Off Beats

Photo by Jeremy Bezanger on Unsplash

In addition to the regular sessions featuring one piece of classical music, an itch to talk about the modern music I love has motivated me to prepare a second series of lessons. The Off Beats lessons will be sprinkled occasionally between the regular lessons throughout the year. How are they different from the normal sessions? Let’s see:

  • Two pieces, not one– I want to introduce modern, more unfamiliar pieces, but in a way that’s easy to approach. Thus, these modern pieces will be shorter and paired/contrasted with something more familiar or easy to listen to that has some common point or other with the modern piece.
  • No scores– In the regular lessons, we follow the score of the piece, to which I’ve added annotations and notes. This takes a considerable amount of time, and for some of the pieces I want to discuss, the scores are unavailable. To keep it simple, we’ll just listen to the pieces, maybe a video of a performance and just enjoy.
  • More obscure– These lessons will feature pieces you likely haven’t heard from composers you may not know anything about. That’s great. You may think modern music isn’t for you, but you may also be surprised.

I’ll never pick a piece that I don’t strongly feel is enjoyable and worth listening to and learning about. I give a lot of thought to what modern pieces to present, but always feel very nervous when the time comes to have an audience of people listening to this piece I’ve gathered them together to hear. I won’t take that risk if I don’t really feel strongly about the piece. I hope you’ll join me.

Previous Off Beats lessons are listed below but are also included on the schedule from the Zoom Lessons homepage. The next Off Beats lesson (no. 5) will probably be sometime in November.

  1. Philip Glass: String Quartet no. 2 (1983) / Puccini: Crisantemi (1890)
  2. Debussy: L’Isle Joyeuse (1904) / Boulez: Incises
  3. Samuel Barber: Adagio (1936) / Witold Lutosławski: Musique Funèbre (1958)
  4. John Adams: Short Ride in a Fast Machine / Maurice Ravel: Boléro
  5. Maybe some Wagner and Berg?