Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Cartoon

Cartoon
“Next we have a favorite among the G.O.P. candidates: the inflated legacy of Ronald Reagan.”

Even though he killed the bees.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

a tale in the telling

What,  if anything,  do Hamlet and Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes have in common?  With an ordinary education,  one might hear back either nothing,  or perhaps the date will hang in memory.  is more sophisticated player might realize that Hamlet and Don Quixote were composed almost at the same time.  This in our age is nothing to think about,  because innumerable works were composed at the same time.  and with a quick perusal of the dreams of proto-novelists one might do no more than look at that,  and think nothing more of it.

But cast such a thought at a person who has a consistent compulsive disorder,  or who is playing such at the time,  and one will realize that there are similarities.  For example Rosencrantz and Guildenstern matchup fairly well with Rocinante -  that is Don Quixote's horse,  with Rocin  being a raggedy stallion beyond its prime  (their is an itching because the name for the stallion is also produced in French and  Italian as well) -  and with another character known as Gines de Pasamonte. Then  one realizes that Cide Hamete Benengeli  is in DQ -  as the narrator -  one gets the feeling that both sources were taking a cue from a third work.  This because  Hamlet's date  is between 1599 and 1602,  and  Don Q was composed in 1605 and 1615,  and published immediately afterwards in England. 

François de Belleforest was a  translator who contributed the just of the story of Hamlet,  but that was man years ago and would have to  have a more proximate spark to engage to of the finest writers.  it must be noted that Shakespeare was not Shakespeare at the time,  but one of many who could command attention.  The same was true of  Cervantes -  enough to get someone to copy and extend his text for a profit,  but there were many others who could do the same thing.  What is interesting is that survey of these was published in English like a shot,  where as a great deal was allowed to lie fallow for many years.  so,  clearly,  there was something about the tale which ate upon  an exposed nerve which many people jerked their hand and copied,  whether   prose or  poetry,  to write something about it which they knew -  rightly -  would fly off the shelves. 
But what? 

It  cannot be Orlando Furioso,  because that work is almost a century old,  though it has forms which render the date problematic because several hands were present.But a  translation in to English,  the first  one of its kind by John Harington, which stirs  interest in an individual possessed of obsessive compulsive disorder,  because smaller details then this are used to connect to works together.  but if there is such a connection,  and it is not hidden by the  legerdemain of  unreliable text -  one needs to have something more specific to get to of the most brilliant writers -  even if they were not the Shakespeare or the Cervantes -  to write about something with in a few years  of each other.  the Duke and Duchess of the second half of Don Quixote,  are the clue that each of the writers are using the same theme,  and in this case,  Shakespeare was probably the source for the second part of Don Quixote.

In on words,  people in older times would riff  off other popular writers,  much as Shostakovich and Bartok did in our own day.  of course now we have the Simpsons to do it in almost real time

Of course once this entry in two the narrative begins,  it runs away with itself,  and enters in to  the ethereal air,  for example You Bet Your Life and a Broadway musical on the two figures which are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead are dead.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Going to see Rushdie

At wellesley college...


Derek Katz - Music and Politics on Disc, 2006

Compiling a list of recordings connected to music and politics is a daunting task, both because of
the enormous volume of recorded sound released in a given year, and because of the many possible
definitions of “politics” (or, I suppose, of “music”); some impossibly restrictive, others
overwhelmingly inclusive. What follows, then, makes no pretense of being a comprehensive list, but
is merely a series of suggestions of ways that recordings can preserve and transmit information about
the music and politics. I hope that restriction of this edition of the list to Western art music will be
accepted as a temporary starting point, rather than as evidence of snobbery. The preponderance of
music from the last century and of music connected to war may reflect either the prejudices of the
recording industry or the biases of the present writer.

It is too tempting to resist beginning a list of recordings associated with music and public life with
a recording of music connected to the putative beginnings of politics as we know it in the Western
world. The ensemble Malpomen has released a disc called “Music for an Athenian Symposium”
(Harmonia Mundi HMC90 5263).

