Tuesday, July 31, 2018

July 1610: Monteverdi's 'Vespers' published

Last updated August 26, 2018.

Vespro Della Beata Vergine (Vespers of the Blessed Virgin)

Claudio Monteverdi (composer)

Composed: 1610

Published: July 1610

Sales: - NA -

Peak: - NA -

Quotable: --

Genre: classical > choral music

Parts/Movements: 1) "Domine ad adiuvandum" for 6 voices, Mxiv 123 2) "Dixit Dominus" for 6 voices & 6 instruments, Mxiv 133 3) "Nigra sum sed formosa for 1 voice, Mxiv150 4) "Laudate, pueri, Dominum" for 8 voices & organ, Mxiv153 5) "Pulchra es, amica mea" for 2 voices, Mxiv170 6) "Laetatus sum" for 6 voices, Mxiv174 7) "Duo Seraphim clamabant" for 3 voices, Mxiv190 8) "Nisi Dominus aedificaverit domum" for 10 voices, Mxiv198 9) "Audi, coelum, verba mea" for 1 voice & 6-part chorus, Mxiv227 10) "Lauda, Jerusalem, Dominum" for 7 voices, Mxiv237 11) "Sonata sopra 'Sancta Maria' ora pro nobis" for 1 voice & 8 instruments, Mxiv250 12) "Ave maris stella" for 2 voices, double chorus & 5 instruments, Mxiv250 13) "Magnificat" I for 7 voices, 9 winds, 2 violins & cello, Mxiv285 14) "Magnificat" II for 6 voices for organ, Mxiv327

Average Length: 95:50


“The historical interest of this work is almost as great as its inherent qualities. Vespers are part of the daily Offices, or Canonical Hours, of the church, music for the Offices including psalms (with antiphons), hymns, and canticles, as well as chanted lessons (with responsories). Although inspired by the Church Office, Monteverdi’s Vespers in many ways transcends the original concept, perfectly exemplifying the transition between austere Renaissance polyphony and sheer Baroque splendor. Monteverdi makes his characteristic contribution to sacred music in a bold, almost operatic, style, complete with daring stereophonic and echo effects, and includes a suite of instrumental dances, concerti sections for both voices and orchestra, and a love song. To what extent this is liturgical music is debatable in view of the choice of texts, which some in Monteverdi’s time considered blasphemous. Completed in 1610, the Vespers was written for the court of the Gonzaga family in Mantua, where Monteverdi was employed from 1590 to 1612, and dedicated to Pope Paul V. But the composition’s true home is undoubtedly the cathedral of St. Mark in Venice, where Monteverdi was appointed maestro di cappella in 1613. Indeed, the Vespers could well have been conceived with its echoing spaces, galleries, balconies, organ, and choir lofts in mind.” AMG

“The sections contain striking contrasts, but the unity and continuity of Monteverdi’s grand design is maintained theatrically as well as musically. The overture, for choir and orchestra, is manifestly operatic, and close to that of Monteverdi’s first opera, Orfeo — an upsurge of joyous energy, interposed by an orchestral toccata and ending with a jubilant Alleluia. The instrumentation (cornets, sackbuts, a variety of single and double reeds, recorders, strings, organ, and harpsichord) is, with the exception of the instrumental ritornelli, mainly intended to contribute to the formal structure of the choral sections, coloring the choir in the manner of organ stops, as in the Dixit Dominus, Laetatus sum, Audi, coelum, and the beginning and end of the closing Magnificat, the climax of the whole work. The ways in which Monteverdi treats the cantus firmus by incorporating it into the counterpoint of the choral writing, as in ‘Dixit Dominus’ (Psalm 109), is not found in earlier choral literature, nor is the flowing, unfettered parlando (recitation) style used in Nigra sum, a metrically free poem with allusions to the biblical Song of Solomon. The concerto Due Seraphim is probably the most interesting section in the Vespers. It is set for two ‘answering’ voices — a sort of singing competition for angels — and almost exceeds the limits of human vocal technique. The choral writing is also demanding in its splendor and complexity, much of it in six, seven, and, as in the psalm Laudate pueri, eight parts; yet the simplicity of the two-part hymn Ave Maris stella is also among the many treasures of this magnificent work.” AMG

“It has not been easy to arrive at satisfactory modern performing editions of the Vespers, and interpretations differ in important details. The title page of the first edition is inscribed ‘ad Sacella sive Principum Cubicula accomodata Opera’ (for use in princely rooms and chapels),’ but unfortunately several modern editors have attempted to regard it as a vast choral work, ignoring the comparatively small forces needed to realize its grandeur. This work was little known and not recorded until the 1930s, when musicologists and scholars, such as Nadia Boulanger, researched the puzzles and complexities of authentic Baroque performance.” AMG

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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

July 25, 1788: Mozart completed Symphony No. 40

Last updated August 27, 2018.

Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (composer)

Composed: 1788

Completed: July 25, 1788

Sales: --

Peak: --

Quotable: “One of the greatest works of a composer whose music so frequently defies adequate description” – Brian Robins, All Music Guide

Genre: classical > symphony

Average Length: 26:40


  1. Molto allegro
  2. Andante
  3. Meuetto & Trio, Allegretto
  4. Allegro assai


Symphony No. 40, sometimes referred to as “the Great G minor symphony,” WK was composed in the summer of 1788 along with Mozart’s other two final symphonies. BR Some have argued that “Mozart had no specific occasion in mind for their performance” BR and that he simply wrote them for posterity. WK However, “scholar H. C. Robbins Landon has…[argued they were] written for a series of concerts…in the fall or Advent season of 1788.” BR Neal Zaslaw has offered evidence that “Mozart took the three symphonies on the tour he made to Germany the following year.” BR There is also other evidence of performances of the symphony from 1789 to 1791. WK

“One aspect of the symphonies upon which commentators reach universal agreement is their extraordinary diversity of character; each has unique qualities which together utterly explode the myth that the extreme agitation and pathos of the G minor Symphony reflected the abject circumstances in which Mozart found himself at this period…Neither should it be forgotten that the tragic qualities so often associated with the symphony today have not always been apparent to all. To Robert Schumann the symphony was a work of ‘Grecian lightness and grace,’ while for a later writer, Alfred Einstein, there are passages that ‘plunge to the abyss of the soul.’” BR

“The symphony is cast in the usual four movements; the opening Molto allegro immediately announces something unusual by starting not with characteristic loud ‘call to attention,’ but with quietly spoken agitation. The uneasy passion of the main theme leads to conclusions that seem to protest rather than find any consolation. The movement’s dominant feeling is urgency: upbeat after upbeat after upbeat occurs. Amid great instability and a questioning aura, we experience a peek into Don Giovanni’s abyss. In the finale, the horns intrude with wild swatches of color. There is even an eerie twelve-note insertion after the double bar in the Allegro assai section.” BR

“There are two versions of the G minor symphony. The first is modestly scored for flute and pairs of oboes, horns, and strings, but at some point shortly after composition Mozart added parts for two clarinets, slightly altering the oboe parts to accommodate them. Such second thoughts surely also add credibility to the idea that Mozart led performances of the work – he would hardly have bothered with such refinements if the symphony was not being used for practical purposes.” BR

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Saturday, July 21, 2018

Drake spent first of 10 weeks at #1 with “In My Feelings”

In My Feelings


Writer(s): Aubrey Graham, Benny Workman, Darius Harrison, N. Kobe, Caresha Brownlee, Jatavia Johnson, Stephen Garrett, James Scheffer, Rex Zamor, Dwayne Carter Jr., Ibra Ake, Renetta Lowe-Bridgewater, Orville Hall, Phillip Price, Noah Shebib (see lyrics here)

Released: July 10, 2018

First Charted: July 14, 2018

Peak: 110 US, 16 DG, 18 ST, 111 RB, 14 UK, 17 CN, 14 AU (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 5.0 US, 0.6 UK, 14.8 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 625.7 video, 1373.67 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Drake had already hit #1 twice in 2018 with “God’s Plan” for 11 weeks and “Nice for What” for 8 weeks. By the end of its ten-week run on top, “In My Feelings” gave Drake a whopping 29 weeks at the summit in 2018, breaking Usher’s record for 28 weeks on top in 2004. SF The song was one of seven by Drake to debut in the top 10 the week of July 14, 2018. It went to #1 the next week, giving Drake his sixth chart topper and giving him the record for most #1 songs by a rapper in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The next week, the song set the record for most streams in a single week. WK

The song references “Kiki” which has been said to be Keshia Chanté, Drake’s first girlfriend WK or K’yanna Barber, a model from Oakland. SF There’s also a reference to Jennifer Lopez, who Drake dated briefly in 2016. The Fader considered it the highlight of Drake’s Scorpion album. WK

The song inspired an Inernet meme dance challenge, prompted by comedian Shiggy who posted a video on his Instagram account of him dancing to the song. WK In the video for the song, a montage of celebrities are shown participating in the “In My Feelings Challenge.” WK They include Steve Aoki, Odell Beckham Jr., Millie Bobby Brown, Ciara, DJ Khaled, Dua Lipa, Ryan Seacrest, and Will Smith.

If anyone wanted to launch an attack on songs written by committee, this would be a good place to start. Fifteen people are credited as songwriters on the track. Part of that is due to sampling of Magnolia Shorty’s “Smoking Gun (Acapella Version)” and Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop.” There is also a dialogue clip from the TV show Atlanta.


