Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Miscellanea

Kicking things off, a blog post about a gallery exhibition on color and music.


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And here is a feature article on Joni Mitchell's song from 1968, "Both Sides Now", which I recall learning and playing during my brief phase as a folk-singer (it lasted about a year). It's a nice song:


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And while we are talking about pop, here is what one big-name rock band is really like behind the scenes. And no, it isn't pretty...


Hmm, well the music is rather nasty and sneering, isn't it?

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Here is some news that might take some pop musicians down a peg: weekly album sales are at a new low and CD sales are down almost 20% from last year. Billboard has the story. But, of course, classical sales are a minute portion of that! Here is a song from the top album of the week:


I can't think of any reason why that soggy blend of rock ballad and lethargic reggae wouldn't just leap off the shelves, could you?

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Here's a little reminder: thou shalt not make jokes, even mild ones, about the reigning royalty of pop.

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Follow this link to hear the Israeli Defence Force's version of the Leonard Cohen song "Hallelujah". They translated everything but the title into Hebrew. Oh, wait, my editorial board tells me that the word "hallelujah" is actually already Hebrew.

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Still not done with music and economics it seems. Here is a chart of the global music industry from 1973 to 2013:


Go here for the original. The comments are interesting. The steep drop is attributed by many to the rise of digital piracy. Could be, I suppose. Technology for the last 100 years has been in some ways a boon to the industry, but in other ways a distinct disadvantage to the artform.

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We have to find some non-pop news and I ran across this article in the Guardian. For those of you lucky enough to be in Edinburgh this weekend, there will be two performances of Harry Partch's Delusion of the Fury. This must have been extremely difficult to stage as it first involves having to build all the musical instruments and then learn to play them. Harry didn't believe in all modern systems of intonation and went back to the Greeks for his tuning systems. I had the unusual pleasure of being able to play some of his instruments a number of years ago. The bass marimba was truly awesome! I was taking a seminar on American Experimental Music and we did a field trip to White Plains, NY where Partch's instruments were stored in an archive. Apparently for this project, they built them all from scratch. Go read the article and watch the clips, which are quite interesting. Here is the trailer for the project:


4 comments:

Damián López-de Jesús said...

Just wondering, are you a fan of Harry Partch's music?

Bryan Townsend said...

Not sure if "fan" is the right word, but Harry Partch's music is so unique and interesting it is worth paying attention to!

Damián López-de Jesús said...

Huh. I must say, I'm surprised you feel that way, even though I very much agree with you. I presumed you thought of him as some kind of hack or overtly experimental composer who tried too hard to make abstract music.

On a tangent, what are your thoughts on these composers:
- Lou Harrison
- Henry Cowell
- Terry Riley
- Alan Hovhaness

If you ever find the time to listen to them and write about them, let me know! I very much appreciate your picky taste in modern classical music, even though it comes off quite often as snobbish/elitist!

Bryan Townsend said...

I owned an LP of Harry Partch's music way back in the early 1970s and I have even read some of his quirky tome on tuning systems. So I know more about him than most people. His approach is certainly eccentric, but I think that is part of the value of what he did. Lou Harrison I have not studied and I know little of his music. Henry Cowell I have made some investigations of and I posted about him and others here: http://themusicsalon.blogspot.mx/2011/10/american-experimental-music.html

Terry Riley is mildly interesting for his very early minimal piece "In C", but if he did a lot more, I am not aware of it. And Alan Hovhaness is someone I have wanted to look into for quite a while, but haven't gotten around to!

I look around and see that most writers on music are so careful not to tramp on anyone's toes that they avoid making any critical judgements--so I figure since someone has to, it might as well be me! Think of me as the anti-Alex Ross.