Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Ferdinand Rebay: Sonate in einem Satz, performances by Luiz Mantovani (who finished a dissertation on Rebay recently) and by Eduardo Fernandez

Because this is also a blog that focuses on music, and started off with that aim, there's more performances and recordings of Ferdinand Rebay going on, particularly of his Sonata in one movement. Links below

Justin Dean interview with Jeff Cox

We'll get to this in time, I hope, but for now links will suffice.  Conversation directly pertinent to the history of Mars Hill starts about 30 minutes in.  This adds some pertinent background to the information shared by Turner and Bruskas in their conversation with Throckmorton but it will take some time to go through all the material to explain what is new, even though it won't seem new to people who will feel like they've heard it all before on the one hand and will seem absurdly arcane inside baseball to people who don't have twenty years worth of history observing the scene.  Sorry about that, that's just the nature of this kind of project.  Anyway ... links

per past stated policy, comments always automatically go into moderation and are not necessarily ever published.  That's more applicable now that I'm in the process of cross referencing interviews and incubating some thoughts on a few things that have finally been shared on the record.

Sunday, August 02, 2020

postlude to Throckmorton interview with Turner and Bruskas: Justin Dean tweets links to interview, discovers he's been blocked by Driscoll

Now I've written that I loathe Twitter in general and refuse to use it. This does not mean I don't keep track of things on Twitter that seem relevant to me.  So, for instance, it did not pass unnoticed that Justin Dean tweeted links to Warren Throckmorton's interview with Sutton Turner and Dave Bruskas.

Norman Lebrecht gets Phil Ewell on my radar by ranting about him, reminds me why I'm glad I didn't go to grad school in music

Well ... it's as though Norman Lebrecht has this penchant for introducing me to musicologists by ranting about them that, had he not ranted about them, I might never have heard of them.  Whereas I think Haydn is the bee's knees and that both Beethoven and Mozart were above average but terribly over-hyped, Lebrecht seems to treat it as actually blasphemy against art-religion to say Beethoven was a better than average composer who benefited from fitting into the mainstream of his time and place (i.e. by being a white guy).

Saturday, August 01, 2020

for those who read much faster than people talk, Sutton Turner has published transcripts of his talk with Throckmorton and Bruskas

It's no less than about 20,000 words, though, so it won't necessarily be a faster read for everyone than listening to two hours of conversation.  

Other projects have my attention but I hope to eventually discuss the interview and a few things that were and were not discussed in it.  It's got a ton of inside baseball stuff that won't necessarily (or quickly) make sense at every point in the conversation to someone who wasn't fairly closely connected to events and people at MHC over the course of it's 18 year run. 

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Maren Haynes dissertation, "Punk Rock Calvinists Who Hate the Modern Worship Movement": Ritual, Power, and White Masculinity in Mars Hill Church's Worship Music

The recent interview Warren Throckmorton had with Sutton Turner and Dave Bruskas featured, among other things, mention that there was some tension between Mark wanting his products promoted and the nascent would-be Mars Hill Music getting off the ground.  That reminded me that I got word of a project by Maren Haynes through the University of Washington. The PhD dissertation ...

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Warren Throckmorton has had conversations with Dave Bruskas and Sutton Turner, slated for publication 7-28-20 and 7-30-20

Since the closure of Mars Hill Church Dave Bruskas and Sutton Turner have come around to a new perspective on their time at Mars Hill.  I've blogged about the eight-part series they did on Older Pastor, Younger Pastor earlier this year.  Perhaps a bigger sign that Bruskas and Turner are open to talking about MHC and reaching out to people might be that they've recently agreed to have on record conversations with Warren Throckmorton, who has announced that he's talked with them and will be publishing the conversations soon.  Direct link after the break.

David del Puerto Guitar Sonata no.1, performed by Jeremy Bass

movement 1
movement 2
movement 3
movement 4

Friday, July 24, 2020

three poems about music (two watered down acid and one pure acid)

Taupin and John wrote
a famous long song based on
"Insert your name here"

Each day the radio plays "Let it Be"
and I find myself asking "Must it Be?"
The answer to this cannot be a shock.
The Beatles are the Beethoven of Rock.
The only answer there can ever be
is to say that "It must be!  It must be!"

Train is what you get
if the Spin Doctors did a
Counting Crows cover

The first two poems are about music that I think has been oversold but still basically holds up on repeated listenings.  The last poem is about three bands whose music I loathe.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Julia Duin at GetReligion on Nina Shapiro's recent Seattle Times coverage of evangelicalism and race in the Puget Sound

I was surprised to see a story in the Seattle Times about evangelicals saying ‘we repent’ about racism, mainly because the writer isn’t known for her coverage of people of faith and the newspaper hasn’t exactly been burning the midnight oil on religion news.
Especially anything having to do with evangelicals.  
So I was surprised to see how this story hit up a lot of the major players in the region on this issue. It’s as if someone in the newsroom discovered a long-disused Rolodex of religion sources and actually used it. In the five years I’ve lived here and been reading the Times regularly, I’ve never seen any of these folks — black or white — quoted before.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

links for the weekend: John McWhorter reviews White Fragility, woke cancel culture capitalism, Seattle's payroll tax, US and UK flailing states,

a few for the weekend

James Bennett II has a trio of pieces at WQXR on the history of classical crossover: born in a production glut in the 1980s CD age; vamping through the 1990s; dying in the 00s and only Yo-Yo Ma seemed to figure out how to get crossover to work long-term

WQXR has a three part series discussing classical crossover, or at least the idea as it's existed in Western industries since the birth of the CD. There's a lot of material covered and most interesting is the argument that the birth of crossover in its "modern" form was because of market saturation that happened in music at the dawn of the CD era.

Throckmorton: James MacDonald mansion notice of foreclosure, remembering Mark Driscoll once said "James has the spiritual gift of real estate acquisition"

James MacDonald, of whom Mark Driscoll once said, "James has the spiritual gift of real estate acquisition" (you can hear Mark Driscoll enumerate that alleged gift of the Spirit at 0:21 in the video embedded in the page I've linked to), has a notice of foreclosure on a mansion.

