Friday, December 04, 2009
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
While I acknowledge the humor to a certain extent, I have to say that our knowledge of events 1000 years ago is more complete than the video suggests. Yes, the average person on the streets may think that Charlemagne and Emperor Constantine lived at the same time, but the historians would never make that mistake. And while music creates it's own issues given the possibilities of losing audio evidence, thus giving rise to the performance at the end of the video, academics are also careful not to make claims that don't have clear evidence. Joining Scottie Pippin to the Beatles, and the Beatles playing in the Super Bowl, would take some massive misunderstandings of our current culture, suggesting that a major cataclysm wiped out practically all of our cultural products, like recordings, posters, books, and Larry King. And that doesn't match with our experience of the last 1000 years. After all, Larry King is still alive.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The Fluid Piano will get its debut on Saturday at the University of Surrey, featuring composer/pianists Matthew Bourne, Nikki Yeoh and Pam Chowhan, and works by the inventor, Geoff Smith.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
1. "But Thanks Be to God" from Messiah by G.F. Handel, performed by Andrew Davis, The Toronto Symphony, The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir.
2. "Fallt mit Danken, fallt mit Loben" [kneeling with thanks, kneeling with praise] from Christmas Oratorio by J.S. Bach, performed by Concentus Musicus Wien, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Wiener Sängerknaben & Hans Gillesberger.
3. "Danksagung an den Bach" [Gratitude to the Brook] from Die schöne Müllerin by Franz Schubert, performed by Ian Bostridge.
4. "Ah! Mme. Follenvie, We Thank You" from The Greater Good by Stephen Hartke, performed by Andrew Wentzel, Glimmerglass Opera Orchestra & Stewart Robertson.
5. "Nun Danket Alle Gott" [Now Thank All God] by Sigfrid Karg-Elert, performed by the Empire Brass and Michael Murray.
6. "Nicht Dank! Haha! Was Wird Es Helfen?" [no thanks! haha! what will it help?] from Parsifal by Richard Wagner, performed by Dieter Selmbeck, Franz Crass, Gwyneth Jones, Heinz Zednik, Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele & Pierre Boulez.
7. "Recht So! Habt Dank! Ein Wenig Rast!" [right! thanks to you! rushing a little bit!] from Parsifal by Wagner, performed by Bengt Rundgren, Franz Crass, Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele, Pierre Boulez & Thomas Stewart.
8. "Thank Goodness" from Wicked by Stephen Schwartz, performed by Carole Shelley & Kristen Chenoweth.
9. "Thank you for the music" by Abba, from Number Ones.
10. "Thanks for the Beautiful Land on the Delta" by Duke Ellington, performed by the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.
Friday, November 13, 2009
1. Paul McCartney. His compositions with the Beatles and a few solo works will continue to thrive in 50 years.
2. Eric Whitacre. I actually prefer Morton Lauridsen's choir music, but I think Eric is more prolific, and thus casts a wider net. Speaking of which, his YouTube choir experiments are fascinating.
3. Osvaldo Golijov. His mix of world, popular, and classical musics are very organic, not forced or too topical that will confine them to a single time period (the problem with Michael Daugherty's work). I absolutely heart his "Last Round" and "Lullaby and Doina".
4. I was going to write down Sondheim here, but it is a harder call than Norman thinks. Most Broadway musicals reflect the popular idioms, and any revivals are done for nostalgia rather than because the music feels fresh. I can see revivals of Sondheim musicals, but I have a feeling that newer forms will dominate Broadway. Instead, I offer John Williams. Yes, he steals from other composers at times, but his music is both effective within the films, and survives on its own as well. Plus notice his being tagged for the inauguration piece this year.
5. John Adams. No question about it. He is represented in a variety of genres (piano, chamber, orchestral, opera), and has continued to evolve in his compositional style while maintaining a recognizable voice.
6. Phillip Glass. Ditto here, though his compositional style has not evolved as much as Adams'. But he has also done film music, and his Einstein on the Beach marks such a pivotal role in opera that it will continue. Steve Reich I am less certain about, and I'm sure that the only thing of Terry Riley's that will be performed in 50 years is "In C".
7. David Lang. The combination of the Bang On a Can juggernaut and winning the Pulitzer will keep David's music in the public conscious for 50 years. Particularly because there are strong feelings about his work in both directions, and hate can keep a work alive much more than indifference.
8. Thomas Adès, probably. It is wild and energetic stuff, musicians love to play it and audiences love to hear it.
9. Avo Pärt, because he best hits that balance of stasis and interest, moreso than Tavener or Gorecki.
10. Bob Dylan. Yes, I will never hear the end of it from my sister-in-law, but while Dylan himself is not an inspiring performer anymore, his music has clearly inspired countless musicians in a variety of genres. The poetry is haunting and complex, and usually coupled so tightly with the music that they cannot be easily separated.
