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Thread: Musical Selection

  1. #31
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    I think the difference does lie in what you would consider "very sexy." If you listen to what young people are playing and dancing to these days, it's not about being mildly flirtatious. It's about "get busy". The Ladies on your list would look like nuns in comparison! What I think of as popular music has gotten pretty blatantly sexual.

    Of course, single skaters would like to "attract", but I don't consider that to be the same thing as being seductive. It's a matter of degree.
    Last edited by SusanBeth; 03-30-2006 at 07:58 PM.

  2. #32
    I'm an Italian Bambina icy fresh's Avatar
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    There was a quote made by a choreographer saying, "Music is 80% of the choreography." I think it was Lori Nichol, but I'm not positive.

    As a competitive figure skater myself, I think that music is very crucial. I will listen to maybe a hundred songs (many skaters listen to a lot more) before I find just the right one. Some people have certain styles. For example, can you imagine Sasha Cohen skating to techno music comfortably? Classical, romantic pieces seem, to me, more her style. For myself, I'm more comfortable skating to classical pieces, but this season I chose an upbeat, saucy piece of music that really pushed me outside my comfort zone. I had to skate fast, more powerfully and you know what? It has helped me a lot to become a better skater! Music should not be background music. Skaters should like their music. After all, they're going to hear it everyday for about 9 months. I don't just let the music play. I try to interpret it. That's what makes some skaters crowd favorites. I have seen a dance teacher several times this season and we just worked on presentation for my music. It worked wonders for me!!

    I don't think a music decision is something to take lightly. It dictates how you will skate in a program. Ultimately, if you love your music it will be much easier for you to go out and have a great time skating it!!
    Last edited by icy fresh; 03-30-2006 at 08:09 PM.

  3. #33
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    Warhorses

    I was too young to remember Denise as an amateur, but she was also known for unusual music choices as a pro.

    Since there's been a lot of talk about the "warhorses," which pieces of music fall into that category? Here are some of my selections (for singles, I don't watch pairs):

    Swan Lake
    Carmen
    Tosca
    Turandot
    The Feeling Begins
    Romeo & Juliet
    Malaguena
    Don Quijote
    Madame Butterfly
    Scheherazade
    Sleeping Beauty
    The Four Seasons
    Sing, Sing, Sing
    Sampson & Delilah
    Most movie soundtracks (LOTR, 1492, Gladiator, The Mission, etc.)
    Firebird
    The Nutcracker
    Any flamenco music
    Any Rachmaninov Piano Concerto

    That's quite a list right there. A skater could spend their entire amateur career only using warhorses and never take a chance.

    Anything with a "nasty groove" would probably not be well received in figure skating competitions.
    Who's jammin' to my nasty groove? I am waiting for someone to skate to Janet Jackson's "Nasty." Especially the part where she says, "No my name ain't baby / It's Janet / Miss Jackson if you're nasty!"
    Last edited by Ogre Mage; 03-30-2006 at 09:29 PM.

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by icy fresh
    There was a quote made by a choreographer saying, "Music is 80% of the choreography." I think it was Lori Nichol, but I'm not positive.

    As a competitive figure skater myself, I think that music is very crucial. I will listen to maybe a hundred songs (many skaters listen to a lot more) before I find just the right one. Some people have certain styles. For example, can you imagine Sasha Cohen skating to techno music comfortably? Classical, romantic pieces seem, to me, more her style.
    You see i don't really agree with that about Cohen - i haven't really thought she skated with any musicality until this season. Her SPs were usually better (in every way) i think just because they were shorter, but i think she had a tendancy to skate through the music and hit pretty positions throughout. This season she really did use the music - maybe Wilson made her click with it more?!

    I don't know, but i think she bought into the "baby ballerina" BS that everyone foisted on her from such a young age. I personally think the program she displayed the most musicality was the "don't rain on my parade" exhibition. I'm amazed i like it because i detest that song with a passion but she skated really well and it made me think - you know what everyone tells Sasha she's so pretty and so classical on the ice that she only ever skated to the overused classical pieces...what if she let her hair down and used strong music? No more of the agonised "now i'm emoting" faces. We all know that she's got attitude, she's one agressive little dynamite - give her some kick *** strong music where she's not being "pretty pretty" but skating lights out with agression, with a less frou frou costume and see what that does for her? She's tried ballerina on ice for the last 6 seasons and its not really worked for her - why not have an overhaul and harness some of that energy she displays before she gets on the ice. We've all seen it - when she's skating around just before they announce her and she talking to Nick's at the boards - she looks like she could easily hold her own against Mike Tyson and then as she skates to the centre of the rink the big smile and "i'm going to skate really pretty now" face comes on...i just don't think its her, i think she skates the way everyone has told her she should skate - be the ice princess.

