Genre of the Week: Smooth Operator by Sade

179842_182100658487258_2015920_n

This week’s Genre of the Week celebrates two milestones: The first is the 60th birthday of one of the most famous jazz musicians of all time, Sade. Born in Nigeria, she moved to England as a child, having been raised in Essex. Her jazz career began in the late 1970s and she would later form a music group by 1980. Since then, she has released six albums over the course of 35 years, counting three hiatuses. She resides in Glochestershire living a life as an “hour of fame” flower, reclusive but coming into the limelight when the time is ripe. A website with all the facts about the jazz singer can be cound here.

The second is the 35th anniversary of one of the most popular songs in the jazz music scene. “Smooth Operator” was released in 1984 and made it to the top 10 in several countries; number one in the US under adult contemporary. While the song represents a classic example of contemporary jazz that can be found on radio stations today, the lyrics deal with a “Slick-Jimmy”, who uses women for money, breaking many hearts. According to the wiki source:

“Smooth Operator” is about a fashionable, devious man who lives a jet-set lifestyle. He is popular with women and breaks many hearts. The lyrics “Coast to Coast/LA to Chicago/Western Male/Across the North and South to Key Largo/Love for sale” imply that he uses women to obtain his income. It is also clear that he does not hold sincere affection for these women, as Adu sings near the end, “his heart is cold.” The video to this song reinforces the message and the operator appears to be a professional criminal. In one scene, he displays a gun to an interested customer and in others, he appears to be a pimp. He succeeds in evading law enforcement, who have him under surveillance.

To get a better idea of what the song is about, here is the music video:

Even if Jackie Treehorn manages to get away in the scene, presenting some imorals, the music behind the song creates for a scene in a restaurant or bar where couples come to entertain themselves over drinks and the like.

While Sadie’s song is considered one of the Top 100 of all-time by many and henceforth a Genre of the Week award winner, there have been some variants that were released, all of which have a jazz music setting. The most popular are these two examples:

Smooth Operator by Mario Biondi, released in 2018. This one keeps the lyrics but changes the musical setting to feature a different type of jazz music worth listening to.

Smooth by Rob Thomas and Santana, released in 1999. This one seems to be similar in setting and lyrics as the original by Sade, yet they are not, rather they present “Slick Jimmy Jackie Treehorn” is a different interpretive manner. The song is supported by world-renowned guitarist Santana, who has a solo in this, similar to the saxophone solo in Sade’s version. Rob Thomas is lead singer of Matchbox 20.

 

And to close the Genre of the Week article, the Files would like to wish Sade a happy 60th birthday and a great career with one helluva smooth song that is 35 years old. Happy Birthday and congrats at the same time to a contemporary jazz great.

ff-new-logo1

Advertisements

Christmas Genre: There is No Rose of Such Virtue

46516660_2160865043944133_1777565025397899264_o

Another Christmas favorite that is worth looking at for researching its history and for listening is one that is one of the oldest on record. It is also a piece that has been rewritten many times but varied in melodic form.

There is No Rose is an old musical piece that celebrates the birth of Christ but in a form of a resurrection of life. It was first presented in 1420, at the time when the Renaissance was starting to take its form; the population was regenerating after the era of the Bubonic Plague wiped out half the population on the European continent, and with that, the era of peace was upon the population. Furthermore, the Renaissance ushered in the age of modernity and the revival of philosophy, religion and even music. The Carol was reportedly written by Trinity College in Manchester as one of thirteen carols, less than a century before the great Reformation under Martin Luther. While we don’t know who wrote this nor what the motive behind the work is about, the words written were in Middle English, appearing in four verses as follows:

Lyrics:

There is no rose of sych vertu
As is the rose that bare Jesu,
Alleluia.For in this rose contained was
Heaven and earth in lytle space,
Res miranda.By that rose we may well see
That He is God in persons three,
Pares forma.
The angels sungen the shepherds to:
Gloria in excelsis Deo,
Gaudeamus.Leave we all this wearldly mirth,
And follow we this joyful birth,
Transeamus.Alleluia, res miranda,
Pares forma, gaudeamus,
Transeamus.

