Monday, November 30, 2015

Out of Time Shuffled - Summer 2015 (short version)

This is the second of two posts.  You might want to consider reading the first one first.  If not, I'm okay with it.

You also might want to consider listening to (I'm Sorry We're) Out of Time Shuffled as you read.  Still no?  I'm okay with that too.

ISWOoTS is an alternate short version of my piece Summer 2015 from The Seasons.  The original short version is called (I'm Sorry We're) Out of Time.   "Short version" means all the silences of the original long version (entitled Summer 2015) have been removed.

Instead of presenting the daily segments in the order they were composed - as they were in (I'm Sorry We're) Out of Time - this time they are "shuffled" into a different order.  (I originally wanted to tell you that the piece was being played "sideways".  Shuffling, however, is much more descriptive terminology.)

There's method to my musical shuffling.  In the first three minutes you hear all the segments which I composed on Mondays in the order they were composed.  (That much, just the Monday bits, is also known as Garbage Days of Summer 2015.  Garbage Day versions for a few other seasons are online if you're curious.)

After the Monday segments come all the Tuesday segments.  Then Wednesday.  Then . . . you get the idea.  Eventually all the weekdays are accounted for and the piece ends.  (Don't you dare call this Serialism.  Well, go ahead, but please tell me you're only making a joke.)

To my ears the shuffle worked surprisingly well musically.  The two pieces are very different.  I'm hard pressed to decide which one I like better.  I think the shuffle works because Summer 2015 adheres to the Garbage Day Periodicity idea quite rigorously.  New ideas are introduced each week starting on Mondays and therefore the original music is quite episodic.

The shuffled version, however, is not episodic.  It has more of a periodic feel, like a set of seven variations, cycling through the sequence of a dozen or so weekly ideas before going on to the next day.  I think these segments are fairly easy to hear if you're attentive.  If you're multitasking, this time chart will help you identify when each new day begins:

Monday 0'00"
Tuesday 3'11"
Wednesday 5'28"
Thursday 7'28"
Friday 9'43"
Saturday 12'06"
Sunday 14'45"

I felt free to adjust the time between segments if I felt that was needed in the two versions, so I was surprised that they turned out exactly the same length.  The versions are, however, mixed quite differently because musical bits appear in quite different contexts.  I was also surprised when I listened to both versions simultaneously - there was cacophony, just not as much as I expected.

Click here to hear (I'm Sorry We're) Out of Time Shuffled (Summer 2015 short version) by David Ocker - © 2015 David Ocker, 1084 seconds

Links to all the Seasons in all their versions are here.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Out of Time - Summer 2015 (short version)

Autumn 2015 is almost over and I'm finally just posting the short version of Summer 2015.  Listen to it now.

Besides the generic seasonal titles which I give all my pieces from The Seasons, the short versions (those are the ones without the long silences) also get poetical titles.  I'm pretty sure this double titling is misleading or confusing to many people.  Sometimes it's just downright deceptive.  And intentionally so.  These additional titles often refer to some personal aspect of the music.  Most likely they're irrelevant for anyone except me.

I've titled the short versions of Summer 2015 "(I'm Sorry We're) Out of Time".  Imagine a game show host telling us that the fun is finally over and, if you want more fun, you'll have to tune in next week. For expediency's sake I often shorten the title to "Out of Time".

Musically, my principal intent was to create music no one can dance to.  (If you do succeed in dancing to this music, please please post some video.)

The opening of (I'm Sorry We're) Out of Time was inspired by the annoying confirmation beeps of car alarms.  You know the drill, some jerk with an expensive car pushes a button on his keychain and his car yelps like a cat whose tail has been stepped on.  This serves two important purposes.  First of all, the jerk is secure in knowing that his car is protected from malefactors.  Also, he has the small pleasure of informing anyone nearby that the car is valuable enough that he feels entitled to startle and aggravate us with ugly electronic sounds.  It's a small social faux pas which our culture provides to people who spend too much money on their automobiles.  On the relative scale of vehicular sound pollution, locking your car with a beep is a far cry from the asshole who guns his Harley in a freeway underpass.

Anyway, keep your ears peeled for the Beep Theme right at the beginning.  It recurs periodically throughout (I'm Sorry We're) Out of Time. Enjoy.

Click here to hear (I'm Sorry We're) Out of Time (Summer 2015 short version) by David Ocker - © 2015 David Ocker, 1084 seconds

(I'm Sorry We're) Out of Time quotes a famous classical piece.  Be the first person to correctly identify said classical music and win a not-so-valuable prize.  Really, I'll send you a CD of my music which is otherwise unavailable online.

