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Open C Tuning Improvisation with the Guitar (Video)

By Liam Monheim, VI Form

Open C Tuning Improvisation with the Guitar (Video)

During the winter season, I was granted an ACE (Athletic Commitment Exemption, or a seasonScreenshot 2016-04-05 21.54.42 without afternoon sports) in order for me to focus on practicing the guitar. I used this time not only to improve my improvisation skills, but to teach myself a completely new way of approaching the instrument. I learned how to play in an alternative tuning called open C tuning. Standard guitar tuning from lowest string to highest uses pitches EADGBE.  In order to make a chord, you must finger the strings with your left hand.  However, when you strum the strings in open C tuning without doing any fingering with the left hand, it creates a C Major chord. This means learning new chord fingerings, but it also opens up a sonic richness in the instrument. (Click on picture to play video)

My solo performance (Click here for video) is a structured improvisation using open C tuning.  By structured improvisation I mean that I follow a similar structure each time I play it but I decide in the moment what, how, and why I play a certain part.


The Quest: An Original Composition for a Life Philosophy

By Helena Lin, IV Form

The Quest: An Original Composition for a Life Philosophy

At the end of my fall Roman Religion and Philosophy class, Dr Harwood assigned us a free-swim Screenshot 2016-02-16 10.22.41final project that asked for a creative presentation, in any desired form, of something we found interesting and meaningful in what we learned in class. After several conferences with Dr Harwood, I decided to produce my first music composition, which aims to demonstrate my understanding of Epicureanism and Stoicism, the two Roman philosophies that we studied. (Click right image!) (more…)

Northern Pacific Seastar Asterias amurensis & My Zone as an Artist

By Mei-Mei Arms, III Form

Northern Pacific Seastar Asterias amurensis & My Zone as an Artist


(See larger image below)

This seastar originated in Japan, Korea, China and Russia, about 20-40 metres deep off the coasts of these countries. It was introduced by the ballast waters of cargo ships as they returned from these countries and used ocean water to replace the weight of cargo. They can reproduce without the aid of another sea star and can multiply in the thousands. Due their rough exterior, the Northern Pacific Seastar does not have many natural enemies. Their larvae are so small that we cannot find a way to capture them and nothing appears to eat them at that stage in their life cycle. The Sea stars eat crustaceans and due to their numerous population, when they enter a new area, their numbers can wipe out the whole population of crustaceans. They can break off limbs and these limbs can grow in to new Sea Stars, but this process does take years. (more…)

The Orchestra Coalesces (incl. a video of “Ashokan Farewell”)

By Jonathan Qu, VI Form


The Orchestra Coalesces (incl. a video of “Ashokan Farewell”)                                            (click on photo or scroll to bottom for the video link)

Have you ever wondered what it was like to do four things at the same time? Well, all members of theScreenshot 2015-04-14 09.59.34 orchestra do. To effectively coalesce and produce a song that is pleasing to the ear, members must read the music, translate the music, play the music, and then listen to the music. This may not seem difficult at first, but simply playing the music and then listening to the music takes a lot of skill. Take the cello for example. Not only do you have to translate the notes on the page, but you also have to pay attention to what kind of combination those notes tell your fingers to do. You then also have to keep in your mind how you (more…)

A Piano Recording of Debussy’s “First Arabesque”

By Emily Brown, VI Form

Please click arrow to listen:

Debussy is my favorite composer. The music that he writes is original and engaging. Whenever I have the opportunity to choose the next piece that I study on the piano, I aim for his collection. I recorded Debussy’s (more…)

A Live Recording of “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso”

by Varun Shankar, VI Form

Inspiring, relieving and liberating, music has shaped my life just as much as education has. Not surprisingly, it also takes significant hours in my weekly routine, perhaps as much as 12-14 hours. I’ve played in orchestras, chamber groups, and solo recitals, in extravagant concert halls and in log cabins. Besides playing in the Saint Mark’s Orchestra, I’m actively involved with the New England Conservatory Youth Philharmonic Orchestra that meets every Saturday for three hours of practice, culminating in three concerts every year at Jordan Hall in Boston, and (more…)