Saturday, April 29, 2006

i met alex ross.

the lecture was great. I got to see an interesting arts space i didnt know existed until recently. Great spot, great stuff. I really did like the Golijov he played, fantastic.

I also had never actually heard Salome or Shoenbergs 5 pieces for orchestra... so i was pretty happy (since i wasnt really expecting to hear much that i wasnt familiar with*)

Tonight i have been invited to improvise some music for a friend of mine's film. It should be interesting. We'll see how it goes. If i get my way i'll be doing this "scary music" in a mode that im currently working in... but Katrina may not approve. I dont want to pound out cliche dimished chords and minor and all that. I think a wealth of low trembling 5ths piled on eachother should do the trick without sounding too trite.


* not to sound pompous, but i am familiar with most of the really important 20th century pieces.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Chase me ladies has posted a hillarious* video that he made while staying at a hotel near the airport in chicago. Anyone care to identify the music? i dont know it at all and it makes me feel rather stupid.

Im also going to the Alex Ross lecture tonight. Its my little bus adventure for the evening.

God i hate the bus system.

*keep in mind this is british humor, so it may not make you laugh as much as i laughed.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Tchaikovsky - Sleeping Beauty - (1888-89)

Saturday (the day after The Books ) i went to a performance of Tchiakovsky's Sleeping Beauty. There were far too many intermissions and the first act was almost unbearable. Too many bleedin fairies. Oh man, it was hard to tolerate. There wasn’t so much tchaikovsky in the first act as there was French ballet music. "So 19th century!" my mother said. funny, since i'd described it just that way minutes before. It was dated and annoying. If Tchaikovsky were alive i'd tell him to "RE WRITE THE FIRST ACT" Hell, i'd do it for him.

The following three acts were brilliant but essentially limp (and the slow conducting didn’t help) I kept waiting for some tchaikovskian sudden burst of passion, but it never came- it was all rather tame. At the same time, in all that fairly conventional music there were these wonderful harmonic surprises. These little twists that essentially sets the music out from the background. It says subtly "this is not normal 19th century music" ...but it is! but it isn’t!

Unexpectedly, there is a Wagner influence in Sleeping Beauty - the use of leitmotifs as well as some pretty significant passages of chromatic harmonic movement. While this probably didn’t impress many in the audience today, at the time it was first presented im sure some of it sounded quite new.

The dancing was fine and all that. ... But damnit, parents should not dress their children up in princess costumes and have them parading around the opera house. There were a million little girls there, and thats all fine in itself (why not bring your sons as well? gender shouldn’t matter, right?) but that they were all dressed up like princesses.... that annoyed me. I know this sounds typical, but honestly- what kind of message does that send to the girls? what kind of values does that instill? As far as im concerned, taking on the role of pretty pretty princesses, helpless maidens and all that socially constructed garbage will do nothing but re-enforce gender social types and sexist behavioral expectations- inevitably constructing another barrier along the path of living authentically.


Ok, maybe im a little too socially radical (or ridiculous). Not like im going to try and force dress codes or force them to live authentically. My concern is with the message, not the clothing, of course.

But the Tchaikovsky... ahem. tchaikovsky. The ballet was good at being a 19th century ballet. The music is a little inconsistent, and generally too fluffy. But lyrical! brilliantly lyrical! I prefer the nutcracker as a ballet. (the nutcracker is more tchaikovsky, less french ballet) but overall it was a very enjoyable afternoon.

(though i preferred the books concert)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

i've been busy the last few days, is it obvious? classes have not exactly been very nice to me.

Friday night i attended a concert by The Books, which was enjoyable and cheap (6$). The books were, of course, brilliant. The musicians used a very glassian approach of playing a video while the music was played, which served as much an aesthetic choice as a practical one(since being a electronic collage-based group, only about half of the music can actually be played at all). They showed some really wonderful and beautiful film (and some hilarious film as well) and they also demonstrated some cello virtuosity with rapid harmonics and glissandos. Good stuff, entertaining as well as solidly intellectual.

