21st century classical

Dear Followers!

I’m Richard, or @you-had-me-at-e-flat-major , and I’ve been invited to @musicainextenso to talk about my own compositions as well as my composing process. Over this week I’ll be presenting 4 compositions. In general I like to explore different styles in my works, sometimes emulating existing composers, sometimes experimenting on my own. I’m afraid you’ll have to excuse the poor recording quality, all of the compositions I will present over this week use synthesised instruments in their recordings. That being said, I’d like to start with a piano piece, whose synthesised recording doesn’t actually sound half bad, called Cerfs-volants (French for kites).

My intention for this piece was to create an impressionistic piano piece based on the style of Debussy, and I chose to write a piece evoking the image of kites. The most difficult part of writing this piece was finding a beginning theme. In order to do this, I attempted to emulate some of Debussy’s trademarks. Debussy frequently used alternative harmony such as whole-tone scales and extended chords including major 7th and major 9th chords, which led me to base the introduction and first few themes on tetratonic scales (ex. D♭-E♭-G♭-A♭-D♭, bars 1-6) and major 7th and minor 7th chords.

The piece was written in a non-standard form: Introduction-A-B-C-D-Introduction-A1-Coda. The introduction and A theme were based on the tetratonic scale and 7th chords. The B and C sections serve as contrast. The B theme consists of various major 7th and later minor 7th chords, shrinking to 6th chords, major triads, suspended chords and augmented chords, all played over an ostinato, followed by arpeggios. The C theme is starkly different: it consists of very strong, ff arpeggios in C major. During this, the note A♭ is gradually added to facilitate modulation to Fm for the next section.

One difficulty faced was returning after much harmonic development in the B and C sections to the original tonic key of D♭. I achieved this by adding a slower D section of arpeggios based on F minor, gradually adding G♭s to facilitate modulation via an A♭7 chord back to D♭ for the recapitulation.

In order to prevent repetitiveness, I did not recapitulate much: only the introduction and a modified A theme. A coda followed: a series of arpeggios in D♭ and A♭7, ending with an elongated section of D♭ arpeggios with the pedal held.

Enjoy! - Richard B. ( @you-had-me-at-e-flat-major )

Made with SoundCloud

Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s 2018 lineup will include a 21st-century interpretation of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Oklahoma! featuring same-sex couples. The characters of Laurey and Curly will be played by women, while Ado Annie and Will Parker will be played by men.

Same-Sex Oklahoma! Will Be Part of Oregon Shakespeare Festival Season


To top off our week of assorted contemporary music, I’d like to share another piece from one of the composers I recently featured during my female composers series, Tatar-Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina. On an interesting note, the evolution of this violin concerto, originally created for violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, was the subject of Jan Schmidt-Garre’s documentary film Sophia - Biography of a Violin Concerto.

In Tempus Praesens (2007), Sofia Gubaidulina, with Anne-Sophie Mutter (violin) and the London Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Valery Gergiev.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the week! - Melinda Beasi

”I’m awake.” is muttered into a groan as uses his elbow
to sit up. His other hand comes to press one side of his
nose. His nose could possible be broken. Great
honestly all he wanted to do was sleep because last
night had been and trying for the doctor. 

his eyes are still close not really wanting to look at
the other.

“What time is it?” is muttered in a whispered tone because
he didn’t trust his voice right then.

Marianela Núñez in Swan Lake, Royal Ballet, Royal Opera House, February 2015, © ROH, Alice Pennefather.

Nuñez confirmed her indisputable supremacy as the ideal 21st century interpreter of the classic. Her rendition of Odette’s sadness and fear is something that should be recorded for posterity. So is the powerfully elegant display of bravura of her Odile, even though she too played a tad too much with the seduction mime.


We continue our Be Random! series (3rd Edition!), here on Musica in Extenso this time, with a masterpiece from the famous hungarian composer, György Ligeti.

Today on Musica in Extenso:

György Ligeti


Enjoy! - Editor-in-Chief


M.A.S.K.: Mobile Armored Strike Kommand #1

Launching from the events of REVOLUTION! The M.A.S.K. team streaks into a dangerous, unstable landscape of dark wars, high intrigue and non-stop action where they’ll encounter the nearly unstoppable threat of Miles Mayhem and his black ops squadron known as V.E.N.O.M. How will an untested Matt Trakker lead M.A.S.K. through a complex new world order where nothing is what it seems? Join writer Brandon Easton (Marvel’s Agent Carter), artist Tony Vargas (Rot and Ruin) and cover artist Tommy Lee Edwards for an exciting 21st century spin on the classic series where “illusion is the ultimate weapon!” - $1.99

M.A.S.K.: Mobile Armored Strike Kommand #2

M.A.S.K. vs. V.E.N.O.M. for the very first time! After being lured into a trap, Matt Trakker and the M.A.S.K. team must survive in order to stop Miles Mayhem from leaking their secret technology to terrorist cells around the world. Matt and Gloria Baker go undercover to infiltrate a black market weapons ring but what they discover will change Matt’s life forever! - $1.99

M.A.S.K.: Mobile Armored Strike Kommand #3

As Matt Trakker struggles with the devastating bombshell about his true parentage, Miles Mayhem tightens his grip on the M.A.S.K. team, revealing he’s slowly poisoned their bloodstream with Ore-13 radiation! With Trakker’s team either captured or injured, is it too late for M.A.S.K. to stop V.E.N.O.M.’s nefarious operation? - $1.99

