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Archive for the ‘music’ Category

In Loving Repetition by Justin E. H. Smith

In music, poetry on July 24, 2015 at 05:50

From: In Loving Repetition by Justin E. H. Smith, berfrois, http://www.berfrois.com

To the extent that music involves repetition, whether of melodies or chords or words, it is all rooted in poetry. This is ancient, but still clear in certain traditions that survive into the era of recording, such as the Russian bard style of Vysotsky (the homonymy with Shakespeare’s moniker is not coincidental). Here, as in the music of Seikilos, there is a cycle of words, whose transcendent or non-mundane force is heightened by an accompanying string instrument, but not subordinated to that instrument. In general, if one wishes to find the pre-recording roots of popular music, one does well to look, not only to the history of music strictly speaking (melody and harmony in particular), but also to traditions of oral poetry and oral lore. Alan Lomax seems to have understood this very well in his field recordings: he realized he could not go in and ask only to hear the tunes of Appalachia or the Mississippi Delta, but had to listen to the folk tales as well.

We know that a number of the world’s most glorious works of epic poetry, including Homeric epic, began as traditions of oral recitation, presumably involving some degree of rhythmic articulation, and perhaps also inflections of the voice’s pitch and timber. In this respect, literature and music are really only different trajectories of the same deeper aesthetic activity: a repetition that reconfirms, or reestablishes, or perhaps recreates, the order of the world. To be invested in this repetition aesthetically is to experience it with love, which again, following Murray, is nothing other than religion itself.

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Reposted with permission from: berfrois

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Hardscrabble: A Different Woody Guthrie by Megan Pugh

In criticism, fiction, history, literature, music, North America on January 11, 2015 at 05:29

From: Hardscrabble: A Different Woody Guthrie by Megan Pugh, Boston Review, http://www.bostonreview.net

According to his biographer Joe Klein, in 1934, at the Pampa, Texas public library, Guthrie read a Department of Agriculture pamphlet on adobe houses. He was captivated by the idea of building one. The rickety wooden buildings dotting the Texas Panhandle didn’t offer much shelter from the increasingly frequent dust storms. Dust would blow into the cracks, cover everything inside, and find its way into ears and mouths and lungs. Adobe seemed like a powerful alternative. It was solid, thick, and built to last. To Guthrie, recently enamored with Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet, there was something mystical about adobe, too. “Man is himself a adobe house,” Guthrie wrote to a friend in 1937, “some sort of a streamlined old temple.” When Guthrie gave a different friend a painting he’d done of adobe buildings in Santa Fe, he scrawled the same comparison on the back.

Adobe had another crucial advantage over wood: it was cheap. If you owned land, you should have been able to saw up bricks of it yourself. Never mind that Guthrie couldn’t quite manage to do that, though he tried, on more than one occasion, to follow the government pamphlet’s instructions. Adobe, Guthrie hoped, would be the solution to rural poverty, a way for people to carve out their own, meaningful existence from the very land on which they lived.

That’s the dream Guthrie gives to his characters in House of Earth. Tike and Ella May Hamlin, tenant farmers in the Texas Panhandle, receive a copy of the same pamphlet that Guthrie had read. They long to tear up their flimsy shack and build an adobe house of their own, but, as renters, they can’t. That’s pretty much the entire plot of the book, if you can even call it a plot. It’s more like one perpetual conflict. The Hamlins’ thoughts on the matter remain unchanged, but they restate them, again and again. They dream of an adobe house while making love, while taking shelter from a dust storm, and while having a child. Toward the end of the book, we learn that Ella May hopes to buy them some property with money she’s secretly saved, but things don’t look too hopeful: their landlord is unwilling to sell her anything of agricultural value.

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Reposted with permission from: Boston Review

AUDIO: Sounding the Sea by Conor Gillies

In art, audio, music on October 13, 2014 at 23:50

From: Sounding the Sea by Conor Gillies, Radio Open Source, http://radioopensource.org

… Adams downplays the politics of Become Ocean, which had its debut in June under the commission of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and its music director, Ludovic Morlot, and won the Pulitzer Prize for music this year. “Too often political art fails as both art and politics,” he says. Adams goes on:

Art needs no justification other than itself. Yet, I also believe that music can serve as a sounding model for the renewal of human consciousness and human culture and that it can invite us to listen more deeply to expand our awareness of this miraculous world that we live in.

So like everybody these days I think a lot, I think all the time, about climate change, and as I composed Become Ocean I had very much in my mind images of the melting of the polar ice and the rising of the seas. But I hope it transcends any metaphors, transcends its title, to become a purely musical world of its own.

