Tuesday, July 29, 2008


This last weekend I went to Terre Haute to take part in the opening of the local Obama/Democratic Party campaign headquarters, one of twenty here in Indiana. It was amazing to see how many of us were new to campaign volunteering. I'm doing it because Barack Obama treats us like adults. He isn't afraid of nuance, and shows that he has both learned a great deal about all the relevant issues and is open minded to learning more. His speech on race relations sold it for me, and made me decide I want to work hard to help him get elected. In 2000 I was living in the very red North Dakota, so had no hope that my vote would help Al Gore get elected. In 2004 I was living here in Indiana, and again had no hope that my vote would help John Kerry. But this year, Indiana's 11 electoral votes could actually go to Barack Obama. Polls are running neck and neck. So I'm volunteering, and set up a fundraising page. Go donate $25, and take power away from the "Pioneers" who bundle over $100,000 to buy influence with the politicians.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Best of the Rest: 7-26-08

Since this is new, a reminder: These are all blogs that are NOT on my lists of the top 50 Classical Blogs. However, since those lists are merely about links, not about quality, I'm doing my part to expose lesser-linked blogs to the bright light of ... my readers?

1. Mahler Owes Me Ten Bucks: Chantal explains why she has this blog, how it is different from her professional reviews, and why her legs turn to jello when she is listening to Mahler 6.

2. Music Matters: Henkjan Honing has two posts about the recent Music & Language conference held in Boston. In the first, he talks about how influential Lerdahl and Jackendoff's book, A Generative Theory of Tonal Music was in bringing music theory to scientists. In the second, he points to a Boston Globe reporter who asked whether the conference attendees could help him decide what music to play for his infant son.

3. Feast of Music: A good mini-review of David Lang's "American Shelter," part of a Bang on a Can collaboration. "It was shimmering, transcendent, the most mystical experience of the entire weekend. Take that, kids. And run with it."

4. ThoughtLights: Dan B. muses on how to determine quality. He looks at views by Greg Sandow, Kyle Gann, and a NYTimes article on reading, before coming to his own conclusions.

5. The View from Here: In between music reviews for the Chicago Sun-Times, Andrew Patner posts about the new Poet Laureate, Kay Ryan.

Friday, July 25, 2008

FriPod: Animals

I'm taking care of Buster and Gracie this weekend, so the house is full of animals.

1. Animal Ditties by Anthony Plog (lyrics by Ogden Nash), performed by the Summit Brass on Colors for Brass. Movements are I. Turtle, II. Porpoise, III. Python, IV. Dog, V. Ant, VI. Centipede, VII. Rhinoceros, VIII. Mule

2. "IV. The Animal Realm" from The Six Realms For Amplified Cello And Orchestra by Peter Lieberson, performed by Michaela Fukacova, Odense Symphony Orchestra, Justin Brown.

3. Strange Imaginary Animals album by Eighth Blackbird. "Evanescence" and "Violence" by Gordon Fitzell, "Friction Systems" by David Gordon, Indigenous Instruments by Steven Mackey, "Zaka" by Jennifer Higdon, "Strange Imaginary Remix" by Dennis DeSantis.

4. "Git Along, Little Dogies" performed by Pete Seeger on Children's Concert at Town Hall.

5. "Dog Eats Dog" from Les Miserables by Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil, Herbert Kretzmer, original Broadway Cast.

Can you believe I don't have any tracks with Cat in any form or language?

Update: Peter Kaye helps me out with this video:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Another book meme

Chad torments me with another book meme, where I can show the gaps in my education. Those in bold I have read, those in italics I started but didn't finish. I highly recommend A Confederacy of Dunces and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, two very different books. Which ones have you read?

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis [redundant!]
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo [in French!]

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I know that guy!