M.A.S.K.: Mobile Armored Strike Kommand #4

Mayhem and V.E.N.O.M. have Matt Trakker and the M.A.S.K. team trapped with no hope of escape unless Gloria Baker can use an ace up her sleeve to save the day. But Mayhem is primed to unleash his final assault and implement his plan to distribute his secret weapons across the planet as the final battle between M.A.S.K and V.E.N.O.M is set. - $1.99

M.A.S.K.: Mobile Armored Strike Kommand #5

With all secrets revealed, Matt Trakker and the M.A.S.K. team take on Miles Mayhem and V.E.N.O.M. in a brutal final assault. With their first major victory in their sights, the M.A.S.K. team must remain vigilant as other powerful and unforeseen forces rise up from the darkness. New enemies are on the horizon and you must NOT miss what happens on the last page! - $1.99

Thanks, Richard Blaquière!

It’s been our pleasure to host Richard Blaquière (@you-had-me-at-e-flat-major) on the blog this week as part of our Composer Portraits series. Listening to his work and watching him go through his composition process this week happened to coincide with a conversation I engaged in with a group of voice teachers earlier in the week around this article by Alex Ross. The crux of the voice teachers’ discussion was largely perception of classical singing vs. more contemporary styles that claim to prize “authenticity” and what that means, but another thread in the discussion was one that more directly addressed Ross’ criticism of modern “classical” audiences’ reluctance to fully embrace less tonal works by the likes of Berg or Schoenberg, which he clearly views as the audiences’ own fault.  A number of us took issue with that accusation, and I found myself at one point wondering if “we might have not lost classical audiences in such great numbers during the 20th century if so many contemporary composers hadn’t all gone quite so far down the rabbit hole.“

“Okay, but what does this have to do with Richard Blaquière?” you’re asking. I’ll explain. The conversation reminded me of a comment Richard made earlier in the week regarding a competition judge’s criticism of his Prelude and Fugue for String Orchestra being “too much of a pastiche.” Perhaps this is a fair criticism of a piece that makes no secret of its baroque form (with strong romantic influences), but I admit that the comment strikes me as an example of the very particular aesthetic that, in my opinion, has only served to steer serious contemporary music further and further into a niche so small and so auditorily demanding that it can no longer be enjoyed by anyone without a DMA.  Don’t get me wrong… I think music should challenge us, which absolutely means making us uncomfortable at times and forcing us to process new sounds. But if it declines to speak to us at all, what’s the point?

This might seem like an odd argument to come out of a blog that, at its core, is fueled by a mutual love of 20th century music, much of which was received badly (sometimes even violently) by its early audiences. But I’ll admit to feeling personally ambivalent to a lot of late 20th century and 21st century music that, while undoubtedly intellectually stimulating, fails to move me emotionally in any significant way. And I’ll admit that a lot of the time I just don’t get it.

In the end, I suppose what I’m getting around to here is, “Hey, Richard Blaquière, rock on with your baroque and romantic influences!” Check out more of Richard’s work on SoundCloud, and join me in looking forward to a time when he (and we) can have the pleasure of hearing it performed by live musicians.  - Melinda Beasi

knight in yellow cloth

hikaru/ben meet cute au for @clqrkkent


Hikaru is woken way too early for his liking by insistent knocking on his door. He’d been studying all night, only a week away from his first theory test and this is the only free morning he’ll have all week so he wanted to spend the time sleeping until his afternoon lessons began. So it is safe to say that the disturbance at his door is something of an irritation.

He still in his sleep wear – an old gaming t-shirt and a pair of boxers – when he stumbles to the door. He fumbles with the lock, and swings the door open with such viciousness that a breeze catches strands of his hair. The man on the other side looks apologetic and frantic, and that’s what makes Hikaru bite is tongue. That, and the heavy weight that sits there because he knows this man, has admired him from afar since he’d moved in the year before. They have never actually had a conversation, only offering the briefest of greetings in passing, and Hikaru doesn’t know the man’s name – he’d been calling him 23D since the first time he’d seen what apartment he’d been leaving – but he has entertained fantasies about conversations over dinner and kisses sweetened by wine. (Xanya calls him a romantic, and Yun calls him soppy. He will proudly take both titles).

They were just that though – fantasies, and Hikaru had hoped that should 23D come to his home, he’d be a little more prepared for it. He tries not to squirm in his underwear.

“Hi,” he greets.

Hikaru drags an eye from his bare feet to the still dripping wet ends of his hair. “Hello.”

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A Toronto 1970s brutalist modern home renovated for the 21st Century. Sculptural classics like the Norman Cherner armchairs, Eero Saarinen Womb Chair, Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair, and Sori Yanagi Butterfly stool, echo the spiraling staircase. And with Maarten Baas Smoke Chair, provide nice contrast to the interior’s strong and graphic linearity.

Architects: gh3
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Design Team: Pat Hanson, Anthony Provenzano
Structural Engineer: Blackwell Bowick
General Contractor: Jens Nielsen
Project year: 2006-2007
Budget: US $500,000
Constructed Area: 185.8 sqm
Photographs: Ben Rahn