Several composers have tried to interpret the piece in their own melodic terms. One of the most well-known composers was Benjamin Britten, who in 1942 wrote the piece in F-major with a climax in A-major in Gloria in Excelsis Deo. This was part of the Ceremony of Carols series that was sung by the Children’s Choir. The piece is below:

Another composer, who based his work on Britten, John Joubert, modernized the piece in 1954, where in A-flat major, the work begins with the soprano and alto sections, backed up by the tenor and bass sections later on in the piece. The piece does produce an emotion where the person listening to it, has a feeling of attachment to Baby Jesus. The piece is below:

Like in the Joubert text, this next piece, composed by Joel Martinson, is an accapella piece that is widely used at Christmas concerts. Unlike the Joubert piece, the Martinson piece features a more modern but balanced form where each section plays a key role, especially when switching chords between E-major and C-flat major:

The Martinson piece is used mainly for chamber choirs and has somewhat of a silent ending to each section. However, when looking at the next version by Philip Stopford, written in G-minor, it presents a feeling of the rise of the new age, with the birth of Jesus, and the word spreads in echos for miles on end:

The soprano section in this piece represents the angel sending the most important message to the people of Jesus’ arrival. After using several previous works for the Christmas concerts, Dr. René Clausen produced his own version of There is No Rose in 2007, which featured a combination of voice and orchestra. Here the piece produces a balance in unison  between the two groups, while staying in major chord, starting with G-major:

But not all pieces necessarily have to be produced in chorus form. Some of the variants can include a soloist with background music throughout the entire piece. In the case like this example by the singer Sting, sometimes some pop music can bring a twist into this traditional piece:

One can go on forever looking at other musical variants of this piece, but one can conclude that no matter how the music is put together, the lyrics have remained the same and has had the same message just like over 600 years ago: To deliver the message of the birth of Jesus Christ to the rest of the world. And His role would reshape the way we think of religion even to this day: To bring love to all, regardless of background and region.

So sit back and enjoy the pieces that are presented here and think about the role of Jesus in your lives and how he made a difference, especially as we celebrate his birthday, known today as Christmas. ❤ After all we have a lot to be thankful for because of Him. 🙂

FlFi Christmas 2018

Christmas Genre: Silent Night

IMGP0590

There are countless numbers of Christmas songs that have been with us for a long time; some religious while others deal with Santa Claus and Winter Wonderland. Yet one of the most popular songs sung at Christmas time is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year. That song deals with the birth of Jesus Christ and the symbol of peace that He brings to the people.  The song we’re talking about is Silent Night.

Known in German as “Stille Nacht,” this song was composed by Franz Xaver Gruber in 1818. The lyrics to the song was originally written by Joseph Mohr that same year.

The song was first performed on Christmas Eve 1818 at St Nicholas parish church in Oberndorf, a village in the Austrian Empire on the Salzach river in present-day Austria. A young priest, Father Joseph Mohr, had come to Oberndorf the year before. He had written the lyrics of the song “Stille Nacht” in 1816 at Mariapfarr, the hometown of his father in the Salzburg Lungau region, where Joseph had worked as a co-adjutor.

The melody was composed by Franz Xaver Gruber, schoolmaster and organist in the nearby village of Arnsdorf. Before Christmas Eve, Mohr brought the words to Gruber and asked him to compose a melody and guitar accompaniment for the Christmas Eve mass. It is unknown what inspired Mohr to write the lyrics, or what prompted him to create a new carol. But what we do know is when the song was completed, the melody and the lyrics sounded like in the example that was performed by a choir group in Dresden:

 

German lyrics:

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Hirten erst kundgemacht
Durch der Engel Halleluja,
Tönt es laut von fern und nah:
Christ, der Retter ist da!
Christ, der Retter ist da!

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Gottes Sohn, o wie lacht
Lieb’ aus deinem göttlichen Mund,
Da uns schlägt die rettende Stund’.
Christ, in deiner Geburt!
Christ, in deiner Geburt!

Over the years, the song has been translated into 140 languages. It was first translated into English in 1859 by John Freeman Young of the Trinity Church in New York City, and his translated version has been used ever since. However, variations in other languages, such as the example above in French, have shown a slight difference in both the lyrics translated as well as the melody.

