Listening Quest #4:Singing in Harmony with Lalah Hathaway

Sunday, October 18, 2015 by Vicki Martin | Listening Quest

What is a melody? When I describe to my students what a melody is, I usually explain that is the part of the song that you would sing, and you can only sing one note at a time. 99.99% of the time, that is true. What you are about to see is the .01% - or maybe it's not even that much! The video below is a collaboration between Snarky Puppy (best described as a modern big band) and Lalah Hathaway. Her vocal feats start becoming impressive around 3:00, and at 6:12, that's when you hear the jaw-dropping moment when she starts singing two notes at once! I love how the band reacts. This recording won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance in 2014.

Extra Exploring: Lalah Hathaway is not the only one who can sing two notes at once. Here Anna-Maria Hefele shows what is possible:

Listening Quest #3: Jan Lisiecki

Tuesday, October 6, 2015 by Vicki Martin | Listening Quest

This week's featured young performer is Jan Lisiecki (pronounced yawn leash-ESS-key), and by young, I mean 20 years old. Too young, you might think, to already be considered one of Canada's top classical pianists, but the CBC Music blog did include him in their list of The 25 Best Canadian Classical Pianists when he was still 19. At 16, he was one of the youngest performers to be signed on to the Deutche Grammophon recording label (one of the best for classical music), and he has put out two recordings since then: one of Mozart piano concertos, and the second a complete set of Chopin's Études. While it may seem like he must live in another world, he is an Alberta boy and calls Calgary home. Judging by his calendar, though, he is pretty busy traveling around the world performing and doesn't have many concerts lined up close to home.

The recording you are about to hear is an excerpt from Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21. A concerto is when you have a soloist (although occasionally two or three featured performers) with an orchestra, and while you will see him play, you won't get to see the orchestra in this video.  

Extra Exploring: The video is not exactly captivating, but the sound is great! You can listen to his entire album of Chopin Études (or maybe just a couple) below. Chopin was one of the first composers to write studies (Étude is French for study) that not only focused on a particular technical skill to get better at it, but to also make that study musically interesting rather than something only played in the practice room and not in public. My favourite one is the Op. 10, No. 3, which starts at 3:33.