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New Idea! – Site specific layered compositions

We are very excited about a new approach to composing and arranging that has been evolving in our creative practice. 

Our most recent arrangements have been deconstructing  and recombining various melodies based on a common thread. 

  • In Red River Dances, we went back to the old French, Scots, and Indigenous music and recombined those elements to merge into a traditional Métis fiddle tune. 
  • In l’Homme Armé,  we took the medieval French song “beware the armed man” and used it as a cantus firmus to create a piece that reflected the modern fears of armed conflict and solitary shooters that pervade the media. 
  • In English Songbirds, we take the 17th C  “English Nightingale” and connect it to Paul McCartney’s “Blackbird”
  • In Butter Chicken Poutine, a fast food menu item inspired a combination of Quebecois fiddle tunes played with the accompaniment of tanpura and tabla. 

Our work in historical performance practice has led us to an “archeaological” approach, where the ancient sources of a melody are drawn in as layers to accompany our selected tune. Historical performance practice is usually centred on European music. We started wondering if we could take the same approach to music as it was played in North America  at the same time (c. 1500 – 1700). This led us into research on early colonial music and its interaction with Indigenous traditions. 

We also became intrigued by the work of Pauline Oliveros and other contemporary composers who incorporate aleatoric and improvisational elements plus the sounds already present in the environment as part of the performance of a work. 

So our latest idea is to create site-specific compositions, that begin with the natural sounds already present in the environment and then add subsequent layers of sound and music representing the history of human activity in that area. 

We were also reading Eric Booth on interactive performances, and realized that we could take our years of experience doing composition workshops with students as part of the Artist in Schools Residency program, and use a similar approach to generate input from local residents in a site specific composition project. 

We are making plans to experiment with this idea in some areas in and around where we live. But we also think that this would be a great project for a community residency, so we are open to suggestions on possible locations and sponsors.  

UPDATE: JULY 11, 2017

We just received a grant from the Edmonton Heritage Council to create a piece that uses these ideas! It will reflect the history of the  River Crossings / Rossdale area of Edmonton.  Grateful to the EHC for using public art funding for a performance project. This is going to be a big project with lots of layers of community involvement, so we have created a separate page to chronicle the process. [Read more….]

Fall practice ladder challenge

During the four weeks leading up to the school winter break, we challenged our students to keep track of the number of days they practiced, AND the number of days that they listened to their reference recording. For every day that they did both, practicing AND listening, they earned a rung on our studio practice ladder.

For every 50 rungs on the ladder, we made a donation through the Plan Canada Gifts of Hope  program. Up to 200 rungs on the ladder, we donated baby chicks;  up to 400 rungs, we donated beehives; up to 600, sheep; up to 800, goats, and if they got past 800, we would go for the whole barnyard. 🙂

This year the students built a practice ladder of just over 400 rungs, earning 4 baby chicks and four beehives.  The challenge is to get to the sheep next year 🙂

 

 

 

Listening for Easter Eggs

When we hide Easter eggs and give a child a basket to collect them in, we make sure that the eggs are hidden but still possible to find.
When a child plays a musical instrument, picking out the notes of the tune is like finding the eggs, and the eggs are “hidden” in the child’s memory.
If you don’t listen to the recording, that’s like giving the child a basket but not hiding any eggs.

I see students in my studio who stop playing as soon as they are uncertain of what comes next and look at me, expecting me to show them the next note. They do not try to find it. I do not want to tell them – I am trying to teach them how to find out for themselves. But if they haven’t listened to the recording, they don’t know where to look. I have other students who continue through into less familiar territory, and if they hear an error, stop and try to correct it, comparing it to their memory of what they are trying to play. These are the students who have listened to the recording, and by observing them “hunt and peck” looking for the solution, I learn much about how to help them learn, while the student is learning the value of persistence and determination. These are the students who already have some eggs in their basket and they know there are more out there! The others are standing with their empty baskets, disappointed because there are no eggs.

So hide some eggs so your child can have the fun challenge of filling his basket – listen to the recording!

(Thanks to the Classical Musicians Everywhere Facebook page for the photo!)

 

This is true:

Dr. Robert Duke had much to say about this, when discussing assessment of music study. He used the example of a fine performer playing a simple piece very beautifully, yet that same simple piece being deemed “too easy” for a student to use as repertoire for an exam.

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About Us:

Thomas & Kathleen Schoen are classically trained performers on both historical and modern flutes and violins. Their repertoire ranges from early music on period instruments to modern works that use phrase sampler loopers and other modern technology. read more

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    Listening for Easter Eggs

    Listening for Easter Eggs

    Salterello (excerpt)

    Salterello (excerpt) https://www.schoen-duo.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Salterello-preview.mp3

    Siciliana (excerpt)

    Siciliana (excerpt) https://www.schoen-duo.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Siciliana-preview.mp3

    Three Reel Studies (excerpt)

    Three Reel Studies (excerpt) https://www.schoen-duo.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/3-reel-studies-preview.mp3

    Red River Dances (excerpt)

    Red River Dances (excerpt) https://www.schoen-duo.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Red-River-Dances-Preview.mp3

    Variations on an Old Swedish Folksong (excerpt)

    Variations on an Old Swedish Folksong (excerpt) https://www.schoen-duo.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Kuhlau-Variations-Preview.mp3

    Profile (excerpts)

    In this EP we demonstrate the wide variety of styles we can cover. Medieval and Baroque music on period instruments, modern compositions that recall folk traditions, Native American and Metis melodies, and, of course, a little bit of classical music too.   About the Music: Salterello: This anonymous Italian dance from c.1400 is played on […]