Hello!

Greetings, and welcome to Two Cents Sharp!

We’re a collective of young musicians who started this blog for the purpose of sparking discussions about the classical music business in the 21st century, as well as the diversity of music, people, and experiences it encompasses. Click here if you’d like to know more about us, otherwise keep scrolling down to see what we’ve been up to!

-The Founders of 2¢♯

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Composerial Primaries 2016: Where They Stand on the Issues

trump wagner

Richard Wagner – #MakeOperaGreatAgain

  • Draws large crowds to his shows
  • Adherents are passionate, at times violently so
  • Says he wants to “build a great opera house – and nobody builds opera houses better than me, believe me – and I’ll build them very inexpensively!”

 

bernie messiaen

Olivier Messiaen – #FeelTheBirds

  • Believes in universal isorhythms with a single-talea system
  • Doesn’t believe modes of transposition should be limited to the top 1% of scales
  • Wants more public attention on the environment. Seems to like birds, and birds seem to like him.

 

Antonio Salieri – #TheMozartKiller

  • Jealous of the attention he isn’t getting
  • Very religious, believes that God has endowed him with special talents
  • He didn’t actually kill Mozart, but hey, looks can be deceiving

 

Schumanns

Clara Schumann – #ImWithIhr

  • The better half of German Romanticism’s power couple
  • Wants to continue/preserve the legacies of Obrahmsa1 and her husband
  • The husband is a famous composer/pianist too, but is known for nearly ending his career at its apex, having paid the price for putting his fingers where they didn’t belong

 

Bedrich Smetana

  • Wait…who’s this again?
  • Ah, it seems he only won bOHemia2 in the primaries

 

  1. Sorry about that.
  2. Really, truly sorry.

 

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Bad Translations of Chinese Translations of Orchestral Instruments

By James Chang – Quite comical, yet clearly systematic. These literal re-translations reveal how the Chinese conceptualized these instruments and represented them in their language (often, via a characteristic or a material). Continue reading

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Genre Speed Dating, Part I: Motown

by Will Ejzak

In the relatively high-stakes world of classical music—where words like “sublime” and “heroic” are thrown around like a football at a barbecue—it can be essential to have a musical comfort food. Some would argue, of course, that classical music is already full of comfort foods: Rachmaninov, or Verdi (or the Flaming Hot Cheeto of the Romantics: Liszt). That’s a conversation for another time. For the purposes of this article, comfort food requires a change in genre—a dip into the suspiciously warm, shallow waters of Populist Music. And what better comfort food than Motown? With its heavy beat, rich vocals, and syrupy lyrics, the legendary R&B/Soul record label of the ‘60s seems an ideal candidate.

Continue reading

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Unconventional Performance Spaces Part 2: What I Learned About Music in a Barn

OMF

By Lara Saldanha

I moved to the Pacific Northwest, known to be one of the quirkier regions in the United States, about a month ago. Having been thinking about unconventional performance experiences, I decided to embrace my new location and seek out classical music experiences off the beaten track. The concert I found, part of the Olympic Music Festival, was nothing like I’d ever seen before: Ray Chen and Julio Elizalde playing Beethoven, Saint-Saens, Ysaÿe, and de Falla in a barn. Continue reading

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Guest Post: Six Ways Wagner Changed Opera

By Erik Linnell – I’m not a professional musician, but I enjoy refreshing myself at the wellspring of great works across the centuries. In Western classical music, the composer whose music gives me the most complete emotional experience and deepest sense of catharsis is Richard Wagner. When I say that to people who don’t know classical music very well, they usually say, “oh yeah, Ride of the Valkyries is cool,” naturally because this is the only piece of his that’s present in modern culture (he also wrote Here Comes the Bride but not many people know that). But perhaps more interestingly, when I say I love Wagner to people involved in the classical music scene, the thing people say most often is not, “which opera is your favorite?” or even “do you think he still unconsciously holds to his tenets of the ‘complete work of art’ in his later career even though he supposedly abandons them to explore more traditional operatic forms?”, but instead, “…why?”  Continue reading

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Notable Orchestrations from Keyboard Works

by James Chang – The more the merrier! Why play a piece alone when you can get a bunch of friends to play it with you and share in the fun? Not only is it more fun, you get a wider variety of timbres. With a wider variety of timbres, especially when carefully controlled, you get a more iridescent concoction of sounds than the original.

The practice of expanding a piece’s instrumentation goes way back. An early example of such a practice was Bach’s expansion of the first movement of his Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, to create a new Sinfonia for Cantata No. 174.  Such a practice became very popular in the late 19th and early 20th century because of developments in the Western symphony orchestra and consequently the field of orchestration.  Strings no longer had to be the principal voices because wind instruments had their timbres and ranges improved (thanks, Industrial Revolution) and brass instruments were no longer confined to the few notes that their natural instruments only allowed them.  In addition, new instruments were invented or innovated or adopted by classical musicians in the orchestra and expanded the possibilities.

Continue reading

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Space Music III: Lucia and Friends Go to the Moon!

The planet Uranus. Credit: NASA

The planet Uranus. Credit: NASA

by Henry Myers

About a year ago, I was driving alone through New York state on vacation. With Niagara Falls still a few hours ahead of me, I had been trying (with partial success) to stave off boredom by listening to music. Typically when I’m on the road, I like to listen to the 90’s band Stereolab, which is great driving music for two reasons: first, their music is very mood-driven, which works particularly well with changing landscapes; and second, their use of Motorik beats gives me the sensation of forward motion, of going somewhere. But between the monotony of driving and the discomfort of being a tall person in a tiny car, the music wasn’t doing a whole lot for me.

Continue reading

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Interesting Moments in Video Game Music

By Richard Mazuski and Henry Myers

Video games being one of our favorite current childhood pastimes, we’ve been wanting for a while to indulge ourselves by writing about game music. Ranging from the adventurous to the nostalgic, here’s a smattering of cherished memories:

1. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: Sith Lords – Rebuilt Jedi Enclave

Image result for star wars kotor 2

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) I and II are truly excellent games which have constructed a deep history for the Star Wars mythos, occurring many millennia before the films. While the first has polished gameplay and one of the best twists in gaming history, the second upped the stakes with a greater sense of dread, more ambiguous moral decisions, and a full-orchestral soundtrack by Mark Griskey. Continue reading

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Eunmi Ko on Cross-Disciplinary Performance

Credit: Eunmi Ko

By Lara Saldanha

A few weeks ago, I experienced one of those special performances that captures your imagination entirely and yanks it in a new direction. Pianist Eunmi Ko performed Morton Feldman’s “Three Dances,” playing and dancing at the same time, followed without break by a set of three from Granados’ “12 Danzas Españolas,” just playing. Ko danced during the rests built into the Feldman, as if reacting to the phrases by sitting and standing, turning her head, moving her legs and feet, peering into and under the piano, and playing percussion and piano simultaneously in the last movement. The performance was entitled “Perspectives,” and it certainly provided a shift of perspective, inviting me to listen visually as well as aurally.

I spoke with Ko about her experience discovering and curating her interdisciplinary performance of Feldman’s “Three Dances.” Continue reading

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