Read the whole thing for a fascinating and informed look at how jazz is transmitted.the basics of straight-ahead jazz were also being taught to incoming freshmen at an increasing number of American colleges. The influx of students mandated digestible rules. During the mid-seventies, a lead sheet of “In a Sentimental Mood” appeared in “The Real Book,” the most widely disseminated jazz manual ever made, a “fake book” of tunes and chord changes produced by students in the powerful jazz program at Berklee College of Music, in Boston.If a student wanted to sound like Bill Evans on “In a Sentimental Mood,” he or she could quickly start getting close with the help of a chart in “The Real Book.” The sheet begins with four versions of D minor, “D-, D-(maj7), D-7, D-6.” These aren’t wrong, exactly, but they are far closer to Evans than Ellington, and suggest ways of articulating harmony in a blocky and unmusical fashion, one divorced from the idea and emotion of the original song.
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I've been on a long crusade against what I call "scientism" because much of it appears to me to be wildly misinterpreted or simply wildly wrong attempts to prove the, at least, dubious. Call it science as cult. I started on this because just about every article I ran across on the scientific study of music was hilariously mistaken. This week the Wall Street Journal has an excellent piece supporting my view titled Studies Are Usually Bunk, Study Shows:
Gladwell's 10,000 hours claim was one that I attacked years ago--as any music teacher knows, there are lots of students for whom 10,000 hours of practice will get them not very far, while with some students a fraction of that time will see them far ahead. In fact, most of these studies are simply mistaken:Pop psychologists have churned out mountains of books proving some intuitive point that turns out to be wrong. It’s “sciencey,” with a whiff of (false) authenticity.Malcolm Gladwell is the master. In his 2008 book, “Outlier,” he argues that studies show no one is born better than anyone else. Instead success comes to those who put in 10,000 hours of practice. That does sound right, but maybe Steph Curry shoots hoops for 10,000 hours because he is better than everyone at basketball in the first place. Meanwhile I watch 10,000 hours of TV. Facing criticism, Mr. Gladwell somewhat recanted: “In cognitively demanding fields, there are no naturals.” News alert: Professional sports are cognitively demanding.
In August 2015, the Center for Open Science published a study in which 270 researchers spent four years trying to reproduce 100 leading psychology experiments. They successfully replicated only 39.Things like "unconscious bias," that is the theory that underlies masses of social engineering are simply unlikely:
In his best seller “Blink,” Mr. Gladwell finds studies suggesting we are all unconsciously biased sexists, racists, genderists, ableists, and a litany of other “ists”—victimhood’s origin story. Newer research has deflated this theory, but the serious conclusions, and boring training seminars they inevitably lead to, remain.What we have to always remember is to be skeptical, especially of those ideas that are very beneficial to those people that purport to administrate society for the better. Turns out it benefits them and almost no-one else. Now that's critical thinking!
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There have been several articles lately bemoaning the invitation to conservative pundit Dennis Prager to conduct the Santa Monica Symphony in a benefit concert. According to them, anyone who disagrees with them is a bigot and should not be allowed to show his face in public. Here is an article making the contrary case that politicizing everything, especially classical music, is just a very bad idea: Was Haydn a Bigot? Are you?
My friend Dennis Prager, the radio talk-show-host, is conducting the Santa Monica Symphony in a Haydn symphony this Wednesday at Disney Hall in downtown Los Angeles, and, of course, his appearance has "drawn fire" and "raised controversy" in the fever swamps of the Left, which is freaking out at the prospect of having a "bigot" on the podium. Anyone who knows Dennis, or who even listens to his daily radio show on the Salem Radio Network, understands this is codswallop. Prager is an observant Jew and a man who has spoken and written extensively on the moral issues of our day. His bona fides as a public intellectual are impeccable.
I can remember when most of life was entirely free of politics--and it wasn't that long ago! If I sat down to play chamber music with someone it wouldn't have occurred to me in a million years to even wonder what their views on socialized healthcare or immigration policy were. And I really can't see why the horn section of the Santa Monica Symphony should care either.
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The BBC Proms concerts in London, one of the great summer music festivals, apparently have an Early Music problem, Time to ditch authenticity for early music Proms:
They say the first step towards recovery is admitting that you have a problem. So I’m staging an intervention and asking the BBC Proms to admit what they’ve known for some time: they have a big problem when it comes to early music. How to perform it, where to perform it, even who should perform it — these are all questions that, year after year, remain unsatisfactorily, inconsistently or superficially answered, and there’s little in this year’s programming to suggest that 2017 will be any different.If the problem is that the repertoire and ensembles do not translate well to the large halls, what is the solution?
Some of the most exciting performances of baroque and early classical repertoire we’ve heard this season (Rattle’s Haydn with the LSO; Rebel’s Les élémens — an opener for Joshua Weilerstein and the BBCSO) have been not from period specialists but symphony orchestras. Not because the quality of playing was any better, but because the repertoire was embraced into a musical continuum, was explicitly related to the rest of musical history rather than ghettoised, set apart. If this means we lose authenticity then I think it’s a price worth paying for music that has the spirit (if not quite the sound) that the composer intended.Yep, the problem of translating subtle, smaller ensemble performances into the larger spaces of today has never really been acknowledged.
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This is the kind of article I like to see, all about the librarian for the Philadelphia Orchestra, Librarian helps keep Philadelphia Orchestra running smoothly:
“We’re not taking 40-year-old parts and putting in new bowings,” Grossman said. “Rather, there are three new ways this is done: Yannick marks his score and we transfer everything to the parts; or he marks only the principals’ parts (concertmaster, second violin, viola, cello, bass); or, because we understand his approach, he lets the principals work together to produce a bow master. They now have regular meetings to look at all the music. Yannick likes the orchestra to be prepared. He’d rather spend time in rehearsals getting into interpretive issues.”
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All the rights to the royalties as well as to the name and image of Glenn Gould have been sold to a US agency. I'll bet he's glad he is dead and doesn't have to hear about this. I think that was black Canadian humor...
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Since I'm planning on attending next summer I am delighted to hear about a rejuvenated Salzburg Festival. Alex Ross waxes ecstatic:
In recent years, this most sumptuous of classical-music gatherings has reverted to its default identity as a parade of musical celebrities with no clear artistic destination in sight. Last year, though, the progressive-minded Austrian pianist and impresario Markus Hinterhäuser took over as Salzburg’s artistic director, and he is stirring memories of the festival’s most vital period—that of the nineteen-nineties, when Gerard Mortier presided over a superb array of provocations, including an avant-garde series that Hinterhäuser co-curated.
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That's one politicized musicologist: NY MUSICOLOGIST: EUROCENTRIC MUSIC EDUCATION IS A KEY TRANSMISSION VECTOR FOR WHITE SUPREMACY AND WE NEED TO FIGHT
As has been said before, for the post-modernists, all relationships are power relationships so any respect for the aesthetic quality and traditions of Western music has to be understood as a naked claim to superiority and therefore crushed. Sorry, but classical music is neither racist nor the Black Plague. These kinds of arguments are nauseating...
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For our envoi today this is the Symphony No. 51 in B flat major by Joseph Haydn, the one chosen for the Santa Monica benefit concert. The Academy of Ancient Music, conducted by Christopher Hogwood: