Sunday, February 26, 2012

RIP Maurice André

I was saddened to hear that Maurice André died today.  He was a huge inspiration to me as a burgeoning trumpeter.  His lyricism was matched only by his musicality.  Even when performing the most cheesy cornet solo, Maurice played his heart out.  At one point I drove from Appleton to the Manitowoc Public Library, about 1.5 hours one way, to check out a rare LP of him performing the Chaynes Trumpet Concerto.  It was so worth it.  His website has a great biography of him, including his winning the 1954 Geneva International Competition. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

FriPod: Hand

Capriccio for Piano (Left Hand) and Wind Ensemble, by Leoš Janáček , performed by John Wallace, trumpet, Radoslav Kvapil, piano, The Wallace Collection                              
 “Caring Hands” by Joss Whedon from the Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture)     
 “Thy Hand, Belinda / When I Am Laid In Earth” from Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell, performed by    Lorraine Hunt Lieberson & Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
“Frank Kennedy Asks For Suellen's Hand” from Gone With The Wind Soundtrack by Max Steiner
“I Gotta Hand It to You, Girlie!” from The Greater Good, by Stephen Hartke, performed by Glimmerglass Opera Orchestra, John De Haan & Stewart Robertson
“Hand In My Pocket” by Alanis Morissette from Jagged Little Pill
“He's Got the Whole World in His Hands”, Trad., arr. Margaret Bonds, performed by JennyRebecca Walker, Amanda Hopson    
“Helping Hand”  by Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile from The Goat Rodeo Sessions
“I Want To Hold Your Hand” by Lennon/McCartney, performed by The King's Singers
“Joyne Hands - Widow'S Myte” by Thomas Morley/Anthony Holborne performed by the American Brass Quintet
“Let Everyone Clap Hands Like Me” performed by Pete Seeger from Children's Concert At Town Hall
“Lying In the Hands of God” by Dave Matthews Band on Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King
Piano Concerto For The Left Hand In D Major by Maurice Ravel, performed by a) Lortie - LSO - Fruhbeck De Burgos, b) Robert Casadesus    
“Second Hand News” by Fleetwood Mac on Rumours
“Sehet, Jesus Hat Die Hand” by J.S. Bach, performed by Mark Padmore, Deborah York, Etc., Paul Mccreesh; Gabrieli Consort & Players
“Taking My Life In Your Hands” by Elvis Costello; Brodsky Quartet from The Juliet Letters

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Being Cheated

Just as I get back into blogging, there is a good classical music scandal!  Osvaldo Golijov has been borrowing music from other composers in his compositions.  There is nothing new about borrowing, in fact the IU Jacobs School of Music maintains an online database of musical borrowing.  But the complaints, by Tom Manoff, Amanda MeerAnne Midgette, and Bob Keefer, are that Golijov's borrowing has gone beyond the level of inspiration to that of passing off another's work as his own.  There is discussion of this on the Sequenza21 blog as well.  The main story is of Golijov's "Siderous", commissioned by a whole slew of orchestras in honor of Henry Fogel.  Golijov credits Michael Ward-Bergeman for using the melody from his piece, “Barbeich,” as part of the work.  The charge is that it is more than just the melody used, it is significant structural elements as well.  Michael Ward-Bergeman is quoted as being fine with Golijov's borrowing, that it was all arranged.  So he is not the victim. 

Are the commissioning orchestras being victimized?  They expected a new work by Osvaldo Golijov. But Golijov was well-known to have collaborated with various other artists on his major works, such as Ayre and Ainadamar.  So any responsible commissioning agent could expect the possibility that Golijov would collaborate on this project as well.  One comment at Sequenza21 claims the work is considerably shorter than the original commission called for, but I would think the orchestras already dealt with that issue when Golijov delivered the piece.  The same commenter claims the audience is being victimized, because they are misinformed as to the provenance of the piece.  They came to hear Golijov, dammit!  Not Michael Ward-Bergeman!  Except the program notes do give credit to Mr. Ward-Bergeman, and audiences can still judge the work regardless of authorship.

That is an interesting question, about the role of the audience in questions of authorship.  Is an audience cheated when Mozart's Requiem is performed, though he did not compose all of it?  What about works that had been attributed to one composer for years, before new scholarship revealed a different composer?  Did all the previous audiences have a cheated listening experience?  My impression is that the audience is not harmed by unattributed collaborative efforts.  Clarifying sources can make the listening experience more interesting, such as tracing all of the quotations in an Ives sonata, or noting borrowings from Strauss' Death and Transfiguration in John Williams' score to Superman.  But there is no harm done in not revealing those sources either.

