Friday, May 5, 2017

Friday Miscellanea

Of course you are going to get a miscellanea today. It's Friday, isn't it? But don't expect much as I just did a post on breakfasting in España.

Let's start by droning on and on with the 24 Hour Drone, a music festival just for those folks who hate it when the music goes up and down and round and round and comes out here.

No really. As we learn from the NY Post:
Adventurous New Yorker concertgoers had the choice of two marathon-length concerts last weekend for tuning in and dropping out: a 10-hour ambient music show in Bushwick, and an even more demanding 24-hour drone-music event held in a reclaimed factory in Hudson, NY.
At 24-Hour Drone, about 300 people camped out on a concrete floor to listen to a full day’s worth of music from nearly 30 performers as varied as Sonic Youth co-founder Lee Ranaldo to the Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Choir, which sang Tibetan Buddhist chants.
I strongly suspect that whoever wrote that was vague on the meaning of the word "adventurous."

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 The Khatia Buniatishvili news of the week is her charm campaign in the French media continues  with a jazzy take on a Serge Gainsbourg tune, followed by a Piazzolla tango, bien sûr, with her sister. Slipped Disc has the usual complaining comments. I think it is her hair that bothers me. How can she play with it in her face like that? Tell you what's impressive, though: I have seen her interviewed in at least six different languages and she seems close to fluent in most of them: Georgian, Russian, French, German, English and, was it Italian? In any case, wow.

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Can you tell me what is odd about this string quartet? All women? No, that's not odd. Try again:

Figured it out yet? Yes, all four of these talented musicians are the same person, performing with herself through the magic of technology. I think I first saw this done by Paul McCartney in a video released just after the Beatles broke up. Take that, John! Julian Bream did a couple of duets this way, and managed to banter with himself.

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Here is a fascinating article about the history of how the musicians are organised onstage in an orchestra. The current seating arrangement is actually fairly recent:
Stokowski was a great experimenter, and he tried seating the orchestra in every imaginable way, always trying to find the ideal blend of sounds. On one occasion he horrified Philadelphians by placing the winds and brass in front of the strings. The board was outraged, arguing that the winds “weren’t busy enough to put on a good show.” But in the 1920s he made one change that stuck: he arranged the strings from high to low, left to right, arguing that placing all the violins together helped the musicians to hear one another better. The “Stokowski Shift,” as it became known, was adopted by orchestras all over America. In England, Henry Wood favored the same arrangement, leading to its adoption across the UK. Germany and Austria remained unimpressed.
The older arrangement was to have the first and second violins facing one another which provides for antiphonal echoes back and forth. This was also the arrangement specified by Bartók for his Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, if I recall correctly.

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Ending our abbreviated miscellanea for today, our envoi is the aforementioned Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta by Bartók, a very fine work indeed. This is the Franz Liszt Chamber orchestra sans conductor:

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