Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Cool resource on Film Music

I found this in my referrals.

Music Therapy for Alzheimer's

Via Mind Hacks, I found this article about singing as a therapy program for Alzheimer's patients. Singing for the Brain is a business started by Chreanne Montgomery-Smith three years ago. It conducts weekly sessions where patients sing songs ranging from Broadway to the Beatles. This is related to music therapy programs for Parkinson's patients developed by Michael Thaut, though Dr. Thaut's program is more rigorous and focused on rhythmic entrainment rather than active singing.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I've got no strings, to hold me down

I'm celebrating my new wireless home network by blogging in my bedroom. I don't have much to say right now, though I'm working on a little essay on the purpose of music analysis. I can share a little personal details. We just moved from our Avon house to a little rental house in Greencastle. We had been trying to sell our house since April, with the hopes of buying something in Greencastle. We lost hope this month, and decided to rent something while we wait for the house to sell. Naturally, the house sold three days after we moved. And then we found a house we want to buy, so we could be moving twice in the space of a month.

But more importantly... Accordian jokes!

Q: What is the definition of an optimist?
A: An accordion player with a pager.

Q: What is the difference between an Uzi and an accordion?
A: The Uzi stops after 20 rounds.

Q: What do accordion players use as a contraceptive?
A: Their personalities.

Q: What's the range of an accordion?
A: Twenty yards if you've got a good arm!

Q: What's a gentleman?
A: Somebody who knows how to play the accordion, but doesn't.

Q: What's the difference between an onion and an accordion?
A: No-one cries when you chop up an accordion.

Q: What's the difference between an accordion player and a terrorist?
A: Terrorists have sympathisers.

Q: What's the definition of perfect pitch?
A: When an accordion is thrown down the toilet, nothing but net (er, blue water).

Q: What's the difference between an accordion and a concertina?
A: The accordion takes longer to burn.

Q: How do you protect a valuable instrument?
A: Hide it in an accordion case.

Q: What's an accordion good for?
A: Learning how to fold a map.

Q: What's the difference between a chainsaw and an accordion?
A: A chainsaw can be tuned.

Q: Why is it good that accordionists have a half-ounce more brains than horses?
A: So they don't disgrace themselves in parades.

Remember, an accordion is a bagpipe with pleats.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Music in other disciplines

In Economics: protectionism by music unions in France, via Brad DeLong.

In Cognition: remembering words vs music, and music helping us to remember things better.

In Encyclopedias: what chemistry and music have in common.

In Education: what physics and music have in common at Andover.

In Art: the influence of music on some paintings. (I don't particularly like these. There are many paintings in the halls of the Performing Arts Center here, including a series on "Sound in Color" by Leonardo Nierman. These paintings on impressions of Ravel, Mahler, Bach, and others please me more than those by Dr. Lin.)

In Philosophy: Wha Hah Hah Hahh! = Armageddon.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


[I got this from my dad.]

If you're new to blues music, or like it but never really understood the whys and wherefores, here are some very fundamental rules:

1. Most blues begin with: "Woke up this morning..."

2. "I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the blues, unless you stick something nasty in the next line like, "I got a good woman, with the meanest face in town."

3. The blues lyrics are simple. After you get the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes - sort of: "Got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Yes, I got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Got teeth like Margaret Thatcher and she weigh 500 pound."

4. The blues is not about choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch...ain't no way out.

5. Blues cars: Chevys, Fords, Cadillacs and broken-down trucks. Blues don't travel in Volvos, BMWs, or Sport Utility Vehicles. Most blues transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Jet aircraft and state-sponsored motor pools ain't even in the running. Walkin' plays a major part in the blues lifestyle. So does fixin' to die.

6. Teenagers can't sing the Blues. They ain't fixin' to die yet. Adults sing the blues. In the blues, "adulthood" means being old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis.

7. The blues can take place in New York City but not in Hawaii or anywhere in Canada. Hard times in Minneapolis or Seattle is probably just clinical depression. Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Memphis, and Nawlins are still the best places to have the blues. You cannot have the blues in any place that don't get rain.

8. A man with male pattern baldness ain't the blues. A woman with male pattern baldness is. Breaking your leg 'cause you were skiing is not the blues. Breaking your leg 'cause a alligator be chomping on it is

9. You can't have no blues in an office or a shopping mall. The lighting is wrong. Go outside to the parking lot or sit by the dumpster

10. Good places for the blues:
a. Highway
b. Jailhouse
c. Empty bed
d. Bottom of a whiskey glass

11. Bad places for the Blues:
a. Nordstrom's
b. Gallery openings
c. Ivy League institutions
d. Golf courses

12. No one will believe it's the blues if you wear a suit, 'less you happen to be an old person and you slept in it.

13. Do you have the right to sing the blues?
Yes, if:
a. you're older than dirt;
b. you're blind;
c. you shot a man in Memphis;
d. you can't be satisfied.