James MacDonald's role in the history of Mars Hill, in retrospect, seemed to involve being on the Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability for just long enough to defend the use of Result Source to rig a No. 1 spot on the New York Times bestseller list for Mark and Grace Driscoll's Real Marriage and then depart because he was so confident that the BoAA would do its job he didn't need to be part of that process.

Rochberg, postmodernism, and Rebay: comparing Rochberg's Caprice Variations to Rebay's Historische Suite to make a point about Rochberg not being postmodern

Richard Taruskin (and some others) have pointed out that while George Rochberg has often been called a postmodernist he didn't use that term to describe himself.  Whether it's Rochberg's writings themselves (A Dance of Polar Opposites or The Aesthetics of Survival) or in a book written about Rochberg, such as Amy Lynn Wlodarski's George Rochberg, American Composer: Personal Trauma and Artistic Creativity, you'll discover that however modernist he was for a while in formal terms he had, if you will, a Romantic heart.  The Third String Quartet was the moment where he publicly repudiated serialism, or at least that is what has commonly been written.

Kim Hojin, however, has made a case that if we want to understand Rochberg's shift from serialism to his post-serialist musical language more attention should be paid to his Caprice Variations for Unaccompanied Violin, on a famous Paganini caprice.  Hojin's treatise can be accessed here online. I plan to make an admittedly brief comparison of two works that play with epochs of music for musical effect, Rochberg's Caprice Variations and Ferdinand Rebay's Historisch Suite for flute and guitar.

Rae Linda Brown's book on Florence Price is published, and that deserves its own post
The Heart of a Woman:The Life and Music of Florence B. Price by Rae Linda Brown

Kindle version is most affordable if you don't mind going Kindle

WaPo--classical music's overdue reckoning with racism; Joseph Horowitz--pandemic may be perfect storm that batters the arts

Washington Post has published a piece that says there's a reckoning in classical music regarding its long history of racism.  Now I have read some fascinating pieces pointing out that there has been "selective memory" regarding the contributions of Afro-European musicians to European musical culture.  With that in mind, and having read about how Joseph Bologne was part of getting Haydn's Paris symphonies premiered (handled negotiation of price with Haydn and conducted premieres), I can't help but suspect there's a uniquely Americanist subtext to a piece like the following:

Friday, July 17, 2020

J. I. Packer (1926-2020)

Michael at Phoenix Preacher has written about Packer here.

a "Case Against Open Letters" at The Atlantic could have been more succinct

If you have, by chance, read this ...

Graeme Wood's piece is succinct in its way but it would have been more succinct.   Then again, readership for The Atlantic can't trade on presumed familiarity with the open letter precedents of the Christian blogosphere/dark web. I sent up the internet open letter genre with a pre-planned general purpose open letter suitable for probably any evangelical or progressive American Christian platform a few years ago.

But there is a bit more that could be said ...

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

there need to be some more posts on music by Ferdinand Rebay ... in the future ...

Hope to fix that in the next month or so as there's a new release coming along of the violin and viola sonatas due out on Naxos.  Plus ... noticed there's recordings of some of Rebay's solo guitar sonatas I hadn't spotted before by Kolk and Fernandez and I want to listen, at least, to their recordings of the first a minor sonata and the sonata in one movement in the next month or so.  I, of course, have all seven of the solo guitar sonatas in score form and have been meaning to blog about/through these sonatas for years.  Such is life ... but I hope to blog about a couple more Rebay sonatas at some point down the line. 

Not that I want to forget about the Matiegka Op.31 cycle along the way, either ... or the magnificent Gilardino cycle or ... you might have the idea by now. 

assorted links--demographic winter in the West (again); California as a paradoxical birthplace of the religious right; Orthocuban on Tulsa & Haga Sophia; Alan Jacobs invoking Cromwell against the GOP? and a reading on Yeats I don't agree with

a few links without necessarily having a theme

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

a brief observation about Ferdinand Rebay's handling of sonata form, ending on a dominant pedal point isn't your only option

At the risk of writing a merely axiomatic observation, going through sonata forms composed by Ferdinand Rebay (an Austrian composer whose music for guitar has been getting scholarly attention in the last decade), I am noticing that he ended his development sections in submediant keys.

The take-away from that is that while you might have been taught that the way to end a development section is to get to the dominant of your tonic key and set up a half-cadence effect that drives firmly to the arrival of the tonic chord in the tonic key, there have been other options.  In a minor key sonata you could have a firm cadence in some key that isn't the tonic (like the mediant, for instance) that still lets you shift to the tonic key--ending a development on a gentle D major chord before switching to B minor for the start of the recapitulation is possible.  To invoke Leonard Meyer on sonata forms there are syntactic as well as statistical ways of formulating a structural climax for a sonata form. 

The "perfection" of how Mozart and Beethoven handled what scholars have called sonata forms can be over-rated (I've been on record as being far more a fan of Haydn than I am of Beethoven and I'm more a fan of Beethoven than Mozart, but find I enjoy music by Clementi and Hummel more than Mozart, which I find is a semi-heretical stance to take that Kyle Gann's already noted). But it's worth pointing out that there's nothing "wrong" with the textbook approach to sonata forms, the issue is that, particularly since Hepokoski and Darcy laid out the five types of sonata forms as flexible scripts, there are way more options for composing sonata forms than you might ever run into in an undergraduate music survey course.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Jeremy Bass recording of guitar sonatas by David del Puerto is out

I like to hunt around for cycles of solo guitar sonatas and the del Puerto cycle got on my radar a while back.  I got Jeremy Bass' treatise on the first three David del Puerto sonatas and was wondering if we might get recordings of some of those and the answer to that implicit question is "yes".

