Leftover Beethoven
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Leftover Beethoven
Did You Know?
Tech Notes
Telly Award Winner!
Recent Projects
In Production
Aaron Copland, 1970

Leftover Beethoven

WIth the recent news that the Library of Congress is inducting 25 entries into the Library of Congress National Recording Registry, I was excited to see U2, Linda Ronstadt, and Isaac Hayes get their due.  Perusing the list, I saw a very influential (at least personally) album - Copland Conducts Copland: Appalachian Spring (1974).  

I was a music major in college and always found Aaron Copland to be the quintessential American composer.  He seemed to capture what Americans idolize about America: hope, boldness, charm, intrepidness, looking forward but not forgetting the past.  Copland had a sense that the audience didn't want to hear a European's take on America.  His music was organically Americana by taking styles and songs from our heritage.  He then boldly threw them into a fire and forged a new sound.

What's really interesting about Copland is to see him rehearse an orchestra for one of his compositions.  There's a recording of him rehearsing Appalachian Spring in which he gives direction that we producers, directors, talent, and copywriters can heed.  Here are some excerpts:

"It's too sounds on the Tchaikovsky side.  Make it more American in spirit, in that the sentiment isn't all shown on the face."

"The music by itself is warm, you don't have to help it."

"Round and noble, rather than violent."

"Light, bouncy, happy and American-ish."

He gives some technical direction during this rehearsal, but his emotive directions get more response.  This is true during a successful recording or film session.  The actor / narrator needs to be believable, and the best way to get there is for them to believe they are in a place.  That place being "noble," or "happy," or "warm."

How does one get there?  Each person is different in their approach, but imagery is the most common.  Imagining one is in a field of flowers, on a beach, flying like a bird - whatever works.  The tone of the voice or the flow of the body will follow naturally.

I'm oversimplifying it of course, but you get the gist.  Sometimes it can take a while to get to "that place."  I remember one film of a Copland rehearsal where he quickly stopped the orchestra and said (and I'm paraphrasing here) "No, no, no!  You're still playing the Beethoven you played last night.  Softer, lighter."

With our daily workload of ever-shifting projects and clients, we are all challenged for new ideas.  Maybe we should take Mr. Copland's advice to keep it fresh for our client today, by not having last night's leftover Beethoven.


Did You Know?

Copland enjoyed Cubism, an avant-garde visual art technique created by the artists Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso.  Objects are basically depicted from different viewpoints instead of just one.  Copland described his music as a "musical cubism," existing on different planes.  He also incorporated jazz elements into his compositions to create energy and excitement.  

Copland also enjoyed other forms of art.  Drawing on his appreciation for folk art, Copland weaved "Simple Gifts," a Shaker melody, into "Appalachian Spring."  

"Appalachian Spring" was originally written as a ballet, commissioned by dancer and choreographer Martha Graham.

Tech Notes

Preservation of audio recordings, from cylinders, records, wires, and tapes; to digital-borne tapes, optical discs and hard drives; is a race against time.  According to the head of the recorded sound section of the Library of Congress, Gene DeAnna, 50-100,000 recordings are acquired each year.  But as DeAnna points out in this interview with NPR last month, only 15,000 can be digitized in a year.

Recordings are put in a temperature-controlled environment to slow down the decay, but thousands will inevitably be lost before they can be transferred.

Although the LOC digitizes old recordings, they also use good old-fashioned analog tape to ensure a recording's survival.  Digital formats come and go, but analog tape recordings from the early 1950's can still be played today.  Viva la analog!

Neil Kesterson

A Silver Telly Winner!

Our self-produced documentary, "The Beat of a Different Drummer: The Story of America's Last All-Female Military Band," is a recipient of a Silver Telly Award.

The Telly Awards was founded in 1979 and is the premier award honoring outstanding local, regional, and cable TV commercials and programs, the finest video and film productions, and online commercials, video and films. Winners represent the best work of the most respected advertising agencies, production companies, television stations, cable operators, and corporate video departments in the world.

A prestigious judging panel of over 500 accomplished industry professionals, each a past winner of a Silver Telly and a member of The Silver Telly Council, judged the competition, upholding the historical standard of excellence that Telly represents. The Silver Council evaluated entries to recognize distinction in creative work – entries do not compete against each other – rather entries are judged against a high standard of merit. Less than 10% of entries are chosen as Winners of the Silver Telly, our highest honor.

“The Beat of a Different Drummer” is the story of America’s last all-female military band - the 14th Army Women’s Army Corp Band. The other military branches fielded all-female bands, but the WAC Band survived longer than any. Through four decades, the WAC Band offered a woman the rare chance to have a career as a professional musician.

The standards were very high for WAC Band members. They were not only elite musicians, they were representatives of the United States Army. Their audiences were diverse - they marched out recruits for morning drills; they performed for enthusiastic audiences in small town America; and they played for presidents.

The struggle for equal rights has been a familiar burden for women throughout history. But these women chose to follow their own dreams. They marched down a road that would usher in a new era for women in America. They marched to the beat of a different drummer.

To learn more about the documentary, click here.

To learn more about the Telly Awards, click here.

Recent Projects

  • Location audio for ESPN's e :60.  Watch the clip about an inspiring young Kentucky fan.  (P1 Productions, Carmel, IN)
  • Audio post for the upcoming KET documentary "Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, 30th Anniversary" (Joanna Hay Productions, Frankfort, KY)
  • ADR with Steve Zahn for  "Mind Games" on ABC-TV (Fox Entertainment, Hollywood, CA)
  • Keeneland "Simulcast" and "Spring Meet 2014" radio campaigns (Cornett, Lexington, KY)
  • Safety and Loss Prevention training videos for PetSmart (PCG Solutions, Lexington, KY)
  • "ATM Machine" radio for Kentucky Chamber of Commerce (RunSwitch PR, Louisville, KY)
  • Audio post for "Lexington Legends" TV campaign (Eppic Films, Lexington, KY)
  • Continuing sales training modules for Lexmark International (Lexmark, Lexington, KY)
  • "Philip Russell for Lincoln Co. Judge Executive" radio (Grit Creative, Frankfort, KY)
  • Radio campaign for Commercial Bank of Grayson (John E. Campbell, Lexington, KY)
  • Audio book recording for Pastor Pete Hise's "What Life Are You Waiting For?" (Oasis Audio, Carol Stream, IL)

In Production

  • "Daniel Boone and the Opening of the American West," a 2-hour documentary that traces Daniel Boone's life and his enduring impact on America's westward migration.  Find out more here.   (Witnessing History, Lexington, KY)
Copyright © 2014 Dynamix Productions, Inc., All rights reserved.

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