Saturday, May 05, 2018

Nikita Koshkin's 24 Preludes and Fugues: Prelude and Fugue in D major

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDKgZV0E66I

In this case we have a film of a live performance that was posted to Youtube.  Since the prelude and fugue comprise an even more organically unified whole than is typical of this cycle it's almost moot to discuss the prelude and fugue separately.  But for sake of readability that's exactly what we'll do.

Prelude (starts 10 seconds in)
This prelude is a lyric pastoral and while it could be described as very broadly binary in form the two themes are in D major and A major, with the second theme ending in such a way as to lead into the fugue as a kind of developmental interruption. 

The movement is scored as "Andante" but if I were to try to describe this prelude it would be as a Koshkinesque take on the Adagietto from Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, weird as that is likely to sound to fans of either Mahler or Koshkin or possibly to fans of both.  That's just the kind of mood this prelude suggests to me.  Others will, naturally, have a different set of impressions.

While all the phrases are in simple two-measure building blocks the first two larger phrases are six measures each before settling into more persistently duple patterns across the phrases.  I identify Theme 1 as spanning the entirety of measures 1-17 with the transition to Theme 2 starting at 18 (1:21) where Koshkin switches from D major to D minor and introduces a more agitated take on the gently pulsing eighth note accompaniment figuration. 

Theme 2, in A major (1:44) starts at 24 and is gentle and quiet. The pulsing accompaniment hasn't changed but the melody is written out in half note values, making it seem more restrained and subdued than even the opening theme.  It's a simple motto of C#, F#, F natural and E, transposed up an octave in the second phrase (measures 26-28) This is very nearly simple a cadential formula presented as a secondary theme, which in many respects it is, but it accomplishes an A major chord that prepares for what's coming next. It could almost be thought of as a kind of slow sonata form in which the development is substituted out for a fugue, to which we now turn.

Fugue (2:26)
The fugue subject is not necessarily related to the initial theme of the prelude.  At first glance you can see that the whole thing is scored in a single voice and ask whether or not this thing is even a fugue.  It is, it's just that the subject and associated material is so staccato it makes sense to score it as a single voice rather than attempted to flood staves with notational indicators of how each of the lines in the fugue need to be delineated.  If this were scored for string quartet, by contrast, highlighting the separate melodic lines would be easier. 

The subject is a four on the floor quasi-blues riff and the subject and respective answers are presented no less than five times.

presentation 1 is in the tonic at 2:26
presentation 2 is in the dominant at 2:33
presentation 3 is in the tonic at 2:39 (or 2:40 depending on sync issues)
presentation 4 is in the dominant at 2:46
presentation 5 is in the tonic at 2:53

Once you recognize the subject you can hear the five presentations of it in the spritely exposition.  With a subject this springy and short we unsurprisingly have just a few middle entries.  The first middle entry shows up in C sharp minor at 3:05 (measure 62). After another episode the second middle entry appears at 3:24 but it's ambiguous. If you were to merely look at the score and the linear patterns you could see the fugue subject appears in F major BUT there's a preliminary appearance of D natural in the bass strings at the end of measure 68.  I would say this recontextualizes the entire middle entry as really being in D minor.

At 3:37 (measure 76 Koshkin introduces a flurry of sixteenth note arpeggios that rise up aggressively six measures into a two chord pedal point at measure 82 (3:52) that prepares for the formal return of the subject in D major, which happens after a dramatic pause at measure 83 (4:00). This gentle piano climax lets the subject wind down still further into a half-cadence which resolves itself at measure 91 (4:27) into a recapitulation of the opening measures of the prelude.  The fugue can be thought of as an eruption of energy intervening as an interlude between what could be thought of as the B section and the reprised A section of a truncated ternary form. The opening two measures are brought back with the melody in the trebles and then in the bass strings before coming to pianissimo close at 5:05.  There's more than a little bit of coughing throughout this live performance, which is too bad.  Despite the coughing the performance itself is solid and conveys the substance of the prelude and fugue. 

links for the weekend

the title is amusing enough to make it the first entry in links for the weekend

Is Kanye West “the Ezra Pound of Rap”?

I was more into T. S. Eliot than Ezra Pound myself but the title is a funny title.  Pound's advocacy for fascism was held against him with cause but the point about how artist and writers may be remarkably accomplished while espousing views we find horrible does not necessarily diminish the work of the artist.

The article itself ... meh .... eh, but the title was funny

Something else from TNR

 
 
By Rachel Vorona Cote
May 1, 2018
 
On April 23, career consultant and author Karen Kelsky posted to her Facebook account a leaked email from Michael R. Molino, an assistant dean in the College of Liberal Arts at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. Addressed to chairs of their respective departments, it contained an extraordinary request: that the university’s alumni association needed their help in recruiting impressive alumni adjuncts who would, essentially, be willing to work for free.
 
According to Molina, adjuncts should regard their participation as a “service” to the university, undertaken not in the interest of financial gain, but out of “passion.” Molina even implies a certain degree of reciprocity, emphasizing the “benefit” of intellectual collegiality and that old chestnut, “networking opportunities.” For that matter, circumscribing the search to SIU alumni gestures to an imposed logic of debt: You, the former student, owe us this labor in return for the opportunities afforded to you here.
 
It is the kind of logic that has long prevailed over the American university system, and it has only grown more antiquated as the scholastic job opportunities for doctoral students have dwindled to nearly nothing. Particularly in the humanities, the overwhelming majority of students earning PhDs aspire to a tenure track professorship, and their training prepares them for precisely this. But it’s a near-futile enterprise: the job market is glutted with both newly minted doctors of philosophy and those who doggedly try their luck year after year—and they’re all vying for the same meager offering of positions. This is one of the reasons that graduate student workers at Columbia University were on the picket line this week.
 
Volunteer adjuncts—it is a term so absurdly reprehensible it sounds like the stuff of parody. Despite what graduate students may gain over the course of their studies, they owe nothing whatsoever to their university. After all, there’s no reciprocity to be found when health insurance is still, for many in academia, considered a plush amenity. As recently as the winter of 2017, when the literary historian Kevin Birmingham delivered his talk “The Great Shame of Our Profession,” 25 percent of adjunct instructors reported relying on food stamps or Medicaid. Thirty-one percent lived below the poverty line, or dwelled at its threshold. Birmingham even mentions one instructor who sold plasma twice a week in order to afford daycare for her daughter.
...
Which for some reason reminded me of this review of Scot Timberg's book Culture Crash.

 
...
 
“If we’re not careful, culture work will become a luxury, like a vacation home,” Timberg writes. It’s a good line, and one that anyone who values a diverse cultural ecology would want to affirm. What he doesn’t want to admit is that, absent direct patronage, professional culture workers have often depended on outside sources of income. For some it was the second job (in the post-war period, that job was primarily teaching, a job indirectly subsidized by the government in the form of the G.I. Bill fostering a new population of students). For others, it was something unrelated (meet pediatrician William Carlos Williams). For many (more than we have usually acknowledged and certainly more than today’s BFA and MFA students are aware) it was a trust fund, family member, or a spouse of means. That cushion made it possible for a talented person work on a novel or a painting until the work could earn respect, if not a proportionate wage for the work the artist put into it. Maybe the market would respond, and maybe it wouldn’t, but at least the creative person had a chance to find out.
 
That’s one of the reasons that pop culture exhortations to follow one’s bliss are so maddening. They imply a kind of privilege at the very heart of the class structures Americans are eager to say don’t exist. The fraying of the middle class is not just something that has happened to creatives. It’s just that Timberg never thought that what had happened to unionized manufacturing workers could happen to the educated type of knowledge workers who worked at the LA Times.

from Consortium News ... a commentary on the DNC legal action and what it could have to do with the potential to stifle the press

 
 
...
The most unprincipled part of the lawsuit has to do with its targeting of Assange and WikiLeaks. That aspect of the suit shows that the DNC is being run by people whose attitude toward a free press—ironically enough—has marked similarities to Donald Trump’s.
 
Early in his presidency, Trump proclaimed that news media are “the enemy of the American people.” Of course, he didn’t mean all media, just the outlets providing information and analysis he doesn’t like.
 