More later as time permits, plus I've got to give the sonatas a listen.  I tend to put too much on my plate for music/listening/blogging projects.  It will take a while before I can get to these. But that hardly means I can't tell you about the music being available in recorded form now

another deBoer--"the irresistable force vs the ironized object"

If you're not familiar with what some academics have called the California ideology then you probably don't want to read David Roberts and Peter Murphy where they defined it in Dialectic of Romanticism (which I admit I did); in that book Roberts and Murphy proposed way, way back in, ahem, 2005 that there has been a conflict within the U.S. between what they called the Chicago school and the California school.  You don't have to read that book, though, because other people have been defining the California ideology in more recent terms, which is very roundaboutly how I get to a new and probably self-destructing post by Fredrik deBoer.

"Old Time Rock and Roll", on the self-congratulatory failure so often at the core of music about music

Although people who lived through the 1960s could have many reasons to claim rock and roll died in the 1970s because of progressive rock or because of disco or because of whatever, for this Generation X'er the most obvious reason we could consider the possibility that rock and roll "died" in the 1970s is explicable in terms of Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band.

That seems pretty harsh to single out one musician, as any piece of music criticism can potentially be.  Why Bob Seger?

You may know the songs before I name them but let's dispense with suspense (if there was any):

Friday, July 10, 2020

some more thoughts on the death of Nikolai Kapustin--how the formerly Soviet composer's work can reveal that metahistorical/political narratives in the West didn't really promote successful 3rd stream anymore than residual Socialist Realism might have

The more time passes since the end of the Cold War the more we in the West get to learn about what the arts were like in the Soviet bloc.  The more we learn about how diverse and varied music in central and eastern Europe and Soviet Asia was the more ludicrous the claim that Western arts are more diverse and liberal due to claims of "freedom". Not that I wish to have born anywhere else but the United States of America, for a variety of reasons I've no obligation to share at even my own blog, but my larger point is that now that the Cold War has been over for a generation or two certain mythologies that were applied to, say, jazz, by Cold War era intellectuals no longer have to be taken as "the" narrative for an urban style of popular music that has been truly global since a century ago.

MASS - Steve Dobrogosz

Years ago ... someone asked if I'd heard Steve Dobrogosz' Mass
...Ever checked out what Steve Dobrogosz does with The Mass. Not saying it’s a perfect correlation to what you’re interested in, but it’s certainly worth considering.
Well, took a while to get around to it. But ...

Bryan Townsend asking when Mozart will get cancelled, the bad faith of cancel culture isn't the "cancel" it's that they don't first sell what they want us to hear instead

I've started reading The Music Salon blog in the last year or so and a recent post got me thinking.

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Fifteen years on The New Yorker finally gets around to writing about The Last Airbender series?

In terms of animated adventure shows for children over the last thirty years in the United States it's not really a contest for me which shows have turned out to be the most significant. In chronological order I'd say the significant touchstones of the genre have been Batman: the animated series (including the sequel series for Superman and Justice League, particularly); Samurai Jack; and then Avatar:  The Last Airbender.   You could in many respects skip the entirety of animated adventure shows for American kids in the last thirty years if you stuck to just BTAS, Samurai Jack, and The Last Airbender.

Monday, July 06, 2020

Nikolai Kapustin November 22, 1937 - July 2, 2020

Perhaps the most important thing that didn't happen to the Ukrainian pianist and composer Nikolai Kapustin is that, beyond a somewhat expected and inevitable set of constraints from Soviet era bureaus, no one involved in his musical education went so far as to explicitly tell Kapustin he could not possibly develop a synthesis of the musical vocabulary of jazz with the forms of late Romantic and post-Romantic large-scale forms.

sometimes it's fun to read reviews of books I probably won't read ... The Enchantments of Mammon

There is much to be said in favor of criticism and reviews, and one of the chief benefits of reading criticisms can, sometimes, be discovering why a book you thought about maybe reading can be relegated to "don't bother" based on reviews from people whose views you take seriously.

Take The Enchantments of Mammon, a book I was vaguely considering reading at one point but then ... I saw this ...

Thursday, July 02, 2020

another Matiegka sonata analysis incubating

The sonata I plan to discuss will be Op. 31, No. 1 in C major, which is a charming little sonata.  I've been meaning to discuss the Op. 31 progressive sonatas for a while and am finally getting to a point where I can blog about one of them.  I know Matiegka's not everyone's favorite (most people will never have heard of him, but especially as I've been digging into Gjerdingen's work on the galant style I think a case can be made that we can study Matiegka's work not so much as "lightweight" early Romantic guitar music but more as an example of a more galant style approach, particularly with his deliberately "wrong" key recapitulation in the opening sonata form for theme 1.  So if anyone has been reading the blog for years wondering when I'd get back to Matiegka, that's going to happen soon, I hope after or during the 4th of July weekend depending on how things play out.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Fredrik deBoer on "The Chinese Finger Trap" of an American contemporary left that has no meaningful power and zealous wields its symbolic/rhetorical power
Posted onJune 27, 2020CategoriesPolitics

I would say at a glance that the contemporary left is defined fundamentally by both a lack of meaningful power and a corresponding tightening of the grip on the meaningless power it does have. The more we cannot get reparations, the more we rename buildings; no end to mass incarceration, but recasting of cartoons; no seats in the Senate, but oh, how we make the Poetry Foundation shake…. And the question that we’re left with is, if we never stop tightening our shaking grip, will our reach ever exceed our grasp? Do we have short arms, or are they only bent from the strain of grasping in such impotent rag

some headlines from Seattle since the start of the CHOP/CHAZ

Sunday, June 28, 2020

George N Gianopoulous-City Vignettes for Alto Saxophone and Guitar

Performed impeccably by Duo Montagnard.  If you have never bought albums of chamber music for alto saxophone and guitar and want to Duo Montagnard is one of the ensembles you should check out.

One of these days I might have to do a more general post on chamber music for alto saxophone and guitar ...

