Friday, December 20, 2013

Enhanced Content: A Step Into the World of Digital Media

As 2013 comes to a close the design department is reflecting on our goals and accomplishments for the year. One of our initiatives was to revamp our web-based Enhanced Content in reaction to the ever growing world of digital media. Just as our on-disc Enhanced Content pioneered new ways to deliver multimedia such as digital booklets and scores along with audio, our online version now delivers even more features such as integration with social media, increased functionality for portable devices, and inclusion of content from sites like SoundCloud and YouTube. Online Enhanced Content also increases artist visibility and augments promotional efforts for the album.

We are very excited to see what advancements 2014 will bring!

To see examples of web-based Enhanced Content please click the links below.
Stephen Scott's

Joseph Summer's

Robert DeGaetano's

Thursday, December 19, 2013

C-SPAN & PARMA Recordings Partnership Continues to Expand

PARMA Recordings and public affairs cable network C-SPAN have announced plans to release "In The Key Of C-SPAN," a series of digital music collections featuring music from PARMA's catalog used in C-SPAN's programming.

"In the Key of C-SPAN: Volume 1," the first release in the series, is currently in production, with a digital release slated for early 2014 on PARMA's Navona Records label. The series will be available from online vendors such as iTunes, Amazon, and many more.

"The concept of a release series felt like a natural next step in our partnership with C-SPAN," says PARMA's CEO Bob Lord. "We share a real passion for music as well as a desire to present and introduce it to as wide an audience as possible. I believe this will be an excellent platform to expand the reach of our artists while providing C-SPAN viewers with access to engaging and interesting music."

C-SPAN co-CEO Rob Kennedy says the project is the first of its kind for C-SPAN. "Music plays an important role in effective television production," says Kennedy, who helms the network's@cspanmusic twitter feed. "We frequently receive inquiries from viewers asking for information about music they heard on the network. In working with PARMA, I'm very pleased that we'll soon have a tangible product to direct them to."

The two companies first teamed up in January 2013 on the C-SPAN series First Ladies: Influence & Image, for which PARMA produced a customized theme song. In May 2013, PARMA signed on as C-SPAN's music provider, placing content from its audio catalog across the network's original programming, promotions, and Senate quorum calls.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Chris Wild ABHANDEN Release Concert: January 5th 2014

This November we announced Chicago based cellist Chris Wild's debut album ABHANDEN on Navona Records. The album features six compositions for solo cello and small ensemble that stretch across multiple decades and concepts of style.

ABHANDEN will be released physically and digitally on January 28th, but Chris will be performing a special and intimate release concert at Constellation Chicago on Sunday January 5th.  If you are in Chicago, be sure to pick up your tickets in advance as Chris will be giving out complementary advance copies of the album at the event and space is limited.

Chris is an active member of Chicago's Ensemble Dal Niente and select members of the ensemble will share the stage during the concert.  The event will also feature an auction of oil paintings by Chris depicting Dal Niente's history; all proceeds will benefit the ensemble.

Listen to excerpts from ABHANDEN below and learn more information at the Facebook event here:

"Vintage Christmas" at The Music Hall

The holidays are soon to be upon us again, but no fear!  Come visit Portsmouth NH, one of the most beautiful New England seaside towns, and experience the season the way it should be: so cold your saliva solidifies and stuffed full to the point you need to wear sweatpants to work.  Well, I suppose there are other worthy experiences in our fine city this month, and The Music Hall's "Vintage Christmas" is chief among them. 

4 dates still remain in the Hall's signature holiday series, and they will all be superb. On 12/18 and 19, the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra (a featured ensemble in the 2013 PARMA Music Festival) perform their annual Family Pops program under the baton of Associate Conductor Benjamin Vickers while Artistic Director and Conductor John Page is on tour with Celtic Woman (

We promise you won't look like this
Later this week is the multi-chorus extravanganza "Messiah Sing!" on 12/20 and the effervescent Preservation Hall Jazz Band bringing their "Creole Christmas" show on 12/21; these guys put on a killer show, with Clint Maedgen ( taking it over the top. You'll be dancing in the aisles (no egg nog allowed, unfortunately).