No, if:
a. you have all your teeth;
b. you were once blind but now can see;
c. the man in Memphis lived; or
d. you have a 401K or trust fund

14. The blues is not a matter of color. It's a matter of bad luck. Tiger Woods cannot sing the blues. Sonny Liston could have. Ugly white people also got a leg up on the blues

15. If you ask for water and your darlin' gives you gasoline, it's the blues. Other acceptable blues beverages are:
a. cheap wine
b. whiskey or bourbon
c. muddy water
d. black coffee

The following are NOT blues beverages:
a. Perrier
b. Chardonnay
c. Snapple
d. Slim Fast

16. If death occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it's a blues death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is another blues way to die. So are the electric chair, substance abuse, and dying lonely on a broken-downcot. You can't have a blues death if you die during a tennis match or while getting liposuction.

17. Some blues names for women:
a. Sadie
b. Big Mama
c. Bessie
d. Fat River Dumpling

18. Some blues names for men:
a. Joe
b. Willie
c. Little Willie
d. Big Willie

19. Persons with names like Michelle, Amber, Jennifer, Debbie, and Heather can't sing the blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.

20. Blues Name Starter Kit:
a. name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Lame, etc.)
b. first name (see above) plus name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, Peach, etc.)
c. last name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.)
For example:
a. Blind Lemon Jefferson
b. Pegleg Lime Johnson
c. Cripple Peach Fillmore

21. I don't care how tragic your life is: if you own a computer, you cannot sing the blues, period.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Revenge of the Brass

Here's a nice bit of trivia: the list of the brass players for all six Star Wars soundtracks. Note the extreme expansion of forces from the first movie to the second (especially the all-important trumpets):
Star Wars: 4 + 8 + 3 + 2
Empire Strikes Back: 9 + 9 + 6 + 3

Monday, November 14, 2005

Back from Beantown

I was offline for the last four days, attending the national meeting of the Society for Music Theory. I had a great time, seeing old friends and teachers, listening to stimulating papers, and having possibly the best dinner of my life at Julien's, thanks to my generous big brother. I'm not going to blog much more about the conference, as I'm still digesting the things I heard. I'm also inspired to work harder on my own research and writing, so a little less time at the old blog-wheel.

I do want to point out that Jaquandar has finally taken up my film music meme, willingly undertaking the longer list. To answer his question, the course will be on all uses of music in films, including source music. I also want to point out that not all source music is diagetic, nor all underscoring non-diagetic. A literal definition of "diagetic" is being produced by the narrative. One can imagine cases where source music is not directly part of the narrative, and there are plenty of cases where the underscoring is a direct result of the narrative (in Amadeus, Mozart imagines the music he is composing, which we hear in the underscore).

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

More on Countertenors

It's serendipity that I received this comment a day before I attended a recital by Steven Rickards. The recital was very good, including a hilarious love duet between Steven and Gabriel Crouch. I also liked song cycles by Gerald Finzi and John Gardner, both based on texts by Shakespeare. And now to my commenter. Here's what Mr. Lynch says:
I have sung countertenor since 1966 and have more than once felt the insult of gender discrimination. Regardless of one's musical tastes, it is simply wrong for the same reasons it's wrong to exclude women from practicing medicine. However you dress it up or rationalize it, gender discrimination is what it is. In California, it's illegal as to professional singers working for a non-religious employer. When public funds or facilities are involved it's illegal, period. I'm a lawyer by trade, and I'm itching for the right case to litigate this issue, which I'll gladly do pro bono. And by the way, the Episcopal Church has a specific canon against gender discrimination in all aspects of lay ministry. This isn't a musical taste issue, but a human rights issue.

I don't accept that this issue has to be about gender discrimination. Vocal performance is about more than just the tessitura. The timbre of a countertenor's voice is quite different from that of an alto, just like the timbres of a harmonica compared with a clarinet. No one would suggest that it is discrimination to prevent a harmonica player from auditioning for an all-state orchestra, even though that player could play the same notes as a clarinetist (or flutist or violinist). This issue is not about male versus female, it is about blended versus unblended tonal colors. Others have made the argument that countertenors can blend with female altos or sopranos, and I can accept that possibility. I can also accept the possibility that the Texas Board was influenced by gender stereotypes in making their decision, which is wrong. But to assume that this has to be the case, that is unfounded in my opinion. The Episcopal Church sees no contradiction between its canon against gender discrimination and its many Men and Boys Choirs, which do not allow female membership. Nor with its Girl choirs which do not admit males. Neither do I.

