Daniel Barnes

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Update from Block 2 Week 2

I just wanted to give a small update about what I'm up to right now at school.

A week from Tuesday, I'll be performing in a master class put on by members of the American Brass Quintet. That's 2:00pm on Tuesday, October 10, 2017. I'll be performing Morceau Symphonique on trombone.

Last night, I performed for the first time on campus with the CC jazz combo. After a short rehearsal on Tuesday evening, I felt prepared enough to join them for their 9:00pm concert on Friday night for parents' weekend, on piano (throwing in trombone and trumpet as necessary!)

I'm currently in 7 adjunct classes, despite there being a limit of 3 per semester:

  • Voice lessons
  • Trombone lessons
  • Conducting class
  • Concert Band (euphonium; also stage manager)
  • Orchestra (trumpet, trombone)
  • Tiger Jazz (bass trombone)
  • Chamber Choir (bass I)

In addition, I'm participating in:

  • Opera Scenes

A performance of several scenes from Not Since Nineveh, Finishing School, Gypsy Baron, and The Bartered Bride Costumed, staged, with props, and my first experience with opera

  • CC Jazz Combo

Very laid-back, playing original songs that the members have written as well as reading from the real book.

I'd say I'm getting some mileage in on music.

I did not win the CCSGA election and managed to scoop up only 18 votes (less than 4% of the vote) but I think I probably have enough going on as it is.

I'll post about more upcoming performances as they come closer. For now, wish me luck!

By Daniel, on October 8, 2017, 2:31 am

What Does Music Look Like?

Note: This is a paper I submitted as part of an assignment for my GS 222: Creativity and Logic class. This paper is a reflection on the season opener of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic last weekend.

For Immediate Release
Contact: Daniel Barnes
GS 222: Creativity and Logic
September 17, 2017

The Bows to the Brass: What Does Music Look Like?

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO—A woman in a vibrant red dress sits hunched over at a nine-foot long Steinway & Sons piano. A man behind her moves his arms and figure with energetic zest. About sixty individuals sit in chairs facing the frantic man with uniformly shaped pieces of wood and metal.

This weekend, the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, an organization which has been providing music to the Colorado Springs area since 1927, premiered their ninetieth season with a bombastic Glinka Overture, a gorgeous rendition of Chopin’s second piano concerto, and a thought-provoking performance of Shostakovich’s fifth symphony, all wrapped up together in a master works concert.

Classical music resonates with each person differently. Some people can be enraptured by the notes flowing off the page in gorgeous harmony and flow. Others have difficulty enjoying the experience, coming to a comfortable slumber until the orchestra finally comes to rest. The musicians on stage demonstrate the way music resonates with them through movement. Likely unintentionally, the musicians on stage rock back and forth expressively in a way that’s not intuitive—it doesn’t help them with the technical use of their instruments, and it doesn’t seem to serve any purpose.

Except, that’s not true. Movement can be a fundamental part of music performance—whether through habit or through necessity, the kinesthetic “movement” element of music performance is central to performance.

A common technique in teaching—regardless of discipline—is leveraging the link between visual cues and the discipline being taught. In particular, in music, movement is heavily interlaced with the necessity to move. An example of this is the use of movement in teaching music, called “Dalcroze Eurhythmics.” Movement can be used in a variety of different levels of musicianship, from demonstrating differences in pitch for beginners, to demonstrating the flow and peak of a musical line for an advanced player.

Even on a professional level, movement plays a role in the musicians’ performance. The performers in the Colorado Springs Philharmonic sway back and forth in a manner which communicates the character of the music being played. Between the more laid-back Chopin concerto and the high-energy movements in the Shostakovich symphony, a wide slew of differences can be observed in performer movement, accurately reflecting the character of the music.

In fact, the conductor takes on a large role in demonstrating the character of a piece of music. Smaller or larger movements indicate not only semantic elements of the performing, such as volume (dynamics) or speed (tempo), but also communicate the character that should be matched among all members of the orchestra, in order to generate a uniform performance for a willing audience. Conductors innovate in their music in order to find the best way to convey this information across different characters, and that contributes to make a successful conductor.

Movement plays a vital role in music performance throughout all age ranges, gives people a vehicle to express themselves beyond the sounds they create, and fills out the experience of watching a Philharmonic orchestra. ◼

By Daniel, on September 22, 2017, 4:06 pm

Visit to DU

I spent yesterday and today hanging out with my lovely friend Hunter, a good friend of mine who used to run the Monday Night Jazz combo in Glenwood Springs.

The agenda has been really awesome-- I've basically gotten to shadow her, attending:

  • Lamont Wind Ensemble
  • Tango Class
  • Chemistry Class
  • Trombone Choir

Because I'm a new student at CC and am just settling in, being at a different college makes the compare-and-contrast gears start turning. I'm not trying to discredit either college-- but it just gives me a lot of things to think about as I think of what opportunities are available to me, and what's available somewhere else.