Perhaps the most obvious category of recording of music connected to politics is that of
recordings of works conceived in direct response to political events. This category is potentially larger than it is useful – do we need an annual list of recordings of the Eroica? – but there have been new issues of many such pieces in the past year. Moving roughly in chronological order of the events
commemorated through the twentieth century, these include a 2005 live performance of the Britten
War Requiem with Kurt Masur and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, on the LPO’s own label
(LPO LPO0010), Svetlin Roussev’s new version of Karl Amadeus Hartmann’s Concerto funebre, a
piece whose quotes of Czech and Soviet themes are a subtle protest against the Nazi occupation of
Czechoslovakia (Polymnie POL610 434), and another live recording from 2005, the Philadelphia
Orchestra’s rendition of Bohuslav Martinů’s Memorial to Lidice, which commemorates one of the
most tragic events of that occupation (Ondine ODE 1072-5). More recent events have also elicited
musical commentary, such as David Del Tredici’s In Wartime, a work for wind band in response to
the U.S. invasion of Iraq that quotes the Persian national anthem and Stirling Newberry’s In the Year
of Storms, which was inspired by Hurricane Katrina. The Del Tredici has been recorded by Jerry
Junkin and the University of Texas, Austin Wind Ensemble (Reference Recordings RR104CD), and
the Newberry in an electronic realization of the score, intended for string quartet (Xigenics 634479
187971).

War and imperialism can also be musically reflected in less direct ways. Gerald Francis Cobb’s
Barrack Room Ballads, which set twenty poems from Kipling’s collection, including “On the Road to
Mandalay” (Campion CAMEO2056), the Helios disc, “War’s Embers,” of songs by Browne,
Butterworth, Farrar, Finzi, Gurney and Kelly (Helios CDH55237) and a DVD issue of a 1984
English National Opera production of Britten’s Coronation opera Gloriana (ArtHaus Musik DVD

102 097) all evoke different aspects of the British Empire. 2006 was also the centenary of
Shostakovich’s birth, and the flood of Shostakovich recordings included some that foregrounded the
political contexts of his works, most notably a reissue of Valery Gergiev’s recordings of the fourth
through ninth symphonies with the Kirov Orchestra, titled “The War Symphonies” (Philips 470
8412PM5) and the associated film by Larry Weinstein, “Shostakovich against Stalin: The War
Symphonies,” which features excerpts from different Gergiev performances of those symphonies
(Philips DVD 074 3117PH).

Recordings can also be documents for which the political content derives more from the
circumstances of the performance than from the works that are performed. There is for instance,
nothing obvious political about the program of Chopin and Schubert that John Browning offered on
November 22, 1963. That, though, Browning presented the recital mere hours after the assassination
of John F. Kennedy, that he added a Bach chorale dedicated to the late president at the beginning of
the program and that the recording preserves the sounds of footsteps leaving the silent hall at the
applause-less conclusion of the concert makes in a political document, indeed. The print ads for the
disc, incidentally, make no mention of Kennedy, but merely give the date of the recital and the
following quote, “I have been asked by the Dean, and Dr. Dolmetsch, to go ahead with the recital
tonight…” (MSR Classics MS1120). In the case of Daniel Barenboim’s West-Eastern Divan
Orchestra, formed to bring together young Arab and Israeli musicians, any concert has political
import, but few more than the one presented at Ramallah, released both on CD (Warner Classics
2564 62791-2) and in a film by Paul Smaczny (Warner Music Vision DVD 2564 62792-2). John
Tavener’s Lament for Jerusalem was not intended as a statement about recent events, but the
December 2004 performances in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Bethlehem of a reduced version by the
Choir of London inevitably place it in a contemporary context (Naxos 8 557826). Moving back to
end of the Second World War, a German-language performance of Dvořák’s Rusalka was
presumably released more because of the circumstances of its production, in Dresden, December
1948 than because of the instrinsic merits of the music document.