To check out the full details of the schedule visit

Friday, December 13, 2013

Color In Design

In art and design certain colors are often used to help manipulate the way one feels, evoking a certain mood or creating a message or sharp response in the viewer. Whether its to create a calming effect, express happiness, or hint at violence, color is a powerful and effective tool to subliminally convey these messages or feelings. 

Color choice is often an extremely important attribute we have to consider when creating the design of an album.  Not only will the colors we use directly influence the way a viewer interprets the artwork, but ultimately, the music too. 

Here is a great article that expresses how the hidden meaning of color can be used as a powerful tool in art:

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

2014 PARMA Music Festival

Save the Date!
2014 PARMA Music Festival

Wednesday, August 13 – Saturday, August 16, 2014
Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Contemporary music.
Local and international acts.
Breaking barriers. Bridging genres. Again. 

“What was most striking about the PARMA Festival was its diversity; diversity within musical styles and event types, its combination of local, national, and international artists, and also its audience.” (New Music Box)

“The sound of the Parma Music Festival is hard to pin down. There were orchestral and chamber concerts, but there was also jazz, electronic music, and indie-rock. Each genre blended into the next; there were no lines, just music.” (The Wire NH)

PARMA Recordings is pleased to announce the second annual PARMA Music Festival on Wednesday, August 13 through Saturday, August 16, 2014 in Portsmouth NH. The four-day festival will include day- and night-time events and performances, and will conclude with a concert at The Music Hall on August 16.

The PARMA Music Festival is a celebration of the best in contemporary music, from classical and jazz to electronic and rock and much more. With everything from live music to panel discussions to visual art and educational events, the Festival brings together a wonderfully diverse crowd to perform, collaborate, and listen.

The non-profit Festival’s mission is to present compelling and eclectic music to new and existing audiences, all while showcasing the beauty and culture that seacoast New Hampshire has to offer. The Festival partners with local and international arts organizations to program these unique concerts, in which multiple genres of music are presented side-by-side in venues ranging from the concert hall to the local bar, with unconventional experiments and enlightening educational opportunities along the way.

The citywide musical showcase is the brainchild of PARMA Recordings, a New England-based music company specializing in orchestral, chamber, choral, and commercial recordings as well as distribution, product design, strategic marketing, and licensing and publishing. The Festival is part of PARMA Recordings’ continuing mission to bring new music to new audiences the world over.

The inaugural PARMA Music Festival was held August 15-17, 2013 in historic downtown Portsmouth NH and featured performances by Grammy® Award-winning clarinetist Richard Stoltzman, the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra, singer/songwriter Will Dailey, cellist Ovidiu Marinescu, and many more.  For more information about the PARMA Music Festival, including pictures, a program, and press from the 2013 Festival, please visit:
For more information about PARMA Recordings:

For general inquiries:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

New PARMA Artist: Matthew Malsky

We at PARMA are proud to announce that we will be working with Worcester based composer Matthew Malsky on his debut release with PARMA Recordings.  We are pleased to include Matthew to our growing family of artists.

The album will feature five compositions performed by members of the Worcester Chamber Music Society and the Radius Ensemble, among others.

Matthew is an active composer and has been part of music faculty at Clark University for over 15 years. He focuses his studies on " intersections of American music, technology and culture in the post-World War II period."  Keep an eye out for more news on his release next year.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Art And Music, A Natural Pair

Art and music, a natural pair. Both are interpretive and expressive so it is natural for the two to come together in our package designs. Album art is an important part of any release as it is often the first contact the listener will have with the album. Much like increased curb appeal draws people into your home, the cover art must both compel the viewer to engage it, as well as accurately depict the music inside.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bach on a Möbius Strip

What does Bach have to do with Möbius Strips? Check out the video above by mathematician Jos Leys, which visualizes JS's "Crab Cannon" and reveals, quite elegantly, the how deceptively complex and ingenious this work really is.

And for more crab-related inspiration, check out this work by another noted mathematically savvy artist.

