Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday Miscellanea

All performers, and probably most composers as well, have a keen interest in the design and construction of musical instruments. So this article about those beautiful Italian pianos by Paolo Fazioli is worth reading:
Alessio Bax, a New York-based concert pianist who prefers Hamburg-made Steinways, says that no leading pianist would turn down a Fazioli. Angela Hewitt, a renowned interpreter of Bach, performs on Fazioli instruments whenever possible. “The action is incredibly responsive to every variation in touch, and everything I imagine in my head I can produce with my fingers,” she explains. “Other pianos can be very beautiful but are less interesting, because the sound cannot be varied to such an extent as on a Fazioli.”

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This seems to be an absolutely horrific situation. I'm very glad to have read it, because now I will not be tempted to sign up for an Apple Music subscription!
through the Apple Music subscription, which I had, Apple now deletes files from its users’ computers. When I signed up for Apple Music, iTunes evaluated my massive collection of Mp3s and WAV files, scanned Apple’s database for what it considered matches, then removed the original files from my internal hard drive. REMOVED them. Deleted. If Apple Music saw a file it didn’t recognize—which came up often, since I’m a freelance composer and have many music files that I created myself—it would then download it to Apple’s database, delete it from my hard drive, and serve it back to me when I wanted to listen, just like it would with my other music files it had deleted.
Let me quote some more so that you get the picture:
Should I choose to reclaim my songs via download, the files I would get back would not necessarily be the same as my original files. As a freelance composer, I save WAV files of my own compositions rather than Mp3s. WAV files have about ten times the number of samples, so they just sound better. Since Apple Music does not support WAV files, as they stole my compositions and stored them in their servers, they also converted them to Mp3s or AACs. So not only do I need to keep paying Apple Music just to access my own files, but I have to hear an inferior version of each recording instead of the one I created.
In other words, for any musician or composer, it is extremely inadvisable to subscribe to Apple Music as it will mess up all your personal musical files. If I hadn't read it, I wouldn't have believed it.

[Don't get me wrong, I am a Mac user. In fact, I find iTunes quite useful. But 99% of the music in my iTunes are my own compositions. So subscribing to a service that would, essentially, steal them from my computer, is not going to happen.]

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The Wall Street Journal has a piece praising the business acumen of the Rolling Stones. But be sure to read the comments for a necessary corrective!

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As a good Aristotelian (on even-numbered days, on odd ones I tend to follow David Hume), I have often thought that he has much to offer the modern world. I even gave a paper at an academic conference once doing an analysis of the moral progress of Spike (a character on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) according to Aristotle. No, really! But I had no idea that Aristotle had the foresight to address the problem of Trolls on the Internet. Here is the link to his treatise On Trolling. The opening paragraph:
That trolling is a shameful thing, and that no one of sense would accept to be called ‘troll’, all are agreed; but what trolling is, and how many its species are, and whether there is an excellence of the troll, is unclear. And indeed trolling is said in many ways; for some call ‘troll’ anyone who is abusive on the internet, but this is only the disagreeable person, or in newspaper comments the angry old man. And the one who disagrees loudly on the blog on each occasion is a lover of controversy, or an attention-seeker. And none of these is the troll, or perhaps some are of a mixed type; for there is no art in what they do. (Whether it is possible to troll one's own blog is unclear; for the one who poses divisive questions seems only to seek controversy, and to do so openly; and this is not trolling but rather a kind of clickbait.)
I hate to ruin the joke, but yes, this is a satire and an amazingly accomplished one, by Rachel Barney of the University of Toronto.

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Prince is the kind of musician that can make other musicians uncomfortable: he's just got too much talent. Who else could do "Whole Lotta Love" better than Jimmy Page on guitar AND sing it better than Robert Plant and do all that simultaneously?

Ok, maybe Jimmy needs to be more scared than Mr. Plant. But still...

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Black women like Sister Rosetta Tharpe were an important influence in the early days of rock and roll. That guitar looks pretty modern in this clip from 1964:

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Here's the kind of thing I like to see--well, I would like to see the unedited version! This is Jascha Heifetz supposedly putting a young Itzak Perlman to the test. The only problem is that the young violinist playing in the clip is not Itzak Perlman at all, but Heifetz' student Erick Friedman. Apart from the fact that they look entirely different, Perlman, who contracted polio at age four, does not play while standing.

G flat major in tenths? Sheesh! Ok, what I actually heard in the clip was a little bit of a nice smooth C major scale and a really shaky G flat major in tenths. And I think there was some B flat minor in octaves that was not very in tune. Speaking of Russian violinists, my dear friend (and great violinist) Paul Kling once said to me that every great 20th century violinist was either a Russian Jew from the Caucasus or studied with one! I lent him a record of Perlman playing duets with guitarist John Williams and all he said when he returned it was "Perlman always plays sharp."

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Camille Paglia is one of the more interesting academics around. I ran across a nice, crisp comment from her in a recent piece titled "The Modern Campus Has Declared War On Free Speech."
The worst crime of political correctness is that it has allowed current ideologies to stunt our sense of the past and to reduce history to a litany of inflammatory grievances.
This is precisely why I resist a lot of the calls for "modernising" the classical music world--in reality, the result will be the impoverishing of it.

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Here's one for all of you who actually remember the 60s: the Monkees are coming out with a new album and the Wall Street Journal has the story: "The Monkees to Release New Album and Head Out on Tour." Now the Monkees, while a bit of a put-together group, were actually fairly fun and had some good tunes.
The Monkees turn 50 this summer as a fake and then not-so-fake rock band, and the album they’re releasing to mark the occasion brings together some surprising old material with some even more surprising new stuff.
Yes,  it's true, they started out as a fake group put together for a TV show, but became an actual group who even learned how to play their instruments and write some of their own songs.

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For our envoi we have Jascha Heifetz playing the first movement of the Violin Concerto by Tchaikovsky:


Craig said...

I love that piece by Rachel Barney on Aristotle. I've met her a few times, but I didn't know she was such a wit. Really delightful.

Bryan Townsend said...

I sent her an appreciative email and she wrote back. Humour based on the subtleties of Aristotle's prose style (in English translation) and analytical proclivities is about as specialised as humour gets!

Christine Lacroix said...

Wow, it's really nice that she took the time to answer you, Bryan! I'm always in awe of the time you devote to this blog, for which I must say you have a true gift. Glad someone makes an effort for you.

Here's Whole Lotta Love, cello version :

Bryan Townsend said...

I write posts when I get bored---and a lot of life is a bit boring!

Marc Puckett said...

Yes, Prof Barney seems to be one of the good ones; she replied to me, too. Thought about purchasing her Plato's Cratylus but really it's beyond my budget and was sensible for a change. I forwarded Aristotle's On Trolling to a friend who, it turns out, was unfamiliar with the expression. Imagine!

That's awful about Apple, tsk (although I see that their people are contesting the storyline that James [I can't think of his last name] went with); am glad that I stopped after the free three months' trial, although I believe I ended up paying for a fourth month since I didn't pay attention.

Thought that David Jones died? hmm.

The guitarist for Schubert's "lieder for guitar and soprano" Sunday is James Bishop-Edwards; the Arpeggione sonata for guitar and fortepiano is the finale. []