3. Christopher Steig
**Morgan:** [00:00:00] So there's one other project that I wanted to talk to you about which you've been working on for a very long time. You are compiling a database of the goal. Is every single symphony ever written? Am I correct?
**Christopher:** Yes it
**Morgan:** is, yes. What in the world led you to just be like, Hey, I'm gonna make a list and
**Christopher:** I'm, I am of the opinion.
In many ways, the symphony is the pinnacle of instrumental music and western classical music in the, in the classical idiom. And this does include when I'm, when I'm using the classical idiom here, this includes both orchestral and, and band. Because band does have such a degree in classical history the.
Symphony, written for band was written by Hector Baillios. I have not substantiated this, but I've heard that Beethoven had written a, a [00:01:00] Bandon piece, but I have not substantiated that and I've not really looked into it, but I've heard of that. Felix Mandelson wrote a couple window only pieces. So
**Morgan:** what about the symphony for you again?
When I say music theory, like it's, it's theory and also form, I guess I should add, like you have a really strong grasp of theory and form and that goes into, I mean, you have to make some decisions when you're, I mean, you take this, this list, this database. Seriously. And if it's in there, like you're not just gonna throw something in there for the fun of it, you actually analyze the form.
So first of all, do you mind, just because I, I don't know how many of the listeners here are going to know the form of a symphony going through, like what do you look for? What is the, the traditional form, where do you look for and where do you bend the rules a little bit? Cuz you have done that. And said, okay, yes, this would not typically be called a symphony, but I'm calling it a symphony.
For purposes of this, of this project,
**Christopher:** first of all, the, [00:02:00] the typical symphony, as most people know, it is a four, four movement work, more or less, codified by Yos Hayden, and then perfected by Beethoven.
**Morgan:** Beethoven made everything perfect. Fight me if you believe otherwise.
**Christopher:** Beethoven did not make the baroque music perfect.
**Morgan:** No, that's because it's not perfect, because it's not Beethoven
**Christopher:** again, Carol Baro fight.
**Morgan:** Right? But then Beethoven perfected music, so .
**Christopher:** I don't know. Beto, Beethoven didn't write for saxophone though.
**Morgan:** were saxophones around then because he probably
**Christopher:** would Exactly. Exactly. So he passed.
**Morgan:** He absolutely would have .
**Christopher:** He a pass for that. That's a pass. , because Beethoven did introduce the trombone to the
He totally would've been pro saxophone in orchestras. Beethoven
**Christopher:** did introduce the choir into the orchestra. ,
**Morgan:** like I said, he's, he's perfection. But anyway, I digress. . .
**Christopher:** But, so, [00:03:00] so yeah, everyone's, most people are familiar with the, with the foreign movement symphony and how, how Beethoven pretty much protected it.
So you have the early symphony was of course you had c p e Bach Kris Christian, Emanuel Bach. They wrote some symphonies, but the symphonies before Hedon and Beethoven were really kind of, Act tech pieces of music. If you'd like to take out Hons pastoral Symphony in the, and that's right in the middle of the Messiah.
It's like a, a short, pleasant interlude, for example. And then you had then let's see here. Michael Hayden rode bunch of symphonies. Even Johan, Sebastian back wrote sy symp. Just miniature pieces and symons. And that was someone like more, more like a collection of, of, of short pieces for like inventions for CLA Raba is not known for, for symphonies or, or he's, he's known for his.
His passions. The only reason that I would include box symons in, [00:04:00] into this database is for true completion, is to show how the symphony grew out of what the symphony is. Basically a collection of sound, if you will or Giovanni Gabrieli invented back in 1597 as the proto symp, the sac.
**Morgan:** Is that your fir, is that the first one on your list?
Earliest. That's the
**Christopher:** earliest one I can track down. 1597. 1597.
**Morgan:** So you're taking the symphony that we know today and tracing that back, back, back. Kind of like what is the common ancestor? Common ancestor,
**Christopher:** yeah. And because you have those variations of symp, symons, and. And whatnot, which tend to be a little bit lighter.