(via Open Culture)

New PARMA Artist: Harrington/Loewen Duo

PARMA is excited to welcome the Winnipeg-based Harrington/Loewen Duo to our growing family of artists. PARMA will be releasing the duo’s CD “METROPOLIS,” an album of new music by Canadian composers, in 2014.

“[Their performance] was like a living, breathing thing, blossoming in the hands of these exceptionally capable musicians.” - The Winnipeg Free Press

Saxophonist Allen Harrington and pianist Laura Loewen, professors at the University of Manitoba Marcel A. Desautels Faculty of Music, have been performing together internationally for over 10 years. On METROPOLIS, you’ll hear commissioned works by Gordon Fitzell and PARMA composer Michael Matthews. This project will also feature compositions by Srul Irving Glick, Robert Lemay, and Diana McIntosh. Make sure to be on the lookout for more updates on Allen and Laura’s PARMA debut!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Da Vinci's String Organ

The classical and new music community was surprised a few weeks ago with the grand unveiling of Leonardo Da Vinci's conceptual string organ at the 2013 International Royal Cracow Piano Festival in Poland.

Though Da Vinci never created technical blueprints or an actual instrument, his idea for this string organ (coined viola organista by Da Vinci himself) was developed 500 years ago and it is said that he never created the instrument himself. Only recently was it brought to life by enthusiasts.

Polish pianist Slawomir Zubrzycki premiered his version of the instrument on October 18th of this year to huge critical acclaim and viral recognition.  Though it seems like this is the premiere of the viola organista, records show that a version was crafted in 1575, and more recently versions of this instrument were created in the early 1990's and 2000's.  

The instrument works similar to a hurdy gurdy in that there is a constantly rotating wheel that acts as a bow. Each key corresponds to a string that is lowered to the wheel, producing the string-like tone audible in the video. The video below shows this carefully assembled instrument in concert - and it sounds fantastic. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

New PARMA Artist: Jeffrey Jacob

We at PARMA are thrilled to announce the addition of pianist/composer Jeffrey Jacob to PARMA's growing roster of talented artists. PARMA will be releasing a full disc of orchestral and chamber music composed and party performed by Jeffrey, including a PARMA recorded piece for string quartet.

Described by the Warsaw Music Journal as “unquestionably one of the greatest performers of 20th century music,” Jeffrey has major recording and production credits under his belt and we are looking forward to getting into the studio with him and his music - Keep an eye out for Jeffrey's debut with PARMA Recordings in 2014.

Monday, November 25, 2013

NUGGETS! Meltingly Hot Music From Freezing Cold New Hampshire

This week, dreams of drumsticks, visions of venison, mashed potato mirages, and other affiliated food fantasies hang thick - there's butter in the air. So I'll briefly break away from cross-referencing mincemeat pie recipes to call attention to another set of particular delights that deserve your attention.

Here are my Thanksgiving picks of albums from the PARMA catalog that make for great listening whether you are stuffing, or being stuffed, or both:

Ecco La Musica
MORNING MOON (Big Round / Released 2012)

Refined yet exuberant, nuanced yet direct, impeccably recorded, and immaculately performed. This album never leaves my rotation in part due to the music's uncanny ability to be both beautiful and fun, as suitable for a warm summer day as a crisp fall night.

Samuel Adler
(Navona / Released 2012)

A massive, 3-hour digital-only collection of works by one of the most respected and influential living composers in modern music. Don't let his prolific nature fool you - each and every measure in these works is carefully wrought and brilliantly rendered. Check out the "Duo Sonata" to hear Adler and his interpreters at their collective finest.

Ketty Nez
THRESHOLDS (Ravello / Released 2013)

A kaleidoscopic, massively gutsy piano concerto which casts music genres, their history, and their inter-relationships into a new, unique light. Nez utilizes a huge range of compositional languages and techniques to say what we here at PARMA like to say - music is music. Live recording of the Boston University Wind Ensemble with the composer at the piano.