What are your top 10 survivors? Suggest them here, and at Slipped Disc.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
I agree with the university's decision that Prof. Chapman did not violate any rules, and therefore should not be punished. He put up a required disclaimer stating that his views do not represent those of Purdue University, and thus far there is no evidence that his political and social views have corrupted his professional behavior. I do disagree with a few of the other conservative bloggers cited in the IndyStar article who criticize the students and professors at Purdue for protesting against Chapman's homophobic views. Jonathan Katz calls the protests "bullying and an attempt at censorship." From the perspectives of students at Purdue, the majority of the protests are not attempting to get Chapman fired, or even to get him to take down his blog post. Instead the protests were a means of disputing the facts put forth by Chapman, thus continuing the debate. Sadly, many people who say controversial things get upset when other people have the temerity to disagree loudly and publicly. It would be bullying if Professor Chapman had expressed his opinions at a small dinner party, and found his remarks being protested in the newspapers and on campus afterward. But he made his viewpoints quite public through a popular conservative site (TownHall.com), so any response that attempts at equal footing must be made loudly.
As for the merits of Professor Chapman's "case," I see several problems. First, AIDS. This is not a homosexuals-only disease, nor only spread through "morally aberrant sexual behavior (including heterosexual promiscuity in Africa and elsewhere)." Blood transfusions, shared needles, these also spread HIV. And even if you could make the argument that we could wipe out AIDS by discouraging promiscuity, that is an argument FOR homosexual marriage. What is marriage but a social encouragement to be monogamous? Surely Professor Chapman doesn't think that people will simply stop having sex if they can't get married. The lack of social acceptance for homosexual relationships in the past drove gay people to casual, promiscuous relationships that did indeed help to spread AIDS. The fear of being caught prevented any attempts at long-term relationships, but the physical desires for sex could not be simply ignored. These are historical facts, along with the fact that gay couples have the same rate of breaking up as cohabiting heterosexual couples (16 and 17% respectively), while married couples have a break up rate of 4%. You want homosexual people to stop being promiscuous and thus stop spreading AIDS? Get them married! This also corresponds to Chapman's concerns about the economic costs of STDs in general.
Second, prison rape. Rape has nothing to do with gender preference, and everything to do with power. Just as heterosexual rape does not equate at all with a loving heterosexual relationship, prison rape does not equate at all with a loving homosexual relationship.
Third, health insurance. Ignoring the odd complaint of a self-avowed Christian that helping others with health insurance keeps him from getting more health insurance (Jesus would not be happy with that argument, see his views on the poor and how to get into heaven), these companies and and universities that offer domestic partner coverage are not being forced to by any government concerns, it is purely through the "invisible hand" of economics, which isn't that invisible. All market pressures are really social pressures, and these companies/universities have decided that they will either get better employees or look better socially and get more customers/better students from offering these benefits. Yes, some organizations might be driven by individual political beliefs, but if society – and thus the economy – did not support those beliefs then those organizations would fail.
Fourth, providing other services. Chapman's last full paragraph doesn't make any sense. If life insurance companies have more people to cover, the insurance pool is increased, thus reducing risk, and thus costs would decrease. In fact, insurance companies would make more money because of more potential policies to sell, and the increase in profits helps the economy. Likewise with lawyers and divorces or other legal considerations. Lawyers will have more opportunities to make money, so they won't have to create as high a profit margin, so our costs go down (or at least stay the same). And if the lawyers are making higher profits, the economy grows.
People were concerned about the economic costs of allowing women to work full-time. People were concerned about the economic costs of allowing slaves to go free. Economic costs were used to justify discrimination against Jews, Italians, Irish, Blacks, Hispanics, and any other minority group. These proposed economic costs never proved out. By expanding the number of people invited to participate in society, the society and thus the economy grows.
I hope Professor Chapman fully considers both the economic arguments against his position, and the myriad ethical and moral arguments against his stance.
Monday, November 09, 2009
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Right after giving my presentation, I ran back to the music building to play in a brass quintet for a student's senior recital jury. We will be performing Malcolm Arnold's Brass Quintet at the end of the month. Then I went back to the Union to get my laptop, which had been used by the other presenters at the workshop. And then back to the music building to advise two students on their class schedules for next semester and grad school plans, and tutor a student on species counterpoint. I finally had time to start writing the two exams I am giving on Monday for Theory I and III, before going to pick up the kids from school. There was no afterschool program today because of a book fair and pancake supper (see more about that below), so I had to pick them up right before 3 pm. We went home to clean the hamster cage so they would be ready to for show and tell tomorrow, and get dressed for karate class. I also started laundry, which was getting in desperate straits from my extended absence at the conference.
Piano lessons for each of the kids, picking out pieces for the end-of-semester recital. Karate class, hopefully to burn off some of the kids energy, while I continued to work on the exams. Then back to the elementary school for the semiannual fundraising event, the pancake supper. A quick and unsatisfying pancake dinner was followed by a very cute performance by the 2nd graders of music from Seussical the Musical, which the whole school will be seeing this year in Indianapolis. Then a quick visit to the book fair so the kids could burn their allowances on books, then back home for homework and more laundry. Plus playtime with a very antsy dachshund.
Notice how my day was so busy that I started shifting into Twitter/Facebook status-speak? There was no time for subjects or articles! Now the kids are in bed, 2/3rds of the laundry is folded and put away, and I have a tired dachshund curled up on my lap. My grammar is slowly coming back again. Good night!
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
I'm reminded of these old attitudes by an announcement that Chamber Music America is honoring Chick Corea with The Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award and a tribute concert on January 16-17 as part of their national conference. The SMT conference I just attended also shows this change of attitude, with many papers analyzing jazz and rock music within normal sessions, as opposed to the special sessions that these "canon-breaking" genres often had to be scheduled in to get considered. The canon has indeed been broken wide open, at least for the strong majority of academic environments. These shifts in attitude give me hope, both for my profession and for life in general, despite the recent political setback in Maine.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
I had planned to post some observations during the conference itself, but I was too busy either attending the conference, or socializing with people from the conference. Now that I'm home, I have (some) time to socialize with you, my internet companions. First off, I took part in my first biosensor experiment. On Halloween night, I was wired up with electromyography sensors on my frowning and smiling muscles in my face, with a pulse cuff and galvanic skin response sensors on my left hand, and a respiration monitor around my chest, providing an awesome Halloween costume. I and my fellow biosensor participants were treated to a live concert of three pieces – a madrigal by Arcadelt, a movement of a Schumann string quartet, and a new piece for an electronic instrument (the T Stick) that involves dramatic movements by the performer – while our physiological responses were recorded. Another group of participants at the same concert/experiment were asked to indicate their continuous emotional states in two dimensions – arousal and valence – on specially programmed iPods. Afterward we saw results from previous iterations of the experiment and discussed our reactions to the experiment. This was all hosted by CIRMMT.
I saw two very interesting papers on Copland's Quiet City for trumpet, english horn, and strings. Both papers discussed the shifts in diatonic collections within the piece, though one paper focused more on a system with a dialectic between fifths and half-steps to discuss the dramatic points, whereas the other paper worked on identifying the most stressed pitches, thus a sense of key for the different structural divisions. I disagree with both presenters about the most salient pitch at the opening, but appreciate many of the points they each made.
I'm tempted to read Proust after seeing a paper that explores a narrative of Debussy's instrumental music based on Proust's conceptions of time and memory. The three machines of the "Proustian narrative" are memory, eternity, and crisis, which the author (Michael Klein) identified in key moments of Reflets dans l'eau and the Cello Sonata.
I learned how to part-write Shape-Note hymns from a paper by Robert Kelley. He explained how the harmonic tradition of Sacred Harp music differed from standard harmonic practices, and developed a means for teaching the different way of harmonizing.
I'll finish with a brief description of the keynote address by Susan McClary, entitled "In Praise of Contingency: The Powers and Limits of Theory." Professor McClary is most-known as the author of polemic books such as Feminine Endings that explored how gender bias had influenced musical scholarship. She often beat up theorists for not considering social contexts enough when describing musical structures, so many of us were apprehensive about what she would say. Her speech was great. Funny, erudite, featuring the goblin who strides across the universe as a fitting Halloween topic. In the end, her talk was about a difficulty that was demonstrated in the experiment I described at the beginning of this post. Musicians are very good at performing emotions, but we are not good at describing, or even being conscious of, the emotions we feel when listening to music. Those participants with the iPods had difficulty remembering to move their fingers to indicate shifts in emotion, or to even be able to translate what they were feeling to the two dimensions of arousal and valence. Likewise, Susan McClary described how resistant people are to facing the goblins created by Beethoven's music, that the powerful emotions created are too strong or scary to be clearly identified, much less be analytically described.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Theory. Tonight was spent in committee meetings and bar chat, the
papers begin tomorrow afternoon. In the morning I hope to run (my
marathon is in 10 days) and do some sightseeing, before learning about
composers who use triple sharps and the psychology of sadness in
music. I'll keep you apprised of memorable moments.
Associate Professor of Music
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
In my musicianship classes I am working with the students on how to understand what they hear, and how to translate music notation to musical sound as efficiently and creatively as possible. And what I find is that I need to manipulate my students to get them to develop these skills. I could just say, "1) Practice singing every bit of notated music you come across, using a system that forces you to think about pitch and rhythm relationships. 2) Practice transcribing every bit of performed music you come across. 3) Practice manipulating musical sounds, both in notation (composing) and in performance (improvising)." And then I could evaluate their progress at the end of each semester or month, and find that they weren't practicing enough, if at all. Because it is hard to motivate oneself to practice something difficult, unless there is a clear payoff.
So first I increase the motivation by explaining why I have designed these outcomes, and why all professional music programs include aural skills training. That helps somewhat, but isn't enough. So I assign particular bits of music to practice singing, particular bits of music to practice composing, and particular bits of music to practice improvising. I play particular bits of music for them to transcribe. This requires less self-motivation on the part of the student, some of the work has already been done for them. Then I manipulate them into practicing these assignments through the threat of regularly occurring grades. Each grade is a small percentage of the final class grade, but the good students cannot stand getting a low grade of any sort. Thus they are manipulated into regular practice, which is the best way to develop these skills. Cramming doesn't work, just as it doesn't when learning how to speak a new language.
These grades may be thought of as evaluation, but they really aren't. For me, evaluation comes at the end of the semester, when I see how the students perform on the final exams. That is why I weight the final exam grades much more heavily than any other grade. For me, these regularly occurring grades are manipulation tools, forcing the students to practice what I want them to practice.