What Perez and the DNC crew are now promoting via the lawsuit is also harmful, though more camouflaged. The lawsuit’s key arguments against WikiLeaks are contrary to the First Amendment, and they could be made against major U.S. newspapers. Unauthorized disclosures are common, with news outlets routinely reporting on information obtained from leaks, hacks and various forms of theft.
 
Just as the government’s criminal prosecutions for leaks are extremely selective, the DNC position is that a media outlet that’s despised by a powerful party could be sued for potentially huge sums.
 
But—unless it’s functionally shredded—the First Amendment doesn’t only protect media outlets that powerful interests believe are behaving acceptably. That’s why the Nixon administration was unable to prevent The New York Times and Washington Post from publishing the Pentagon Papers in 1971.
 
Now, the DNC lawsuit’s perverse “logic” for suing WikiLeaks could just as easily be applied by any deep-pocketed group that wants to strike back at a publisher for revealing “stolen” information that harmed the aggrieved party.
 

Over on the Slate-y side of things a reminiscence about the time when music critics could still write reviews that could effectively destroy the career of a musician.

https://slate.com/culture/2018/05/when-a-negative-pitchfork-review-could-end-a-career.html
...
Officially, the review didn’t end Black Kids’ career. But it certainly knocked it far, far sideways: The LP sold only 5,000 copies in the first week of its release, and within a couple of years, the band split with Columbia. (Last year, nearly a decade later, Black Kids finally put out their second album, titled Rookie, as if to suggest that the first album had never happened.) Black Kids’ arc was the most compact, perfect example of Pitchfork’s reach at its most deleterious.
 
At some amorphous point within a few years of Black Kids’ rise and fall, the idea of the critic as assassin dissolved completely. First, the internet democratized access to music. We didn’t really need gatekeepers anymore; for a whole generation, reading about what something sounded like, when you could just listen to it for free yourself, felt increasingly like an insane thing to do. Second, the internet atomized music fandom. The monoculture weakened; a million little tribes sprung up in its place. How could any one person claim a universal authority over all of that?

A few months ago, I decided that I wanted to look back at those last moments when critics could kill. I would do it through Pitchfork, for better or worse the defining critical portal of the past 15 years. I would talk to Black Kids and to Travis Morrison and to the other targets of Pitchfork’s most infamous reviews, asking them: How did it feel? What did those reviews do to you?

I started with Black Kids—and, through a publicist, was quickly, politely rebuffed. The same thing happened with the Flaming Lips, whose experimental 1997 album, Zaireeka (released as a four-CD set meant to be played simultaneously), landed one of the site’s earliest double zeros. (The review is no longer online, and the site later published a sort of mea culpa, but it can still be read via the Wayback Machine.) And with Liz Phair, whose 2003 self-titled album (a joyously blasphemous pop effort from the indie god) got blanked too.

...
on the subject of infinite war ... er, Infinity War, someone at The Guardian remarks that it's not film, it's television.  The implication that Marvel's films are now television as distinct from "real" film seems more popular with the sorts of film critics who seem to resent that the Marvel cinematic juggernaut is an enterprise that may exact and expect of an audience that it follow it as closely as film critics of a different epoch would comb through every shot of a film by someone like Kubrick or Godard because, you know, you just do that for real art.

 
 
We live in complicated times. For most of its life, television would frantically chase cinema’s tail. Film was always where the money was. It was where the biggest stars were, and all the strongest storytelling. Television was just a poor relation, a dumb box that sat in the corner of the room squawking at idiots.
 
But then things changed. Slowly, television started making bolder decisions. It started aping cinema’s production values. First-class writers came to see the benefit of longer-form narrative. Movie stars began to appear on television shows, and those shows quickly became career-defining highlights.
 
And, as of last week, cinema has started to chase television’s tail. Because Avengers: Infinity War is almost definitely going to become the biggest movie of all time. And what is Avengers: Infinity War if not a really expensive episode of television?
 
Stick with me. Viewed in a vacuum, Infinity War is meaningless. As a standalone film, it’s a mess. Characters pop up for one scene and then vanish again completely. Nobody has any meaningful screen time. The antagonist swans about with an entirely unearned sense of motivation. And there’s no emotional weight to the ending. It’s just a lot of stuff happening to people we’ve barely met. We may as well be watching it happen to extras.
 
But, with 10 years of context behind it, Infinity War is deeply impressive. We’ve watched these characters grow and change and their relationships evolve in several ways. Infinity War contains a moment – it’s far too brief to be called a scene – between two characters who haven’t seen each other for years. We know their history and their motivations, their thwarted desires and their realisation that they’ll probably never get what they both want. And they communicate all this with a look and maybe two lines of dialogue. The film can’t linger any longer than that, because there’s a superhuman testicle-chinned alien trying to murder them all, but it nevertheless counts as one of the most touching moments in the entire movie.
 
The reason this moment feels earned at all is because we’ve spent enough time with the characters to grasp the complexity of their shorthand. Until now, this sort of thing has only happened on television. Take something like Breaking Bad. In one of the final episodes, Walter White calls his wife a “stupid bitch”. On its own it’s a moment of simple cruelty, but the knowledge of everything that’s gone before adds layer upon layer of meaning.
 
 
This happens again and again throughout Infinity War, because it’s just an episode of television. Things that happened in previous episodes pay off here, and things that are set up here will pay off in upcoming episodes. There’s a reason why the Russo brothers were chosen to direct Infinity War, and that’s because they have enough television experience to satisfactorily keep all the balls in the air. If these films were self-contained, standalone affairs, you might want someone with more flair for dialogue or inventive visuals. But the Russo brothers are perfect for this job, because this job is simply about moving the story along. It’s a Gold Blend advert with a talking racoon in it.
...
I thought I spotted an interview with Kirsten Dunst about how this shift took place, how actors who had previously been known to do the big silver screen shifted over to television.  There were trade-offs in terms of prestige but the trade-off was worth it if you landed a show you liked working on because you'd get more reliable work and have more stable income.  Or at least I thought I saw something like that at The Guardian a few years ago.  As technology and distribution paradigms change the prestige dynamics change, too.  Film criticism may, at the level of the most officially prestigious journalistic platforms, have not only not caught up to this but may be populated by people who resent the shifting dynamics at play or can't help but be bemused about them. 

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/richard-brody/avengers-infinity-war-reviewed-the-latest-marvel-movie-is-a-two-and-a-half-hour-ad-for-all-the-previous-marvel-movies

... although there’s nothing small scale about “Avengers: Infinity War,” it only resembles a movie. It comes off not even as a single drama, as a self-contained and internally structured narrative, but, rather, as a big-screen, two-and-a-half-hour variant on a single episode in a television series. “Avengers: Infinity War” would make little sense in the absence of its pack of predecessors. Its characters aren’t introduced; they just show up, and their behavior is entirely defined by the template set for them in other movies. Not only does “Avengers: Infinity War” presume that viewers have seen all the preceding films in the Marvel series but, worse, it presumes that they’ve thought about them afterward.
...

Leave it to Brody to miss (willfully or otherwise) that Thanos pretty clearly sees himself as the hero.
A more ardent and informative read on Thanos as an antagonist with an ostentatiously Malthusian bent of mind got written over here at The Stranger by Charles Mudede.

https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2018/04/27/26108191/a-fucking-liberal-is-the-villain-of-avengers-infinity-war

Mudede has more presence of mind to imply throughout his ardent, nigh unto ranting, piece that a character like Thanos could use the power of the Infinity Gauntlet to make more free food for everyone in the universe or embrace some positive iteration of Malthusian ideology rather than the predictable Hollywood negative Malthusian paradigm.  If you have the power to manipulate reality, time, space, power, mind and soul then you could create food for everyone n the universe ... unless there were some proviso that the stones only allow you to manipulate and change things in one universe and not the multiverse.  See ... that might actually be where Marvel cold eventually go with that.  Since the six infinity stones are tied to the Big Bang from which our universe is presumed to have emerged that's a narrative possibility but it's also one such possibility that a Mudede could consider that a Brody, most probably, could not.

