Sunday, July 30, 2006

Redding, California

My cousin is camping this weekend at henry cowell state park. I find this of interest.

As we drove through Barstow and i couldnt help but think of Partch, though i know none of his music. Im back on the towards greener scenery and not-so-hot places. Last week driving down it was 117 (!!!!!) in Napa California as we went down. We stayed at my cousin's in San Jose- 108 degrees and they didnt have air conditioning- i slept in a 95+ house.

It was interesting.

Baker, California took the cake though, 119 and it felt like it was burning your eyes in the shade. Las vegas was less impressive at a measly 113. Napa was hotter. NAPA.

anyway thats all old news. Its now more normal these days, exept it smells like burning trees outside and theres a grey smoke haze in the night sky. Ah well, we're leaving tomorrow at 6 AM.

Good bye, palm trees.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Im currently staying at the Riviera on the strip. Well, what it lacks in style it makes up for flashing lights... lots of flashing lights and gold-tinted mirrors. Its a dated piece of property- there are little, what would you call them, light up adverts on the walls which clearly havent changed since about 1982- big hair and all.

Downstairs there is the endless appeggios of the c major chord. c-e-g-c-e-g-c-e-g-c, many chromatic scales added with the clinking of the trays the sound of dozens of conversations- its ready-made musique-concrete, and something i cant help but enjoy.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Hot weather?

Here?!? well, we get it every year. usually three or four days of 90 degree weather. Well, we already had 2 in june, and theres two more headed our way. It was weird stepping out of the movie theatre tonight. it being 10:30 and more than 70 degrees. This is seattle we're talking about.

Well, anyway, im headed south as of tomorrow, Portland is my first stop, Predicted to be in the 100s(!!!) this weekend. 100+ degrees in the rose city?!? holy shit.

then to redding california (111 degrees) and then to Palo Alto ( 85/84 few- a cooloff!) and then to Las fucking Vegas (106+?) ...and i'll be there for a week.

Im hoping to enjoy all this.

anyway, the message is- i'll be back later.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

history and classical music are so bound up together its sometimes hard to think of the music without the context, which is perfectly fine most of the time. The problem i find is that the genre is so tied to some perceived tradition, and old forms for the music, that its being crushed by conservatism. I will admit, writing a sonata in B minor is a temping thing to do. It sounds so... lofty, so elegant it just rolls off the tongue- "excuse me sir, I must play my piano concerto #3 right now, or would you prefer my symphony concertante in A?" But these things are not so lofty. There is no implicit connection between calling a piece a symphony and it being anyway connected to good music. I wrote 3 piano sonatas by the time i was 15 (4 movements et all!). This is nothing to be proud of, either. Sure it sounds impressive (moreso to non-musical people) but the music was so shitty, the quality was so impossibly low that any other idiot could have pounded out something more interesting. This shouldnt show as much that i had any kind of talent, but that writing a sonata or a symphony or whatever else can be incredibly brainless, we just unconsciousness associate the name with quality, so likewise composers name their music after something associated with quality. Its essentially a shallower and less offensive kind of historicism, a historicism of forms rather than of content.

We should learn from history rather than try to repeat it, right? but still classical muscians are imitating historical models, repeating historical musical languages and instrumentation rather than learning from them. I love bach as much as the next classically-trained dude but im not going to sit around and write suites for harpsichord, no matter how atonal, minimal, post-minimal or contemporary my language is... why? (wouldnt it make a cute little reference of how far we've gone?) no...because its still keeping with history, imitating history rather than examining and utilizing the ideas in history.

Thats my incoherent rant for the day, and sometimes i just have to rant.

Monday, July 17, 2006

July Improvisation

And to think, i did this without that low A.

My A string an octave below middle A broke the other day. This saddens me, who am much fond of both the key of A major and of this particular note in this particular section of the piano. The music of this improv starts off ok but then sort of sputters out, which often happens with improvs.

You can hear my unadulterated influence from john adams towards the end. Im not particularly happy with it, either, but whatever, it doesnt last that long.

the link is here

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Strokes - Soma

Unpretentious, simple, even plain. There is an elegance in its lyricism, even a classicism in its clear and modest forms. It doesnt sprawl, it gets straight to the point.

