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I am embarking on a media diet. Unlike a full-out media fast (no tv, internet, phone, radio), a media diet will be more sustainable for me long-term, and less tempting to stray from. Also, I need my computer for my job. So, I will undertake a permanent media diet, in which I will cut down my media usage, without getting rid of it altogether.

What will it look like?

Step 1: Quit Facebook. I actually already completed this part of the plan. I quit back in March, thinking it would be good to finish out the school year with no distractions, but I enjoyed being rid of it so much that I didn’t join up again over the summer, and I’m happy to never join up again.

Step 2: Quit Netflix. Netflix was quite handy… until instant watch ruined my life (or rather, my lack of self-control when it comes to instant watch ruined my life). It’s really tempting to come home from work, plop down and watch Netflix, when I could be doing something else just as relaxing, but more beneficial. Plus, if I’m paying for something, I always feel like I have to use it to get my money’s worth. Double plus, the prices just went up, so now is the time to quit.

Step 3: Restrict after-work computer time. Do I really need to check my email every 20 minutes? No. Do I check it that often? Yes. Time spent online will be restricted to following my Google Reader (which was recently weeded of all non-essentials), blogging, a brief email check, and any research I need to do. Once I’ve used up my allotted time, the internet goes OFF for the evening.

What do I plan to do instead?

1. Read more. ‘Nuff said.

2. Do some composing/arranging. I got some books on harmony over the summer, so I want to work through the exercises and then work on some more interesting projects.

3. Practice, practice, practice. (focusing on clarinet and mandolin)

4. Do some writing. I was working on a story over the summer, but haven’t done anything with it since I got back for work. Hopefully, I’ll find some time to keep plugging away at it.

5. Blog regularly. Unlike last year, I want to keep up my blog over the school year. I’m already planning a Christmas series!

That feels like a lot of goals, but I hope that my media diet will open up a lot of time that I otherwise would have wasted. Wish me luck!

Thomas Weelkes (c.1576-1623)

Musical period: Late Renaissance/Early Baroque

Style: English Madrigal School, Sacred choral

Fun Facts: Thomas Weelkes is known for his madrigals, but he also composed sacred anthems and motets, and a very little consort music. His madrigals use heavy word painting, some interesting rhythmic patterns, and (sometimes starling) chromaticism.

For your listening pleasure: In 1601, our old friend Thomas Morley compiled a special collection of madrigals in honor of Elizabeth I. Weelkes’ contribution, As Vesta Was from Latmos Hill Descending, provided plenty of opportunity for (not so subtle) word painting as various mythological figures traipse up and down a hill. The character Oriana (the code name for Elizabeth) ends up on top of the hill being adored by Diana’s attendants. Enjoy The King’s Singers performing this fun madrigal by Weelkes:

Score: http://www1.cpdl.org/wiki/images/d/da/003.pdf

As an example of Weelkes’ church music, here is his motet When David Heard. It is more dissonant than Tomkins’ setting of the same text, and uses rhythms and rests to increase tension in the piece.

Score: http://www2.cpdl.org/wiki/images/sheet/weel-whe.pdf

John Wilbye (1574-1638)

Musical period: Late Renaissance/Early Baroque

Style: English Madrigal School

Fun Facts: Inspired by Thomas Morely and Alfonso Ferrabosco, Wilbye’s madrigals are expressive and use detailed word painting to match music to text. Wilbye also spices things up by using some interesting chromaticism and interplay between major and minor modes.

For your listening pleasure: Have a listen to Wilbye’s madrigal Adieu, Sweet Amaryllis. 

Score: http://www2.cpdl.org/wiki/images/1/1d/001.pdf

Thomas Tomkins (1572-1656)

Musical period: Late Renaissance/Early Baroque

Style: English Madrigal School, English Virginalist School

Fun Facts: An organist and student of William Byrd, Thomas Tomkins clung to the polyphonic tradition of the Renaissance during a time when new Baroque ideas were sweeping the music scene.

Tomkins was a Royalist and composed coronation music for Charles I. He lived to see the civil war, and lost his position, church, and organ, but continued to compose for keyboard and instrumental consort.

For your listening pleasure: A heart-breaking motet by Tomkins:

Score: http://www.choralwiki.org/wiki/images/sheet/tomk-whe.pdf

Text: When David heard that Absolon was slain, he went up to his chamber over the gate, and wept: and thus he said, O my son Absolon, my son, my son Absolon! Would God I had died for thee, O Absolon, my son, my son!

Here is Tomkin’s “Sad Pavan for these Distracted Times” that he wrote after Charles I’s execution:

John Dowland (1563-1626)

Musical period: Late Renaissance/Early Baroque

Style: Lute, secular instrumental

A Lute

Fun Facts: John Dowland was a skilled lutenist and is remembered mostly for his many compositions for that instrument. If you have a penchant for sad, dark, lovelorn, moody songs, check out his lute and voice pieces.

Dowland employed word-painting techniques found in madrigals to match the tunes to his melancholy texts. His early songs follow dance forms and are mostly strophic.

For your listening pleasure: Here is a really great video of “Flow my Tears.”

Score: http://www1.cpdl.org/wiki/images/7/78/492.pdf

Text:

Flow, my tears, fall from your springs!
Exiled for ever, let me mourn;
Where night’s black bird her sad infamy sings,
There let me live forlorn.

Down vain lights, shine you no more!
No nights are dark enough for those
That in despair their lost fortunes deplore.
Light doth but shame disclose.

Never may my woes be relieved,
Since pity is fled;
And tears and sighs and groans my weary days
Of all joys have deprived.

From the highest spire of contentment
My fortune is thrown;
And fear and grief and pain for my deserts
Are my hopes, since hope is gone.

Hark! you shadows that in darkness dwell,
Learn to condemn light
Happy, happy they that in hell
Feel not the world’s despite.

The End of Summer

I haven’t updated in a while because 1. I bought a new car, 2. I drove back to MD, and 3. the school year is about to start. So life has been a little hectic. But I hope to continue my British Composers series soon, and I will keep regular posting schedule during the school year (unlike last year when I failed miserably).

What will I miss most about summer? Not knowing what day of the week it is and sleeping til noon.

Anyway, since I don’t have a British composers post ready to go, let me leave you with this:

John Bull (c.1562-1628)

Musical period: Late Renaissance/Early Baroque

Style: Keyboard, Sacred Vocal

Fun Facts: John Bull was an organist, composer, organ builder, traveler, and all-round trouble maker.

He composed virtuoso keyboard works that experimented in irregular meter and  crazy modulations, all while maintaining strict counterpoint.

Bull’s music was influenced by music from the Netherlands and he eventually moved there permanently after running into a little trouble with the English authorities.

For your listening pleasure: Here is one of John Bull’s forays into irregular meter, a somber little In Nomine in what is essentially 11/4 time.

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