Jan 07

New Composition

By Lars Rosager | Music

Textual Chordophonics


The new original composition “Truth Turned Dream (In Color)” is available in the Textual Chordophonics store (score is free with purchase of MP3). It is a work for voice and guitar inspired by a 360-degree modulatory process around the circle of fifths, and by color as prompt for poetic and musical affect. Other aspects of the piece are presented in the videos below, the second of which is detailed by a brief blog post.

Accompanying blog post here.



Dec 15

Guitar Jhalla

By Lars Rosager | Music

(Scroll down for link to video!)

Textual Chordophonics

December 15, 2020


Greetings everyone, just sharing some current practice on three primary jhalla styles: siddha, thok (or ulta), and ladi. What is the strummed guitar doing in an Indian Classical setting? Well, the connection is not as misplaced as one might think.

Many official histories place the origins of the strummed-style guitar music at about mid-sixteenth century in Spain. Nonetheless, the guitar was known to previous centuries on the Iberian Peninsula. It is particularly important to acknowledge the whirling generality of instrument-naming conventions in those earlier years. Denominations crossed from bowed to plectrum-driven to hand-plucked instruments, and performance applications of these were also shared. Ian Woodfield cites the probable employment of Moorish bowed rababs as drone accompaniments to vocal music, as well as the aptness of the ghiterne or ghiterra to accompany early Catalonian love poetry. Later, Juan Bermudo recalled that the strummed guitar was the accompaniment of choice for old romance poetry, a quintessential manifestation of popular Spanish verse with strong cultural overlap with the Moors. Many indications point to strumming or related techniques on early drone-based instruments.

The eastern regions of Central Asia mostly associate the rabab mostly with plectrum technique. Nonetheless, a similarly generic approach to linguistic classification clouds most delineations of organological history in Indo-Persia and the Arabian Peninsula as well. The veena and rud root words can be applied to a long list of instruments throughout the ages—harps, lutes, bowed-strings, etc. The Baloch tamburag is an interesting example of the persistence of ostinato drone accompaniment, even more so in light of the strumming technique identical to that of the rasgueado Spanish guitar. Moreover, the definitive North Indian tanpura (note the linguistic similarity to tamburag) features some constructional aspects in common with the rabab. Today, many plucked rabab and sarod jhalla renderings present a resonance broader than the delicate melodic styles that define the alaap the jor. The Rampur court and its fondness for the plucked rabab was a direct precursor to the Seni-Maihar school of sarod playing, the latter of which constitutes the present source for these approaches to jhalla.



Nov 30

A Bit on Music Education in the Age of Distance Learning

By Lars Rosager | Music , News

Textual Chordophonics



In light of the extensive degree to which history has demonstrated music’s potential for interdisciplinary and cultural enrichment, music education in schools today does not find itself in as central a position as one might hope; so it is important that distance learning not result in more intensely marginalized music programs. The primary setback is technological; most video-conferencing applications are not conducive to music as a synchronized and collectively performative activity. But let us not succumb to this obstacle, instead remembering that students’ progress in Music is still very much a reality. Below I reference a few local examples and offer my brief two cents on the matter.

Before COVID-19, the Santa Rosa Symphony’s educational outreach program Simply Strings was a bowed-string–instrument ensemble program that met two hours a day, five days a week. It is now a half-hour music-appreciation class once a week for third-grade students only. While this is objectively disappointing, it is certainly good news to hear that the same Symphony’s in-school performance program offers videos of each instrument family of the orchestra in action. Other examples of audio and instructional outlines being distributed to local schools is, relative to an ensemble class, quite easy to continue unhindered.

Petaluma High School has converted ensembles into private-lesson sessions over video call. In terms of an effort to preserve the participatory aspect, this seems like a good thing. However, the problem of asynchronicity remains. It is not hopeless though. Let us celebrate the fact that the synchronized, interactive side of music is not an altogether lost cause in this day and age. Some have been able to play live to a certain degree of success. In terms of the educational process and how performance can help it along, recordings may be more help than meets the eye.

Recordings alone are not the answer, but they do play a central role in keeping performative musical skills progressing. The instructor must be crystal clear with regard to the purpose of the recording. Is it a play-along track? An accompaniment part or lead part, to one of which the student provides the other? A call and response? The practicality of the recording must be explained and exemplified with the lesson during which the coming week’s practice is assigned.

The follow-up to the previous week’s instruction must consist of a check-in on how the student has been employing the recording. This module is quite useful in situations where in-person instruction is a reality as well. With a guiding recording particular to the current projects in hand, the student is able to create music in a quite authentic sense, and instructors have a way of holding their pupils to account on exactly what they expect them work on. There is much more to be said about how one might steer music education toward or away from current trends and limitations, but harnessing the power of a useful practice recording can make a significant difference in filling the performance void that, these days, opens all too easily.



Sep 12

Live Clip: “Summertime” (and some musicological musings on Jazz culture)

By Lars Rosager | Moral Philosophy , Music

Textual Chordophonics

September 11, 2020


Greetings! Just taking a second to share a brief clip (below) of a recent rendition of the standard “Summertime.” Apart from offering this bit of music for your listening pleasure and as a way to share some current developments with regard to my skills and knowledge, I thought I might tie in a little cultural context from the era of this tune’s publication with current events. So often one takes a seemingly American classic such as “Summertime” for granted as a representative and wholesome example of popular culture, but this music’s history, as in many other cases, may just change the course of its performers.

