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Friday, December 19, 2014

2014 Christmas Carol Mashups #10

I only had time for two yesterday, but they are pretty fun.

The first is "You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch" in the style of a Handel aria. This clever suggestion came from Grant Anderson.



A very challenging suggestion from Brittany Downey was to play Santa Baby in the style of Schoenberg. That's tough on a number of levels. One is that Schoenberg wrote in a number of different styles. You have the early and late tonal music. You have the 15 or so years of 12 tone. Since I played Pierrot this Fall, I went with the pre-12 tone Pierrot type language. I utitlized Vienese tri-chords and octave displacement for the opening statement of the melody. Then I played a Pierrot style ostinato and added in some other stuff from Pierrot while still keeping the melody going.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

2014 Christmas Carol Mashups #9

I only had time for two yesterday, but they were both excellent suggestions. Connie Backus Yoder suggested "The Holly and the Ivy" in the style of Bach. For this one, I took something like the accompaniment figure from the cantata setting of Nun Danket and then just played the carol melody adjusting as necessary.



Austin White gave the diabolical request for "Christmas Time is Here" in the style of post 5th sonata Scriabin. That's a language that I could imitate, but it would take more thought and time than I am willing to give right now. I did do an OK Scriabin 4th sonata style rendition though.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

2014 Christmas Carol Mashups #8

I had time for a few of the more interesting and challenging requests yesterday.  I think the hardest request so far has been by Stan Kleppinger who asked for "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" in the style of Hindemith. I thought about this one enough that it's probably not safe to call it an improvisation.



Craig Scott sent a request for a Conlon Nancarrow "Jingle Bells". Since I love Nancarrow in general, that proved to be irresistible.



Finally, my sister Keri Knecht Grosso, a wonderful musician herself, asked for "Sweet Little Jesus Boy" in the style of Tcherepnin.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

2014 Christmas Carol Mashups #7

Yesterday, I had time to do two more. The first was "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" suggested by Tinsley Silcox. It is one of the best combinations suggested to date. Debussy goes well with Irving Berlin. I lifted the voicing of the first chord from one of the Preludes.


 Since I have only done one other Chanukah song in this series, I jumped at Katherine Pawlowski's suggestion to do Maoz Tsur as a Debussy piece. Since I had already done one Debussy carol, and he was on my mind, I explored a little different corner of his sometimes oddball habits.


That's all for now. I'm going to take the weekend off. I should be able to get some more next week.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

2014 Christmas Carol Mashups #6

Today started with a nice request from Nathaniel Sullivan. "O come, O come, Emmanuel" in the style of Cole Porter. This one came out particularly nicely, I think.



Next, Brett Epperson requested "O Holy Night" played as a Scott Joplin rag.


Colleen Baade asked for a Huron Carol played a la Piazzolla. Now, my Argentinian friends say that Americans can't really play properly in this style. After listening to a recording of myself, I have to agree. It is a fun project though, and I think I came pretty close on the harmonic language if not the rhythm.



Finally, just for a bit of fun, Trent Buglewicz asked for "The Little Drummer Boy" in the style of a third grade piano student. I suggested instead that I do it in the style of a sophomore music theory piano audit. For those of us that have sat through hours of these, I think this is pretty accurate. I did forget to do the part where I say, "I swear I played it perfectly last night." and "Can I start again?"

2014 Christmas Carol Mashups #5

Yesterday, I managed three more. I had a request from my sister for "Santa Baby" in the style of Haydn. I decided to play it on the organ because it was more convenient. I really like how this one turned out.



Kendall Reimer suggested "Rocking around the Christmas Tree" in the style of Brahms. Unfortunately, the recording quality and piano doesn't let you hear some of the hemiolas I was playing to make it sound more Brahmsian. Still, it's kind of fun.



Finally, I flubbed some notes, but that's the nature of doing quick improvisations, so I'm putting some of these up with their flaws. Rebecca Ordoñez-Rodriguez suggested "Pat-a-pan" in the style of Albeniz.



The requests are getting more voluminous and more complicated. Thanks for everyone who is watching. I've done these things for years to entertain students. I had no idea that they would be so popular.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

2014 Carol Mashup #4

I only had time to do two today.

Aliana Kae asked for "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" in the style of Rachmaninov. I adapted the opening of the C# minor prelude and used the melody as a replacement bass line. I then played part of the melody in a Rachmaninov kind of texture and harmonic vocabulary.


Cynthia Gaitanis asked for a Phillip Glass "Go Tell it on the Mountain". I did my best. I don't know that style as well, and the cost of learning the style better is too high a price to pay.

Monday, December 08, 2014

2014 Christmas Carol Mashups #3

The latest set of requests for Christmas Carol mashups brought some fun options. It seems that the favorite from this round is a request by one of our compositions students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Cambria Butcher requested "Baby it's cold outside" in the style of Chopin. I thought that a Nocturne texture would work best for this one.



Jackie Josten requested a Satie "Joy to the World". That one was pretty easy. I could even use the original key of the hymn and the Gymnopodie No. 1.



Timothy Madden wanted Elvis' "Blue Christmas" in the style of Benjamin Britten. I stole the texture and the style of harmonization from "There is No Rose" from the Ceremony of Carols.



Finally, a fun request from Samantha Peters. "It's the most wonderful time of the year" in the style of Arvo Pärt. A little tintinnabulation in minor, then the melody in minor over a drone, then do it all in major.