Then it comes down to what composing is.  When Danger Mouse combined the Beatles' "White" album and JayZee's Black Album, was it composing?  When Berio quoted from Mahler, or Corigliano quoted from Beethoven, was that composing?  I say yes, and would also call Golijov's collaborative efforts composing as well.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

What's your drink?

My sister sent me this link to Drinkify.  Type in the music to which you are listening, and the good folks at Drinkify will tell you what you should be drinking.  Here are some of the test results I encountered, starting with my sister's Motley Crue:

Motley Crue:  8 oz. Tequila Añejo, 8 oz. Coffee, 12 oz. Honey
Combine in highball glass and serve. Stir vigorously. 

Ben Folds: 2 oz. Whiskey, 2 oz. Egg, 6 oz. Stolichnaya Vodka
Combine in shaker and strain into cocktail glass. Serve. 

Jonathan Coulton: 1 bottle Buckfast
Serve at room temperature. 

Nico Muhly:  4 oz. Gin, 4 oz. Rose's lime juice
Combine in highball glass and serve. Stir vigorously. 

Thomas Ades:  1 bottle Red wine
Serve at room temperature. 

Beethoven, Bach, any other older classical composer:  1 bottle Red wine.

Miles Davis:  1 oz Heroin
Serve neat. Stir slowly. Garnish with salt.  

I'd be offended by the classical music stereotype, but I do love my Malbec.  And I have no idea whether heroin should be garnished with salt.  Leave a comment with the music you are listening to, the drink suggested, and whether you felt it enhanced the listening experience.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What it's not

I received a press release from The New York Times Knowledge Network, announcing two new online music courses.  One of the courses is on Wagner's Ring Cycle, starting on March 19 to prepare potential audiences for the Met's productions of the cycle in April and May.  This course is described in a very positive light: "participants in this webcast will have the opportunity to delve into the significance of Wagner’s Ring Cycle in 20th-century history, philosophy, culture, and even film with one of USC’s most distinguished faculty members."

The other course, however, feels the need to tell what it's not.  Entitled "How to Listen to Classical Music," the press release describes it as "[n]ot a music theory course, not a music history course, this is a joyful listening tour led by The New York Times’ classical music reporter Daniel J. Wakin."  Directly contradicting this description is the previous sentence, including this tidbit: "">this delightful three-week course is designed to help students recognize elements unique to classical music and identify favorite musicians and composers."  Last time I checked, music theory courses were all about helping students recognize elements of music. Perhaps not unique to classical music, in fact I prefer to point out the universal nature of music theory concepts, and how they appear in different ways in different music genres.

I was about to write that I don't understand why the authors of the press release felt the need to distance the course from music theory or music history, but I realized that isn't true.  I know that classical music is perceived to suffer from the slurs of elitism, epitomized by academic courses that perpetuate technical jargon intended to keep the riff raff out.  And naturally, said academic courses are dull, boring, and unrelated to the joys of listening to music.  The PR people at the NYT want to counter that perception, by reassuring potential students that their online course will be fun, and directly relevant to music listeners.  The implied anti-elitism of the dig against music theory and music history is ironic, given the name of the course.  I would never tell an audience how they must or should listen to classical music.  I am happy to point out interesting features as uncovered by study in music theory and music history, hoping that these features will enrich the audience's listening experience, but without proscribing other means of establishing connections to the music.

I think this class will probably be very interesting.  I enjoy some of Wakin's reviews and articles, and I think online courses provide the technology for interesting multi-media presentations of concepts for interested learners.  My mother-in-law is taking a similar course right now through the University of Wisconsin, and is enjoying it a great deal.  But I think the PR department needs to rethink how to brand this course, especially if they want music theorists and musicologists to support the concept.  Don't make us into bogey men (and women).  Instead, embrace the depth of music learning that has been uncovered, and indicate how this knowledge can affect the listening experience.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Andrea Spiegelberg

8:05 LL Cool J is being super emotional. Prayer!

8:11 Adele looks lovely.

8:12 Bruno. Not sure if I like the edge. He is channeling MoTown.

8:14 I am the guest blogger and making Scott Spiegelberg somewhat annoyed. I am a neophyte to blogging.

8:16 I did not like the speaker effect at all. Is that even an instrument? It's like a lame microphone.

8:17 I will be providing any key and important quotes that Truman far he wailed that he was missing Bruce because he was getting his PJ's on.

