Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday Miscellanea

Starting things off with a very weird item, there is an online quiz that purports to tell you "which dodecaphonic composer are you?" Alas, it is a fake quiz because there are no questions and the only result is Pierre Boulez! And I was so hoping to be Luigi Nono or Denis ApIvor.

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A look behind the scenes of the Electronic Dance Music world:
Francesca Lombardo was trained traditionally as a classical musician before realising her passion for music was inexplicably tied to more progressive, modern genres. Changing direction, yet arming herself with all the composition tools and self discipline of her formal training, Francesca unleashed herself on the unsuspecting world of electronic music where her skills as a vocalist and keyboard player were quickly acknowledged by various titans of the electronic scene including her label and friends at Crosstown Rebels. She quickly ascended to the top of her, and the wider tech house, game, and is now recognised as one of the most prominent female DJs in the world; a staple in clubs such as DC10, Berghain and Fabric.
Maybe we should all get out of this stuffy old classical music scene and into these more progressive, modern genres? The description makes it sound so interesting. Pity that the music is so, what's the word? Oh, right, awful!!

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Jan Swafford on Beethoven, Symphony No. 3

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Here's an odd little article about people who just don't get music.

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The very prolific Tom Service almost makes an interesting point in this essay, but diffuses it by trying to say it in too many different ways. I think this is the clearest version:
it was in pop and rock in the 60s and 70s that the truly immutable masterpieces were conceived and made, the albums-as-artworks that were made in studios and created for the medium of the LP, and which exist, definitively, in that format rather than on the live stage or as a series of suggestions for future interpretations of the same musical material. Classical music, on the other hand – above all, of course, the repertoires of anything composed in the pre-recording era - was never meant to be turned into a single perfected realisation of anything: these musical “works” – whether they’re Bach’s Passions or Mendelssohn’s symphonies or Chopin’s piano music – are more like assemblages of musical possibility, which exist as the sum total of their scores, their editions, their range of interpretative choices, and even their range of representations in writing, thinking, and listening to and about them.
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Here is a very, very long piece about how the relentless politicization of the way we look at art is not a good thing.
The challenge for everybody who is involved with the artswith opera, dance, and theater companies, museums, symphony orchestras, newspapers, magazines, and publishing housesis how to make the case for the arts without condemning the arts to the hyphenated existence that violates their freestanding significance. There are surely reasons to link art to education, to tourism, to urban renewal, but all such efforts will be stop-gap measures, bound ultimately to fail, unless they are grounded in an insistence on the products of the imagination as having their own laws and logic. The friends of the arts are used to doing battle with budget cuts in the public and private sectors, with the audience’s ever shortening attention span, with the shrinkage of arts coverage in newspapers and magazines. But among the greatest enemies of the arts are the enemies that lie within, in the arts community’s seemingly liberal demand that all discourse be reasonable, disciplined, purposeful, useful.
You know, I think I said something very like that a few times on this blog.

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The Wall Street Journal has a brief piece on Stromae, a Rwandan/Belgian musician in which he picks out five albums that he thinks are "formidable". One of them is the Requiem of Mozart.

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Another one of his choices is Kraftwerk, "Autobahn" from 1974, so let's have a listen:

Did they get some inspiration from Steve Reich who had been developing a minimalist aesthetic with live instruments since "Drumming" (1970-71)? Here is his "Six Pianos" from 1973:

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Rickard Dahl said...

- A real dodecaphonic quiz would be interesting. It would be interesting to see what kind of questions would be asked. I can imagine quetions like: "Which of the following tone rows do you prefer?", "Do you like Schoenberg's music?", "Which of the following seralism matrices do you prefer?", "Who's your favourite hero from the legendary 2nd Viennese school?" (a bit of sarcasm I suppose)

- That classical & electronic dance music mix sounds terrible indeed. Just fancy words used to describe something not so fancy. I think in general there probably isn't a good way to include classical music samples in pop music without ruining the classical part (or even the pop part). However, I'm thinking it might be possible with non-mainstream hip-hop/rap, the thing is that the focus isn't on the musicality but rather on the flow of the text and I'm saying non-mainstream because it tends to be on more interesting topics than clubs, money, fame, how much alcohol you had etc. A good classical sample can really help the flow of the text. Either way, a perfect example of a group ruining every type of classical music they touch is The Piano Guys. They are amazing at borifying (making something more boring) music. Ah, the pain in my ears: . On the bright side they seem to be borifying pop music and hopefully less good film music lately.

- Can't read the Chicago Tribune article. Appearently it's premium content and you can't access it outside of the United States.

- Yes, Tom Service has a good point, we get a variety of interpretations we can compare and choose from. I often choose the one that doesn't have a too low volume, isn't too old (old ones tend to have annoying noises in them) and I typically prefer the version I've aquainted myself first with (although I change my preferred version sometimes). Of course the biggest benefit is pretty much instant access to any kind of music whenever you want.

- Hmm yes, we have many enemies on the inside who try to justify simplifying the music or playing non-classical music to supposedly appeal to group X or group Y. However, you don't bring people into classical by giving them a dumbed down version. You give them the real deal and let them adjust.

Bryan Townsend said...

I think I have the right motto for The Piano Guys: "Ruining Great Music on a Daily Basis" AAAGGGHHH that was a really horrible thing to do to the Moonlight Sonata.

As an old Czech violist once said to me, "there is talent, but there is also anti-talent!"