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First posted 2/14/2021; last updated 4/1/2024.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Dave’s Faves: Top 100 All-Time Acts Based on Song Counts

These are my all-time acts based on song counts; that is, this is a list of those acts who have the most songs in my digital library. The number in parentheses indicates the number of songs by that act at the time of this list. Note: the high song counts are attributable to multiple versions of some songs – live renditions, alternate takes, etc. I’ll also point out that I posted images of some lesser known acts which rank amongst my favorites instead of more familiar faces. Perhaps it will prompt you to explore an act you know little or nothing about.

Marillion, the 1980s Fish era

1. Bob Dylan (1095)
2. Elvis Presley (703)
3. Bruce Springsteen (651)
4. The Beatles (617)
5. Marillion (565)
6. The Rolling Stones (517)
7. David Bowie (510)
8. U2 (497)
9. Jimi Hendrix (487)
10. Bob Walkenhorst (455)

Bob Walkenhorst, lead singer of the Kansas City-based Rainmakers

11. Eric Clapton (437)
12. Johnny Cash (393)
13. Pearl Jam (368)
14. Prince (366)
15. Sting (349)
16. Tori Amos (341)
17. Elvis Costello (314)
18. The Who (303)
19. Indigo Girls (287)
20. Styx (275)

Indigo Girls

21. Jack White (solo, White Stripes, Raconteurs, Death Weather) (268)
22. Pink Floyd (264)
23. Bob Marley (251)
24. Kevin Gilbert (solo, NRG, Giraffe, Toy Matinee, Kaviar) (250)
25. Lou Reed (249)
26. Alan Parsons (248)
27. Led Zeppelin (242)
28. John Mellencamp (233)
29. Genesis (233)
30. Elton John (231)

the little-known and gone-too-soon Kevin Gilbert

31. R.E.M. (230)
32. Van Halen (220)
33. John Lennon (210)
34. Journey (207)
35. Yes (207)
36. Asia (206)
37. Neil Young (204)
38. Radiohead (202)
39. Rush (201)
40. Sheryl Crow (200)

Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, the core of new-wave band Squeeze since the late ‘70s

41. Sinead O’Connor (197)
42. Simple Minds (194)
43. Aretha Franklin (186)
44. Fish (186)
45. Squeeze (184)
46. Lyle Lovett (184)
47. Robert Plant (181)
48. Aerosmith (179)
49. Peter Gabriel (177)
50. Melissa Etheridge (173)

Melissa Etheridge

51. Michael Jackson (172)
52. Garth Brooks (171)
53. Ray Charles (170)
54. Queen (169)
55. Paul Simon (solo & with Art Garfunkel, 169)
56. Split Enz (166)
57. Stevie Wonder (165)
58. Terence Trent D’Arby (165)
59. Metallica (160)
60. Frank Sinatra (159)

Terence Trent D’Arby

61. Crosby, Stills & Nash (159)
62. Shawn Colvin (159)
63. Fleetwood Mac (157)
64. Billy Joel (156)
65. Paul McCartney (solo & with Wings, 155)
66. Nirvana (154)
67. The Rainmakers (150)
68. Eminem (150)
69. Guns N’ Roses (149)
70. A-ha (149)

Keb’ Mo’

71. Alanis Morissette (149)
72. Eagles (147)
73. Barenaked Ladies (147)
74. Keb’ Mo’ (146)
75. Willie Nelson (144)
76. The Moody Blues (144)
77. Rod Stewart (143)
78. Glee Cast (142)
79. The Kinks (141)
80. Seal (134)

David Baerwald

81. Joe Cocker (134)
82. Coldplay (130)
83. David Baerwald (solo & work with David + David, 129)
84. The Police (127)
85. Kiss (127)
86. Tom Petty (125)
87. Tim Finn (124)
88. Fats Domino (121)
89. The Clash (121)
90. Del Amitri (120)

Justin Currie, solo artist and former lead singer of Del Amitri

91. Bob Seger (120)
92. Olivia Newton-John (119)
93. The Beach Boys (118)
94. Pat Benatar (118)
95. Tears for Fears (118)
96. Kenny Rogers (117)
97. ZZ Top (117)
98. Santana (116)
99. Madonna (115)
100. Roger Waters (111)

Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal of Tears for Fears

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Drake hit #1 with Scorpion

First posted 2/14/2021.



