Livestream July 4, 2023: Zydeco, Book Club, Patriotic Music

Catch the next stream LIVE Tuesdays at 1p ET: YouTube | Twitch | Facebook | Twitter

Here's the link to the playlist of all the YouTube videos we watched in this livestream.

Pre-stream music: Rosie Ledet Zydeco Music | 00:00

We started with a live performance of Rosie Ledet, at the New Orleans Cajun and Zydeco Festival from June 12, 2022, which takes place at the Jazz Museum up at the very top of the French Quarter, and right across the street from Frenchman Street. I really enjoy Rosie's music, energy and groove.

Intro and Updates | 07:42

I talk about how it's as hot as July here, and how I need some cold drinks, and again fiddling with the tech setup for the stream.

Book Club: Chapter 1 "The First Principle" | 15:30

This month we will be going chapter by chapter through the famous book "Pablo Casals and the Art of Interpretation". Today we talked about the first chapter which is titled "The First Principle"

We come to understand that the first principle is the ability for the musician to "…come into harmony with the vital cosmic spirit or breath…".

Stated another way the author defines the first principle as "breath-resonance, life-motion".

The first principle isn't an idea of Pablo Casals'. The first principle, we are told, is the "first of the Six Principles set down by the art critic Hseih Ho in the fifth century A.D. in what is thought to be the earliest document stating the fundamental canons of Chinese painting."

The author, David Bloom, uses this First Principle as a way to understand Pablo Casals' fundamental connection to the "vital cosmic spirit" of the music he was performing/rehearsing/teaching.

After the author explains to us what the first principle is, he introduces vignettes of Casals' working with musicians, where Casals is deep in contact with the emotional purpose of the music being performed. We are told that Casals as a teacher and conductor is able to transmit and share/teach/lead the other musicians to then play the music with much deeper emotional content.

Casals in this chapter is painted to have an almost guru-like quality, where he can connect with the feelings and purpose of the music, and then transmit it, sometimes just by being observed and silently felt by the other musicians, other times by speaking and singing in ways that the author describes as holding great emotional power.

How this chapter is affecting me already

Personally, I find this First Principle to be quite a useful idea. And in teaching lessons the day after the livestream, I found myself noticing and working on being in contact and connection with the "vital cosmic spirit" of the music the students were working on. For me, most of my students are working in what you might call vernacular music.

For me it reminds me to ask the question: "what emotions does this music need to share?" And the stories of Casals' profound connection to the emotions of the music, are a reminder for me and the students to go deeper.

An activity to listen for the First Principle | 22:56

To me, it seems that we cannot really learn from this book without putting into musical practice the concepts. And to that end I created a simple little activity to practice listening to music and judging it's capacities to convey that "vital cosmic spirit."

We are lucky because, like all great teachers, Casals is specific with his emotional directions. In the very first vignette in this chapter, Casals is rehearsing "Siegfried Idyll" by Richard Wagner with an orchestra. Casals leads the musicians verbally and non-verbally to a place of understanding that the music must convey the "infinite devotion, profoundest love", "Joy! It is the announcement of the birth of his son. He is so happy!"

And so as we listened to five different ensembles performing this piece, I asked the chat to listen for and tell me: which performance made them feel those feelings the most.

There were a few different answers, and I think that's fantastic - and to be expected. The one that made me feel the beauty, tenderness and joy of a child being born was the The Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, which was the first performance I played.

Viewer participation in the book club

Viewer duckbrook, who read the chapter, shared this fantastic note they took:

"I made a list of some of the terms and phrases Casals uses to suggest emotion in our playing in the first chapter: joy, as in a dream, mystery, lovely, tender, sighing, strike to the heart's core, wonder, pain, lament,,moving human experience, espressivo, agitation, suffering, grief, anguish, heart wound."

This is reminds me a fantastic list of emotions that I got from a class on non-violent communication. And I think the list serves to model Casals' approach to feeling and communicating the first principle at play here.

Next week we'll be sharing about the second chapter, so get your copy and join us.

Zydeco | 52:52

In preparation for this genre, I realized that Zydeco is just too huge a genre for me to get together on my own - and I think what's needed is to bring a guest or two on in the future to help me understand the history, styles, evolution, great players.

That being said, we still had a great time checking out a bunch of YouTube performances. I tried to alternate between some of the 1950s-1960s bluesy/rock n' roll style of Clifton Chenier, and contemporary performances by living greats (like Jeffery Broussard) and younger generation musicians like Leon Chavis.

I've always liked Zydeco, since way back when I was in High School, never touched an accordion. And the more I listen to it and soak it up, my love for it just keeps going up and up.

Patriotic Music | 1:41:30

I ended the stream with just two performances of patriotic music:

Guido Deiro (an Italian immigrant and America's first king of the accordion) performing a solo medley of John Philip Sousa Marches. I am really not at all familiar with Deiro's playing, and so it was really nice to hear his musicality, and groove. I look forward to listening to more in the future.

Ray Charles performing "America the Beautiful." This is a really fantastic arrangement that Ray has played for decades. This particular version is from a 1991 television special and features a celebrity super group of famous singers who join Ray around his piano for the final chorus. If you have a patriotic bone in your body, this will make it tingle.

That's all for this week's livestream recap. Tune in next week, Tuesday at 1p ET. Or watch the replay.

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©2023 Dallas Vietty

©2023 Dallas Vietty

©2023 Dallas Vietty