Audiences have kept up with this dynamic and so they can bring the attentional commitment to Infinity War that the creators of Infinity War expect of them. Does that mean the movie is a great movie?  No, not really, although I thought it was okay.  I think it does get the job done if you've seen the other installments.  Thanos wanting to balance the universe makes more sense than having the hots for the female personification of Death.  It makes Thanos Ra's al Ghul for the universe, to be sure, but Ra's al Ghul works as a villain.  Brolin committed to the part.  That's as much as can be asked, really.  But this is not a post about Marvel films, we're just taking a links for the weekend stroll here and it's interesting that a writer could see that there's a disconnect between what audiences can commit to and what critics may resent having to commit to.  It's not to say that audience is "right" and critics are "wrong" (even if critics are certain that's the case in some circles) it's that any idiom of art works on a few ground rules which may or may not be accepted.  I, by and large, cannot take as given the ground rules for theater because I know it's theater.  I can't not think of it as theater.  I can't suspend disbelief for theater the way I can for almost any other kind of art.  It's not that theater is bad, I can read the Bard when I want to, I just don't watch plays the way fans of plays do.  To invoke Gadamer, I guess, I don't give myself over to the process of "play" for plays like I can and do (easily) for film.

But people can turn from heroes to villains inside of a lifetime and perhaps that's the best way to transition into rescinding honorary doctorates and expelling guys from clubs of prestige.

 
 
 
UPDATE 05-06-2018

can't help throwing in this one from LA Review of Books about Infinity War

https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/post-shawarma-avengers-infinity-war









over at NPR a piece on how high-paying trade jobs sit untaken while high school grads line up for college

https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2018/04/25/605092520/high-paying-trade-jobs-sit-empty-while-high-school-grads-line-up-for-university
...
In a new report, the Washington State Auditor found that good jobs in the skilled trades are going begging because students are being almost universally steered to bachelor's degrees.

Among other things, the Washington auditor recommended that career guidance — including choices that require less than four years in college — start as early as the seventh grade.

"There is an emphasis on the four-year university track" in high schools, said Chris Cortines, who co-authored the report. Yet, nationwide, three out of 10 high school grads who go to four-year public universities haven't earned degrees within six years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse. At four-year private colleges, that number is more than 1 in 5.

"Being more aware of other types of options may be exactly what they need," Cortines said. In spite of a perception "that college is the sole path for everybody," he said, "when you look at the types of wages that apprenticeships and other career areas pay and the fact that you do not pay four years of tuition and you're paid while you learn, these other paths really need some additional consideration."
And it's not just in Washington state.

Seventy-percent of construction companies nationwide are having trouble finding qualified workers, according to the Associated General Contractors of America; in Washington, the proportion is 80 percent.

There are already more trade jobs like carpentry, electrical, plumbing, sheet-metal work and pipe-fitting than Washingtonians to fill them, the state auditor reports. Many pay more than the state's average annual wage of $54,000.

Construction, along with health care and personal care, will account for one-third of all new jobs through 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There will also be a need for new plumbers and new electricians. And, as politicians debate a massive overhaul of the nation's roads, bridges and airports, the U.S. Department of Education reports that there will be 68 percent more job openings in infrastructure-related fields in the next five years than there are people training to fill them.

"The economy is definitely pushing this issue to the forefront," said Amy Morrison Goings, president of the Lake Washington Institute of Technology, which educates students in these fields. "There isn't a day that goes by that a business doesn't contact the college and ask the faculty who's ready to go to work."

In all, some 30 million jobs in the United States that pay an average of $55,000 per year don't require bachelor's degrees, according to the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce.
Yet the march to bachelor's degrees continues. And while people who get them are more likely to be employed and make more money than those who don't, that premium appears to be softening; their median earnings were lower in 2015, when adjusted for inflation, than in 2010.

"There's that perception of the bachelor's degree being the American dream, the best bang for your buck," said Kate Blosveren Kreamer, deputy executive director of Advance CTE, an association of state officials who work in career and technical education. "The challenge is that in many cases it's become the fallback. People are going to college without a plan, without a career in mind, because the mindset in high school is just, 'Go to college.' "
...

Kids are lining up to get bachelor's degrees even as the price of secondary education goes up and the likelihood of work for the associated education dwindles. Why?

Well, my sourpuss theory for a weekend is to say that there's a myth that goes along with promotion of higher education, a myth that if you go and get the education the income will come to you if you deserve it.  Leftists would seem increasingy to call this myth the promise of neoliberalism.  Maybe people with a self-identified libertarian bent might call this John Gal, or how people could say they are lie John Galt.  Mix in a sea of popular culture informed by Joseph Campbell's The Hero's Journey with what others call morally therapeutic deism and the recipe seems to be for being that one who "changes everything".  But we can't all be that, obviously.  Still less can we imagine against the flow of human history that Lord Acton was entirely wrong to warn that great men are rarely   ever good men.  Yes, power tends to corrupt and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely but plenty of great men (and a few great women, too, perhaps) imagine that they were great enough to withstand the slings and arrows of a little power. 

In other words, Americans have been trained at every level of popular culture to imagine and to hope that they could be the exeption, whatever the rule may be.  To borrow a duality proposed over at ribbon farm, lots of people want to be bards when the income is in being a chimneysweep. 

targeted post ... Jeff, this one's for you two books that might be of interest

Blog posts with specific potential readers in mind are not what usually happens here but ... Jeff is one of the people who has subscribed to the blog.  So ...

Jeff, if you're reading the blog at all regularly ... two books of possible interest if you haven't read them already.  Both of these come by way of the blogging of Cal, who blogs over here

http://lettherebejustice.blogspot.com/


So, the first book ...
Petr Chelcicky's The Net of Faith, book 1

https://archive.org/details/TheNetOfFaith


the second ...
John Neville Figgis Churches in the Modern State

https://archive.org/details/cu31924020347351


These are, as with so many books these days, on my to-get-to reading list.  Blogging about contrapuntal music for classical guitar has been one of my projects of late. 

Still winding my way through Adorno's Aesthetic Theory and Philosophy of New Music. Also gotta more officially jump in to Campbell, even though I'm going to probably spend a lot of time not agreeing with Campbell but he's important for a couple of projects I've been incubating.


Thursday, May 03, 2018

Mark Delpriora performing his solo guitar transcription of the double fugue that closes Haydn's oratorio The Creation

Years ago Matanya Ophee published this Mark Delpriora guitar transcription, inspired by the claim made by Fernando Sor that he, at the time he wrote his treatise on the guitar, currently played the double fugue that ended Haydn's oratorio The Creation.  Proposing quite simply that Sor would never make such a claim if the double fugue could not, in fact, ever be adapted to the guitar, Delpriora set out to establish whether it could be done by exploring how it could be done.

The result, which you can now hear over here, sounds fantastic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vm8o4ySIjC0

Of course I love the music of Haydn so someone who doesn't already admire Haydn's music might not find this transcription interesting.  We'll just disagree there. 

another, relatively short and general review of Nikita Koshkin's 24 preludes and fugues, this time in English, courtesy of the Seattle Classic Guitar Society newsletter

you'll find the review on page 6 in this month's newsletter for the Seattle Classic Guitar Society

http://www.seattleguitar.org/soundings593.pdf

former Mars Hill Portland aka Redeemer Church still in some kind of flux, 404 error for leadership page

We've briefly discussed how Redeemer (formerly Mars Hill Church Portland) seems to be in a transitional state of some kind this year.  There's not a ton of new information. Here's a sampler of what we've managed to chronicle from earlier this year.

https://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2018/03/redeemer-church-in-portland-has-filed.html

As of today ... you'll get a 404 error if you try to pull up the "leadership" page.
http://redeemerpdx.com/about/leadership/


exactly what's going on with what used to be Mars Hill Portland and precisely why there's no trace of Tim Smith anywhere in the more recent documents as yet has no explanation and may never get one.

However ...

http://egov.sos.state.or.us/br/pkg_web_name_srch_inq.show_detl?p_be_rsn=1729861&p_srce=BR_INQ&p_print=FALSE

REINSTATEMENT AMENDED 03-14-2018



UPDATE
05-09-2018

Thanks to the WayBack Machine there is a way to see what the leadership page used to look like and may, or may not, at some point look like again.
https://web.archive.org/web/20171002191650/http://redeemerpdx.com/about/leadership/

...
Elders, who are the Pastors of our church, are responsible for the general spiritual and operational oversight of the local assembly. They provide pastoral care of the flock as well as teaching and equipping of the saints for ministry.
 
