In a white top that reveals just the smallest tease of greying chest hair, light blue denims and a tattered apron around his waist, Bruce Springsteen (65) invites us into his home.Tattered apron? Okaaay. The thing is that female musicians present themselves differently than male musicians do. Here's an example: Jennifer Lopez (46):
If you can imagine Bruce Springsteen wearing anything like that, then you have a better imagination than I have!
Describing what Springsteen is wearing is comic because you are describing a basically utilitarian outfit as if it were fashionable. That's where the humour is.
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Alex Ross alerts us to an interesting bit in an interview with Finnish conductor Susanna Mälkki:
"No guilt when it comes to music. There are days when Led Zeppelin is the only right thing to listen to."Mind you, if you use the Mayan calendar, as I do, then that day only comes around once every five thousand years.
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Luxury hotels welcome us with even more annoying music! But they think they are being alluring: "How Luxury Hotels Lure You With Music" in the Wall Street Journal is about how hotels are tweaking their canned music:
When the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver wanted to attract younger travelers and add some pizazz to the nearly 40-year-old hotel, it ditched the jazz music in the lobby and the mellow lounge tunes in the restaurant. In their place? Upbeat and indie pop tracks, like “Groove Jumping” by the British DJ Jimpster, arranged by a music-curating company.The new music “keeps us interesting,” says hotel manager Joerg Rodig. “For some people, Four Seasons the brand can be intimidating. We’re trying to take that intimidating away and just be welcoming.”
Ok, let's hear that Jimpster track:
Somehow that does not make me feel that I am being welcomed to a luxury hotel. It makes me feel edgy and ill at ease. That's hipster music! Do most people actually find that welcoming? I have to tell you that my prime criteria in selecting a restaurant to dine in is that they have NO music playing. The only exception would be ethnic music in an ethnic restaurant, which is ok.
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The latest in copyright news is that "Happy Birthday" probably is no longer under copyright. So feel free to sing out the next time you are at a birthday party.
In other words, there's pretty damning conclusive evidence that "Happy Birthday" is in the public domain and the Clayton Summy company knew it. Even worse, this shows that Warner/Chappel has long had in its possession evidence that the song was at least published in 1927 contrary to the company's own claims in court and elsewhere that the song was first published in 1935. We'll even leave aside the odd "blurring" of the songbook, which could just be a weird visual artifact. This latest finding at least calls into question how honest Warner/Chappel has been for decades in arguing that everyone needs to pay the company to license "Happy Birthday" even as the song was almost certainly in the public domain.
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Robinson Meyer, in The Atlantic, offers an extensive critique of how poorly classical music is handled in the new streaming model. Nico Muhly offers examples from his collection:
Now, of course, it is a tiny collection because I lost most of my CDs and all my LPs due to an Evil Moving Company. But my system works great. I have a shelf and on the shelf I have my CDs filed by composer. Early music collections appear at the very beginning and collections by specific performers appear at the end. Now it would be great if I had tens of thousands of MP3s. I guess. But not if I couldn't find anything. With my system I can find everything. Instantly.
Read the whole thing. I have a pretty simple system that works quite well. Here let me show you:“To give you a really specific situation, there are two settings of the Te Deum text by Benjamin Britten. And it would seem to me that if you type in ‘Britten’ and ‘Te Deum,’ you would see some of them,” the composer Nico Muhly told me. “But it says, ‘no results found.’”I want to submit to the record here that Muhly’s hard drive contains seven different files that could be reasonably called the Britten Te Deum. In fact, it contains more than 2,000 files, or 11.9 gigabytes, of music by Benjamin Britten. It also contains 97 different settings of the Te Deum text.“What’s extraordinary about it is that I tagged everything really, really well. It’s in Artist, Album Artist, all these things are organized,” he said.But when “Britten Te Deum” is searched—and he sent me a screenshot of this—nothing comes up. “It’s not like, let me show you too many results. It just does not compute.”
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Here is a moderately technical summary of how the music business is in very bad shape these days. The bottom line:
Sales of recorded music have declined by 70 percent since 1999, even while adjusting for inflation
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Norman Lebrecht at Slipped Disc alerts us to an upcoming musicology conference that seems to reach new highs in irrelevant triviality: "Music on the Move: Sounds and New Mobilities".
Breathing to sing, echoing screams in a cave, plucking guitar strings, applauding and clapping, surfing the web to download, dancing to music, performing foreign scores, translating an opera, chanting in protests or in religious processions. Sound is movement and music is on the move. Since the end of the 20th century, the notion of ‘mobility’ seems to be ubiquitous in social sciences as a prominent cross-disciplinary agenda. Many scholars even refer to a new mobilities paradigm or a mobility turn (Sheller and Urry 2006; Adey et al. 2013; Faist 2013) stressing the importance of movement when studying historical or contemporary societies and individuals (Cresswell and Merriman 2011; Dureau and Hily 2009). If the entire world might seem to be on the move, it has become crucial to understand ‘how the fact of movement becomes mobility’, i.e. how ‘movement is made meaningful’ (Cresswell 2006, 21).And that was the introductory paragraph! Why is academia these days so often giving thinking a bad name?
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The New Yorker has an interesting article on stage fright titled "I Can't Go On". Sample quote:
In a number of ways, stagefright doesn’t make sense. Laurence Olivier, when he was in his late fifties, was visited by a spell that lasted, intermittently, for five years, causing him great anguish. At the time, he was the most celebrated stage actor in England. How could he be frightened of failing? Ditto Mikhail Baryshnikov. In the nineteen-seventies and eighties, Baryshnikov was the most famous ballet dancer in the world, and he probably still is, though he ceased classical dancing some twenty-five years ago. Since then, he has built a successful career in modern dance and theatre. But he experiences terrible stagefright, and says that it has only got worse over the years.Oh yes, this is very common, even among seasoned performers. A friend of mine grew more and more anxious about memory lapses every time he performed so he eventually stopped playing from memory entirely. And then there is the story of the famous cellist who fell downstairs one day, breaking his arm, and his first thought was "thank God, I don't have to play cello any more." (In the article a slightly different story is told about Casals.) Many very famous performers have struggled with stage fright. Segovia said once that every afternoon before a concert he sought to find a rationalization for why he had to cancel. Jascha Heifetz suffered a total memory lapse in a concerto performance that was so devastating that he walked offstage and never returned. In all these cases, the artist is very unforgiving of themselves which creates a kind of psychological dilemma: you need for the performance to be perfect, but you know it can't be and because of that, your anxiety just increases, which means that the performance will definitely not be perfect!
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Here is a clip about a cello built out of styrofoam. I wouldn't base a judgement just on hearing a video clip, but it sounds surprisingly good. I guess styrofoam is an acoustic medium like wood. I do know that some guitar builders have started using things like balsa wood bridges and carbon filament in the interior strutting of guitars, to good effect.
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Courtesy of one of my commentators is this rather fascinating American Sign Language interpretation of an Eminem song:
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And to end, here is an equally fascinating article about imaginary musical instruments titled "Cat Pianos, Sound-Houses, and Other Imaginary Musical Instruments".
That gives us our envoi for today: the ondes martenot, a real musical instrument that just sounds imaginary:
The most famous piece using this instrument is Messiaen's Turangalîla-Symphonie:
So I guess I have to do a post all about that rather remarkable piece of music!