The immense musical world of Become Ocean borrows its title from a tiny mesostic poem John Cage wrote in honor of his friend and fellow composer, Lou Harrison. “It’s a beautiful little poem in which Cage likens Lou’s music to a river in delta. And I just loved that image of listening, of music, as a stream that leads us toward oceanic consciousness,” Adams says.

The Cage connection goes beyond the name. Musically, Adams draws most directly from the post-war American avant-garde, including Cage and Morton Feldman. Like these artists, Adams is fascinated with fluidity: how sound and the environment blend.

“I’ve been obsessed, well, all my creative life with place as music but also music as place,” Adams says.

Water and landscape have long been themes of the John Cage school of minimalist music, and of Adams’ own career; Become Ocean follows Adams’ Dark Waves, a slow, slate-blue-colored piece for orchestra and electronics, from 2007.

Listen to John Luther Adams

Reposted according to copyright notice from: Radio Open Source

Amiri Baraka: Ennobled by Coltrane

In art, audio, music, North America, poetry, writers on January 12, 2014 at 00:42

From: Amiri Baraka: Ennobled by Coltrane, Radio Open Source, http://www.radioopensource.org

Christopher Lydon talks to Amiri Baraka: Listen to the interview

barakaAmiri Baraka‘s death prompts me to repost a conversation we had about the music of John Coltrane, which inspired Baraka and ennobled the ambitions of his Black Arts movement. “Trane was our flag,” Baraka remembered back in 2007. “We could feel what he was doing. We heard our own search and travail in the opening of ‘Giant Steps.’”

In the summer of 1957 the poet then known as Leroi Jones chanced to live over the Five Spot in Manhattan when Coltrane and Thelonius Monk had a five-month learning-by-doing gig on the Bowery. Willem de Kooning and Jack Kerouac were also among the listeners and drinkers at the Five Spot. Baraka told me he missed barely a session of the music that culminated in the Monk-Coltrane Carnegie Hall concert in November, 1957 — a Blue Note best-seller only after the Library of Congress unearthed the tapes in 2005. This was early, lyrical Coltrane, at the dawn of the civil-rights era — “the rebellion” in Baraka’s phrasing, then and ever — for which Coltrane became a sort of soundtrack. For Baraka, Coltrane’s “My Favorite Things” planted a bomb inside the sentimentality of Richard Rodgers and “The Sound of Music.” The hostility in Baraka’s listening had softened a lot by 2007, but Coltrane was still perhaps his highest representation of black art with social traction. Baraka follows Coltrane to the yowling last recordings — Coltrane’s ultimate showdown with self and life — with a shudder of shared pain. But if that is what Coltrane wanted us to hear, serious devotees have no choice. “You have to listen to it.”

“Ironic thing is,” Baraka said, “when I was locked up in 1967 in the rebellion in Newark, I found I was listening all the time to Coltrane’s tunes. And then late one afternoon, the jailer came by — it was July 17, 1967 — and said ‘your man Coltrane died today.’ When I was locked up. That amazed me!”

Reposted according to copyright notice from: Radio Open Source

Loving Leonard Cohen by Judyta Frodyma

In books, music, poetry on July 7, 2013 at 18:00

From: Loving Leonard Cohen by Judyta Frodyma, The Oxonian Review, http://www.oxonianreview.org

Even at the start of his career, writes Sylvie Simmons in her new biography, “Leonard had never really toured but he knew he did not like touring”. For a man on and off the road since the sixties, this is an unexpected characteristic. He had a problem with stage fright, but “mostly he was afraid for his songs. They had come to him in private, from somewhere pure and honest, and he had worked long and hard to make them sincere representations of the moment. He wanted to protect them, not parade and pimp them to paying strangers in an artificial intimacy.” Later in the biography, Simmons returns to his complicated relationship with touring, which he viewed “at best as a necessary evil, foisted upon him by his record contract […] his insecurities as a singer and a musician made his fear of failure more acute.”

And indeed, the ‘Leonard’ that Simmons depicts is supportive but also humble, self-deprecating, extraordinarily generous with his time and money and, unsurprisingly, mysteriously seductive. Yet the work is not shrouded in a veil of mystery, nor judgement for that matter. From his bohemian, non-committal sex-life to details of his finances and the complexity of his relationship with G-d (as he reverently writes in ‘Poems of Longing’) and himself, we feel we are being presented with an accurate and honest portrait of Leonard as he is. And like the countless men and women in his life, we find ourselves ready to fall at his feet. Simmons does leave some things to the reader’s speculation and certain things are mentioned in passing, but there is never a sense of distance from her subject.