The Elder board of our church currently consists of: Pastor Eric Appleby, Pastor Jon Crist, Pastor Kevin Kelly, Pastor Ryan Mount, Pastor Dan Ortega, Pastor Tim Smith and Pastor Jim Swanson. Two of the Elders of Redeemer Church are also paid staff. They are: Tim Smith, in the role of Lead Teaching Pastor and Kevin Kelly, in the role of Executive Pastor.
 
God has called all of these men to lead by example and to serve with love, humility and grace, placing care and service to the flock over their own interests. Should you wish to speak to any of our Elders, please email redeemer@redeemerpdx.com indicating whom you wish to speak with and they will get back to you promptly.
...


As yet there's no updates

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Nikita Koshkin's 24 Preludes and Fugues: Prelude and Fugue in E minor

We're now officially back to a prelude and fugue from the cycle for which there is an online video performance, in this case by Asya Selyutina (as before).  So you can follow along if you have the score as we look through this entry in Koshkin's cycle.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v42Bc8m8Kw4

E major and E minor are arguably the most guitaristic keys in which a guitarist or non-guitarist can possibly compose.  It's a key that is both forgiving and unforgiving.  It's forgiving in the sense that there are a lot of things you can write and play that are idiomatic and rest easily on the instrument but it's an unforgiving key in the sense that whatever you bring to this key stands up against the entire history of the instrument in a way that a prelude and fugue in F sharp major never has to because very, very few guitarists are writing preludes and fugues in F sharp major.

I think Koshkin acquits himself well with this prelude and fugue and it's suitably emblematic to his approach to composing generally and for this cycle. Despite the key signature being E minor this is a prelude and fugue in drop D tuning

Prelude (start of video)

This is a languid and dark prelude. It opens with a short half measure gesture in common time, a widely spaced low range tonic triad with a melody rising up by arpeggiated eighth notes to an E minor ninth chord with an omitted fifth that is tacitly taken as having a fermata.  This gesture is the introductory gesture and it eventually gets its own thematic expansion later in the prelude but the dominating idea is a slow and descending melodic line in the bass strings that is accompanied by a steady stream of sixteenth note figuration on the treble strings.  Measures 2 and 3 are the bass melody gesture that establishes what we can think of as the first identifiably thematic/melodic material.  This is followed by the sequential development of an idea in the bass strings that can be read as quarter note, dotted quarter note, eighth note and quarter note with different intervallic values and movements depending on context, which prevails from measures 6-9 (and 11-14).

A good rule of thumb I'd suggest for this prelude is that while you want to pay attention to the sixteenths as accompaniment throughout never think of them as the melodic content of this prelude.  For that focus attention on all the notes that are longer than sixteenth note values. 

The opening motto returns at measure 9 and gets a brief sequential expansion in measure 1
0. This leads to a new episode of the quarter, dotted quarter, eighth and quarter gesture with more sequential development. This passage ranges from measure 11 to the first half of measure 14. 

In the second half of measure 14 through measure 15 we get another sequential presentation of the opening motto. This time the harmonies are not a static presentation of the tonic.  An E minor triad sifts its way toward a first inversion A major chord and then a G major seventh chord with the F sharp at the bottom that, arguably, is an E minor ninth chord with an omitted tonic that doesn't formally appear until measure 16 with the return of the descending melodic gesture we've already identified as Theme 1 (as distinct from motto) material.  If we think of the motto and the bass strings melody as being two distinct sections this prelude can be thought of as having a strophic form (a, a', a'', etc.) in which each episode is announced and offset by a presentation and/or sequential development of the motto followed by a bass strings melodic episode with sixteenth note figuration providing accompaniment in the treble strings.

Eventually the languid bass strings melody becomes less and less dominant as the prelude moves along and the motto takes on stronger and stronger thematic significance until it is finally the dominant thematic material. 

This prelude, short though it is, is saturated with Phrygian and locrian elements and when it is minor it tends to be natural minor rather than a harmonic or melodic minor prelude.  Even the penultimate harmony of this prelude, an E flat ninth chord without a fifth) "could" be construed as a leading tone that proceeds to the tonic of E minor but the melodic activity DESCENDS to E rather than rises to E natural as would be expected in a more parochial Western ideal of voice-leading.

The mood of the prelude is somber, even desolate, like something from a late period Shostakovich string quartet, if not quite as insistently despairing or dissonant. 

Fugue (starts at 2:24)

As with the prelude, so with the fugue, we have a subject that is best described as E natural minor with a D natural and no leading tone.  This subject is a short and punchy three-measure subject that, personally, I felt could have been a four-measure subject.  It's not, and it works, but it feels like it could have been slightly longer. 

Now what's interesting about this subject and exposition is that Koshkin could have introduced an answer at the dominant but instead he introduces an answer at the subdominant. Traditionally in Western contrapuntal practice the reason you answer at the subdominant is because your subject starts on the dominant scale degree and providing even a tonal answer at the dominant would destabilize your key regions too quickly (unless you're Anton Reicha and don't care about that in his 36 Fugues).  In this case an answer at the dominant (i.e. having an A natural or even an A sharp that rises up to B before falling a fourth, as would be prescribed in the linear movement of the subject) drops the subject down to the subtonic degree of the minor mode.  In other words, at a practical level, the dominant answer doesn't introduce enough pitches from the tonic chord to stabilize the key regions of the answers enough whereas a transposed modal answer at the subdominant DOES accomplish this, which is why Koshkin opted to answer at the subdominant (see measures 36-38). After a short transition the third voice enters at measure 40, giving us a clear-cut descending order of voices entering as soprano, alto and tenor/bass in this exposition.

The subject is agitated and gloomy, in the natural minor mode but with a brief chromatic turn into parallel major that presages some mutations that will appear later in the fugue. There are no countersubjects.

The first middle entry appears very early in this fugue (2:46) in D minor (measure 44). The next middle entry is in A minor at measure 45. Now at measure 53 we're firmly back in E minor with an episode full of stretto where the opening kernel of the subject is presented in successive stretto a beat apart.  This builds up steadily through to measure 60 where we have a preliminary climax or false recapitulation in which the subject appears in E minor but modified so as to fit within the confines of the scordatura of the instrument. Koshkin signals that this is not, in fact, the climax of the fugue at about 3:25 (measure 63) by abruptly dropping down to piano and into the key of B flat, a tritone away from the tonic, as tonally far removed from "home" as we can possibly be in any kind of tonal traditions. 

From 66 onward Koshkin feints at statements of the subject in F major but these sequential gestures never complete the subject and keep shifting downwards, so to speak, until we get to the next middle entry in D major (measure 71-73).  At this point we can hear how the subject lends itself to modal mutation into parallel major by way of transposition and recontextualized harmony. As August Halm put it, a fugue subject needs to sound good subjected to mutation into parallel minor or major, it needs a melodic profile that can be subjected to any and every kind of modal mutation while still in some way being recognizable, and for all that sound pleasing, too.  Koshkin hear demonstrates that his fugue subject sounds very pleasing in minor and major forms.

And, no surprise, he completes his middle entry in D major by going straight into an episode where he modally mutates back into D minor to re-establish the minor-key mood of the fugue overall at the end of measure 74. He sequentially extends the last measure of his subject toward a recapitulation of the subject in the tonic key.  He hammers away at upper pedal tones on the topmost open strings but when the subject returns in full force it's presented in tenths and chromatically altered.  The effect, which you can hear starting at 4:10, is loud and explosive. This is a quintessentially explosive Koshkin climax and it sounds boisterous and fun.

Now at this point, arguably, this spectacular, boisterous climax is great for a sonata but it is not necessarily a really polyphonic climax.  There are two ways of responding to this observation.  One is to say, yes, it's not exactly polyphonic at this point and perhaps a guitarist composer could or "should" choose to compose polyphony where the identifiable independence of the contrapuntal strands should be more perceivable and present.  There's room for that conviction as ideas about counterpoint for guitar go.  But there's a second response, which is to observe how very few cycles of fugues we have. Even in Bach's works, when he builds toward a climactic passage, he cuts loose and thickens his textures and expands his materials.  He even modifies subjects and countersubjects as the interests of this or that musical work provide.  I enjoy this piece so I am giving it a pass even if the contrapuntist in me could imagine ways in which fully invertible counterpoint might be provided for a subject like this.  Not everybody has to think or feel the same way about this stuff. 

