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Music and Happiness is changing radically in 2016. We will no longer be sending out notices of new posts to Subscribers. In fact, we are deleting our Subscriber List.
This website will remain online, and you can still contact us here by using our Contact form. (See below for more on this.)
Music will continue to play a major role in our work, since this website will now offer descriptions and dates of courses that Josh is teaching online covering many kinds of music and musicians, like the very popular ones he offers in Lifelong Learners programs. As you know from the many years of posts here, his knowledge as a professional musicologist is encyclopedic, so if you have a burning desire to learn about something musical, contact us with your wish list in the message box.
Our new nonprofit (501c3) organization, the Ageless Mind Project, encompasses both music and other activities that research shows contribute to a higher quality of life, especially as people grow older. This Project has already established a major online presence in virtual environments as well as through in-person workshops and classes.
If you want us to contact you about our activities from now on, use the Contact Form right here on our website to give us your name and email. In the subject line simply write: “keep me posted.” We will send out personal notices only to interested individuals. And of course you can always check this website for news, so bookmark it!
We have enjoyed “meeting” so many of you and have been buoyed by your enthusiasm and interest over the years – we began Music and Happiness in 2007! – and we hope you will want to stay with us in our new, ambitious endeavor.
With deep appreciation for you and our common love of all music,
Josh and Lynne
This sign made us smile while we waited in a long line at the car wash recently.
Another snow day. It’s been a rough winter here in the Northeastern US. We wonder if our Butterfly Bush will survive the cold. The Rhododendron’s leaves are rolled up so tight, they look like pencils. When we shovel, there’s no place to put more snow.
What brings a sense of hope is that March has now arrived. With that more cheerful thought in mind, we bring you a visualization to music that is one of our favorites.
Visualization is a form of Meditation. It employs images to take the listener on an inward journey of personal discovery. Music adds another dimension to this process as it resonates in the body.
Click on the button below to go on your own journey.
If you’d like to listen to this atmospheric music all by itself as well–we use Claude Debussy’s Nuages played by the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy–click on the button below.
One of the more inspiring ways different generations can bond through music is described in this post. Research tells us that positive inter-generational connections are important for our well being.
Here is an exciting example of one way to create a bridge when you listen to music with someone of another generation. If each of you shares what you like about the recording, what happens?
Let us know here. Leave a comment.
Singer, Tony Bennett, now 88, has just released a duet album, “Cheek to Cheek,” with Lady Gaga, age 28, which quickly became No. 1 on Billboard.
Drawing upon the wisdom of his long and rich experience, Bennett says of his current music-making: “I’ve learned that it’s what you leave out of a performance, not what you put into it. Less is more. It’s not because of age, but it’s the right thing to do.”
The extent of his engagement with other singers, many of them half his age and more, is nothing short of astonishing. This goes back more than ten years now and includes names like K.D. Lang, Amy Winehouse, Sheryl Crow, Andrea Bocelli, and Mariah Carey. What is even more remarkable is how these collaborations have tapped hitherto unknown abilities in singers like Lady Gaga, who in the current duet album performs against type–and does so in superb fashion.
The title track,”Cheek to Cheek,” a 1935 classic with words and music by Irving Berlin, first made famous by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, is given fresh life here by our two virtuosi. Listen to how the melodic line is developed from a simple melodic cell of adjacent notes. (If you listen carefully, by the way, you can hear a resemblance to Chopin’s Polonaise in A-flat, Op. 53!) The word painting is such that the melody perfectly matches the intimacy suggested by the lyrics.
For your listening pleasure (share it with someone younger or older, please!):
Vital cue: Track 2, 2:04 on bottom of screen, Lady Gaga sings “Heaven, I’m in Heaven…”
Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga
Vital cue: 0:42 on bottom of screen for melodic cell that quite possibly inspired Irving Berlin.
Vladimir Horowitz performing Chopin Polonaise in A-flat
From Josh: I am having a ball these days teaching a course, for mature adults, on George Gershwin for the Lifetime Learners Institute at Norwalk Community College in Connecticut. The many people in my class are so engaged that they give me a special energy. In fact, we seem to energize one other.
One of the recent highlights of the class was my presenting one of Gershwin’s early hits, “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise,” a showstopper from the George White Scandals of 1922. This was an extravaganza in the mold of The Ziegfeld Follies, with girls dressed in black patent leather strutting up a glittering staircase.
More than anything else from that show, it is this music and its lyrics –Ira Gershwin had a hand in them– that live on. The exuberant introduction to the song begins with a bold leap of an octave (“I’ll…build…”), shortly followed by a juicy, bluesy note (listen to the minor sound on the word “Para…dise”). The upward leap of an octave so often signifies great energy in music, the sense of being transported to another, better place—famously in the very first word of that classic pop song “Some…where over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz. (Try singing it and you will hear what I mean.)
Listen to the catchy, bouncy rhythm of the opening verse, and the buoyant rising melodic line accompanying the words, “All you preachers who delight in panning dancing teachers….” The words that follow deliver an upbeat message to get up and move around: “It’s madness to be always sitting around in sadness, when you could be learning the steps of gladness.” Brain research these days is underscoring the importance of doing just this!
As it also underscores the importance of expanding your horizons, when the song’s chorus continues: “ I’ll build a stairway to Paradise with a new step every day.” Not only a physical step, but the openness to trying something new each day.
Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks give a rousing rendition of this old song with vocals near the beginning of the biopic The Aviator. In the plush setting of the Coconut Grove nightclub in Los Angeles the young Howard Hughes, a man of soaring ambition, is seeking backing for his aeronautic ventures to the accompaniment of Gershwin’s music—a truly vivid aural analogue to what is to be played out in the movie.
And for a snappy, irresistible fox trot version, nothing can match the 1922 recording made by Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra shortly after the premiere of the George White Scandals earlier that year. It brings back for me happy memories of listening when I was writing my book, Louis Armstrong and Paul Whiteman: Two Kings of Jazz (Yale University Press, 2004). What is also worth noting is that the George White Scandals of 1922 brought George Gershwin and Paul Whiteman together and led to a commission that forever changed music history—the writing of Rhapsody in Blue, premiered on February 12, 1924