Released: June 29, 2018

Peak: 15 US, 15 RB, 13 UK, 15 CN, 13 AU

Sales (in millions): 5.0 US, 0.3 UK, 5.82 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: rap

Tracks, Disc 1:

Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Survival (7/14/18, 17 US, 15 RB, 18 CN)
  2. Nonstop (7/14/18, 2 US, 2 RB, 4 UK, 1 CN, 5 AU, 0.6 million)
  3. Elevate (7/14/18, 14 US, 13 RB, 15 CN)
  4. Emotionless (7/14/18, 8 US, 7 RB, 5 UK, 13 CN, 12 AU)
  5. God’s Plan (1/19/18, 1 US, 3 RR, 1 RB, 1 UK, 1 CN, 1 AU, sales: 15.3 million)
  6. I’m Upset (5/26/18, 7 US, 6 RB, 37 UK, 5 CN, 17 AU, 0.2 million)
  7. 8 Out of 10 (7/14/18, 21 US, 16 RB, 19 CN, 27 AU)
  8. Mob Ties (7/14/18, 13 US, 12 RB, 11 CN, 28 AU, 0.2 million)
  9. Can’t Take a Joke (7/14/18, 18 US, 16 RB, 16 CN, 26 AU)
  10. Sandra’s Rose (7/14/18, 27 US, 21 RB, 28 CN)
  11. Talk Up (with Jay-Z) (7/14/18, 20 US, 17 RB, 17 CN, 33 AU)
  12. Is There More (7/14/18, 36 US, 25 RB, 38 CN, 67 AU)

Tracks, Disc 2:

  1. Peak (7/14/18, 38 US, 27 RB, 37 CN, 58 AU)
  2. Summer Games (7/14/18, 28 US, 22 RB, 27 CN, 52 AU)
  3. Jaded (7/14/18, 32 US, 24 RB, 36 CN, 64 AU)
  4. Nice for What (4/6/18, 1 US, 1 RB, 1 UK, 1 CN, 1 AU, 6.73 million)
  5. Finesse (7/14/18, 42 US, 30 RB, 39 CN, 57 AU)
  6. Ratchet Happy Birthday (7/14/18, 51 US, 35 RB, 43 CN, 73 AU)
  7. That’s How You Feel (7/14/18, 37 US, 26 RB, 34 CN, 62 AU)
  8. Blue Tint (7/14/18, 30 US, 23 RB, 30 CN, 66 AU)
  9. In My Feelings (7/10/18, 1 US, 1 RB, 1 UK, 1 CN, 1 AU, 14.8 million)
  10. Don’t Matter to Me (with Michael Jackson) (7/6/18, 9 US, 8 RB, 2 UK, 4 CN, 3 AU, 0.4 million)
  11. After Dark (with Static Major & Ty Dolla $ign) (7/14/18, 41 US, 28 RB, 40 CN, 63 AU)
  12. Final Fantasy (7/14/18, 56 US, 37 RB, 52 CN, 84 AU)
  13. March 14 (7/14/18, 57 US, 38 RB, 54 CN, 87 AU)

Total Running Time: 89:44


3.512 out of 5.00 (average of 28 ratings)

Quotable: --

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Scorpion marked Drake’s eighth consecutive release to top the Billboard album chart. It gave him three #1 songs on the Billboard Hot 100. Combined, “God’s Plan,” “Nice for What,” and “In My Feelings” gave the Canadian a record 29 weeks on top within one calendar year. “I’m Upset,” “Don’t Matter to Me,” “Nonstop,” and “Mob Ties” were also released as official singles. The album features guest spots from Jay-Z, Ty Dolla $ign, Michael Jackson, and Static Major – the latter two posthumously.

In addition to the seven singles, all 18 of the other cuts from the double album charted. Thanks to Billboard’s policy of tracking digital sales, big albums by big-name artists tend to land all or most of their cuts on the chart in the album’s first week of release. As a result, Drake became the first musician to debut four songs in the top 10 in one week. He also had seven songs in the top 10 simultaneously, making Scorpion only the fourth album to land seven top 10’s. WK

Drake covers familiar ground such as “claustrophobia caused by his fame, complications of relationships, and boasting about his rise from an ‘underdog’ to a prominent figure in music.” WK As All Music Guide’s Tim Sendra said, “the 25 songs go back and forth over the same lyrical territory and the monochromatic trap beats drag along slowly behind…It’s a one-trick record…by an artist who’s so deep into the self-obsessed, self-pitying rut he created for himself that he can’t see daylight anymore.” AMG Pitchfork’s Jamieson Cox said, “Whether it’s 2011 or 2018, you’re getting the same guy: anxious, calculating, and self-obsessed with a golden ear and a fondness for terrible punchlines.” WK All Music Guide’s Tim Sendra said

Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph characterized the first disc as a “sharply focused hip-hop album, with Drake delivering eloquent zingers” and the second as a showcase for his “sensitive R&B loverman.” WK Alex Petridis of The Guardian said the album “is frequently fantastic” but “there isn’t quite enough strong material here to support its gargantuan running time.” WK Roisin O’Connor of The Independent described the album as “oddly erratic…exhausting and, ultimately, messy.” WK

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