8:21 Alicia's hair is way over the top. Bonnie is as good as ever. Better than ever! RIP Etta.

8:23 Truman just said "if you swallow hair it has no where to go"

8:24 Adele starts the metal collecting. She looks AMAZING.

8:25 I don't feel like I can give this guy a break after he beat the crap out of my girl Rih. Seriously.

8:27 He is not even a good singer. I will stop blogging in protest until this song is over.

8:31 A big shout out to STEVE SPIEGELBERG. Happy Birthday!

8:34 Can there be any more commercials?

8:35 Her earrings are way to big and the black bra under the dress is passe.

8:36 Jay Z and Kanye no show. With baby.

8:37 Reba has not changed. At all. Not sure if that is a good thing.

8:38 Jason Aldean so so live. Kelly always good live.

8:39 Scott just asked who was first American Idol.

8:40 Kelly's dress is really hot. I give it a 9. You all know Reba's husband is her manager. Huge move and a good one.

8:41 My friend, Blake Shelton, will be covering Glen Campbell.

8:44 Yo Pepsi, we all remember that Elton did a Diet Coke ad. This does nothing for your brand.

8:50 Excuse me while I take Truman to bed. He wonders if you've ever felt like a plastic bag?

8:57 Rihanna is awesome. And she has a rockin' bod. Not sure what that stomach chain type of thing is.

8:58 She dances like Britney. You think she would be good, she thinks she's good, but she's kind of not.

9:01 Excuse me while I tuck in Harrison. Word.

9:02 Okay I am blogging in time order, from earliest to present. Scott does it the other way. Sorry if it confuses you. Personal style.

9:09 Chris O'Donnell is still smokin'

9:13 Go Decemberists. Scott just said. "wow, I have that album!"

9:14 The Foo Fighters. Yawn. I miss Cobain. RIP.

9:15 Okay. Props to old school recording. Shout out to Nirvana. YAY!

9:15 Wow, Dave. Tell us how you really feel. His rant went right into LMFAO. Ironic.

9:16 I am afraid to see the Beach Boys.

9:17 However, Adam Levine makes everything better. Maybe not.

9:21 Adam Levine is now officially overexposed. And the Beach Boys are back. My mom never realized they were gone.

9:24 I feel like they probably rehearsed together once at 2:15 this afternoon.

9:33 Sir Paul does not sound so great. He kind of sounds old and depressing. Maybe he is.

9:34 This is a good time for me to tuck in back.

9:40 Taylor on the banjo!

9:41 The set looks like Uncle Jethro's Jug Band...what's the name of that Disney band with the bears?

9:44 I love her but I think Scott is trashing her. Athena heard her and came back downstairs.

9:45 I cannot imagine Nicki can top the speakers on her ass costume from last year.

9:47 While we are on costumes, Gaga has a black veil on. If she planned it a while ago it, it's hideous and the scepter is just wrong and makes her look pompous. If she's wearing it for Whitney it's even worse. And the scepter still doesn't make sense.

9:48 Ashton Kutcher is smokin'

9:51 Rollin. I love her accent. She needs to guest star on Downton.

9:56 Not sure how Russell feels about Katy's number. Go girl!

9:57 There's my friend Blake's wife, Miranda. I think that's a wig. I am sure it is.

9:58 Lady A!! So good, right?

10:03 Pumped for Adele. She makes all the overdressed cosutme changing performances look bad.

10:04 Now that I said that, she'll do some techno crazed number.

10:07 Just the back up band. Classy. Love the back up singers. By the way, this song is excellent to have going through yoru mind when swimming laps. It's the perfect BPM or something.

10:10 Scott is showing off below with some timbre analysis. That's hot.

10:12 Shout out to Starkville and Appleton.

10:13 Target is spending some change on advertising and it's very good.

10:14 So I didn't spell timbe right above, according to Scott. That's kind of a major f-up since he is on sabbatical to study and write about tambre. I mean timbre. Sigh.....I am a loser.

10:16 Taylor's dress is HOT. I cannot wait for my friend Blake.

10:17 They still have that Jug Band set out there. It just screams country. So forced.

10:19 My friend Blake is such a good singer. I 'll have to send him a tweet. Look at his eyes. Look!

10:21 I cannot believe Miranda is sitting next to Lady Gaga. Comical.

10:22 Bonnie and Gretchen played this when we were younger.

10:31 Carrie Underwood is so obviously reading  that from a prompter.

10:34 Dark Horse!!!!

