Monday Morning Music: Blow It Up, Start Again

When classical music gets mixed with the popular genre, you get some fun music. When mixed with dub-step, you get Blow It Up, Start Again. It is this week’s “Monday Morning Music.”

Each composer has their own style of writing, even when they study with the same teachers. The composition studio of John Corigliano is one of the best in recent memory. the Pulitizer Prize Winning composer lists some of the best writers of music currently working. Many of us are familiar with John Mackey, Steven Bryant, and Eric Whitacre. But there is one other composer from the Corigliano tree worth knowing.

That is Jonathan Newman.

Newman was part of the BCM International composer-consortium along with Bryant and Whitacre, and Jim Bonney. Currently, Newman serves as Director of Composition & Coordinator of New Music at Shenandoah Conservatory.

Musically, Newman is known for creating works that are sophisticated, rhythmically driven, and incorporating characteristics of popular music. For example, his major work Symphony No. 1: My Hands are a City is a multiple movement composition featuring various American styles of music. The opening movement is filled with 1950’s bebop jazz flavor with pentatonic scales being pushed through in syncopated rhythms. The second movement is reminiscent of Virgil Thomson and Aaron Copland. And Lester Young’s solo to Lester Leaps In is the foundation of the final movement.

For this week’s Monday Morning Music, I present to you a unique mix from the pen of Jonathan Newman. It is the combination of orchestra and dub-step, the electronic dance music made popular in the 1990s. With its sparse rhythms and wobbly bass line, Newman’s Blow It Up, Start Again is a head-bopping groove of orchestral awesomeness. Originally, the work was composed for orchestra and was transcribed for winds. It is the fun we all need.

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The video below is a recording of the work performed by the Florida State University Wind Orchestra and includes portions of the score. You can see the intricacy of the rhythms and watch how the trombones set the grove. It is worth a few viewings just for the score.

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