The Books were preceded by a group from Canada named Piano- and their name doesn’t lie; their music generally ranged from mp to pp. It was sweet stuff- not saccharine, not cheesy, but generally sweet, gentle and restrained. Great, wonderful music for children, and i dont mean that in any derogatory way (in the same way Bernstein is great for kids, in my opinion) And in fact, it was music that cant really offend anyone- it could be quite pretty and even a touch melancholy- but despite this, it still maintained an intellectual element and could hold my interest. The harmonies were simple, but they often used interesting interlocking rhythms as well as peculiar instrumentation (alto sax, i believe, ukulele, drums, accordion and various little percussion instruments.) it was great, but my only complaint (which is the complaint with most bands) is that they need to diversify- it could get a little dull.all and all it was a well spent evening- good music and good jokes.

I just recently got my tickets to see alex ross in lecture at On the Boards.Im excited to see it, and if he is as good a lecturer as writer... and this contemporary arts venue... didn’t know about it, so i'm interested in seeing what they're up to.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

frozen music?

Some moroccan architecture for you:

I see some slow movement of Berlioz... maybe even Verdi when he's playing serious. Perhaps best yet - Debussy's Cathedrale engloutie

Saturday, April 15, 2006

I've been perusing recently (like many others right now). Its growing by leaps and bounds and its very interesting. Right now you can find many different music-related videos - from strange home videos involving stravinsky, bowling balls and model cars, to videos of new, Avant-garde minimalist opera. Not to mention the dozens of home videos and art-projects involving the music of philip glass.... you can watch parodies of koyyanisqatsi, babies listening to koyyanisqatsi, some video bloggers awkward reaction to 12 parts... on and on.

On the other end of the spectrum you can watch (and listen) to performances of debussy, ravel, beethoven, bach, etc, by students and professional musicians. Its a great resource if you're wanting a concert but dont have the time. I think i could spend far too much time on youtube.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Doors - Strange days (1967)

A hallucinatory piece accompanied by shotty, likely drug-induced lyrics- overwhelming the the listener in an echoing haze of minor-modal figurations. Haunting, elegant but ultimately coarse and visceral, a startling expression of a 1-dimensional existentialism. Its hard to imagine, compared to whats the most popular musics these days, that this was ever mainstream. Has mainstream music regressed in spirit or just moved away from drug-infused experimentation? Theres still great stuff being produced these days, dont get me wrong, and experimentation is still going on, of course, but if its not art-rock and not contemporary music, its all pretty lame and tame. Blogger Bart Collins posted about the "revenge of the dorks" in new main-stream music, and while i have a love-hate relationship with predictions and the generalizations of "trends", i think it agrees with the perceptions i've gotten from the current popular-music situation.

Friday, April 07, 2006

George Crumb - Dances of Ancient Earth

I really like George Crumb. Some part of his aesthetics really clicked with me immediately, which is rare for any kind of music. I get it, in a sense, i see it, where its going and i can appreciate it. Dances of Ancient Earth is part of his masterpiece Ancient Voices of Children, a wonderful and rich exploration of the possibilities of sound. Some of the songs in ancient voices are covered in a blanket of quiet (done explicitly to highlight the experience of some isolated pitches)- but this dance is quite energetic, and very audibly structural. Some of the other pieces of ancient voices can be a little too spacious for my tastes, sometimes, but often i find myself in the mood to listen to several of the "spacious" songs. This one is different, along several others (Music of the Starry Night (Makrokosmos III) etc) it will be on the anytime/anywhere playlist.

Despite the sometimes radical language, i still hear Debussy's spiritual influence- maybe thats why i can appreciate his music so easily. George Crumb has done all us music fans a favor by writing up his own descriptions of the piece on his website.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Take a hit, Philip Glass

Recently i was talking to a guy twice my age and somehow the topic of Koyaanisqatsi came up. "oh yeah," he said "we used to get high in the dorms and listen to Koyaanisqatsi"

Makes sense to me. Of all of the musics in the world to get high to, i think philip glass is a good one. On the other end of the spectrum, i think Bach could be just as good.

koooooooooooooooooooyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan iss qatsi.

are frenchmen with horns unpopular? i did think at least one person reading this thing would be amused/entertained.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Un peu de musique classique...

C'est Super!

This is pretty funny. It gets better as it goes along. Probably my favorite performance of vivaldi and strauss to date. Regardez!, c'est tres amusante.

I cant tell if its canadian french or well.

( you dont need to understand a word of French to get this)