ANAblog has two tribute posts to James Darling, thanks to the re-release of his Kennan Sonata recording. It took me a second to realize my connection with him, but then it hit me. First, I heard him play with the Cleveland Orchestra for the three years that I regularly attended their concerts (fall of '93- spring '96). The trumpet section was pretty spectacular, especially with Jim and Michael Sachs. Second, my ex-wife studied with him for a year at Cleveland State U., and I got to observe one lesson with him. He wasn't the most dynamic or musical trumpet teacher I experienced, that would be Barbara Butler and Jim Thompson respectively, but he clearly knew his craft and communicated it effectively. I think I'll get the new CD, particularly since I don't have a recording of the Kennan or the Bertold Hummel.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Best of the Rest

I'm inspired by the various "Link Posts" that bloggers do when they have nothing else to say. But given the recent top 50 lists I just published, I'm also interested in giving a voice to those who aren't as well known. So this will be a roughly regular feature, The Best of the Rest, a list of links to posts from blogs that aren't on the Top 50 lists.

1. Theme and Variations: A review of two CD's by the Amadeus Guitar Duo, Baroque Moments and Images from the South. "However, there is much to be said for the guitar ensemble."

2. Of Sound Mind: Falling in love with the sound of cutting apart a large oil tank with a Sawzall. "The overall effect is what you might imagine, a grandiose cacophony, but there is something about the pacing and the incidental sounds made by the removal of a panel, or the constant drone of the waves, that is kind of magical."

3. Musicology/Matters: "A PhD in Horribleness", reviewing/appreciating Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible as an unusual parody musical.

4. Fredosphere: On how writing short science fiction caused composer's block, and the final revisions to Fred's choral work, The Moon that Dreamed of Earth.

5. Joshua Nemith's Cincinnati Pianist Blog: This is a slightly older post, but still a good one: Advice for performing at a funeral. "If your pastor calls you in and tells you that the deceased person's Uncle Hank and Cousin Jimmy want you to accompany them on a banjo and harmonica rendition of Barry Manilow's "Looks Like We Made It" – smile politely and say you would be delighted. When the duo show up twenty minutes before the funeral with five chord changes scribbled on a greasy napkin, and they instruct you to just "follow them", smile again and serve up the music as best you can."

Friday, July 18, 2008

FriPod: High School

I'm in Wisconsin for my 20th high school reunion. Wish me luck!

1. "Chorus: Glory to God in the Highest" from The Messiah by G.F. Handel, performed by Andrew Davis with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and the Toronto Symphony.

2. "The Most High And Mighty Christianus The Fourth, King Of Denmark, His Galliard AKA The Battle Galliard" by John Dowland, performed by Sting and Eden Karamazov.

3. "Groovin' High" by Dizzy Gillespie, performed by Arturo Sandoval on Danzon.

4. "Highway Star" by Deep Purple on Machine Head.

5. "How High the Moon" by Morgan Lewis and Nancy Hamilton, performed by a) Duke Ellington, b) Ella Fitzgerald, c) Modern Jazz Quartet.

6. "In the Highways" by Maybelle Carter, performed by the Peasall Sisters on O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack.

7. "Move On Up a Little Higher" by Brewster and Davis, performed by Mahalia Jackson.

8. "Poem 1. Vysehrad (The High Citadel)" from Ma Vlast by Bedrich Smetana, performed by Zdenek Macal and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

9. "Summer, Highland Falls" by Billy Joel on Turnstiles.

10. "Thou art gone up on high" from The Messiah by Handel, performed by Samuel Ramey with Andrew Davis and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

11. Movement 1. "The School" from Concerto for Trumpet, Percussion and Keyboard by Dalibor Vackár, performed by John Wallace, Radoslav Kvapil, and the Wallace Collection.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Political Art Beat

Good thing I included Darcy James Argue on my top 50+ list this time (he's #20). He will be representing ALL of us at the Netroots Nation convention in Austin, thus he will be the face of the arts for all those wacky liberals. Not really, as classical music already has an inside man for liberal blogging, in the form of Richard Einhorn, aka Tristero of Digby's Hullabaloo. However, I can't tell whether Tristero is attending Netroots Nation along with his blogging partner. Hey Darcy, can you get an autograph from Markos for me?

Monday, July 14, 2008

SNOB-MUSAC, Google Edition

As promised, here is the Google backlinks edition of the Semi-annual Naming of Blogs Mostly Used to Scribble About Classical music. Unlike with Technorati, which only counts links in the last six months, Google backlinks can accumulate. Thus older blogs gain a benefit. The average gain in links from last December is 382, all but three of the 224 blogs measured had gained (excepting one blog that changed URLs). Like the Technorati edition, I am including the change in Google links in brackets.