That fine line between idiocy and genius

Frank Samarotto of Indiana University took it upon himself to create a list of bad dissertation titles.

I have to say, I'd really want to read #4, 8 and 10.
1. Uncertainty in Music: A Definitive Survey

2. The Catalan Influence on the French Augmented Sixth Chord in the Music of Engelbert Humperdinck

3. The Voicing of the Final Chord in Music of the Classical Period

4. A Syncategorematically Recursive Hedra-Lattice of Poly-PC Postponement: A Theory of Atonal Silence

5. Heinrich Schenker: Threat or Menace?

6. Prolonging the Agony: A Schenkerian Approach to Muzak in the Dentist's Office

7. “Where Are All My Favorite Notes?” A Statistical Tabulation of Every Pitch-Class in the Serial Music of Webern

8. A Violist Walked into a Barline: Rhythm and Meter in the Structure of Viola Jokes

9.Three Times a Lady: Triple Counterpoint in the Music of Britney Spears

10. The Whole Step: Our Misunderstood Friend

A point for the EP crowd

Dave Munger has another post about music and emotion. Researchers at the University of Toronto found that people with extensive musical training are better at detecting emotions in speech prosody (the pitch patterns used in speaking) than those without musical training. This fits in the arguments of Benzon and others that music arose before language as a means of communicating emotion. It also agrees with the notion that music has continued as a human activity as a means of exercising our emotions. If musical people are better at reading emotions, they are more likely to make lasting connections with other people, and hence increase their likelihood of survival. And this is why human cognition has evolved to enjoy listening to and creating music. A leap is made here, as the study only looks at performance, and did find that singing was not as effective as keyboard training.

Blogging warm-up

When you've taken a break from blogging, it is important to do a good warm-up before embarking on any extensive posts. Thus I give you, yet another movie-meme. This time, it's comedies.

All About Eve
Annie Hall
The Apartment
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Blazing Saddles
Bringing Up Baby
Broadcast News
Le diner de con
Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
Duck Soup
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Four Weddings and a Funeral
The General
The Gold Rush
Good Morning Vietnam
The Graduate
Groundhog Day
A Hard Day's Night
His Girl Friday
Kind Hearts and Coronets
The Lady Killers
Local Hero
Monty Python's Life of Brian *
National Lampoon's Animal House
The Odd Couple
The Producers
Raising Arizona
Shaun of the Dead
A Shot in the Dark
Some Like it Hot
Strictly Ballroom
Sullivan's Travels
There's Something About Mary
This is Spinal Tap
To Be or Not to Be
Toy Story *
Les vacances de M. Hulot
When Harry Met Sally...
Withnail and I

Films Whose Presence in the Canon I'm Particularly Gratified to See (pick up to five): Airplane!, Blazing Saddles, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, This is Spinal Tap, Toy Story

Films in the Canon Whose Presence Should Not Be (pick up to five): Austin Powers, Dodgeball, A Hard Day's Night, Shaun of the Dead, Sullivan's Travels

Films I'd Pick to Replace Them (pick up to five): City Lights, What's Opera Doc?, One Night in the Tropics, Stripes, It's a Mad Mad Mad World.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Fastest Slide of the West

David of Hot Brass has the link to the trailor of Kit Bones - the fastest slide in the West, starring Christian Lindberg and HÃ¥kan Hardenberger. You've been warned.

Don't you hate it when life intrudes on blogging?

1) My parents visited for the weekend.
2) I got an early birthday present: The Lord of the Rings exhibit. (Which was really cool.)
3) I got another early birthday present, teas from Adagio Tea. (Mango, Berry Blues, and the Green Tea sampler.)
4) We thought my wife's purse was stolen, complete with birth certificates from our trip to Canada. So cancelling credit cards, putting alerts on our bank accounts, filing police reports.
5) The university orchestra concert.
6) We decided to stop looking for a house to buy, and instead started to look for a house to rent for awhile.
7) Pumpkin carving.
8) Mask painting.
9) Trick-or-Treating.
10) Candy eating.
11) Advising students on course scheduling for next semester. Each day I seem to get more students advising with me, including those who already have other advisers.
12) We discovered that the purse was not stolen, but left at the university library. Yet we are without credit cards until the new ones arrive. Fun!

So I'm finally back blogging, spurred by a request to advertise a fine classical music resource in Vancouver. Classical Vancouver is a web portal with concert calendars, lists of artists and resources, and links to arts-related news. I think this is a great idea for all larger cities to emulate. A one-stop-shopping approach to the fine arts makes it easier for artists to find each other, and for audiences to find concerts to attend.