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Michael W Harris' The Rise of Gospel Blues: The Music of Thomas Andrew Dorsey in the Urban Church

The Rise of Gospel Blues: The Music of Thomas Andrew Dorsey in the Urban Church
Michael W. Harris
Copyright (c) 1992 by Michael W. Harris
Oxford University Press
ISBN 0-19-506376-7

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Atanas Ourkouzounov--Broken Grooves played by Duo Benoit Albert & Randall Avers

Toby Twining: Chrysalid Requiem--Sanctus

I, of course, learned about this reading Kyle Gann's The Arithmetic of Listening, which is a great book on the history of tuning systems I'm going to have to blog about at some point this year.  I'm still committed to composing using the equal-tempered set-up we guitarists are given who don't have access to fretboards that have alternate tunings, but I've been intrigued by a lot of work done in what's maybe too colloquially known as microtonal music. 

some pieces at GetReligion on electoral subsets--evangelicals as distinct from charismatics/pentecostals, and who's considered what kind of anointed
I was reading a New York Times piece the other day — “Trump’s Approval Slips Where He Can’t Afford to Lose It: Among Evangelicals” — when I found myself thinking about the Rev. Pat Robertson and quarterback Tom Brady.
This may take some explaining.
For starters, if you know anything about the 2016 election, you know that white evangelicals helped fuel Trump’s success in the GOP primaries. Then, in the general election, white and Latino evangelicals were crucial to his pivotal win in Florida. But the key to his election was winning the votes of Rust Belt (a) Democrats who previously voted for Barack Obama, (b) conservative and older Catholics, (c) angry labor union members/retirees or (d) citizens who were “all of the above.”
Catholic swing voters were much more important to Trump than white evangelicals — in the 2020 general election (as opposed to primaries).

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Alan Jacobs ended up writing a few more things about critical theory and critical theories

Alan Jacobs, who I note has an endorsement blurb on the back of Fredrik Deboer's forthcoming book The Cult of Smart, which I, of course, fully intend to read when it comes out, has been essaying into critical theory a bit more and interacting with some, though not necessarily a lot, of writing from James Lindsay over at New Discourses.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

some links for the weekend with a bit of a PCA/OPC and/or Reformed theme

It would seem that some folks of the OPC and PCA wanted to give three magazines worth of ammunition to The Wartburg Watch readership by way of comments online ... Ed Stetzer has caught wind of it--Aimee Byrd and Beth Moore have shared how complementarians have talked about them behind closed doors (even if the closed doors in question turn out to be cyberspace ones).

The Romantic era seeds from which Crescendo Rock grew--Leonard B. Meyer's observations on statistical accumulation and rejection of tonal syntactics in Romanticism and how we can hear that end point in, say, U2 songs

or "Leonard B. Meyer on the Romantic era shift from syntactic to statistical climax in music, in other words, crescendo rock is late, late Romanticism in pop"

Years ago I wrote about a piece at Slate in which an author inveighed against "crescendo rock". Carl Wilson vented some spleen about The National in particular and "crescendo rock" in general. What I wrote was over here but I'll quote a brief passage from the Slate piece to give an example of Wilson's invective against crescendo rock.

local news links: King County labor expels Seattle Police Union, details lacking in SPD evacuation of East Precinct (i.e. who, if anyone, ordered it?), one dead and one wounded in CHOP/CHAZ

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Ethan Hein has a post on learning to improvise in different modes using only the white keys, which got me thinking about the "white key" fugal tradition in Russian music

Ethan Hein's got a new post about learning how to improvise to music that's written only using the white piano keys.  The list is broad-ranging in terms of style and fun for highlighting which white keys only modes are involved in which songs over which to jam.

"Army of Me" would have been great for locrian but, ahem, obviously not in white keys only.  Yes, I just tipped off readers that I'm a fan of Bjork, at least her work up through Vespertine anyway.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Ethan Hein discusses "Fugue as sample flip"--explanations of sampling techniques remind me that "looping" might fit Schenkerian "knupftechnik", and other ways in which the compositional techniques across hip hop and fugal writing may potentially overlap, with a pitch for the idea that a fugal language can be built from Stevie Wonder songs

In the video that Deb links to, DJ Dahi says that three are three main techniques you can use to flip a sample: looping it, chopping it, and reversing it.
  • Looping is the simplest of the three techniques, but its musical significance is deeper than you might think. In his must-read book Making Beats, Joe Schloss points out that looping a sample juxtaposes the sampled material with itself by connecting the end of a phrase with its beginning. In so doing, “looping automatically recasts any musical material it touches, insofar as the end of a phrase is repeatedly juxtaposed with its beginning in a way that was not intended by the original musician. After only a few repetitions, this juxtaposition… begins to take on an air of inevitability. It begins to gather a compositional weight that far exceeds its original significance” (p. 137). Looping can take an idea that was meant to be linear and turn it into something circular, and that act can have political valence.
  • Chopping means splitting a sample into segments (e.g. individual drum hits or notes) and then recombining the segments out of order, and/or removing some of them. Audio Two’s “Top Billin'” beat is a chop of the “Impeach the President” drums. Pete Rock created the beat in “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” by chopping the drum intro to James Brown’s “Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud).”
  • Reversing is the least common technique of the three, but when it appears, it’s conspicuous. The best example I can think of is the chorus to “Work It” by Missy Elliott. She follows the line “Put my thang down, flip it and reverse it” with that same line backwards, repeated twice.
Now what's intriguing about this is that coming at things from the perspective of being a classical guitarist who studied what could be called Eurological compositional techniques each of these techniques arguably has correspondences with gestural transformation in what's colloquially known as classical music.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Somebody at The Future Symphony Institute got Taruskin's latest, which is totally worth reading

I finished it within weeks of getting it back in April.  Taruskin's always worth reading.I hope whoever at FSI that's about to read the book enjoys it as much as I did.  Be ready for Taruskin to heap lavish but deserved praise on Leonard B. Meyer. :)  Also, it's got one of the most passionate recent defenses of Haydn I've read in a while and since I adore the music of Haydn I'll never complain about that.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

later writings from Leonard B. Meyer on the ideological double binds of late, late Romanticism --notes toward a neo-galant pop/classical fusion

One of the things I thought about after reading and rereading John Borstlap's The Classical Revolution was how much of his ideas were articulated decades earlier by Leonard B. Meyer, not just in Music, the Arts, and Ideas (which is a magnificent book I learned about through Kyle Gann's blog) but in other writings. A point that is paradoxically latent in Borstlap's book is that while the music of the Romantic era itself has much to commend the ideologies of the Romantic era are the source of many musical problems, specifically as they were taken up as battle cries for high modernism or what Meyer once called "late, late Romanticism".

follow up coverage of WA state ESD UI fraud situation, claims and counter-claims about who was noticing what when

For those who have kept some tabs on the unemployment insurance fraud situation that happened with the Washington State Employment Security Division ...

some musical links, Gregorian chant, chamber music for flute and guitar (Ourkouzonov), music for flute by Poulenc and Martin, and a quasi-concerto for jazz band and piano by George Russell for Bill Evans

a few musical links for the weekend

Thursday, June 11, 2020

#defund the police? Some thinking about possible ideas I hear from some conservative friends that may (or may not?) be common cause with progressives on police reform

I'm indisposed to hashtag approaches to issues by temperament but even I occasionally catch wind of hashtags that can show up on Twitter.  #defundthepolice is one of those. Living in the age of CHAZ and hearing Sawant has gotten behind a specific hashtag ... I've been seeing some talk about what this hashtag may entail. Thus ...

Saturday, June 06, 2020

Triablogue posts on the passing of Steve Hays 1959-2020, brief thoughts about a friend

During the years that Michael Spenser was alive he found Steve Hays at Triablogue an occasional thorn in his side.  In the Boar's Head Tavern orbit Steve Hays was viewed as a trouble-maker.

I got to know Steve roughly twenty-seven years ago in college at a cadre at a little school by a canal.  I met him around the same time I met one of his debating partners, Jeff Lowder.  I would not have guessed back in the 1990s that I had ended up meeting members of the ... should I call it the dark web debates on Reformed Christianity and atheism?  Jeff was agnostic at the time but his shift to atheism seemed fairly certain to me but that's a whole other topic.  Steve Hays has died.

haiku about this year

film by Takashi Miike
script by Argento

The soundtrack could be by Penderecki perhaps

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

possible durational correspondence between the syntactics of a standard verse-chorus, verse-chorus, bridge, verse-chorus pop song and a sonata form (a Ragtime and Sonata Forms postscript)

Back in April I wrote my roughly 131-page Ragtime and Sonata Forms project and for all of the readers who stopped well before part 18 it was in part 18 I provided a possible road-map for ragtime sonata forms.  Well, since that got published I've been thinking more about how similar durational correspondences or proportional correspondences are possible in pop songs. 

Freddie Deboer on Jonathan Haidt's Belief in Belief and why he can't buy it

As with so many of his posts it may be up for only a few days but, well, I managed to read it, and so here's a lengthy passage that stood out.

Monday, June 01, 2020

it's not so good here in the Emerald City, stuff that i thought of writing about but may not for a while (but ironically just wrote about)

I'm okay but even I don't feel like blogging under the current circumstances and I had meant to blog some stuff that's really cool from a Leonard B. Meyer book I've been reading, one I referenced in Ragtime and Sonata Forms about proposed musical "universals".  There are books I've been wanting to write about for months and I haven't gotten around to it because life is life and life is stressful.  Last month's thesis pretty much was a thesis and there's other stuff in off-line life I've been working on.

Mahalia Jackson: "Keep Your Hand on the Plow"

Because she's been one of my musical heroes for a very long time ... and because after what's happened in Seattle over the weekend the message seems no less timely now than when Mahalia Jackson sang the song.

Atanas Ourkouzounov: Bul Bop for flute and guitar with score

Saturday, May 30, 2020

notes on Ep 8 of Older Pastor/Younger Pastor--Sutton Turner confirms that Mark Driscoll has blocked him across social media and won't talk to him in any capacity, and some other things

I thought it was going to be a seven episode run but there are eight episodes.
What is more, Sutton Turner has published the transcript of episode 8
Ah, thanks!  That sure beats Wenatchee The Hatchet having to spend a uncounted hours transcribing things like Mark Driscoll's 2008 spiritual warfare series before being able to do any analysis of it!

Excerpts from and thoughts/notes on Episode 8 are below:

Thursday, May 28, 2020

notes on the Older Pastor/Younger Pastor series with Ryan Williams, Dave Bruskas and Sutton Turner on lessons from Mars Hill--UPDATE: quotes from transcripts

So the seven-part series has recently, if it goes to seven parts, wrapped up.  As Sutton Turner has commented and fielded questions here at Wenatchee The Hatchet he would probably not be too surprised that Wenatchee The Hatchet has taken the five hours needed to listen to all seven episodes, and likely Bruskas and Ryan Williams would not be surprised at this post either.  Nobody who knows the history of this blog as a chronicle of the life and death of Mars Hill would be. So ... some notes ...

Monday, May 25, 2020

the diatonic modes as inversions of each other, a little riff on George Rochberg's proposal that Western music has had cycles of favoring symmetrical and assymetrical paradigms for pitch organization in the last thousand years

It might be because I've been reading George Rochberg's A Dance of Polar Opposites this year, but I've been struck by a passage near the end where he wrote:

Alan Jacobs on Misunderstanding Critical Theory

Having spent half a decade swimming in Adorno's work to come to a sense of his approach to music, the sociology of music and how that has been relevant to Anglo-American musicology and music history; and having seen how conservatives by and large seem to make a complete and utter hash of defining or discussing critical theory (more or less it starts and stops at "so it's communism"), I'm not surprised Alan Jacobs recently felt obliged to explain that a lot of what conservatives define as "critical theory" has nearly nothing directly (if at all) with the Frankfurt school

Sunday, May 24, 2020

remembering an old poem I wrote, riffing on a specific American "rebel" mentality, during a time of lockdown

Ecclesiastes 9:4-5 Common English Bible (CEB)
4 Whoever is among the living can be certain about this. A living dog is definitely better off than a dead lion, 5 because the living know that they will die. But the dead know nothing at all. There is no more reward for them; even the memory of them is lost.

the action hero breaks the fourth wall

it is far better
to be a dying lion
than a living dog

Saturday, May 23, 2020

discussion series: Pastoral Lessons from Mars Hill Church with Ryan Williams, Dave Bruskas & Sutton Turner

The seventh episode of an apparently seven (?) part series has gone up in which Ryan Williams talks with Dave Bruskas and Sutton Turner.  Owing to offline life events I have had other projects going and haven't tackled MHC related stuff in a while.  Now that Ragtime and Sonata Forms is up, though, I'll have time to get to the series, eventually.  For those who haven't heard of the series the links to the episodes are available after the break.

