How to Be Creative

Off Book is a bi-weekly video series by PBS Digital Studios. Subjects range from technology to art to pop culture. While it isn't specifically about music, this video, "How to Be Creative," has some great insights to the creative process.

Creativity has always been essential for our cultural growth, but there are still many misconceptions about this elusive process. Not the left-brain/right-brain binary that we've come to believe, being creative is considerably more complex, and requires a nuanced understanding of ourself and others. Being a powerful creative person involves letting go of preconceived notions of what an artist is, and discovering and inventing new processes that yield great ideas. Most importantly, creators must push forward, whether the light bulb illuminates or not.

via PBS Arts

French Airs: L'aimable Iris est de retour

This post combines two projects - my public domain project and my French airs project. I've realized the figured bass for "L'aimable Iris est de retour" by Joseph Chabanceau de la Barre. It would have originally been accompanied by theorbo, lute or harpsichord, but I've arranged it for piano which is much more common in a modern voice studio. I'm singing just the first verse; the second verse (called a double) is highly ornamented. Performance of just the first verse was standard practice for voice students in mid-seventeenth-century French airs and makes the piece very useful for lessons today. This way students can work on the French language while singing simpler vocal lines and they can also master the small ornaments that are expected on repetitions. As they master the language and technical skills required they can begin to work on the double.

Here's an idiomatic translation:

The lovely Iris has returned, but she has not changed. She is as indifferent as always, Just as I am enamored as always.

Toot, Toot Tootsie

This is the latest video in my public domain video project. "Toot, Toot Tootsie" by Gus Kahn, Erie Erdman and Dan Russo was published in 1922. Any later and it wouldn't be in the public domain! The original publication has the highly apropos subtitle, "A Cute Fox-Trot Song."

The song is quite well known, but most performers have sung only the chorus. I've included the first verse, which puts the chorus in the third person rather than in the first person. Instead of the singer telling a girlfriend good-bye in a ridiculously happy way, it becomes a story about a silly man saying goodbye at the train station that the singer tells to friends. Hope you enjoy it!

Check out my Youtube channel for more videos.

Cosi fan tutte: "Soave sia il vento"

This trio is one of my favorite compositions by W.A. Mozart and this is my favorite recording of it. Despite the Peter Sellars production feeling very dated, (hello, 1986!) there is something about this performance that is very touching. Susan Larson plays Fiordiligi (in pink), and I had the honor of studying with her my junior and senior years at the University of New Hampshire. She and the other singers (Janice Felty as Dorabella and Sanford Sylvan as Don Alfonso), along with conductor Craig Smith give a beautiful performance.