Political content can be even more explicit than in works mentioned above. One example would
be Mikel Rouse’s “A President Up My Sleeve,” in which the composer digitally inserts himself as a
candidate in CNN’s 2004 election coverage (EXITMUSIC Recordings 1007 + DVD). Compositions
may also set overtly political texts, like Allen Ginsberg’s “Plutonian Ode,” which is used in Philip
Glass’s Sixth Symphony. The symphony has been released in a performance by Dennis Russell
Davies and the Bruckner Orchestra Linz, which includes second disc with Ginsberg’s recitation
dubbed over the symphony (Orange Mountain Music OMM0020). Compositions may also reflect
personal or identity politics, such as the compositions of Julius Eastman. A New World CD collects
recordings made by the late composer-performer, including “Gay Guerilla,” “Crazy Nigger” (both
from 1980) and “Evil Nigger” (1979) (New World Records 80638-2).

Opera has made only tangential appearances so far, but could certainly play a far more
prominent role. Libretti may be the main source of political import, as is the case for Aulis Sallinen’s
The King goes forth to France (Ondine ODE1066-2D) or Brian Ferneyhough’s Shadowtime, in
which Walter Benjamin meets Hitler, Einstein and Karl (and Groucho) Marx (NMC NMCD123).
Or, it may be the production itself that becomes part of public discourse, like Calixto Bieito’s
scandalous 2001 Don Giovanni, now released on a DVD of a Barcelona production (Opus Arte
DVD OA0921D).

Finally, to conclude with a crushingly obvious example of political music, in honor of the 2006
World Cup, Deutsche Grammophon rereleased Herbert von Karajan’s album of orchestral versions
of twenty European national anthems, rounded out with Nessun Dorma and the finale of Beethoven’s
Ninth (DG 477 5957GM).

Recordings Cited Recordings Cited
“The Anthems Album.” BPO, Karajan (DG 477 5957GM)
Bach, Chopin and Schubert. John Browning (MSR Classics MS1120)
Britten, Gloriana. ENO, Mark Elder (ArtHaus Musik DVD 102 097)
Britten, War Requiem. LPO, Kurt Masur (LPO LPO0010)
Cobb, “Barrack Room Ballads” (Campion CAMEO2056)
Del Tredici, In Wartime. UT Wind Ensemble, Jerry Junkin (Reference Recordings RR104CD
Dvořák, Rusalka. Staatskapelle Dresden, Joseph Keilberth (Profil Medien PH06031)
Eastman, “Unjust Malaise” (New World Records 80638-2)
Ferneyhough, Shadowtime (NMC NMCD123)
Glass, Symphony No. 6, “Plutonian Ode.” Bruckner Orchestra Linz, Dennis Russell Davies (Orange
Mountain Music OMM0020)
Hartmann, Concerto funebre. Svetlin Roussev, Auvergne Orchestra, Arie van Beek (Polymnie POL610 434)
Malpomen, “Music for an Athenian Symposium” (Harmonia Mundi HMC90 5263)
Martinů, Memorial to Lidice. Philadelphia Orchestra, Christoph Eschenbach (Ondine ODE 1072-5)
Mozart, Don Giovanni. Directed by Calixto Bieito (Opus Arte DVD OA0921D)
Newberry, String Quartet No. 7, In the Year of Storms (Xigenics 634479 187971)
“The Ramallah Concert.” West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, Daniel Barenboim (Warner Classics 2564 62791-2)
“The Ramallah Concert.” A film by Paul Smaczny (Warner Music Vision DVD 2564 62792-2)
Rouse, “Music for Minorities.” (EXITMUSIC Recordings 1007 + DVD)
Sallinen, The King goes forth to France (Ondine ODE1066-2D)
Shostakovich, “The War Symphonies.” Kirov Orchestra, Valery Gergiev (Philips 470 8412PM5)
“Shostakovich against Stalin: The War Symphonies.” A film by Larry Weinstein (Philips DVD 074 3117PH)
Tavener, Lament for Jerusalem. London Orchestra, Choir of London, Jeremy Summerly (Naxos 8 557826)
“War’s Embers.” Songs by Browne, Butterworth, Farrar, Finzi, Gurney and Kelly (Helios CDH55237) 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