10:33 Do you think he asks to be called, Mr. Bennett?

10:32 She's got some pipes though. And Tony Bennett does not age!

10:45 Nice J Hudson. RIP Whitney.

10:48 I am tired. I had to get up at like 6:00 this morning.

10:51 Not blogging about this in protest. Except I am interested in Deadmau5. I think Disney might not be.

10:52 I like the glowing foam thingies. Those would be worth searching out on eBay.

10:55 There's the annoying Foo Fighters again.

10:56 I like the Mau5, and he/she/it has a following.

10:58 Love the Mau5. Up with techno. What think, Spiegs?

10:59 Is there anything theoretically relevant, viable, interesting in the genre?

11:05 Nicki freak show. Adele, where are you?

11:10 Lady A, thank you for rescuing us

11:11 And in normal fashion, Adele wears the same dress all night. How proper.

11:14 All y'all should go to to watch the OK Go Sonic piece. Amazing.

11:19 Diana Ross. Her hair is just off the chain. If I could work that I would.

11:21 With that mask/veil, how could she even have a sip of wine?

11:23 Adele is so awesome. Snot runs down her nose too.

11:27 Scott knows all about this type of guitar riff jamming sort of thing. I am just sick of the Foo Fighters who must have a fast driver.

11:30 Paul doesn't have a good stylist. He wore a light blue shirt that showed his sweaty pits. Or maybe he doesn't give a shit.

11:31 Good night, world. When I figure out how to make those glowing swim noodles, they'll be on Etsy.

Live Blogging the Grammy's!

11:30 Final Classical awards:  Best Classical Solo Vocal went to Joyce DiDinato's Divo Diva.  She performed at the pre-televised ceremony.  And Best Contemporary Classical Composition went to Robert Aldridge's Elmer Gantry.

11:25 Nice trading fours, just like on Abby Road.  I didn't recognize all the guitarists, but good on Bruce, Joe, Dave, and Sir Paul.

11:23 Goodnight, Sir Paul.  You can't rock out your voice as much anymore.  But Boy, you gonna carry that way a long time.

11:21 Congrats to Adele.  The best Classical Solo Performance went to Christopher Lamb and the Nashville Symphony performing Joseph Schwantner's Percussion Concerto.  Schwantner is the guest artist at Music of the 21st Century at DePauw University this year, come see a Grammy winner up close.  Parts of his concerto will be performed during the festival.

11:13 The whole OK Go Car performance is pretty cool.  See it here.  There is a Car and Driver article about how they made this performance.

11:06 That was a bizarre video introduction to the Minaj performance.  The live part started like really bad musical theater.  Its become a little more interesting, but the Cockney accent is annoying.

11:00 I saw a paper a few years ago at the Society for Music Theory on the structure of German Electronica.  It was almost an ethnographic study, the theorist hanging out with djs and learning their art.  He talked about transitions between tempos, beats, and other structural elements.  At the Mannes Institute, Eric Clarke led us in a discussion of the perception of motion in some electronica.

10:59 I liked the sounds Deadmau5 was getting, Mrs. Spiegs.

10:58 The mau5ers are a little scary.  I wonder how he can see through the mask.

10:54 Again, it is nice showing the dance music in something like a club setting.  I find it amusing that they have a nod to ecstasy raves with the giant glow sticks.

10:50 Uh oh, Andrea is starting to quote from "Shit Girls Say."

10:48 My peeps, eighth blackbird, won their second Grammy for performing in Steve Mackey's Lonely Motel - Music from Slide.  The Grammy website incorrectly capitalizes their name.

10:43 I don't think Tony Bennett asked Carrie to call him "Mr. Bennett."  She was just showing respect for his standing in the field.

10:42 Finally some love for the departed classical musicians, including theorist Uncle Miltie!

10:37 Just got back from tucking Ben in.  Go Music Cares!  That speech by Bon Iver was very authentic.  The conflicted emotions of an artist surviving in a commercial medium.

10:25 Best Choral Performance went to Eric Whitacre's Light and Gold, including performances by the King's Singers, who we saw last year.

10:22  The Rhinestone Cowboy is in great physical shape!

10:21 Andrea's buddy, Blake.  See the picture on the right.

10:17 I like the Band Perry.  Mandolin love for Steve Spiegelberg's birthday!

10:13 The Best Opera Recording went to John Adams' Doctor Atomic.  It's pretty cool that a modern  opera about a scientist is getting love.