By 4:19 (measure 91) we hit what could be the half cadence preparation (dominant pedal tone of D natural) for a jump into relative major.  However, because of the persistence of the D natural as a MODAL minor subject we know that this pedal point on the subtonic is really setting up a winding down push for a cadence in E.  In modal contexts there is no leading tone but the subtonic harmony frequently still plays a dominant or quasi-dominant role that leads back to the tonic rather than necessarily always setting up a relative major.  This would be easier to site in any number of songs by, say, David Bowie than in Baroque counterpoint but seeing as we're in the 21st rather than the 18th or 19th century it's worth noting that in modal contrapuntal thinking we don't have a "leading tone" so the "rules" (whatever those may be) for tonal resolutions in modal ways of thinking aren't the same as textbook approaches to polyphony.

The fugue winds down steadily and relentless to measure 99 (4:39ish), where we hear the initial motto of the subject in augmentation and presented in a canon of call and response between bass strings and trebles. The last time the trebles take up the motto they sequence it down to another point of repose (4:53, first half of measure 105) before winding up for the final phrase in which the motto of the fugue resolves into a bright E major chord that bursts out of the treble strings and ends the fugue.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Nikita Koshkin's 24 Preludes and Fugues: Prelude and Fugue in G major

Now for this one there is not yet any video of a performance of either the prelude or the fugue so we have to discuss this one relying on the score alone.  The specified tempo is adagio (quarter equals 64 bpm).  This pair of pieces calls for drop D tuning and it doesn't take long to discover why. 

Prelude

The prelude is a pastoral in 3/4.  I will propose that what we have here can be thought of as being a ternary form with 3/4 sections at measures 1-16 and 25-39 in the outer sections with a middle section of measures 17-24 that is scored in 3/4 but is tacitly in 2/4 and that should be interpreted as being in 2/4.

The opening gesture is a quartet of sixteenth notes with a jumping pattern between B naturals.  The first is open string, the second and third are in the octave above, and the fourth is open string again.  This opening quarter note is on the tonic and the subsequent half note chord is a minor seventh supertoinc with an omitted fifth.  If we can see past the sixteenth note flourishes that nevertheless define this prelude we can see and hear that this prelude is a kind of chorale.  Take the downbeat of each measure and the first note in the upper voice is paired in a tenth relationship with the bass line throughout the opening phrase.  Despite some dissonant notes throughout the phrase of the sort we can expect from Koshkin, and a modal mutation into parallel minor bubbling up throughout even this opening phrase, this overarching chorale in tenths is easy to perceive in the score and even easier to perceive when you play through this. 

The second phrase starts on the relative minor and gently arcs through E minor seventh, D major, G minor seventh, a trio of notes in descending order of C, D and A, then G minor in root position followed by C minor and B flat  (which can be construed as G minor in second inversion but because of the G natural that appears in the treble, but here in measure 7 it could as easily have been an F rather than  a G) before preparing a rolled chord half cadence at measure 8.  We have an initial phrase and a continuation phrase for this pastoral chorale.  The tenths remain the guiding musical element in this second phrase as it will throughout.  In this second phrase the sixteenth notes shift from low notes rising to higher notes and falling to higher notes dropping to lower notes before returning to the higher origin point in the phrase.  I.e. the motion is inverted and the direction of the melodic movement gets flipped for phrase two.  It will stay "flipped" until we get to measure 17.

By the third phrase we get a quasi-jazz presentation of something that shows up a lot in Baroque music, a chain of circle progressions. G minor rises to C minor, then falls to F minor seventh which rises to a second inversion G minor triad which underscores that it "could" have been a B flat major triad but this prelude is in G major, not B flat major.  Then we get E flat dominant seventh leading to an A NATURAL minor seventh chord with an omitted fifth.  As chains of circle progressions go this is classic stuff, some who abjure tonal music would see it's a Baroque cliché.  Well, sure, it "can" be but I like the steady use of minor seventh chords in this chain of circle progressions and relative minor feints.  Koshkin gets this whole sequence of phrases to work elegantly and beautifully.  He wraps up this sequence in measure twelve by preparing a G dominant seventh chord that doesn't continue the chain of circle progressions into C major or C minor but instead modally mutates into a G minor signaling the end of this phrase. 

From measure 13 on he transforms the sixteenth note flourish into a developmental phrase where the previous chains of circle progressions are substituted for sixth root shifts while the melodic activity gets more animated.  Now at a practical level I would recommend there are two different ways to approach this passage.  The first way is to assume the half notes in the bass line are impossible to play as written, in which case you treat each half note in each phrase from measures 13-15 as functionally indicating a quarter note rather than a half note and cheating by leaning on the decay of the guitar's sound.  If you take this approach the passage is really quite easy to play, it just doesn't convey the WRITTEN note values in the bass line. 

But if you want to observe the half notes as written this is where the scordatura comes in. Starting at measure 13 play a full barre at the tenth fret and place your fourth and third fingers (or whichever you'll find easier for this) on the thirteenth frets of the fourth and fifth strings.  Execute the four sixteenth notes at the start of measure 13 and then shift the fingers you use on strings four and five down to the A natural while maintaining the barre. Thanks to the full barre you're already positioned to play the D natural. The G natural can be taken by the fourth finger. Personally I would recommend you take the sixteenth notes in mm 13-15 staccato for clearer articulation of that idea, which lets you use barre (full or partial) to maintain the continuity of the bass line. 

Now when we get to measure fourteen I recommend a barre at the seventh fret so that the D and A can be taken on strings three and four while the second finger of the left hand takes the B flat on the sixth string.  With that modification in mind you can replicate the left hand formation from before, in which the quarter note on beat 2 (A in m 13 and G in m 14) is taken by the third finger of the left hand while the minor seventh above (i.e. the sixteenth notes in the middle of the beat) are taken by the fourth finger of the left hand.  The C flat (i.e. B natural) is already part of the barre you've formed and the B flat can be taken by the fourth finger releasing the F.  As long as you keep in mind the scordatura allows for it, the barre at each measure makes this passage much easier to play than the sheer impossibility you get if this were in standard tuning. 

I'm not going to say this passage is EASY but an experienced and knowledgeable guitarist will know how to take up this passage and observe that it is playable with the drop D tuning in mind.  At the risk of pointing out the obvious, the Adagio tempo for this one is your friend!  For measures 13 through 16 the bass line, not the treble strings, is where the real melodic activity is.  Play it that way.  At the risk of just saying I've played guitar for twenty-five years and know a few things about contrapuntal literature for guitar, if you have to take a shortcut in this passage go staccato on the sixteenth notes and use barre formations that let you emphasize the melodic activity of the bass line here.

Now, about measure fifteen, the left hand movement works out best if you replicate what I described for measure 14. If you take this overall approach then you're using barre chords and your second finger planted on the sixth string to sequence down the fingerboard in a way that makes the whole passage a stretching exercise but one that makes the passage eminently playable, even if you might want to use staccato on those sixteenth notes for articulation.  If you try to play them at full value and forget that the bass line is the primary melody this passage will be obscured.  If you want to really accent the melodic movement in the bass line from measures 14 to 15 you can use finger 2 of the left hand and portamento down to the A flat from the C natural at the end of the measure.  It's not written in the score, obviously, but those of us familiar with Koshkin's work know that there's not just Shostakovich and Stravinsky influencing his music, he's also got some familiarity with Led Zeppelin and popular styles.  To play Koshkin's music effectively it helps to be aware of not just classical guitar techniques but a few rock guitar techniques, too.  So ...

This challenging but still idiomatic passage culminates in a cadential turn at measure 16 that could be hard to play if you don't have a very generous handspan with flexible fingers.  I find it's easy to play by anchoring "1" on the C sharp and stretching my "2" finger up to the B flat on the fifth string and continuing the phrase throughout the measure but I can play elevenths with one hand for both my hands, which not many people can do.  Given how rapid the decay of tone on the guitar is, however, if a guitarist wanted to cheat a bit you can release the C sharp on string 2 at the second half of beat 2 and reposition your left hand to complete the necessary melodic turn in the bass at measure 16.  That's probably the best practical advice for this passage.

