Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Whitney Music Box - var. 11 "minute waltz" -60 keys in 60 seconds.

Check this out

This is brilliant stuff, gorgeous stuff (well, more visually stunning than anything), its a graphic with music determined by the spinning visuals- with 13 variations total.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Koyaanisqatsi Pinball

Wouldn’t that kick ass?

I can just see it- that severe KOYAANISQATSI lettering on the top of the back board. Push in some quarters and you’d hear that ominous basso-profundo voice uttering the title accompanied by clips of the score. There could be all those sections, the cloudscape, the grid, pruit igoe, all of that, each one could light up and play a clip when hit. The grid in particular would give the pinball-maker the chance to do some fancy lighting tricks with the board (think of the time-lapse footage of those intersections) and with cloudscape drawings of clouds could light up. There could even be an airplane section for vessels or a collapsing building with igoe (in lighting of course).

Remember in the film there are those shots of kids playing games in an old fashioned arcade, it could a chance to be a sort of self-referential thing, it’s an absolutely perfect subject for pinball, dark and mysterious, and so much of it deals with this exact kind of fast-paced insanity.

I guess this is my idée fixe for the month.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I have corrupted

...the soft and moldable minds of fellow dorm-dwellers

with my strange musics.


While stravinsky didnt fly so well, Philip Glass certainly has. I wasnt really expecting that (but if you're used to techno, i suppose it makes sense)

Its hell week now. I have an absurd amount to be doing, i have not been as good a student as i should be, and i dont have time for much to update (nor much to say).

on a cheerful note, Today, while i was playing some strange contemporary music down stairs, a woman glared at me while walking past, her hands over her ears in a threatening gesture. What can i say? i was both concerned and amused. I mean, i really really wasnt playing loud (i swear) i was being careful not to get past (f), and usually staying in mf or mp. She either had-
A) something wrong with her
B) something wrong with her ears
C) hated the music.

probably all three, i think. (am i being egotistical?)

But now i've really got to run.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


I showed some friends of mine the rite of spring recently. They both were unsure how they felt about it. The dissonances were jarring, they complained. I explained why dissonance should not be a problem, but that doesn’t change much.

I've been listening to 60 second clips of Meredith monk's Atlas. While parts seem kinda incongruent- it appears at least, in from what i can read in 60 seconds,as a beautiful work (sometimes extraordinarily so). I wish i could get a better listen, i'd imagine i'd like it quite a bit.

I've always felt (i remember years ago thinking this and complaining to my mom about it) that opera was only good when it was fully abstracted or when it was as close to dramatic theatre as possible- that the stilted half way point between theatre and abstract musicality (thats basically a result of the classical/romantic tradition) was just a marginalization of either the music or the plot (usually the plot/dialogue/development) and was generally ineffective as both elements.
Abstraction, in my mind, was the only solution. I hate hearing these tacky dialogue being sung, as more of a necessity to keep a story moving then as something really prized An opera with the text as poetry could work, as it avoids the banality that can result from a truncated dialogue/plot format, but then again, writing as poetry requires a degree of abstraction

On the other end of the spectrum i now believe that spoken text as the basis in an opera could express any of the nuance of theatre (or even more with the addition/juxtaposition of music) and not cheapen the music. The music could certainly act in some relationship to the text being read, but it would be difficult to do this without sounding trite- Problem: what would make it more than just incidental music for a play?

Final pet peeve in music for theatre/film/opera/whatever is the use of minor chords for sad/angry situations or major harmonies for things perceived as more cheerful. Not only is this practice banal, its useless. What is the point of filling in all the space between listener and the actions on stage? To express a rigid concept of what is happy and sad devoid of the nuance of interpretation? Its the space between the two that allows a listener an ability to perceive the drama in a consciously different and personal manner, not shoving something down someone’s throat as if they were too inattentive or stupid to get it themselves.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

you guys are awesome

Just a little note/link to the wonderful temporary re-blog set up by the hard-working folks at anablog.

I have... no time. I shouldn’t even be typing it as its cutting in on my sleep-schedule.

Koyaanisqatsi was good- personally not mind-blowing, not revolutionary, surprisingly (visually)minimalistic in its emphasis on (visual) repetition (but i guess thats the point). I really did enjoy it, the music fit perfectly (though i thought there were many passages that were just a little too slow for me), the film gave me a different perspective of the kind of workings of the urban/industrial/manufacturing world.

Like anything minimalistic, at its best it left me in a giddy dizziness, disorienting and with a sense of awe. At its worst, it left me audibly yawning.
Some parts i wish the music were a little more diverse (organic, the grid). The film itself could be spectacularly beautiful and even moving in its coldness, in its objective "portraiture" of both individuals and the crowd.

