Earworms #2 – Synthesizers, Alaska, and Mermaids

So, I have two essays to do and I don’t want to do either of them. So, it’s clearly time for another set of Earworms.

Body Language by Carly Rae Jepsen

The new synth-pop Carly Rae Jepsen is as far removed as you can get from Call Me Maybe. Her album Emotion from last year was amazing (and Run Away With Me was probably my pop song of the year) and this year, she released Emotion; Side B, featuring tracks that didn’t quite make it onto the first album. It is another great offering of 80’s-reminiscent synth-pop, and Body Language is probably the best track on the EP. The pulsing synths that open break into an explosive chorus that is just what I need when stuck in the library at 8pm… Or midnight. Check out all of Emotion: Side B as it’s a real treat.

Die Seejungfrau by Zemlinsky

One of my courses for finals looks at the growth of modernism in Vienna, at the turn of the 20th century, and one of the composers we study is Alexander Zemlinsky. Die Seejungfrau (The Little Mermaid) is his monumental tone poem, based on the story by Hans Christian Anderson, but it seems weird that no one I speak to has ever heard of it! It can easily rival any of the Strauss tone poems as well as any symphony from this period. The opening of the second movement is particularly impressive; part La Mer, part Ein Heldenleben, all brilliant. It’s a work I really hope I get to play at some point, as it has some brilliant writing for woodwind and some epic tunes. What more could this oboist ask for?

The Wind in High Places by John Luther Adams

Another one of my courses is on The String Quartet after Beethoven. Looking at so many different types of string quartet led me to stumble upon The Wind in High Places, a quartet by the American composer, John Luther Adams. His music is often concerned with the environment and the tundra of North America. The Wind in High Places only uses natural harmonics and open strings to create a sense of massive space within the music as well as try to depict the Alaskan wilderness. It can be very jarring on first listen but the second movement, which works itself into a complicated canon in all four parts, is truly breath-taking.

The score to Girlhood by Para One

In this score, my love of minimalism and synth-pop collide into something magical. One of the primary motifs in Para One’s score sounds like the Apple “Marimba” ringtone, which fits perfectly with a film about modern teenagers in Paris. The music has an oddly hypnotic quality that draws you in, especially in the ringtone like passages. I think it is a great example of a score done differently, without grand themes and an orchestral sound behind it, that can still convey the themes and emotion of the film.

Some more music for you all to listen to. I think I should probably get back to these essays now…


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