Get Religion's Terry Mattingly on an Atlantic piece on QAnon and evangelicalism, proposes there's a conspiracy about conspiracies believed by evangelicals that may be a conspiracy theory on the part of journalists

There are times, when reading the sprawling “Shadowland” package at The Atlantic, when one is tempted to think that the goal was to weave a massive liberal conspiracy theory about the role that conservative conspiracy theories play in Donald Trump’s America.
At the center of this drama — of course — is evangelical Christianity. After all, evangelical Christians are to blame for Trump’s victory, even if they didn’t swing all those crucial states in the Catholic-labor Rust Belt.
It’s almost as if evangelicals are playing, for some strategic minds on the left, the same sick, oversized role in American life that some evangelicals assign to Hillary Clinton, George Soros, Bill Gates and all those liberal Southern Baptist intellectuals who love Johnny Cash and Jane Austen
Let’s focus on this piece: “The Prophecies of Q.” Toward the end, a fervent supporter of Trump and the mysterious QAnon offers her credo. It’s clear that she speaks for, you know, millions of people hiding like terrorist sleeper cells in ordinary pews from coast to coast.

Friday, May 22, 2020

as reactionary/right American paranoia goes ...

the "plandemic" rants
would be crazier if she
were now president

sundry links--The Atlantic laid off 68 staffers post covid 19, and Washington state temporarily halted UI payments in wake of fraud activity

The traditional journalistic job market has been on a downward shift for a generation.  The age of the internet meant that a lot of the jobs that used to be out there just stopped existing or were phased out, a point that Scott Timberg used to write about when he was alive.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Mr. T's birthday, for those who didn't know (but especially for those who do)

hope he had a great one.  Just throwing that out there.  He had a cartoon series on Saturday mornings I used to watch back in the 1980s.  No, I am not making that up. I always liked the theme song for the show.  I mean, who wouldn't? :) So here's to Mr. T, seeing as it's his birthday.

heard "Shallow" from the new A Star is Born again ...

and it still sounds like what would happen if Don Henley and Patti Smith got drunk at some party and decided to cover a Dan Folgelberg song.

Alan Jacobs is skeptical about a "deep literacy" longform lament at National Affairs and I can't blame him

While there was an article I thought was a great read at National Affairs on the Cold War and its legacy with respect to United States arts policy and the post Cold War crisis of purpose in US arts policy NEA and otherwise ( which I wrote about over here ...

There are other articles at National Affairs that are more in the "why oh why" category and Alan Jacobs has singled out one about "deep literacy".  My own response is that the article in question is a downbeat variation on George Steiner's In Bluebird's Castle

Saturday, May 16, 2020

catching up with Doug Shadle's blogging--arguing against essentialism is great but also can problematize cultural appropriation

Catching up to Shadle's blogging in the last month. A few rambling thoughts ... (aka about 3,000 words)

Van has an article on VIcente Lusitano, a Portugese composer of African lineage circa 1520-1561

I have long been skeptical of sweeping claims that what's conventionally known as classical music is music by "white" people.  Europeans?  Sure, okay, but definitions of "white" have varied over time.  Anglo-Saxons wouldn't consider Spaniards or Portugese to necessarily be white, let alone a Portugese man of African lineage such as Vicente Lusitano, whose life and work is featured in a recent article at VAN.
and for good measure

Never heard of Vicente Lusitano?  I hadn't either, and if you want to hear one of his works go over here.

and if you can read music and want to see his surrealistic chromatic polyphony for yourself go over here.

former Acts 29 pastor Darrin Patrick has died, investigation pending, as yet no comments from Mark Driscoll on the passing of his one time pastor and friend (unless someone's spotted them in the last 8 days)

The Mighty's Juliette Virzi 's piece doesn't mention the part about the cause of death as a suicide investigation is under way.  However, the piece samples Twitter condolences in the wake of the death.

Warren Throckmorton on R. R. Reno's era of First Things (update 5-18-2020 Reno apologizes)

Seeing Reno's tweets second hand I do wonder about the latest iteration of First Things.  I picked up a book by David Novak (a conservative Jewish scholar) on Judaism and natural law that, in Novak's introduction, he wrote was inspired by a challenge from First Things to further explore the connection between natural law and Judaism.  I've got a relative who's interested in legal theories and theories of judicial action (we're Batman fans, okay, it's actually relevant to that topic, believe it or not), so I was looking at the book as a gift idea and then decided to get it myself.

The more recent iteration of First Things does not come across like the kind of magazine that would inspire an academic monograph of the sort I've just alluded to.  First Things, with a few exceptions, under Reno's tenure feels more like, I dunno, a highbrow's Glenn Beck to me.  I used to actually read it, like, twenty years ago but haven't felt a need to read it much apart from selections from Carl Trueman and some other authors.

CBC feature--during the covid-19 lockdown animation is an art form that's still moving along while live-action filming has shut down

Not all art forms have been equally battered by the pandemic.  There was a Canadian feature recently that highlighted that one of my favorite art forms is moving along, that is the art form of animation.  One of the paradoxes of the conventional highbrow and lowbrow distinctions is that cartoons tend to be viewed near the bottom of the ladder of prestige in the arts even though every single frame of an animated film is a work of art and in Wagnerian terms an animated film could be an apotheosis of the total work of art, with the drama of a story, the vocal performances, even songs show up often enough and all in the process of a story that is drawn by artists. But cartoons have often been viewed as not-art.

