Friday, February 26, 2016

Friday Miscellanea

As a kind of footnote to my post on heavy metal this week, here is the third, not the frequently played/transcribed/arranged first movement, but the much more difficult third movement of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor "Quasi una fantasia", Op. 27, No. 2, commonly known as the "Moonlight" Sonata, played on electric guitar as if it were heavy metal:


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Every now and then, and I suspect, largely by accident, the Globe and Mail has something interesting on music. This week it is this piece by Sean Michaels: "Three Songs You Need to Hear." Go have a look/listen. This is a recurring series in the Globe and Mail, but previous iterations I have mostly enjoyed making fun of. You really don't, ever, need to hear surfer music out of Toronto, trust me on this. But the first song in this piece is pretty interesting:
One of the past year’s most successful, left field collaborations is an album called Everything Sacred, uniting (1) the Scottish singer-songwriter James Yorkston; (2) Jon Thorne, long-time bassist for the English trip-hop outfit Lamb; and (3) New Delhi’s Suhail Yusuf Khan, who plays the stringed, short-necked sarangi and sings in a classical Indian style. The result is a beguiling mash-up of British folk and Eastern mysticism, with droney Sufi jams and frilled, intertwining voices.
Here is "Little Black Buzzer":


Sure, there isn't a lot there, but what is, is pretty nice. The next tune does not seem to be available where I am, but you might be able to listen to it. The last one is an odd tune by Kanye West.

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Courtesy of Norman Lebrecht, here is the list of the world's worst airlines for musicians (go to the article for links):
1 Ryanair
The Irish budget line make it their business to be horrid to everyone, but they reserve a special extra nastiness for musicians.
2 KLM
The Dutch are rude to divas and even ruder to dogs.
3 WestJet
Our reader’s advice: ‘Cellists: Never. Fly. WestJet’.
4 American Airlines/USAir
Unkind to instruments. And worse to concertmasters.
5 Easyjet
Locked an orch in an airless corridor for half an hour. No apology.
6 Alaska Airlines
Alaska have the same tender concern for baggage as Sarah Palin does for truth.
7 Southwest Airlines
See Alaska, same problem.
8 Vueling
Probably the worst of the lot. Repeat offenders who never apologise, let alone compensate.
But be sure to read the comments because they offer a lot of illuminating detail. KLM, for example, seems an excellent choice for musicians.

Why does this matter? A significant number of the concerts that you attend probably feature soloists, chamber ensembles, conductors or even entire orchestras that travelled by air. If the airlines make it nearly impossible to do so, they just won't come. As my instrument is an irreplaceable guitar I have been playing for thirty-three years, I simply will not take it anywhere near an airplane. Their track record is simply too dangerous to musical instruments.

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Due to their own videos we have this image of the popular crossover string players of today like Zoe Keating or 2Cellos spending their childhoods locked up in the dry discipline of that boring classical music with a nasty old white guy rapping their knuckles. But maybe they were always crossover...


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And now, for some classical music news: "Physicists Prove Classical Music Inhabits Separate Realm, Inaccessible To Humans." Doesn't this make it cooler than ever?
“Classical music transcends both the linear, forward flow of time and the Euclidean space we are used to,” said Rolf-Dieter Heuer, the director general of CERN. “A musical work is a mysterious entity whose essence totally eludes our senses.”
Physicists claim that any given performance or recording of a classical music piece is a kind of audible hologram projected into our everyday reality by the true musical work, which vibrates eternally in an ethereal medium floating in and around us at all times.

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Definitely in the "if you have to ask you can't afford it" category is this high-fidelity sound system from Wheel Fi:


I want one...

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And that brings us to our envoi for today. I'm afraid I can't resist putting up a recording of one of my favorite pianists, Friedrich Gulda, playing the aforementioned last movement of Beethoven's Sonata op. 27, no. 2, often referred to as the "Moonlight" Sonata. Now this is how it is done:


10 comments:

David said...

re: separate realm for classical music. Bryan, is there some sort of time/space continuum interuption that made October 1, 2015 (the date of the linked article) the equivalent of April 1? This revelation from CERN leaves me wondering about several things: 1) what "realm" do these scientists get their hallucinogens from? 2) by logical extension, the recorded and performed iterations of a classical music work must also inhabit this "realm": How much capacity does it have for "elevator music" versions of Le Quattro Stagioni? and all of that Mahler? 3) have they also found the entire corpus of rap? or does the "realm" have an aesthetic filter to reject bad rhymes? 4) Because I am currently listening to "Also sprach Zarathustra" I can answer the last question in the article: “But the question remains, what is classical music even doing in our universe in the first place?” Answer: providing a sound track for the Cinematic Realm.

David said...

On closer reading I see that it is always AFD at Submediant.com. Rule #1 of the Internet: always read "About Us". Thanks for the Friday Fun.

Bryan Townsend said...

I'm just starting to explore Submediant.com! One of my favourites is the performance of Clapping Music by Steve Reich on "original instruments", i.e. Steve Reich's actual hands!

http://www.submediant.com/2015/10/01/period-ensemble-to-perform-clapping-music-using-steve-reichs-original-hands/

Marc Puckett said...

I wouldn't want to get anywhere near the whist table where those four YSQE 'tiger moms' were playing.

Am listening to Heimat's Pompeii, yes; well, a minute of it and half minutes of a couple of the others on that album. Not much impressed with the listening (the one album is on Spotify) but, eh, there is worse music out there; searching about online was an eye-opener, however: there are or have been several bands using Heimat as part of their name, one or more of them going perhaps beyond the pale into the neo-*a*i darkness.

The Kalin & Co. sound system made my mouth water. New headphones will be necessary before too much longer and so I want to replicate the Wheel Fi experience as closely as I can.... :-)

Marc Puckett said...

What is the purpose of the light bulbs in the Wheel Fi system, do you know?

Marc Puckett said...

“Besides, ‘David Geffen’ is far easier to pronounce than ‘Jap Vaughan Zoolander,’ or whatever the hell his name used to be,” said Geffen I, pointing at Geffen II.

Very clever, that piece.

Christine Lacroix said...

Really enjoyed the first of the three pieces, Little Black Buzzer, the other two not so much. The child string players were adorable.

Bryan Townsend said...

The piece by Heimat won't play in Mexico for some reason. Re the sound system, if you are referring to the little round things in the top of each cabinet, they are probably tweeters, not lightbulbs!

I am deeply resentful of the Submediant site because they seem to be funnier than I am!!

Yes, Little Black Buzzer was quite nice.

Marc Puckett said...

The light bulbs I was referring to are photographed in the video at the Wheel Fi site; they are in a third cabinet, separated from the two large 'sculptures'. Had to look tweeter up (& see what you're talking about, in the photo in your post, at the top of the 'sculptures', the tiniest speakers) but what is in the video are light bulbs. Perhaps their brightness visually represents modulations in the sound? no idea. Not important until the lottery win makes an inquiry to the Wheel Fi people possible.

Oh, Submediant-- & I wasted/spent many minutes there, ahem, while at the office-- doesn't walk atop the heights all the time, either. :-)

Bryan Townsend said...

Oh yes, I see what you mean. At the Wheel Fi site? Yes those do look like light bulbs. It appears as if he is testing out an amplifier or something? Way out of my area of expertise.

Very amusing those Submediant types. I'm still laughing over some of their items.