I Feel Pretty, 9/24

I have been a student for the majority of my life, a dozen years to be precise.  Throughout all of elementary school, junior high and high school, I have never experienced a student sing in any of my classes, ever.  I did, however, have music class in elementary school.  There was, technically, plenty of singing in that class but the students just muttered the words in order to get through the class.  Other than that class, it is hard to fathom that with all the teachers and broad range of classes I had, the teachers or professors never asked a student to sing.  This is why I adored this session of Seminar, something new was involved.

In order to develop a point about the elements of music, Professor Kahan asked a student to sing something from the film, West Side Story.  I mentioned the song, I Feel Pretty, which the professor seemed to like because she knew how to play the song on the piano and she asked a student to sing it.  Personally, I love the song; it is comical, simple and singing along is easy.  Nobody sang along the student though, probably because everyone wanted to sit back and listen to the student’s great voice, including myself.

I take pleasure in the fact that the class has such a light and musical atmosphere.  I would have never thought that I would experience such a whimsical class in college, especially my freshman year.  In a year full of monotone general education courses, I pray towards the next class a song like, I Feel Pretty, will be relevant.


Seminar 9-24-12

I never really understood music. Music was just something that I listened to and took for granted. When listening, I never consciously paid attention to what was going on in the background. If it sounded good, I listened. That all changed after sitting through this week’s lecture. After talking about the different aspects of music, including rhythm, melody or tune, harmony, timbre and texture, I realized there was more to music then an appealing sound. Who knew that you needed all of these things to come together to form musical piece!

To illustrate all of these aspects coming together, Professor Kahan asked Naomi to sing a few lines of “I’m So Pretty” from West Side Story. (She really did a great job being put on the spot like that!) This demonstrated how each element contributes to the finished piece. The singer provides the melody. The piano or music provides rhythm to keep the singer in time while increasing the texture of the piece. When it all comes together correctly, the harmony is fantastic! I had absolutely no clue that music had so many variables.

Another piece we examined was “Rite of Spring” by Igor Stravinsky. The piece started out very soft and relaxing, as if I was alone in a peaceful forest. All of a sudden, it sounds like someone is tiptoeing softly towards me. The first thing that came to mind was Elmer Fudd in “Rabbit Season” with Bugs Bunny. After a few seconds of this soft music, the tempo increased and I felt like I was reliving a scene from “Jaws“. The change in tune and tempo invoked several different emotions in me throughout the piece.

Now, we were asked to take everything that we discussed about the pieces and apply it to an opera. As a class, we watched a scene from Camille, a 1936 movie about a man professing his love to a courtesan at a social engagement. In the scene we watched, it took the man about 35 seconds to explain to the woman that he was was madly in love with her. We then watched a scene from La Traviata, in which a man essentially does the same exact thing, however it took the singer 10 times longer to express that same emotion with the same amount of enthusiasm. Yet, the amount of emotion invoked in the opera viewer is incomparable. I guess that that is what makes the opera the opera. The heartfelt emotion and enthusiasm of an opera can make anything feel more beautiful and romantic!

Stephanie Solanki, 9/24/12

I thoroughly and completely enjoyed today’s class session. I am a musician; I play guitar and sing in my church’s band every Sunday and can also play guitar classically. Music theory is something that I’d love to get into. I think that this was a very toned-down type of theory class, which made me so happy.

The four fundamental components of music are rhythm, melody, harmony, and timbre/texture. I knew what the first three were very well, but timbre/texture were knew terms to me. I loved listening to the different pieces and seeing the different combinations of the “Big Four” components. It was so interesting how a little change in one of the components sets it apart from all other pieces.

“Praeludium I” was heavenly. I notices a very distinct rhythm set by the 1st and 5th notes. the bass notes add a depth in the middle of the song that contrasts the dominant high notes of the melody. The homogeneity created a soothing feeling, like a lullaby. There was no climax. Volume and dynamics create a climax, but this piece was very tranquil.

“Praeludium II” was not calming. It was rather suspenseful. Dr. Kahan said it was like a “malevolent machine,” a concept that I’ve never thought of before, but I realized how well it  fit the piece. Different configuration of basic elements of music create a different sound. Dissonant notes in this piece set it apart from the first piece in which the notes were consonant.

In the “Rite of Spring” by Stravinsky, I noticed a very strong bassline. There was a dominant, repetitive melody broken up by they elimination of the bass to transition from one melody to another. I thought it was interesting that the harmonies among the instruments created an eerie sound. There was a very futuristic sounding strings part paired with a basic 1-2 bass rhythm. I also noticed the contrast of the staccato baseline paired with very long sounds in the background.

In Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” I thought it was so interesting that Dr. Kahan said “more humanity, as represented by more instruments, is added to the tune.”  There were different musical events occurring under the dominant melody in the piece. The staccato bassline contrasts the fluid dominant melody provided by upper string instruments. The climax in the piece was a departure from the standard tune of “Ode to Joy” and is brought on by the fast beat of the upper strings.

We then looked at the use of music in productions, like in a movie and an opera performance. In “Camille” with Greta Garbo, there was quicker pace. In “Un di felice” from “La Traviata,” the music was like a waltz. It was an aria. It had a slower pace, which made the content or text of the song more dramatic and realistic. It illustrates the process of him falling in love with her, rather than just a love-at-first-sight type of infatuation in “Camille” where he remembers what she was wearing.



Introduction to Music: 9/24/12

Let me begin this post by saying that music is a hobby for me.  I can’t play any instruments or read music, but I do enjoy listening to music, regardless of genre or artist, and I am always willing to listen to new types of music.  Today in Seminar, we began by identifying the Four Basic Principles of Music, and applying them to Praeludium 1 and Praeludium 2.  Dr. Kahan played both pieces of music on the piano for us, which was beautiful to listen to.  We were asked to describe what emotions the two pieces of music brought about when we heard them and because the two pieces were slightly different, so were the responses and feelings that the music evoked.  Praeludium 1 was soft, pretty, calming, the undertone to the song, Ave Maria.  It was repetitive, but it also had a climax that everybody was able to recognize.  Each of us thought of a similar but slightly different scene which could be put to this piece of music.  For most of us, it was a romance scene, with the climax being a conflict, for example, a reason the two lovers could not be together.  I thought that Praeludium 1 was enjoyable and relaxing, and I could easily put the image of a love story to the music.  That was great for me, since I’m a very big fan of romance stories.

Praeludium 2 was the same repetition of notes, and had a similar configuration, but it was frantic, rapid, and not at all soothing.  This compilation consisted of dissonant chords, whereas Praeludium 1 consisted of consonant chords.  Praeludium 2 had the distinct sound of something like a mechanical machine.  It was also very repetitive, but the sound was much harsher and “crunchier” than Praeludium 1.  While I found Praeludium 1 to be soothing and enjoyable, I also enjoyed Praeludium 2.  It was exciting and fast – moving, and in my head, I imagined it to be the music for a chase, or something adventurous and interesting.

While I enjoyed analyzing both pieces of music, and listening to Dr. Kahan play them with such elegance and skill, my favorite part of class was beginning to look at the opera.  We were first shown a clip from the movie, Camille.  In this clip, we see a man telling Camille, played by Greta Garbo, that he loves her, and the following scene finds her telling him not to love her, because she likes her life the way it is, and is not capable of love.  We then saw this same scene, but in an opera format.  We were shown a clip from La Traviata, by Guiseppe Verdi, starring Placido Domingo, a famous tenor.  This scene is showing the same conversation as Camille – a man expressing his love for Camille and her turning him down.  However, in the opera, it is expressed with much more feeling and emotion.  In the movie format, the whole scene takes about 3 seconds. In the opera, this conversation takes about 3 minutes.  The opera has the ability, I think, to take any scene or conversation, and make it beautiful and emotional.  It gives the audience something more than the mere drama of the movie screen.  I enjoyed seeing both versions of the story, but especially the opera, and I became interested in seeing what happens in the rest of the story.

I look forward to our continuing lectures about music – its form, its compilation, and everything that contributes to the art of music.  Just as with art, I find it interesting to analyze different pieces of music and uncover what they contribute or contributed to society.

Wednesday 9/19

When Dr. Liu prepared the class for the art gallery that featured the work of Johann Jakob Scheuchzer, he made me excited to see the collection; Dr. Liu explained that Scheuchzer incorporated art, science and religion in his work and I was curious as to how someone can combine his different passions in such different study areas to create a masterpiece.  When I initially glanced at the art, I only saw a direct depiction of biblical verses; however, upon further inspection, I discovered the intricate details of the people, animals and plants that only one knowledgeable in the science behind them would know to include.  In a depiction of Genesis Cap I. V.26, Scheuchzer includes images of skeletons and fetuses.  His knowledge of science is evident in the details of the anatomy; every bone is taken into consideration and accounted for.  In fact, it is the science behind the work that makes the art so great; like the Greeks who valued the beauty of the human body, Scheuchzer uses the beauty of anatomy to create art.

I think it is inspiring that the artist was able to pursue his different fields of interests and create a masterpiece in the process.  I hope that during my four years in college, I too will be open-minded to the different areas of study and will “expand my frames of reference.”

Seminar Sept. 19, 2012 – Dr. Liu’s Discussion

During class on September 19th, Dr. Charles Liu came and spoke to us about the art gallery that was on display at CSI. In his discussion, he mentioned how hundreds of years ago, people could potentially master all fields of study. Now, however, it is impossible to do so. If I recall correctly, he said that every 15-20 years or so, the amount of collective knowledge doubles. And so now, there is simply not enough time for one person to study everything in a lifetime. There’s just too much to know. That simple thought stuns me, honestly. This world really is a huge place, and it just continues to grow. I am likely going into business, and so my education will be tailored towards that as I move along in my college career. Others are going to go into different fields and their educations will be tailored towards whatever it is they choose to become. I think it’s a shame that we can’t really learn everything. There are so many fascinating things out there, and there’s just too little time to take them all in. However, it’s not impossible to do more than one thing. I play guitar and sing in my free time, and I’d like to take some music classes to try to enhance my musical knowledge (and hopefully my musical ability), even though I don’t plan on becoming a musician when I’m older. And so, I definitely think that other people can try to study other things on the side as well. There are endless possibilities in this world and while we can’t know everything, we can delve into multiple things at once.

