La Moustache Score

Posted by AJ Harbison at 5:10 pm

A few nights ago my lovely wife and I watched La Moustache, a French movie with English subtitles that she had heard about somewhere. It’s a story about a man who shaves his mustache on a whim, but is then baffled when his wife and friends don’t notice–and then is more baffled still when they insist he’s never had a mustache. We weren’t sure whether it was a comedy or a drama–since it seems like that premise could go either way–but it turned out to be a mysterious drama which was kind of frustrating because it never explained all the weird happenings in the movie. I don’t mind ambiguous endings, in general, but it never even tried to explain the increasingly strange things that kept happening. And the hilarious part was that in the special features, even the lead actress admitted she had no idea what was happening in “the mustache story,” and even the director himself said he didn’t really know what was going on. Weird.

But in any case, the music for the film was interesting. There was really only one piece that was used throughout the film, and really only two sections of the piece. The main part that was used consisted of repeated chords and arpeggiated figures in the strings. It had a haunting, ominous quality to it, so it was used effectively in situations that required that feeling; but it seemed a little repetitive by the end. As we watched the credits, I discovered that the piece was the Concerto for Violin and Orchestra by Philip Glass, one of the most successful modern American composers. The piece is from 1987 and is a good example of his tonal, repetitive, and minimal style. And it worked, more or less, as the only score in La Moustache.

You can listen to clips of Concerto for Violin and Orchestra by clicking here and then clicking the “listen/watch” button on the left side of the page. Then click on “Violin Concerto” in the second list that pops up.

P.S. I’m sure most, if not all of my TLB readers have heard this news through other channels (email, website, Facebook, Twitter…), but just in case you haven’t: I’m going to be releasing a new recording of an original Christmas song, called “Paradoxology,” this Christmas Eve 12/24/2009. It’ll be my first released recording in four years–the first since my album Following A Star was finished, on Christmas Eve of 2005. You’ll be able to download “Paradoxology” from my website, for free, next Thursday. So check it out! http://www.ajharbison.com



Posted by AJ Harbison at 7:54 pm

I’m very excited to announce that I am now a published composer! Kallisti Music Press in Philadelphia has published an art song of mine that I wrote last year. Head over to http://www.ajharbison.com for the full story!


Songs From My Shelf Update

Posted by AJ Harbison at 6:39 pm

Good news, my friends and fans: I’ve started recording for my upcoming album Songs From My Shelf! It started last week with some guitar and vocal tracking for “Too Far.” I’ve been busy with lots of different things and I haven’t gotten “too far” along yet (ha ha), but I’m already very excited about this record and I can’t wait to share it with you all. Unfortunately it looks like the release date will be pushed out to early next year, rather than the end of this year as I’d originally hoped. But I’ll get it done as soon as I can so you can all hear it!

There are several ways you can stay updated on the progress of Songs From My Shelf, if you’re so inclined:

That’s all for now! Keep tracking with me using one or more of these methods, and I’ll make sure you’re in the loop as I make progress on the record. And thanks for all your continued support!


Piano Stairs and The Fun Theory

Posted by AJ Harbison at 12:36 pm

I saw this fun video in an email sent by a fellow member of the Christian Fellowship of Art Music Composers, and thought I’d pass it on. A group of creative folks try to get people to take the stairs rather than the escalator by turning the staircase into a big keyboard. Check it out!


“Gustavo Dudamel: The Dude Abides”

Posted by AJ Harbison at 11:20 am

I wrote back in March about Gustavo Dudamel, the young conductor with awesome hair who just took over the LA Philharmonic. And I read a good article on him today by Allen Yeh on Scriptorium Daily, the blog of Biola’s Torrey Honors Institute. The article is a fun read with good commentary, and he even talks about his hair like I did. Check it out:

“Gustavo Dudamel: The Dude Abides”


Longplayer Live On Twitter

Posted by AJ Harbison at 12:08 pm

No doubt due to my post yesterday, my TLB twitter account notified me that Longplayer Live (@longplayerlive) is now following me on Twitter. So if you’re interested in keeping up with the latest news on the Longplayer Live performance in September, head on over and follow them!


Making Music Improves Your Hearing

Posted by AJ Harbison at 2:13 pm

I ran across this news article on Wired a few days ago. Apparently a new study has shown that musicians are better than non-musicians at hearing “speech-in-noise,” like picking out someone’s voice from a loud environment such as a crowded room. The authors of the study liken the ability to trying to hear one’s own instrument when playing in an orchestra or band, and suggest that perhaps things such as that are the cause of the enhanced perception. One of the authors says, “If we could establish that musical experience could help perception of speech-in-noise, that has all kinds of provocative implications in terms of encouraging policy-makers and parents to pursue musical education for their kids.” Check out the article here:

“Making Music Hacks Your Hearing”


Fastest Violinist In The World

Posted by AJ Harbison at 4:23 pm

I came across this video on CNN.com a few days ago. The violinist is David Garrett, a Juilliard graduate who studied with Itzhak Perlman, did some modeling on the side, and wears (for the interview) a leather jacket and a Von Dutch cap; he plays both classical music and pop music, “channeling” Michael Jackson and Metallica. But he’s also going in the 2010 Guinness Book of Records as the world’s fastest violinist for playing Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee in 66 seconds–13 notes per second. If you’d like to skip the opening segments with the gushing interviewer who is clearly smitten with him, skip to the 1:30 mark.


Oldest-known Musical Instrument Found?

Posted by AJ Harbison at 4:45 pm

On Thursday afternoon I came across the following story on MSN. Entitled “Music for cavemen,” it describes the discovery in southwestern Germany of what is considered to be “the earliest handcrafted musical instrument”–a flute carved from the bone of a griffon vulture. If you click on the picture at the top of the article (or on the link in the middle) you can hear an audio sample of what the flute “might” have sounded like. (I believe that means that the flute in the clip is a replica, not the actual specimen found–it’s probably far too valuable to actually put your lips to.) I wonder what it is that the flute is playing; it’s a simple, folklike tune, pretty boring in the beginning but getting more interesting as it goes along.

“Music for cavemen”


On Video Game Music

Posted by AJ Harbison at 10:34 am

As a member of the American Composers Forum, I receive their newsletter Sounding Board every other month. I just got around to reading the May/June issue on Friday, and I came across an interesting article (originally published in the LA Times) about video game music. Despite having an awful title, it provides some insights into the composing and recording process, and is worth a quick read:

“Their music for video games depends on play: Composers record seconds of music that can be rearranged in many ways to match the changing action”

Video game music was never a field of composition that I was too interested in; I grew up on Nintendo, Game Boy, Super Nintendo and PlayStation but was never what you’d call a “gamer.” But after reading this article, I have to admit that my interest has been piqued.

I know I have a few gamers out there among my readers, and probably more who have some level of interest and experience. Do you normally notice the score in games that you play? What are some of your favorite game scores? (Guitar Hero doesn’t count….)


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