Saturday, November 08, 2008


Hearing that one of my former professors read blog ha spurred me to
post again. I'm at the joint conference of the Society for Music
Theory and the American Musicological Society in Nashville. I've heard
a paper by fellow blogger Phil Ford on music and torture, making me
even happier that Obama won and more determined to hold his feet to
the fire about ending torture. I just came from a meeting of the
theory pedagogy interest group. We had a very spirited discussion of
whether to incorporate popular music in the theory curriculum, and
why. I also managed to end up agreeing to put together a proposal for
a special session on counterpoint pedagogy. And I am now the new "web
goddess" for SMT, though that title may have to be adjusted for my
gender. These are the prices for having tenure. And for opening my
damn mouth in meetings.

Scott Spiegelberg
Associate Professor of Music
DePauw University

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Politics and Music

Jeremy Denk has scored a great coup: an interview with Sarah Palin about the Hammerklavier Sonata. I look forward to hearing it set to music.

This one is even better:

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bigger than I thought

Today's Indy Star reports that the local police counted over 35,000 at the rally yesterday. Here are pictures. I'm the one wearing an Obama t-shirt.

View this gallery at IndyStar: Obama rally Downtown

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Obama's economic impact

Today I spent $8 onparking, $7 on lunch at jimmy johns, $3 on chai and
about $9 on gas. So $27 total. Not everyone drove so far or spent as
much, but plenty spent more just on Obama merchandise. Let's take $25
as average, multiplied by 25,000 people = $625,000 spent in Indiana.
This doesn't count security costs by the campaign, just encouraged
spending in the state economy. Perhaps he should keep campaigning
past the election to get the economy turned around.

Scott Spiegelberg
Associate Professor of Music
DePauw University

Live blog 9?

He is awesome! Nothing that I haven't heard before, but man is he
charismatic. He includes many local references like all the FFA people
here for the national comvention.

Scott Spiegelberg
Associate Professor of Music
DePauw University

Live blog 8

Bayh introduced a local woman who was laid off by Delphi. She is now
introducing Obama with more red meat about jobs going overseas.

Scott Spiegelberg
Associate Professor of Music
DePauw University

Live blog 7

Evan Bayh just started speaking. This is the intro.

Scott Spiegelberg
Associate Professor of Music
DePauw University

Live blog 6

False alarm before. We've been waiting for awhile now with nothing but
recorded music. I've been reading Levinson's Music in the Moment to
passthe time. I stopped when there was a glimmer of hope (and change)
and thus this update.

Scott Spiegelberg
Associate Professor of Music
DePauw University

Live blog 5

Waiting for the big guy. All of the speeches were about getting out
the vote. Only one reference to McCain by Andre Carson, about
privatizing Social Security, drawing some boos from the crowd. I think
he's coming now.

Scott Spiegelberg
Associate Professor of Music
DePauw University

Live blog 4

Baron Hill just said there are 25,000 of us here.

Scott Spiegelberg
Associate Professor of Music
DePauw University

Live blog 3

Now we have the Dem candidates for AG, Gov, and Reps Carson and Hill.

Scott Spiegelberg
Associate Professor of Music
DePauw University

Live blog

It just started with prayer, pledge of allegiance, the anthem, and now
one of the field officers.

Scott Spiegelberg
Associate Professor of Music
DePauw University


I'm live blogging from the rally in Indianapolis. I arrived in the
city a little after 9, after taking the kids to school. I picked up a
chai at the Chocolate Cafe and walked up here to the veterans mall. I
was in line for about thirty minutes before getting through security
and finding a place in the mob. Lots of buttons and shirts for sale
while I was in line, and people calling for volunteers and early
voting. And many were signing up!

Scott Spiegelberg
Associate Professor of Music
DePauw University

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Run, baby, run!

Today I ran my second half marathon. The weather was beautiful, if a little on the cold side. I wore my running gloves, and used the new long-sleeved tech shirt given out by this race. I was much more ready for this race than the last one, which showed with a much improved time: 2:05:20.0 This was a 9:33 pace, faster than I had hoped (10 minute pace). I fluctuated between various low 9-minute miles until mile 11, when a hill slowed me to a 10:55 pace, and I stayed at a 10+ pace for miles 12 and 13, though I did finish fairly strong. My rank was 1125 out of 2578, and 110 out of 168 in my age group. I'm already registered for the Indianapolis Mini Marathon next May. My goals are to a) do better than this time, b) run a sub 2 hour time, and c) run faster than a 9 minute pace.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Chord Changes We Can Believe In

Wordless Music is presenting a benefit concert for the Barack Obama campaign, featuring pianist Brad Mehldau and mandolinist Chris Thile. They will be performing music by Bach, Brahms, Mehldau, and Thile tomorrow (October 10) at 11 pm (late concert!) at Le Poisson Rouge in New York. Tickets are $25 and $50 general admission, preferred seating tickets at $75 each, with all proceeds going to the campaign. Click on the link above to purchase tickets.


