a clean Coltrane launched into a decisive phase of overachievement. Recordings that appeared under his own name for the leading independent labels Prestige, Atlantic and Blue Note resulted in a discography so rich that inevitably gems slip into obscurity. For example, the album Lush Life is worth the title track alone. Coltrane’s interpretation of the masterpiece written by Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington’s peerless co-composer and arranger, is an object lesson in how to capture the deep world-weariness and regret of a lyric through the inflections and nuance of the tenor saxophone. This is a big leonine instrument that Coltrane handles with consummate skill, using the tonal weight for scene-stealing melodic richness on some phrases, while brightening and hardening his timbre elsewhere to create a piercing effect in line with the sharp edges of Strayhorn’s cynical musings on the prospect of “a lush life in some small dive”.And here is that fourteen minute performance:
I don't know why I have never fallen under the spell of the great jazz artists like John Coltrane and Miles Davis. I'm not unaware of their stature, nor of the techniques they use to create these tapestries of sound. But I just don't jibe with the cultural context for some reason. This deep world-weariness is not mine.
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Here is a pdf on the Economics of Renaissance Art. It is rather a long read, and one intended for professional economists, but it has some interesting perspectives:
When painting finally appeared as an independent decorative object hung on a wall, the frame began its evolution as a richly carved and gilded tondo or cassetta that could be made by artists as prominent as the painter... the picture, once it emerged in a domestic setting, became subject to the influence of the entire range of secular culture and took on greater variety in its content and a more highly charged cultural meaning. Soon, rich families started to decorate their own chapels in churches with altarpieces commissioned directly to the painters. The purpose was to invest in the next life or just to signal their "magnificence" to the community (Nelson and Zeckhauser, 2008). This created a multiplier of artistic production as new churches were built with new chapels to be sold to private families who then commissioned new altarpieces and tombs stimulating imitative behavior by others. Such a "laicization of religion" made it possible for the demand of art to increase rapidly during our period. Part of this was because paintings were capital goods whose value was increasing during Renaissance: altarpieces for private chapels were repeatedly seen and enjoyed by the entire local community, generating benefits for their commissioners. The essential consequence of this, for my purposes, is that the new social benefits associated with art increased the willingness to pay for paintings.
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That cat has an excellent grasp of the acciaccatura ornament!
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Here's a slice of pop history: John Lennon and Chuck Berry playing together.
The slightly awkward context around this is that people like John Lennon and the Beatles took the kind of energy found in rock n roll as practiced by people like Chuck Barry, and made it into a huge commercial success. The enormous amounts of money flowing to those few pop musicians are still a rather awkward fact from the aesthetic point of view.
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More on the controversy surrounding AI composition:
AI could easily compose a Vivaldi-like (Italian Baroque) piece that, if used as transitional music in a documentary or under dialogue and sound effects, would more than do the job. Could a lifelong, professional musician tell that piece was written by AI? Maybe. It depends on too many factors to go into here. Could a discerning audience? Highly doubtful. In fact, I’m going to put a flag in the ground here and simply say no. If they were not informed (warned), no general audience would have a clue as to how the track was created, nor would the audience care.
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I mentioned the debate between Slavoj Žižek and Jordan Peterson the other day and quoted a review. Here is a rather nastier one:
You may have your own personal idea of Hell. Mine is an eternity trapped in a room with Jordan Peterson and Slavoj Žižek. I do not like these men. I consider Peterson a toxic charlatan and Žižek a humiliating embarrassment to the left. I believe they both show how far you can get in public life without having anything of value to say, if you’re a white man with a PhD who speaks confidently and incomprehensibly. In fact, this is not really a debate at all, because these men are nearly identical as far as I am concerned. I sincerely believe that history will look back on this moment as a dark human low point.Heh! I wonder if we will get tired of this kind of unrelenting ad hominem bile at some point?
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From Slipped Disc, here is a really odd and somewhat foreboding story:
The Norwegian label Lawo Classics has been suspended from Facebook after posting cover art on a Baroque release by the Dutch master Jan Davidsz De Heem (1606-1684), which Facebook deemed to be sexual.As always with Slipped Disc, don't neglect the comments.
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Anne Midgette at the Washington Post weighs in on the Kate Smith controversy. It's a fairly long discussion, but she concludes by saying the baseball teams did the right thing:
On the other hand, given the historic exclusion of black players practiced by the New York Yankees, this feels a bit hypocritical.You can’t edit out of history everything you don’t like. “If we go through history and we really take out everything that a person who’s controversial has done, that’s also robbing us of some of our American history,” Brownlee says.But there’s also no need to pretend that the ballpark is the best arena in which to appreciate nuance or conduct reasoned debate about the significance of a piece of music. It’s less a question of censoring Smith altogether than of finding other appropriate places in which to encounter her work. Robinson draws a parallel to Civil War memorials in Charlottesville: “Put it in a museum,” he says, a context more appropriate for critical engagement. But leave the ballpark to the ballgames, with symbols appropriate to accompany them.
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Let me just point out one thing about artificial intelligence when it comes to music. It is really the case that one or more musicians are creating an application, program or algorithm to imitate a musical style. Any genius or creativity involved is entirely coming from the musicians involved. Shouldn't this be perfectly obvious? If you want to imitate or synthesize the elements that go into the style of, say, Vivaldi, then you have to intelligently study Vivaldi a great deal to understand how his structures work. Then you create a program to imitate this. All the intelligence and creativity involved is human, not artificial. So let's listen to some Vivaldi. This is the A minor concerto from L'Estro Armonico: