Timothy Forcelli

I am a writer, a poet, a composer, and musician. I have a strong love for anything musical and artistic, and am dedicated to my craft in all idioms. I have a strong personality, a good sense of humor, and a will to succeed in any environment I am put into.

the american band and self awarness

Music Criticism Timothy J. Forcelli word count: 470 “Social Commentary:The American band, and self-awareness” The black pavement is tattooed with yellow dots and lines, like an old Indonesian rite of passage. The band, cruises down the open highway in a Volkswagen bus filled with songs, laughter, and a few banned substances. This sort of experience has long been been codified as an archetype for a night of travel with an original American band. Do you remember the original Blues Brothers? It used to be about people, getting together to connect to one another, and to embrace defiance while excepting the consequences of true freedom with responsibility, in exploration of the self left undiscovered at the core of our being. Dave Grohl, the former drummer for Nirvana, and current band leader of American rock band, The Foo Fighters, came up with a concept album in early 2014. Under the guidance of producer Butch Vig from RCA Records, the band recorded their eighth studio album in various different ranging from Austin to Los Angeles, Seattle to New York. I think most critics have missed the mark on the message of an album like this. I think Grohl is trying to rediscover his youth, spent traveling from city to city, in the back of packed cars and vans, trying to start a musical career for himself. In the public spectrum, when we reach back in time both as ordinary people and artists, we explore the potential to unlock secrets of our past, and reveal a true form of the self, unadulterated like a sapling in an otherwise crowded Forrest. The obvious cliche concept for the album stems around connecting cultures, cities, and people to the power of music. However, from a generational standpoint, this concept for the album may seem redundant musically and conceptually - given the interconnectivity social media offers, as well as various applications and electronic devices can provide. Although, there is value in his more universal message. There is a disconnect or emptiness that comes from being, “ plugged in” to the global grid. Nothing can or ever will replace real human moments. In that regard, being in a specific place, breathing the air, hearing the gravel crunch beneath your feet. It is also about tasting the food, embracing the people, connecting to one another through song and sound. All of these things are part of a lost art, central to American culture. As both a fan and critic, I would like to see Mr. Grohl continue to push his writing even deeper into a naked, solo acoustic album. Here, he could really stare into the mirror, explore the self and the nature of human consciousness, the sounds of the woods and campfire songs, even the memories of bands he grew up playing in, and why he started playing music

Should music be commoditized?

Timothy J. Forcelli Music Criticism 627 words “Should music be commoditized?” I see a light blue utopian sunrise, out in nature where with one ear to the ground, you can hear the earth's beating heart. Art is at the center of any thriving culture, and for thousands of years has been both a way to document and express humanity at its most organic, unadulterated state. The basic right of the artist to demonstrate how they feel or leave fingerprint. It is like marking their own existence, like drawings on cave wall. Since the advent of commerce, things have changed. Fast forward to modern day society, where capitalism and consumerism drive our impulses like prescription medication filling synapses and we arrive at the “Now”. I am certain we can do better. Music is an intangible gift to us all. It has a universal quality that can range from helping a couple fall in love, accompanying a religious ceremony, to assuaging a tired workforce. If nothing else, it fills in the air. Without which we would be left to suffer silence amid loneliness. The unanswered question: Should such an important fabric of human life be commoditized? This question is difficult to answer, and in many ways presents a facade. The real dilemma revolves around the protection of artists rights and their livelihood. You should not have to commit to sainthood or martyrdom in order to earn a life in art. We should be asking, how can we better protect artists’ rights to own their own creative content, and do with with it as they see fit? One thing that is clear with regard to the business infrastructure of the music industry as of today, it has become increasingly difficult to make a sustainable living as a working musician without compromising your art. “Look this way” or “ride this wave” are now the common place. We need to level the playing field and make platforms accessible for a generation of young artists looking to begin careers. Where do we begin? First, we should start by making all the options transparent, which may or may not run against the grain of music corporations. A young artist can choose to give their music away for free via online music platforms, the trade off being publicity and marketing. The hope here is that an audience would form for live shows. I am not sure if any if this is a sustainable model in terms of a lifestyle, but can often act as a launching point and resource in terms of networking. Another mode is self production, or the “DIY” model. This has become increasingly popular with advent of successful artists like Jack Johnson the seasoned Dave Grohl, not to mention the rise of virtual music platforms. Even on a smaller scale, you can promote local shows, while owning your own rights without having to take out a second mortgage to finance the production of an album through a record label. The most viable option I see at least in a community where there are plenty of live venues is to simply put, play live shows. Build an audience, network with other artists and industry people, become friendly with bar and club owners. This seems like a concrete way for a young performer to begin their career. Not to mention, you would be honing your art on the bandstand rather than in an apartment or a practice room. Not to complicate this issue further, but all parties involved including consumers, artists, and business leaders must decide first what sort of product we are selling before we can codify the nature of commoditizing such an intangible, important part of human life. Are we selling a message, a brand, an image, a particular experience, a piece of clothing or all of the above? This is a question each artist and consumer has to answer for themselves before we can begin to navigate an ever evolving virtual musical economy.