But because we have that proto example by, by Giovanni Gabrieli and the Sacra Symphony, and then Adriana Banini ecclesiastic Symphony, and then Lu Ludo DI's symp Symphony. An example from 1607. 1610. These are, it's like. [00:05:00] Proto what would become, and that,
**Morgan:** so when you listen to those pieces particularly, what is it that you notice that you include them, that you would consider them this ancestor?
**Christopher:** Well, that's the thing. It is very difficult to find. Definitive recordings of these. So it's like, I don't really know what they are all about because I only have snapshots, like of an individual movement so far of what, what I've heard. If I had the entire thing, it'd be great. But that's something that I hope to rectify with this database is, and this, I was hoping to be like, that become a, like a doctoral thesis at some point.
But time is,
**Morgan:** it may still happen.
**Christopher:** It may still happen, but time. Not friendly with other
**Morgan:** commitments, but it may still happen. I believe it still happen, I believe in Dr. Steig .
**Christopher:** But because you, because you want to have these where to show where the symphony is we came from and what it is of [00:06:00] what has, we know it kind of want to include these these original things.
Yeah. So that because of that, we have, we have friends, Xavier Richter. Symons, we have Carl, you have CPE Bach, we have William Bo. We have offers. Michael Heden and Joseph, a friend Joseph, he. Fran Hayden.
**Morgan:** What about going the opposite direction? Because I know you've also had to make some decisions post Beethoven, but also specifically in this century or the last century music went through some pretty serious upheavals as far as Western classical style.
Mm-hmm. . What, what's on that list that might surprise somebody?
**Christopher:** We're going to go with one that's staple of the band repertoire. He, and I've already mentioned this one earlier, but Hyn, Woods's man and Dean. So I called man and Dean dear a man, a man a Max Tone poem and tone. Poems are very much associated with [00:07:00] Rick Strauss till Opi.
These are kind of the offshoot of Hector Barios, who was very much a programmatic. Syphon. Yeah. So a f Herald Italy and Romeo Juliet by Barios and Harold Italy, Romeo Juliet, do not bear the title Symphony, but they are very much intended to be symphonys. And because of that, because of the idea of being, being very programmatic, you'll use the music to tell a story.
Invoking words to describe what's going on. He's just using the, the music to, to, to tell everything that gave rise to the tone poem, which is are essentially being able to describe a setting musically in a single movement, which is what Manad is. Manad does have the leeway of having four distinct sections in a single, [00:08:00] single movement because it is taking Tour Four makes songs.
and putting it in a single setting.
**Morgan:** So that's the connection that you, that there's, there's those four, even though it's one piece that's not, I mean, a symphony is a piece, but you know what I mean, like it's mm-hmm. , it's played without stopping, but there are four distinct sections that could be interpreted as movements
Yeah. But then you have also like Til and Shi, which is a single. Movement without any distinct sections unless you count various events in the story that's being told by the, by the piece. Like when the D clarinet or the ELAC clarinet in the band version does Theo's death call. Near the climax. Spoiler
Just spoil alert, , go listen
**Christopher:** to the piece
**Morgan:** again. Cause of that. Yeah, yeah.
**Christopher:** Because we have these pieces doing this type of the that that has this type of scope in mind to tell that story, what's going on here and single movement that [00:09:00] leads to looking at other idioms to see what they're doing. Yeah. So you have a couple pieces in.
Pat Math's the way
**Morgan:** up. I see. I, this is where I was leading . That's on your list, isn't
**Christopher:** it? Yeah. Pat Math is is very much a, a fusion jazz composer and one of the, one of the. Very followable jazz guitarists, the Pa Papini group, and has quite a few pieces that are very programmatic in scoped just by the titles.
The Heat of the Day, the Awakening, the Half Life Absolution. They, each of these pieces, maybe they, maybe that wasn't quite the intention, but they do tell a story and then you have the way up, which the first time listen to. Caught me off guard because it is the album 76 minutes long. Yeah. [00:10:00] And when I had the chance, when Pam came to Portland in 2005 to perform it, I actually had a chance to go and listen to that.