From 2009

Paul Krugman has said we are living in a "Macroëconomic dark ages" where knowledge of the past is "being lost." Specifically he points out how long exploded fallacies are being offered up as deep scholarly truths. To be a classicist for a moment, there was, in fact, a Dark Ages during the Bronze Age when the Greeks lost their knowledge of writing. It was during this post-literate era that Homeric poetry came into being. It was part of a larger transition to the iron age. The fall of Rome hasn’t been the only fall from light.

He repeated those points at the Thinking Big conference yesterday. Which featured a double barreled blast of the case for economic sanity. Highlights included Robert Borosage making a persuasive case that there is no going back to the "old economy" and Larry Mishel laying out how insecurity and broken labor markets have left us at the edge of the precipice. The idea that public good led to higher incomes was something known to "The New Liberalism" of the late 19th century, let alone to the 20th century.

There is empirical evidence from politics of how badly confused the American public is. While as much as 80% of the American public wants some kind of stimulus bill passed, the support for the stimulus bill being placed before them hovers in the mid-fifties. What makes this a sign of an economic dark age is the internals of that number. Only 51% of people in the Gallup poll thought a stimulus bill was "critically" important, and Rasmussen’s tracking poll has support improving but at 44%, still below half of the American public. What’s interesting is that 55% of Americans fear the bill is "too large." The reality is that the stimulus bill, as written right now, is almost certainly too small.

What is going on here is the "family budget fallacy." This is when people look at a national budget, and think as if it is their family budget. They think of family income, which they cannot do much to improve, and think that the country is the same way. Income rains down from someplace else, and if times are bad, the only thing to do is cut, cut, cut, and cut some more. However, this is exactly wrong. A country as a whole has a potential earning power, when output falls well below that number, borrowing to boost it back up increases the total income of the nation. The output that is created would not have happened otherwise.

The breadth of ignorance on this topic is astounding, consider that this factually inaccurate screed is on the first page of a search for "Keynesian Stimulus Theory." In fact, on that page, there is not one even neutral explanation for what, exactly, Keynes proposed. Instead, naked propaganda from people like Dick Morrisclutters the page. It’s worse, even, than searches on Darwinian evolution, which is famously cluttered with anti-science zealotry and exploded fallacies.

What Keynes argued is that in a severe enough downturn, people would save more than businesses wanted to invest. While real interest rates would fall, so too would future profits. If the contraction in what he calledaggregate demand was sharp enough, it would mean that interest rates would have to be negative to attract enough willingness to borrow. This means that instead of unemployment and savings reducing prices enough to eventually encourage businesses to hire and borrow to invest, the two would reinforce each other: falling prices would mean falling willingness to take risks, which would lead to more unemployment and more fear. Keynes proposed in the 1930’s that a insufficiency of aggregate demand was the problem. To fix this problem, he argued, government would have to borrow and both invest and hire. This would create a stream of future revenue sufficient to make business willing to jump back in. This is the case for Keynesian Stimulus: to get private industry back in the game, to draw water from the well of an advanced economy, some times it was necessary to "prime the pump," a phrase that people who have never had to get water out of a frozen well might not understand these days, to get water flowing again.

Looking ahead we see that failure is a poison tree with many roots. To pick one that is evident now: the cult of "price stability" that gripped economic thought for a generation. In price stability inflation is kept very, very, very low, between 0% and 2%. However, what this has meant for the last decade, is that in the event of a downturn, there was very little room for reducing interest rates, that is monetary policy, and very little ability of governments to work off accumulated debt. Thus, when crisis came, we could not lower interest rates by much, nor are people comfortable adding to debt. In fact, we had to have annual military stimulus and 1% central bank interest rates just to maintain the expansion. It was a Red Queen’s race: we had to run as fast as we could just to stay in place.