The point of this post is to ask if there is a better way. I hate grading, and the students hate grading too. Is there some way to create an environment of encouraging students to do the activities that will lead them to the outcomes of the class, without using grades as a threat? Is subtle manipulation the answer? I don't use reverse psychology on my children, both because they are too smart for it, and because I don't like the inherent dishonesty. Rather than manipulating by lying, I'd much rather go for the brute approach of saying "Do this, or get punished." I suppose that is the equivalent of "Do this, or get a bad grade" in a teaching environment. But just as I rarely have to punish my kids with timeouts, and only have to threaten punishment occasionally, I'd really like to reduce grading to a minimum, left mostly for true evaluation rather than brute manipulation.
Friday, October 23, 2009
I watched Gustavo Dudamel conduct the premiere of Adams' City Noir on PBS the other night, and had similar reactions as to this symphony. There are plenty of moments that make me want to turn to something else, but just as my hand reaches for the TV controls or the iPod, Adams throws in a sound that intrigues me and keeps me listening.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
I haven't heard Anna Russell's humor for many years, so some nice nostalgia. More famous to me are her analysis of The Ring cycle, and Gilbert and Sullivan. Since I love you all so much, here they are.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
...you may be thinking “So, you spent 5 hours not paying attention to the show?” but somehow a good music performance just gets me in that zone. One of the most important things that I worked out during my thesis research was done during Phantom of the Opera. And I loved Phantom.
I don't see a problem with this at all. I do the same thing, at musical performances, at plays, watching movies, reading books, etc. I don't tend to solve entire problems as much as get inspired to consider new problems or new approaches to a problem that I will complete later. This is because I get pulled back into whatever art I'm consuming at the moment, unless it really sucks. And then I will flit from problem to problem, including working on my grocery shopping list.
Bonus points to the first person who figures out the title of the post.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Actually, there was debate about this on the Auditory e-list, which prompted this article on sine-wave speech and this raw demo. Want to try it yourself? Here is a program that will convert any WAV file to a MIDI file, so go ahead and record yourself saying something, then convert it to a MIDI file to be played back with the sampled instrument of your choice.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Darcy James Argue mourns the death of jazz drummer Rashied Ali, with a nice photo taken by DJA himself.
Music 000001 produces a very complicated graph of "the Phylogenetic tree of complete mtDNA sequences belonging to haplogroup L1c" from a paper about Pygmies and Bantu farmers by Quintana-Murcia.
Feast of Music has some pics of what he calls the misnamed Mostly Mozart festival at Lincoln Center.
Musical Assumptions shares a picture and a recipe for Hummus-Tahini Seitan.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Mind Hacks reports on three things that affect my life. First, how does telephone hold music (Muzak) affect our perception of time? And more importantly, how can phone systems best use music to keep people from hanging up? Apparently the answer is for familiar music in short bursts, alt rock for women, classical for men.
Second, apparently my plans to run a marathon in November will put my body through the same mental stress as "soldiers during military training and interrogation, rape victims just after the attack, severe burn injury patients and first-time parachute jumpers." What the hell am I thinking?
And third, shifting your perception of location through the use of prism glasses affects your perception of time. Shift your vision to the right, and time durations seem longer. Shift your vision to the left, and time durations seem shorter (than actual clock-time durations). This is very interesting, given my interest in musical time. How could the manipulation of musical events be equivalent to shifting the vision to the left or the right?
Friday, August 14, 2009
1. "Song of the Plains" performed by Paul Robeson Jr.
2. "Nagen A Herzen Fuhl Ich" from New Liebeslieder Waltzes, Op. 65, performed by Catherine Edwards, John Alley, Jane Glover; BBC Singers.
3. "Pretty Woman" performed by Roy Orbison.
4. "Mein Tröster" from St. Mark Passion by J.S. Bach, performed by The Choir Of Gonville And Caius College, Cambridge.
5. "No One Mourns the Wicked" from Wicked, composed by Steven Schwartz, performed by the Broadway Cast.
6. "Try To Remember" from the Fantasticks, composed by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, performed by David Cryer.
7. "In My Life" from Les Miserables, composed by Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil, Herbert Kretzmer, performed by Broadway Cast.
8. "Bar Albor de Madrid" from Ainadamar composed by Osvaldo Golijov, performed by Dawn Upshaw.
9. "Born In Blood" from Woman on fire, performed by D'arc.
10. "Ode To My Family" performed by The Cranberries.
In honor of the wedding last weekend, here are this week's tunes:
1. Cantata No. 202 "Wedding" composed by J.S. Bach, performed by Kathleen Battle, Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
2. "Wedding" from Lt. Kijé Suite composed by Sergei Prokofiev, performed by a) Dallas Symphony Orchestra, b) the Empire Brass.
3. "Wedding March" from The Golden Cockerel by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, performed by Yan Pascal Tortelier; BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.
4. "Wedding Chorale/Beggars At The Feast" from Les Miserables performed by Broadway Cast.
