Yes, I know it's Saturday, but before I could even get this written yesterday morning I was called away to do a good deed which took most of the day.
The International Music Score Library Project [IMSLP] has tens of thousands of music scores and recordings on its site. It's a Canadian website and is claiming sanctuary under Canadian copyright law: there copyright expires 70 years after the creation of the work. In the U.S. and E.U., copyright expires 70 years after the death of the creator.
Be that as it may, it's not very easy to browse, and the interface is a bit crowded. That's okay. I imagine most people who go there are looking for a specific work anyway.
It fell into my lap as I was working on the chapter for STEAL FROM THE BEST, and there on the front page was Prokofiev's Symphony No. 1, "Classical," the first movement of which I reference as a quick, perfect example of the sonata allegro form. (If you want to listen to the first movement, here.)
In other news, I was delighted to chat this week with a young man, the son of a friend, who has gotten the urge to write music, to Make the Thing That Is Not. I showed him how I use Finale, compared it to the free version (Notepad), and generally nudged him on the path to Lichtenbergianism.
In particular, I showed him one of my stupendous finished pieces (Blake Leads a Walk on the Milky Way [score | mp3]), and then hammered home the point that I didn't sit down and write that as he saw it—it was months of ABORTIVE ATTEMPTS and SUCCESSIVE APPROXIMATION.
I showed him a recently started piece and how it was nothing more than a few measures. I told him I had already moved notes around to create more interest and movement in the harmony. I told him I wasn't really wild about it and what I would do about it: I skipped a measure, laid down a double bar, and started over. I pointed out that the name of the Finale file was Red Dress—Romantic Duo abortive attempts.
I played him the MIDI realization of "Prelude No. 2 (no fugue)" and then Maila Springfield's premiere performance of the same work—the Audience (in this case the performer) always has something to contribute. (And in my case, Maila's contribution is absolute wizardry.)
He had brought his music notebook, and I input his first piece, a very simple little waltz, and showed him how the computer freed him up to blunder his way into something that satisfied him. We printed out his piece: title, composer, copyright date.
I told him that I had a notebook just like his, stored somewhere: I started at exactly his age writing music, in exactly the same circumstances: no real tools, no mentors, no instruction. And that my musical handwriting looked exactly like his: carefully scribbled circles of noteheads, unsure stems, wobbly measure lines.
And then I sent him on his way, assuring him he could and should write music.
If you'll give me another couple of weeks, I'll sell you a book that tells you the same thing.
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