Music Criticism Album Review

Timothy Forcelli September 28, 2014 Jeff Buckley “Grace” Album Review A heavy sigh from chest cavity clips the microphone with intent. The late Jeff Buckley is a forgotten hero of the 90s whose haunting cry made even the unreligious ask the question, “Is there something more?” His debut album entitled “Grace” is a well produced juxtaposition of sacred music, rhythm and blues, gospel, grunge, art rock, and well written poetry. The classification of this album transcends genre, pointing more towards his search for meaning in life and his own relationships and experiences. Parallels to this album can be drawn from a variety of artists including Coltrane, Billy Holiday and others while remaining refreshingly unique. Besides his more commercially celebrated work such as his cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” the rest of the album speaks loudly and clearly from a place somewhere between mastery and the divine. In tunes like “Lilac Wine” Buckley manages to capture the Bohemian nature of the East Village, reminding all of us of the beauty New York City has to offer. In other tunes such as “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over” both the production and poetry play a prominent role. Additionally, the form of the tune builds like an undertow until the addition of a gospel choir lifts us up, demonstrating all at once the quality of production and arranging, Jeff Buckley’s heart, and the power of his most powerful instrument: his voice. There is a certain romantic quality in his music, which has a way of reaching out and touching you even through your dull budded headphones or crackling speakers. There is universally raw quality in his music, and his “falcon” cry should not be far from our minds. He was writing from his real experiences, and dare I say “soul.”

Liner Notes - Music Criticism, Bill Evan's Trio

Music Criticism Timothy J. Forcelli Liner Notes The ambient sound of an open room mixed with faint whispers and the clinks and clanks of forks on dinner plates blends like a thin layer of savory smoke around the pure acoustic offerings of a jazz trio performing at its highest level. "The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings, 1961", was the last recorded performance of the late trio compromised of Bill Evan's, Scott Lafaro, and Paul Motion. It remains one of the premier live recordings, specifically for jazz trio. The interaction between Bill Evan's and Scott Lafaro serves as an archetype for a dynamic shift in the role of bass playing in a trio setting. Evan's harmonic approach allows for the bass to abandon a subservient role for a freer, more expressive, singing approach. Lafaro manages to alternate between free counterpoint and an always expressive melodic contour, allowing for both freedom and interaction, juxtaposed with the delicate touch and colorful brush and cymbal work of Motion. In five takes, including two matinee and three evening performances, the group managed to capture a snapshot of peace and communication in an otherwise tumultuous time in American society, like the wide open eye in the middle of a hurricane. An evening comprised of standard repertoire and original compositions is highlighted by Lafaro's, “Gloria's Step". The weight of the fifth's in Lafaro's left hand playing, provides a stable unyielding foundation for Bill's harmonic presentation of the melody, as well as his intervallic, blues inflected improvisation. Group dynamics, along with artful brush work by Motion is exemplary for the combined timbre of the acoustic jazz trio. Another track on the live recorded session that demands recognition, is an original composition by Scott Lafaro, “ Jade Visions”. It contains a simple, yet creative ostinato figuration in the bass, which then blooms into a more open, almost spectral B section. Perhaps the most noticeable feature regarding the performance of this work is the way Evans, Lafaro and Motion are able to line up the chords in A section, with careful sensitivity with regard to dynamics and the soundscape. This speaks to the unique ability this trio had to balance themselves, especially in a live setting. The remastering of this live recording session by Riverside is a must have for any acoustic jazz listener.