1 The Rest is Noise: 7730 [+1170] Alex Ross (Crit)
2 On an Overgrown Path: 3680 [+1100] Bob Shingleton (producer)
3 Ionarts: 3450 [+1570] Charles T. Downey (A)
4 An Unamplified Voice: 3370 [+2858] JSU (O) [the big mover of the list!]
5 Sandow: 3170 [+610] Greg Sandow (consultant)
6 PostClassic: 3070 [+280] Kyle Gann (C)
7 Sequenza21: 2870 [+1310] Jerry Bowles (C)
8 Jessica Duchen: 2820 [+1200] (Crit)
9 Sounds and Fury: 2740 [+1420] AC Douglas (L)
10 Opera Chic: 2670 [+2458] (O)
11 The Iron Tongue of Midnight: 2590 [+1460] Lisa Hirsch (Crit)
12 Night after Night: 2400 [+990] Steve Smith (Crit)
13 Soho the Dog: 2320 [+1300] Matthew Guerreri (C)
13 Musical Perceptions: 2320 [+1230] Me (A)
15 The Standing Room: 2220 [+1444] Monsieur C (voice)
16 Slipped Disc: 2210 [new to list] Norman Lebrecht (consultant)
17 Think Denk: 2160 [+1241] Jeremy Denk (piano)
18 The Concert: 2120 [+1358] Anne-Carolyn Bird (voice)
19 La Cieca: 2090 [+1385] James Jorden (O)
20 Classical Music: 2000 [+970] Janelle Gelfand (Crit)
21 Oboeinsight: 1780 [+916] Patty Mitchell (oboe)
22 Vilaine fille: 1730 [+1039] (Crit)
23 Aworks: 1700 [+978] Robert Gable (L)
24 Mad Musings of Me: 1680 [+610] Gertsamtkunstwerk (O)
25 The Rambler: 1670 [+1016] Tim Rutherford-Johnson (A)
26 Deceptively Simple: 1630 [+779] Marc Geelhoed (Crit/administration)
27 Listen: 1530 [+797] Steve Hicken (C and Crit)
28 Trrill: 1440 [+1014] Nick Scholl (O)
29 Sieglinde’s Diaries: 1420 [+806] Leon Dominguez (O)
30 ANABlog: 1410 [+1100] Analog Arts Ensemble
31 Dial “M” for Musicology: 1380 [+888] Phil Ford and Jonathan Bellman (A)
32 Mostly Opera: 1370 [new to list] (O)
33 Musical Assumptions: 1150 [+862] Elaine Fine (C and viola)
34 The Well-Tempered Blog: 1140 [+525] Bart Collins (piano)
35 Prima La Musica, poi le parole: 1130 [+587] Sarah Noble (O)
36 Meanwhile, here in France: 1120 [+517] Ruth (cello)
37 Renewable Music: 1080 [+684] Daniel Wolf (C)
38 Wellsung: 1070 [+448] Alex and Jonathan (O)
38 Twang Twang Twang: 1070 [+356] Helen Radice (harp)
40 BLOGregular: 1030 [new to list] Bobregular (L? in Italian)
41 A View from the Podium: 1010 [+703] Kenneth Woods (conductor)
42 Felsenmusick: 932 [+462] Daniel Felsenfield (C)
43 My Favorite Intermissions: 929 [+670] Maury D'annato (O)
44 Feast of Music: 919 [+725] (L?)
45 Roger Bourland: 909 [+462] Roger Bourland (C)
46 Thirteen Ways: 892 [+599] eighth blackbird (ensemble)
47 Collaborative Piano: 872 [+592] Chris Foley (piano)
48 Yankeediva: 841 [new to list] Joyce DiDonato (voice)
49 Daily Observations: 835 [+397] Charles Noble (viola)
50 Notes From the Kelp: 829 [new to list] Alex Shapiro (C)

Friday, July 11, 2008

SNOB-MUSAC, Technorati edition

Here is the semi-annual listing of the bløgösph¥re, only one month late! This is the version based upon Technorati. I'll post the Google version on Monday. Based on previous complaints, I have omitted Terry Teachout's blog. However, a new blog has taken his place at the top, perhaps also controversial. However, it is definitely about classical music. Much movement, and many new blogs in the list, thanks to Chris Foley's extensive list at Pageflakes. I'm including the change in Technorati authority this time, so you can see how much movement there was.