And it was, I enjoyed every moment of it. 76 minutes. It's scope it, it is actually, ironically enough, does follow a four movement format. , we have the introduction, part one, part two, and part three, which is more of a, which is the culmination of everything. And it's one of those pieces that you don't necessarily, it, it does a lot.
And this is gonna be one of those pieces too, where, where you're gonna be in, want to touch on the planning on that, where it has a lot of time signatures, which would .
**Morgan:** Okay. Okay. Let's talk about this. So something that, There's, there's two funny things about Chris that I, I just always, I think they're very unique to you.
First of all, you're very cruel when it comes to your transcriptions. And he is laughing as I say this because , he knows exactly [00:11:00] where I'm going. Key signatures what is it, Chris? Is it just the more flats, the better? Like , what's up with your obsession with weird key
**Christopher:** s? When it comes to the transcription, I try to keep everything as the original composer intended.
Sure. So it just happens to be in a nasty key. Well, the band is gonna have to, to co to, to deal with it because a competent wind ensemble should be able to handle with it. Yes, especially, especially those that are cross train, that play in musicals which go into nasty keys on as a, as a regular
Yes. And then when you write your own stuff, you jump keys. You jump keys. With my own
**Christopher:** stuff, my own stuff. I don't tend to be as adventurous with, with the key signature unless it really calls for it. Like my, in my rag, my rag piece, it does get into a very adventurous key, but that's just not because of how I'm naturally wandered into it.
And then I get it back to more or else his original key one of my other compositions. It stays in fairly neutral. It stays in very[00:12:00] approachable keys, but it ends. On a completely different key from the one it started with.
**Morgan:** I definitely know that you have called me cackling about some evil, cruel, tonal journey that you've taken some poor clarinettist on , and then rhythm is the same you, you really enjoy.
**Christopher:** rhythm. The organ phonic band is playing Alfred Reed's, Armenian dances, and it has a huge section there and five eight that reverses itself. Every other measure. So it goes 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 3. . But that's very indicative of that style of music from Eastern Europe and Eastern Europe does, is fairly known for having, having these clave.
Arturo Marquez's dance on number two has a very similar clave. Full four time. I'd have to look at the music, but it does have that very Latin, Latin clave that makes the piece very enjoyable. But some [00:13:00] composers keep the, their claves in, in a, in a traditional four, four meter where it's what's going on inside the, the bar That's, That gives it the distinction.
Others feature a time signature, which lends itself to, which gives it that cla a so a compound meter that is, that is fairly strange. Frank De Kelly's Vesuvius, it's a band piece, has a clave that's an eight eight, but it isn't played. Four played in three. So 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 type of thing.
Pat Math does quite interesting things. So his piece, the first circle is in 22 8,
**Morgan:** like just
**Christopher:** what and the music itself. If, if you look at, if you look at his book of of lead. That is broken up in a 12 eight and a ten eight half. So half of it is in 12, eight half. Its in ten eight. If you break those down [00:14:00] further, it's five and four.
So it's 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. So 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and Bravo.
**Morgan:** Bravo just like
That was amazing. And
**Christopher:** that's actually the easy. The introduction has the performers clapping the offbeats. Oh man, that's, that is like,
**Morgan:** Do you think he's a nice guy? ?
**Christopher:** I mean, the, the band plays a
**Morgan:** hei group plays quite well, really evil. Is he just evil or is he on his own planet? I guess he kind of pat math.
He is kind of transcended humanity at this point. He's, he's beyond human. He's post-human. [00:15:00]
**Christopher:** I mean, it sound, it sounds really good, so
**Morgan:** I like it. It does sound really good.
**Christopher:** Yeah. But yeah, the, the way up has sections where instead of using like a standard markings to indicate slowdowns or, or accelerations, the way he pulls it off to, to, to pull time, time changes off, is you'll start overlapping different rhythms against each other.
So you'll have like a section of, we're just running eighth. And then you'll change the, the time signature or the, the he'll change the tempo marking. So all of a sudden these eighth notes become like dotted 16th notes, but they're, but it's the same length played. And then have the running new part, new part running eighth notes.