I wrote a little while ago about musicking. This term was coined (as far as I know) by Christopher Small. Here is a brief synopsis of Small's work by Robert Christgau.
He was driven by an overriding idea: that music is always a social activity, never a reified thing. Thus the Balinese and African musics his first book describes early on are the equals of the European classical tradition whose audience he is addressing, and perhaps its superior. The moral agenda that goes with this concept not only insists on music's social context but challenges "the whole idea of music as communication"--especially the myth of the composer as an anointed genius with a message to impart to his inferiors in the orchestra and the audience.

Musicking is that social interaction which comes from making, listening, or responding to music. It encompasses composing, performing, improvising, recording, listening, dancing, analyzing, criticizing, etc. The point is to blur the lines between these activities, tearing down the walls between composers who create, performers who interpret, and listeners who consume. We all create, interpret, and consume, just at different levels of focus and scope. Almost all of my students come in with a focus of being performers or teachers. I want them to embrace their creativity through composition and improvisation, to think about their interpretations by performing their own creations, and to become aware of how they consume music through listening activities (dictation as a means of conscious labeling). To follow the To-Be-Continued theme, I'll write next time about my goals for them as pre-professional musicians.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

___ for Obama

When I was looking for reactions to last night's debate, I came across this website selling Obama buttons. Relevant to the topic of this blog are the following:

And my favorite:

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Best of the Rest: 10-07-08

1. Tears of a Clownsilly: PWS introduces us to a video on ytmnd. THis video imagines John McCain as a malfunctioning robot, caught in an unending loop of arm gestures to the strains of Satie's second Nocturne. And if that isn't enough, he makes connections from this video to the Prague Astronomical Clock.

2. Modernclassical: Randolph Coleman is retiring, according to Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson). Read the post to find out who Coleman is, if you don't already know.

3. Andrew Patner: The View from Here: Andrew reviews a film by Paul Festa, Apparition of the Eternal Church. This movie is based on reactions to Messiaen's piece of the same name.

4. the search for artistry: Phil Giampietro (euphonium-ist) posts about the new feature on iTunes, Genius. He does a trial, where he makes a playlist based on a song, and then compares it to the iTunes Genius-generated playlist for the same song. I have been underwhelmed by Genius, myself.

5. Catalysts & Connections - Evan Tobias: Our favorite music education blogger has heard of a new Flash-based notation application. This could have potential.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Dangers of Ignorance

I heard a story on either Fresh Air or PRI's The World about the dangers of innumeracy, the lack of awareness about numbers and math. And I've read blog posts on the dangers of being ignorant about science. So it made me wonder: what is the danger of being unpossessing of musical knowledge, or knowledge of the fine arts in general? One could speak of living an enriched life, but is it dangerous to live an unenriched life? It is potentially sad, but are there any studies that show this could lower life expectancy or theories that culturally ignorant people are more likely to act violently towards others? And then what constitutes knowledge. I'm reading a book by Jerrold Levinson, Music in the Moment, that argues against the necessity to have conscious awareness of musical structure in order to "understand" any particular piece. Levinson claims that understanding music is the same as attending to the music as it is being played, no underlying theoretical knowledge need be applied. I haven't finished the book yet, so I don't know if I agree with this (I'm leaning towards "no"), but there are certainly arguments that knowing too much about the arts destroys their magical effect. What say you?

