|Records Opinion - December 2011|
|Thursday, 22 December 2011 18:11|
More info about David Pena Dorantes
The impression of classical music background is reflected in the orchestration, composition and austerity in the cultivation of the music. He is able to infuse aspects of flamenco and traditional Andalusian music, making them correspond well with elements of Western classical music. It is no surprise since flamenco comes naturally in his blood—from father Pedro Peña, and grandmother Maria La Perrata—and from his music conservatory education. His devotion to piano and closeness to flamenco pushes him to use the instrument as the centerpiece of his flamenco-styled music. He does not only play the music, but interpret it in such ways that exhibit his capacity as a composer. His intuition dives into the realm of emotional Andalusian music through teenage choirs (Orobroy), male vocals (Nana de Los Luceros), the shrieks of brass (Semblanzas de un Rio), and even claps and foot stomps. With these accomplishments, Doranteslifted the spirits of Spanish music into the international pop music repertoire.
This album seems to possess its own emotional flow. For me, listening to this album feels like looking at pictures of different situations, playing with emotions but remain within one succession of stories. I can’t comprehend the Spanish, and not fully aware of the meanings of each song title in the album, but the first song seems to summarize subsequent songs in a brief manner. A sort of eloquent opening; similar to flashes of events. Specifically Orobroy (the album title), which has its own charms from the natural-sounding children’s voices, telling who-knows-what story. Perhaps whines, or even, rebellion. Who knows.
Ventales also leaves a unique impression on me. From what I understand, ‘ventales’ translates to ‘window’. The song evokes a feeling of a body left at home, staring out the window, abandoned by a soul adventuring in the world outside. Some of the cheerful melodies imitate children running from one meadow to another.
Most of the songs in the album ooze the sounds of flamenco—claves, distinctive beats, and all. Once again, listening to the album tells a series of events, complemented with different emotions each time. Listening to it simply enriches. That is it.
Dorates began his career from playing guitar in the style of flamenco, thus influencing his piano playing, clearly heard in the musical arrangements of the album. This adaptation is interesting, because of the classic and avant-garde feel. It blends into a song composition that flows into a strictly Western harmony.
For me personally, this is a new experience that forces me to explore the complexity of sounds in the album. In my interpretation, the background music is simple and honest, yet confronting. The atmosphere feels serious, emotional and quiet. Dorantes’ music captures imaginative notes, running in all directions, but in an orderly realm. The music arouses a sensation of reading a novel with Bohemian setting, complete with details fashioning luxury, rather than listening to a song.
If the music were a character, it would be comparable to Nietzsche for its likeness in disposition. Its convictions feel honest and strong, out of the common crowd, as well as a deliberation of sensitivity, reflection, and courage. Listen to the nine tracks in the album, and then turn off your music player. I felt possessed by a fervor to rise—what about you?
More Info about Blekbala Mujik
They play Australian Aborigines pop with rock, reggae, folk, ballad, as well as their traditional music format as variants, often used byother Aborigines pop groups, such as Yothu Yindi, No Fixed Address, etc. Besides the provision of the means of rituals, one of the reasons the Aborigines create their music is to respond to their existence and cultural problems.
The invasion of Europeans into Australia had destroyed the pillars of community life and threatened the future of their culture. Marginalization caused Aboriginal musicians to utilize available medium to enable expression of their problems to a much wider audience.
Using pop music is one of few ideal choices, because their social message and traditional musical arrangements can be widely distributed and be enjoyable at the same time. The Digeereedo instrument, clapstick, and unique vocals are their musical mainstays. The lyrics are sung in English, Pidgin, or their mother tongue to describe situations, hopes, and primarily Aboriginal issues. Pidgin of Australian Aborigines Creole, such as Rastaman (reggae), Afro-Caribbean (Calypso), and other languages are used not only to voice their heart, but also to incorporate exotic elements into their music.
To impart space for creative ideas using languages, they often give much liberty to its musical form (Mitbala Yubala). Their traditional format (Farewell, White Cockatoo, and Buffalo Stampede), spilled their heart in more personal and unencumbered ways (although sometimes helped by other instruments, such as the drum set). The English songs (Don’t Worry Just Be Happy and Walking Together) applied pop music format with additional lyrics, or Aboriginal and Dijeridu voices to enrich their musical colors. In several characteristically pop songs like Come-n-Dance, Don’t Worry Just Be Happy, Walking Together, and Drankinbala, the rhythm compelled people to dance, which is an element of Blekbala Mujik music.
This danceable quality is also a test to measure the interest and delivery of social messages to their listeners. Generally, Australian Aboriginal Creole music has been widely acknowledged based on these features.