Over at The New Republic the status of Jordan Peterson is considered, if in the sort of way The New Republic would

an old piece from March but I noticed that there was less of Jordan Peterson online, which I admit is a bit neither here nor there for me.  TNR's piece goes in roughly the direction I would have guessed.

Friday, May 01, 2020

might take a little break, a postlude to Ragtime and Sonata Forms where I talk briefly about Henry Martin's ragtime-with-fugue and Richard St. Clair's Piano Sonata No.7 both ragtime classical fusion works that I like but have some criticisms of

Ragtime and Sonata Forms is finally done and since it amounted to 131 pages of content I think maybe that gives me some wiggle room to take a break from blogging about anything for a while.  Plus it lets the entire series stay on the main front page for a while in case people want an easier time of reading through the whole thing.  There are also hard links to each installment at the separate music page.

I've thought about blogging about Henry Martin's ragtime and fugue in G flat major as part of the project.

You can check out a lively performance of the piece that breaks down the work into its sections over here:

Fugue starts 2:37 and runs through to the end.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Ragtime and Sonata Forms, Part 1: Ragtime as Musical Ice Cream

1.     Ragtime as Musical Ice Cream

Ragtime and ice cream are intertwined, for better and worse, in American history.  I have found this to be the case at both a personal and a cultural level. 

I think I first heard ragtime at an ice cream parlor my dad took my brother and I to once in Portland, Oregon when I was a kid.  It was there that I remember hearing Scott Joplin’s music.   I had no words for the melodic and rhythmic vitality of Joplin’s music I heard at the age I was, but it made an immediate and positive impression on me. I asked who wrote the music.  My dad told me the music was written by Scott Joplin, one of America’s greatest musicians. 

Throughout my childhood there was another, more regular, reason I associated ragtime with ice cream.  I, like many other children in the 1980s, heard the strains of “The Entertainer” ringing out in chimes or bells when ice cream trucks would roll through the neighborhood.  To hear Scott Joplin’s music was to hear the visits of the ice cream truck on your street.

As I learned more about the history of ragtime it began to be clear that the link between ice cream and ragtime went back to the days of Scott Joplin. John Stillwell Stark was an ice cream vendor before starting up an instrument shop and, eventually, a music publishing company.  Stark’s advocacy for ragtime in general and the music of Scott Joplin in particular is the stuff of American musical history, but had Stark been a less successful ice cream vendor would he have ever had the resources get into the music business as an instrument vendor or music publisher?  Ice cream sales turned out to be the economic foundation for the publishing firm that gave us Scott Joplin’s music.  Ragtime, despite Scott Joplin’s most determined efforts, has been musical ice cream ever since.

Ragtime and Sonata Forms, Part 2: Arthur Weld's plea to combat musical "cholera"

2.     Arthur Weld’s plea to combat musical vulgarity, including rag-time and coon songs

In his book Everybody’s Doin’ It: Sex, Music and Dance in New York, 1840-1917, Dale Cockrell quotes briefly from a piece written by Arthur Weld in the The Etude. Cockrell makes reference to Weld on page 124 of his book, noting that Weld was a professor of music at Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. Cockrell only mentions Weld in passing in a chapter discussing the ways in which ragtime as a musical style and a dance style was viewed as an exemplar of racial mixing and of gay sexuality in New York in the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  More significant for the purposes  of this project is Cockrell’s observation that many recognized ragtime first and foremost as dance music rather than the concert music for piano we tend to think of it as being here on the other side of the 1970s ragtime revival.

For my purposes quoting Weld’s piece in its entirety is necessary:

Ragtime and Sonata Forms, Part 3: A Case for Ragtime from Hiram Kelly Moderwell in 1915

3.     A Case for Ragtime from Hiram Kelly Moderwell in 1915

The arguments against ragtime as a genre of popular song and as instrumental music in the United States clearly failed.  Ragtime went on to become the foundational form of popular song in the United States and the rags of Scott Joplin and his associates found a place in the piano literature in formal piano instruction.  Had the opponents of ragtime in 1900 heard the directions popular song has taken in the last century, they would likely regard musical barbarism as having completely overtaken what is left of civilization. 

When the piano rags of Joplin can show up in a list of Dover scores in the second edition of John Borstlap’s The Classical Revolution the evolution of ragtime from vulgar popular song to canonized piano music might seem complete.  It now takes the work of a Dale Cockrell to remind us that ragtime was once a style of dance music that evolved in the brothels and dance halls of an underground network of sex industries. 

More than a century after the popular style swept across the United States, defenses of ragtime in its heyday can be easily forgotten, if ever known, and the defense made for ragtime by Hiram Kelley Moderwell from 1915 in The New Republic seems worth quoting in full to give readers a sense of what a defense of ragtime as the original and indisputably American contribution to then-contemporary musical life looked like.

Ragtime and Sonata Forms, Part 4: Adorno's "On Jazz" and his later polemics against popular music

4.     Adorno’s “On Jazz” and his later polemics against the popular music

It may seem impertinent to consult Adorno’s writings against jazz in a work called Ragtime and Sonata Forms.  This will, however, only seem to be the case for those who insist on a much firmer separation between ragtime and jazz then I think is historically defensible.  Yes, there are arguments that the shift from ragtime to jazz was a shift from 2/4 to 4/4 time, and there are also arguments that jazz introduced swing in a way that not everyone agrees existed in ragtime. 

Yet if we consider the scope and vitriol of Adorno’s arguments against jazz, whether its foursquare phraseology or, especially, his claim that jazz constituted a “false amalgam” of the march and salon music, we’ll find that the substance of Adorno’s polemic against jazz can be addressed as accurate or dubious by way of the music that preceded it.  Only the most pedantic scholastics would refuse to concede that ragtime is the trunk from which manifold popular American styles have grown.  It does not seem too strong a point to propose for the sake of this work that, whatever Adorno’s arguments against jazz were, can be taken back in time to address ragtime.  An argument for the compatibility of the musical vocabulary of ragtime with sonata forms can then be “brought forward” to encompass possibilities for jazz sonatas (as if no one on earth knew about, for instance, the piano sonatas of Nikolai Kapustin by now).