So you have a start, you start having the, the beat getting out of phase. So you could fade out the, fade out the original one and bring in the, the other one as a new one. [00:16:00]
**Morgan:** That is, that, that is so complex and Gen genius.
**Christopher:** That, and Adam Neely is a, is a. YouTuber who talks a lot about music theory and he's a, he, he did, he trained as a, at Berkeley as a jazz, as a bassist.
And he does a video where he talks about a lot, all these rhythms and he's like, temple markings on a metronome. We can't really tell the difference between say, 96 and 97. Yeah, we can't. Right. The discrete changes like we like 96 to think. 1 0 8 and maybe one in between. But when we were talking like calling for rhythm for a tempo's like a 1 33 0.67, he's like, what?
And he has a video. It's like, why? This is kind of nonsense, but this is what the, what, what's going on? What the idea behind it is and whether it works or not. So so it is recommended if you don't follow, follow Adam Lee [00:17:00] nearly on YouTube. Go, go look him up. Nice, nice. As far as symphony's go, but going back to that, there are some interesting entries here.
The, the Band Muse has an entry here because they did. Write a symphony the Exogenesis Colon Symphony, that's what it's called. And so the album, the Resistance
**Morgan:** now do you double check that? Like, just because they say that is it Actually, it's in three movements.
**Christopher:** Okay. And it does, and it's obviously very short because it's only like a three songs on, on this album.
But it. Reach for that scope and what we think of the symphonic sound. Obviously using more rock instruments with, with attendant or castle instruments to back it up. Yeah, and we're not talking full string sections here. We're like using one or two that the, the that might be played by my members of the band, or they bring in ringers.
Well, another one here that, that might be definitely concerted, [00:18:00] a controversial one. This is called Symphony by the band Claim Bandit. And I have noticed it's a pop song, not long form piece, and I have all the people who actually wrote it. So Steve Max Z Larson Omar Mallek, Jack Peterson. And it is not a piece I've heard myself including right now because, you know, it would be worth worth listening to if they call it a symphony.
Traditionally, we wouldn't associate that, that with that
**Morgan:** So that one, that one you haven't listened to.
**Christopher:** I haven't heard that one. But the idea here, idea behind this one is to compile a list of every single symphony, put them in chronological order. Take the variance of those established symphony. So transcriptions or for, for band put for band transcriptions going in weird directions.
So we're taking like the, the Beethoven symphonies for two piano. For example. Right? And putting them in their [00:19:00] appropriate year for, for the transcriptions completion or, or first for first performance. We know that. Then the idea of this is what, this is, what I ultimately wanted to do is also get recordings of these and play them back.
But the more important I, more interesting idea for me, and this is go, is uh, to take the geographic aspect of this note where they were. and note the historical country compared to the modern country. For example, if we take Johan Sebastian by anyone would say, oh, Germany. Well, in 1723, Germany didn't exist.
What was it then? Oh, as a Holy Roman empire. So
**Morgan:** yeah. What I love here is you're really tracking. I mean like zeitgeist, isol about music and culture, right? All music comes from somewhere, and this is such a comprehensive. Like line, very messy line from today, all the way back, like we're [00:20:00] still appreciating this, you know, certain people who would connect to the classical western classical tradition.
You know, this, this stuff is, is the bread and butter of all of it, but. it again, it, it only makes sense when it's written. You know, I connect to Beethoven really strongly, but that doesn't mean that when I listen to Bach, I can't, like, I can't see the vibrancy there. I can, it just doesn't like my personal, you know, what I, what I prefer is more Beethoven, but when it.
Comes to Bach, I could be swayed that Bach is as vibrant and alive. It's just I happen to connect to Beethoven, but mm-hmm. , you know, this, this type of, of database is so interesting because it's so far beyond the stuffiness that can accompany history sometimes, you know, or, or even
**Christopher:** the stuffiness that that Costco music is saddled with.
Right. And we still kind of see the, kind of, see them doing this. Yeah, there's that stereotype. You go to a Tamara Ensemble and you just see the [00:21:00] musicians just drooping, pretension, dripping, pretension as they play, and it's like, that's not enjoyable. There's no musicality to it.
**Morgan:** Right. There's like a fun Yeah, exactly.
Whereas, you know, that's not where this stuff came from. . That's when you know when people. Heard this stuff. They jumped to their feet. It was dirty, it was messy. It was like how Shakespeare, like, you know, he was raunchy and now it's classy to go see Shakespeare. Well, or people think it's classy to go see, you know, list.
But ladies were throwing their underpants at him on stage. ,
**Christopher:** or you have Mozart.
**Morgan:** Oh my god. Mozart .
**Christopher:** Yeah, he would, he would be cracking Bart jokes left and right. And then you'll go, go to a, a chamber music, a chamber concert where they're playing one of his drink cortex and they're just playing it as if it's the most serious thing ever.
And it's like, I think you're missing the point of this .
**Morgan:** Exactly, yes. And it's funny, you know, the, the surprise symphony. [00:22:00] If you have studied musical theory, that's funny. Like I burst out laughing, like literally burst out laughing in class when? When this, how, how dare you laugh
**Christopher:** at something so serious Morgan, come on.
Because how dare it's not . How dare you clapp in between movements.
**Morgan:** Oh yeah, that's another thing. Classical musicians get so uptight about this and again, you know, there's a tradition. of of stuffiness that has come. But like it means that they like it. It means they freaking had a wonderful time at the show.
Give them a break. They're enjoying it. And just because they don't know your stuffy traditions, if they clap in between movements, then they're showing their appreciation in the way that they know how , I
**Christopher:** mean, you have your in if you have. That so does does the solo, everyone claps in the middle of
**Morgan:** the song Yeah.
In the middle of the song. Yes. I think that should totally be true in classical music. I, I mean, I've been to been very lucky to be in [00:23:00] groups where, you know, the quote unquote fan base, a k a All of your friends that you dragged to your concerts with in college, , you know, they'll hoot and holler.
They'll scream and, you know, applaud and, and it. Raucous and it's a great time and I, and I understand that people can get so devoted to their craft and to, you know, building something and, and becoming very technically proficient. But I think it's really important to not lose sight of, you know, classical music's not boring.
It was, it was new and exciting when it was. . And if you can kind of figure out like what was going on, like the Holy Roman empire, that, you know what, that influences a lot. You know, it's, I mean, influences the fashion and the gossip and, and composers don't exist in a vacuum. They're
**Christopher:** people, well, we'll give you this example of locations changing names friends Richter's symphonies in 1744.
That was the Austrian monarchy. This predated the [00:24:00] Austrian Hungarian. , but the but where he was in the o monarchy at the time is now Czechia. And if there had been a symphony written in Czechia, say 10 years ago, a lot of the time we would've called it the Czech Republic. Right. And people still call the Czech Republic, even though they only changed their names.
And and the fascinating thing is to see how how the map has changed in Europe professionally changed so dramatically over since 1597. It would be interesting to show, to overlay a map, to, to show a map of where these symphonies were, like the country that's produced most symphonies. Can Austria really claim these symphonies?
If it doesn't exist in its format as it did anymore, for example, one I would really love to see, cuz I do have a couple Japanese symphonies, a couple Chinese symphonies. One I would love to see are Indian symphonies, but I don't know. But even though they do have some orchestras playing some, I don't know if they really have a [00:25:00] tradition of really.
Taking these Western forms and making them their own. So far the only entry I have for India on this list is not because of an Indian composer, but because of an Indian poet, rather, Janet Taggar from West West Bengal. And the only reason he's on the list is because while he was touring Europe, , he ran into, ran around the culture there and the composer, Alexander von Zinsky no relation to our president in Ukraine.
Now, the composer, he wrote his third symphony, the Lyric Symphony. He took Tagore's poem, the Garden. Had it translated into German and sent the German text, the German translation to his symphony. So rap tag gets the credit for the lyrics. I also did note the, [00:26:00] who did the translation into German Hans Effing Berger.
But that is the only entry I have for India. Now the question is being India as part of the, as part of Great Britain at the time, or actually the British India at the time. . Does England get the credit for it? I would say it shouldn't, but as it was part of India at the time, that becomes an interesting question.
Who gets the credit for what? For historical, for because of historical changes. Yeah. I would actually give the credit to India.