PS. My blog seems to be under some sort of attack not by a troll, but rather by someone who enjoys writing violent, misogynistic, and generally sexually immature comments. Anybody else with problems like this?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Brassy composers

Last night I went to a guest recital that featured horn ensembles. The last piece of the evening was composed by a colleague for 12 horns and percussion. The colleague himself is a brass player, and it struck me that all of the pieces I know that were composed by brass players for brass instruments share a key characteristic. All of these pieces are neo-tonal, emphasizing the sonorous harmonic series through lots of quartal chords and triads. Thus they allow the brass instruments to reinforce each other, allowing the strong overtones to align and make the chords ring. This focus on sonority comes from a emphasis on producing beautiful sounds in brass pedagogy. Creating a big, round sound is the goal of every brass player, often to the sacrifice of other musical considerations. Likewise brass compositions emphasize these beautiful sounds to the detriment of more interesting harmonic progressions. I'm thinking of works by trumpeters Tony Plog and Thomas Stevens, and trombonists Jim Beckel and Christian Lindberg. Exceptions to this rule would be jazzers like Bob Brookmeyer who glory in crunchy chords.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Best of the Rest: 9-30-08

1. All At Once: Trumpeter Kris Tiner writes a series of posts of his visit to NYC for some work. The latest one, RECAP - V, has great pictures and tantalizing descriptions of the album he's recording.

2. Joshua Nemith's Cincinnati Pianist Blog (the name could use some work): Joshua's blog has paid off in the recruiting department, netting him some new students.

3. Tonic Blotter: In between bird posts and a diatribe about the Wall Street bailout, MK manages to fit an interesting review of Charles Dutoit's guest turn with Chicago.

4. ClassicallyHip: John Clare gives in to his inner fan boy as he interviews Anne-Sophie Mutter.

5. Fredösphere: Right-winger (and composer) Fred Himebaugh finds something unique in an Obama video to frighten him. And amazingly, this unapologetic liberal agrees with him.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Email post

With my new iPhone, I want an easy way to blog with it. This is an
attempt. I'm also attempting a new way of teaching ear training this
year. The students are composing all of the prepared music for sight
singing and dictations. They are also improvising and sight reading
every day. No text book, though I do have solfege books on reserve for
practice sight reading and dictation. The hope is that they become
proficient at musicking. More on that later.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Rip Van Winkle

It's been exactly a month since my last posting. During this time I had a lovely nap, started the school year, enrolled my son in karate, started my daughter in piano lessons, purchased an iPhone, took another nap, remodeled my kitchen, got my puppy partially housebroken, attended countless meetings, knocked on some doors for a presidential candidate, played Mario Kart Wii, played in the DePauw Tigers pep band for the opening football game, started revising my article on phenomenology, ran a 5k, and took one more nap. I feel rested, and ready to blog again.

I'll cheat by pointing out some good musical things others have written about recently(ish):

John Scalzi and his readers discuss good film scores for Science Fiction movies. I don't know if the person who suggested Flash Gordon should be stoned or awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant.

Speaking of MacArthur, congratulations to Alex Ross, Leila Josefowicz, and Miguel Zenon. I expect Alex to next be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for ending the New Complexity riots.

Dave Munger has written about five music cognition topics during my nap. 1) What aspects of conducting are most important for synchronizing beats? 2) The ability of music to evoke memory. 3) Tone deafness is very rare. Bad singing is not (alas). 4) The higher prevalence of absolute pitch among Asian populations is not related to genetics. 5) Music helps learn new words.

Mind Hacks also has three music-n-psychology posts: 1) songs about anesthesia. 2) a review of a review of Daniel Levitin's latest book. 3) binaural beats and digital drugs.

Peter Sagel runs for some of the same reasons I do. I don't think I'll be able to run my upcoming half marathon in 1:30 though. I'll be ecstatic if I'm around 2 hours.

Monday, August 25, 2008

When would you be?

Chad has spotted a discussion topic that seems ripe for possibility in many fields. It started as a time traveler picking the coolest engineering projects of the 20th century to be involved with, no altering of history allowed. Chad altered the topic to scientific discoveries of the 20th century, though one commenter has broken this rule by invoking Archimedes. So I pose the question this way: what musical performance of the 20th century would you most want to either witness or take part in? Imagine performing in the orchestra for the Rite of Spring premiere in 1913, or being in the crowd at Stalag VIII in 1945 for Messiaen's performance of his Quartet for the End of Time? (Of course, that would mean you were either a Nazi or a POW, so quickly jump in and jump out for that one.) I think one of my wishes would be the Geneva International Music Competition in 1955 when Maurice Andre won and started his international solo career. Or to hear him premiere the Tomasi or Chaynes concerti composed for him.

Start dreaming of your own time travels!