So, let’s get to Adorno on jazz.  As notorious as this essay is, it’s worth revisiting.

Ragtime and Sonata Forms, Part 5: Adorno's contrast between "light" and "serious" music ...

5.     Adorno’s contrast between light and serious music: organic development vs prefabricated building blocks for prefabricated feeling
Introduction to the Sociology of Music
Theodore W Adorno
Seabury Press
ISBN 0-8164-92662-2
pages 21-22
Conversely, as long as the objective spirit was not yet wholly planned and steered by administrative centers, the higher art would recall the extent to which its own principle involved injustices to the many. Time and again it felt the need of something else, of something that would resist the formative esthetic will and that might serve as the touchstone of that will-and so, whether unintentionally or intentionally, it would absorb elements of the lower music. Some of this shows in the old custom of parody, of setting spiritual texts to profane melodies. Bach did not shrink from borrowing from below even in his instrumental works, as in the Quodlibet of the "Goldberg Variations," and neither Haydn nor the Mozart of The Magic Flute or Beethoven would be conceivable without an interaction of what by then were separated spheres. The last instance of their reconciliation, utterly stylized and teetering as on a narrow mountain by pass, was The Magic Flute-an instant still mourned and longed for in such structures as Strauss and Hofmannsthal's Ariadne auf Naxos. There were times far into the nineteenth century when it was possible to write decent popular music. Its esthetic decay is as one with the irrevocable and irrelative dissociation of the two realms.
page 26
... The higher music's relation to its historical form is dialectical. It catches fire on those forms, melts them down, makes them vanish and return in vanishing. Popular music, on the other hand, uses the types as empty cans into which the material is pressed without interacting with the forms. Unrelated to the forms, the substance withers and at the same time belies the forms, which no longer serve for compositional organization. [emphasis added]

Ragtime and Sonata Forms, Part 6: Adorno on Types of Listener, popular music as mood altering drug

6.     Adorno on Types of Listeners, Popular Music as mood altering drug

We just saw in the last chapter that Adorno made reference to the “emotional listener”, the kind of person who listens to music as if it were a mood altering or mood stabilizing drug.  The emotional listener could be seen as a kind of contrast to the structural listener, someone who could discern musical qualities and also hear the structural processes in large-scale musical works.  The emotional listener was not at the lowest level in Adorno’s taxonomy of listening types but he had few kind words for the type:

Ragtime and Sonata Forms, Part 7: Adorno's legacy on aesthetics and popular music, by way of Roger Scruton

7.     Adorno’s legacy on aesthetics and popular music by way of Roger Scruton

We’re going to repeat a lot of material presented so far but there’s a reason to do so.  Adorno was catastrophically wrong in his verdict on jazz as a musical art but along the way he made arguments against popular song that, as we’ll see, have been preserved in the works of the anti-Marxist conservative philosopher Roger Scruton.  It may be a testament to the influence of Adorno in the philosophy of the aesthetics of music that Scruton took up so many of Adorno’s concepts even as he rejected Adorno’s Marxism and Adorno’s damning appraisal of jazz.

But first let’s get to a passage from Adorno we haven’t already quoted that may help establish what Adorno saw as a problem in the American concept of a “music appreciation” regime. Plus, as a mostly life-long Haydn fan I can’t resist quoting Adorno on how he was sure Haydn’s work was misunderstood and misrepresented in American contexts:

Theodore W. Adorno
Polity Press
(c) 2009 by Polity Press
Introduction by Robert Hullot-Kentor

ISBN-13: 978-0-7456-4285-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-7456-4286-4(pb)

page 190

The allegation that Haydn "standardized" the sonata form, is a fatal blow to the life of musical forms. Standardization is a term applied to industrial mass production and not to works of art, but apparently the commentator is under the spell of the industrial age to such an extent that he does not even notice its inadequacy. Haydn crystallized the sonata form, not as a rigid standard, but as a highly dynamic framework responding to any impulse of the composer in the specific work he is writing. The standardized sonata form would cease to be a living form and would become nothing more than a schoolmaster's set of prescriptions. The real danger is such statements is that they promote the idea that it is the task of a composer to "make things easier", as if it were Haydn's merit that after him it was easier to compose; actually and fortunately, it became more difficult after Haydn to write symphonies. Musical development is not like gadgeteering. 

As long as the idea of making things easier prevails in musical education, no actual musical understanding can be expected to develop. Such understanding consists in the very spontaneity of the listener's response that is jeopardized by the feeling that everything has been settled for him by other people who have standardized the forms.

Ragtime and Sonata Forms, Part 8: Adorno's Philosophy of New Music and norms of musical cognition

8.     Philosophy of New Music and norms of musical cognition

Theodore Adorno
Copyright (c)2006 by the Regents of the University of Minnesota
translated by Robert Hullot-Kentor
ISBN-13: 978-0-8166-3666-2
ISBN-10: 0-8166-3666-4

page 31
... Music knows no natural law, and this fact accounts for the dubiousness of all psychology of music. In seeking to make the music of all ages invariably "understandable," the psychology of music presupposes an unchanging musical subject. This assumption is more closely related to that of the constancy of a natural material than the actual psychological differentiation would allow.  ...
... an ontological law is on no account to be attributed to the tonal material in itself, or to what has been filtered through the system of temperament. However, this is precisely what occurs in arguments that want to conclude, for instance--whether on the basis of the physiology of the ear or the relation of overtones--that the triad is the necessary and universal condition for any possible musical understanding and therefore that all music must be committed to it.  ...

Now what springs to mind for me, reading this passage again, is something Richard Taruskin pointed out in the work of the late Leonard B. Meyer in Cursed Questions.  Being an admirer of Meyer’s work myself it’s not hard to find the passage Taruskin quoted: