This month we hear from Mr. Finn, conductor of our Youth Philharmonic, with his current listening picks.
My personal connection to Bob Marley's music and the music of the Caribbean is important. I spent the first 7 years of my teaching career on a small island in the Southern Caribbean, St. Lucia. I absolutely fell in love with the rhythmic complexity, the harmonic simplicity, and the melodic phrasing. It's hard to quantify, reggae music just makes me smile. I love it.
Of course, as with most people, my musical interests are definitely not confined to one style. I love listening to all sorts of different music. The music of Miles Davis is something I delved into very deeply while in school. I approached it with an academic mindset, so whenever I listen to 50s and 60s jazz, I find it difficult to just let go the way I do with Caribbean music. The music analyst in me gets to work when I hear jazz improvisation and I absolutely love to try to imagine what the improviser was thinking/imaging/focusing-on while they played that solo. One solo of Miles Davis that I always enjoy listening to and analyzing is off his 1958 record, Milestones. In fact, that entire album is fantastic. There are two takes of "Straight, No Chaser" that were released (one on the original and one on a more recent release), both of which have fantastic improvisations from everyone in the band. The way Miles solos on trumpet is so lyrical and expressive, while not being overly complicated. It's easy to sing along to, and when analyzed against the harmony, it is fascinating how he plays around with 'sticking to the chord tones' and 'exploring the upper extensions'. Really hip!
In addition to listening to music that 'makes me feel good' and music that 'makes me think good', I also spend a good bit of time listening to music that 'makes me smarter'. As a musician, this is hugely important. The Santa Fe Youth Philharmonic is currently preparing an arrangement of Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Overture. In order for me to better understand stylistic and musical phrasing that will help me lead the orchestra, I've spent a lot of time listening to some different recordings of the piece. In particular, I've really enjoyed the interpretation by Gustavo Dudamel and the Berliner Philharmoniker. The passion and energy that he represents visually in his conducting is so clearly interpreted by the orchestra. It's simply amazing. This type of listening is more "in depth" than the other listening I do. I listen over and over again, pausing the recording, rewinding, listening again.
In the era of YouTube, Apple Music, and Spotify it's easy to have a wide 'breadth' in our listening - which is fantastic, so much at our fingertips. But it's SO important to have 'depth' as well. That way we have an intimate understanding of the music. I encourage everyone to listen both widely and deeply. Happy listening!
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Our Mission is to inspire and engage the youth of Northern New Mexico's multicultural communities through excellent music education, the guidance of music professionals, and performance opportunities from small ensemble to full orchestra in Jazz, Mariachi and Orchestra.