Music Braille Code

Print Friendly

Google ChromeScreenSnapz057

I joined a U.S. government-sponsored exchange program to distribute Braille Music Notation Guides (both printed and in Braille) among Latin American Universities and libraries.
The guides, music examples, exercises, and a double CD with recorded examples will expand the access to inclusive education for all musicians with visual impairments.
As a Fulbright Specialist, I am a member of The U.S. Department of State Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) which provides grants to to carry out public service projects, and supports initiatives that promote shared values and innovative solutions to global challenges. If you are interested please visit and like their new FB page:
https://www.facebook.com/MBCAEIF2014

About
Expanding the Access to Inclusive Education for Musicians with Visual Impairments in Latin American Universities, Conservatories and Public High Schools.
Description
“Music Braille Code” is a project currently applying for an Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (2014) provided by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs from the United States of America.

It is estimated that the world population of people with disabilities is over 1 billion (nearly 15 per cent of the world’s population), over two thirds of whom live in developing countries. Developing countries offer many social scenarios where people with physical, sensory, or intellectual impairments face discrimination on a daily basis. As former students of Latin American universities, we can attest that music faculties in our countries lack the resources to provide an inclusive academic environment for students with disabilities. This project will allow faculty members, alumni, current and prospective students of Latin American Universities, Conservatories and Public High Schools with music departments to acquire the basic skills needed to read and write music in Braille Code.

The goal of this project is to distribute Braille Music Notation Guides to the main Latin American music libraries. The distribution of these guides will: enhance people with disabilities’ access to musical resources; promote equal opportunity in artistic education for people with disabilities; increase the participation of people with disabilities in the cultural environment of Latin America; empower artists with disabilities to express themselves through music composition and performance; allow composers to write and perform music in Braille Code; enhance the pedagogical resources of music libraries; enrich music libraries’ catalogues; foster awareness among able-bodied music students, faculty members and academic staff regarding the importance of inclusive education; reduce artistic and social exclusionary practices; and promote a model for equality in the music making of Universities, Music Conservatories, and Public High Schools with Music Departments of our countries.

The main beneficiaries of this project are students with visual impairments and music libraries. The guides to Braille Music Notation will be distributed in more than 30 academic institutions and libraries across Latin America. Secondary beneficiaries of this project include: current able-bodied students, alumni (as they would have access to the material through music libraries), and current faculty members of Universities, Conservatories and Public High Schools with Music Departments.

Long-term results include: increased number in the enrollment rate of students with visual impairments in music programs and increased number in the graduation rate of students with visual impairments in music programs. We expect the following short-term measurable results:
1. Music libraries will enlarge their collections.
2. Students with visual impairments will have access to music education.
3. Current students and faculty members will enhance their academic and pedagogical resources.
4. Composers will be able to learn an alternative system of music notation.
5. Current students will increase their understanding about disability and inclusion through media outreach and promotion of the project.

If you are a current or past participant of any U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs, please visit the website and join or “cheer” our project using the following link: https://alumni.state.gov/node/6452

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sir Noël Coward

Print Friendly

noel-coward

“Wit is like caviar – it should be served in small portions and not spread about like marmalade.”

“Extraordinary how potent cheap music is.”

“Work is much more fun than fun.”

“We have no reliable guarantee that the afterlife will be any less exasperating than this one, have we?”

TimeMagNoelCoward

“Nothing is Lost”
by Noel Coward

Deep in our sub-conscious, we are told
Lie all our memories, lie all the notes
Of all the music we have ever heard
And all the phrases those we loved have spoken,
Sorrows and losses time has since consoled,
Family jokes, out-moded anecdotes
Each sentimental souvenir and token
Everything seen, experienced, each word
Addressed to us in infancy, before
Before we could even know or understand
The implications of our wonderland.
There they all are, the legendary lies
The birthday treats, the sights, the sounds, the tears
Forgotten debris of forgotten years
Waiting to be recalled, waiting to rise
Before our world dissolves before our eyes
Waiting for some small, intimate reminder,
A word, a tune, a known familiar scent
An echo from the past when, innocent
We looked upon the present with delight
And doubted not the future would be kinder
And never knew the loneliness of night.

