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Monday, May 15, 2006

O Primavera

Claudio Monteverdi cracks the 439 year mark today. Now that's ancient! Best known for his innovative vocal writing, his 9 books of Madrigals are an astonishing study in chordal and rhythmic development, comparable to what Beethoven later did for the symphony more than 200 years later.

His other historical achievement is the initiation of the Grand Opera, with his work Orfeo in 1607. This long lineage would run through the prolific hands of Handel, the native sons of Bellini and Rossini, before culminating in the Complete Works of Verdi, the full experience musically, dramatically, and emotionally.

Monteverdi deserves more recognition for his towering achievements, and I propose a brand new 50 inch digital plasma TV, with PVR set-top box, and 80 channels of cable glory. Try composing that much with so many distractions!

Meanwhile, try this performance of O Primavera, on 2 trumpets and 2 trombones. Here.

Perfect Practice

Today's Sydney Morning Herald has a nice piece on the nature of practice, and the achievement of goals and excellence. While not focused entirely on music performance, the study covered a range of endeavours including chess, writing, and piano. One of the findings is that practice is not solely about repetition - there needs to be goal-setting, constant re-evaluation of progress, and a sense of self-motivation - the task needs to be driven internally for the skill to become "natural" and effortless.

Too obvious? Well, look at how most instruments are taught to our kids. Once a week practice sessions, the goals fixed for all students by the 8 Music Levels, dull Hannon scales. Certainly Suzuki would have something to say here!

Read about Deliberate Practice here.