I have many things to say, but i gotta get up early. Best be off.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

So i have just rented Koyaanisqatsi from my university library and have decided to post a few words. I have heard the music many times but have never seen the film. There is a real sense of drama in the music even without the video, but i am expecting that with it will be even more potent. The music is epic in a way, and, as far as im concerned, it is the ultimate in post-modernernity- that searing severe repetition, strict tonality and hypnotic persistence, a reflection of the contemporary urban world.

I have also read a great deal about the film, so hopefully my expectations will be met.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The beauty of misinterpretation

I have recently read criticism of stravinsky's ragtime, which will now send me on a half-intelligble tirade. I do not have the time to flesh-0ut this argument into something that might otherwise be convincing, but i dont mind publishing half-baked goodness. (its not like im getting any publicity here)

I understand the criticism, but it all seems to be based on the premise that mis-interpretation, mis-copying or whatever, is necessarily bad and cheap. Is this really the case? Whats the justification for a position like this? sometimes imitation can cheap- helplessly and pathetically cheap. For example, there are certain post-modern pseudo-historicist tendencies that makes me cringe:

(This is cheapafying classicism, an affectation that is not legitimately re-interpreting, but seems to mock more than anything else.)

There is a great evolutionary value in re-or mis- interpretation. Romanesque and consequently Gothic cathedrals would not exist otherwise. Nor would Roman architecture at all. Nor would greek for that matter (egypt). Historically, this is how arts developed and changed, how they evolved over time- through changes in perception, and most importantly, through imitation and those minor idiosyncrasies that always arise in the act of imitation.

Russian Churches, for example- Their distinctive style came from centuries-old of mis-interpretations of byzentine chuches. Without this mis-interpretation we would have never had the incredible beauty of St. Basil's in Moscow

This stylistic progression may have taken nearly 800 years, but damn does it end with a bang. (and doubtless would have continued to evolve had the renaissance not come to russia afterwards)

Stravinsky certainly understood the value of mis-interpretation, and no doubt, expected there to be a difference between his ragtime and those being played in america (when wrote the piece he had never actually heard american ragtime played, after all) So what is the gesture? Simply put, stravinsky found a way to create a new sound, based on rag sources but ultimately stravinsky.

So why do we allow for those implicit assumptions that deem both imitation and mis-interpretation as necessarily an aethetic cop-out or hack-work when this is clearly not the case? its essentially the dogma of modernism still slipping into our perceptions and argumentation.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Radiohead - There There (The bony King of Nowhere) (2003)

This is beautiful music. haunting, hypnotic, delicately lyrical, worthy of more attention than i can give it.

That shockingly mundane straightjacket form of popular music (Verse, Chorus, Verse, Choru... blah blah) has been rejected in favor of the non-popular, roughly AB type format. There is a warmth in the material that belies the title and a languidness that defies the steady beat.

I've been having nightmares about not finishing my homework (I think I have anxiety issues). So i need to get on that.

[unfinished] Sonata for Organ - Arnold Schoenberg (1941)

This has been mentioned many times over, but the Arnold Schoenberg Jukebox is an amazing, amazing resource for all things Schoenberg. Where else could i listen to 30 second fragments of an organ sonata back to back with his masterpieces?

I have always preferred Schoenberg’s pre-serialist works (though a handful of his serialist piano works have sparked my interest) This particular organ work is a fascinating little piece. It works, for whatever reason, the seralism fits quite well on an organ.

My main complaint with Schoenberg is that he seemed to believe that music without repetition was somehow more intellectual or interesting. He got that all wrong, im afraid. Without the re-occurring material i get bored, loose interest. Cognition is recognition, right?( or am i being dogmatic?) Either way, recycling some material will actually excite the brain into action, rather than lull it into daydreaming. From empirical observation, im sure of this much.
But what is the use of arguing against a dead man?

Either way, some great stuff to be had.... If only he had written more non-serial piano music and tonal neo-classicism (ie. the suite in g) ...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Flying German

So no one can tell me what the music is in the chase me ladies video?

I've been listening (or have listened would be more accurate) to Stockhausen's Helicopter Quartet (or if you prefer, Helikopter-Streichquartett). I think it goes without saying that this is a piece played entirely in helicopters.

Im not sure how i feel about it. Im highly amused, the music is ok but the concept is hilarious. I think im partial to Kontakte.

Its too damned long. I couldn’t download the entire quartet because i already am running low on disc space. 30+ minutes per movement? come on. There is nothing that can be said that cant be said in half that time. Take a lesson from webern or beethoven, not mahler.

now through hear-say i understand that Stockhausen has a fascination with defying gravity and wanted to express this in the music (hence the helicopters). He had done this decades ago when he suspended musicians up on ropes in the theatre. Apparently the musicians had difficulty playing their instruments while suspended in mid-air. Even heard reports of these musicians being unable to control being swung around above the stage.

I think this deserves re-visiting ....fertile grounds for something pythonesque.

But someone can fact-check that. I should, but im lazy and i think its too rich to want to dispel the story with fact. Besides, im the executer of this blog and what executive relies on facts?