That aura of authoritativeness will also distinguish journalistic Web sites from collective-wisdom sites that allow anyone to rate a product. As Denton notes, that model works well if you're buying a computer component, but it's not all that helpful when it comes to evaluating a CD or theatrical production. For that kind of advice, you want someone with knowledge and experience who can judge a work of art thoughtfully and write about it in an interesting way — in other words, a critic. (Tom Jacobs via Arts Journal)
As one who has purchased more than my share of music and more than my share of words about music, I wonder about the future.
Being able to stream millions on tracks on lala, the first play for free and with no advertising, feels like a fundamental change. I've tried every other "collective-wisdom" music site but with mixed results. However, on lala, since there is only the cost of my time, I'm listening to as interesting a set of music as ever. For example, my current list of most frequently played artists on the service includes Frederic Rzewski, David Korevaar, Alexander Scriabin, David Harned Johnson, Arthur Russell, Sarah Cahill, Sir Neville Marriner, Herbie Hancock, and John Cage. This is a good mix of the familiar and the novel.
And I'm satisfying my curiosity with not much effort. Since there's no financial downside to trying off-the-wall classical musicians and material or even the back catalog of say, Britney Spears (not as bad as I imagined), I rely less on criticism as buyer's guide and more just as a source of ideas of things to experience. Even so, tracking blogs like Alex V. Cook's, coupled with following the listening habits of "My People," as lala calls it, gives me enough material to perpetually have new music in my queue, and now my spending on recordings is way down.
I suppose that's all to be expected. The surprise is that I am reading less about music than before. I like to believe I still value intelligent and informative criticism. But rather than read all the mediocre material I used to, I'm spending more time online just listening. Does this mean the celestial jukebox is inherently anti-intellectual? Or does the delivery of the musical written word need to morph into something more user-friendly?
Maybe it will ultimately raise the quality of what we can and should read...
playlist of last 10 artists I listened to on lala.
I continue my introspection on sometimes profound, sometimes arbitrary boundaries currently in play, both politically and musically.
On the presidential/generational side, it's becoming harder to maintain my preconceived notion of friend or foe. Tonight, I felt sympathy for Fox pollster Frank Luntz of all people as young Ron Paul supporters take him to task, after they infiltrated one of his focus groups. Their argument is that an Internet site is not media. And yet I found myself heartily agreeing with Glenn Greenwald as he questions the role political reporters play even as he praises fromer Wonkette blogger Ana Marie Cox for her substantive questioning of John McCain.
Expanding on my prior post's musical/generational theme, I'm still sorting out my my continued preoccupation with the music of an older generation e.g. Glass/Reich, rather than my generation e.g. John Adams/Evan Zyporyn or even younger generations e.g. Corey Dargel/Nico Muhly. What's next for me, a sudden hankering to listen to Stravinsky? Bear with me as I sort through what "new" really means.
So my feeling is that demand for Old Masters (or "old brown paintings," as they're derisively known) has entered a long-term secular decline, which is masked by the fact that prices have been rising. You'd probably be better off with violins.
Interesting that a piece written in 1949 sounds "contemporary"!
Finally, the iPod today hindered seeking more generationally-relevant music as it served up the distinguished sounds of Andrew Imbrie, Aaron Copland, and Lou Harrison. But then, it's Joby Talbot's …similarities between diverse things, a mixture of conventional strings and vibraphone from the appropriately-named album The Dying Swan Music For 1 To 7 Players.
Wait, even here, although the composer is younger than those elders, he happens to be British, not American. I feel my nicely ordered world in a state of flux.
Trying out a new feature of the Netflix DVD service -- watching movies from the computer. For every dollar you pay in your monthly subscription, you get an hour of movies streamed to your computer:
First catch: it requires Internet Explorer rather than Firefox, presumably for Windows Media Player.
I try to watch Ballet Russes but I get error number 6.
I restart the browser and this time, select Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains the Same.
I've listened to every Zeppelin album through the years but have never seen the group. I missed their tour when they came to Indianapolis in the late seventies and never saw them on television or in film. So finally...
I'm disappointed so far. The music doesn't have the tightness and grandeur I was expecting and visually, all that long hair, Robert Plant's bare hips, and the fog machine don't appeal.
Just as when I watched Woodstock thirty years later, the crowd looks so young and innocent. You don't know how good you have it, people!
John Bonham on drums sounds great. Let's see: Plant and Page continue to record; whatever happened to Bonham? Oh yeah, he died.
Next, it's No Quarter with that electric piano interlude by John Paul Jones. Now he's playing an pipe organ. Madison Square Garden has a pipe organ? Wait, it's a fantasy sequence.
