Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Five Years

Tonight I went to a vigil at the town square. It was friggin' cold, and there weren't a lot of us, but people shared stories of PTSD, veterans denied benefits, and other things that inspired us to keep speaking out. A dedicated group here in Greencastle has a vigil every Thursday at 12:15. I can't go because of meetings, but I was glad to make it tonight. Next week is Spring Break, so I hope to take the kids to the vigil on Thursday. At this moment PBS is playing the American Masters special on Pete Seeger, who just sang "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy" and is now singing "Bring them Home" (Bruce's cover is better than anything else I could find on Youtube). Quite appropriate, tonight.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Wow!

I had been strongly leaning towards Barack Obama before, but his speech has completely bowled me over. The nuance, the honesty, the clarity of thought and appreciation of opposing views, it was a thing of beauty. This is the second politician I've been truly excited about, and the first presidential candidate (Russ Feingold is the other). Even if you are a staunch Republican who has already filled out the ballot for John McCain, please read or listen to this speech. You may not change your vote, but I guarantee you will learn something about race and class, just as I have today.

Friday, March 14, 2008

What about prescription drugs?

Dave Munger has posted the results of the survey on music preference and substance use I wrote about last week. The important result: "Far from being wine snobs, it appears that most Classical fans prefer to avoid pretty much all mind-altering substances." That's because the music blows our minds, dude! Seriously, the results do debunk many stereotypes, except Electronica fans and their precious Ecstasy.

FriPod: Pi

Today is Pi Day (3.14). In honor of that, I have listed all of the tracks on my iTunes that have the duration 3:14. They are ranked by length within that one second. It's amazing how relevant many of these songs/movements are to my day, especially 1-3, 5, 8, 10, 15, 16, 17, and 19.

1. "You're My Home" by Billy Joel/John Lennon/Paul McCartney, performe by Billy Joel on Piano Man.
2. "I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me" by Clarence Gaskill - Jimmy McHugh, performed by Lionel Hampton on Flying Home (1942-1945).
3. "The End Of A Love Affair" by E. C. Redding, performed by Wynton Marsalis on Popular Songs: The Best Of Wynton Marsalis.
4. French Suite No. 4 - 4. Sarabande by Johann Sebastian Bach, performed by Sviatoslav Richter on Sviatoslav Richter: The authorised recording.
5. "The Vagabond" from Songs Of Travel by Ralph Vaughan Williams, performed by Bryn Terfel, Malcolm Martineau.
6. "Frank Speaking" by Bill Russo, performed by Stan Kenton on New Concepts of Artistry in Rhythm.
7. "The Palace and creatures of Kashchei disappear" from The Firebird by Igor Stravinsky, performed by Philharmonia Orchestra; Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor.
8. "La Danse De Puck" from Préludes - Book 1 by Claude Debussy, performed by Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli.
9. The Nutcracker. I. Overture by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, performed by Orchestra Of The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden-Mark Ermler.
10. "(I'll Be Glad When You're Dead) You Rascal You" by Sam Theard, performed by Jack Teagarden & His Orchestra on Jazz: The Singers 1930s.
11. "Platform 9 And 3 Quarters And The Journey To Hogwarts" from Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone soundtrack by John Williams.
12. "The Sixth Day: Nun scheint in vollem Glanze der Himmel" from The Creation by Franz Joseph haydn, performed by John Eliot Gardiner; English Baroque Soloists, Monteverdi Choir.
13. "At The Sign Of The Prancing Pony" from The Lord Of The Rings - The Fellowship Of The Ring Soundtrack by Howard Shore.
14. "Blue Lou" by E. Sampson, performed by Duke Ellington on 22 Original Big Band Recordings.
15. Lullaby and Doina for flute, clarinet, double bass and string quartet - Doina by Osvaldo Golijov, performed by Tara Helen O'Connor, flute; Todd Palmer, clarinet; Mark Dresser, double bass; The St. Lawrence String Quartet.
16. "Laura soave, vita di mia vita" by Andrea Gabrieli, performed by Paul McCreesh; Gabrieli Consort & Players on Politics, Dialogues and Pastorales.
17. "O Ihr Zärtlichen" from Rilke Songs (1997-2001) For Voice And Piano by Peter Lieberson, performed by Lorraine Hunt Lieberson And Peter Serkin.
18. Interlude from Daphnis et Chloé by Mauric Ravel, performed by Charles Munch, Conductor / Boston Symphony Orchestra / Robert Shaw, Director / New England Conservatory Chorus And Alumni Chorus.
19. "I Am Weary (Let Me Rest)" by Pete Roberts, performed by The Cox Family on O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack.
20. "Petit Concert" from L'histoire Du Soldat by Igor Stravinsky on Stravinsky Plays Stravinsky.
21. "Donna" by Miles Davis on Volume One.
22. Partita #3 In E, BWV 1006 - 1. Preludio by J.S. Bach, performed by Jascha Heifetz.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Solfege abuse!

