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Archive for the ‘classical music’ Category

Once in a long while, I come across some incredibly astute and thought-provoking comment about Tori’s music via an online forum or youtube page. (Hence, I cannot claim originality with the Barber connection here). Anyway, I was watching a rather old video of a performance of “Upside Down,” a b-side from the Little Earthquakes era in the early 90s. And to my pleasant surprise, someone was comparing it to Samuel Barber’s “Excursions No. 1.” I know probably as much about Barber as the next average professional string player — not a particularly enormous amount, but certainly enough to be intrigued by this comment. So I went and had a listen. Sure enough, there are similarities, at least with the opening motif. My excitement stemmed from the fact that I’ve always felt that much of Tori’s music possesses the same haunting modalities found in composers I really, really love: Bartok, Chopin, Debussy…and Barber too apparently.  Tori was classically trained, having started at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore when she was 5, so perhaps it’s no surprise that classical elements are found all over her music, especially her output from the 90s.  “Upside Down” sounds undoubtedly more simplistic and a bit adolescent (I can say that since I’ve been listening to her since I was 14) compared to the Barber.  But songs like “Peeping Tommi” (also from the same era) are a bit richer musically, and also echo such pieces as Debussy’s “Cathedral Engloutie” (the Sunken Cathedral) and Bartok’s “Roumanian Folk Dances.” I’m not really interested in theoretical analyses of these pieces (sorry, said analysis is just boring as hell, in my opinion, and I’ve had way too many colleagues say to me over the years, “hey, listen to that augmented 6 chord” ugh!), but sonically and emotionally, I feel they come from the same source. When I first discovered Tori (circa 1994), I had been studying piano quite seriously for many years. And one of things I gravitated to in her music, particularly that of “Under the Pink,” was that it reminded me of Chopin Waltzes and Nocturnes. The waltz-y sections of “Yes, Anastasia”, for example, were basically a cooler, edgier, more contemporary version of Chopin.  And all of these other comparisons are really fodder for greater, richer listening experiences.  So listen on!  😉

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