Friday, August 22, 2008

FriPod: Funny

Today was the DePauw Faculty Institute, a meeting of all faculty to greet new teachers, hear about the state of the university, and get in small groups to discuss various issues. In past years this was called Funny Friday, though the administration has been trying to move away from that label. This year's Funny Friday was particularly interesting, as we have a new president for the first time in 23 years.

Last week a colleague turned me on to Mitchell and Webb, a comedy duo from Merry Olde England. Today another colleague (who happens to be British) told me he is good friends with David Mitchell, they went to school together. How cool is that? Here is the skit I quoted today that sparked this revelation.

1. "My Funny Valentine" by Rogers and Hart, performed by Matt Damon on The Talented Mr. Ripley soundtrack.

2. V. Lustig im Tempo und keck im Asdruck from Symphony # 3 in D minor by Gustav Mahler, performed by James Levine and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. [Merrily in the speed and saucily in the Asdruck]

3. Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche Op. 28 by Richard Strauss, performed by Daniel Barenboim; Chicago Symphony Orchestra. [Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks]

4. Divertimento in Bb, K 137 by WA Mozart, performed by the Eder Quartet. [Fun]

5. Divertimento in F, K 138 by Mozart, performed by the Eder Quartet.

6. Divertimento for Horn and Piano by Jean Francaix, performed by Andre Cazalet, Yves Henry.

7. Divertimento for String Orchestra by Béla Bartók, performed by a) St Paul Chamber Orchestra, Hugh Wolff, b) Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Charles Dutoit

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Best of the Rest: 8-19-08

1. The Black Torrent Guard: Impoverished musicology/guitar student Andy talks about the new social network for new music, NetNewMusic, kind of a Facebook for new music geeks.

2. Joshua Nemith's Cincinnati Pianist Blog: Joshua tells us of another online service for musicians,

3. Amusicology: "Drew does a post-op on his first solo class."

4. JohninGeorgia: This is a fascinating blog by a musicologist who happens to be in the middle of the Russia-Georgia conflict right now. This particular post ties together the war with an analysis of Orthodox chant.

5. ThoughtLights: Dan muses on how music appreciation textbooks convey value to his students.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Can't even win a dull contest

I've been going back through my bloglines feeds, trying to catch up. In doing so, I read my colleague's post on how dull Greencastle is, officially! Looking at the list of dullest college towns in the Terre Haute article, I see that I have something to lord over Chad Orzel, who is living in #2 Schenectady. Here are the top 20 most dull campus towns, according to the Princeton Review:

Students at the Princeton Review’s “368 Best Colleges” were surveyed on the availability of things to do in the towns where their campuses are located. The lowest 20 towns made the publication’s “More To Do On Campus” list, with No. 1 being the least active. They are:

1. Tuskegee, Ala., (Tuskegee University)

2. Schenectady, N.Y. (Union College)

3. West Point, N.Y. (U.S. Military Academy)

4. Albion, Mich. (Albion College)

5. Newark, N.J. (New Jersey Institute of Technology)

6. Norton, Mass. (Wheaton College)

7. Springfield, Ohio (Wittenberg College)

8. Hempstead, N.Y. (Hofstra University)

9. New London, Conn. (U.S. Coast Guard Academy)

10. Troy, N.Y. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)

11. Beloit, Wis. (Beloit College)

12. Terre Haute (Rose-Hulman)

13. Poughkeepsie, N.Y. (Vassar College)

14. Greencastle (DePauw University)

15. Worcester, Mass. (College of the Holy Cross)

16. Durham, N.C. (Duke University)

17. Socorro, N.M. (New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology)

18. Worcester, Mass. (Clark University)

19. Hartford, Conn. (Trinity College)

20. South Bend (University of Notre Dame)

So New York is the winner with five dull cities, whereas Indiana has only three. To be honest, I really like living here in Greencastle. I get to walk or bike most places. There are some good restaurants, enough for the few times I go out to eat. Some really nice parks. Arts at the campus, even during the dead summer months. And we are only 45 minutes from Indy, 30 minutes from the movie theaters in Plainfield, one hour from Bloomington, one hour from Lafayette, 45 minutes from Terre Haute, etc. So it is pretty easy to go shopping or get other entertainment. We'll see how I feel when I'm ready to start dating.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

SatPod: Higher, Faster, Stronger

Yes, I've been watching the Olympics. Michael Phelps is incredible!