5. "Wedding March" from Midsummer Night's Dream by Felix Mendelssohn, performed by Rolf Smedvig.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
The four days in Boston were jam packed. The first day involved tux fitting, a family BBQ, and swimming in the hotel pool. The second day involved a TV shoot*, more swimming, the wedding rehearsal, and an excellent rehearsal dinner. The wedding was actually an hour away from Boston, at a beautiful winery. And my rehearsing was very strenuous, both memorizing my best man duties and running through all the music with the rest of the brass quintet. We even missed the appetizers! Saturday was filled with the wedding, as I had to get myself and the kids dressed (my daughter was the most beautiful flower girl in the world, with gorgeous hair done by her incredible cousins), and get out to the winery by 11 am for pictures. Then I was very busy, playing prelude music and the processionals (Handel's "Hornpipe" from Water Music and Charpentier's Prelude from Te Deum), running to stand up in the wedding party, running back with my brother to play a sextet arrangement of "Ashokan Farewell", running back up to help catch the two dachshunds who carried up the rings (sort of), and then running back to play the recessional (Rimsky-Korsakov's "Procession of the Nobles"). Then the brass quintet moved to the reception area and we played some postlude music, so we missed the cocktails that were apparently very tasty. Add dinner, my toast, and dancing, and I was exhausted. We didn't get back to Boston until 7 pm, having a quick bite at my brother and sister-in-law's house while my kids "helped" open wedding presents. Sunday morning we had a family brunch, swam some more, and then my kids went with my sister's family on a duck tour while I proved how awful a golfer I am with my brother, parents, nephew, and brother-in-law. We all met up at a sports bar right next to Fenway Park for dinner.
Monday we headed back, making it to Bald Eagle State Park in Pennsylvania rather late because of highway construction. In fact, there was tons of construction going on throughout Pennsylvania, probably those shovel-ready projects related to the stimulus package. I was able to get enough of a fire started to heat up dinner, even though the park office was closed when we arrived, so I had to scrounge partially burnt wood from empty sites, and the tinder was rather damp from recent rains. But the next day we spent at Barkcamp State Park in southeastern Ohio, after listening to "The Ballad of Billy the Kid" about five times while passing through Wheeling. Barkcamp had a great beach and wonderful hiking trails. The only bummer was that there were no flush toilets, something I managed to miss when picking parks to camp at.
*My brother and sister-in-law managed to get involved with the PBS kids show "Fetch", with Fetcher kids decorating two wedding cakes that all of the wedding guests had to vote on. That Friday morning some of us went to a preliminary shoot at the bakery, including my dachshund and my brother's two dachshunds. Each of my kids had some good lines, we will have to see what makes it past the editing process when the show airs next year.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
but the reason for the sparseness kept me from blogging to warn you. I
just finished camping my way from Indiana to Boston, where my brother
will get married on Saturday. What with packing up two kids and a
squirmy dachshund, my hands were rather full. But here is something to
tide you over: my kids discovered Potter Puppet Pals on Youtube and
have been exploring allof the different versions. Start with The
Mysterious Ticking Noise: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tx1XIm6q4r4
Then look at the sped up and backwards versions. What fascinated me
was that the song lost almost all meter when played backwards, except
"Severus" backwards did evoke a meter. But the downbeat was in a
different spot. Quite surprising.
Associate Professor of Music
Sunday, August 02, 2009
Saturday, August 01, 2009
Second, another article appeared in today's IndyStar about the Venzago/ISO stir. According to Venzago's manager, the issue was money. The ISO administration wanted Venzago to take a 50% cut in salary for this year, and to go with a podium fee payment system for 2010-11 instead of a standard salary. According to Drew McManus' compensation reports, Mario Venzago made $395,764 last year, with the base musician salary at $72,800. CEO Simon Crookall earned $256,823. I don't know if Simon will take a salary cut this year, I would certainly expect it as a good moral booster. Another part of the newspaper article mentions that the ISO had a budget shortfall of $293,000, and they laid off eight front office staff this year.
Update: I missed the little arrows in Drew's charts which show that Mario had a raise this last year, and Simon did indeed get a salary cut. I don't have a subscription to Drew's site to see how much the cut was. Mario's 2006-7 salary was reported in the newspaper as $388,695, so it looks like he got about $5000 raises each year.
Friday, July 31, 2009
1. "Rejoice Greatly" from Messiah by Handel, performed by Arleen Augér
2. "Cour D'amours: In Trutina" from Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, performed by James Levine; Chicago Symphony Orchestra; June Anderson.
3. "Trockne Blumen" from Die Schöne Müllerin by Schubert, performed by Ian Bostridge.
4. No. 8 from Neue Liebeslieder Walzer by Brahms, performed by DePauw Chamber Singers, Pamela Coburn, Caroline Smith, Keith Tonne, Kyle Ferrill, Claude Cymerman, Amanda Hopson, Gabriel Crouch.
5. Doom. A Sigh by Istvan Marta, performed by the Kronos Quartet.
6. "When I Was One-And-Twenty" 6 Songs From "A Shropshire Lad" by George Butterworth, performed by Bryn Terfel.
7. "One Short Day" from Wicked by Stephen Schwartz, performed by Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth.
8. "The Unnamable" from John the Revelator by Phil Kline, performed by Lionheart & ETHEL.