 

Posted in Composer | Leave a comment

Mozart

Print Friendly

MozartToday is the birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, born in Salzburg, Austria (1756). By the age of five, he was proficient at the violin and piano and had begun composing. In his short lifetime, he composed more than 600 works in almost every genre of the day. Joseph Haydn is said to have told Mozart’s father,

“Before God and as an honest man I tell you that your son is the greatest composer known to me either in person or by name.”

He later wrote of Mozart that

“posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years.”

Mozart’s premature death has been a matter of great interest over the years. He died suddenly at the age of 35, and people seem to want his death to be as remarkable as his life. His death certificate reads only “fever and rash,” which are not so much causes of death as they are symptoms. Because there’s so little data to go on, rumors have been rife: he was poisoned by a jealous rival; he accidentally poisoned himself with mercury, trying to treat a case of syphilis; he contracted parasites; he was murdered by Jews, or Catholics, or Freemasons. There was no evidence of foul play. He had been productive in his career and was in good health in the months leading up to his death, but two days after his last public performance, he came down quite suddenly with a high fever, headache, muscle pain, and vomiting. His body exuded a foul-smelling odor. Two weeks later, he suffered a seizure, fell into a coma, and died.

Mozart himself started the rumor that he was poisoned, because after he fell ill, he told his wife, “My end will not be long in coming; for sure, someone has poisoned me!” There’s a theory that Mozart was having an affair with a married woman whose husband found out and murdered him. In his play Mozart and Salieri (1830), Aleksandr Pushkin speculated that rival composer Antonio Salieri poisoned Mozart, but he would have had no reason to; although they were rivals, the two composers were friendly, and Salieri’s position and income were far superior to Mozart’s at that time.

A letter written by Mozart not long before he became ill refers to a hearty meal of pork cutlets, one of his favorite foods. It’s possible the pork was infested by Trichinella parasites, which cause trichinosis, the symptoms of which are fever, vomiting, swelling, and muscle and joint pain.

In 2009, a paper published in The Annals of Internal Medicine speculated that the great composer was brought down by a common streptococcal infection — like strep throat — that caused his kidneys to fail. Researchers studied death certificates in Vienna around that time, and there were many reports of deaths involving excessive swelling, which can be a sign of renal failure. In his last days, Mozart’s swelling was so severe that he was unable even to turn over in bed.

Regardless of the cause of death, the end result was the same, and Mozart died on December 5, 1791, at the age of 35. It’s a persistent myth that Mozart was buried in a pauper’s grave. While it’s true that he was buried in a communal plot, that was common practice in Vienna at the time. Only members of the aristocracy received individual burials as we think of them today; people of Mozart’s status and below were sewn, naked, into a linen sack, and placed into a pit with four or five other bodies. Quicklime was sprinkled over the corpses to speed their decomposition. After about seven years, the remains were exhumed and dispersed so that the grave could be reused. As a result, Mozart’s body is lost to us, and scientists have never been able to examine it using modern technology.

Any pianist will tell you of the joys of playing Mozart, for the sheer purity in its playing, but also of the difficulty in it because of its simple, clean exposure in execution. It’s really a unique sensation.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mercy

Print Friendly

Mercy
by Stephen Dunn

The music was fidgety, arch,
an orchestral version of twang.
Welcome to atonal hell,
welcome to the execution
of a theory, I kept thinking,
thinking, thinking. I hadn’t felt
a thing. Was it old fashioned
of me to want to? Or were feelings,
as usual, part of the problem?
The conductor seemed to flail
more than lead, his baton evidence
of something unresolved,
perhaps recent trouble at home.
And though I liked the cellist—
especially the way
she held her instrument—
unless you had a taste
for unhappiness
you didn’t want to look
at the first violinists face.
My wife whispered to me
This music is better than it sounds.
I reminded myself the world outside
might be a worse place
than where I was now,
though that seemed little reason
to take heart. Instead
I closed my eyes, thought about
a certain mezzo soprano
who could gladden a sad day
anywhere, but one January night
in Milan went a full octave
into the beyond. Sometimes escape
can be an art, or a selfishness,
or just a gift you need
to give yourself. Whichever,
I disappeared for a while,
left my body behind to sit there, nod,
applaud a the appropriate time.

