [in the olden days] were able to be trained in a skill, engineering mainly, while earning a wage that was sent home automatically to their wives and children.  Of course, at the officer levels, the entry is still predominanty private school, followed by Cambridge [or similar] then Sandhurst.

       

      Many, including me, think that supporting the monarchy is like getting older - it's more alternative than the alternative. 

       

      Presidents are political appointments, whereas our royalty is supposed to be non-political.  There is a lot to like about having a Head of State that has a relationship to their 'subjects' that transcends politics.

       

      The inherited wealth causes some people a problem but then all advanced societies have privilege as a key aspect for success in whatever sphere of life, including communist regimes.  

       

      We don't have the 'American Dream', the results of which can be quite amazing.

       

      I am working on environmental projects [flood defence] presently, and the number of projects that I have has increased in recent weeks, which has led to a huge impact on the amount of time I have for practising.

       

      I have to comment that your playing in this week's concert was splendid.  I love the speed of your fingerwork, and the economy of movement.  You must have done so much work over the years to achieve that and in recent weeks for this latest concert.  Very well done.  You should be so proud of yourself.

       

      This has almost become an essay!  The Jubilee concert is about to start on TV.  It's being transmitted across the world. I hope you see it.

       

      Micha Paris is being interviewed right now.  She has just commented that her parents were Jamaican and royalists.  The colonies give them the opportunity to come to Britain as part of the 'Windrrush' generation.  Another irony that is similar to the 'American Dream'.

       

      Dolly Parton is now praising the Queen!  Bye for now!

       

      Best Wishes

       

      Roy         

      Like
  • The topic led me to think of jazz and what I want to play from the jazz repertoire.  That took me to Dave Brubeck, who I thought was of French origin, mistakenly.  I was close.  His father was Swiss. 

     

    His mother was training to be a concert pianist and studied with Myra Hess.

     

    Widipedia on Brubeck: Planning to work with his father on their ranch, Brubeck entered the College of the Pacific in Stockton, California, to study veterinary science. He switched his major to music at the urging of the head of zoology, Dr. Arnold, who told him "Brubeck, your mind's not here. It's across the lawn in the conservatory. Please go there. Stop wasting my time and yours."[10] Later, Brubeck was nearly expelled when one of his professors discovered that he could not read music on sight. Several others came forward, arguing that his ability to write counterpoint and harmony more than compensated, and demonstrated his skill with music notation. The college was still concerned, and agreed to allow Brubeck graduate only after he promised never to teach piano.[11]

     

    I have taken his piece 'Take Five' as a start, which is challenging as the percussive piano part requires the fairly constant repetition of the same bar in 5/4.  I have started to transcribe the alto sax part [E flat] into C for the flute, so I can play both parts.

     

    I worked also on the piano accompaniment a short piece by Louis Moyse - a Sarabande - I think they came from Spain originally.  That's my excuse.  What was interesting is how it sits under the hand using 4 and 4, rather than 3 and 5, which I discovered when I kept running out of fingers. 

    Like
    • Anthony Miyake
    • Work with numbers and statistics, but music is my true passion. Piano hobbyist.
    • Anthony_Miyake
    • 7 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    Wasn't able to watch this live, but just watched the full recording.  Thanks, Dominic for putting this together and for such a wonderful challenge for the month of May.  Loved hearing everyone's playing and I was introduced to so many wonderful French pieces and composers.  The one piece I'd really like to learn is the Pavane pour une infante defunte by Ravel as I really enjoyed listening to both Amy and Sindre's performances of this piece.

    Like 3
    • Anthony Miyake Thank you, Anthony, the Pavane is a great piece to learn! I really enjoyed your Reverie! 

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      • Anthony Miyake
      • Work with numbers and statistics, but music is my true passion. Piano hobbyist.
      • Anthony_Miyake
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Sindre Skarelven , thank you!

      Like
    • Anthony Miyake Sorry I didn't hear your piece.  I shall try to see you on catch-up.

      Like
    • Pauline
    • Pauline
    • 7 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    Thank you, Brother Will, Derek, Meiko, Susan, Jeff, Amy, Michael, Angela, Gail, Johnathan, Anthony,

    Vidya, Andrea, Sindre, and Juan Carlos!

     

    Bravo, everyone! (I apologize if I misspelled anyone's name.)

     

    This was very enjoyable!

    Like 5
    • Pauline Terrific performances from everyone.  So well done! 

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      • Pauline
      • Pauline
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Roy James-Pike Yes, I agree, Roy!

      Like
    • Jenny
    • Jenny.1
    • 7 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    So incredible to watch these amazing pianists. It is so inspiring, thank you to all performers and to Dominic for putting such a wonderful schedule together. Can't wait for the next challenge!

    Like 3
  • Watched the recording of the Watch Party yesterday and really enjoyed it! There were several pieces I hadn’t heard before as well. I think French music was a great choice for the May Challenge so thank you Dominic.

    Look forward to seeing you all on the next one!

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