    Ant

  5. #35
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    Most movie soundtracks (LOTR, 1492, Gladiator, The Mission, etc.)
    Who skated on the LOTR soundtrack? I don't remember.

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by gio
    Who skated on the LOTR soundtrack? I don't remember.
    Chait & Sakhnovki skated to it.

    I also think movie soundtracks are usually particularly popular with younger male skaters in the intermediate/novice/junior ranks.

  7. #37
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    Welcome to Golden Skate. Actually music is as important to a skater as his/her choreography and even sometimes more important. Depending on the skills of the skater the music can make or break a program. For Instance both Jeff Buttle and Kurt Browning have an ear for music and both can skate to pretty much any tempo and interpret the music. They both are artistic skaters and can feel music.

    Other skaters are more athletic and stick to the technical side of their program, concentrating on their jump technique. Plushenko is a good example of this and in the past Elvis Stojko. These skaters need really bold music to skate to with lots of crescendo.

    Sometimes skaters make the mistake of choosing the wrong piece of music - especially when they are just starting. It's up to their coach to help them, but even they make poor choices. Either a skater is up to a piece or he/she is not.

    A lot of top comepetive skaters this season went back to old programs when they found a new piece was not working for them. Jeff Buttle changed back to an old program before the Olympics and Brian Joubert changed back to an old program before Worlds. It was a wise decision for both.

    Anyway, I hope this answers your question.

  8. #38
    Custom Title Ogre Mage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lulu
    Chait & Sakhnovki skated to it.

    I also think movie soundtracks are usually particularly popular with younger male skaters in the intermediate/novice/junior ranks.
    Todd Eldredge also used LOTR in 2002.

  9. #39
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    OMG! What great responses. I am *this close* to finishing up my paper, which I'll share with y'all once I return from the conference.

    I've been writing furiously the last few weeks and wanted to share this little nugget of info regarding Arakawa's LP music. I find her skating a bit robotic and typical of Figure Skating, to be honest. I was struggling with why it her LP bugged me until I stumbled upon this abstract for an academic article regarding Turandot. I've boldfaced a couple of phrases that I found highly coincedental, especially when considering the state of flux the sport is in, as we shift towards a new judging system where racking up points is the name of the game:

    Giacomo Puccini was hailed as a national hero at his death in 1924, and again seventeen months later at the posthumous premiere of Turandot. However, scrutiny of the Turandot reviews reveals complex subtexts underpinning the patriotic encomiums. Of particular concern to the early critics was the opera's eponymous heroine, who seemed symbolic of an emotionally sterile modernism. The implications of the perception of Turandot as a 'machine woman' are considered here against the backdrop of contemporary developments in the Italian avant-garde spoken theatre.

    This article posits Turandot as a highly self-interrogatory work, in which Puccini experimented with new approaches to operatic character and dramaturgy, and reflected upon his oeuvre past and present. Turandot and Liù were presented by critics as representing Puccini's late and early compositional manners, leading to concern about an apparent dichotomy in his style that was unwelcome in a final work. Discussions of the two heroines were used to articulate debates about Puccini's compositional sincerity; about changing attitudes towards operatic sentimentality; and about how the challenges posed by modernism were to be confronted within an Italian context.

    [Al3xandra W1lson, Music and Letters 86.3 (2005) 432-451]
    This makes me wonder, and I pose this questions to the active competitors on the board [though anyone with competitive experience may chime in, of course!]: How much research do you invest in your music?

  10. #40
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    Great thread, I just came across it.

    I have to agree with Susan Beth about becoming an instant fan after seeing a skater perform to a diffeent/unusual music selection.

    I have been raving since the Nationals non-stop about Nick Traxler and Charolette Maxwell. They skated to Iranian Folk dance, which was magnificent. I think M&T finished in the top 10 or so but they (along with Wester and Barantsev, who skated to a Russian Medley) are the ones I remember from the Nats. Both teams had fantastic costumes that matched music perfectly.

    Another great selection of music and costumes - the Kerrs Scottish medley.

    Workhorse: while I appreciate classical selections, there's nothing worse than sitting through a dozen Carmens, R&J, etc.. I enjoy seeing a different music being used, but for me, it has to be "dancible". I didn't like Katya's abstract number she used ages ago (she also wore a one-piece leotard which looked odd on her) and I don't like Philip Glass music.

  11. #41
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    Whatever the music, let me see what the skater can do with it.

    Rule-of-thumb music selection seems to be to use one of Ogre Mage's list of most of the warhoreses. It's playing it safe because someone used it and it won medals. For competitive skating one is concentrating on winning a medal, and that would be the safe way to go. To use a non-warhorse would be taking a risk. I would say Kwan in her hey day would use different types of music and do quite well with them in presentation at least.

    Others use the same music year after year and finally, it pays off. Sasha's Dark Eyes and R&J are good examples. Brian Joubert had to learn the hard way that he is a winner with Matrix and he must think what can he do in the future if he wants to skate to something else.

    Dancers especially in Broadway type musicals must learn complicated choreography. Tough, tough, tough! But with many rehearsals the steps fall into place and they are no longer counting the beats but using muscle memory and smiling gleefully at the audience. It takes time and a lot of hard work.

    Classical Ballet dancers can do the warhorses in their sleep. But they do need to work on new choreography. there are at least two ballets I've seen that are quite eyefilling and the music is by Cage. (but then I can appreciate ballet beyond the 19th century.)

    Now in competitive skating we have the two prong music selection. The easy familiar music or the risky never used music. It's like "To Quad or Not To Quad"
    I just happen to like the risk takers. I'm with Plushenko on this.

    Joe

  12. #42
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theoreticalgirl
    I've been writing furiously the last few weeks and wanted to share this little nugget of info regarding Arakawa's LP music...
    A few well deserved encomiums for that spectacular post, Theatergirl!

    About Arakawa and Turandot, I wonder if it is not the music that gives the impression of "emotionally sterile modernism" so much as the fact that Shizuka herself projects a certain reserve in her interactions with the (Western) audience. I always felt that was more cultural than anything else.

    But it might just be Shizuka. Shen and Zhou's Turendot at 2003 Worlds was certainly emotionally stirring -- at least in the superficial sense that there wasn't a dry eye in the house.

    Bolero is another early twentieth century work whose purpose was blatantly to represent the sterility of the machine age. That relentless pounding of the same theme over and over, colored only superficially with changes in instrumentation, was Ravel's protest against the machine. I think that is why it doesn't really work for skating music. All we can say about Michelle Kwan's attempt was that she did the best she could with it, while Alexander Abt's version never got off the ground.

    But then there is Torville and Dean...

    As to your question about whether skaters themselves do much research into their music, I am not a skater, but I would be very surprised if they went beyond, oh I like this! For one thing, it is my impression that skaters (in common with, say, baseball players) do not really know much about music. Sometimes a song "speaks to them" (like Michelle's Fields of Gold), but I would imagine that's about it.

    Choreographers and their music specialists, on the other hand, do have an interest in music and perhaps even bring a scholar's ear to their task. The William Alwyn harp concerto Lyra Angelica, for instance, is inspired by the poetry of the 17th century mystic poet Giles Fletcher: "How can such joy as this want words to speak?"

    Michelle spoke her joy, especially in the 1998 nationals performance.

    (This was an abrupt departure from Lori Nichol's earlier work with Michelle, where Michelle played a character, such as Salome or Mumtaz Mahal)

    Please do post your paper! I can't wait to see it.

    Mathman
    Last edited by Mathman; 04-23-2006 at 05:42 PM.

  13. #43
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    Sorry for the delay, but here's the paper I presented at the 2006 Experience Music Project Pop Conference in Seattle, WA:

    http://herjazz.org/maria/emp2006

    If you click on the images, it will bring you to video footage of the performances. YouTube is a godsend, I must say!

    It doesn't have the list of works cited or footnotes, but it'll do for now. Please leave comments on the page!

    I have about 50 pages of notes for this, which had to be cut down into a 20-minute presentation. I kept it to 3 case studies for brevity's sake, but also so that it would be interesting to a roomful of cultural/music critics unfamiliar with the inner workings of the sport. From my perspective, my paper was well-received, which was a relief. Now that the conference is over, I can get back to the business of expanding it into a piece for an academic publication.

  14. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman
    Bolero is another early twentieth century work whose purpose was blatantly to represent the sterility of the machine age. That relentless pounding of the same theme over and over, colored only superficially with changes in instrumentation, was Ravel's protest against the machine. I think that is why it doesn't really work for skating music. All we can say about Michelle Kwan's attempt was that she did the best she could with it, while Alexander Abt's version never got off the ground.
    Thanks for the kind words, Mathman! Just so you know, there's been quite a fair bit of academic research regarding Boléro as a narrative of sex. (I don't have access to one of the d/b's that has some meaty abstracts talking about this, but trust me on this one.) Sex as a machine, sex machine... hmmm, sounds a lot like James Brown!

  15. #45
    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    What's the difference between sexual and sensuous? If they are different then maybe we are not using the correct one. Just don't know and too lazy to look it up.

    Joe

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