1. "Move On Up a Little Higher" by Brewster/Davis, performed by Mahalia Jackson.
2. "Chorus: Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe" from Christmas Oratorio by J.S. Bach, performed by Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Concentus Musicus Wien.
3. Concerto for horn (1950), "II. Very Fast", by Paul Hindemith, performed by Dennis Brain.
4. Festal Brass with Blues, "I. Fast" and "III. Fast" by Michael Tippett, performed by The Wallace Collection.
5. "Life in the Fast Lane" by the Eagles on Eagles Greatest Hits Vol. II.
"IV. Very Fast, Tempo Di Funk" from Piano Trio by Daniel Schnyder, performed by Zurcher Klaviertrio.
7. "Short Ride in a Fast Machine" by John Adams, performed by a) Edo De Waart and the San Francisco Symphony, b) Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
8. "2. Very Fast" from Variation Movements by Robert Henderson, performed by Terry Everson and Susan Nowicki.
9. "2. Die Welt wird wieder neu; Phoebus eilt mit schnellen Pferden" from the Wedding Cantata (no. 202) by J.S. Bach, performed by Kathleen Battle with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and James Levine.
10. "II. Scherzo. Schnelle Vierteln" from Symphony No. 10 by Gustav Mahler, performed by Eliahu Inbal/Radio-Sinfonie-Orchester Frankfurt.
11. "Love is Stronger than Justice (The Munificent Seven)" by Sting on Ten Summoner's Tales.
12. "Chorale - Was Menschenkraft" from St. Mark's Passion by J.S. Bach, performed by The Choir Of Gonville And Caius College, Cambridge.
13. "IV. Mäflig schnell, kraftvoll" from Concert Music for Piano, Brass and Harps, Op. 49 by Paul Hindemith, performed by John Wallace, trumpet, Radoslav Kvapil, piano, The Wallace Collection.
14. "I. Mit kraft" from Trumpet Sonata by Paul Hindemith, performed by Wynton Marsalis.
15. "I. Kraftig; Entschieden" from Symphony No. 3 by Gustav Mahler, performed by James Levine with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
16. "III. Scherzo: Kräftig, Nicht Zu Schnell" from Symphony No. 5 by Gustav Mahler, performed by Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Friday, August 15, 2008


I was busy for the last two weeks, first going to upper Wisconsin for a final tribute to my grandpa, then spending a week getting certified to teach Speaking/Listening intensive courses. And I wrapped it up with a perfect evening spent with my kids. First, I picked my son up at his new school with my bike and his tag-along for the first time. Then my daughter joined us to take Weasley for a walk in our finery before we headed to Indianapolis for a perfect dinner at P.F. Changs and a very interesting concert by the Indianapolis Symphony. It was called Video Games Live, arrangements of video game music for orchestra (and choir when appropriate). What I didn't expect was that this concert was held in conjunction with Gen Con. I first realized this with the sign at PF Changs, plus all the people at the restaurant wearing Blizzard or Bioware shirts. The crowd at the concert was mostly orchestra neophytes, but very enthusiastic about the projected video game clips and especially a visit from this guy:

As you can hear, he is competent, but his touch lacks nuance. And the flatness of amplification made it even less desirable. In fact, there was too much amplification overall, which made the concert lose the immediacy of live music, a real shame. This is not a good example of reaching out to new audiences for the purpose of exposing them to the joys of live orchestral music.

But my kids loved it, and the whole evening gave us a chance to talk about school, games, music, and life. So I'd happily go to this concert again.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Musical Architecture

An article in the latest Journal of the Acoustical Society of America made me aware of this rather cool thing. Vitthala Temple, located in Hampi, India, has 56 pillars designed to sound specific pitches when tapped. Here is a video demonstrating them:

These musical pillars are also called the SaReGaMa pillars. Sa Re Ga Ma are Classical Indian solfege syllables, used for learning the ragas. I can imagine using the whole temple to accompany great musical rituals.

Anish Kumar, T. Jayakumar, C. Babu Rao, Govind K. Sharma, K. V. Rajkumar, Baldev Raj, and P. Arundhati. (2008) "Nondestructive characterization of musical pillars of Mahamandapam of Vitthala Temple at Hampi, India" Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 124/2, pp. 911-917.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The Best of the Rest: 8-2-08

Today I did my first campaign volunteer work, pounding the doors of my neighbors. Everyone I managed to talk to said they're voting for Barack Obama, which is great news. Here are some highlights from around the bløg¥sphére.