Eroica - Music As a Metaphor

Music as a Metaphor: “The uniqueness of human experience” The orchestra churns and coils for A 440. Tutti marcato at full volume shrills through the dark heavy air above the audience. It recedes, then settles down into the fabric of the red velvet chairs in the amphitheater. The human experience is unique. Joy, love lost, freedom and oppression are intangibles beyond the comprehension and use of ordinary language. Music acts as a conduit for our commonalities. New life, one’s calling is found, grief. Ludwig van Beethoven’s distinct individual experiences shine clearly through his music. Notably, it seems that he reserves his most intense sentiments for expression through the vast compositional medium: the orchestra. By the completion of his third symphony, “Eroica,” Beethoven’s music had begun to carve itself into Time as an archetype for generations of composers, performers and listeners. Thematic development; the living breath of an orchestral work rests upon it. Beethoven was able to execute this concept in an immaculate, spiritual manner. His use of phrase syntax driven by harmony as well as orchestration and timbral color were revolutionary. Theme B for example; he achieves a punctuated effect, through the use of register and texture. The audience experiences agitation, defiance. Theme A is the clearest statement of the motive, with regard to the architecture of the work. Yet, it is adjoined to a more ambiguous consequent clause. In measure 8, a responsive melodic statement appears with perpetual motion. This is driven by the arpeggiando figure in the second violin, with melodic content peaking over the top of the texture. The entirety of the first phrase rings overtones of defiance and hope. These two cavernous emotions inherent in each parent phrase interact with one another seamlessly. Theme B1 is structurally significant. It is the first re-appearance of the B clause since the opening statement. A series of melodic duets and trios enhanced by subtle chromatic motion precede this strong punctuated statement. The interconnectivity between respective clauses A1 and B1 demonstrates his ability to carve out his cadences. A young Beethoven is seated at the piano. The room is dim, with sheets of coarse manila staff paper scattered about. The smell of black coffee and fresh ink sting the air. His hands recoil after they hammer down an eight note blocked chord, at forte. The percussive nature of the piano translates clearly into Beethoven’s orchestral writing. Another compositional device used to build tension is the hemiola. In measure 25, he begins a series percussive statements, offsetting the beat in unstable almost jarring manner. He then employs carefully crafted passage work highlighted by contrary motion to transition. The audience experiences a sense of unrest then adherence. Theme C is the birth of Beethoven’s first truly combinatorial phrase, borrowing texture and orchestration from theme B, while maintaining the melodic contour of theme A. He punctuates this structurally significant cadence with a clear, decisive statement. This allows a sort of “cleansing” of the pallet, to set the stage for development in the following two periods. At the onset of period two, Beethoven uses chromaticism to explore a new key area, F Major. This key change is the furthest he strays from the Tonic up to this point. The genesis of Theme A1 is derived from this harmonic lift. A new melody emerges first in the oboe, then is enhanced by a series of responsive duets in the wood winds. Theme A1 appears novel in nature, yet recollective. He achieves this effect through the juxtaposition of elements from prior thematic material. This is one way a composer is able to reinvent the work, while maintaing a sense of continuity. The arpeggiando figure in the second violin and viola appears in measure 45, and points towards a textural cadence in measure 55. This figuration is a clearly stated fragment of the parent theme A. He intertwines the perpetual nature of this figure with new melodic content. It is like a cherished memory, simultaneously enhanced by a new musical experience. Cadenza passages driven by articulation serve as the connective tissue between themes. Beethoven’s technical facility and craft allow for their successful execution. Yet, this compositional device appears outside the normal realm thematic development. These sections are more of a culmination, or spiraling out. For example, new melodic content appears in C1. After its initial presentation and development, it evolves into an agitated tremolo passage in the strings. The texture fills at the cadence, and guides the listener into theme A1a. The final three periods are steeped heavily in Bb Major and it’s subordinate harmonic components. He begins the first 8 measure clause with mode mixture on the new tonic, followed by a harmonic stamping on the new dominant. This, paired with a multitude of musical occurrences along the way helps to set a false expectation for the listener, with regard to the final cadence in m 148. In theme A1a, a series of four voice choruses trade fours between the woodwinds and strings. Through the use of orchestration, he is able to recall and expand on all previous responsive clauses. The importance of the consequent phrase is at the core of this work. The 8 measure clause at the onset allows breathing room, with regard to interplay and development. Beethoven stretches, truncates and re-orchestrates this clause throughout the work. Hours spent by candlelight. The perseverance it takes to finish a work of this magnitude is a gift. Admiration aside, it takes depth. To reach into the audience, and touch the marrow of common human experience. Oppression, war. Hope. Measure 56. A beam of yellow light. It peaks through a reading glass, staring up and out the window into the white, midday sun.
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