The album throws me into the realm of nature and wildness. The exotic-sounding song titles, and the unique music remind me of a magical cultural ritual: people in identical clothes, moving in unison, humming prayers, while aligning themselves with nature. The tribal chief leads the ceremony, while his or her followers quietly discern in agreement. Some of the songs (reggae, of course), remind me of the beach, of sunsets, bonfires, and the sparkling surface of the sea under the setting sun. These people live for the day, “Don’t worry, just be happy!” These people encourage one another to “come and dance!”
BlekbalaMujik was formed in 1986, hailing from central Arnhem Land, Australia. The sounds of BlekbalaMujik’s music are thick with elements of reggae and vocals consisting, in part, of English and Creole. Although their vocal pronunciation in the music was not easy to comprehend, but the essence came across from the vocal tonic pressures, and became a statement in itself for me.
The musical instruments used by Blekbala Mujik in some of the songs are common instruments like guitar and keyboard. However, some songs do feature additional Aboriginal instruments, such as slapsticks and jews harp. This relates to the format of their pop music, while still recognizing the necessity for traditional instruments and their functions.
Their music is rich in expression, and easily seen from the different atmospheres present, choices of musical apparatus, and the vocal tones used to deliver their statements. For me, the issues raised originated from their everyday experiences, in terms of their perception and the practice of living. This is a form of inspiration where everyone can account for their own life problems, yet have the capacity to manage and pour them into an artistic piece that resembles life closely.
I get the feeling of ‘release’ when listening to BlekbalaMujik; it causes me to think of the backgrounds of marginalization, conflict, and suffering. However, within their music, there is a call to release these tensions and transform them into a conversation about love, friendship, and humanity.
Steeldrum or Steelpan is an important type of instrument, specific to the Caribbeans. It was created in a time period closely associated with the slavery of African descendants in the area. No wonder that any musical compositions using this instrument give off the blaze of festivity, harmony, and emotional ties to the community’s past. Caribbeans breathe carnival, and this is represented by the steelpan. The instrument possesses a set of diatonic chromatic notes, thus allowing it to perform any kind of songs—a band or orchestra would accompany the steelpan well. In certain parts of the song, certain sections are divided into leader and chorus. The steelpan leader carries the main melody—easily likened to a question—which is followed by the chorus as its answer. Musical plays characterized by alternate calls by subgroups are called call and response, and are often associated with traditional African music—a proof of their cultural ties. The synchronized rituals and steelband (a term used to describe a group of steelpan players) resemble marching bands used for similar events. What I think is incredible is the fervor of the musicians who carry on despite the commotion of the instruments that can reach up to hundreds in number.
The Carribeans have hundreds of steelpan groups performing these musical activities with equal zeal, competitiveness, sportsmanship, and togetherness. Exodus Steelband’s achievements in various competitions, and the long road in maintaining its musical performance are equivalent to its musical quality. This can be seen from this album. One can imagine the level of difficulty of each play while listening to their music. They require enormous amounts of energy, perseverance, sensitivity, and ability to control their technique, in order to keep up with the high-speed plays, tempo changes, and song medleys. Due to the instrument’s wholesome quality of notes, the medleys on this album also feature popular songs from bands like Queen. Through Exodus Steelband’s album, I realized that people of the Caribbeans did not only create a unique musical instrument with a beautiful sound, but it seemed that they understand the need of music that can rival their magnificent landscapes.
The album resembles the feeling of a party or carnival: crowded, colorful ensembles, banners along the streets, people laughing and dancing, with plenty of food and drinks strewn across everywhere. Festive. However, like most parties, people are often pulled into the jubilance without fully listening to the song or music being played. What is important is moving their bodies to the rhythm of the melody, drowning in laughter and the euphoria. So it goes. The songs in the album, to me, provide a similar nuance: a sense of ecstasy, but without the unforgettable climax.
Listening to the music of Exodus Steelpan, caused me to further inquire into the history of steelpan as an instrument. From my brief research, I conjectured an image of limitation, oppression, independence, liberty, and unity. It began with the prohibition to use the instrument around the local region for its connection to slavery at the time. Clearly, this imposed limitations on these Caribian musicians. Nevertheless, it was not much of an obstacle, as creativity sprung into the invention of an instrument they can play, as well as claim as part of their identity.
The atmosphere of this album is festive, a sense of togetherness in the form of spirit and celebration. The details of sounds they produced with a steelpan are capable of eradicating silence, fear, and anxiety. This is intertwined with the aforementioned history of steelpan, where their daily lives were constantly shadowed by fear and anxiety. It became relevant and important to see how their responses over such difficulties yield something that defied their condition. For me, this music acts as a message of optimism and unity that should be echoed to citizens in all parts of the world.