The list shows the rank, the blog, the TA and change from the last listing, the author(s), and the category: C = composer, Crit = critic, O = opera, A = academic, L = listener, AD = arts director, and the rest are self explanatory.
UPDATE: Corrections have been made, based on comments and email.

1 Music Meets Tech: 705 [new to list] Hugh Sung (piano)
2 The Rest is Noise: 497 [-153] Alex Ross (Crit)
3 Sequenza21: 151 [-632] Jerry Bowles (C)
4 Opera Chic: 147 [-34] (O)
5 PostClassic: 129 [0] Kyle Gann (C)
6 Nico Muhly: 118 [new] (C)
7 Sandow: 107 [0] Greg Sandow (Consultant)
8 Violinist.com Diaries: 106 [-52] (violin)
9 Ionarts: 103 [-30] Charles T. Downey (A)
10 La Cieca: 101 [-2] James Jorden (O)
11 Adaptistration: 98 [+30] Drew McManus (orchestra management)
12 Dial “M” for Musicology: 93 [+14] Phil Ford and Jonathan Bellman (A)
13 On an Overgrown Path: 91 [-53] Bob Shingleton (producer)
14 Classical Life: 87 [+46] Timothy Mangan (Crit)
15 Soho the Dog: 83 [-37] Matthew Guerreri (C)
16 Jason Heath's Double Bass Blog: 80 [-32] (bass)
17 Collaborative Piano: 78 [+23] Chris Foley (piano)
18 Musical Perceptions: 76 [+14] Me (A)
19 Think Denk: 73 [-33] Jeremy Denk (piano)
20 Darcy James Argue's Secret Society: 73 [new to list] (piano, C)
21 Jessica Duchen: 71 [-22] (Crit)
22 Night after Night: 70 [-52] Steve Smith (Crit)
23 Sounds and Fury: 70 [-6] AC Douglas (L)
24 Deceptively Simple: 62 [-12] Marc Geelhoed (Crit/orchestra administration)
25 The Concert: 62 [-9] Anne-Carolyn Bird (voice)
25 Mostly Opera: 62 [new] (O)
27 Oboeinsight: 59 [+1] Patty Mitchell (oboe)
28 CBC Radio 2: 58 [new] Li Robbins (radio director)
29 A Beginner's Guide to Classical Music: 57 [+41] Classical Convert (L)
30 The Standing Room: 56 [-9] Monsieur C (voice)
31 Roger Bourland: 54 [+7] Roger Bourland (C)
32 The Rambler: 53 [-7] Tim Rutherford-Johnson (A)
32 Mad Musings of Me: 53 [+23] Gertsamtkunstwerk (O)
34 Sieglinde’s Diaries: 51 [+12] Leon Dominguez (O)
35 Yankeediva: 45 [new] Joyce DiDonato (voice)
36 The Iron Tongue of Midnight: 43 [-21] Lisa Hirsch (Crit)
37 Renewable Music: 41 [+3] Daniel Wolf (C)
38 A View from the Podium: 39 [+13] Kenneth Woods (conductor)
39 My Favorite Intermissions: 38 [-4] Maury D’annato (O)
39 Daily Observations: 38 [+18] Charles Noble (viola)
39 Africlassical: 38 [new] William J. Zick (A)
42 Musical Assumptions: 37 [+2] Elaine Fine (C and viola)
43 The Metropolitan Opera Blog: 36 [new] Philipp Brieler (O)
44 CSO Bass Blog: 35 [-14] (bass)
44 Aworks: 35 [-5] Robert Gable (L)
44 Thirteen Ways: 35 [+7] eighth blackbird (ensemble)
44 The Well-Tempered Blog: 35 [+8] Bart Collins (piano)
48 Chicago Classical Music: 34 [-2] (L)
49 Arts Addict: 34 [new] Jason Heath (bass) yes, a second blog on the list
50 Brian Dickie: 34 [+1] (AD)
51 Vilaine fille: 33 [+3] (Crit)
52 Classical Music: 31 [+5] Janelle Gelfand (Crit)

