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.