Friday, December 25, 2015

Friday Miscellanea

As this will be posted Christmas Day, Merry Christmas to everyone. If you are Jewish, Happy Hanukkah instead. To everyone else, be well, be prosperous and I hope you find some great music to listen to today.

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Let's start with a clip with an interview with Condoleezza Rice, pianist and past Secretary of State. The interview is with her and her piano teacher, George Barth:

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Here is another clip about harmony. What I find so amusing about it is that he is telling us the basic facts about harmony, but doing it in such an LA-cool-hipster way!


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The Globe and Mail, in a piece devoted to Canadian artists, waxes exceedingly frothy over Grimes:
Pop music is about extremes, and our attachment to it is based on our needs for those various extremes. We like a given song because it is sadder than our sadness, or sexier than our sexiness, or happier than our happiness, because it is a more interesting and intense version of what we feel or wish to feel. As her harrowing live show made obvious, Grimes’s music – especially on Art Angels – is about violence. If we are attracted to it, we are attracted to that, to a more dangerous and volatile vision of the world. Her music becomes a dare: to like it is to admit to liking a particular darkness within ourselves. Her genius lies in making that attraction so pleasurable. - Jared Bland
Ok, let's have a listen:



I haven't felt this harrowed since the last out-of-tune student voice concert I went to. Did aliens land and make everyone 20% stupider?

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A page from a Beethoven sketchbook just turned up in a Connecticut home. It is a page from a sketchbook that was broken up after his death. Musicologists love to study Beethoven's sketches because they are so revealing of ... well, supposedly his creative process, whatever that might be. But certainly that his handwriting was very sloppy!

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I think this is what Simon Rattle was calling for (or demanding): a new £278 million concert hall in London:
The new centre, which could open in September 2023, aims to have “the same transformative effect on public engagement with music that Tate Modern brought about for contemporary art”. It will deliver “world-class acoustics” and have “education and accessibility at its core”.

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The New York Review of Books has a big think-piece on three new books on Gustav Mahler. Here is an interesting bit on his use of cowbells and offstage instruments:
The cowbells are typical of the way Mahler uses effects that hint at meanings but whose significance remains unfixed. Peattie emphasizes Mahler’s frequent use of offstage instruments. This had almost no precedent in symphonic music, though it was a commonplace in opera—an approaching military band in Così fan Tutte, receding hunting horns in Tristan und Isolde, and so on. Mahler used the effect right at the start of his First Symphony, in a sequence of offstage trumpet calls; these come first from two trumpets placed, according to the score, “at a very great distance away,” then from a third placed merely “in the distance.” The moment recalls the offstage trumpet in Fidelio that tells us help is approaching for the unjustly imprisoned hero Florestan. But in Mahler’s symphony there is no clear narrative logic. Why is one trumpet closer than the other two, and what are these instruments doing offstage in the first place?
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Sinfini Music ("Cutting Through Classical") has a piece on the music in the new Star Wars movie which, as one would expect, is based on motifs from the original score. John Williams wrote the music for all seven movies. I saw this a few days ago with my sister and she said, out of the blue, that she didn't notice any music in the film at all! Heh.

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I guess that gives us our musical envoi for today. Here is the Imperial March, otherwise known as Darth Vader's Theme, from Star Wars, by John Williams:

If you didn't know what that was, what would you guess? Richard Strauss emulated not terribly well?


Marc Puckett said...

At least the Grimes reviewer gives us an out in the text itself: want to experience a more dangerous and volatile version of the world? no? I can therefore dismiss Grimes out of hand. Fine; very quickly done.

I'd suspect that 'Imperial March' is the work of someone in the academy having cleaned up a popular, traditional dance from somewhere in the back blocks of the Balkans.

Nathaniel Garbutt said...

Nah, Imperial march is totally ripped from Tchaikovsky
By 3mins in you'll see what I mean.

Bryan Townsend said...

Yes, why on earth do we need Grimes to show us a more dangerous and volatile world. Surely we can look to ISIS for that!

You could be right, Nathaniel, but there is just so much more going on in the Tchaikovsky.