Lisa Miles
NALADA (Ravello / Released 2011)

A fearless fusion of new music styles informed by a punk ethos and a highly distinctive sonic palette. From the disorienting, hypnotic "Medieval Love Song" to the coy, coquettish "Folie a'deux," Miles adeptly sets her own instrument as both subject and relief, and in the process creates mood music of the highest order.

Mark Vigil 
THE PALEST ROSE (Ravello / Released 2012)

Inviting, inventive chamber music that is simultaneously smart and tart in conception and witty in presentation. Vigil's writing is challenging but always fun, and his style and sound carries across whatever instrumentation he's writing for, be it chorus or harp or gamelan. I keep coming back to those Fantasies for piano though... the second is a burner.

Have a great holiday, and don't forget to brine.

Bob Lord
CEO, PARMA Recordings

Friday, November 22, 2013

Svjetlana Bukvich recieves prestigious NYFA Fellowship

Congratulations are due to PARMA Recordings artist Svjetlana Bukvich, who was recently honored with a prestigious Artist's Fellowship award from the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA). Svjetlana will be releasing her latest project, EVOLUTION, on our Big Round Records label imprint in 2014.

The NYFA's Fellowship Program was started in 1985 and has since provided over $27 million in cash grants to New York artists at critical stages in their careers. Svjetlana was selected as a Fellow in the Music/Sound category from a cross-disciplinary applicant pool of 2,922 artists across New York state. Please join us in congratulating Svjetlana on receiving this distinct honor!

To view the full list of this year's NYFA fellows and to learn more, visit:

To learn more about Svjetlana and her music, visit:

2013 PARMA Anthology of Music

"So classical music is dead, huh? Tell that to the outstanding, inspiring, talented, and very much alive composers who were selected for this year’s PARMA Anthology." PARMA CEO Bob Lord

In light of Bob's words, PARMA Recordings is pleased to announce the release of the 2013 PARMA Anthology of Music, which features nine works for string quartet and one work for solo violin by ten contemporary composers.

These ten original pieces, chosen from submissions in the 2013 Student Composer Competition, represent new music by up and coming composers. These compositions showcase the innovation and forward-thinking ethos of today's young composers.

The 2013 PARMA Anthology of Music provides downloadable scores and parts, as well as interactive viewable scores, composer biographies, and program notes. The 2013 PARMA Anthology of Music is a great resource for musicians, composers, and scholars alike to access some of the most recent work in classical music.

The 2013 PARMA Anthology of Music includes the following composers and works:  

  • Miguel Angel Bezanilla Naranjo | Sollicitudo for string quartet
  • David Biedenbender | Surface Tension for string quartet
  • Nikolet Burzyńska | Kango for solo violin
  • Kai-Young Chan | Ignis Fatuus for string quartet 
  • Melody Eötvös | Olbers Dance in the Dark for string quartet
  • J.M Gerraughty | Unquiet for string quartet 
  • Anthony Green | Chance for string quartet
  • Joel Love | Lux for string quartet
  • Tina Tallon | selective defrosting for string quartet 
  • Zackery Wilson | A Soul Still Yearns for string quartet

Branding In Music

There has always been the existence of branding in music.  Take the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC, and Dream Theater for example, just to name a few.  By manipulating the typography and incorporating other elements of design into their names, they have created logo marks that visually present themselves in an extremely cohesive and consistent manner.

Creating an identity doesn't even have to be extremely elaborate, it can be as simple as a unique font or layout of design elements. With recurring clients and artists with multiple releases, we try to take these elements and ideas into account to give their releases a consistent look.  If you look at Sergio Cervetti's NAZCA AND OTHER WORKS, KEYBOARD3, and WIND DEVIL & CO., you can easily see the consistency through the treatment of his name.  Through typeface, placement, and subtle manipulation of the letters, we have created a distinctive logo mark that can easily be recognized and related back to his music. This same principle was also applied to Yves Ramette's name in his CASCADING INTO THE REVERIE and WITH PASSION.