Time out to eat dinner.
The movie comes back without a hitch even though I suspended the computer. To Netflix' credit, other than that initial glitch, it's worked flawlessly.
It's the obligatory back stage argument part of the film.
Do I still have my Houses of the Holy lp?
From the closing credits: Off Stage sequences were not filmed at Madison Square Garden, nor are they dramatizations of actual incidents which occurred at Madison Square Garden.
The old is good not just because it's past, nor is the new supreme because we live with it, and never yet a man felt greater joy than he could bear or truly comprehend. Your task it is, amid confusion, rush, and noise to grasp the lasting, calm, and meaningful, and finding it anew, to hold and treasure it.
-- Paul Hindemith
Actually, my task is to find the "lasting, calm, and meaningful" in the promises of the "new". And then blog about it...
Kyle Gann, always knowledgeable and sometimes cranky, writes a post drawing on both attributes regarding the often negative effects of musical education on aspiring composers. In it, he also makes this provocative comment about a certain class of contemporary composers:
Most of all, there is no buzz about the kleinmeisters among younger
composers. Harbison, Chen Yi, Penderecki, Higdon, Zwilich, Sierra,
Paulus, get to command vast musical resources, but no young composers
heatedly argue the merits of their pieces. Their names don't come up in
internet discussions. No one acts as though they hold any key to the
future. After all, these composers write in styles in which far more
vivid music had already been written decades ago.
I was worried he was going to name another composer who is a favorite of mine and arguably a member of that set but he didn't so I won't comment.
But I have a tangential and more personal topic I have been pondering. How much musical education is required to write "classical music" and the corollary, how come I really only blog about music by composers with graduate school-rigorous musical educations (Cage, Feldman, Coltrane etc. notwithstanding)? For example, I am rather enamored about Keith Fullerton Whitman who I have and will comment on more in the future but I'm equally fascinated with Kieran Hebden of Four Tet fame whom I barely mention. Is there some qualitative difference between the two with respect my modest assessment of the the durability of their music? I think so but I can't begin to articulate a rationale.
Real-life being messy, these examples don't actually hold up as Hebden is British and Whitman's education is apparently as an undergrad at the Berklee School of Music. But the general contrast stands.
I will say life is somewhat simpler as a listener than even a blogger. I can hear and naturally appreciate whatever I want without necessarkly having to delineate, formalize, and expound my artistic experiences and beliefs. I can't really imagine what such intellectualization is like for the performer, scholar, composer, writer, etc. although Musical Perceptions blogs about technical versus emotional tradeoffs here. And when jazz musician Rahsaan Roland Kirk was seen standing next to a bus listening to the overtones of the engine, was he in the moment or was this an act of aesthetic rigor? Would John Cage say those are inseparable?
There is nothing innovative in the form here, Beethoven apparently content to suggest that a return to routine can bring sufficient rewards for his purposes, as it may symbolize that a return to health can make one appreciate the simple things in life. Here the mood is joyous throughout and full of color and sunshine. The composer clearly conveys that the crisis is behind him, that the music does not celebrate triumph here, but rather expresses joy and thankfulness.
The second closest book ("American Composers on American Music") resulted in a section by Henry Cowell on how modernists like Charles Seeger are also interested in very old music. The third book relates Henry Cowell finally feeling comfortable enough in his letters to use "Dear Charlie" (and "Love, Henry") rather than the formal "Dear Mr. Ives." But the first quote will be true soon enough so let's go with that one.
While traveling for the holidays, we had an unplanned car rental and similar to a prior trip, I didn't bring adequate CDs and the car had no input jack for my portable player. So, a quick visit to the local Target got me the latest Beck CD and Stan Getz's Finest Hour. (The latter is better than the former.) It took the Tower clerk about five minutes to figure out how to charge me for the Getz as it never showed up when scanned.
To further annoy me, the Beck CD included a coupon for a free "exclusive" Beck download. Unfortunately, when I try to use that coupon, I get a "promotion has expired" message. The mass record/retail industry continue to make the music buying experience ever more unpleasant.
And I'm still ripping and listening to all the Tower bounty from the last month of sales. Right now, despite the avocado on the cover, it's the Arditti Quartet playing some very serious music by contemporary Mexican composers. And up next, a Giacinto Scelsi new release by pianist Aki Takahashi. Both happen to be on the Mode label.
I've also started ordering CDs from my lala want list, all at supposedly wholesale prices (plus shipping):
Reich - Remixed 2006 by Alex Smoke, Ruoho Ruotsi, Steve Reich, Steve Reich, Four Tet