Friday, July 21, 2017

Friday Miscellanea

Making up for last week, today I have an action-packed miscellanea for you!

I have to admit that I quite liked Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance." The only thing better than a good music video is a satirical cover of a music video, so here you go, this is On the Rocks, the University of Oregon's premiere a capella ensemble, with their cover of "Bad Romance":


UPDATE: Now with the right song!

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A commentator sent this link in, which is a quiz that is supposed to be able to guess your age from your musical taste. Why don't you do it and report the results in a comment?

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This is rather a nice little rant:
Popular culture in the English-speaking world is in the grips of a downward nerd-driven death spiral. Outside of the art-house theaters of our major cities it is almost impossible to find more than one semi-decent film a month that is not an adaptation of some decades-old picture book franchise about men in rubber costumes punching each other. The average video game player is more than 30 years old. The only book that most Americans between the ages of 23 and 40 seem to have read whose title does not begin with some variation of "Harry Potter and the” is a fable about talking animals that they were assigned in middle school. Things are bad.
That's from an article about Game of Thrones at The Week.

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Direct from the Violin Channel is this video of South Korean violinist Jenny Yun and her backup dancers:


My violinist friend says she wants to either hurl or play Russian roulette with bullets in all the chambers. Me too, but I suspect we are not in the target demographic!

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This might be the most hilarious item of the day: "What's the Best Song, According to Science?"
Obviously, all art—and taste—is subjective. But is there one song—or one kind of song—that’s generally more enjoyable? Recently, author Tom Cox tweeted some musings on the philosophy behind what makes the “best song ever.” A significant portion of the internet, however, argued that he was full of shit because the best song of all time is Toto’s classic 1982 hit, “Africa.”
And then they try and approach the question with scientific method. One thing for sure, science has no way of approaching aesthetic questions.

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Painter Andrew Wyeth is finally receiving his due. Why Andrew Wyeth’s Art – Once Derided – Has Outlived His Critics:
This commitment to a narrow range of subjects made Wyeth unique and precluded him from critical popularity during life. It was not fashionable to find order in everyday life when most of the world was aroused by the sexual revolution or terrified by the imminent threat of nuclear war. Wyeth’s seemingly idyllic scenes of country life were dismissed as irrelevant. Even when he branched out and released a series of highly publicized nudes nicknamed “The Helga Pictures,” he was criticized for attempting the sensual without including the pornographic. When he died, The Guardian sneered that his art “belongs in retired Republican politicians’ homes, and the boardrooms of bankrupt banks.”
Scorn, however, doesn’t last, at least in Wyeth’s case. Most of Wyeth’s detractors are dying out, and the quality of his work endures. As the world spins into chaos—and it always is—paintings like “Christina’s World” are reminders that even the wild has its own order. And seeing that is clarity.
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 The Chicago Tribune has an article on John Adams:
"It can be a challenge to fill those enormous halls with an entire program of just my music," he said. "I was reminded that classical music is what people say it is, largely music of the past. It takes great time and effort to write music that might have a chance of entering the repertory, eventually."
Of similar concern is what he perceives as mounting classical music illiteracy in American society.
"One thing that disturbs me is that the friends I have dinner with — people who bear the same intellectual, social and political interests as I — don't listen to my music. Very few of them even listen to Beethoven. They listen to — I don't know — James Taylor or the Gipsy Kings. I realize I travel in a small cultural arena." 
Can this really be true? Is it because of where he lives, Berkeley, California? Surely if he lived in a major musical metropolis this would not be the case?

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To a musician this information from a survey of choirs in the UK seems not only unfair, but a little insane:
The report makes a direct comparison between choirs and amateur sports clubs, noting that while around 300,000 more people sing in choirs than play amateur football, football receives £30m in funding every year – compared with under £500k a year for choirs. 
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The authors, Lucy Dearn from the University of Sheffield’s Performer and Audience Research Centre, and Stephanie Pitts from its Department of Music, came up with interesting results. They found that most of the participants, even including those who were studying music at university level, experienced difficulty in identifying with the music emotionally, and with the concert experience as a whole.
They concluded: “While some respondents were pleasantly surprised by their enjoyment or impressed by the performers, most remained fairly fixed in their views, and it would clearly take more than one concert to begin to assimilate classical music listening within their established musical identities.”
The main obstacles that prevent them enjoying the concerts were “the emotional pace of the music”, the length of concerts they attended, and “the restrained behaviour of other audience members, which was interpreted by some as being indicative of a lack of emotional engagement”.
I can't help thinking that the wrong conclusions are always being drawn from studies like these. Go read the whole article and I think that a few things are clear:
  •  you can't come to enjoy classical music after attending one concert if you have never heard it before and spent your entire life listening to pop music--they are really opposite kinds of experiences
  • concert organizers cannot win young listeners by trying the ape the conditions of pop music performances unless they also replace the music with pop music, which defeats the whole purpose
  • if young people are surrounded by nothing but pop music and receive no proper music education, they have no real way to access what is going on in classical music
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We haven't listened to any John Adams for a while. This is the first movement of Harmonielehre with Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony:


10 comments:

Marc Puckett said...

(Unfortunately, OTR is singing some other song in that video, although it took me what seemed like five minutes to figure that out.)

Marc Puckett said...

Yet another reason to laugh at Berkeley, ha, the listening to James Taylor (according to John Adams, anyway)-- for some people, the 70s have never ended, I guess. Laugh is perhaps not the right word. I have such people in my own family... well, I guess I do mean laugh; I just wouldn't do it in their presence. And will claim that someone pirated my email account if any of them see this.

Marc Puckett said...

The opening night of the BBC Proms featured JA's Harmonium, which I'd never listened to; from 1980. It kept my attention for most of its half hour. More of his work coming, too: Naive and Sentimental Music, Harmonielehre, Lollapalooza, and, on the Last Night, Lola Montez Does the Spider Dance. He's 70 this year, I gather.

Bryan Townsend said...

Oops, sorry! Yes, that is the wrong clip. They have a bunch up and I accidentally pasted the wrong one. Agh! I won't be able to fix it immediately. Check back tomorrow and it should be the right one.

Jives said...

about to turn 49, and the quiz says I'm 54, pretty close.

Archilochus said...

I'm 30 and the quiz pegged me at 28. Quite close.

Marc Puckett said...

If I am remembering correctly, perhaps the most pertinent question is, is there anyone who did that questionnaire who isn't 28 or 54?

Will Wilkin said...

I'm 51 and the quiz put me in my late 20's. Now onto what's most exciting here: Jenny Yun is obviously just bow-synching for the video, but she and her back-up dancers can move in with me anyway. I'll tell them I'm in my early 20s (and I'm definitely willing to die proving it).

Bryan Townsend said...

Let me counsel you to never watch any videos of Khatia Buniatishvili as they might be injurious to your health.

Will Wilkin said...

Regarding Ms. Buniatishvili, I had never heard of her and delayed my imminent chopping-of-wood away from computer just to google her upon your caution against.

Of course now I am in love with her as a goddess who I will build fire for anytime. All I know so far is in the pic and paragraph here:

http://slippedisc.com/2014/06/another-georgian-musician-with-gender-issues/

In that (random) intro, I am reminded of Camille Paglia whose combination of erudite insight and keen feminine instinct always awe and warm me. Basically there is a primal force, so well-described by my favorite poet (Sigmund Freud), who knew the Libido is not just a sex drive but a prime mover of all that lives in multicellular form, and from which all aesthetics stem.