Another slightly different example of branding in our design work can be seen in Joseph Summer's SHAKESPEARE CONCERT SERIES.  For each release, we have kept the same layout and typefaces, and have also kept a similar color scheme throughout to keep the albums tied together visually.  Looking at SHAKESPEARE'S MEMORY and THE FAIR OPHELIA, one can easily see they belong together.

The use of visual identity and branding has many levels of importance.  Consistent representation can greatly increase recognition among consumers and fans, and even gives a stronger sense of legitimacy, which can lead to higher confidence in the music and artist.  Although the quality of music carries great importance regarding an artist or album's success, being instantly recognized across all platforms through consistency in design carries almost as much weight.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Benjamin Britten Centennial

As many of you may know, the late English composer, conductor and pianist Benjamin Britten's (1913-1976) centennial birthday is approaching this Friday.  Britten was a largely influential 20th century composer who wrote various works for opera, chamber, vocal, and orchestral music - some of the most famous being "The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" and the "War Requiem."

To celebrate his 100th birthday the Britten-Pears Foundation launched the "Britten 100" at the Royal College of Music's Britten Theatre, the British Library unveiled a "Music of Benjamin Britten" exhibit, the Royal Mint unveiled a 50 cent piece featuring Britten (the first ever composer on mint), and performances of his works have happened at Carnagie Hall, the Metropolitan Opera, and the Los Angeles Opera.

To commemorate this influential composer's life's work, we have shared a work of Benjamin's that is in the PARMA catalog from the 2011 release SPREZZATURA.  Below, listen to "Lachrymae. Op. 48" performed by Shelly Tramposh (viola) and Cullan Bryant (piano).

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November Releases on Navona and Ravello Records

Today Navona and Ravello Records release five PARMA-produced projects: THE FAIR OPHELIA, FOUR QUARTETS OF SONGS & ARIAS, ICE & FIRE, STRANGE FLOWERS, and AN EVOLVING CYCLE. Click "Read more" for information about the releases, sound samples, and links to the catalog page.

PARMA Licensing and Music Supervisor/Producer Dave Hnatiuk Announce Live Orchestral Music Collaboration

Music supervisor/producer Dave Hnatiuk, co-founder of MusicSupervisionCentral, and boutique audio production and licensing house PARMA Licensing are pleased to announce a collaboration to create and produce live orchestral cues and packages for the nation’s top news, sports, and lifestyle programming.

“Dave was the ideal partner for this venture,” says PARMA Licensing’s Managing Director Jake Weinreb. “He truly helped shape the landscape of the modern sync industry, and I could tell in our first conversation that we were operating on the same creative wavelength. I believe that the combination of his background and talents, with our production experience and expertise will yield game-changing results.”

The partnership is a first for both Hnatiuk and PARMA.  Each brings a successful track record in composition, audio production, and strategic placement of live ensemble music in media.

“Live ensemble music is a rare commodity in today’s media market,” explained Dave Hnatiuk. “Though MIDI has come a long way, nothing can ever truly match the power and emotion of real players, behind real instruments. This is what inspired me to team up with PARMA – I believe this is an overlooked hole in the market that we’re uniquely positioned to fill.”

Hnatiuk is the co-founder of, an essential industry resource and the sister site for the book Music Supervision (Schirmer Trade Books), the #1 ranked text on the topic.  He began his career as a music supervisor at ABC, later going to do the same for NBC, Fox, MTV, and others.  In 1998, Hnatiuk launched the music department of the Fox News Channel, producing and placing music across the network for staple series The O’Reilly Factor, The Fox Report, and more.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Now on Netflix: Defiant Requiem

In the Czech Republic, not far from where PARMA produces many recording sessions, the inmates of the Nazi concentration camp Terezin came together in a rebellion using creativity, with only art and music as their defense.  As the day-to-day fight for survival weighed them down to near death, they embraced the power of music as a connective force between them, holding each other up in a buoyant web of collective survival.  

By using art and music, the inmate choir took a defiant stand against the captors and their atrocious nature.