The song was even performed without the use of lyrics, be it by an orchestra, brass band, keyboard, or a combination of one of the two. The excerpt below, performed by the American music group Mannheim Steamroller, consists of a combination of keyboard, bells and strings. This became one of the most popular pieces that was ever produced by the group in its 43+ years of existence……

And here is the example of the English version of Silent Night in its version written by Young. Many colleges, including Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, have used this song every year as one of the key cornerstones of their own Christmas concerts. How they do it depends on the conductor, but in this case presented below, the piece features the college choirs and the orchestra…..

English Lyrics:

Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child.
Holy infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds quake at the sight;
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born!

Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love’s pure light;
Radiant beams from thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

Silent Night has garnered a lot of success and popularity over the years that it was even used in film, the latest having been released in 2014. It was officially nominated as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2011. Yet two caveats have appeared lately which have caused a stir of some sorts. The first is that the song itself was credited to Gruber’s name even though part of the credit should have been given to Mohr because of the lyrics. The second is despite its universal usage, a newer German original and English translation was introduced by Bettina Klein in 1998, under commission of the Austrian Silent Night Museum in Salzburg. The new work was mostly the same except with some phrases that replaced the older English with the more modern. This has created some concern from groups wishing to keep the original.

Nonetheless, Silent Night has been played at any type of Christmas festival, big and small over the years and has become the symbol of Christmas but in connection with its religious meaning, which is the birth of Jesus and the coming of peace and good tidings that went along with that. There’s no Christmas without this song being played or performed, and no matter how it is presented, the song brings a lot of emotion out of the people; it is a powerful song that has us reflecting on the importance of Christ in our lives and the joy of Christmas that we bring to others.

And with that joy, we can all sleep in heavenly peace, even 200 years later. 🙂

OWT14

The Files would like to congratulate Gruber and Mohr for their work, post humous. 200 years and many languages later, we still consider the piece a work of art representing the true meaning of Christmas.  Zum Wohl und Gott segne Sie! ❤ 🙂

FlFi Christmas 2018

Genre of the Week: Dreamer by Ozzy Osbourne

Today is the 70th birthday of one of rock and roll’s greatest, Ozzy Osbourne. For about a half century, Ozzy awed many fans with songs like Mama I’m Coming Home, The Road to Nowhere, Back on Earth, Paranoid, and No More Tears, just to name a few, both as a soloist as well as with his band Black Sabbath. And while Black Sabbath has since disbanded, Ozzy is making his last hurrah on tour, capping off a long and adventurous career, which will be remmebered for his colorful performances both on and off stages.

Ozzy had many sides of music, including his soft ones. While Mama I’m Coming Home is one of the most popular pieces in that aspect, there is one that best delivers the message. And while many of us love to dream on, some of our dreams have come true, while others will eventually bear fruit when they are good and ready. Dreamer was released in 2001 but is still played on the airwaves to this day. Its winter setting in the video has many of us dreaming about our own futures- what we want and what is awaiting us.

So to bid Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, the Genre of the Week is Dreamer. Wishing you all the best on your birthday and best wishes for your future career after the final tour.

sunset in memory

FlFi Christmas 2018

Genre of the Week: Cordula Grün by Josh

IMGP1541

Each country has its own one-year wonder, a song that is (one of) the most popular for the whole year and is the trademark of its own culture. Most of these one-hit wonders that is popular during the year are produced by up-and-going musicians, many of whom fade into the background after the hit has past.

We’re hoping that the musician Josh will be the one in the minority. Born and raised in Vienna, this musician was getting a start in his musical career when this one-hit wonder came out in 2018 entitled “Cordula Grün,” a story of a love affair with a person bearing this name.  The rhythm and story go together like bread and butter, resulting in the hit reaching the top five in Austria and Bavaria (in the category of Volksmusik), whereas it has been in the top 30 in Germany.  This unique pop song will more likely get some accolades in the next year, but for this year, it has earned the honors of being the Files’ Genre of the Week. Enjoy and feel free to comment on this unique song:

 

ff-new-logo1

Genre of the Week: Kiss My A** by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

32158550_1879195192111121_7285668163688071168_o

OK Ladies and Gentlemen, the next Genre of the Week is not just another music piece, but one where there is a combination of classic music, accapella, and swearing involve.

