a. A theological or philosophical issue presented
for formal argument or disputation.
b. Music: A humorously
incongruous musical medley;
a sort of counterpoint Fantasia. The Quodlibet (literally
whatever you want)
was a well-established form of vocal
improvisation in J.S. Bach's time. It arbitrarily juxtaposed
melodies simultaneously or at random
intervals. This generally produced disharmonious but
mish-mash. On rare occasions it produced
a harmonious whole (much to the delight of everyone).
The Bach family
of Johann Sebastian's youth consisted
mainly of professional musicians (fiddlers, cantors, organists,
etc.) and every
year they came together for a musical Family
Reunion. Beer and Quodlibet were priorities of the day.
01. Canzon septimi a 12 G. Gabrieli
Gabrieli (1553-1612) was a composer and organist of the Venetian High Renaissance who was known almost entirely for the vocal
and instrumental music that he wrote for the church. He was one of the most famous music teachers of his time.
This is high quality Renaissance writing.
02. Goldberg Variation 30 J.S. Bach
Variation 01 J.S. Bach
The Great Bach, Johann Sebastian--to
my mind, the greatest
Composer ever. He wrote two Quodlibets: 1.) The Wedding Quodlibet
(BWV 524)--a ten-minute
montage of secular songs and topical phrases, some very humorous (it's said this was written for his own wedding to his first
wife, Maria Barbara); and 2.) the one featured here, The 30th Variation of the Goldberg Variations (BWV 988).
04.. Canon a perpetuus J.S. Bach
Bach composed seven special Canonic 'puzzles'--giving only the melody-line and the pitch of each entrant. The solution to
the puzzle meant guessing when the voices entered and which form the melody-line took (it could be inverted,
Devil's Trill G. Tartini
Tartini, expert Violinist and Teacher; great Dreamer. Two stories
get mixed-in here: He married an Archbishop's
niece (without approval)
and was banished from town for two years--he stayed at a Monastery and
practiced his fool head
off on the Violin. Allowed back, he reunited with
his wife but decided to exile himself for two more years and emerged
Violin Virtuoso. Later on, he had a dream that the Devil was at the
foot of his bed and he imagined he
gave the Devil his violin, in order to discover what kind of a musician he was; when to his great astonishment,
he heard him play a solo so singularly beautiful and executed with such superior taste and precision, that it surpassed all
he had ever heard of or conceived in his life. So great was his surprise and so exquisite his delight upon this occasion
that it deprived him of the power of breathing. He awoke with the violence of this sensation, and instantly seized his fiddle
in hopes of expressing what he had just heard, but in vain; he, however, he then composed a piece, which is perhaps the best
of all his works (he called it the "Devil's Sonata"), but it was so inferior to what his sleep had produced that he declared
he should have broken his instrument and abandoned music forever, if he could have subsisted by any other means.
05. Mvmt. 1
06. Mvmt. 2
08. Django Modern Jazz Quartet--v.
09. Django Modern Jazz Quartet--v. 2
Modern Jazz Quartet--unique shapers of post-Bop Jazz. It's been
said that they changed the face of Jazz. They were in the
forefront of the movement to take Jazz out of smoky clubs and recreate it in a concert setting which went a long way toward
legitimizing a form of music which many still considered disreputable and unfit for polite company. Their music was Chamber
Jazz, music you could listen to in a drawing room, but John Lewis' baroque excursions were always balanced by Milt Jacksons
blues-drenched vibes, which could simultaneously weave an intricate counterpoint to the pianos lines and swing with an element
of what would later be called 'funk' or 'soul'.
This is a short snippet--the first theme of the composition. I put
together to prove to myself (and others) that Jazz transcriptions could
be effectively rendered by traditional
10. Double-reverse snippet
How Should I Know? T. Unseth
Ted Unseth, persistent
Eclectic: In the early days of my Classic Jazz Orchestra, I (and other band members) would transcribe selected tunes
reel-to-reel tape players. Occasionally, the tape would get flipped-
over, accidentally, and I'd hear
a tune on the other side of the tape, backwards. And in a few instances, it sounded coherent--like a plausible tune
unto itself. One tune that worked well this way was the Fletcher Henderson Orchestras recording of "Why Couldnt It Be
Poor Little Me?" (1925). With a couple of sections from other tunes, I put together a complete score this way
and titled it "How Should I Know?" The band never played it in public (it was on the program for an Orchestra
Hall concert, but just before we went on-stage a bamdmember refused to go on unless I changed that selection [Its just too
weird, Ted!]--which I did to the forward version of "WCIBPLM?"). We did perform it in its entirety once, though, in
rehearsal and I taped it on a mono cassette recorder. I've always liked it and wished I could hear it in its entirety,
in stereo, without mistakes Well, here 'tis:
I've got software that will play a tune backwards, so 8a. is a section
of that score, backwards, which equals an approximation of the original tune, forward. And 8b. is the entire Retro score.
I'm sure if J.S. Bach were around, he would heartily approve.
12. Country Band March Charles Ives
Century American composer Charles Ives is one of the most interesting stories in all of music. He, literally, led two
lives: 1. Insurance company executive; and 2. Visionary composer. Very few of his compositions were successfully
performed while he was alive--they were deemed too difficult or written with too many wrong notes (he once commented to his
nephew at a concert where the audience booed his composition: "Are my ears on wrong?"). It took decades to finally
give him his due as a truly original and innovative composer. Country Band March was composed in 1903 as a tribute to his
father who was a concert bandmaster of a small town in New England. The father would form two band units and have them
start at either end of townthe fun would be when the two bands passed each other in the middle of town, playing two completely
different tunes = Quodlibet. This is only a snippet--the first verse, essentially.
What I think Ive accomplished here is to, exactly 100 years after its creation, produce a version that approximates
the addition of a Rock n Roll drummer.
13. The Unanswered Question Charles
Composed in 1906. Ives the Insurance Man becomes Ives the Transcendentalist. How these two men
could inhabit the same body is beyond me. Yes, I can understand a Composer who dedicates his life to the Arts and relentlessly
pursues the Creative Impulse throughout; but, Ives did all of his composing after he got home from Workamazing! And
his musical ideas were leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else (Ives, not Stravinsky, should be considered the Father of 20th
Century music). This piece, The Unanswered Question, is truly as Ives described it: a cosmic landscape.
The Strings are the infinite Cosmos; the Trumpet is the perennial Question of Life; and the Woodwinds are the Search for the
14. Circus Band Charles
I think of this piece as either 1) a bunch of kids in the backyard putting on a Circus; or 2) a Band
for a Circus that's playing just for themselves, after a couple of drinks.
From a piano sketch, mid-1970's. Dedicated to Good Friend, Judy Punyko.
16. Yes, Once She Knew Me Well T.
From Singer/Songwriter phase, early 1970's.
17. DNA T. Unseth
piano sketch, 1980. Dedicated to Best Friend, Deanna Krantz.
18. Kjaerlighet T. Unseth
Singer-Songwriter phase, early 1970's. I'd imagined a Norwegian boy playing this on his Hardingfele (Hardangar Fiddle)
to his betrothed (Kjaerlighet is Norwegian for beloved). Dedicated to my Mother and Father, Lorna and Eivind Unseth.
19. Dena Epic T. Unseth
Singer-Songwriter phase, early 1970's. For my Best Friend, Deanna Krantz.
Copyright 2004 © Ted Unseth