That passage is a half cadence preparation for an episode that starts at measure 17 in D minor and goes through measure 24. Koshkin reintroduces the original form of the "jump base" melodic figure in sixteenth notes in a quasi-stretto episode.  

A word about the sixteenth note runs in measures 17 through 24: treat the LOWER notes as if they are really indicating a dotted eighth note and a sixteenth note figuration.  Play the UPPER notes staccato to highlight this.  At measure 19 it should be obvious C is taken on string six so that the E flats can be taken on the third and first strings.  This lets you shift effortlessly from the lower E flat on the third string to the F above while taking the D and B natural on the open strings around it.  Baby simple there as long as you understand how the scordatura has set up this passage. 

I would advise playing measures 17 through 24 as if they were in 2/4 not 3/4.  It highlights how this entire passage is a middle episode in the prelude and the implied dotted eighth and sixteenth note pattern in the middle voice unites with the bass to form that melodic/harmonic tenths pattern that is the hallmark of this prelude.  In all of the initial 3/4 there's been something about this prelude that is written in 3 but that "wants" to be in 2 and I propose mm 17-24 is where the duple pattern lurking within this prelude gets to briefly emerge.  This is something I recommend, additionally, because when we get to the fugue and its subject it's going to turn out this is the four-on-the-floor duple pattern that permeates the fugue.  The prelude is supposed to be a prelude, after all, and interpreting the elements of the prelude which best foreshadow the fugue can be kept in mind when interpreting a prelude that is not self-contained but anticipates a fugue.

Which is why, by the way, I recommend that you play the last beat of measure 20 by taking that A natural on the fourth string and playing the D that "could" be played open on the fourth at the fifth string.  This lets you sustain the implied dotted eighth and sixteenth pattern for the A natural on the fourth string and maintain the tenth between the A and the C above it.  You can then easily shift to measure 21 with little fuss.  Again, take all of measures 17 through 24 as if they're really in 2/4, the 3/4 meter withstanding, and this passage can really sing. Lean into the recommended ritardando in measure 24.  I would even go so far as to advise a fermata on the last beat of 24.  This is the half cadence that prepares for the recapitulation of the initial pastoral waltz.

Measure 25.  If you needed any evidence that the real melodic content is in the tenths the chromatic embellishments in the bass line really spell this out for us here.  Using 18th century music as a precedent, you don't embellish the second time around what hasn't been thematic/melodic material, as a rather general rule.  I would recommend treating measure 27 and the first half of measure 28 as a measure of 4/4 and the half note in the rest of measure 27 as having a fermata.  Although we've returned to 3/4 let’s say that the march that is hidden in this prelude still wants to get out and this can be thought of as a "last hurrah" push from duple meter in this prelude before it returns to 3/4. 

Measure 29 is where I think we're firmly back in waltz mode.  The opening chord is easy if you take the C sharp on the sixth string, play the obviously open notes on their associated strings and take the B flat on the second string.  Take the half note chord with your third finger planted on the fifth string for the lowermost D natural, which gives you G on the open string and lets you prepare in advance with the F sharp on the fourth string.  Measure 30 can be taken entirely in first provision with the caveat that you may want to let the E natural go after beat 2 is done so that you can take up C natural on the second string for beat three.  There are, no doubt, other ways to take the passage but this is the solution that will demand less stretching and strength from the left hand in my experience.  It also lets you sustain the G natural at the top for its full duration.  Everything else seems pretty straightforward in this coda except for measure 34.  Given the decay rate of the guitar I think you can release the chord in the trebles and take the third beat of the measure as a sixth string solo. 

Now obviously you can write a few thousand words about what amounts to just barely more than one page of music, even a piece that may be just under two minutes long.  One of the things I find appealing about Koshkin's music is how he evokes a mercurial balance of whimsy and menace in his work.  This prelude in G major manages to be a good case study. The sixteenth note gesture that leaps back and forth across octaves will prove to be a gestural anticipation of the fugue and while it isn't what I'd regard as the core melodic interest for the prelude itself it's important to accent that material all the same because it is the gesture that most emphatically foreshadows the fugue that follows.
What's worth emphasizing as a pattern throughout the cycle is that when the prelude ends there's no "attaca", there's not even a final bar line measure indication. The scoring simply continues measure numbering into the fugue as something that is inextricably tied to and following the prelude.  So while there is a cadence on the tonic at the end of the prelude it leads with just one measure's pause into the fugue.

Fugue

The fugue is labeled "Allegretto" and has a spunky marching subject in common time.  It can be thought of as a "ramp" subject.  There are "wedge" subjects that have a starting or ending point to which or from which the melody expands or contracts by either diatonic or, as often, chromatically expanding intervals.  I call this fugue subject a "ramp" subject because the leaps start as a G to G octave leap that contracts into smaller intervals with each leap.  G to G, G to F sharp, G to F natural, G to E natural, G to E flat, G to C sharp, G to D breaks the cycle but then we're back to G to C natural and then G to B flat rounding off a three-measure subject that has a ragtime like jump-bass intervallic pattern. 

The subject is given an answer at the dominant and it has a real countersubject which emphasizes the rhythmic pattern of an eighth note followed by a quarter note followed by an eighth note or an embellishment of said rhythmic duration.  While "allegretto" might seem a bit fast this lively march-like fugue can be thought of as a quasi-ragtime fugue.  It's cast in three voices and has a countersubject that appears at measures 43-45.

A brief word about the entrance of the second voice, Koshkin simply jumps in with the entrance of the second voice as soon as he has completed the three-measure subject.  In this case I would say that the open fifth followed by a leap via parallelism to another open fifth could have been avoided by way of a rising one measure melodic transition.  There's no obligation for each entry of voices in a fugue to be direct when you can avoid parallel motion by introducing interrupting transitions.  A fourth measure with a rising transition passage preceding the entrance of the second voice with the answer would be fun here and it could introduce a nice musical "gotcha" moment where listeners might be fooled into thinking the subject is four measures long only to discover that the subject is just three measures long.  Everything else about the fugue exposition could remain as written. 

The development of the fugue commences at measure 49 and leads to a middle entry in D major at measure 53. Here we'll see that Koshkin doesn't include the augmented fourth featured at the end of the second measure of his subject for the obvious reason that between the fifth and sixth strings being tuned to A and D respectively there's no place to have a G sharp or A flat.  So he substitutes a repetition of B flat where G sharp or A flat would have been in the second half of measure 54.  When writing fugues at a practical level you will find, especially on a guitar, that a subject in a middle entry may have to be modified at a few places in order to produce actually playable music. 

The next episode begins at measure 57 and feints at a return to the key of G major but quickly modulates to a new middle entry in C major. This leads by way of a mixed mode Lydian episode into a new middle entry in F major that runs from measure 65 to 67. After a half measure twist we get the second half of measure 68 introducing a new episodic middle entry in C in which the subject appears in C but is answered half a measure later at the start of measure 69 with a new entry of the subject a tenth higher at E flat.  This can be thought of as a polytonal canonic middle entry.  It's featuring a subject at C that has a few omitted notes but at a practical level a listener and a performer can "hear" those notes even where they are not possible to practically be played.  Koshkin has set up enough middle entries at this point that some elements of a contrapuntal texture can be implied where they cannot be played.  This happens even in a number of Bach's fugues for solo violin so it's no surprise if that's what we can infer is going on in this middle entry in one of Koshkin's fugues. 