1. Feast of Music: Peter Matthews provides pictures from John Zorn's performance at Brooklyn Bridge Park, and pictures from this year's Bang on a Can Marathon.

2. Sounds Like Now: Brian Sacawa announces the return of "chamber music insurgents" Mobtown Modern, and makes an important correction to the name of their podcast.

3. The Detritus Review: Empiricus has the newest edition of Composer of the Day, featuring Olly Wilson. Dr. Wilson is certainly new to me, though now that I think about it I think I read a mention of his ethnomusicological work in my improvisation research.

4. Classically Hip: I have to read John Clare's San Antonio-based blog to find out that the local Indianapolis Symphonic Band is offering a dog-friendly concert right now. It's not that local, so I won't be able to bring Weasley to it this time. However, I will be going to Fort Harrison State Park in October for another half-marathon.

5. Eric Edberg: My colleague gave his first recital with the newly-restored Pallotta cello, and reports the results.

Friday, August 01, 2008

FriPod: Fruit

I just transferred my iTunes library to an external hard drive (250G WP Passport), freeing up 30G on my laptop hard drive that was desperately needed. If you do this yourself, follow these instructions, no others. I made the mistake of trusting another article I found, and had to start over after wasting several hours of manual fixes. In staring at dreaded exclamation marks next to my tracks, I noticed that there were several fruit-named songs.

1. "Apple Honey" by Woody Herman, performed by his Thundering Herd on The Thundering Herds 1945-1947.

2. "The princesses play with the golden apples" from The Firebird by Igor Stravinsky, performed by a) Philharmonia Orchestra with Esa-Pekka Salonen, b) Igor Stravinsky conducting some French orchestra.

3. "Stealin' Apples" by Fats Waller, performed by Roy Eldridge with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra on Little Jazz.

4. Suite from The Love for Three Oranges by Sergei Prokofiev, performed by a) Empire Brass [arranged], b) Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

5. "Aranci, Ninnoli! Caldi I Marroni E Caramelle!" from La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini, performed by Luciano Pavarotti, Mirella Freni, Etc., Herbert Von Karajan; Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. [Oranges, Ninnoli! Hot Chestnuts and candies!]

6. "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" by Whitfield and Strong, performed by Marvin Gaye.

7. "Tangerine" by Johnny Mercer, V. Schertzinger; performed by The Dave Brubeck Quartet on The Great Concerts: Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Carnegie Hall.

8. "Lemon" by U2 on Zooropa.

9. "Pineapple Rag" by Scott Joplin, arranged by Marvin Hamlisch for The Sting soundtrack.

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 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.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hearing Intervals

I'm (finally) reading David Huron's Sweet Anticipation: Music and the Psychology of Expectation. In fact, last night I was reading Chapter Seven out loud for Weasley, to help him calm down in his new crate. He apparently finds mental representations of pitch to be very soothing.

One section that struck me was David's debate about the perception of intervals. He thinks that he doesn't perceive the actual intervals, but rather hears the separate notes as scale degrees, which he can then use to identify the interval. I don't have the book with me right now, I'll add the relevant quote when I'm home later. But it is basically this: 1) hear two notes, 2) recognize that they sound like the beginning of "Here Comes the Bride," 3) therefore associating the second note as tonic 'Do' and the first note as 'Sol,' 4) identify the interval between Sol and Do as a Perfect Fourth. Many people would skip step 3 as a conscious part of their process, but it would still be a lower level association that helps them recognize the melody in the first place. Now, here is my issue. David says that following this process is identifying separate notes, and then figuring out the relationship (the interval), much like people with AP. But I don't see how one can identify the second note as Do without hearing the relationship between the two notes. I agree that consciously hearing a Perfect Fourth and hearing Sol - Do are different processes, but both still rely upon the relationship between the notes. This contrasts with the AP perception, which would be 1) hear two notes, 2) label the first note as B3, 3) label the second note as E4, 4) identify the interval between B3 and E4 as a Perfect Fourth. The two notes are given labels that do not depend upon the other note, whereas identifying one note as Do is to place both notes in a tonal context.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Where I've been

I missed a week of blogging, due to several things. The main event was my basement flooding with 3 feet of water, from water squirting through my earthquake-damaged foundation, and from the sewers backing up, both from getting horrendous amounts of rain on Wednesday through Saturday. So I spent the next few days cleaning the basement with the help of a good friend, and then arranged for a new water heater, new furnace, and the installation of a sump and sump pump so this won't happen again. The other distraction was my Father's Day gift today, a nine-week-old dachshund puppy that we have named Weasley. I realized that I have managed to avoid blogging about any of the family pets during the four years of my blog, so I will rectify now. Going in order of age, I present Weasley (9 weeks), Gracie (also about 9 weeks, lives with Mary), Archie (1 year), Milk (4 years), and Buster (14 years, lives with Mary). Not pictured, the gerbils Pumpkin and Ginger (six months, live with Mary).

