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Ramblings of a lazy grader

February 14, 2011

I have a whole lot of stuff to do, so naturally I’m blogging. I slogged through 10 out of the 30 essays I have to do earlier, then I sat down to do 10 more and couldn’t force myself into it. Student essays on form in Stravinsky/Hindemith/Debussy/Bartok/Ives aren’t really what I want after a long day at school, so I’ll just type randomly about everything I have going on.

So I had a test in my 20th century music class this morning, on the 2nd Viennese School plus some random Hindemith and Strauss. I was pretty unprepared, but I know the music pretty well already so my winging it turned out alright. The test was too long for the time allotted (in that it took me the whole time, which is very unusual) and my boy Berg got very little love, but whatevs. It’s over now, and now we’re starting Debussy/Stravinsky/Bartok/Ives (hmm…) and a few other random composers for the second unit.

I have a lot of theory stuff on the horizon, too. The now-annual GTA Symposium is this weekend, which I’m kind of looking forward to. Unfortunately it means I won’t really get a weekend, but I’m presenting a paper on Schubert (an early piano sonata) which should be good I hope. It’s good for me to prove every once in a while that I can write about music that’s not jazz, and Frank seems to like the paper. Plus, how can you go wrong with Schubert?!

As if one paper weren’t enough, I’m giving a different paper at colloquium next week, 5 days after Symposium. This one is about Monk (a topic closer to my heart), but the paper’s not finished yet and I’ve got to cut even more out than I already have. Normally I wouldn’t schedule myself so tightly, but I’m giving the Monk paper at Music Theory Southeast in March, and the deadline for submitting the final copy of my paper for the best student paper award is next Friday; I’m hoping that I’ll get some comments at colloquium to help out and make things better/clearer.

In non-theory related news, I’m taking a jazz composition class this semester, and just had a “lesson” with Brent Wallarab. By lesson, I mean 15 minutes where I sat down and played him what I had and he said “that’s good…what else were you thinking of doing?” But, he did say that he liked what I had, and if I was interested I could orchestrate it for big band this summer and he’d program it on his band’s concert next fall. That would be pretty sweet, since I’ve never been able to hear one of my own arranging/composing efforts without actually playing in them. I might be a miserable failure at classical composition, but my tune is actually coming along pretty well, so this might be a nice little side thing to have on the CV.

Speaking of jazz, I’m really happy that Esperanza Spalding was recognized as Best New Artist of the Year at the Grammys last night. I tend not to place a lot of stock in the Grammy awards (Michael Daugherty, whose music I cannot stand, won for best classical composition), but it’s really nice to see them awarding jazz musicians who have played their asses off for years to do well at their craft, rather than the heavily marketed, over-hyped commercial musicians. This win is made all the sweeter by the fact that she beat out Justin Bieber, whose teenage girl fan base are all up in arms today because they’ve never heard jazz. PLUS, her hair is way better than his. I’ll admit that I don’t know a whole lot of her work, but I did hear her on Piano Jazz in the summer of 2009 (Best New Artist…really Grammys?) and she was killin’ it then. As Patrick Jarenwattananon wrote earlier today, it’s nice that she won not necessarily because I love her work, but simply that it’s really great to see jazz getting some respect from outside the (usually) insular jazz community of musicians, scholars, fans, and critics.

And finally, it’s Valentine’s Day, so I’ll give a special mention to my wonderful wife Carolyn. She’s remarkably patient with me, and puts up with my incessant ramblings on jazz and music theory, especially as I read all these paper drafts to her. I’d be lost without her.

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