What this means, beyond the current crisis, is that long term economic thinking needs to change, and the entire shape of the debate needs to change. What seemed like "safe" business logic of low interest rates, tax cuts, and thinking dominated by prudent budgeting, was, in fact, extremely reckless behavior, chancing that there would never be a downturn bad enough to force the government to slash interest rates and spend heavily. What it also means is something noted at the conference in various ways by almost every speaker at the conference: that public goods are good for the public. We saw the absence of understanding of this essential truth in the stimulus bill fight: many of the provisions stripped out paid for themselves, while many inserted in were almost pure cost and will have little positive effect. It is almost as if people facing a famine decide to beat their plowshares into coins, and hope to buy enough food from someone else.

Music Files

A new dwarf planet - the farthest yet found

'Most distant' Solar System object spied - BBC News

Another dwarf planet.  though  dwarf planet is going to be an anachronism,  because it does not depend on the size of the planet.  In our solar system,  probably,  it may be the case - but not in others.  The other point that should be made is that planets could have orbits that are quite extreme,  and we will get a chance to see new ones coming in to range.

Avedon says

Jean Sibelius

Jean Sibelius was a composer who created himself - and then recreated
himself again.  As a young man he was intimately involved with Finnish
revolutionary politics - writing *Finlandia* as an explicit patriotic ode,
one explicit enough to be banned by the Russian authorities who occupied
Finland.  He composed a choral symphony based on Finnish epic poems, but
was born into a family that spoke Swedish - as many did in Finland, and
was trained in the German speaking world.

Many people view him as an anti-modern, certainly Olin Downes, his greatest
proponent thought so.  But Sibelius himself was a "Modern" as it was
understood at the time, a competitor and collegue of Gustav Mahler, an
ambivelant admirer and defender of Arnold Schoenberg - and a Modern.

What do I mean by this? Jean Sibelius noted that his contemporaries "served
up a variety of mixed cocktails, while I serve cold pure water." No more
modern, and neo-classical, statement could be made.  And it was made before
the term, and the movement, were particularly clear.  Jean Sibelius was a
trail blazing modern, because he ruthlessly distilled his language.

Consider that at the beginning of his symphonic career, symphonies were
"supposed" to be 4 movements.  Beethoven was barely granted the 6th as
an exception - Liszt and Berlioz being the major exceptions, with a few
3 movement works of Mozart being labelled examples of the Italian still
in force.  In otherwords a symphony was 4 movements as a basic plan,
with grace granted for a few geniuses.  Mahler's massive symphonies
and Sibelius' compressed ones were the works that altered that equation.
Instead, they did for the Symphony what Beethoven's late quartets implied
- demanded that the form of any work be determined by its own internal
logic, however many or few movements that required.

Bernard Shaw commented on the evolutionary radicalism in Sibelius thus:
"While it is hard to say which key his symphonies are in, we will soon find
ourselves humming them none the less." Other writers were less charitable,
writing reviews which were scathing in their denunciations of his musical
language.  "A Gloss on Sibelius" being perhaps the most famous.

- - -

What was the cause of this?

Music, to be interpreted as "language" needs to have a regular pattern
of sound/rhythm combinations which create the expectation of position -
position in the small and large scale.  There is music for beginnings,
and music for endings.  The "grammar" of a musical language consists of
the means by which composers tell musicians where they are.  Contrapunctal
devices, cadences, arcs, systematic use of instrumentation - all of these,
by 1900, were evolved into an extended, but catagorisable, grammar.
Schoenberg caught hell for using an "uncataloged dissonance" - so precise
was the dictionary of chords.