Lecture and art gallery Wednesday 9/19

In class on Wednesday, we discussed how two polar opposite subjects such as religion and science can be united through art. Dr. Liu’s lecture before we visited the art exhibit was very interesting and I found his ideas to be applicable to my own life. He posed an interesting point: a few hundred years ago it was plausible that one person could be an expert in all fields of study and seemingly “know everything”. However, today that is clearly an impossible feat, a lifetime can be spent studying one thing. He said that many people feel trapped in one particular interest or passion, but how that should not be the case. He discussed his passion for astronomy, physics and other fields of science, yet also for art. I have always been very interested in science when it comes to academics. Recently I began to play the guitar and create my own music and art. The idea of finding a balance resonated well with me, and my appreciation for all kinds of art has increased. The lecture also made the art show much more enjoyable and understandable.

9/19/2012 – Shumaila I.

On Wednesday, in Seminar, we resumed our discussion on the significance of John Berger in “Ways of Seeing”. So far, this class has made me view art in a completely different perspective. Before, I didn’t really think much of different artworks, but now every time I look at a piece, I find myself wondering about its origins. At the start of class, we looked at some clips from the movie, “The Girl With the Pearl Earrings”. We saw a girl who began to see the world from a new perspective, similar to how I began to see art. During the last half hour of our class, we visited an art exhibit titled Art, Science, and Religion in the Physica Sacra. At first, I didn’t quite know what to think of the paintings. They were confusing. But after looking at them closely, and discussing it with my peers, I gained a better insight. Scheuchzer’s works demonstrated how two seemingly diverse topics, religion and science, can be combined to create a magnificent element, art. I loved how the art, in a way, brought the scientific and religious ideologies to life.

Dr. Liu’s discussion taught me a lot. For as long as I’ve been in school, my life has mainly centered on math and science. It was after I began Macaulay that I started to explore new territory in the arts. I see the significance behind art, and how it represents the feelings of that era. After just a few classes, I’m already beginning to appreciate the art around me, more than I ever did before.

~Expanding Frames of Reference 9/19/12~

On Wednesday in class we went to art gallery titled ‘Expanding Frames of Reference: Art, Science, and Religion’. I enjoyed looking at the artwork and listening to  Dr. Lui explain the exhibit. I find both science and art interesting, and I’ve struggled, and continue to struggle to find a happy medium between the two. The part that most intrigued me about Jacob Scheucher’s exhibit was that it joins science, art and religion, which are subjects which don’t usually coincide with each other.

His artwork is a testament to his deep love and appreciation for history, science, art, and religion.  Each of his pieces in the exhibit were connected to a bible verse, and the intricate boarders offered extra details on the topic of the picture within the frame. An example of this would be his plate “CCCLXXX Judges, chapter 14, v.5, 6”. This plate is a picture of Samson fighting with the lion, which is a biblical story, yet around the boarder  he drew greek and roman coins which depict similar scenarios. In this one picture Scheuchzer is linking cultures, and different subject areas.  The complexity of Scheuchzer’s artwork makes it a pictorial encyclopedia, providing the viewer with a wealth of information about the image before them; its history, its science,and its religious significance.

After seeing Scheuchzer’s work, I hope to find ways to link my passions in the same way that he was able to link his. There doesn’t need to be a separation of the arts and sciences. I can have my cake and eat it too, and I look forward to finding my fork.


Art, Science, and Religion

In today’s seminar, we had a special opportunity to go visit an art gallery a few doors down from our classroom. However, this was not just an ordinary gallery consisting of random pieces of art. When I walked in, I was very surprised at what I saw: paintings of religious events and icons. When Dr. Liu started to speak about how art, religion, and science were all related, I was confused at first, because I had never associated any of those things together. However, after reading the pamphlet from “Expanding Frames of Reference: Art, Science, and Religion in the Physica Sacra of Johann Jakob Scheuchzer,” it all became clear to me.

Dr. Liu vividly explained “Physica Sacra plate CCCLXXI” and how it relates to art, science, and religion. While gazing at this picture, I immediately noticed that the sun was the focal point of the picture. The beams of light emanating from it show its radiant power. In Dr. Liu’s analysis, he explained that the moon couldn’t be full when it is in the daytime sky, and thus it was a miracle. The painter conveyed this miracle in his painting by highlighting the sun and the moon as if these all powerful, radiant celestial beings were frozen in time. Along the border of the painting, there are a series of diagrams that show the expected illumination patterns of the world at different times during the day and night. I find this the most interesting part of the painting; it makes us think of the entire world as a whole, rather than just think of ourselves. The sun is perceived as this display of grandeur and power, possibly an allegory for God, that covers the entire earth and gives us light to see when we do not know where to go. The artistic, scientific, and religious aspects of this picture come together to create something beautiful.