Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Best of the Rest: We Got Pictures!

Night After Night gives us some good pics of Bang on a Can's latest invention, the Asphalt Orchestra.

Darcy James Argue mourns the death of jazz drummer Rashied Ali, with a nice photo taken by DJA himself.

Music 000001 produces a very complicated graph of "the Phylogenetic tree of complete mtDNA sequences belonging to haplogroup L1c" from a paper about Pygmies and Bantu farmers by Quintana-Murcia.

Feast of Music has some pics of what he calls the misnamed Mostly Mozart festival at Lincoln Center.

Musical Assumptions shares a picture and a recipe for Hummus-Tahini Seitan.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Your Blogs on Brains on Music on er... Running?

Cognitive Daily reports that musically-inexperienced people are just as able to communicate emotions as experienced musicians when given only one pitch to express their emotions. The study by Baraldi, Poli, and Roda asked people to express eight different intentions by choosing one musical note on a keyboard and repeatedly playing that note as loud as desired, as long as desired, and as fast as desired. Look at the charts to see how similar the two groups (very small, only three people in each group) were in their choices. Likewise, 30 listeners (15 of them experienced musicians) matched the intended expressions pretty well (5 out of 8).

Mind Hacks reports on three things that affect my life. First, how does telephone hold music (Muzak) affect our perception of time? And more importantly, how can phone systems best use music to keep people from hanging up? Apparently the answer is for familiar music in short bursts, alt rock for women, classical for men.

Second, apparently my plans to run a marathon in November will put my body through the same mental stress as "soldiers during military training and interrogation, rape victims just after the attack, severe burn injury patients and first-time parachute jumpers." What the hell am I thinking?

And third, shifting your perception of location through the use of prism glasses affects your perception of time. Shift your vision to the right, and time durations seem longer. Shift your vision to the left, and time durations seem shorter (than actual clock-time durations). This is very interesting, given my interest in musical time. How could the manipulation of musical events be equivalent to shifting the vision to the left or the right?

Friday, August 14, 2009

FriPod: Wedding

First, the answers to the last FriPod:
1. "Song of the Plains" performed by Paul Robeson Jr.
2. "Nagen A Herzen Fuhl Ich" from New Liebeslieder Waltzes, Op. 65, performed by Catherine Edwards, John Alley, Jane Glover; BBC Singers.
3. "Pretty Woman" performed by Roy Orbison.
4. "Mein Tröster" from St. Mark Passion by J.S. Bach, performed by The Choir Of Gonville And Caius College, Cambridge.
5. "No One Mourns the Wicked" from Wicked, composed by Steven Schwartz, performed by the Broadway Cast.
6. "Try To Remember" from the Fantasticks, composed by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, performed by David Cryer.
7. "In My Life" from Les Miserables, composed by Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil, Herbert Kretzmer, performed by Broadway Cast.
8. "Bar Albor de Madrid" from Ainadamar composed by Osvaldo Golijov, performed by Dawn Upshaw.
9. "Born In Blood" from Woman on fire, performed by D'arc.
10. "Ode To My Family" performed by The Cranberries.

In honor of the wedding last weekend, here are this week's tunes:

1. Cantata No. 202 "Wedding" composed by J.S. Bach, performed by Kathleen Battle, Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
2. "Wedding" from Lt. Kijé Suite composed by Sergei Prokofiev, performed by a) Dallas Symphony Orchestra, b) the Empire Brass.
3. "Wedding March" from The Golden Cockerel by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, performed by Yan Pascal Tortelier; BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.
4. "Wedding Chorale/Beggars At The Feast" from Les Miserables performed by Broadway Cast.
5. "Wedding March" from Midsummer Night's Dream by Felix Mendelssohn, performed by Rolf Smedvig.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Okay, I'm back home! I had camped with the two kids and the squiggly dachshund in Punderson State Park, Ohio and Verona Beach State Park, New York on the way to Boston. Punderson wasn't very exciting, but Verona Beach was beautiful. The campsites were right by the lake (Lake Oneida), with the beach a very short walk away. And they even deliver firewood right to your site!