The film DEFIANT REQUIEM brings this heart-breaking and beautiful story to life by focusing on one emblematic occurrence in the artistic uprising - the performance of Verdi's Requiem by 150 inmates, conducted by conductor Rafael Schachter, also an inmate.  Eventually, the imprisoned choir would perform the powerful Requiem, (a daunting task in and of itself), face to face in front of the Nazis.  What the officers didn't know, however, was that Schachter, and others, had re-created portions of the piece to condemn the Nazi party.

DEFIANT REQUIEM recreates this powerful moment in history with conductor Murry Sidlin bringing his life-long goal of bring the Verdi's beloved piece back to Terezin in a live performance.  The result is touching and powerful, and not to be missed.  The film features PARMA recording partner The Kuhn Choir in many of the film's powerful reenactment scenes.  

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fall 2013 Sessions

The Fall has been a busy time for PARMA, as we recorded many composers works both here in New England and abroad in the Czech Republic. Here at home, we worked in both Boston and Rockport, MA, recording the works of Syd Hodkinson, Scott Pender, Sergio Cervetti, and Mitch Hampton.

As I attended each session, I got the chance to document everything that was going on besides the music itself. In addition to that fantastic music being created and captured, there are often many small moments that help to make a great recording session, well, a great recording session. Check out some of the photos below to see the proof!

Inspiration in Design

When we need fresh new design ideas and inspiration it can be helpful to view what others have done.

Here is one of my favorite sites to browse when we need some designspiration.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

New PARMA Artist: Gerald Cohen

PARMA is pleased to welcome New York-based composer Gerald Cohen to our growing family of artists. PARMA will be releasing a full album of arrangments and original compositions by Cohen featuring performances by NYC's Grneta Ensemble in 2014.

Cohen's music has been commissioned by groups as varied as the Cassatt String Quartet, the New York Virtuoso Singers, and the Battery Dance Company, and his works have been performed by noted groups such as the San Diego Symphony and Princeton Pro Musica. This current project, aptly titled SEA OF REEDS, focuses on chamber works featuring the clarinet and features compositions and arrangements that seek to unite Cohen's often intersecting musical lives and both a composer and a cantor. Be sure to watch this space for more updates on the project in the coming months!

To learn more about Gerald Cohen and his music be sure to visit his website and SoundCloud page:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

New PARMA Project: Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon & David Liptak

We are pleased to announce that Rochester NY based composers Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon and David Liptak have teamed up to release a split album with PARMA Recordings.

This will be Ricardo's debut with PARMA and David's second effort after being featured on the McCormick Percussion Group's CONCERTI FOR STRINGS WITH PERCUSSION ORCHESTRA that came out last year.

This new full length release will feature 6 tracks (3 composed by each composer) and highly acclaimed soprano Jamie Jordan, featured on the to-be-released McCormick Percussion Group's SOLI FOR SOPRANO WITH PERCUSSION ORCHESTRA.

We are looking forward to this diverse and multi-dimensional release and are excited to welcome Ricardo to the PARMA family.  Keep an eye out for updates on this project in the coming months.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Sparking Creativity

Herbert Deutsch's FROM MOOG TO MAC
In the design department at PARMA Recordings, people often wonder where all of our creativity springs from. We are often asked where the unique concepts for our covers come from. The real question might not necessarily be where we find our ideas, but instead, how.  The true origin of inspiration could have to do more with an individual person’s approach.  Have you ever thought that the best approach when you are stumped may be just to simply walk away?

This article, Tactics to Spark Creativity, showcases how even people who lack ideas can set the scene for inspiration.

New PARMA Artist: Jean-Philippe Grégoire

PARMA is pleased to announce the addition of jazz guitarist and composer Jean-Philippe Grégoire to our growing family of artists.

Jean-Philippe will be releasing his first album as a leader, SOUNDS FROM THE DELTA, in early 2014 on Big Round Records. The album will feature Grégoire's quartet consisting of Baptiste Herbin (saxophones), Martin Guimbellot (bass), and Nicolas Charlier (drums). The album will also feature special guest performances by Jean-Charles Richard, Manu Codjia, and Laurent Fickelson.