9. "Disappearing into..." by J. C. Batzner, performed by 'de ereprijs' (at least that's what it says on the mp3).
10. "Piangero" from Cleopatra by Handel, performed by Arleen Augér.
11. "Lights Were Shining" from The Little Match Girl Passion by David Lang, performed by Theatre of Voices & Paul Hillier.
That was fun, so here are this week's tracks (chosen randomly):
1. "Heros go riding across the prairie, yes with the Red Army go the heros." This version has both the English and the original Russian lyrics.
2. "Nagen am Herzen fühl ich eln Gift mir [Sharp poisoned arrow rankles at my heart's core]" I swear this was random!
3. "Cause I need you, I'll treat you right, Come with me baby, Be mine tonight" This should be easy.
4. "Mein Tröster ist nicht mehr bey mir, [My comfort is no longer in myself]" There is a question how authentic this is.
5. "Have another drink, my dark-eyed beauty, I've got one more night left, here in town, So have another drink of green elixir, And we'll have ourselves a little mixer" Ah, to have a dark-eyed beauty with witch to mix.
6. "Deep in December, it's nice to remember, Although you know the snow will follow." It was hard to find lyrics in this song that didn't have the title.
7. "There are times when I catch in the silence, The sigh of a faraway song" I understand, but you've got to move on.
8. "Fuiste Electra, Salomé, fuiste Antigona furiosa y Lady Macbeth [you are Electra, Salome, furious Antigone and Lady MacBeth]" Another song praising a dark eyed beauty, but now for her acting ability.
9. "A mother fills our gorge with milk, But we never lose our taste for blood." She is very angry, and perhaps insane.
10. "Unhappiness was when I was young, And we didnt give a damn" Are Irish families always unhappy?
It is interesting to read the comments in the online version of the story. This is actually the number one post on the newspaper's website right now, showing a high level of interest. However, some of the comments are by people who are attracted by the tabloid aspects rather than through caring about the ISO. And many of the comments show the same lack of awareness about the facts of most online venues. One commenter complained about the lack of new music, when the ISO actually does a good job of programming and commissioning new pieces.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Okay, my attempt at something smart. I actually found the arguments easier to follow, perhaps because of the repetition and slowing down both the rate of syllables and the rate of content. Plus the Auto-tuning made many of the voices far less annoying (Palin and Kristol, I'm looking at you). And four-part harmony makes everything better.
"There's something about ending on the five that I think, first of all it's gorgeous, but secondly, I always remembered that because it was unusual when I first encountered it on the Weavers album. The sense of non-resolution is significant for the content of the song, of somebody whose experiencing ambivalence or isn't sure about what's going to happen. And I thought 'I'm Not That Girl' is exactly that. It's a statement that trails off. You know that she's saying she isn't, but she hopes she is. It's an ambivalent song, obviously, in a lot of ways, and therefore I thought it was good if it ended ambivalently, (which is nice for art but not so nice when you're trying to get a hand from the audience)."Besides the ambiguous ending, the song has many descending minor sevenths that add to the emotional angst. I'll look up the theory of emotion and melodic intervals to see how this fits.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Classical Archives "offers more than 620,000 tracks, 7,800 composers, and 27,000 artists representing more than 110 record labels. "
voiceXchange is the new online journal from the Graduate Music Students of the University of Chicago. Volume 3, issue 1 ("Official Musics") has just come out with articles on music during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Detroit's Orchestra Hall, and reviews of four books.
2. Adventures of Wang: Our favorite "quirky alien" has plans for how to recharge her batteries as a graduate student in music.
3. A View from the Podium: Our favorite conductor who divides time between Britain and Eastern Oregon and is named Kenneth Woods writes about the best CD store in Madison, WI.
4. Matt Van Brink: Our favorite composer/pianist/accordionist shares two new songs - "The Old Switcheroo" and "Lost".
5. The Gathering Note: Our favorite lawyer/freelance arts journalist named Zach Carstensen gives the history of his 2-year-old blog.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Distance by fifths are only one half of the chord distance measurement. The other half is the number of common tones between the two chords being compared, with the idea that the fewer common tones, the more distant the chords. This isn't simply calculated by saying the two triads have one or two notes in common, but by looking at the number of common tones throughout the five levels of pitch space. Here is the tonic chord from last week:
Now here is the Dominant chord, Bb major, with all the distinctive pitch classes bolded. Note that levels D and E are the same, but level C now shows the Bb triad, with the root and fifth of that chord at level B, and just the root at level A.
|Level a:||Bb |
|Level c:||F||Bb||D |
So the total distance between the tonic Eb chord and the dominant Bb chord is 1 (step along the circle of fifths) + 4 (distinctive pitches) = 5. This will be the same distance for all tonic-dominant pairings. The summary of distances from the tonic to each of the other diatonic chords is:
I - ii: 8
I - III: 7
I - IV: 5
I - V: 5
I - vi: 7
I - viio: 8
These distances remain the same regardless of which chord comes first (it is a symmetric function). Distances between other chord pairs can also be calculated, but thankfully the relationships are transpositionally invariant. This means that if I - ii has a distance of 8, ii - iii will also have a distance of 8, as will every pair of sequential chords in the major tonality. So Fred can generalize that moving root motion by a diatonic step is a perceptual distance of 8, moving root motion by a diatonic third is a perceptual distance of 7, and moving root motion by a diatonic fourth is a perceptual distance of 5. Fred realizes this geometrically as a Chordal Space:
The horizontal axis is root motion by thirds, the vertical axis is root motion by fifth. Two dimensionally like this it keeps repeating over and over. It can be wrapped around to make a torus, a three-dimensional doughnut. One of Fred's main rules is to follow the shortest path when connecting two chords, and the length of this path demonstrates the perceptual distance in moving from the first chord to the second.
