04/10/15 Take Me Out to the Opera

This week’s writing assignment:
A few students have let me know they had trouble accessing Blackboard, so I’m posting the instructions for this week’s writing assignment below. If you can’t submit it through Blackboard, please email it to lkernohan@acd.ccac.edu.

This week we discussed the use of music as soundtrack or theme music for a character. Think about what your own personal soundtrack or theme music would be. Write a paragraph explaining why you chose this music, and include a youtube link or other source, if available.

How did the organ move from the church to the baseball stadium? (It didn’t really — church organs traditionally use real pipes, but organs in other locations are more likely to be electronic!)
– In the early decades of the 20th century, organs began to be used in many public places: “movie theatres, town halls, pizza parlors, and shopping malls.” (“From Town Hall to ‘Play Ball!’: The Origins of the Baseball Organ”)
– Why? Before These places had modern sound systems for playing recorded music, the organ provided the soundtrack. It can play a wide variety of sounds, but only requires one performer.

– First use of organ in baseball: Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, April 1941
– Many other teams followed suit, including the Brooklyn Dodgers (before they moved to LA) and the Boston Red Sox.
– By 2005 the tradition was fading, as long-time organists retired and were not replaced
– Today the tradition is making a comeback, with the modern twist of organists interacting with fans online, taking requests and suggestions of songs to play for particular players.

Atlanta Braves’ Organist playing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”

– Note: He’s performing on a theatre organ, not the portable digital keyboard he uses at the stadium!

The newest member of the organist team: Tabitha Barattini of the Miami Marlins, hired in 2014:

Times when organists have been ejected:
In 2012, organist Derek Dye played “Three Blind Mice” as a comment on an umpire’s controversial call:

In 1988, Lambert Bartak played the theme song from the Mickey Mouse Club (“M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E”) and got booted. The next night, fans came to the game in mouse ears to show support for him.
Organist Hits Wrong Note

How does opera tell its story?
– Similar to musical theatre’s alternation of spoken dialogue and songs, Baroque and Classical opera alternated recitative, a fast, speech-like singing style, with aria, a more sustained style where a shorter text was repeated many times.

Here is a modern equivalent:

Verse 1 — Jay-Z:
Yeah, yeah, I’ma up at Brooklyn, now I’m down in Tribeca
Right next to De Niro, but I’ll be hood forever
I’m the new Sinatra, and since I made it here
I can make it anywhere, yeah, they love me everywhere

I used to cop in Harlem, all of my Dominicanos
Right there up on Broadway, brought me back to that McDonald’s
Took it to my stash spot, 560 State Street
Catch me in the Kitchen like a Simmons whipping pastry

Cruising down 8th Street, off-white Lexus
Driving so slow, but BK is from Texas
Me, I’m up at Bed-Stuy, home of that boy Biggie
Now I live on Billboards, and I brought my boys with me

Say what up to Ty Ty, still sipping mai tai
Sitting courtside, Knicks and Nets give me high fives
I be spiked out, I can trip a referee
Tell by my attitude that I most definitely from

Chorus — Alicia Keys:
In New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made up
There’s nothing you can’t do, now you’re in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you, let’s hear it for New York
New York, New York

Verse: 55 seconds
Chorus 30 seconds

Barber of Seville (1816) by Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868)
– Figaro, the barber, talks himself up as the person everyone goes to for information & assistance (3:15 — “Figaro, Figaro, Figaro!”)
– What other styles of music feature a main character bragging about himself or herself?
– Also a chance for the singer to showcase his talents

By the way, you’ve heard Rossini’s music before:

Many aspiring musicians got their first introduction to opera from — who else??
Classical Era Opera:
Rabbit of Seville (1950)

Romantic Era Opera:
What’s Opera, Doc?

What's Opera Doc by MistyIsland1

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