Friday, May 27, 2016

Friday Miscellanea

Is this a vision of hell? Keith Blanchard writes in the Wall Street Journal: "The Future of Digital Music...Maybe: One man’s vision of what life will be like when literally every moment of your life gets its own soundtrack." See, my problem is that if all music is, is a soundtrack to your life, then all music is nothing but a soundtrack. And I've always thought that soundtrack music, while it has a valuable place, is really not very important music. But now I see that it is all a satire:
Just the right music will pop up everywhere. You’ll hear a triumphal march after you nail that job interview, a tender love song when you’re apologizing. I imagine it’ll be like living in a musical, where any emotionally charged situation, like old lovers meeting on the street, will start the music flowing, and everyone will drop what they’re doing and start singing and dancing and splashing through puddles. And then, annoyed by all this audible cheerfulness, a pack of emo kids will swarm out of a back alley in a sea of black, accompanied by a dark storm of songs about their pain...
I hope...

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Oh, Kanye, Kanye, Kanye. I don't think I have ever known a musician whose every public utterance makes me want to never, never, never hear a single note of his music: "Kanye West leaves Ellen DeGeneres speechless: 'I'm sorry for the realness' " Me too, Kanye! But I don't think "realness" is the right word. Perhaps, unbelievable moronic narcissistic personality disorder?
"Don't tell me about being likeable. We've got a hundred years here. We're one race, the human race, one civilization. We're a blip in the existence of the universe, and we're constantly trying to pull each other down. Not doing things to help each other. That's my point. It's like I'm shaking talking about it. I know it's daytime TV, but I feel that I can make a difference while I'm here. I feel that I can make things better through my skill set. I'm an artist, and I feel that I can make things better through my skill set. I'm a artist. Five years old, art school. PhD, Art Institute of Chicago."
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And now, for the comic relief portion of our miscellanea today, the poster for that elusive work by Nigel Tufnel (guitarist for Spinal Tap):


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New research by our friends in science suggests that practice is the way to get to Carnegie Hall. The book is titled Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool (Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 336 pp., $28.
Much of Peak is devoted to how deliberate practice works, and why more is better. Ericsson’s most famous research involved studying the schedules of violin students at an elite German school. The best—those the instructors said were destined for stardom—spent much more time in solo practice than those likely to become music teachers. Reconstructing their schedules since youth, Ericsson calculated that the best had spent on average 7,410 hours in deliberate practice by age 18, compared with 3,420 for the music education students. This solo practice allowed them to create mental models of their craft. They knew what a piece would sound like before they played it, and that familiarity allowed them to focus on details and nuance.
Now I know what my problem was: I didn't start practicing the classical guitar until I was 21! Be sure to read the comments at the link, because as is often the case, they provide the necessary correctives to the article itself.

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I'm not quite sure of the source of these numbers, but supposedly this is what some of the musical acts performing at the Woodstock rock festival were paid:
Canned Heat – $6,500 The Who – $6,250 (also reported at $11,200 but Variety claimed that number was inaccurate) Richie Havens – $6,000 Arlo Guthrie – $5,000 Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – $5,000 Mountain – $2,000 Tim Hardin – $2,000 Joe Cocker – $1,375 Sweetwater – $1,250 John B. Sebastian – $1,000 Melanie – $750 Santana – $750 Sha Na Na – $700
Those are astonishingly small numbers, aren't they. Santana, $750? And look at what pop musicians make these days: Beyoncé over $50 million a year.

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I've always liked trompe-l'oeil, partly because, after a decade living in Montréal, I almost know how to pronounce it. But this is a trompe-l'oeil to end all such: French street artist JR will cover I .M. Pei's glass pyramid at the Louvre with giant photos of the surrounding buildings to make it disappear. The Wall Street Journal has the story here.

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Very short miscellanea this week as, well, I haven't had much chance to gather exciting items. Tomorrow I am going to the opera here in Madrid, a joint production with the Paris Opera of Schoenberg's Moses und Aron. So let's have an excerpt for our envoi today. This is the first part of a German production from 2009.


Wow, what an interesting production. Talk about making the audience part of the action. And how the heck do you put the whole audience on a movable platform?

10 comments:

Ken Fasano said...

Remember that 1969 dollars are about 12x the value of 2016 dollars. So The Who got around $62,500 in 2016 dollars. Still, The Who - the third biggest band at the time? And they got less than Canned Heat???

Bryan Townsend said...

Not to mention Santana $750 (X 12 is still only $9000).

Marc Puckett said...

Am jealous! not to be able to hear the Moses und Aron, or, perhaps more accurately, ahem, not to be able to see the Romeo Castellucci production. The Daily Mail on controversy!!! [http://goo.gl/HNs7gj] and a good review of the Paris production [http://goo.gl/h68QIy]. I see you get to hear the second night's performance; Alberto González Lapuente (in the review in ABC) seems to have thought very highly of the premiere. [http://goo.gl/eJoqHX]

Bryan Townsend said...

Thanks so much for the links, Marc.

Ricardo Quintas said...

Hi Bryan,
This is Ricardo here from Portugal.

Still on the subject "The future of Digital Music" check this small video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJg02ivYzSs
It is a satire on the future of a digital world.
A "vision from hell" for sure.

Love your blog. Keep writing those beautiful posts.

Bryan Townsend said...

Hi Ricardo and welcome to the Music Salon. I think you are our first commentator from Portugal! That clip reminds me of some dystopian science fiction I read way back..

Thanks for the compliment!

Marc Puckett said...

This might be an interesting read-- it's Dan Chiasson in the NYRB, reviewing Ben Ratliff's book Every Song Ever... [http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/06/09/all-the-songs-are-now-yours/]. Aaron Copland's What to listen for in music... (1939) contrasted with the present situation, Ben Ratliff's present, anyway, where any piece of music can be listened to whenever one likes.

Bryan Townsend said...

Thanks, Marc. That might make it into the Friday miscellanea.

Marc Puckett said...

I saw this more or less by chance: there are a couple of priceless observations. "05:23 A chord change provokes wild applause for some reason." [https://throwingmyarmsaroundparis.com/2016/05/30/all-night-trance-at-the-louvre-nils-frahm-and-olafur-arnalds-in-paris/]

Bryan Townsend said...

Thanks, again. I loved this bit: "soft-core experimental classical music to recommend to people who blurt out they like Philip Glass"

If you know what you are doing, composition-wise, a long-delayed change in harmony can be really stunning. Look for examples in both Wagner and Steve Reich!