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Music

Where Have I Been?

Sorry about the long silence. I’ve been like a lady obsessed.

First, some news. I have 2 stories ready for submission. Yay! I’ll get those suckers sent off by the end of the weekend. Here are the queries I’m working on; this is for The Face in the Magic Mirror, a novella:

Prince Richard is trapped by a spell on a magic mirror, through which he must answer truthfully the vain questions of a very beautiful and ambitious queen. As long as Richard finds the queen the fairest of all, she is content. However, one day, Richard falls in love with the queen’s young stepdaughter, Angelika.

He urges Angelika to flee the queen’s jealous wrath, so she runs to her friends in the woods, a farm worked entirely by dwarfs. There, she meets Gretchen, who came to the farm looking for a husband. She has made her choice, but her heart does not yet agree with her head.

To free Richard, Angelika, and a land in the grip of the evil queen, Gretchen and her betrothed decide to become heroes.

Yeah, so it needs work. My WordPress theme made it italic; I’ll have to find that setting and turn it off. One day.

Here’s the other, for A Little Night Magic, my Regency urban fantasy. Some of you have seen other versions of it before:

Tory is a spy. She’s also a starcaster–able to manipulate starlight. The Intelligence Ministry director, Mr. Bradburn, thinks her specialty should be using her feminine wiles to seduce state secrets out of unsuspecting enemy operatives. And while Tory appreciates the implied compliment, she would like nothing more than to find a way to respectfully decline.

She doesn’t realize that what Bradburn really wants is a patsy. When enemy spies try to steal a new magical prototype, Tory thwarts them and traces the spies back to Bradburn. Before she can gather evidence against him, he frames her for the theft of the prototype. Now, everyone wants the prototype and Tory’s dodging villains like ladies evade louts at a ball.

Disguised as a domestic servant, armed with lockpicks, decoding disks, and a black powder revolver, Tory must evade her fellow operatives, find evidence of Bradburn’s connection to the enemy, avert the plot against the throne, and clear her good name.

So why am I obsessed? Because I’ve been a crazed songwriter lately. I’ve been churning out songs like I’ve never been able to churn out stories. In the last month, I’ve written the music and/or lyrics to four songs (although one needs more polish), and I’ve even set one of them to music. I had already set another song to music last year, so I now have 5 songs. As soon as I write one, another pops into my head. The music generally pops in later.

Here are the titles:

  • So Screwed (with music)
  • Oh, Autism (with music)
  • Worth the Waiting (lyrics only, needs rhymes)
  • How to Write a Country Song (lyrics only, written on Saturday and Sunday)
  • Lady Geek (lyrics only, written yesterday and today)

Most of these are comic songs, except the 2nd and the 3rd. No, I don’t intend to be a singer. No, I don’t have a singer lined up to do demos. No, I don’t have a collaborator lined up to help me with the music. Yes, I’ve been studying how to write songs (hence the 4th song). Yes, I got the appropriate “For Dummies” book. Yes, I am still totally lost. No, I have not given up writing fiction.

So thanks for hanging with me. I’ll try to keep you guys posted.

A YouTube Tour of Classical Music, Part One

In an effort to have a more eclectic blog, I promised to review stuff like music and movies in my Review Policies. I thought I’d start by finding out if there are any classical music lovers here. And if not, I thought I’d try to persuade some of you to give it a try. Hence the title of this post.

When I was a kid, my father listened to classical music, but it didn’t really rub off. It wasn’t exactly cool. Then, sometime in the 80s, a friend of mine brought over Amadeus to watch. I was absolutely spellbound. It lit the fire. I wanted more. But where to begin?

I bought recordings, but you have it easy. You have YouTube. This is an introduction, so I’m going to stick to major composers.

I began with Mozart. And I think you should too. You already know much of his music without even realizing it. That snappy tune that they play in the movie trailers for every romantic comedy ever released? That’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, which means A Little Night Music. The opening theme to Amadeus is his Symphony 25 in C Minor, which you’ve also probably heard. His best-known piano sonata is also known as Rondo Alla Turca, or Turkish March. If you read sheet music, it’s fascinating to listen to this while following along.

Start by following the above links, and then follow the “related” video links. And you’ll get some nice exposure to Mozart. He wrote a lot of stuff, and I do mean a LOT, so you could entertain yourself for quite a while. I could do an entire blog post on Mozart, but I won’t, at least not yet.

Mozart belongs to the Classical era of Classical music. There are several eras. Here are the distinctions between the major eras.

Baroque. This is the early stuff. Bach and Handel both belonged to the Baroque period. It is often heavy organ music (Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor), but also can be string ensembles. There is often a harpsichord. Here is the Hornpipe from Handel’s Water Music, which is one of my favorite pieces from this period. Another huge favorite is Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (here is Summer). And of course, Pachelbel’s Canon, which every musician learns, but which almost every musical snob hates. And I probably did a disservice to Bach here, who composed tons of music, from dance music to church music.

Haydn preceded Mozart in the Classical era, and he sounds much like Mozart, in my opinion. I don’t know a lot of Haydn’s work, but I do have Jacqueline DuPre playing his Cello Concerto. And here is a trumpet concerto.

But what’s a concerto? An orchestra with a soloist.

On to Beethoven. Where to begin? Start with the 5th. Just start up the video, turn out all the lights, and do nothing but listen. Especially listen to the melodies going on in the background. There’s a reason why it’s a classic.

Then, you really must give the Moonlight Sonata a listen. What’s a sonata? One or two instruments. In this case, the piano. Often, a sonata will have a star instrument with a piano as accompaniment. I think of the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata as watching a moonlit lake. The second movement (or part) is very brief and light–a dance by moonlight. And the third movement? It’s like being chased by a werewolf!

Beethoven could also be playful. Try Rage Over a Lost Penny (played by a 10-year-old!).

Wow; this took a lot of time. Since I’ve given you a lot to listen to, I’m going to split this in several parts. Please let me know what you think!