Musings

Feeling Gezelligheid on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, December 2012

Julie Kocsis (W.W. Norton)

With the exception of maybe Bruce Springsteen, there is no musician I enjoy seeing live more than Andrew Bird, whom I’ve been fortunate enough to see play at least a half-dozen times over the past ten years throughout New York City. Each performance is a real show for the senses— attendees are not only treated to his vocals and violin playing, but are also able to visually observe the physicality that goes into the music he creates. He plucks, bows, claps, sings, whistles, strums, and twists the knobs of and stomps on the looping and distortion pedals that surround him on the stage.

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Where There’s a Waltz There’s a Way: Exploring the Secrets of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations

Robin Wallace (School of Music, Baylor University)

Ludwig van Beethoven receives a waltz by Anton Diabelli in early 1819, about a year after getting his new Broadwood piano and well into the final decline of his hearing. The piece initially seems unpromising to him, but it feels amazing on this new instrument, whose keys have unprecedented tactile depth and whose frame is uncommonly reactive to vibration across its width. In the first eight measures the melody plunges three and a half octaves into the bass, and the pattern of sequences that follows culminates in a stretch covering three quarters of the keyboard. He realizes that this is material that will allow his sense of touch to lead him in novel directions.

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