Thus far we have remained within a single key. Next week we will look at the regional level of TPS, to deal with secondary dominants and modulations.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Here are the top 25 Classical Blogs as of today (they recalculate the statistics every day), with the change from my last Technorati ranking in parentheses. I don't have the links to the blogs, out of deference to Invesp.com. Follow the link to their ranking and then click through to the blogs of interest.
1. The Rest is Noise: Alex Ross, music critic (no change in rank from my last ranking)
2. Sequenza21: Jerry Bowles, new music and composers (+2)
3. La Cieca, James Jorden, opera (+6)
4. Wolf Trap Opera (never been on my lists)
5. NewMusicBox (the e-magazine, I've never included this because it has non-blog elements)
6. Opera Chic (-4)
7. Ionarts: Charles T. Downey, musicologist and critic (no change)
8. On An Overgrown Path: Bob Shingleton, producer (+3)
9. Jessica Duchen's classical music blog, critic and author (+1)
10. slipped disc, Norman Lebrecht, music critic (didn't make the list last time)
11. Mind the Gap: Molly Sheridan, music critic (was too new for my previous rankings)
12. Jason Heath's Double Bass Blog: (+19)
13. Opera Today (another e-magazine, even harder to call this a blog than NewMusicBox)
14. Dial "M" for Musicology, Phil Ford and Jonathan Bellman, musicologists (-1)
15. aworks: "new" american classical music, Robert Gable, enthusiast (-2)
16. The Collaborative Piano Blog: Chris Foley (+10)
17. mostly opera...: (-2)
18. BIS New Releases (not really a blog, the listing of Naxos new releases)
19. Out of Focus (not a music blog)
20. Musical Perceptions: me (+1)
21. Adaptistration, Drew McManus, consultant to the
22. finding my singing voice: Catherine K. Brown, vocalist (new to me)
23. The Rambler: Tim Rutherford-Johnson, musicologist and critic (and British!) (-6)
24. Jason Weinberger's blog: conductor and clarinetist (new to me)
25. The Omniscient Mussel: Marcia Adair, music critic (didn't make my last list)
There are some heavy hitters from my previous rankings who Invesp.com clearly don't know about, like Kyle Gann (PostClassic), and Greg Sandow. Some of the other highly ranked blogs from my previous lists are found in subcategories, like the number of pages indexed by Google and the number of incoming links. I don't know how Invesp.com weights the stats that kept them out of the top 25, especially AC Douglas (Sounds & Fury), Steve Smith (Night after Night), and Lisa Hirsch (the Iron Tongue of Midnight).
Friday, July 24, 2009
2. "Sed eligo quod video, collum iugo prebeo: [But I choose what I see, and submit my neck to the yoke:]" So lovely, the closing flute duet is just gorgeous.
3. "Machen tote Liebe Nicht wieder blühn. [Don't cause dead love to bloom again.]" This is a very sad song, yet it avoids being too mawkish, perhaps because it keeps modulating to major keys at the cadences. The piano accompaniment is so simple, yet perfect. It sets off the lyricism of the vocal part, and actually emphasizes the harmonic movement with its sparsity.
6. "The heart out of the bosom/Was never given in vain;'Tis paid with sighs a plenty/And sold for endless rue" Another depressing song, though not nearly as much as #5. 'Tis very British.
7. "There are buildings as tall as Quoxwood trees!" This song is intentionally cheesy, to set up the twist that happens.
8. "Can it be that one day, off it goes on, that one day I simply stayed in," I swear this sounds like Oompa Loompas. Cool and literate Oompa Loompas.
9. "Everywhere me disappearing into him, like water into the clay of a new jar." It doesn't sound like a love song, except as one full of longing, these are people who want to disappear but aren't at the moment.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Feast of Music: Peter Matthews describes the musical connections of recently departed Walter Cronkite, including the Grateful Dead.
The gentlemen at the Detritus Review ponder what a music critic is, with the help of Anne Midgette (complete with Part II).
ThoughtLights: Dan B. describes how to procrastinate at the National Archives while doing research on George Antheil.
Horndog blog.com: Bruce Hembd gives us 10 ways to provoke a Horn Geek.