Friday, June 06, 2008

FriPod: Singer

Today we celebrated Stan Irwin's life with the funeral and interment. He was a great man and a great singer. Besides a series of tracks that mention singers or singing, I'm including Stan's CDs.

1. "The Birds will still be singing" by Elvis Costello, performed by him with the Brodsky Quartet on The Juliet Letters.

2. "River sings a song to trees" from City Scape by Jennifer Higdon, performed by Atlanta Symphony Orchestra - Robert Spano.

3. "Choral: Wir singen dir in deinem Heer" from Christmas Oratorio by J.S. Bach, performed by Concentus Musicus Wien, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Wiener Sängerknaben & Hans Gillesberger.

4. "Do you hear the people sing?" from Les Miserables by Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil, Herbert Kretzmer, performed by Original Broadway cast.

5. "Sing Sing Sing (with a swing)" by Louis Prima, performed by Benny Goodman on Live At Carnegie Hall.

6. "Singing Princess" by Harry Gregson-Williams & John Powell on Shrek soundtrack.

7. "Singt dem Herren, alle Stimmen" from The Creation by Franz Joseph Haydn, performed by John Eliot Gardiner; English Baroque Soloists, Monteverdi Choir.

8. "Spem In Alium (Sing and Glorify)" from Black Angels by George Crumb, performed by the Kronos Quartet.

9. "1. Moving and in a singing style" from Variation Movements by Robert Henderson, performed by Terry Everson and Susan Nowicki.

10. "Marche des pelerins chantant la prière du soir" from Harold in Italy by Hector Berlioz, performed by Colin Davis.

11. Improvisations sur les chants paysans hongrois, op. 20 by Béla Bartók, performed by Claude Helffer.

12. "Lento assai, cantante e tranquillo" from String Quartet op. 135 by Ludwig van Beethoven, performed by the Alban Berg Quartet.

13. "Saliam cantand' al cielo" from Orfeo by Claudio Monteverdi.

14. "Cantando, quasi rubato" from Trumpet Concerto No. 2 by Jukka Linkola, performed by Jouko Harjanne.

15. Irwin Sings Gershwin.

16. Requiem Op. 48, by Gabriel Fauré, performed by Stanley Irwin, William Ferguson-Wagstaffe, Indianapolis Christ Church Cathedral Chorus of Men and Boys.

17. Messiah by George Frideric Handel, performed by Stanley Irwin, Steven Richards, Daniel Segner, Tyler Webb, Christopher Freeze, Andrew Breuminger, Indianapolis Christ Church Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Call for Blogs

I will be compiling my Semi-annual Naming Of Blogs Mostly Used to Scribble About Classical music (SNOB MUSAC)*, with publication in one week. I'm planning to work out some new statistics from the rankings, in efforts to keep up with the recent competition in classical music blog ranking. I will be using previous lists, my blogroll on the left, and Chris Foley's list of 220 on PageFlakes. If you know of a blog not on any of those lists, or have a particular URL you want me to use in compiling the stats, indicate so in the comments to this post. While I will be checking all the blogs I have listed to see if they have updated in the last six months, I'd also appreciate any notes about blogs that have closed shop.

*Okay, it is really called the Top 50+ Classical Music Blogs, but that doesn't have nearly as amusing an anagram.

What're you reading?

Terminal Degree has a new (to me) meme up, based on the top 100 books marked unread by LibraryThings users. The job is to bold those books I have read, underline the titles I read for school (I'll try to remember), and italicize those I started but didn't finish.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights (saw the movie)
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi: A novel
The Name of the Rose (saw the movie, would like to read the book sometime)
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler's Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway (I saw The Hours, does that count?)
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran
Memoirs of a Geisha
Quicksilver (sadly, not yet)
Wicked: The life and times of the wicked witch of the West (I'd rather see the musical)
The Canterbury Tales (in Middle English, no less!)
The Historian : a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault's Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange (saw the movie)
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible (I really should, she is a DePauw alum)
Angels & Demons (I wasted enough time on Da Vinci Code, thank you)
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (saw the movie)
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Oliver Twist (saw countless movies and musicals)
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince (I read part of it for school)
The Sound and the Fury
Angela's Ashes: A memoir
The God of Small Things
A People's History of the United States : 1492-present
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being (saw the movie)
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake
Collapse: How societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics: A rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An inquiry into values
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit (no Lord of the Rings?)
In Cold Blood: A true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield

So, I've read 33 books, almost all for fun rather than for school. I'm very glad I was required to read James Joyce, and in a class setting so I could learn many of the cool things about that novel. Great Expectations felt like a soap opera, I didn't like it as much as other Dickens' books. Pride and Prejudice was okay, but I have no desire to read any other Austen books.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Hellos and Goodbyes

Yesterday I got to have lunch with Bryan Alexander, of NITLE. I had met him a year ago, and it was great to touch base again. He has my friend Carlos all excited about using online games to teach opera. This is basically using Second Life or Worlds of Warcraft to stage a performance, like in this Jonathan Coulton song.
Granted, it isn't perfect in any sense, but might help students to better understand the interaction of music and drama. We also spent time talking about blogging, Allen Ginsberg, and film music. It was a nice break after the bad news from the weekend.

The whole campus is mourning the loss of our friend and colleage, Stan Irwin. He died on Saturday after suffering a heart attack while driving to Indianapolis. Here is the impressive bio provided by DePauw's website:

Over the course of his long and distinguished musical career, Irwin performed at the Zürich Opera, Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Barbican Centre, and with major orchestras in the U.S. and Great Britain. As a 1987 winner of the World Wide Voice Competition in New York he was awarded contracts to perform Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at Lincoln Center and, in his 1988 British debut, the Brahms Requiem with the Philharmonia Orchestra of London. Irwin performed five times at Carnegie Hall, twice as a recitalist and three times as a conductor.

The New York Times called Irwin, "A performer who can project a wide range of subtle, shifting emotions." Hans Hotter, with whom Irwin studied in Munich, described him as possessing "a bass-baritone voice of high quality in timbre, which he is in good command of," noting a "fine artistic sensitiveness, together with a gift for interpretation ... especially evident in his singing of the German classical Lied."

Irwin joined the DePauw School of Music faculty in 1975. "As a professor, a mentor and a friend, he has impacted many lives at the University," notes DePauw President Robert G. Bottoms. "Our hearts go out to Stan's wife, Jane, and his family, and I express the feelings of a great many in the DePauw community who interacted with Stan over the years. He brought much respect to our School of Music, one of the oldest in the United States, and his warm presence and many contributions will be greatly missed."

Irwin performed more than two dozen roles in opera, most of the major works in oratorio, and an extensive song repertoire, including roles such as Boris and Germont, the Bach Passions, Elijah, the Verdi Requiem, Britten’s War Requiem, Berlioz’s dramatic symphony Romeo et Juliette, and Schubert‘s "Winterreise“ and "Müllerin" song cycles. He has also appeared in world premiere performances of John Eaton’s Peabody Award-winning opera Myshkin (Keller) for PBS and Italian television, Schibler’s The Late Expiation (Marquis) at the Zürich Opera, and David Ott’s song cycle "Renascence" (Millay) commissioned for Irwin and the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. He has also recorded for the Gothic and Four Winds labels and has been artist-producer of two compact discs of American popular classics, Irwin Sings Gershwin (1999) and Night & Day: Cole Porter Songs of Romance (2003).

As a conductor, Professor Irwin made numerous high profile appearances at world-renowned sites such as Carnegie Hall with the New England Symphonic Ensemble and Chorus, the White House and the Vatican. He also prepared choirs for performances under such eminent conductors as John Nelson and Sir David Willcocks and orchestras including the Philharmonia of London and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

Former voice students of Stanley Irwin, the longtime director of the DePauw University Choirs, have appeared with many orchestras and opera companies, including the Lyric Opera of Chicago, New York City Opera, Washington Opera, Opera Quebec, Minnesota Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Florida Grand Opera, and the Glimmerglass Opera.
Stan had a wonderful sense of humor, a very generous spirit, and a big heart to match his football-player physique. His voice was both powerful and rich, and he used it with incredible sensitivity. Now he can spend eternity teaching God how to really project with resonance and clarity. Good bye, Stan.