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.