Bart Collins has pointed out a foul-mouthed toy piano, but he (and the local news program) miss the real problem. This horrible keyboard is promoting anachronistic modes!

Until one day when she and Autumn were playing with it.

DO - RA - ME - FA - SO...

And Autumn played a section backwards...

SO-FA- ME- RA

Rather than playing in the major mode (DO RE MI FA SOL) as God intended, or at least the minor mode (DO RE ME FA SOL) approved by minor deities, Fisher-Price has apparently created a demonic instrument that spouts out Phrygian scales. Now all our little tykes will be singing Mille Regretz rather than Mary Had a Little Lamb. Quelle horreur!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Be Good for Peace Monkey's Sake

A colleague sent me this "translation" of Carmina Burana. I'm still deciding how to retaliate.

This is Your Drugs on Music

Dave Munger is asking you to reveal your bad habits, and he also wants to know what drugs you use. Seriously, he is looking at any connections between favorite music and recreational pharmacology:
So while we know the stereotype of rock fans is that they prefer beer and marijuana to wine and cocktails, the Rentfrow and Gosling study can't tell us whether the stereotype is true. Today's study addresses that limitation.

The study is mostly anonymous, though IP information is initially recorded. So if you are running for president, you may not want to take the survey and reveal to the world that your favorite subgenre of alternative rock is emo.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

FriPod: All

1. "All Along the Watch Tower" by Bob Dylan, performed by Jimi Hendrix on The Ultimate Experience.
2. "All Blues" by Miles Davis on Kind Of Blue.
3. "All For Leyna" by Billy Joel on Glass Houses.
4. "All God's Chillun Got Rhythm" by Bronislaw Kaper/Gus Kahn/Walter Jurmann, performed by Ray Brown on Jazz Giant.
5. "All I Have To Do Is Dream" performed by The Everly Brothers.
6. "All I Want" by Bobby McFerrin on Simple Pleasures.
7. "All Love Can Be" by James Horner, performed by Charlotte Church on A Beautiful Mind Soundtrack.
8. "All My Life" performed by Ella Fitzgerald with Teddy Wilson and His Orchestra on Jazz: The Singers 1930s.
9. "All Of You" by Cole Porter, performed by The Miles Davis Quintet on 'Round About Midnight.
10. "All they that see Him" from the Messiah by George Friderich Handel, performed by John Aler; Andrew Davis, Toronto Symphony, Toronto Mendelssohn Choir.
11. "All we like sheep" from the Messiah.
12. "All You Wanna Do Is Dance" by Billy Joel on Turnstiles.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Hooray, hooray, the country's risin', for Henry Clay and Frelinghuysen*

Teresa Nielsen Hayden has been digging far too much into YouTube for grassroots political songs. Besides the Obama songs already mentioned by Phil, Teresa has found calypso, Makossa, five more Spanish songs, three raps, a torch song, vaudeville, etc. She also found two Clinton songs that are slightly better than the Laverne&Shirley knockoff that Phil found, a few McCain and Ron Paul songs, and several Huckabee tributes, including a heavy metal number called "Huck 'Em All" (yes, it's a tribute, not a parody). Go read Teresa's post and enjoy all of the links.

*I did it for you, Patrick!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Is that a piano in your pocket?

People are getting too clever with their iPhones:




A possible way of cheating on dictation exams? (via)

This is Your Brain on Jazz

Mind Hacks has written about a new study of the neuroscience of jazz improvisation. Six pianists' brains were scanned while they performed a scale, a memorized jazz melody, or improvisations of either the scale or the melody. "For Scale's improvisation condition, subjects improvised in quarter notes only, selecting all notes from within one octave and from the C major scale notes alone..." "For Jazz's improvisation condition, subjects improvised using the composition's underlying chord structure as the basis for spontaneous creative output..."

The brain scans (fMRI's) showed that one area of the brain had reduced activity during improvisations. The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is associated with self-censorship and other inhibiting behaviors, suggesting that jazz improvisation requires a lack of inhibition. Another area of the brain showed heightened activity during improvisation, the medial prefrontal cortex. This area is associated with actions of individuality or self-expression, "such as telling a story about yourself."

Thus jazz improvisation is about revealing yourself, and requires you to be less inhibited to do so. I wonder if other types of improvisation - aleatory, free improv, embellishments - would have similar results.

Charles J. Limb and Allen R. Braun, "Neural Substrates of Spontaneous Musical Performance: An fMRI Study of Jazz Improvisation" Public Library of Science One [an open source journal], Feb. 27, 2008.