Critical Noise: Terry O'Gara has a rather lengthy essay on Music, Linguistics, and Network Theory.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Within each level of space, a step is considered perceptually close. Chromatic space makes sense, each half-step is very close in frequency. Likewise at the diatonic level, our concept of scale steps fits well here. Less obvious is triadic space – a step up from Eb is G – and fifth space has one step between Eb and Bb. The distance between two pitch classes is calculated by the horizontal and vertical steps needed to traverse from one to another, by the shortest path possible. It takes five steps to the right from Eb to C in diatonic space, but only two steps to the left, so the shortest horizontal path is two steps. Vertical steps are measured to get to the lowest level of the most salient pitch. A is found only at Level e, G is found at Level c. So the horizontal distance between these two pitches is 2. A to Eb is four vertical steps. Fred combines the horizontal and vertical distances to measure the distance from each pitch to the tonic pitch. Fb goes to the left to Eb and then up the four vertical levels (1+4 = 5), E goes to the right to F, then up a level, then to the left to Eb, then up three levels to root space (1+1+1+3=6).
So the closest pitch to the root is Bb, the fifth. The furthest pitches from the root Eb are Bbb, the flat fifth scale degree; B, the sharp fifth scale degree; and Db, the flat seventh scale degree. This last pitch relationship is the odd one to me. I totally agree that chromatic alterations of all-important Sol is moving us far away from the tonic, but Te is much closer. Fred has a solution later by shifting from major diatonic space to minor diatonic space, but even as a simple chromatic alteration Te seems more like a 5 than a 7 (to pull a number out of my keister).
Thus far we have been dealing with pitches in melodic relationships. Next week we will move to chordal relationships.
Monday, July 20, 2009
I heard it as one tonic, with Rick creating some very extended harmonies and dissonant non-chord tones at points. Is this because I expect blues-influenced music to go beyond the triadic norm, or because my brain wants to find the simplest pattern to fit all the information? In other words, did I come to this conclusion top-down (schema driven) or bottom-up (sequential event expectancies)? Likely the two "strategies"* reinforced each other. I do know that if there were fewer common tones, or if the genre had led me to expect more melodic tonal closure, I would have heard two separate tonics, a la Milhaud.
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
But for now, I'm bothered by something I read today in Harold Fiske's Understanding Musical Understanding. On pages 25-26, Harold writes,
[Sculpture can be observed by any angle and for as long as the viewer desires.] Not so for music, where 'viewing' time for music is controlled exclusively by the performer. And once over, returing to the room in which the performance occurred would not afford continued experience with the same work. Once the piece is over, it is over. Even playing the piece again (a recording for example) does not represent a continued experience with the piece but rather a different experience, though it is the same music being listened to.
First of all, I don't believe the performer controls all aspects of the performance time. Besides the instructions of the composer, there are constraints placed on the performer(s) by cultural expectations, acoustic limitations of the venue, and general perceptual limitations. And the listener does have control of what performance aspects to which s/he pays attention. This attention is a main part of Fiske's thesis that musical time is very different from clock time, thus the listener does control his/her musical time experience.
But the second thing is more troubling, that rehearings are different experiences rather than a continued experience. It is troubling, because part of me agrees that rehearings (whether a physical rehearing or a mental replay) are indeed different experiences. The listener has different knowledge by the time of the replay, etc. But the two hearings share a commonality of the schemata of the performance. The order of the notes, the timings, the timbres are all the same, just as a sculpture keeps the same physical features. So I really want to say that the rehearing is a continuation of the experience of the piece, just as when I revisit the sculpture it continues my experiences with that artwork, even though I have different knowledge from the last time I experienced it. What say you? Is a rehearing a completely new experience, or is it a continuation of the same musical experience?
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
The rock band Rush resonates widely for musician-fans and others interested in structural complexity, individualism, and a range of literary and stylistic influences. The group has explored such genres as heavy metal and hard rock, progressive and synth-rock, and post-progressive "power trio," along with various secondary influences. However, the band has also wandered among such lyrical interests as relationships, fantasy-adventure, classical mythology, European and world history, science-fiction, libertarianism, atheism, science, and technology.
We are looking for short articles (of around twenty pages) to add to this proposed anthology for the series that began with "Seinfeld and Philosophy: A Book about Everything and Nothing" (2000), but since 2005 has also included (see http://www.opencourtbooks.com/categories/pcp.htm) music-related books about hip hop, Bob Dylan, U2, the Beatles, the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Radiohead, and Jimmy Buffett. Writers in philosophy, musicology, economics, and psychology have already committed to "Rush and Philosophy," and they are exploring the following areas from across Rush's career (1974- ):
-personal tragedies, self-determination, and Sartre
-the anthropic cosmological principle and atheism
-Canadianness in Anglo-American genres and in lyrics and images
-tribute projects of the band's music in death metal, trip-hop, and classical strings
-the band's combination of secular humanism and mysticism
-libertarianism and left-libertarianism, rather than "right-wing"
-the cognitive function of riffs and other music in expressing difficult ideas
-a roundtable on political economy, Ayn Rand, and Rush's "2112"
Contributions from women, minorities, and people from outside of North America are most welcome! Particular areas of interest for further articles include: balance through instrumental “songs,” humour, roundtables on music technology and rock critics, live albums as career anthologies, and recent "sightings" of the band in the mainstream media.
Deadline for one-page abstracts: July 19, 2009
Deadline for completed first-drafts: August 31, 2009
Please send to Durrell Bowman and Jim Berti: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com