I appreciate this.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Philip Glass/David Bowie/Aphex Twin - Heroes symphony re-mix (1997)

PWS made a post recently mentioning an "ideal" music. He was writing about debussy, and if you know me, i live off the stuff. Basically anything he wrote after 1888 sends me into a quivering mess on the floor in fetal-position bliss. His late music leaves me speechless in its gorgeousness, but all this talk of an ideal, well, debussy's late music is certainly one, but another ideal of mine is this piece, aphex twin's collaboration with glass and bowie. Third times a charm- or an absolutely fucking masterpiece, its a work that leaves me just as speechless and blissful as debussy. This is my modern ideal, this is the kind of music i wish to write someday- or at least, music that achieves this effect or result for me.

This is postmodernism in its most hypnotic, frantic, lush and contemporary. Imagine some film like a further-technofied koyyanisqatsi, fragmented and expressionistic, accompanying this music- I can think of nothing that would be a better art to express the hypnotic, mechanical and frenzied pace of urban life (the orginal qatsi music pales in comparison). This is a dark beauty, full of menace and propulsion, full of energy and agony, hope and despair- all those emotions expected in some19th century romantic symphony, but rapped up in a five minute intense minimalistic/maximalistic piece. There are those echoes and emotions welling up into waves, cresting into points of great tension, almost seems as if musique concrete had a singing love child with philip glass.

While other works of aphex twin have impressed me, none have left me so happy, so enthralled with the sounds of a kind of music i'd never heard before.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

isnt this sad?

But at least i dont invest actual meaning in this.

I lost *one* incoming link and look what happens.

Im still torn as to what to do with myself. I am usually forcing myself to update this page and thats no good, leaving me more eager to publish another blurb than create something well-crafted. As Plaible recently noted, many blogs have slowed down or have quieted down recently (maybe its a summer thing?). but instead f going on open hiatus, I've done the worse thing by continuing to post when i feel i have little to say (and often my motivation is to push the ugly writing i scribbled out at 2 AM the night before to the bottom of the page)

"but theres always something to say about music" i say to myself. Yes, but theres not always something interesting to say about music.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Animal Collective - Infant dressing table

one of this groups most individual and daring works and also one of their most haunting and beautiful, i have been deeply impressed by their endless ability to achieve great diversity while preserving quality of content.

The music begins quietly but builds over 6 minutes- eventually swelling to one large melancholy echo, built around tones repeated often four times (give or take), static harmony and highly irregular (but not dominant) percussion. The voices act as instruments rather than messengers, instruments that are explored for their possibilities. And just as it built up, its fades away, slowly but steadily. This is music i can get lost in.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Golijov - Ayre

This is challenging music. Not in the sense that its difficult to listen to, not challenging in the way of Schoenberg,Stockhausen or early Glass and Reich, but challenging in that it seems to defy what might otherwise seem as weaknesses in contemporary music- the obvious borrowings, blatant allusions and juxtapositions that leave no room for subtlety... its not going to warm up to many, but its important to note that the contrasts here are so delineated that they can not be a mistake-this is intentional. The crass obviousness of the middle eastern 'sound' or the christian 'sound' are placed right next to each other to only deepen the division between the different musics that supposedly "meld", appearing as part of golijov's intent, yet there gesture seems a suggestion a real unity despite radically disparate pieces. The conception of the juxtapositions are what are important here.. and the postmodern obsession with signage rather than suggestion or individualistic style.

The music flies in the face of a number of conventions. The third movement in particular, with its obvious techno influences, defies the definition of that bullshit category of "classical music" (as if to bring the point home, a famous mozart soprano is singing in a most unorthodox and most un-mozartean way) and that is a triumph in this regard- a confrontational, in-your-face attitude that i really appreciate.

the music also defies the idea of mixing that we may expect from any kind of art-music endeavor. It feels more like a pastiche without the -iche, so to speak. a work of clearly intentional seriousness that denies us the privilege of hearing one coherent musical language. Instead we get several, and the result is less than comforting.

Banal? somewhat. interesting? yes. But before anyone can simply condemn this work we as a self-respecting art judge have to see what the intent of the musician was... and Was it to blend the music into some unity? NO. clearly, obviously not.
Was it to fulfill our expectations? nope, not that either.

As i said, this is difficult music.