Thursday, January 14

Piano Puzzler

Yeterday I heard Piano Puzzler on MPR for the first time! Great music nerd fun!

Composer Bruce Adolphe selects a tune from folk, popular, or classical music, and uses it as the basis for a short composition "in the style of" a different composer. The one I heard yesterday was Gershwin's "It Ain't Necessarily So" in the style of Stravinsky! Man, did that thing move! Adolphe quoted phrases from some of Stravinsky's work as well as other Gershwin quotes, and wove them together into a wonderful piece. The Puzzle is done as a quiz show, with someone from the radio audience trying to identify the tune and the composer. Yesterday's contestant got both!

One of my favorite Christmas CD's uses the same trick, using carols as the basis for "in the style of" works. The best one is "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" in the style of Tchaikovsky. You hear the celestina and think you are listening to the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, until gradually it dawns on you that something is a little different. It's great musical humor.

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