Thanks to the aggressively chromatic nature of the subject modulating episodes can be effected in short order.  A mere two measures allow Koshkin to modulate into his next middle entry, in E major.  This middle entry is immediately followed by another middle entry in B minor (measures 76-78). From there Koshkin moves along to a climax at measure 83 in which he sequences the initial gesture of his subject above a pulsing dominant pedal point on the sixth string as the fragment of the subject is sequenced through a chain of thirds from A flat to F to D to B before bringing back the countersubject as another embellishment of a half cadence prolongation that finally resolves to fragments of the subject in G major at measure 93, which could be considered the syntactic/tonal resolution of the fugue ... 

but the subject appears in fragmentary form. It's bandied about in a tonic and subdominant alternating pattern for a bit and when we finally get a full presentation of the subject it's at measures 97-99 where it is presented in inversion.  Even at measure 99, however, the subject is still cut off to make way for the marching coda that rounds off the fugue, evoking a duple meter form of the coda materials that concluded (somewhat) the initial prelude).  That chord in harmonics at the penultimate measure can be played as a barre across either the fourth or ninth fret depending on what's easier for you.  I would recommend a short fermata there to accentuate the not-in-the-key nature of the chord on the one hand and, on the other, to give a performer who isn't already used to playing chords that consist only of natural harmonics time to let the chord ring before the closing chords.

some links for the weekend, featuring a Peter Enns lament that is about ten times longer than a comparable critique of university systems Jim West made years ago

the boy who was the subject of a Tyndale published book about visiting heaven is suing the publisher
https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/religion/article/76637-boy-who-came-back-from-heaven-is-suing-tyndale.html


Conor Friedersdorf on the dangers of a misreading of what the right actually is as distinct from what people who don't self-identify as on the right think it is.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/04/the-danger-of-a-distorted-view-of-the-right/558971/

I might venture to suggest that what is often described as "the left" is more likely referring to the post 1960s "new left" or social justice/identity politics left.  This needs to be kept distinct from what might be best described as old left.  Someone like Chomsky is not necessarily the same as anyone associated with any kind of Clinton.  One of my never-ending frustrations with conservative friends and family is they have a tendency to assume anyone they believe is to the left of them is always and ever a Marxist as if there have been no distinctions or branches of not-capitalist thought. 

Peter Enns thinks that it's terrible that so many PhDs are offered in theology and biblical literature when very, very few of these degree recipients will ever land jobs with them.

Late to the party there in saying such a thing now. 

https://zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com/2016/05/18/the-adjunct-faculty-crisis/

The adjunct crisis exists because too many departments have too many PhD students. The only cure is for departments to offer PhD’s for the number of jobs there actually are.
 
Creating 500 PhD holders when there are only 30 positions suitable for those PhD’s is not only immoral, it is driven purely by economic considerations on the part of the University.

So Enns isn't saying anything particularly new.  West made his point in exactly as many words as I quoted, whereas Enns ... does not. 

more post-Lamar Pulitzer stuff, a Washington Post piece on what classical musicians can learn from the Lamar win and a rebuttal by John Halle about how these kinds of pieces deliberately misread defenses of the literate idiom of music writing

Over at The Washington Post there's a piece on "What the classical-music world can learn from Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer Prize". Alyssa Rosenberg interviewed Alex Temple on the recent award and there's just a short excerpt we'll look at:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/act-four/wp/2018/04/18/what-the-classical-music-world-can-learn-from-kendrick-lamars-pulitzer-prize/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.d98af3f4d71e

...
The contemporary classical world’s relationship with prizes is complicated.  Plenty of people don’t care about the Pulitzer, and it’s been criticized as a way to give a “lifetime achievement award” to someone who really should have gotten it for a more important piece years ago. (See: both Ornette Coleman and Steve Reich.) That’s why the shift toward younger composers like Du Yun and Caroline Shaw in the last decade has sparked so much controversy. And that trend is also in play in the reaction to Kendrick Lamar’s win.
 
But there’s also the fact that, if you win the Pulitzer, commissions start flooding in. Your ability to get a university job skyrockets. I remember there was a faculty opening at Stanford last year, and someone on Facebook said wryly, “well, that’ll be a nice opportunity for someone on the Pulitzer shortlist.”
...
 
That's not necessarily true, as an interview in the Washington Post of the African American composer George Walker established not that long ago.
 
https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/music/2015/08/20/d6e9e6c2-3beb-11e5-9c2d-ed991d848c48_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.07c43b2c2743
...
Walker’s winning piece, “Lilacs for voice and orchestra,” used the words of Walt Whitman and was first performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1996.

How did the Pulitzer change his life?
 
“I got probably more publicity nationwide than perhaps any other Pulitzer Prize-winner. But not a single orchestra approached me about doing the piece or any piece. My publisher didn’t have sense enough to push. It materialized in nothing.”
 
...
 
So, no, in fact, it's not a given that simply winning a Pulitzer leads to more commissions.  Even if we're looking just at articles published in the Washington Post the claim that if you win a Pulitzer you can get more work as a musician is not a given. 
 
There's been a tendency for those who are excited about Lamar's win to present skepticism about that win in terms of reactionary politics.  However ... John Halle's not exactly to the right on politics at any level but has expressed reservations over the last ten years or so about the expanded criteria for the Pulitzer prize in music.  The argument was not that music not written in traditional notation was in any way bad music, but that composition as a literate discipline was what he thought defined the nature of the prize.  In other words, expanding the definition of what kind of music could win could cater to new and economically viable forms of popular music that might be great music but that the tradition of writing music down on a score for others to interpret gets sidelined in the process. 
 
So ... Halle has a response to the article, and notes that Temple was at one point one of his students.
 
 
... The ostensible subject involves a few composers objecting to the Pulitzer prize for music having been awarded to rapper Kendrick Lamar. These provided the opportunity for Rosenberg and a former Yale classmate (1) to engage in frenzied, ritualistic savaging of what might be called composer-bros, “white people from privileged backgrounds” whose veritable essence is assumed to deprive them of the capacity “to wrap their heads around Kendrick [Lamar].” Lamar is, according to them, “dealing with topics they don’t necessarily want to look at, in a way that’s simultaneously unflinchingly direct and also very complex and layered.”
 
“They” in the previous sentence is taken to indicate those excluded from the woke multiculturalist circles inhabited by Rosenberg and her interlocutor who somehow survive the extreme violence of their self-administered pats on the back on display here.

Returning to the planet earth, it is not only members of this post Yale social club who are able to appreciate the virtues of Kendrick Lamar. In fact, many of the composers they are condescending to insist on Lamar’s musical brilliance and cultural significance albeit while expressing reservations about the Pulitzer board’s decision. (2) That there is absolutely no contradiction is a matter of elementary logic: as anyone who has made a hiring decision knows, the question of whether X is highly skilled at or even brilliantly qualified for Y is entirely independent of whether X is an appropriate choice for Y.

Furthermore, even if it were the case that certain composers actively dislike Lamar’s music and have cast aspersions on his musical competence their doing so would say precisely nothing about their underlying attitudes. To take one obvious example, the manufacturer of legendary Republican hit pieces Lee Atwater had a profound affinity for African American music and musicians, sympathies which easily co-existed with his promoting a dogwhistled racist agenda. To infer substantive political content or commitments from affective aesthetic preferences is a fool’s errand.
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Footnote 2 refers to this piece, which we'll quote at more length.
 
 
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Taruskin is making a more limited observation that print music culture appears to be incapable of further growth, renewal, or development. The evidence for this is, if not conclusive, at least by this point more than a little familiar. Most conspicuous is the fact that the great majority of “composed” music which is regularly performed, whether operatic, symphonic, chamber, choral, or solo, is drawn from a small geographic area around central Europe within a narrow historical period. Only a vanishingly small fraction of new works, including those premiered with much fanfare by orchestras, trumpeted by publicists, and hyped by some critics, have managed to gain a place on the carousel which defines the standard repertoire of literate musical culture.

Also familiar are the explanations for the inability of the “literate musical tradition” to make itself relevant to the wider artistic and intellectual culture. These, which have themselves become a permanent fixture of critical commentary, generally conclude by fixing responsibility (or blame) on composers incapable of producing music which engages concert audiences or on the widespread and increasing musical illiteracy of audiences themselves. The result, according to John Harbison, has been a widespread inability to comprehend any musical utterance more sophisticated than “gesture at its most generalized and inarticulate” and, with this, a predictably impoverished climate for the diffusion and acceptance of literate music.

While I will not exclude either of these explanations, I will suggest a more charitable one here which is to note that the prevalence of aurally transmitted music and the widespread appreciation of its virtues has meant that both audiences and composers have expectations which can’t be met by music transmitted from composer to performer via the print medium. It is not possible to achieve the frenzies of activity, the extremes of density, nor the near-optimal matching of musical material to instrumental capabilities inherent in the process of trial and error, improvisation, and recording studio cutting and pasting which defines the creation of most contemporary music. Nor, as Taruskin suggests, are the unlimited sonic resources, the absolute rhythmic precision, and extremes of speed, frequency, and amplitude possible within the digital realm accessible to composers working within the print music medium.
 