I have alluded to this idea in the past (“My Man’s Gone Now”), though now it finds special relevance given a strengthened movement for real racial justice in BLM—strengthened by force and under outrageous duress, a critical and urgent civil-rights issue: George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” (lyrics by DuBose Heyward) is an important reminder of how history has time and again witnessed Black and/or African music [Edited 10/20/2020 from “Black African music.” Thank you, Ayden Isam Bradley for your comments.] brought into a more mainstream and White space (related article from Smithsonian Magazine.) [The intentions behind the original phrasing Black African was to bring awareness to how native African musical stylings might be represented within a Black American musical context. For further reading see The Other Classical Musics: Fifteen Great Traditions, p. 201. Also, as I understand it, Dr. Anthony Brown wrote his dissertation on the transmission of native African drum stylings into Jazz music. I have not gained access to the text, but its author would be a great source for further inquiry.]

The at-times obscured Black and/or African centrality to American Folk Music as a general topic must be brought to the fore. Southern fiddle-tune stylings so often associated with the more politically dominant White cultures owe much to Black musicians. It has been proposed that so quintessentially American an instrument as the steel-string guitar is, at its roots, a cross between the Spanish guitar and the African banjo. Prevalent are the indelible and indispensable contributions of Black and/or African rhythmic sensibility to the regional musics of North and South America, particularly in the US and in Brazil. Should this and other non-Anglo traditions really be treated as such Others? How independent of non-Anglo traditions can American popular music really be, and which are the commonalities with regard to other phases in Western music?

One hopes the popularization (commodification?) of Black and/or African music has not in all cases been malevolent or otherwise an instance of plagiaristic opportunism. The potential inquiries into this topic are many and varied, though one thing is certain: today’s global moral climate invites a more prevalent awareness of the sociology behind Black and/or African music in so far as the latter has shaped the musical tastes of White-European America(s). [I invite you all to contribute discussion on the topic of sociological diversity in Music to the SF State Music Majors Facebook Group.]

Aug 26

Two Compositions in Raga Bhimpalasi

By Lars Rosager | Music

Textual Chordophonics

August 26, 2020

This is another example of a concept discussed previously here on the Textual Chordophonics blog. The slow Dhrupad-style composition links to the fast piece (inspired by campanella guitar technique) through an alignment of each composition’s sam, or downbeat. Thanks!



May 22

Linking Slow and Fast Compositions in Indian Classical Music

By Lars Rosager | Music

While the general framework Alaap-Jor-Jhala guides most styles of Indian Classical Music, and other typical formal devices shape these three sections as well as shaping the development of fixed compositions, the Indian tradition is quite spacious in terms of room for personalization and innovation. This music thrives on spontaneity, but also enjoys the effects of close attention to detail and careful planning.

Here I present some original thinking on how one might move from a slow (vilambit) gat composition into a fast (drut) gat. The crux of the matter is preserving sam, the equivalent of the down beat in Western music. I have exemplified the idea with two compositions in Raga Yaman, and compared the treatment to a rendition of Raga Brindavani Sarang and one of Raga Sindhu Bhairavi. I have explored the concept in Ragas other than Yaman, and would be happy to share my findings.

Apr 08

Campanelle for Modern Guitars: Exercises in C Major, G Major, and D Major

By Lars Rosager | Uncategorized

Campanella technique as it existed on the Italian Baroque guitar has resulted in some confusion when it comes to transcriptions for modern instruments tuned in any non-reentrant manner. The most recent addition to the LarsRosager.com online store aims at making campanelle a reality on non-reentrant stringed instruments. The exercises in C Major, G Major, and D Major—keys on the flat side of the circle of fifths and those further along the sharp side do not lend themselves to a full treatment—are written for the six-string guitar in standard EADGBE tuning.

Let it be known that these exercises cover much more ground than just being practical for music in C Major, G Major, or D Major. They are applicable in some ways to the Church modes, as well as to the relative minors A Minor, E Minor, and B Minor. Further, the exercises provide good foundation for campanella shapes in other modes and keys (or even atonal or microtonal compositions), though said keys might not be realistic for an exercise spanning the entire gamut of the scale tonic to tonic. The YouTube video shared here was created in an earlier stage of my exploration of modern-guitar campanella. I am glad to have made good on my efforts to bring the exercises to a greater state of completeness and share something of pedagogical value. Thanks very much.

Mar 06

Sample from Upcoming Release

By Lars Rosager | Music

Greetings! This video contains another sample of my current project, a composition for voice guitar dealing with the intertwining of color, season, and human sentiment. The music will be released with an accompanying essay treating some points on the moral philosophy of music education. Text—both set to music and in essay form—and guitar are inspired by some conclusions I have drawn with regard to universalist philosophy and scientifically reasoned spirituality, which are summarized briefly with the following:

    1. Human understands they exist within the scientific laws of the natural world.
    2. Ironically, what sets human apart from animal is the ability to partially defy mortality (i.e., nature), particularly through the quasi-eternity afforded by written language. Also, love and compassion are ways in which human might shun more immediate, “animal” concerns; in sum, human can envision a sort of liberation from science and natural survival, a contrast to item 1.
    3. These two propositions must be examined through scenarios involving a) the individual, b) the two-human dynamic, and c) the collective.

From these points, the essay expounds on how to most responsibly approach music education for various age groups. The musical composition is based on the idea of modulation through the full scope of the circle of fifths. Thank you.

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