It's not intentional, but it's the idea of Opportunity Cost playing out and seeing what I'm giving up when going to CC (and it's obviously not possible to have everything). Is this healthy? Probably. I don't see why knowing more about the world around me could have a harmful effect, even if I would be bummed to feel like I made the wrong choice.

Of course, I'm trying not to rank them as better/worse. Here's what's been ticking through my mind as I've been here:

The wind ensemble music has been hard as all hell-- it makes any kind of rep I've played before look easy, with crazy time signature changes that I've never had to work through before, and very difficult trombone lines that challenge my very being. Of course this level of difficulty is going to challenge me and make me a better musician. At CC, our Concert Band music has been very manageable. Much of it is not easy, by any measure, but it doesn't challenge me the way this Wind Ensemble did.

In order to learn, it's pretty significant that you put yourself out of your comfort zone but you don't go too far. I'm unsure if this music was too far of a leap for me or if it was just right, but it makes me curious about the kind of development I'd make on my own instrument in this ensemble.

That being said, the CC Concert Band challenges the same kinds of techniques and develops the same kinds of skills, without the extreme stress that comes with it. I can't say for certain which one is better.

Tango class was just awesome. Hunter drags me along to a bunch of different activities that I'd never see myself participating in individually, but because of her I've actually developed a real love of dancing. She's brought me to Bachata dance classes before, and this tango class was just as fun.

We spent the afternoon today dancing tango around in her crammed dorm room kitchen, which was awesome. She really inspires the best out of me, which I love.

Chemistry class was one big long lecture-- I tried not to tune in too much because I didn't want to fry my brain.

A 50 minute-long lecture, there was hardly any interactivity-- the only time students spoke was for questions. The lecture hall was large and the class was expected to be about 60 (though perhaps 40 showed up; "it's a Friday class" says Hunter).

Curiously enough, I was told that the professor teaching that Chemistry class was previously a professor at CC. I wonder what kind of impact that made on him-- I wish I had gotten the chance to ask, but I would assume the reason he would move away is primarily because of research opportunities.

Trombone choir was wonderful. The teacher had a really funny, open way of discussing problems and fixing them, which made the class quite engaging and fun.

His ideology: in order to play hard things perfectly, we have to be able to play easy things perfectly.

Thus, we spent a large amount of time on four-part trombone choir Bach chorales, tuning chords and fitting together the music in an intricate way where every detail was addressed-- even on "easily sight-readable" music (which I put in quotes because, clearly, sight-reading isn't the same skill as playing it perfectly).

Then we moved onto an excerpt from another piece of repertoire. I fell in love with being drowned out in sound by trombones. I feel as though trombone has a high amount of control over the sound that comes out, more so than other brass instruments-- and it felt like that control was highly managed in dynamics and other properties of the repertoire. This class was a lot of fun, and I sure wish we had one at CC.

I had an awesome time staying with Hunter for a few days, and I'm excited to be heading up North to Boulder, CO to visit my brother for the rest of the weekend.

By Daniel, on September 22, 2017, 3:56 pm

Back Into Music

After a hard week of 6 music auditions tacked on to my first week of learning on the block program, I'm excited to start playing music in a college setting. I'll be performing with:

  • Concert Band (euphonium)
  • Chamber Choir (bass/baritone)
  • Chamber Orchestra (trombone/trumpet)

I'm still waiting to hear back from one of the a cappella groups and the jazz band. I'm also going to be joining a conducting class and taking private trombone lessons.

I'm certainly excited to see what making music is like outside of high school. I'm honestly clueless-- I have no idea what kind of music these groups will be selecting, how much work it will be to prepare them, and where I stand as far as preparedness.

However, it definitely feels like I've taken a small gap and haven't gotten to play much music lately, so I'm really excited to dive into it headfirst again in whatever manner is possible.

I'm considering seeing if I can create a small brass-band similar to the Basalt StreetHorns group I was in in high school. I think it could be a really exciting way to a) have some sort of leadership position in music, b) play with a brass group, which I absolutely love, and c) get to play fun music, and perhaps be in charge of deciding the music and arranging it. The goal is a little ambitious since I've been here just over two weeks-- but I'm going to try to gauge interest and if it's something people genuinely want to do, I would love that.

This weekend I got the pleasure of seeing a Phish concert, which my brother took me to. He, my parents, and I were all able to go and got a really good spot to see the concert. It was certainly stimulating and had a lot going on at once, but I'll admit that while I was skeptical about going at first, there were moments where I did somewhat fall into the music and realize how complex some of the things they were playing were. I really enjoyed the concert and was really happy to see my family.

I'm definitely happy here so far, but it's really nice to be able to think about what's going on back home and check back in. I got to see some videos of the aforementioned StreetHorns playing at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass concert and that was awesome-- I definitely wish I could have been there. I've been keeping up on all the improvements going on with the Basalt schools and I'm excited about the direction they're going.

For now, I gotta get some readings done for tomorrow-- big day!

By Daniel, on September 3, 2017, 6:40 pm