The tonal vocabulary - as Schenker was later to diagram - consisted of
expansions of a single phrase to full size.  A single phrase would have
material which left that phrase and returned to it - making it possible
to grasp the whole of a movement out of its basic thematic groups.  This
system of diagramming of sonatas, though it has been obsolete for a hundred
years, remains with us to this day.  Schenker's insight was in seeing how
all chordal material is either an extension of a single note, a semitonal
step or a move in a cadential progression, while different in form,
Schoenberg's catagorical method acheives the same results.

Sibelius turned this language on its head - he simply refused to use the
common sign posts - instead replacing them with a language based on pedal
points and their large scale relationship to a network of themes and
sub-themes.  This allowed him to dispense with many of the complexities of
the tonality of his day, while keeping the ability to range freely among
keys.

Modernism has always had two contending impulses, one is to ever more
intricate uses of the subtlties of an existing language, the other is the
reduction of ornament.  Often the two are found in the same work - Klimt's
painting for example both searches for ever more complex use of color
tropes, and the reduction of extraneous detail to mere pattern.  20th
century poetry is, likewise, a field where the prosodic relationships grew
more and more complex, while the diction grew ever more towards simplicity.

- - -

I submit that some of the basis for the language Sibelius evolved comes
from the use of repetition in his source poems - which repeat fragmentary
groups of words and phrases, and, rather than expanding, reassemble these
fragments.  The reason for this pattern in the source material is fairly
obvious - since the poems were spoken, they were built on an epitaph
system, which is the common mechanism for all large scale oral poetry
anywhere, stock rhythmic elements were combined and recombined to produce
larger elements, which, in turn, were combined and recombined.

This means of thinking stands in stark contrast to literate systems, which
use symbolic tropes.  Spoken poetry's urlinie is the sound combination,
and a sounds kinship to other sounds.  Written poetry, each symbol stands
in its relationship to other symbols.  Music, in Sibelius' time, was
a symbolic language, where a chord or dissonance "meant" something in
relation to other works.  Spoken works offer relationship of material, but
each sound "means" based on its position, with the denotation of words
often being subsidiary to their rhytmical value.  Thus heroes are given
descriptions which do not fit the person, but fit the metrical line.

- - -

Mahler, for all his scope, did not vary far from the symbolic tonal system
of expansion.  He did not abandon the structural function of chords, even
in his last, unfinished, symphony.  One can scan the four lines of a Mahler
symphony from the score.

Sibelius, by contrast, while he returns to the Beethovenian pattern of
instrumentation, often does not have discernable lines - instead there
is a pulsation between one and four thematic areas which expands and
contracts.  This expansion and contraction is the same in every symphony,
and shows no appreciable difference among the last 4 symphonies.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Music on Google Drive





































If you want access, write to me. 

From 2005

The state of spoken poetry to a rhythmic background is atrocious, filled with violence, betray, boasts, fighting over women, bling and position, it represents a culture which is debased and post-literate. Without ethics, there is only the grasping at life and reputation, and its end is to bring ruin to cities and whatever humanity they have.

I'm speaking about Iliad, a work which features disembowelments, extensive descriptions of almost every kind of dismemberment, rape, concubinage, scheming gods and faithless heros. Plato commented on the contents of it in his Politadae - called "The Republic" in Latin and English. Iliad is a giant rap, and is filled with the tropes of improvised prosody, including epitaphs, stock characters and repetition. It's characters would, likewise, be familiar archetypes from gangsta rap, and its moral universe, where authority is merely perverse and powerful, rather than being endowed with any more superiority, is recognizable as well.

 The story of the armed band, beset by enemies and outsiders is not unique to contemporary urban America, the period of time where social organization centers around the almost amoral bonding of blood brothers has been the subject for artistic acts, many of them still remembered and studies, for thousands of years. Homer's Iliad was composed in a vast dark age, when even writing had fallen out of use in most of the greek speaking world, to the point where the script that had been used previously would remain undecipherable for centuries. And yet out of those times came artistic forms and norms which would remain central to classical Greece, and form the basis for its mythology. 

