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Music: Modern Music Suggestions

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My daughter (age, 16) has become inspired by her modern dance class to choreograph a short piece (2-3 minutes) of her own. She is starting to put together some moves, but has no idea what music to put it to. So I was wondering if I could turn to this forum for any recommendations of specific pieces or tips for doing our own music search without spending a fortune on CDs or not knowing where to start at the library.


She's choreographed short pieces before - mostly jazz and lyrical. An example of music that worked for her before is the "Diva Dance" from the "Fifth Element" movie soundtrack. She's looking for something that is rooted in classical but with a decent beat. Classical remixes are fun to work with, but how does one find them? Ethnic "fusion" pieces are also strong possibilities, as the popularity of Celtic beats or South American drums and pan pipes is an example. But here, too, I don't know the names of any groups except Loreena McKennitt, and my daughter would prefer wordless music.


Recommended pieces don't have to already be short, as my daughter can try to find a workable segment. Any leads would be greatly appreciated.


Oh, I should add that my husband's and my insistence to not allow her to use music swapping services on the internet has prompted this issue.

Edited by Pierrette
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Don't be too quick to rule out searches on the internet. There are many sites where you can legally download music, e.g., mp3.com, and most performers post examples of their music on their own websites. (Once your daughter locates something she can use she should buy the CD, mainly to support the artist, but also because it will sound better than the mp3.)


Browse the music section at your library. Used CD stores frequently have better selections than the retail chains, and you can often listen before you buy.


Some very miscellaneous suggestions:


Klezmer music: The New Orleans Klezmer Allstars, Shirim/Naftule's Dream, Klezmatics, Itzhak Perlman ("In the Fiddler's House"), and many others. Wonderful music, largely instrumental, and hard not to dance to.


3 Mustaphas 3 are as ethnic as you can stand, and they do many instrumentals. When they do sing, it's generally not in English, which is a plus.


Virtually every Celtic band does medleys of fiddle tunes and usually some Carolan melodies as well. Start with the older Chieftans recordings, then listen to the Bothy Band, the Boys of the Lough, Silly Wizard and all the rest. Rare Air did a sort of Celtic funk and deserve special mention, though their recordings are hard to find.


Birdsongs of the Mesozoic are right on the borderline between chamber music and progressive rock. Some of the other more intellectual prog rockers might be worth considering, e.g., Gordian Knot, King Crimson, Gryphon and many others whom you'll never hear on the radio. Ian Anderson's "Divinities: Twelve Dances with God" is another recording on the borderline between rock and classical music.

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John Renbourn's "Nine Maidens" album has quite a few pieces on it that are classically influenced but retain a core rhythm that would be very danceable.

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SOme terrific modern dances have been set to Bach and Handel, who have really infectious dance beats going in ALL their music, with many different moods and many different rhythms and tempos... and nice thing is, many of them come in short pieces that are parts of larger suites but stand alone very well....

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Just recently, it has become possible to sample a wide range of music on-line for cheap or FREE --- legally.


Probably the easiest way is to get iTunes. Download from www.apple.com. It gives you the first 30 seconds of any track in their library for free. There are other competitors to iTunes that work the same as well.


You can also get unlimited listening from Rhapsody Digital Music Service for a subscription of $10 per month, I believe. Then if you want to burn your own CD's, it's $.79 per track. http://www.listen.com

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Tancos wrote:

Don't be too quick to rule out searches on the internet.

Oh, of course, I don't have anything against internet searches, just illegal music file sharing. I guess the trick with any method, however, is knowing what to search for. For us, it helps to have some category word or artist name as a starting point, so I am very thankful for the leads thus far. And, Tancos, your web site is really fascinating. I've already spent some time poking around your music site and plan on doing more exploring in your other areas as I get the time.


Paul Parish and Vagansmom: We'll be checking out your suggestions as well since, after looking through Tancos's collection, my daughter says she's looking for a little less beat and a bit more towards classical. One of her teacher-choreographed solos last year was to a tango by Astor Piazzolla that my daughter found appealing.


Citibob: Thanks for the reminder about iTunes. That is the perfect way to buy just the single tracks we're interested in without having to pay for an entire CD.


And speaking of software, what is the technique for editing music? Can iTunes do this?


To anyone else reading this thread: your recommendations are most welcome! :(

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Well, Tancos, thank you for mentioning the Klezmers. In my bedroom is a picture of their founder and I in Paris. He toured, along with some other musicians, with my company in 1995, and has played for a number of our performances here in the States. The picture -- on one precious day off, we decided to go off, just the two of us, and we stopped in front of the Louvre, where he played and I passed the hat. All in a day's fun.


Also, Pierrette, our company has a tango in our repertoire set to music by Piazzolla.


What a small world this is.


I'll make yet another suggestion. A wonderful pianist/storyteller named Robin Spielberg, plays piano solos on a number of CDs. Check out her website. She plays music some might call "New Age" but it's not as 'vague' as that. She also plays new twists on old songs. I've seen her in person twice and adore her music. She has a background as an actress -- studied at NYU with William H. Macy. Was playing piano for 'power breakfasts' in NY hotel lobbies to make the rent, and figured no one was listening anyway so she began playing her own compositions. People WERE listening and urged her to record her compositions. She did and the rest is history -- she's made it all the way to Carnegie Hall. What makes her music so special is that when she gives concerts, she has wonderful interplay with the audience, telling anecdotes in between each piece. One of the most wonderful stories has to do with her giving birth several years ago to premature twin girls, who weighed about a pound each. Yes, a pound. One died. The other was not expected to live much longer, but Robin asked if they would play one of her CDs in the neonatal intensive care unit. They did. Her baby and all the others thrived and now they regularly play her music in the neonatal unit of that hospital's ICU.


I've choreographed to her music. It just seems to elicit feelings and movements from me.

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I have a couple of suggestions for you too. My daughter has been itching to dance to a song by Steven Cravis, "Through the Kaleidescope". It is a very bright, light piano piece. He is listed on MP3.com, and at the time I downloaded it, was free. That may have changed, but I think there is still a streaming version you can listen to. There are several songs on that CD that we really liked, so I guess I'll just have to buy the whole thing. :)

Also, the modern/lyrical class at daughter's studio did a really nice dance a couple of years ago to an instrumental song by The Corrs...I think it was called "Rebel Heart". I can't remember how it goes right now, but I remember I really loved the music...very expressive. B)

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Edit music with Audacity: http://audacity.sourceforge.net


I would warn that buying music from iTunes (or anything else online) will probably not suit your purposes if you wish to then edit that music in any way. Not only is on-line music compressed and not up to CD fidelity, digital rights management systems attached to the music will prevent you from editing. I suggest you buy a CD and rip a WAV or AIFF file from it (NOT MP3). Then you can edit that file.

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Thank you, citibob! This is perfect! :wink:


In looking through the features of what audio editing software can do, I'm beginning to appreciate what a vital tool this is for anyone interested in choreography. I'm going to encourage my daughter to learn how to use this software, herself, as I think it will further inspire her when she realizes how much extra freedom it gives her to adapt music to her needs.

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