A relative newcomer to the American jazz scene, Jean-Philippe has worked as a sideman on many albums in his native France including with groups led by
Julian Getreau and Denis Shain. PARMA is proud to be adding Mr. Grégoire and his hard-hitting compositional style to Big Round's growing roster of artists. Watch this space in early 2014 for more info!

Listen to a track from Jean-Philippe's upcoming album:

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Tuning Systems

Open Well-Tempered Clavier

Kimiko Ishizaka and the Open Goldberg team have less than 3 days remaining in their Kickstarter campaign to record and release Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier into the public domain.

If you haven't been following the project, the team is focused on converting the Well-Tempered Clavier and over 50,000 other scores into Braille for musicians of different ability.  This is an important and ground-breaking project that will help musicians all over the globe.  Make sure to check out the campaign over the next few days to learn more about this unique project.

Tuning Systems

We have been getting some inquiries as to what :"Well-Tempered" actually means - below, you can find some information on various tuning systems and their history.

Just Intonation
Before there was a standardized tuning system, players used Just Intonation to tune relative to other musicians and their instruments.

Just Intonation is based off of the harmonic series and naturally sounds pleasing to our ears. Intervals (the distance between notes) are measured using ratios.  An excellent example is when two voices harmonize, the frequencies of the pitches being sung are adapted in real-time to create a pleasing and pure interval relationship. Since interval ratios in Just Intonation are not uniform, this type of tuning system does not meet the demands of modulating music. With fixed-pitch instruments, such as keyboard instruments, pitches cannot be adjusted practically during a performance. Therefore, in order to modulate, freely tempered systems came into place.

Well Temperament
The "Well Tempered" tuning system is referred to by J.S. Bach in his title for "The Well-Tempered Clavier" (Das Wohltemperierte Klavier).

Bach’s method of tuning a keyboard was a huge step towards today’s tuning system. Tempered tuning makes small adjustments to the intervals between notes in such a way that it is possible to harmonize music without sounding overly dissonant in certain keys or when modulating.

Bach's "Well-Tempered Clavier" was written to show off the musical possibilities of this revolutionary tuning technique - where the keyboard was in tune across all keys.

Equal Temperament
Fast forwarding to Western music today, most instruments are tuned using Equal Temperament. The earliest specific mathematical reference to equal temperament came in 1577 from Francisco Salinas, but wasn't standardized until the Early Romantic era.

Equal Temperament relies on math to determine frequencies of pitches.  An octave is thus divided into a series of evenly spaced half steps calculated to share the same interval ratio. Therefor in Equal Temperament, each interval is slightly out of tune and the octave remains the only "pure" interval.  This means that a chord played on a piano or guitar will not be as pleasing as the same chord using Just Intonation, but it will be consistent and free to modulate.

It is important to note that many cultures and some Western composers (such as Lou Harrison) use “Just” tuning systems because of its unique tonal qualities.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Album Artwork: Not Just Art for Art's Sake

It is easy to think that all it takes to create engaging album artwork is just finding the perfect image and adding some typography.  In truth, of course, there is so much more involved in the process than initially meets the eye. The overall image has to be well thought-out and connect conceptually with the music, title of the release, and the individual taste of the artist.  The album artwork isn’t just art for art’s sake; it comes from an attentive thought process and investigation of the music, concept, and overall atmosphere of the album. 

There are many elements that we consider to help manipulate the overall mood of the artwork.  Color, texture, shape, proportion and contrast can either subtly or drastically alter the mood of an image.  The cover artwork for Tony R. Clef’s TUESDAY AFTERNOON on Big Round Records utilizes several of these factors to not only create a distinct and vibrant cover, but also generate a strong sentimental response.  Accentuating the saturation and vibrancy of the colors, layering a large transparent circular sun, and adding a distressed texture make the image anything but ordinary, and give true feeling to the overall album.  Looking at the album, one can strongly grasp the nostalgic feeling of a warm late afternoon in summer, which greater intensifies the overall experience of the music.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

PARMA at the College Music Society National Conference in Boston

PARMA Recordings is proud to be attending the College Music Society's 2013 National Conference in Boston MA. The event takes place 10/31 - 11/1 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Cambridge.

