Here we are at part two of the Stranger Themes contest, where the contestant listens to themes from strangers, chooses themes to orchestrate, and creates compositions based on the themes. Needless to say, the themes were strange and endless. It doesn’t seem like there was any filtering out of screeching feedback or garbage trucks backing up.
Contests are fun to enter. They tend to push an artist into areas that would usually not be considered, and by entering a contest there is always the very slight possibility of winning a prize of some value. By very slight, I mean being able to predict ahead of time what a panel of judges might be looking for. Putting on a turban and gazing into a crystal ball to glean what other people are going to be thinking weeks from now is very similar.
If there’s one thing Beethoven is known for, it’s the use of subtle instrumentation between his enormous thematic sections. This is where the virtuosity of the players and soloists truly shines, as the music gently reinstates a theme or transitions into a new key or melodic mode. The technique of the players is left to the individual, and the results are interpretations that are original and unique.
Recently, I had the distinct opportunity to hear Geir Jenssen’s 1997 album Substrata, which has been described as a landmark in the field of ambient music. Recorded under the pseudonym Biosphere, the power of this recording is so stark and profound that it goes beyond what many people can grasp. I was skeptical when reading the reviews, but the work is spine chilling.
The music production software company Native Instruments will celebrate their 20th anniversary in October of this year. Isn’t that exciting? Most people have no idea this company even exists, but it is well known among composers for their sampling software Kontakt, which has become the de facto standard for the recording and performance of professional orchestral virtual instruments.