Optimism is clearly reflected in the music of Exodus Steelpan. Even at their lowest point, they retained the capability to defy without violence, unlike how they were treated. Their music became significant to indulge in the festive mindset. Although we are aware that the world is not ideal, but the touch of positivity will continually cure human’s daily problems. Until now, the steelpan is widely used by musicians from around the world, with an implicit message of struggle, represented by the instrument. Exodus Steelpanthemselves are associated closely to the concept of carnival and festival, unique to the black community. In general, their music has affected me with the spirit of unity amongst diversity.
More Info about West Side Story
An adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the central theme of this drama musical film is love, a Hollywood favorite. With musical scores composed by Bernstein, the dance and narration of the film reflected the zeitgeist of a transitional time, when cultures collided in 60’s America. The music pictured the encounter and asymmetrical conflicts of the past and present; between platonic love of the past and youth social issues of the present; between older and younger generation (who possess peaceful yet restless hearts); and the issue of racial relations and hope of the shaping future of the American promiseland. The orchestra swayed amongst classical music, big band, and modern 20th century tunes with the purpose of representing the emotional needs and artistic aspects of the script. The music followed the culmination of the storyline; intensity, transquility, and passionate love were thrust upon the audience through music, although it did not encapsulate everything. Brass section and percussion took over in chronicling the conflict (Jet Song, Cool), and complemented with string instruments to inspire a rise in spirit (Something’s Coming, Dance at the Gym, America, Tonight, Gee, Officer Krupke!, Intermission Music, and I Feel Pretty).
Classical music elements were used to explore love (Maria, Tonight, Somewhere) through strings and vocals. Opera traditions were implemented freely to give space in the expression of conflict (A Boy Like That, I Have a Love).
The film began with whistling to instill the sense of tension and alertness of the surrounding conflict at the time. The issue raised in the film is a small part of a larger scale American problem: racial hostility caused by white domination and discrimination against other races. The story evolved with intermissions of romance and lighthearted, youthful comedy.
The interracial love story contained facets of heroism common in previously colonized countries still striving to achieve peace. Even the seeds of harmony depicted in the film can move the audience, proving the arduousness of such goal despite being hoped for by many. This was not represented by the music, rather, Maria’s reaction to the chaos was the turning point in realizing the absurdity of chauvinism, bullying, and authoritarianism would end mostly in wasted lives.
Thus the brief perspective of American life: the struggle of interests between different races marooned and trapped in the American Dream. The film displayed how power abuse and chauvinism (even by cops) solved no problems. Success comes only to those with concern and love of life, who are able to embrace all and persuade others to work for one ultimate goal: to live in peace.
The album, such as common for soundtracks, consists of songs that remind us of the film West Side Story. There are dialogs in the music, and listening to them feels like watching the opera version of West Side Story. High-spirited music, dancing stars—each song describes each moment. However, for those who have not watched the West Side Story, the album can be boring because the songs closely take after opera, which of course is more entertaining when watched live. In addition, the theme song of the film becomes repetitive after a while.
Nevertheless, the song Somewhere in the album has its own place in my heart. Firstly, because I was familiar with the song prior to hearing it on the album. Secondly, the lyrics are touchy, a sort of fervor amidst desperation.
To me, in order to enjoy the album, one must watch the film first, to give meaning to the film, and eventually a deeper understanding of the album.
The musical film, released in 1961, was adapted from Romeo and Juliet, a play by William Shakespeare, and directed by Jerome Robbins, with music composed by Leonard Bernstein. The film tells a teen love story in an urban drama setting, overflowing with notions of ironic romanticism and racial issues, amidst the conflict between the Jets and the Sharks.
The visualization of musical evolution into drama and then a musical drama was very strong due to the support of various elements—the plot, choreography, lyricized dialogs, and symbolisms within sounds and movements that are a sophisticated set of audio-visual unity that remains until today. The one thing that stands out was how communication through lyrics and music within the dialog and those sandwiched between notesbecame something very charming.
Classical style was clearly detected in the scoring, from the Romantic influences of Leonard Bernstein, one of America’s most outstanding composers. The attributes that were most prominent in the music were the emotional conditions that signified agitation, doubt, and fear, wrapped in music that culminates in several moments throughout the film. This ambience was present from overture to finale, and closely followed the visuals of the Jets’ reign over the city up until the conclusion, which did not end too happily.
On one side, although I acknowledge that the production of the drama and choreography of the West Side Story was well planned and prepared, but I should think twice before watching the film again. Once is enough; listening to the soundtrack album should be sufficient to unleash my imaginationand develop improvisations to aid in visualizing the music.
|Last Updated on Sunday, 16 December 2012 16:43|