Members of the PARMA Team will be at booth #35 in the exhibition area. If you are planning to attend this year, we encourage you to stop by and say hello!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween: Creepy Compositions

With Halloween just a few days away, we at PARMA have been going through some of our favorite "creepy" compositions in the spirit of the holiday.  Compiled below are a list of some of the more interesting and classic (in our opinion) narrative compositions out there - take a listen!

Schoenberg - Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night)

While not a terribly scary story or composition, "Transfigured Night," composed by Arnold Schoenberg in 1899, describes a man and woman walking in a moonlit forest late at night.  The woman expressed to her lover that she carries a child from another man.  The composition portrays the sadness, reflection, and eventual acceptance of the child by the couple.

Stravinsky - The Rite of Spring

Well known to many from Disney's "Fantasia," in this orchestral tale, Igor Stravinsky depicts the story of a young woman who must dance herself into exhaustion and eventual death as sacrifice.  The narrative to this composition is very intriguing and is one of Stravinsky's most well-known works.

Schubert - Death and the Maiden

A common staple of quartet repertoire, "Death and the Maiden" by Franz Schubert was composed in 1824 and published in 1831, 3 years after his death.  Since, the piece has inspired adaptions on the screen and stage.  The composition itself explores the terrors and comforts of death, ending with a quote from Death itself, "Within mine arms shalt softly rest thee."

Mussorgsky - Night on Bald Mountain

An instantly recognizable and somewhat haunting piece, Modest Mussorgsky tells the spooky tale of a witchs' sabbath on St. John's Night atop "Bald Mountain" near Kiev. You may also know this Russian tale from Disney's "Fantasia."

Dan Blakeslee - Halloween Special

From PARMA Licensing's own catalog of music comes Portsmouth NH native Dan Blakeslee. Dan put together a festive and spooky album of original Halloween tunes.  Featuring tracks filled with accordion, organ, howls and whistles, this is one of our favorites to put on the stereo during this time of year.  Take a listen below and check out Dan's amazing work. Don't forget to comment with your favorites!

October Releases on Navona, Ravello, and Big Round Records

PARMA Recordings and our three label imprints are pleased to announce the release of 5 inspiring and diverse albums from new and veteran PARMA artists.  Our October releases see the sophomore release from Yves Ramette and the debut efforts of Mark WInges, Richard Lavenda, Robert Dusek and the Larksong Trio.  Click "read more" to learn about and hear samples from the album.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mark Dal Porto Wins CODA International Composition Contest

We are pleased to announce that PARMA-Artist Mark Dal Porto has been declared the first prize winner of the College Orchestra Director’s Association (CODA) International Composition Contest.

Mark submitted his orchestral work “Song of Eternity.”  It’s definitive recording was fully produced in-studio with PARMA, and was released this year on Navona Records’ album DANCES OF ETERNITY.

“Along with the score, I submitted the "Song of Eternity" track from the DANCES OF ETERNITY CD as part of the audio recording for my contest submission (which of course is a product of all of your hard work).  I’m sure this PARMA-produced recording contributed to its success in this contest…”

-Mark Dal Porto

Congratulations Mark!


CODA Official Web Announcement Link: Announcement

Listen to/purchase DANCES OF Eternity: On Amazon

Friday, October 25, 2013

Kimiko Ishizaka // Bösendorfer 50,000

Kimiko Ishizaka and the Open Well-Tempered Clavier team met up with Bösendorfer in Austria this month during the "Twelve Tones of Bach" tour to see the creation of the 50,000th Bösendorfer.  During their visit, they were able to capture the creation of a fine instrument.

There are only two weeks left until the fundraising campaign for this project is complete.  With the base-level of funding complete, the Open Well-Tempered Clavier team is now working to make Braille scores widely available to visually impaired musicians. Make sure you check out the Kickstarter page to learn more about this unique project.

Kimiko is currently on tour to promote the campaign - if you are in the US, check below to see if Kimiko will be in a city near you before she goes into the studio later this year!