If literate music is to survive, composers, performers, critics, and audiences need to recognize that notation, like any other medium, has limits as to what it is able to communicate. Perhaps these limits are arbitrary historical relics of a pre-mechanical age. If so, there is no significant aesthetic benefit to be gained from the substantial investment in time, money, and education required to maintain an infrastructure supporting “literate” music. And, if this is the case, we are indeed at the end of an epoch. While, as Schoenberg famously suggested, there may be numerous tunes in C major remaining to be created, perhaps there are no more tunes to be written in C major.
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But if Taruskin is right, it needs to be understood that the shift which we are now witnessing is something quite radical and possibly unprecedented. The collapse of “print culture”, after all, entails much more than the passing of a musical style: it entails the extinction of a musical medium. Styles, even the most sophisticated, productive, and refined, have a natural lifespan, and their demise is not necessarily something to mourn. The extinction of a musical medium—a means for transmitting musical ideas within a variety of styles—is something far more significant and we need to recognize that when this occurs it will usher in a very different musical world to that which we are accustomed.

The demise of musical literacy does not mean a non-musical future but rather an intensified form of certain musical realities which we are experiencing now, and for this reason, the general outline of a non-literate future will be familiar. One aspect, however, will be conspicuous to some of us, at least: the absence of a corps of musically literate instrumentalists capable of producing minimally acceptable renditions of composed works. With the decimation of the educational and organizational infrastructure necessary to produce and sustain these forces, the eventual disappearance of European canonic works from the concert stage will become inevitable.

Whether we mourn, celebrate, or are apathetic to the prospect of the absence of the style of music associated with literacy, namely what tends to be called “classical” music, this is, conceptually at least, a separate question from the future of the literate tradition. To draw a partially relevant analogy, the demise of the epic poem, the sonnet, or the audience for serialized fiction did not mean the end of literacy; when these and other forms of literary expression have gone into eclipse, literacy itself continued to flourish and even expand within other literary forms. Those periods in which literacy itself went into eclipse most notably in parts of Europe during the Middle Ages and more recently during the Taliban era in Afghanistan are understood to constitute cultural catastrophes, resulting in profound constriction of intellectual life and rational discourse.

The demise of musical literacy, while not a cultural catastrophe, nevertheless constitutes a significant cultural loss. The eventual disappearance from public life of compositions from Josquin to Ligeti—surely intellectual achievements of the highest order comparable to those in other disciplines—by any reasonable standard, amounts to cultural impoverishment, more or less analogous to the closing of several of the world’s major museums. But perhaps more significant than the disappearance of an entire class of works, the demise of musical literacy will deprive us of the means for examining musical thought, both within literate music traditions and also, through transcriptions, in non-literate musical media. Notation provides us with a language with which to describe musical structure, to identify specific locations within pieces, and to characterize precisely the compositional techniques on which they are based. Within composed works, scores and sketches make it possible to track the trajectory of a compositional idea from its inception to completion and thereby provide a window into the mind of the composer which is unique in the arts. The end of a print music culture means the end of what has for centuries constituted serious discourse surrounding artistic creation.
 
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Halle raised a point later in his long piece about how one of the disadvantages of literate (written) music may be that it doesn't keep up with popular trends but that that disadvantage has an associated strength, music in what Richard Taruskin calls the literate tradition can survive and continue to be played, and Halle noted that this music can survive in ways that music from non-literate traditions may not or cannot.  The score on your bookshelf will last as long as the book does but a CD can eventually failto play.  A digital download album can accidentally be erased and, sure, you can get iit back from the cloud but when you stop to think about what a cloud "is" this is not necessarily a more secure or permanent form of transmission or storage than a printed book.  There is a prestige in traditional modes and means that still can't be replicated in other contexts.  Lamar's Pulitzer win is what it is because the Pulitzer is what it is.  If it meant nothing no one would be excited or angry that he was awarded it. 
 
Now my own impression and conviction is that the literate and non-literate musical traditions in the West have become too balkanized and that, as Taruskin noted early in his sprawling Oxford History of Western Music, to write a history of the literate music tradition can never assume anywhere along the way that literate and non-literate musical practices and traditions are not constantly and continuously interacting; the problem is, of course, that when you take up the project of writing about the history of music in the literate tradition all you have to work with is confined to the written traditions.  Some of those people who are angry that Lamar won the Pulitzer can argue that what he does isn't music with a tacit or explicit understanding that only music from the literate tradition should be considered for an award like the Pulitzer.
 
In drastically different ways composers in the literate tradition ranging from Bach to Haydn to Dvorak to Stravinsky to Bartok to Charles Ives to Villa-Lobos and Shostakovich have all found different ways to incorporate what would very broadly be known as folk materials into their written scores.  The interaction between what's proverbially known as "high" and "low" has been steady throughout the history of the Western literate musical tradition.  The problem in the last two centuries, as I have been reading on music, is that advocates for the high and low as they understand them tend to get into purity politics stances and it may well be that I'll conclude that German idealism played too big a role in that kind of cult formation.  Or perhaps there are Anglo-American variants of that kind of thought.  Art is art and pop is pop is the conclusion, whichever side of that duality people may land on.
 
So perhaps Lamar winning the PUlitzer can be both good and bad, good in the sense that a practitioner of what is now recognized as the most popular musical style in the industry is getting recognition, bad in the sense that the literate musical tradition has been sidelined along the way to awarding this artist this particular prize. 
 
Halle's rebuttal to the Rosenberg piece was interesting to read. He laid out that to argue that people who defend the literate music tradition as having value to being against popular music is as hard to take at face value as the assertion that people who would vote for Sanders rather than Clinton are "Bernie Bros" who resent women, which Halle points out because he's noted that Rosenberg was part of such a journalistic gambit.  Halle opened his most recent blog post with an observation that people who voted for Sanders were voting for Sanders rather than necessarily only voting "against" Clinton, let alone any women and people of color who endorsed her.
 
We seem to live in an era in which populist ideas, ideals and populist goals seem to be construed in the most pejorative possible light, mainly because of who is currently the president of the United States.  But at this point a popular repertoire canon in classical music, i.e.all those works in the Western tradition that can get played to death or in uninspired ways, can be construed as a good and not just a bad.  There is some beauty and value to a Beethoven symphony even if it's played to death and the cult of art religion elevates it above and beyond the good that some of us can take to reside in the work.  It's possible to de-elevate the Western literate musical tradition without denigrating it.  Bringing Beethoven's music down to a healthier level, in which it is not required to or asked to play a quasi-divine or literally divine role in giving meaning to human experience, is not rejecting the Op. 111 piano sonata as having no value.  My own sympathies are with a revival of Haydn as a composer whose relationship to vernacular and academic music al traditions seems more pertinent to our era than Beethoven's legacy as mediated by 19th century German idealism.  But that's just my feelings and thoughts on the topic.  Mileage will no doubt vary. 
 
But I want to suggest that a post-Beethovenian purity politics for the high and low has gotten as balkanized on either side of the high and low divide as it is perceived to be on the other.  It's not a surprise to me that the kinds of people who contribute to New Music Box tend to assert that genre doesn't exist because If you can go to the schools the people at NMB tend to go to it's appealing to imagine that if genres dont' apply and are only things record labels came up with you can convince yourself your music transcends the limits of genre.  That's almost like saying skin color shouldn't matter, which is paradoxically not what any of the contributors to NMB would be likely to say (not even Halle). 
 
I have already argued at some length over the years that recognizing that the boundaries between musical styles and forms are permeable is not the same as denying that any such boundaries even exist.  It's possible to go from early 19th century guitar sonatas into ragtime and back by understanding the parameters of each of these style.  Within the high and low domains of musicology, for want of any better or more appropriate set of terms, these historiographies and taxonomies are easy enough to do.  What doesn't tend to happen as often is to explore the ways in which high and low intertwine.  It is, of course, written about.  I'm starting into a book about Bartok, nationalism and his use of folk music and of 19th century Hungarian art music.  Bartok's a case study of how synthesizing high and low influences is part of the literate musical tradition.  If this is less apt to happen now in the 20th through 21t century in classical music that is probably more a reflection of problems in academic pedagogy and the purity codes in and out of that domain.