At first I thought there would be a trend of all the blogs having reduced numbers of links, perhaps because I waited until the middle of July when everyone is on vacation. But then it seemed that while some big name blogs have lost links, they are balanced by others gaining in links. Finally, I did some math. Among the blogs already listed previously, there has been an average reduction of 24.1 in Technorati Authority, bigger than I thought. The median is a reduction of 2 TA, so the average is definitely influenced by the really big losses in Sequenza21 and Alex Ross. Taking those two outliers, the average is -4.7, much closer to the median, and reflects my second impression. So both thoughts were correct: some significant blogs have lost Technorati rank, but most have had minimal losses.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Rhythm as signifier

I just watched a new political ad by the Democratic National Committee, showing how John McCain has changed his estimates of how long American troops will be in Iraq. No new information, but the background music is fascinating. At first I thought it was in an asymmetric meter, or more likely a changing meter, with 12/8 as the predominant meter mixed up with a 2/4 or 9/8 to make it sound clumsy. But it is more subtle than that. The music stays in 12/8 for the whole time. What gives this insidious feeling of incompetence is the use of syncopation. The upper strings at points sound like they are slowing down, though they always end on the right beat. The bass line at a few points shifts to an almost duple, but it isn't exactly duple, thus making it even more uneasy. But what is truly amazing is that the musicians demonstrate a real skill in playing complex rhythms that purposely sound wrong. Thus they are really good at sounding bad. I want to know who wrote this music.

Telly Monster must be excited!

Yesterday's Indianapolis Star had an article about a new local company, Musical DNA, which is producing a software program for visualizing music. From what I can tell, the software maps notes played on a piano or from a recording onto a pitch-class space, with lines connecting simultaneous notes. Thus any standard triad will be represented as a triangle (leading to my post title). The founder, Ken Lemons is a pianist with a BM from Nebraska and an MM from local Butler University. He (and his funders) think that this will be useful for teaching music, either hooked up to a piano or as part of some toys:

A projector that attaches to a child's crib, projecting color-coded animated geometry of music of whatever source the parent desires.

A 12-note Simon Says game of musical geometry that teaches basic shapes of sound in a game format, including connect-the-dots.

A child's guitar, with four buttons: happy, sad, spooky, dreamy -- the four basic triangles of musical sound.

Let's see, happy = major triad, sad = minor triad, spooky = diminished triad and that leaves the augmented triad as dreamy? Wow, I do not associate the augmented triad with dreaminess. Alien, yes. Tense, absolutely. I'll even go with exotic. But not dreamy.

Overall, I don't see the big deal about this software. The "same shapes" Ken talks about do not map into any sameness on the piano: the hand position for a C major triad feels considerably different from the hand position for a B major triad; but is very similar to the hand position for an A minor triad, which is a different "shape". I don't see how the colors are used with the shapes, beyond mere aesthetics. Some of the suggested future uses imply that rhythm is also encoded, and that pitch-classes beyond the 12 chromatic steps can also be encoded. But the demonstration and the toys mentioned certainly don't show this. Does anyone else have an opinion or insider knowledge about this?

Sunday, July 06, 2008

SunPod: Why I'm not president

I just read a new iPod meme, which reminded me that I hadn't done my FriPod since restarting my blog. The meme, from Chad, who got it from Matt Yglesias, is the following:
1. Take out your iPod [I go straight for iTunes on the computer]
2. Press shuffle songs.
3. Answer the following: a) How many songs before you come to one that would absolutely disqualify you from being President? b) What is that song? [I'm going to list all of the songs leading up to the incriminating music.]