Yes, there is swearing involved.  Most unexpected is from one of the world’s most renowned musicians, who during his time, managed to find a rather creative way to tell a person or more where to stick it.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had already accomplished more at the time of this piece than any of his fellow European counterparts of his time. He had created his first piece at the age of five and became a musician at the Salzburg Court at the age of 17. Yet some historians of Mozart have found that the gifted musician was very restless and disgruntled during his time and decided to travel. He moved to Vienna in 1781 where he composed most of his 600+ music pieces before his untimely death in 1791 at the age of 35.

This piece, whose original in German was entitled “Leck mich im Arsch,” was considered one of the first music pieces that introduced profanity. Written in 1785 but published after his death, his piece was for the Salzburg court, where he was expelled four years earlier during his visit in Vienna. Little was known as to why it happened, but this six-part men’s chorus piece was Mozart’s revenge for what had happened. But this was written at the time where insults had class but was not welcomed in the high-class society.  In today’s society, it would be considered the “cola-light” version for there are heavier music versions out there- mainly in rock music, but also in films and in communication.

However, this piece would be a creative way of sounding off on the people who deserve to be kicked out in an elegent, creative and musical way. And so, here is the Files’ Genre of the Week, entitled: “Leck mich doch,” by the rocker himself, Amadeus. 🙂 Enjoy! 🙂

 

cropped-FF-new-logo1.jpg

Genre of the Week: Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson

21199489_1615769091787067_2287244526147575239_o (1)

Sometimes when we see something we don’t like we bash the person doing it. Sometimes we counter with our own actions that can be put down by external factors. Sometimes we look in the mirror and ask ourselves who we are, what we are capable of doing for the good of onesself and others as well. Each of us has a gift to make others happy, no matter what it is- hobbies, jobs and spending time with family and friends, maybe even meeting or reacquainting with people. Sometimes when the situation gets extremely difficult to handle, we need to look back and think carefully what has worked in the past, can we use our experiences in the past for our present situation to help others in the future or do we just simply blow it up and start with a clean slate.

Sometimes we just need to look at ourselves and the environment around us and find creative ways of bettering both.  Michael Jackson produced this song Man in the Mirror in 1988, looking at the situation we were facing and the changes we need to make to help others. The problems seen at that time are still the same and getting worst in the present. This is compounded by the fact that we have leaders who encourage the public to indulge in perverted acts of hatred, trolling and attacking others for even mentioning the problems facing our countries today. The act of dividing our countries, destroying families, friendships and relationships is also killing us on the inside, alienating ourselves from our own real identities. Almost all of us (even I myself) have been guilty of this, no matter how often and to what extent. Yet when we all take a look at ourselves and the situation affecting us all, each of us should see the inner potentials we have to turn the situation around, unite to put an end to the destruction we’re witnessing before our eyes, and reforge relationships with the people we hurt the most, relatives, friends, partners and even strangers. I learned this recently as I had to confront myself with an unwanted past but profited more than what I expected. Except the person affected gave me the gift of what I’m capable of doing for the good.

And I think when we listen and watch this video, it will give ourselves an incentive to stop what we are doing, ask ourselves who we are and what we can do better; even if it means looking into our inner-selves to see what gifts we have to help others. Sometimes it goes beyond looking into one’s mirror but talking to and forgiving someone from the past.

So as an incentive:

fast fact logo Although he was named singer of the decade in 1990 for his hits in the 70s and 80s, the King of Pop devoted most of his time in the last two decades of his life exposing the problems affecting our society, which included racism, war and poverty and environmental destruction, be it through his songs or his work in the Michael Jackson foundation. Unfortunately, his life was cut short tragically, as he died of a drug overdose on June 25, 2009 at the age of 51. A detailed biography of one of the members of the original Jackson Five can be found here. This song wins the title of Genre of the Week for it focuses on the issues we are facing today but on a larger scale. We need to know what gifts we have and what we can do to tackle the issues at hand, before they grow out of control.

 

flefi-deutschland-logo