Friday, July 8, 2016

Friday Miscellanea

Too many heavy posts? Too much abstract cogitation? The solution is the Friday Miscellanea and this week we kick off with a selection of Awkward Band Publicity Photos. Here is a sample, but you really need to see them all:

Click to enlarge
Oh, there are worse, much much worse:

I think that they looked at a copy of We're Only In It For The Money and failed to realize it was a satire:

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After that I think we need some sad violin music. This is "Sad Romance (A.K.A. Sad Violin)" by Ji Pyeong Kwon:

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Forbes has an article discussing a recent ruling by the Department of Justice that is apparently very unfavorable to songwriters: "U.S. Dept. Of Justice Deals Crushing Blow To Songwriters"
Also in the ruling, the DOJ denied requests from songwriters to be able to withdraw their catalog from digital licensing services, which would essentially allow them to negotiate fair market rate payments from digital services like Spotify, Soundcloud and Apple Music. Record labels and recording artists, who are not bound by the pre-WWII Consent Decrees, already have these rights.
This seems utterly contrary to a common-sense understanding of natural justice. But there have been a lot of those lately. Remember the raid on Gibson guitars? If you want to understand the complexities of the music publishing and licensing marketplace, this article will help.

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The very fine music critic Allan Kozinn has a review of three new recordings of the music of Steve Reich, all by ensembles not directly associated with the composer. Well worth reading:
As it turns out, Mr. Reich’s work is as interpretable as the Beethoven string quartets or the Boulez piano sonatas. Alarm Will Sound made that point with its debut recording, a 2002 pairing of “Tehillim” with a revised version of “The Desert Music” that offered fresh views of works listeners thought they knew thoroughly. Since then, there has been a flood of Reich recordings made without the composer looking on. And with his 80th birthday approaching (on Oct. 3), three new discs join the queue: the London Symphony Orchestra Percussion Ensemble’s “Sextet | Clapping Music | Music for Pieces of Wood” (LSO Live); Third Coast Percussion’s “Steve Reich” (Çedille) and Ensemble Signal’s “Double Sextet/Radio Rewrite” (Harmonia Mundi).
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From the sublime to the ridiculous, here is a clip of a "humanoid robot choir" singing the tune from Beethoven's 9th Symphony very badly:

My informant comments if they are robots, why are they so sloppy? And my question is, exactly what means are they using to have the robots "sing"?

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Here is a rather nice tribute to Ringo Starr from an unexpected source:
Fortunately for Starkey/Starr, the Beatles, and rock, he was successful at something—the drumming, and not just with biscuit tins and sticks. He not only acquired the skills (George Martin said, “He always helped us to hit the right tempo for a song, and gave it that support – that rock-solid back-beat – that made the recording of all the Beatles’ songs that much easier”), but he had the personality and the casually witty outlook shared by the rest of the Beatles and so apparent in their first film “A Hard Day’s Night.” The movie was a revelation to us fans who had liked their music but had no idea how funny they were. As Starr himself said, “Our appeal … is that we’re ordinary lads.” I’d say they come across as ordinary lads—even nice lads, which is not always true of rock stars—with extraordinary gifts and overwhelming charm.
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The Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland turns out a remarkable number of the world's finest conductors. An article in The Economist talks a bit about how they do it:
In reality, the most important part of a conductor’s work happens not at the concert but during rehearsals. During the recent Friday afternoon lesson, the students took turns directing their colleagues in the Academy’s symphony orchestra. One of Mr Almila’s colleagues sat near the conductor podium, giving each student conductor detailed (and sometimes brutal) assessments after their sessions. “Don’t stop to tell them what you want them to do,” the professor told one student. “It interrupts the flow. Show them what you want them to do. They don’t want to hear you talk.” Mr Almila wandered around among the orchestra’s different sections, evaluating each conductor from the players’ perspective. At the back of the room, a video camera recorded the student conductors and the orchestra. Later each student would sit with a professor and evaluate his or her performance.
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I think that gives us a good suggestion for our envoi today. One of the Sibelius Academy's most well known graduates is Esa-Pekka Salonen. Here he is conducting the third (and last) movement of the Symphony No. 5 by Sibelius:

I love that quite unexpected ending!


Marc Puckett said...

Very interesting, that article in The Economist. I know very little about conducting (except that one can use only one's eyes and facial gestures, at least if one is Leonard Bernstein, or if one is with the Vienna Philharmonic) but just yesterday was at the 'Conductors Showcase' recital ('new' or student conductors participating in a conducting master class, part of OBF []) at one point of which Dr Maclary remarked about how great the singers in the University's chamber choir are &c &c, and how helpful they had been in providing feedback to the six fledgling conductors. I attended more to hear the Monteverdi madrigals and Pablo Casals' O vos omnes than expecting great insights into the art of conducting but it was quite informative really, as well as providing the opportunity to listen to some beautiful music.

Bryan Townsend said...

I would bet that sitting in on a conductor's master class would be very illuminating indeed!