1. Lullaby and Doina by Osvaldo Golijov.
2. Eine Alpensinfonie by Richard Strauss.
3. String Quartet, Op 18 No. 5 by Ludwig von Beethoven
4. "Asia felice hor ben posso chiamarmi" by Andrea Gabrieli. This is actually from a CD called Politics, Dialogues and Pastorales, but I don't think it disqualifies me.
5. Su le sponde del Tebro by Alessandro Scarlatti.
6. The Natural World by John Harbison.
7. "Southwest Blues" by Bob Levy.
8. Gloria by Francis Poulenc.
9. Piano trio by Martin Bresnick.
10. Trumpet concerto in Eb by Georg Philipp Telemann.
11. "Cocktails for Two" by Arthur Johnston and Sam Coslo. Ooh, this one advocates smocking and drinking, but not really a problem.
12. "Roll 'Em Pete" by Joe Turner. Well, if leaving a wife for someone else didn't disqualify John McCain, this isn't a problem.
13. "Ich hab'im Traum geweinet" from Dichterliebe by Robert Schumann. Weeping did in Edmund Muskie, but that was public, not in dreams.
14. Symphony No. 2 by Johannes Brahms.
15. Clarinet Quartet, K 496 by WA Mozart.
16. "The First Time" by U2.
17. Concerto for Orchestra by Jennifer Higdon.
18. Trumpet Concerto in C by Johann Christian Fischer.
19. The Nutcracker by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. It's got battles, so everything's good.
20. Symphonie funebre et triomphale by Hector Berlioz. The composer did take opium, but for a different piece.
21. "Searchin'" by Lieber and Stoller. It can sound like stalking, but also compares the narrator to police.
22. "A Heart Full of Love" from Les Miserables. Okay, this is both an elitist latte-sipping musical, which also advocates revolution, and has an escaped convict as the good guy and the police officer committing suicide. Not good for a presidential candidate.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Doctor, it's terminal!

A colleague in the Theater department is working on an interesting paper about what counts as a terminal degree in the arts. In doing so, he asked for feedback on the unique situation of music departments, which have a potential of three different terminal degrees: PhD, DMA, and MM. Since our university does accept the MM as a terminal degree for studio professors, my colleague was wondering why a musician would pursue the DMA. My interpretation is that music departments/schools/conservatories are very slowly transitioning from an old model of professional experience to the newer model of academic credentials, allowing many gradations within. Wikipedia claims that the first DMA program was started by Boston University in 1955, though I have memories of Eastman's Howard Hanson being involved in the creation. And here is some confirmation.
Hanson introduced the Doctor of Musical Arts in creation or performance (previously only given for musicology). “A doctorate in piccolo playing?” sniffed a critic. “That’s right,” Hanson agreed, “but only for good piccolo players. At least we won’t make bad musicologists out of good performers which should be a boon to both musicology and performance.”

Regardless, the introduction of a new degree takes time to gain acceptance. At this point, there are still many music professors who finished schooling before DMAs became widespread. But this isn't the only reason MM's are still accepted as terminal degrees. A premium is still placed on professional experience, often gained by musicians who had no plans to become university teachers and thus did not pursue the doctorate. This "doing" expertise is echoed by the MFA for Theater, Creative Writing, and Studio Art that is also accepted as a terminal degree.

How do you feel about the differences between a college professor who has a DMA versus one with an MM as the terminal degree? And what do you think is the future of academic credentials in music performance/conducting/composing? (I'm especially looking at you, if you aren't too busy remodeling your house and planning a wedding.)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Bob Dylan, Attorney at Law

A family member and Dylanophile sent me this interesting International Herald Tribune story about Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts citing the Bard of Duluth in his dissent last week:
''The absence of any right to the substantive recovery means that respondents cannot benefit from the judgment they seek and thus lack Article III standing,'' Roberts wrote. '''When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.' Bob Dylan, Like a Rolling Stone, on Highway 61 Revisited (Columbia Records 1965).''

Alex Long, a law professor at the University of Tennessee and perhaps the nation's leading authority on the citation of popular music in judicial opinions, said this was almost certainly the first use of a rock lyric to buttress a legal proposition in a Supreme Court decision. ''It's a landmark opinion,'' Long said.

Is this truly meant to be convincing? As the article points out, Roberts doesn't use the quote with the meaning Dylan had intended. Roberts twists a statement of anti-materialism into a justification for protecting a phone company's money. So why even bother quoting from a poet/songwriter with whom Roberts clearly doesn't agree? My guess is that Roberts is trying to fool himself, either that he is cooler than he really is, or that there is some poetic truth to his money-grubbing ways. Either way, it is just sad.