“Mercy” by Stephen Dunn from What Goes On: Selected and New Poems 1995-2009. © W.W. Norton, 2010.

Posted in Composer | Leave a comment

Flaubert on Creativity

Print Friendly

Gustave_Flaubert_young

“Happy are they who don’t doubt themselves and whose pens fly across the page. I myself hesitate, I falter, I become angry and fearful, my drive diminishes as my taste improves, and I brood more over an ill-suited word than I rejoice over a well-proportioned paragraph.”
- Gustave Flaubert 

In 2007, editor J. Peder Zane published a book called The Top Ten, in which he asked 125 contemporary writers to name what they consider “the ten greatest works of fiction of all time,” and Flaubert’s Madame Bovary was number two, after  Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.

Flaubert said:

“Be regular and orderly in your life so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

Posted in Composer | Leave a comment

A Glimpse into Personal Creativity

Print Friendly

A description of her inner work and creative impulses by best-selling poet Sharon Olds Google ChromeScreenSnapz004:

“I said to free will or the pagan god of making things, or whoever, let me write my own stuff. I’ll give up everything I’ve learned, anything, if you’ll let me write my poems. They don’t have to be any good, but just mine.”

It was in the syntax of her prayer that came an epiphany. She explained:
“What happened was enjambment. Writing over the end of the line and having a noun starting each line — it had some psychological meaning to me, like I was protecting things by hiding them. Poems started pouring out of me and Satan was in a lot of them. Also, toilets.”

She started going to writing workshops at the local YMCA, and eventually she published her first collection of poems, called Satan Says (1980). She later realized that she wrote in the structure of the hymns of her youth, which is what felt comfortable to her, but that she “had to ride over the end of the line” to craft her poems.

When her first book was published, she was a few years shy of 40. Within a decade, she’d released several highly acclaimed, best-selling collections, and she’d also become the director of the Graduate Writing Program at NYU. She was so busy that she decided for one year she would not watch TV, read a newspaper or book, or go hear music, just so that she’d have enough time to do her job and keep writing poetry.

She was poet laureate of New York from 1998 to 2000. She still teaches creative writing at NYU, and she writes poems from her apartment on the Upper West Side, in a rocking chair with a view of the Hudson River. She uses different colored ballpoint pens to compose poems, and sometimes puts stickers on the pages of her drafts, which remind her of the stained glass windows of her religious youth. She said that she loves “odd” or “strange” words. She said:
“By the time I see that it’s a poem, it’s almost written in my head somewhere. It’s as if there’s someone inside of me who perceives order and beauty — and disorder. And who wants to make little copies. Who wants to put together something that will bear some relationship to the vision or memory or experience or story or idea or dream or whatever.”

She once described poetry as coming from her lungs, and said that to her,
“Poetry is so physical, the music of it and the movement of thought.”
She said that over the years, she has noticed that ideas for poems will come to her when she’s dancing or running, and that these ideas seem to come to mind with the act of breathing deeply, with the intake of oxygen. She said,
“Suddenly you’re remembering something that you haven’t thought of for years.”

Her advice to young poets is this:
“Take your vitamins. Exercise. Just work to love yourself as much as you can — not more than the people around you but not so much less.”

She once said:
“I’m not asking a poem to carry a lot of rocks in its pockets. Just being an ordinary observer and liver and feeler and letting the experience get through you onto the notebook with the pen, through the arm, out of the body, onto the page, without distortion.”