When I read about music, and instead read critiques of the lyrical content, I'm reminded of all of the uproars over art in the past. The present is worried that partisan words will be married to the emotional affective music and rhythms which are being created, and there is a fear that this potent mixture will overwhelm the present. If that were the case, taking Ionic Greek would lead to an increased incidence of homocide, since Homer's rhythms are, even at the remove of millennia, intoxicating and invigorating.

 Music is always a political act, but it is a very poor partisan act. Scenes of violence, dissolution and desperation from the core of art from most periods, particularly because artists before they are successful often inhabit those border lands of menial labor, petty crime, intoxication and the demimonde. Without this world there would be no blue period Picasso, nor La Boheme. That its figures are struggling against both fate and authority makes them archetypes who come to stand in for everyman in his own struggles with overweening authority.

For those that point to the unsavory acts of some of the participants, I can list a cageful of anti-social acts by composers and musicians in other genres, including at least one remembered composer who committed murder. That is why, if you check sound scan, you will find that rap sells well in suburbia, and among the children of upper middle class doctors, lawyers and executives, just as, a generation ago, various occult themed heavy metal bands rooted in working class England found eager consumers in the well manicured lots of Long Island. The outlaw, and the outlaw culture, is not a model, but a symbol, for those who feel themselves glowered down upon. That it horrifies parents who, "in the day", listened to music which was condemned as licentious, is, of course, part of the point.

 The focus on one genre of rap - namely gangsta rap - obscures the reality of hip hop music and the form in general. Like all genres of music, it must provide ceremony, entre to mating rituals, group anthems - and it must also accomplish another, less obvious, function. Namely it must put under the hand the technology of the time. Whether the violin, the piano, the trumpet or the electric guitar, previous waves of music have had as one of their objectives creating a means by which the technology of the time could be made to produce sound, and thus prove that the human being was control that technology, rather than be at the control of it.

In the present, the media stream forms a major, some would argue the major, factor of our conscious environment, and the technologies of sampling and recording two of the most important realities with which people must cope. Hip hop, by providing a framework within which people, simply by being able to synchronize themselves to the groove, are able to produce an assemblage, is doing the same thing that the opera potpourri gave the pianists in the age of Liszt. The roots of the music are, as with other musics, a collision between the immovable objects of society, imposed by circumstance, and the ingenuity of the people using them.

Where as in the case of Western classical music, church modes were part of this immovable background - which is why setting them was a required part of a composer's instruction well into the 20th century, and the basic theory of counterpoint still refers back to this practice - in the case of hip hop it is not only the media stream, but the fundamental ineffectuality of the individual to overcome it. If the church was Mozart's reality - particularly in the person of one prelate of Salzburg, celebrity is ours.

 Polemics against hip hop are a waste of time, as they were a waste of time against Rock - or Wagner's Ring for that matter. Music is about use, a music flourishes as people have use for it, and dies after then have lost the use for it, only to be preserved in a classicised form if it has deeper integrity that holds interest. By all means condemn anti-social messages, but realize that you are joining a rather unsavory society of people who condemned the upstairs- downstairs action in Don Giovanni, the political subversion in Verdi's early operas, the sexualized messages in rock and roll, and so on.

Particularly if you make the mistake of attributing the anti- social messages to particular rhythmic forms or genres of music. The reality is that the social and economic forces that create poverty, segregation, and the perennial process of human beings finding love, social position and fame are the real culprits. And none of them are going to be changed by program directors on the radio, with or without payola involved.

 But to call Rap tomorrow's jazz is to miss what rap is - rap is the latest incarnation of Pop, that is, a musical form where the manipulation of recordied artifacts and materials is more important than musician ship. Rap can't be the next Jazz, because rap is still, in its basic rhythmic forms and structures, related to its parent - the Blues. Jazz is different in that it created a self-conscious creole of musical influences - taking European harmonic language, African modal language, and, as with many forms of classical thought at the time, including Impressionism and the Russian school, found a rhythmic vocabulary unique to that combination. In short, Jazz is still the next jazz, because jazz' evolution entered into areas which Rap simply is not intended to reach.