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Reposted with permission from: The Oxonian Review

Music: The Open Goldberg Variations by Kimiko Ishizaka

In audio, music on May 20, 2013 at 20:09

The Open Goldberg Variations by Kimiko Ishizaka, http://www.opengoldbergvariations.org/

The Open Goldberg Variations by Kimiko Ishizaka are free to download and share. They are governed by the Creative Commons Zero license, which means that they are a part of the public domain. Visit the website to download.

Kimiko Ishizaka was the first of three child prodigies born to Junkichi and Ruth Ishizaka in Bonn, Germany.  At the age of four, she began studying piano with her mother, who would continue to be her teacher until 1995. In 2000, she completed her performer’s diploma exam with Professor Roswitha Gediga-Glombitza at the Hochschule für Musik Köln with the highest available marks. Further studies included masterclasses with Prof. Peter Feuchtwanger, Prof. Karl-Heinz Kämmerling, the Alban Berg Quartet, and the Amadeus Quartet.

From the early age of five, Ishizaka distinguished herself as a soloist and as a chamber performer, especially in the context of the Ishizaka Trio, which consisted of her and her younger brothers. In its 16 year history, the Ishizaka Trio participated in many important festivals (Schleswig Holstein Musikfestival, Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Beethovenfest Bonn, Brauschweiger Kammermusikpodium, and the Rheingau Musikfestival), performed concerts in many countries (Japan, Italy, The Netherlands, Belgium, the U.S.A.), and took prizes in many renowned competitions, including:

  • The Menschenskinder prize from RTL (1995)
  • The Vittorio Gui International Chamber Music Competition
  • Three consecutive 1st prizes in the International Charles Hennen Competion in The Netherlands
  • 1st Prize in the 1998 Deutscher Musikwettbewerb (German Music Competition)

Visit Kimiko Ishizaka’s official website for more information.

Video: The K-Pop Effect

In Asia, documentary, media, music, video, visual arts on April 8, 2013 at 17:35

From: Video: The K-Pop Effect: Plastic Surgery, Documentary.net, http://documentary.net

k-pop-effect-220x120

Viral sensation ‘Gangnam style’ sparked imitations worldwide. Yet closer to home, the dream to be like such K-Pop idols is driving young South Koreans to a darker level of imitation: plastic surgery.

“Once people graduate almost all of them get double-eyelid surgery”, explains Gina, who recently left high-school. “In Korea they say, ‘please make my nose into the style of this star’.” In the district that is home to K-Pop’s major entertainment companies there are over 300 plastic surgery clinics on a single street. But some fear this growing beauty obsession is threatening young people’s sense of identity; “they treat their body as a product. They are losing the meaning of who they are”.

Watch the video

Disclaimer from the website: “Yes it is free and legal. Films are provided by the filmmakers or rights-holders themselves. Or they claim their copyright protected contents on YouTube and monetize it (like National Geographic).”

Reposted with permission from: Documentary.net

Must We Mean What We Say? by Charles Petersen

In academia, art, ethics, music, philosophy, poetry, theory on February 17, 2013 at 21:46

From: Must We Mean What We Say? On Stanley Cavell by Charles Petersen, n + 1, http://nplusonemag.com

Stanley Cavell, born in 1926 and now 86 years old, is one of the greatest American philosophers of the past half-century. He was also something of a musical prodigy and like many prodigies his accomplishments struck him as a matter of fraud.

Cavell’s larger argument is this: If we must bring the world with us to understand a definition, then we cannot define away the ambiguity in words, for the world we bring with us is already hopelessly ambiguous. Hence the force of Cavell’s at first glance profound but on closer inspection obscure question: “Must We Mean What We Say?” A philosopher who limits the meaning of her words to carefully set out definitions, attempting to root out all ambiguity, in effect says, “I say, and you should hear, only what I mean.” Cavell insists that language cannot be limited in this way. Language, to Cavell, is ambiguous not because it is imperfect, awaiting precise definition, but because we do not all see in the same way; it is a reflection of our basic predicament as distinct human beings. Thus, we must dare to mean what we say, take responsibility for all the meanings our words might be taken to have—even if those meanings go beyond what we understand as our intentions—because in our unintentional (though perhaps meaningful) slips, and the misapprehensions, mistakes, and insights of those with whom we speak, we bring together not just words but worldviews.

