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Continuing in a whimsical vein, the Husak Quartet perform the theme from Friends, courtesy of the Violin Channel.
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The New York Times has an excellent musicological article on Bach's Brandenburg Concertos: There’s More Religion Than You Think in Bach’s ‘Brandenburgs’ What makes it musicology rather that just journalism is that it tries to describe and critique a common view, that "One of the most persistent myths about Bach is that his work is marked by a fundamental conflict between the sacred and the secular." Instead, Michael Marissen shows that, to the contrary, even his secular music has a religious subtext:
Those today who view religion negatively sometimes go even further and view Bach’s church cantatas as essentially instrumental concertos, with the religious texts more or less extraneous. But historically informed interpretation suggests the opposite: Bach’s instrumental concertos, including the “Brandenburgs,” are essentially church cantatas with implicit (and therefore harder-to-read) “texts” that do have real meaning.
Accepting the idea that the “Brandenburg” Concertos harbor social and religious designs needn’t involve downplaying the magnificence of Bach’s artistic gifts. But insisting on exclusively aesthetic contemplation of his works — or implying that in the “Brandenburgs” he was freed from the perceived burden of including religious content in his music — pales their meanings, diminishes their complexity and reduces their stature.Good article with lots of musical examples in the form of sound clips. Mind you a lot of these same points were made by Richard Taruskin in the Oxford History of Western Music.
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Here is a piece about an executive at Deutsche Bank in New York gave up a successful career to become executive director at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, rescuing them from near-insolvency:
Two years ago, after a 16-year Wall Street career—and with the blessing of his wife, fellow Stanford Business school graduate Claire Ellis—Cooper, 45, walked away from all that to take the executive director’s job at the nearly insolvent Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. In doing so, he willingly stepped off his chosen career path and into a subterranean office that doubles as instrument storage space in the conservatory’s five-story Victorian building.
Music education should be an integral part of people's lives, I feel. Sadly, in a lot of places what is available is rudimentary at best.Since Cooper took the reins in August 2016, the 121-year-old nonprofit institution in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood has seen a 71% increase in individual donors over fiscal 2016 and a fivefold increase in attendance after shifting its development model from a single annual gala to a handful of special events. Assets have shown a net increase of $400,000 over fiscal 2016. Attendance at its flagship Community Music School is up 19%.
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The Toronto Star has a story about what happened when radio stations, including the CBC, decided to ban the popular Christmas song "Baby, It's Cold Outside" because of a purported endorsement of sexual coercion. The response from listeners?
It's beginning to look a lot like sanity is breaking out!While 6 per cent of listeners appreciated the stations’ enlightened stance against rape culture, radio polls indicated up to 94 per cent thought they were nuts and wanted that song back on the air, pronto, before their heads exploded.
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Are they talking about the Music Salon? In a world of ‘algorithmic culture,’ music critics fight for relevance.
Music critics are lamenting the possibility of a machine-driven world that rewards artists not for their originality, creativity, or emotional authenticity, but for their ability to replicate proven, predetermined formulas. Studies show that pop music and lyrics have grown increasingly repetitive and homogenous over the past few decades, and there is a whole graveyard of startups mining streaming and social data to predict the next big hit. Research initiatives like Google Magenta and Sony’s Flow Machines are even training machine-learning algorithms to compose songs on the spot, aiming to be indistinguishable from human songwriting.Go to the original article for several links in that paragraph.
Because of its inherently passive nature, algorithmic curation has also made one core function of criticism defunct. Traditionally, critics acted as trusted tastemakers and, in the words of Larson, “consumer guides”—drawing upon their decades of subject-matter expertise to convince music fans about which CDs and vinyl records to buy at their local store. Now, streaming algorithms arguably have more influence over consumers’ listening habits, but in a rather different way: they don’t serve as tastemakers so much as “taste-reflectors,” serving up music with the highest quantifiable chance of reflecting a user’s already-existing preferences.One of the things that annoys me about purchasing online is that as soon as you buy something, you are immediately hit with ads for numerous other examples of the same thing. But immediately after you buy a toaster, you certainly don't need to buy another one. Why isn't the same thing true of music? If you have just bought an album of soppy Andrew Lloyd Webber musical excerpts do you really need more? Don't you need some diversity in the form of Javanese gamelan or Haydn string quartets as a palate-cleanser?
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Let's listen to the lovely Brandenburg Concertos by J. S. Bach as our envoi today. The performers are the Freiburger Barockorchestra.