Musical Notes

Music Notes contains my views on music and music composition. This is fun! I will make recommendations as I go.

Last Updated 5/22/11

Stravinsky's 'Rite of Spring' defined the 20th Century; The Beatles' 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' gave it a Climax.

Before the next section I want to hint at the breadth of this forum: The Clash, Jimmy Cliff, U2, Pink Floyd, Talking Heads, Nirvana, (Katy Perry?)...Along with Classical, Baroque, Modern, Atonal and Experimental music.

How to start a Classical Music Symphony Collection: Go to your local public library and borrow my recommended Symphony CDs (Below). Usually they will let you take 7-8 at a time. Listen to each several times and then purchase the ones that struck your fancy. Please get the CD as MP3 and other compression techniques maul the music (Usually Amazon resellers have best price-make sure to check the shipping). When going digital use Mac's or Windows' highest sampling rates.

Len's Symphony Starter Kit:
  • Beethoven 3rd*, 5th*, 6th, 9th*
  • Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique
  • Bizet Symphony in C
  • Brahms 2nd, 4th
  • Dvorak 9th*
  • Gorecki 3rd
  • Haydn 83rd, 101st
  • Lutoslawski# 3rd, 4th
  • Mahler 4th, 6th, 9th*
  • Mozart 40th*, 41st*
  • Nielson# 5th
  • Prokofiev# 1st, 4th, 6th
  • Schoenberg# Chamber Symphony 1 & 2
  • Schumann 4th
  • Schubert 5th, 8th*, 9th*
  • Shostakovitch# 4th, 5th, 7th, 10th
  • Sibelius 2nd*, 3rd
  • Stravinsky# Symphony in C, Symphony in Three Movements, The Rite of Spring+
  • Tchaikovsky 4th, 5th, 6th
*The Ten Must Have Symphonies
+Bonus Must Have
#These Composers use atonal and dissonant arrangements freely, so it may take you a few listens to acclimate, but well worth the effort. I suggest keeping the volume low the first couple of times you listen, then crank it up!
There are many other great works. I have only given you some highlights and breadth.
Finally, there are two other works I feel worth mentioning at this time: Saint-Saens: Carnival of Animals, and the modern Ades: Asyla which draws upon many but particularly nice extension of Stravinsky.

Cranked through Shure 520 earbuds, John Cage's experimental piano sonatas turn any situation into a surreal dramatic performance. At Trader Joe's I became so absorbed I handed a woman an Anjou pear just because.

About six minutes into the first movement of Schubert's 8th 'Unfinished' Symphony he goes off the charts in a Genius kind of way.

Beyond fugues, Beethoven's 3rd 'Eroica' Symphony and Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony are excellent examples of Counterpoint (When two or more melodies are played simultaneously.)

Mick Fleetwood's drums on Fleetwood Mac's 'Go Your Own Way' are driving, primal, wild and acts of pure Genius.

The Beach Boys Rock Opera "Good Vibrations" has a section that by design will vibrate everything in your room, particularly if you have your speakers on the floor.

Rostropovich plays Bach's Cello Suite #1 like wow man!

Saw the Clash live on NYC Pier, started raining, thunder and lightening. They kept playing with amps and guitars sparking! Whatever IT is they had IT. FYI Clash's 'London Calling' is the second best album of the 20th Century

Some Paradigm Shifts: Bach, Stravinsky, Beatles, Nirvana

Best Symphonic Movements (Listed Symphony Number, Movement): Schubert's 8th, First; Beethoven's 5th, First; Beethoven's 9th, Final; Sibelius' 2nd, First; Prokofiev 1st, First; Mahler's 9th, Final; Mozart's 40th, First; Dvorak's 9th, Final.

Pink Floyd, Neil Young, Sex Pistols, Van Morrison, Todd Rundgren, Jackson Browne, Laura Nero, Joni Mitchell, Carol King (Saved the 70s)

For my current wip (novel) I am composing an accompanying symphony. Trippy.
Much More to come