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Reposted with permission from: n + 1

Woody Guthrie at 100 with Amy Goodman

In art, history of art, interview, music, North America, politics, video on January 29, 2013 at 18:32

From: Woody Guthrie at 100: Pete Seeger, Billy Bragg, Will Kaufman Honor the “Dust Bowl Troubadour” with Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!, http://www.democracynow.org

“Woody’s original songs, the songs that he wrote back in the 1930s … with these images of people losing their houses to the banks, of gamblers on the stock markets making millions, when ordinary working people can’t afford to make ends meet, and of people dying for want of proper free healthcare, you know, this song could have been written anytime in the last five years, really, in the United States of America,” says Bragg, who has long been inspired by Guthrie.

WILL KAUFMAN: Some of those Dust Bowl ballads come out of, really, his late teens and early twenties, you know. Then he joined about half-a-million other migrants heading westwards towards California, where they had heard there was lots of work out there—and, of course, they were wrong. And it’s there in California when Woody gets—he sort of hooks up with the right people, I suppose, and gets involved in the Popular Front out there in California, and this is the beginning of—really, of his politicization. As you said, began writing columns for the People’s World out there and—in Los Angeles, and got a show on a progressive radio station, KFVD, out in Los Angeles, and begins to circulate around the migrant camps, where the Okies, as they were pejoratively called, were living in old dwellings of tar, paper and tin and old packing crates and the bodies of abandoned cars, under railroad bridges, by the side of rivers and what have you, and getting their heads broken when they dared to organize into unions. And Woody began to witness that and began to write about it. And so, he began to see music as a political weapon then.

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Reposted according to copyright notice from: Democracy Now! website

 

 

Remembering Elizabeth Cotten by L. L. Demerle’

In history of art, music on November 9, 2012 at 00:31

From: Remembering Elizabeth Cotten by L. L. Demerle’, Eclectica Magazine, http://www.eclectica.org

Nine years after the death of folk guitar legend Elizabeth Cotten, her music is still heard everywhere–from Peter, Paul and Mary to The Grateful Dead, movie soundtracks and even the jukebox band on PBS’ Shining Time Station. Cotten, who began her public career at the age of 68, became a key figure in the folk revival of the 60’s, a National Heritage Fellow and a Grammy-winning recording artist.

Turning her instruments upside-down to play them left-handed, so that she played the treble strings with her thumb and the bass strings with her other fingers, she developed a truly distinctive guitar style and sound. Her song, Freight Train, is a fingerpicker’s classic, and her arrangements of tunes like Oh, Babe, It Ain’t No Lie, are staples of her folk repertoire.

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Reposted with permission from: ECLECTICA Magazine

The Nature of Noise by John Kulvicki

In music, nature, philosophy, science, theory on November 1, 2012 at 13:45

From: The Nature of Noise by John Kulvicki, Philosophers’ Imprint, http://www.philosophersimprint.org/

Robert Pasnau rejects the ‘standard’ view that sounds are waves in media like air and water in favor of the views that sounds are properties of objects, like bells, that makes the media move (Pasnau 1999, 309). Sounds are perceived to have locations, and those locations seem to correspond to the objects that ‘make’ the sounds. Waves produced by an object fill the space around the observer, and thus are not correctly perceived to be at their source. So, Pasnau suggests, absent an error theory, it is better to identify sounds with objects’ vibratory properties than with pressure waves such objects produce. Casey O’Callaghan (2007, Ch. 3) dismisses the wave view for similar reasons but claims that sounds are events in which objects disturb the media around them. O’Callaghan approach relates closely to one proposed by Roberto Casati and Jerome Dokic (1994; 2005), according to whom sounds are vibration events rather than disturbings of media. Pasnau (forthcoming) recently expressed his support for Casati and Dokic’s take on things, while Roy Sorensen (2001, 281-285) recently defended the wave view against Pasnau and O’Callaghan.

This recent interest in sounds is welcome, since they have been relatively ignored over the past century. The growing consensus is that sounds differ dramatically from colors. While colors are qualities, sounds are particulars: either waves or vibratory events. In addition, all of the views just sketched insists that sounds are transient in a way that colors are not. Sounds are more like movements than like colors. Objects move in many ways, but it rarely makes sense to ask what kind of movements an object has, as opposed to ho an object is moving now or then.

The following suggests that philosophers have overlooked an impressively promising candidate for being sounds. Sounds are stable properties of objects that seem to have them. More specifically, sounds are dispositions of objects to vibrate in response to being stimulated. Sounds are perceived transiently, but they are not perceived as being transient and they are not in fact transient. This conception of sounds – the stable property view – casts them in a role more akin to colors that other theories do.

