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Edwardianpiano is a charming music blog with excellent taste. Have a look. Recent posts have covered sketches for a Symphony No. 10 by Beethoven, the Art of Fugue by Bach and a hundred-year-old book on music appreciation.
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And the latest ploy to make classical music cool is the "Classically Cannabis" concert series by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. Dude, you totally need to toke up before the Beethoven! Reminds me of a cruel trick we played on a friend way back in the 60s. We were all stoned on something or other and we put on Holst's The Planets, the Mars movement, plugged in the headphones, cranked it up really loud and stuck the headphones on our oblivious friend's ears. I think that this traumatic experience was behind why he kept flunking out of university in later years. Either that or going to see Yellow Submarine on mescaline...
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Here's a weird story about a guy who likes jamming with whales. Sometimes he "can’t charter a skiff or zodiac for this kind of work because officially it counts as harassment of marine mammals, which is against the law." I know just how those whales feel: there you are, swimming along, minding your own business, chatting about a tasty school of krill or about that hot female whale you saw the other day and suddenly this guy starts butting in with his amplified clarinet?!?!? Harassment? You bet! Be sure to watch the clip at the link.
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Is it just me? Here is an up-and-coming folk singer named Valerie June in live performance and all the comments are full of praise. For example: "That Voice!!!! Pure!!! I'm Filled with Pure Joy!!!" But I think she has a voice like a crow, is an indifferent guitar-player and the songs sound like bad Bob Dylan. What do you think?
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I think Norman Lebrecht must be reading the Music Salon, because this is exactly the kind of thing I like to do from time to time: "10 Works or Composers You Never Want to Hear Again". He posts a list by pianist Katya Apekisheva, then his own list. So here is mine:
- Vivaldi: Four Seasons (of course!)
- Any hip-hop or rap whatsoever, with the possible exception of Tupak Shakur
- Brahms, Hungarian Dance No. 5
- Any Crossover, especially with Lang Lang
- Wagner, Ride of the Valkyries
- EDM (pretty much any EDM)
- Für Elise
- Dvořák, Humoresque
- Satie, Gymnopedie
- Pharrell Williams, Happy
Now some of these are not bad pieces of music, like the Satie, but they are just over-exposed. On the other hand, some are just bad pieces of music. Let's hear the Dvořák Humoresque, which is just too cute for words:
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And another from Norman, this time on pieces we need to hear more of. And I'm delighted to see Haydn make one of the lists.
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A hat tip to Slipped Disc for alerting me to this travesty:
The Guardian has a detailed review of all the artists in the video. What was the BBC thinking? For me, this is just another step in the inexorable diminishing of music from being one of the most important things human beings can do, to being one of the most trivial. Sure, fine pop song, but really, what is the message here? If this were on an album we could call it Bland on Bland. And hey, of course, classical musicians in the form of the BBC orchestra and Nicola Benedetti can be made just as bland as everyone else. But really, nothing against Brian Wilson, nor the song. He sings it like he means it...
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Ok, here is the most amusing thing I have seen this week. Heralded by a great deal of scientific mumbling about evolution, a series of 8700 generations of a "tune" are shown in which a computer program is used to shape the "evolution" of little musical fragments according to the choices of participants who essentially voted on what they heard. Go listen to the results here. What I find particularly hilarious is that what all this has produced is a whole bunch of dull little fragments that sound like a random mix of EDM (electronic dance music) and mbira music from Zimbabwe. On synthesizer. All at the same tempo. And in the same key. And not one darn melody in the bunch. I suppose the accompanying article is worth reading too, though I was laughing too hard to get through the whole thing. At the very end of the article is the brief biography of the writer:
The music of Joan Arnau Pàmies (IPA: [d͡ʒu'ɑnəɾ'nɑu'pɑmiəs]) emerges from underlying issues related to text, sonic outcome, and the distinction between composition and interpretation as categorically different activities. Pàmies explores unconventional notational strategies in order to develop intricate formal processes. He is currently pursuing a D.M.A. at Northwestern University with Hans Thomalla as his doctoral advisor.That is one of the most hilarious composer biographies I have ever read. I am tempted to do a satirical version for myself, but I suspect this may be beyond the bounds of parody. What the heck, let's have a look at Prof. Thomalla's bio as well:
Director, Institute for New Music. Hans Thomalla, born in Bonn, Germany, is a Chicago-based composer. His works explore the double-bind character of music as acoustic reality as well as culturally and historically formed expression, constantly following materials transform from one form of musical experience to the other. He has written chamber music as well as orchestral works, and a particular focus of his activity lies in composing for the stage: his opera Fremd for soloists, choir, large orchestra and electronics, was premiered at the main stage of the Stuttgart Opera in July 2011. Hans Thomalla studied composition at the Frankfurt Musikhochschule and at Stanford University. He has been awarded numerous awards and fellowships, among others the Composer Prize of the Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung, the Kranichsteiner Musikpreis, and the Christoph-Delz-Prize.I'm sure that the future of music is quite safe in these gentlemen's hands. Safe from audiences, that is.
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We are going to end this Friday's Miscellanea with this bit of inspired marketing: the Viola-matic! Get yours today!