The four days in Boston were jam packed. The first day involved tux fitting, a family BBQ, and swimming in the hotel pool. The second day involved a TV shoot*, more swimming, the wedding rehearsal, and an excellent rehearsal dinner. The wedding was actually an hour away from Boston, at a beautiful winery. And my rehearsing was very strenuous, both memorizing my best man duties and running through all the music with the rest of the brass quintet. We even missed the appetizers! Saturday was filled with the wedding, as I had to get myself and the kids dressed (my daughter was the most beautiful flower girl in the world, with gorgeous hair done by her incredible cousins), and get out to the winery by 11 am for pictures. Then I was very busy, playing prelude music and the processionals (Handel's "Hornpipe" from Water Music and Charpentier's Prelude from Te Deum), running to stand up in the wedding party, running back with my brother to play a sextet arrangement of "Ashokan Farewell", running back up to help catch the two dachshunds who carried up the rings (sort of), and then running back to play the recessional (Rimsky-Korsakov's "Procession of the Nobles"). Then the brass quintet moved to the reception area and we played some postlude music, so we missed the cocktails that were apparently very tasty. Add dinner, my toast, and dancing, and I was exhausted. We didn't get back to Boston until 7 pm, having a quick bite at my brother and sister-in-law's house while my kids "helped" open wedding presents. Sunday morning we had a family brunch, swam some more, and then my kids went with my sister's family on a duck tour while I proved how awful a golfer I am with my brother, parents, nephew, and brother-in-law. We all met up at a sports bar right next to Fenway Park for dinner.

Monday we headed back, making it to Bald Eagle State Park in Pennsylvania rather late because of highway construction. In fact, there was tons of construction going on throughout Pennsylvania, probably those shovel-ready projects related to the stimulus package. I was able to get enough of a fire started to heat up dinner, even though the park office was closed when we arrived, so I had to scrounge partially burnt wood from empty sites, and the tinder was rather damp from recent rains. But the next day we spent at Barkcamp State Park in southeastern Ohio, after listening to "The Ballad of Billy the Kid" about five times while passing through Wheeling. Barkcamp had a great beach and wonderful hiking trails. The only bummer was that there were no flush toilets, something I managed to miss when picking parks to camp at.

*My brother and sister-in-law managed to get involved with the PBS kids show "Fetch", with Fetcher kids decorating two wedding cakes that all of the wedding guests had to vote on. That Friday morning some of us went to a preliminary shoot at the bakery, including my dachshund and my brother's two dachshunds. Each of my kids had some good lines, we will have to see what makes it past the editing process when the show airs next year.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

On the road

I was going to warn everyone that blogging would be sparse this week,
but the reason for the sparseness kept me from blogging to warn you. I
just finished camping my way from Indiana to Boston, where my brother
will get married on Saturday. What with packing up two kids and a
squirmy dachshund, my hands were rather full. But here is something to
tide you over: my kids discovered Potter Puppet Pals on Youtube and
have been exploring allof the different versions. Start with The
Mysterious Ticking Noise: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tx1XIm6q4r4

Then look at the sped up and backwards versions. What fascinated me
was that the song lost almost all meter when played backwards, except
"Severus" backwards did evoke a meter. But the downbeat was in a
different spot. Quite surprising.

Scott Spiegelberg
Associate Professor of Music
DePauw University

Sunday, August 02, 2009

What Beats in a Warm Summer's Night?

Stan Katz, director of the Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School, was concerned about the lack of things to do in the summer. He was pleasantly surprised to discover the So Percussion Summer Institute giving an outdoor performance. Read about his reactions to the concert at the Chronicle for Higher Education.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Stravinsky and Money

No, these are actually two separate topics, combined into one post. First, Michael Monroe has spent his summer well, creating Mr. Stravinsky's Random Accent Generator. Click through to see what and why (though the later question might well be WHY?!!!!)

Second, another article appeared in today's IndyStar about the Venzago/ISO stir. According to Venzago's manager, the issue was money. The ISO administration wanted Venzago to take a 50% cut in salary for this year, and to go with a podium fee payment system for 2010-11 instead of a standard salary. According to Drew McManus' compensation reports, Mario Venzago made $395,764 last year, with the base musician salary at $72,800. CEO Simon Crookall earned $256,823. I don't know if Simon will take a salary cut this year, I would certainly expect it as a good moral booster. Another part of the newspaper article mentions that the ISO had a budget shortfall of $293,000, and they laid off eight front office staff this year.
Update: I missed the little arrows in Drew's charts which show that Mario had a raise this last year, and Simon did indeed get a salary cut. I don't have a subscription to Drew's site to see how much the cut was. Mario's 2006-7 salary was reported in the newspaper as $388,695, so it looks like he got about $5000 raises each year.