Author Archives: Steven Arntson

Enthusiasms: “Flight of the Bumblebee”

In 1900, Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov premiered his opera The Tale of Tsar Saltan, of his Son the Renowned and Mighty Bogatyr Prince Gvidon Saltanovich and of the Beautiful Princess-Swan (often, and understandably, shortened to The Tale of Tsar Saltan). The plot is based on a fairytale by Pushkin in which a young prince, cruellyRead more…

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Enthusiasms: Free Reed Instruments

Instruments in the free reed family are powered by reeds, each constructed to produce a single pitch. These days, most are made of a steel shoe with a steel tongue bolted or riveted atop. When air passes through the gap between reed and shoe, sound vibrations are produced (here‘s a more lengthy explanation). Because eachRead more…

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Enthusiasms: Three Beats Per Measure

Music in three is one of the few “odd” time signatures profusely available in Western music, a tradition with a moderate to extreme aversion to the elliptical feel of uneven time. Somehow, the waltz sneaked through. One of the earliest to catch in my ears was French composer Maurice Ravel’s “La Valse,” an attempt toRead more…

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Enthusiasms: The Keyboard

In the Western musical tradition, it’s difficult to overstate the importance of the keyboard — not only in terms of the volume of music composed for it, but in terms of its influence on music theory, which affects not only keyboard players but players of just about every other instrument: guitar, clarinet, and even theRead more…

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Enthusiasms: Two Beats Per Measure

There are many ways to talk about meter in music, and I find it difficult to say anything with particular concreteness without worrying over exceptions… but I thought it might be interesting to write about “beats per measure” — how many times a listener taps their foot between downbeats (at some point too, I’ll postRead more…

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Enthusiasms: Yodeling

I’m going to try to make a biweekly blog post this year (of the twice-per-month variety, not twice-weekly). When I asked for advice about what theme(s) I should pursue, I was encouraged to focus on my interests, so I’ve decided to call this series Enthusiasms. As my enthusiasms tend toward the fitful, I hope they’llRead more…

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