If you're not so sure you want to invest eighteen whole minutes listening to Out of Time - after all, time is money, right? - then you might want to gamble three of your valuable minutes listening to Garbage Days of Summer 2015.  This is a kind of time-lapse version comprised of the musical segments which I composed on Mondays.

One more thing - the undanceable nature of (I'm Sorry We're) Out of Time prompted me to make time-lapse versions for the other days of the week.  Those are the days when I merely created garbage but didn't share it with the world.  I've strung all those versions together to create a whole different version of Out of Time.  I called it (I'm Sorry We're) Out of Time Shuffled.   The two pieces are exactly the same length and have exactly the same music, only the ordering is different.  Listen to Out of Time Shuffled here or read more about Out of Time Shuffled here.

Links to all the pieces and articles in The Seasons are on this page.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Meaning of a Clarinet

Here's a movie poster I snapped today at a bus stop.  (View a high-res photo.)  Can you guess why it interests me?

Mind you, I'm not planning to see this movie.  To be honest, I'm not planning on seeing any upcoming movies, even the Star Wars reboot.

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are great comedians but this poster is not particularly funny.  It contains a collection of clues to their movie characters, carefully selected to separate us from our theater admission money.

Two grown women are taking a bubble bath together, presumably in the nude.  Strewn about are a series of artifacts from their lives.  Apparently the plot line revolves around selling the home where they grew up.  Am I interested in the bottle of wine?  The plastic Big Lots bag?  The pink bra?

The answer is . . . The Clarinet . . . that musical instrument I used to play.

You don't see ads with clarinets in them much any more.  Well, never.  This one must be there for a reason.  What exactly is this clarinet telling us about the movie character Maura as played by Amy Poehler?

First of all, clarinets aren't usually stuck in boxes quite that way.  That's a really bad way to store a clarinet.  You can also see the clarinet case peeking out of the box, behind a thick book.  So, this clarinet is not well cared for.  We can guess that Maura played in high school band for a while, then gave it up through a combination of lack of interest and lack of talent.  I'm guessing she does not much care for her old clarinet.  Or for any clarinet.

Lots of high school kids try playing the clarinet.  Marching bands need lots of clarinetists.  I wonder how many of them think back on the experience with any sort of fondness.  Probably very few.  In America, a lot of clarinets end up gathering dust in closets.  Still, for this movie, it was important enough to be included in a box marked "Maura's Special Memories".  Maybe she aspired to be a great clarinetist -- a sure way of becoming an unhappy adult.   I'd have to see the movie to find out if the clarinet really is important to the plot.  I'm not that interested.

Could the licorice stick be a kind of phallic reference?  After all, clarinets are longer than they are wide.  I found another picture of a scantily clad woman with clarinet, a magazine cover from 1937.  The clarinet was actually an important instrument in pop music then.  And this picture also shows a brassiere.  I wouldn't want to over-interpret this, but the girl certainly has a provocative way of holding her instrument.  The clarinet was sexy then.  Now, not so much.  (Her purple shadow however is the weirdest part of this painting - kind of like a jellyfish.)

Another idea might be that the clarinet in the movie poster is like countless bags of movie groceries
with a long French bread sticking out of them.  Just one item tells you immediately what is in the bag.  Here's actress Anne Hathaway carrying such a bag in real life.  It doesn't take much imagination or even a line of dialog to guess where she's been or what else she has in that bag.

In just the same way, a clarinet sticking out of a box, even if it weren't marked "Special Memories", quickly tells us that the box is filled with old, unfulfilled childhood dreams.  On the other side of the tub, Tina Fey's box is marked "Kate's Shit".  (Of course in America you can only show the "sh" and not the "it".)   Can you imagine what kind of shit we are supposed to be reminded of by that box?

And what have we learned about the semiotics of clarinets in popular advertising?  Has the clarinet become the go-to icon of abandoned, forgotten childhood fantasies and aspirations?  The advertising industry doesn't have much use for it otherwise.  Actually, you never see clarinets in advertising at all, so they must not have any use for it.

Here's a movie poster from a movie called Solo für Klarinette.  I suspect the instrument here is actually phallic and not musical.  Go ahead, read the plot description.

Here's a woman who actually played the clarinet.  (source)

Here's a Mixed Meters post about women in ads with tubas.

Some other MM clarinet posts:
What To Do With a Clarinet
Worst Clarinet Playing Ever