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Reposted with permission from: Philosopher’s Imprint

Byrd Hale on Blues

In academia, audio, music on September 28, 2012 at 05:09

From: Byrd Hale on Blues – “Entitled Opinions (about Life and Literature)” with Robert Harrison, Stanford University

Listen to part 1 of the show

Listen to part 2 of the show

Byrd Hale, also known as Byrd of Paradise, has been Blues Director at KZSU 90.1 Stanford radio for fifteen years. For twenty years, Byrd has hosted the blues show “Blues with a Feelin’,” which can be heard live on KZSU 90.1 and at http://kzsu.stanford.edu/ on Saturdays from 9 am to noon. He also hosts a talk show entitled “The Lunch Special,” which can be heard on Mondays from noon to 3 pm.

Reposted with permission from: Entitled Opinions

Video: Getting into Cirque Du Soleil – The Audition Process

In art, culture, film, music, North America, performing arts, video, visual arts on September 17, 2012 at 04:59

From: Getting into Cirque Du Soleil – The Audition Process, Documentary.net, http://documentary.net

Getting into Cirque Du Soleil

Ever wondered what it takes to be a part of Cirque du Soleil? Getting to be a one of a kind performer is no small feat. For four months, the film team followed Cirque Du Soleil scouts as they scoured the world, searching for the best of the best.

Watch the video

Disclaimer from the website: “Yes it is free and legal. Films are provided by the filmmakers or rights-holders themselves. Or they claim their copyright protected contents on YouTube and monetize it (like National Geographic).”

Reposted with permission from: Documentary.net

A Great Silence Is Spreading Over the Natural World by John Vidal

In biology, civilisation, ecology, music, nature on September 5, 2012 at 14:23

 

From: A Great Silence Is Spreading Over the Natural World by John Vidal, Common Dreams, https://www.commondreams.org

“The birds are silent in the woods.
Just wait: Soon enough
You will be quiet too”

– Robert Hass

When musician and naturalist Bernie Krause drops his microphones into the pristine coral reef waters of Fiji, he picks up a raucous mix of sighs, beats, glissandos, cries, groans, tones, grunts, beats and clicks.Musician and naturalist Bernie Krause has spent 40 years recording over 15,000 species in many of the world’s pristine habitats. exti

The water pulsates with the sound of creatures vying for acoustic bandwidth. He hears crustaceans, parrot fish, anemones, wrasses, sharks, shrimps, puffers and surgeonfish. Some gnash their teeth, others use their bladders or tails to make sound. Sea anemones grunt and belch. Every creature on the reef makes its own sound.

But half a mile away, where the same reef is badly damaged, he can only pick up the sound of waves and a few snapping shrimp. It is, he says, the desolate sound of extinction.

Krause, whose electronic music with Paul Beaver was used on classic films like Rosemary’s Baby and Apocalypse Now, and who worked regularly with Bob Dylan, George Harrison and The Byrds, has spent 40 years recording over 15,000 species, collecting 4,500 hours of sound from many of the world’s pristine habitats.

But such is the rate of species extinction and the deterioration of pristine habitat that he estimates half these recordings are now archives, impossible to repeat because the habitats no longer exist or because they have been so compromised by human noise. His tapes are possibly the only record of the original diversity of life in these places.

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Reposted with permission from: Common Dreams

Goran Bregovic: Balkans is everything but cool! by Senka Korac

In art, culture, Europe, music, politics, society on September 3, 2012 at 19:38

 

From: Goran Bregovic: Balkans is everything but cool! by Senka Korac, cafebabel.com

If you would have to put a face to the Balkan music, an average European will most likely think of Goran Bregovic. The producer, composer and the leader of Wedding And Funeral Band has been featured as one the headliners of the Sziget festival several times until now. Talking to cafebabel.com reporters before his performance he commended the festival for not only featuring the mainstream music, but other stuff, as well.

When it comes to music, people tend to think that everything is on MTV. Of course, that’s not the case. Different people listen to different music. The world is curious and smart. That’s why people travel from all over Europe to come to Sziget and hear unordinary things. Only naive people think that TV features all of the music. For instance, I sell millions of records and I’m never on TV.

The key to Bregovic’s international success was probably the fact that he was the pioneer of modernizing the ethno beats of Balkan and making them acceptable to other Europeans. Of course, it sure has helped that he has collaborated with Emir Kusturica by writing the music for some of his most prominent movies (’Time Of The Gypsies’, ’Arizona Dream’, ’Underground’). That kind of sound, based on brass band music and folk singing, opened the stage to many other bands with a similar performance. In fact, most of the acts on this year’s World Music Stage, whether they come from the Balkans, Eastern or even Western Europe, have played the simillar kind of music.

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Reposted with permission from: CafeBabel

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