MP3 Matthew Hodge - Songs of Heritage
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7 MP3 Songs in this album (22:07) !
Related styles: Easy Listening: Ballads, Pop: Piano, Solo Instrumental
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"Songs of Heritage" full review by Matthew Warnock
"Weâve all heard the adage that less is more in many different situations throughout our lifetimes, but seldom, especially as musicians, do we heed these important words. When we sit down at the piano, put pen to paper, pick up our guitars or step in front of a microphone, as musicians we tend to over indulge in our natural gift to perform. We play sixteenth notes when eighth notes would have been better. We reach for that upper octave when the middle register would have been more powerful. We turn it up to 11 when a soft, pianissimo would have better grabbed the listenerâs attention.
There are few musicians who can honestly say that we havenât been guilty of some, or all, of these infractions during the course of our careers, but there are some artists, the seldom few, who realize that less is more early on and develop their careers around this mantra. Kentucky based pianist Matt Hodge is just such an artist, and his album Songs of Heritage is a textbook example of why more doesnât always mean better, and how music comes from the soul, not in the amount of notes or at what volume one plays.
Take the song âDown to the River to Prayâ as an example of Hodgeâs subdued, yet highly effective, approach to performing. The song starts out with a single-line rendition of the melody line, before beginning to add inner voices to beef up the phrase. By presenting the melody in such a bare bones fashion to kick off the piece, Hodge is definitely taking a risk, but one that pans out for the skilled pianist.
Single-line melodies, even if theyâre played well, can come off as thin or too simple if not executed perfectly, but Hodge hits the nail on the head in this instance and brings life and character to a phrase that many players would have tossed away, or even worse, over played. It is subtle moments like this that really bring Hodgeâs musicianship to light. He is a skilled performer and musical interpreter, two of the reasons that this album is so successful.
Another great example of Hodgeâs highly developed sense of musicianship is during the classic song âShenandoah.â Here it is not his use of layering and texture that brings the song to life, but Hodgeâs careful use of tempo and rhythm. Knowing exactly where and when to slow down and speed up during any given song is something that is lost on many performers, even skilled professionals, but Hodge has a knack for knowing just when to emphasize a phrase, note or chord by altering the tempo.
There is also a risk when using a quasi-rubato feel on a piece to lose the listenerâs attention along the way, but that is not the case here. In this instance, the pianist uses alterations in tempo to build excitement, to raise the energy level again and again until the songâs climax and subsequent codetta. This is a skilled performance by a skilled performer, and one of the albumâs biggest highlights.
Songs of Heritage is an emotionally conceived and expertly performed collection of traditional songs that will appeal to any fan of Gospel, Americana or solo works for the piano. Each piece comes to life in the hands of this highly trained performer, breathing new excitement into these oft-performed classics. With such a strong effort by Hodge on this recording, the only downside one can see is that is it only a 7-song EP that lasts a little over 22 minutes. But, thereâs another adage in the music industry, keep them wanting more and theyâll keep coming back, which is another lesson that Hodge seems to have learned along his musical journey."
Matthew Hodge BIO:
At the young age of 25, award-winning composer and pianist Matthew Hodge has made an incredible name for himself. He has been featured on national television, national radio, and in national publications. He holds awards and honors from the KY Senate and House of Representatives, the mayor of Louisville, the city of Louisville, and national musical contests.
Matthew is quite a busy young man. He is on full-faculty at Campbellsville University. He is a constant guest composer/lecturer for surrounding Colleges, public schools, politicians, and other organizations. He is an overseas Professor for Knowledge Exchange Institute, and is scheduled to teach in London, England during the Summer of 2011. He is also a professionally-working composer and pianist.
In Nashville, Matthew works with Producer Buzz Cason (award-winning singer, songwriter, and producer). In the past nine years, Matthew has recorded and produced eleven CDs and two DVDs, ranging in all styles including Christian, Jazz, Blues, Rock, Country, Instrumental, and Musical Theatre.
Matthew has worked with Grammy and Emmy-nominated professionals. He has been featured on Radio Disney as a role model for young people. In December of 2009, nationally recognized news anchor Diane Sawyer stated in her own hand-writing how much she was a "fan" of his.
Matthew is a professional member of American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP), National Association of Composers USA (NACUSA), and Pi Kappa Lambda (America's only nationally recognized college music society).
Please visit Matthew's websites for information on him, his music, and how to contact him.
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