Jazz and Rock are far more comparable - as offspring of the Blues that reached for a larger formal integrity. Hip Hop's evolution is its own, and being directed at post-modern, rather than modern, ends, it is unlikely to ever care very much about the formal process of composition, or the process of musicianship. However, that does not mean that it could not spawn such a genre, nor that those who are interested in those formal processes could not use rap fro material, as other popular musics have been the source for material for hundreds of years.

 But the musical substance of rap for composition is, quite frankly, rather thin, in that it simply selects materials which are congenial to its process, and uses the fact that there is a crisis in popular music to its advantage. This crisis is that the rhtymic harmonic vocabulary of pop in its current form is played out, and one can stack pieces on top of each other, since the same topoi have been used so many time.

This isn't an unusual thing, it was noted by Busoni about major-minor tonality in the first decade of the 20th century. We still have classical music. The problem I have with Professor Russell's argument is that it substitutes heuristics for musical depth of perception. Simply because something is banned or attacked does not mean it has the same future or potential. One can rattle off hundreds of cultural purges over time, but that doesn't mean that everything purged was of the same substance. Jazz is an American art form, and its being ignored because of both snobbery and segregation is a fact which cannot be erased - however, having snobs and racists as opponents is in no way connected with musical material, or with social place. Substituting a social argument for a musical one does readers a disservice - rap and hip hop have their own place, and will follow the needs of the people who make the music and use it in their daily lives, whether those motives are noble, base, or some mixture of the two.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Old Capital - Kawabata

The Flowers of Spring
The Convent Temple and the Lattice Door
The Kimono Town
Kiayama Cedars
The Gion Festival
The Color of Autumn
The Green of Pine
Deep Autumn Sisters
Winter Flowers







Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Pacific Ocean Becomes a Caldron

The Pacific Ocean Becomes a Caldron

"Hurricane Patricia was a surprise. The eastern Pacific hurricane strengthened explosively before hitting the coast of Mexico, far exceeding projections of scientists who study such storms.

And while the storm’s strength dissipated quickly when it struck land, a question remained. What made it such a monster?

Explanations were all over the map, with theories that included climate change (or not), and El Niño.

But the answer is more complicated. The interplay of all the different kinds of warming going on in the Pacific at the moment can be difficult to sort out and, as with the recent hurricane, attributing a weather event to a single cause is unrealistic."

Shell Companies, Stealing Houses in the Shadows

An Arts Explosion Takes Shanghai


An Arts Explosion Takes Shanghai

"In Shanghai, the historic Bund grabs much of the spotlight — the stretch of former banks and trading houses along the Huangpu River, built a century ago in a kaleidoscope of architectural styles, is a monument to the grandeur of another era. It can also be downright suffocating on weekends, with tourists jostling for selfie positions."

For a Single Mother, an Alternate Reality

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Beyond pho on Oakland’s Vietnamese restaurant row

LOL Nothing Matters: A Defense of the Internet’s Absence of Meaning

X-Men's Iceman declares sexuality in new comic | EW.com

Inquiry Looks at Possible Lies by Exxon About Climate Change

The Internet’s future is in the hands of a man who calls most security experts ‘crazy’

I thought I knew what it meant to be a man – then I transitioned into one

BBC - Culture - Why comic books are more radical than you think

China: Scientists decode panda 'language'

Adidas push to end 'racist' mascots

France sends warship to help battle IS

Dow Blues


Freakout over Zipcar spaces shows perils of free parking

Ben Bernanke: Austerity went too far in the UK

Agnes De Mille’s Artistic Justice

Where U.S. Companies Can Get the Best Deposit Rates: Overseas