**Morgan:** That's kind of an impossible puzzle. . Yeah. It's, there's too much change that happens around empires and. I don't know. I feel like location, like city location, getting more micro than that, and then whoever happens to call that territory their own at this point in time, you know, maybe that's who you give the credit to.
**Christopher:** And the reason I would put in this case, I would prefer to give it to [00:27:00] India is because India deserves this type of recognition. India needs to. Be recognized for, for the contributions it makes to, to the conic rec repertoire? Intentionally. Yeah. Or unintentionally. Because I would agree with you if it does, does give this recognition, it might spur them to be inspired to introduce their own.
Influences onto the form and make it something better. Imperialism is such a, ultimately imperialism was such a, a curse to the world, but the few good things that it did give us,
**Morgan:** yeah, I wish it had been more of a two-way street. Yes, I wish
**Christopher:** it been more two-way street. Celebrate the things that did, did the positive few positive things that did do.
And rightfully criticize everything else.
**Morgan:** Yeah. People are influ, people are people, so people are gonna be influenced by what happens around them. I think that the. [00:28:00] Symphonic form is so beautiful and the Western classical tradition is one that I just, my upbringing and background, I do relate to a lot.
I associate a lot and I'm, I feel very comfortable and familiar there. But that's not to say that I can't, you know, that that is set in stone. And again, I think that. That is a drawback of some of the amazing educational systems that we do have. You know, we have some esteemed colleges, esteemed schools and people can go on and, and perform in Carnegie Hall and all these, you know, all these places.
But I think it's important for people to understand that the, the, the form has changed a lot. Mm-hmm. and the form continues to evolve.
**Christopher:** There are still some composers that have a very rigid deal of what the symphonic form should be. Yes, it should be a four movement structure with each movement fooling, fulfilling a certain role within that, within what the form is.
So that has to be like a second movement. Scared, [00:29:00] so type of thing. Well, Beethoven, it usually be a mini one and the third movement beov and said, no, I'm making it scared. So, oh, I'm moving to the second movement.
**Morgan:** And no saxophones, like people get so uptight. .
**Christopher:** Well, this is the funny thing is some of the people holding these rigid views are band composers,
And, and then I'm not gonna make an argument, like I could make the argument that some of these single movement symphonies can be a stretch. If they're not they're not trying to convey a a, a, a story.
**Morgan:** How can
**Christopher:** people find you? I have a couple YouTube, YouTube channels. One is kind of a general purpose why I put out pop music.
And the other one is where I do all my gaming for Final Fantasy and occasionally World Warcraft, which if you happen to be in in the Portland area, you will want to go come to these two concerts here. It's gonna be what, Saturday the 25th is the Oregon Sophonic Band at Pacific University. Seven o'clock we're gonna be playing Burstein CandE.
Frank De Kelly's Blue Shades, massive clarinet solo. On that we're gonna also be playing Alpare [00:30:00] Armenian dances. Johan Giannis. Blessed are they from a, from a deu, Requiem Gershwin's, second Prelude and Hol for Sweet, as well as the over tos. By Dimitri Kaki. And then we're also playing Reprising that concert as a matinee concert at the Beaver Community Church at three o'clock and more importantly, on the 26th at 7:00 PM the Leggo Millennium Concert Band is doing my premier the the Sasaw first Symphony second movement, as well as we're playing at the transcription of.
Brass band arrangement of the Carbon Fantasy Byar, which features one of the most difficult euphonium, so solos in the literature. And we are Phil featuring that solo. Nice. We're also playing Bernstein co collection of Bernstein pieces from West Side Story, including Mambo. And we're putting Chrissy Grs [00:31:00] Mowing on the Shore.
Thank you Kelly's amazing Grace and Steven Hazel's at our best. So yeah, they're gonna be good, good co good concerts for both, both of them. So if you're in the Portland area, come check us out and you'll have a good time at those concerts.
**Morgan:** Chris, that's a lot of music to have under your fingers or in your armature, I guess.
That's a lot. Thank you so much for being on my podcast. I had a really good time talking with you and. Good luck with your concerts.