10:05 Adele sounds good after her surgery.  It is interesting how during the chorus she sings the same note twice, once belted and once in head voice.  It could be practical, because the second time she moves to yet a higher note.  But it could a timbre thing, showing a weak side to the singer or suggest she is really sad about the breakup.

10:02 Hey Andrea, your buddy Gustavo Dudamel won the best Orchestral Performance for the LA Phil's recording of Brahms 4.

10:01 Producer of the Year, Classical went to Judith Sherman.  I will have to get the American Brass Quintet album she produced (she was very busy last year).

9:58 I actually know a few of the Country nominees.  Yay Lady Antebellum, one that I know.  Fun Fact, Hillary Scott auditioned for American Idol twice and was rejected (well, didn't make it to the judge's round).

9:53 Ben pointed out that Jubilee of the X-Men can also shoot fireworks from her body.  More technical problems, or was that intended?  Probably intended.

9:50 Dr. Horrible!  More love for Adele.  I think NPH should have made cracks, even if he does respect songs.

9:45 I'm not trashing her, though I don't think her banjo was miked at all.

9:44 There is Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas, or the Bear Jubilee.

9:42 So much for Athena being tucked in.  She won't miss Taylor performing, especially "Mean."

9:40 That little duet was nice.  I'm not looking forward to Taylor Swift, though.  At least I can think of Jimmy Fallon's imitation of her.  Why the banjo?

9:33 What is that annoying crackle in the sound system?  Andrea doesn't like Paul's singing here, I think it is good, if a little on the cheesy side.  Diana is being underutilized here.  Frankly, so is Joe.  This kind of song is not conducive to Joe's crazy guitar stylings.

9:31 Stevie Wonder! Man, he can blow the harp.  Wow, Paul McCartney with Diana Krall and Joe Walsh.  Joe still has a weird face.

9:25 While we are in yet another commercial break, the Best Engineered Album, Classical went to Aldridge's opera, Elmer Gantry with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.  Produced by Naxos.  Of course, not televised.  No love for Classical.

9:22 Now that is how to perform the Beach Boys.  Great to see Brian Wilson having fun.

9:19 Foster the People is a little better, ooh, but just went down to Sucksville.

9:17 Surprisingly, Adam Levine's falsetto isn't as strong as Brian Wilson's.  Even his normal voice seems weak with that Beach Boys instrumentation.  Maybe he is trying too hard to be "authentic."

9:15 Amen, Dave Grohl!  Music is about humanity.

9:13 Hey, the first award with nominees whose albums I own.  But not the winner, Foo Fighters.  Sorry, Decembrists.

9:10  Hey, audience!  Do you prefer having the most recent comment on top, like my post, or on bottom like Andrea's?

9:09 Nice Chipotle commercial, even if they provide Andrea with another sign that she should open a flower shop.

9:04 I agree with Ben that Coldplay's singing sounds like whining.  At least we know they are really performing live.

9:02 And her voice does not blend well with Chris Marin's.

9:01 I was too impatient.  But Rihanna does not have a good head voice.

8:59  Where is Coldplay?  That is not a collaborative performance, bad announcer!

8:58 I have indeed felt like a plastic bag.

8:48 I like the idea of an outdoor performance during the show.  Is this new, or have the Grammy's done this before?

8:44 I don't think Siri (Wolfram Alpha) is the best choice for learning how to play the guitar.

8:39 Ben thinks they sound much better on the radio. "She needs to work on the Eh's. The Eh's are terrible."

8:35 Marc Anthony is very short.

8:34 A shoutout to our visitor from New Jersey!`

8:28 And I don't approve of Auto Tune in this way.

8:25 There have been protests about Chris Brown being let back on the Grammy's after his domestic abuse conviction.  He has served his time for the crime, but I also think his appearance should have also necessitated a statement against domestic violence.

8:24 And I kind of liked the megaphone effect.

8:23 Lady Gaga has a scepter!

8:20 I think all announcers should carry instruments.

8:18 I liked Bruno Mars' nod to James Brown's dancing.  The horn section wasn't as good as James Brown's band, though.

8:17 Never mind, when I try to edit her post when she does too, my edits get lost.

8:11 I'm moving to Andrea's post, so we can interact.  Nevermind that we are sitting next to each other on the couch!

8:07  Sir OG Paul McCartney?

8:05 A slight technical problem, my co-blogger will be in a separate post.

8:00  Scott: They are announcing tonight's performers.  The Boss is just starting to perform.

7:56  Scott:  the show will start very soon, I'm just waiting for my co-blogger to log on.