Posted in Composer | Leave a comment

Georgia O’Keeffe

Print Friendly

 

97s/46/hgmp/9675/bw173 OKeeffe

 

 

It’s the birthday of American artist Georgia O’Keeffe, born in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin (1887). She studied art in college and then supported herself teaching art at various colleges, but she found that teaching left her no time for her own work, and the turpentine smell of the art classrooms made her sick. She went for months and years on end without painting anything, only to start over again and try something new.

On a trip to Taos, New Mexico, O’Keeffe fell in love with the desert. She felt that the thin, dry air helped her to see better, and she devoted the rest of her career to painting desert mountains, flowers, stones, and skulls.

Georgia O’Keeffe said:

“Nothing is less real than realism. Details are confusing. It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis, that we get at the real meaning of things.”

Posted in Composer | Leave a comment

some fast quotes for composers

Print Friendly

“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.”
Mark Twain

“You never know what you’ll want to write until it starts writing itself in your head.”
Jill Ker Conway

“There’s a whole language out there, and one’s role as a writer is to stumble around in it.”
Ciarán Carson

“I like good company, but I like hard work still better.”
Camille Saint-Saëns

“The imagination is not a state: it is the human existence itself.”
William Blake

Posted in Composer | Leave a comment

An Interesting Day – Michaelmas Sept 29

Print Friendly

 

 

michaelmasMichaelmas Daisies

 

In the Christian world, today is Michaelmas, feast day of the archangel Michael, which was a very important day in times past, falling near the equinox and so marking the fast darkening of the days in the northern world — the boundary of what was and what is to be. Today was the end of the harvest and the time for rurals and farmers to calculate how many animals they could afford to feed through the winter and which would be sold or slaughtered. It was the end of the fishing season, the beginning of hunting, the time to pick apples and make cider.

Today was a day for settling rents and accounts, which farmers often paid for with a brace of birds from the flocks hatched that spring. Geese were given to the poor and their plucked down sold for the filling of mattresses and pillows.

Michaelmas was the time of the traditional printer’s celebration, the wayzgoose, the day on which printers broke from their work to form the last of their pulp into paper with which to cover their open windows against the coming cold — the original solution for those who could not afford glass yet had more than nothing — and the advent of days spent working by candlelight.

In the past, the traditional Michaelmas meal would have been a roast stubble goose — the large gray geese that many of us only get to admire at our local state and county fairs. Today, when most poultry comes from the grocery store in parts and wrapped in plastic, a roast goose can be a difficult luxury to obtain, but any homey, unfussy meal is a fine substitute — especially with a posy of Michaelmas daisies or purple asters on the table.

In folklore, it is said that when Michael cast the Devil from Heaven, the fallen angel landed on a patch of blackberry brambles and so returns this day every year to spit upon the plant that tortured him. For this reason, blackberries would not be eaten after today, and so folks would gather them in masses on Michaelmas to put into pies and crumbles and preserves. And they would bake St. Michael’s bannocks, a large, flat scone of oats and barley and rye, baked on a hot griddle and then eaten with butter or honey or a pot of blackberry preserves.

Whether you recognize Michaelmas or not, you can still greet what comes with the symbols of today: gloves, for openhandedness and generosity, and ginger to keep you warm and well in the coming cold.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Last Steinway

Print Friendly

19steinway.600

It was on this day in 1853 that Henry Steinway, who had come here from Hamburg in 1849, sold his first American-made piano. He introduced the first cast-iron frame, which allowed a piano to be strung with greater tension on the strings and with the bass strings crossing above the treble strings so they could be longer and make a grander sound.

Henry Z. Steinway, in the picture, the last Steinway to run the piano-making company his family started in 1853, died 2008 at his home in Manhattan. He was 93.

Mr. Steinway once said that he had taken countless piano lessons but never knew “which is Beethoven’s this or Beethoven’s that.” He remained proficient on a typewriter’s keys, however; long after the world had adopted personal computers, he was still pounding away on his Smith-Corona manual.

