Friday, June 14, 2013


  • A case is going to court challenging the validity of the copyright on "Happy Birthday". You didn't know it was copyright? Oh yes, and we want you to send in the $57 owing from the last time you sang it!
  • This article looked really, really interesting, but it just petered out into discussion of a meeting of music administrators. Now the way I would go about it would be to mention the meeting and use that as a hook or catalyst to get into some kind of discussion of aesthetic principles. But this article goes the other way. It starts out with some challenging aesthetic statements and then just dribbles off into discussion of the meeting. This isn't "burying the lede" It's something like taking the lede out back and shooting it.
  • Here is an essay about the appreciation of classical music from a 22-year-old. I'm glad she's there and wish there were more like her, because she is complaining that "I have no one my own age willing to discuss my greatest passion with me: classical music." Now that's depressing! I like her interest in discussing different performances. But I think she needs to do a bit more reading to correct some faulty notions such as the idea that "the notoriously strict scores of the baroque era aren’t the only pieces that have this problem. If anything, it’s almost more difficult to reinterpret a baroque piece since that particular era of music comes with the unwritten rule that the notes should be played exactly as they’re written on the page." Not true, of course. The musical scores of the Baroque are often incomplete and require a lot of knowledge of historic conventions to interpret. Bach is the exception as his music is pretty completely notated. But all the other guys?
  • I have a recurring dissatisfaction with the neurological investigation of music and this article just added to it. They are doing a lot of research at McGill University, my old stomping grounds, but it never seems to add up to much. This article, while displaying the usual pomposity, is not actually insulting, unlike many others. My feeling from reading most of this kind of research is that scientists think that musicians are sort of gifted idiots, capable of intuitive acts, but really incapable of understanding what they are doing. My opinion is that musicians know very well what they are doing while scientists are stumbling around, refusing to admit their lack of musical understanding while they play with their machines that go beep. Go and read the article, by all means, but notice that, for scientists, understanding music seems to have a lot to do with noticing "statistical regularities" and the "cross talk" between our cortical systems. They actually think that this is some kind of answer to the mysteries of the aesthetic power of music.
  • Let's listen to some of those statistical regularities and see if if provokes some cross talk. Here is Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau accompanied by Vladimir Horowitz performing the first song from Robert Schumann's Dichterliebe song cycle: "Im wundersch√∂nen Monat Mai".

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