Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Miscellanea

Bob Dylan's song "Like a Rolling Stone" turned 50 years old this week and the Globe and Mail has a remarkably dull, rambling discussion of it. But hey, we can at least listen to the tune. Unfortunately you can't find the original on YouTube, but there is this version from a live performance:


You should really get out there and buy the CD. It also has Desolation Row on it, so, a bargain. The album, "Highway 61 Revisited" is only $6.99 on Amazon.

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And for something completely different, here is a wonderful essay by Hilary Hahn (who is a surprisingly good writer) about the two most important teachers in her life. A sample:
The great value of what these days is called classical music is its span and reach. Over four centuries of influential composers, writing, details, concepts, and teaching have melded together into this winding, inventive, enlightening, divergent, derivative, and rebellious art form.
The only thing I would add is that the span of classical music is at least a 1000 years old, dating back to the first two important composers in Europe: Léonin and Perotin of the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Mind you, they didn't write anything for violin!

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Your go-to place for celebrity gossip is the Daily Mail, who have this article about the shallow narcissism of popular DJs complaining about everything from their limos to their deluxe hotel accommodation to line-ups for food. Remember a DJ is someone who, according to Wikipedia:
mixes recorded music for an audience
Or, as it seems a lot of the time, someone who plays pre-recorded drum tracks for an audience while waving his arms in the air:


These are the people who get paid big bucks while classical musicians scratch out a meager living. Not all the horrors of the future were predicted by George Orwell!

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For more of a high-brow discussion, we find this article on the vocabulary of popular musicians. Astonishingly Eminem comes in first place followed by Jay-Z, Tupac Shakur, Kanye West and Bob Dylan. The Beatles are way down in 76th place. I'm wondering if they were counting all the different ways of spelling bitch and m**********r? Now if they were counting harmonic and melodic vocabulary, then the results would have been different, don't you think?

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I've always thought that Stockhausen's Helicopter Quartet was at the very limits of absurdity and this recent performance seems to bear that out. Courtesy of Slipped Disc.

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Yet another chapter in the never-ending story of the assault by government agencies on musicians who travel.

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I can't think of any way of linking a good piece of music to today's miscellanea, so here goes anyway. As our envoi today, the Symphony No. 5 by Jean Sibelius. Thomas Søndergård conducts the BBC National Orchestra of Wales at last years Proms:


I just love the crispness and transparency of Sibelius' orchestration.

6 comments:

Marc Puckett said...

Had to laugh at the musicians who, one by one, withdrew. I've only had to fly in a helicopter one time-- they had to get me from JFK to LaGuardia to catch a flight-- and, well, never again. No idea re the Stockhausen-- people on the ground actually hear the musicians aloft? I specifically recall not being able to hear anything when I was in the damn helicopter; can't imagine anyone outside hearing anything inside.

Listened for the first time to Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians yesterday; certainly would go out to hear it performed. "Dissonance and the resolution of dissonance".

Bryan Townsend said...

I did post about the helicopter quartet once, but don't remember the post. As I recall, the performers all wear headphones so they can hear one another and the instruments are picked up with microphones on the helicopters and sent to a central location where they are blended and amplified for the audience. But it's still a stupid idea.

Yes, Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians is a pretty good piece. For a shorter one, try the Octet.

Marc Puckett said...

Went to the Musixmatch site to see if there were any classical musicians etc who made it into the mix-- only Andrea Bocelli. "There is a large variation of vocabulary size in the 93 top selling musicians and there is no overall correlation between the commercial success of a musician and their vocabulary size." I could have guessed at that.

Bryan Townsend said...

It is probably best if I refrain from making any jokes about that!

Anonymous said...

My favorite cover of LARS by far!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnAZh0HqUK8

Bryan Townsend said...

Aw shucks, it tells me "video not available!"