Henry Ziegler Steinway — named for an uncle, and not to be confused with a cousin, Henry Steinway Ziegler — was the great-grandson of Heinrich Engelhard Steinway, the illiterate German immigrant before the ampersand in Steinway & Sons. Henry was born on Aug. 23, 1915, in his parents’ apartment on Park Avenue, between East 52nd and 53rd Streets.

The location was important to his tradition-minded father, Theodore E. Steinway. The Steinways’ factory, the largest piano plant in New York City when it opened, had occupied that site from just before the Civil War until about 1910. Theodore rented an apartment in the building that took the factory’s place. (The apartment house was demolished in the 1950s to make way for Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building.)

By the time Henry was a boy, the name Steinway had become almost synonymous with pianos, famous on concert stages as well as in Tin Pan Alley. Irving Berlin paid homage in “I Love a Piano” with the lyric “I know a fine way to treat a Steinway.”

After shuttering its Manhattan factory, Steinway & Sons moved its manufacturing operations to Queens, and as a child Henry wandered through a labyrinth of sawdust-strewn workrooms. He joined the company after graduating from Harvard in 1937 and began his career by building pianos, just as his father and uncles had.

“I learned a respect for work that is actually done,” Mr. Steinway said years later.

He also discovered that making instruments that have thousands of tiny parts under the lid is not easy. He said it took him a day and a half to do what the workers at the factory did in four hours.

In the 1940s, following the death of a cousin who had been the company’s general manager, Mr. Steinway began overseeing operations at the company’s three factories in Queens. Poor eyesight kept him away from the front lines during World War II; the Army stationed him on Governors Island in New York Harbor.

He became the factory manager after the war and president of the company in 1955, when his father made a surprise announcement that he was stepping down, immediately.

By then the piano business was struggling against changing technologies and tastes. Phonographs and radios had displaced pianos as home entertainment choices, and television was on the rise. As Mr. Steinway recalled in 2003: “People would say: ‘You’re in the piano business? That doesn’t exist anymore.’ ”

So he downsized the company — though he preferred the term “right-sized” — closing two of the plants in Queens. He decided that concert artists to whom the company had lent pianos would have to return them, unless they bought them.

He also arranged to sell Steinway Hall, the company’s building on West 57th Street, to Manhattan Life Insurance Company. He moved most of the company’s offices, including his own, to Queens. But the showroom, with its big front window and arched ceilings, remained.

In 1972 he sold the company itself. “It was the hippie time,” he recalled in 2003. “Nobody in the next generation —”

He left the rest of the sentence unsaid. He said he did not believe that any of his younger relatives could take over, so he proposed a $20.1 million stock swap with the CBS Corporation. The deliberations split the family, with his mother, Ruth, calling the sale “a betrayal,” although she ultimately voted for it.

CBS replaced him as president in 1977, naming him chairman. He gave up that title when he retired at 65, but he never really left. Up until the very end, he went to Steinway Hall most days. He also went to the factory to autograph just-finished pianos, signing the cast-iron plates with felt-tip pens. At times he served as a goodwill ambassador, visiting piano dealers and attending music-industry conventions.

President Bush presented him with the National Medal of Arts, the government’s highest award in the arts. Mr. Steinway was also the founding president of the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, Calif.

CBS sold Steinway in 1985, and the company changed hands again in 1995. Mr. Steinway recalled worrying about that sale, to what was then Selmer Industries, a band-instrument manufacturer that had been taken over by two investment bankers from Los Angeles.

“I thought, ‘Here we go up the flue for sure,’ ” Mr. Steinway said in 2003. “ ‘Two hotshots who’re not yet 40. This is where we get liquidated for sure.’ ”

But the two investment bankers, Dana D. Messina and Kyle R. Kirkland, changed Selmer Industries’ name to Steinway Musical Instruments. Mr. Steinway liked to recall that when they took the company public in 1998, they used Ludwig van Beethoven’s initials for a stock symbol— LVB — because all possible combinations of S’s and T’s were taken.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment