The music blogging here tends to focus on sonatas for guitar, fugues for guitar, chamber music involving the guitar and other assorted topics. I like fugues and I like counterpoint. I also like sonata forms and am interested in sonata forms in the guitar literature.
Back around 2015 I wrote a lengthy series of blog posts analyzing sonata movements from the early 19th century guitarist composers Diabelli, Molitor, Matiegka, Giuliani and Sor. There are 22 posts in that series as a whole and there are tags for each of the composers.
For posts more generally about guitar and sonata form, which will include the above in the tag.
I've got a post about Leo Brouwer's Fuga.
Another thing I've written about is the writings of John Borstlap in general and his book The Classical Revolution in particular.
I've blogged about ragtime a little bit.
This has included noting similarities between the reception history of jazz and ragtime and the reception history of rap.
A more esoteric, theory-laden thesis is
On the possibilities of spatial-temporal correspondence between the syntactics of ragtime and sonata forms
I'm refining that one as of early 2019.
For more general musical analysis not organized by sub-topics ...
Lest the tags give you the impression that it's all classical guitar blogging from the look of this page, that's not how it is. I've had fun writing a few thousand words-ish on a Stevie Wonder song, for instance.
One of my soap boxes is my conviction that music education has amplified rather than diminished a fracture between "high" and "low" musical arts. I'm interested in composition and music theorizing and analysis that can be put towards the end of reducing that distance. I write as a classical guitarist but I played in an aspiring prog rock band for many years and have some affection for early blues and jazz and some country (Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Sr. in particular). So when this blog is about music it's not "always" going to be about what people might call classical music but that "is" a pretty dominant topic.
So ... I also have a tagged series of posts discussing at least some (and I hope, eventually, all) of Nikita Koshkin's 24 preludes and fugues for solo guitar.
Here is a review of a book on music by Roger Scruton that is up at Mere Orthodoxy
and a review of a book by John Borstlap
Borstlap left a comment at Mere Orthodoxy and it suggests he was not a very attentive or engaged reader. Despite having referenced works and ideas by Joseph Kerman, Susan McClary (not that I agree with them); Edward A. Berlin; Charles Rosen; William E. Caplin; and Hepokoski and Darcy; and, yes, Adorno, Borstlap seems to have only noticed the writings that dealt with the political history of the arts in postwar Western life or those theoretical writings that he regards in some general way as "political". The Caplin and the Hepokoski and Darcy books are not political works. Neither is Charles Rosen's standard monograph on the Classic era.
Conversely, Borstlap concluded his book with a statement so overwrought it seems apt to quote the purple prose at moderate length:
High art is an exercise of what is best in the human being. It offers a learning process of the intellect and the emotions that can lead to an increased awareness of what we really are and should be, and, as such, a source of inner strength. It was exactly this role that the classical music repertoire played in World War II and in the period directly following this fundamental crisis; it would be unthinkable that people would scramble among the ruins of bombed city centers, desperate to hear a performance of Xenakis, Stockhausen, or Boulez (or in a later period along the glass and steel facades of modernist office blocks to hear the sonic art of Lachenmann, Widmann, or Birtwistle) hoping to be uplifted and to feel again what it means to be a human being. Their work is a product of, not an answer to, the devastation of war trauma and the emptiness of the modern world. If we allow sonic art to be music, we finish off the jobs of destruction set in motion by Hitler and Stalin. … (The Classical Revolution, page 123)
The idea that allowing the sonic art of Xenakis to be music somehow finishes off the jobs of destruction set in motion by Hitler and Stalin is a gambit to Godwin accepting any notion that Xenakis wrote music. It's also casting a polemical point in the most explicitly political way imaginable in a Western context. For Borstlap to demur that he was not writing a political book or a book with political polemics is in absurdly bad faith if the moment he encounters a sympathetic but constructively critical review of his book he hand waves a number of the criticisms with generalities about how the reviewer seems to have done a lot of political reading. Elements of Sonata Theory isn't a political tract. Other books I've read that didn't need to be brought in include George Oldroyd's The Technique and Spirit of Fugue; Verrall's monograph on counterpoint; Kent Kennan's monograph on counterpoint in 18th century style; Rosen's sonata forms monograph; Elaine Sisman's work on Haydn and variation form; Matthew Riley's monograph on the minor-key symphony in the age of Haydn and Mozart; and Ben Johnston's Maximum Clarity. I could throw in books by Bruce Haynes and Leonard B. Meyer but some of those names got dropped into the Scruton review as relevant.
In sum, Borstlap's reading of the review and his comment in response to it dodged a fairly direct question as to whether or not he's ever read any Adorno's work at all. That Adorno's polemics have had a pernicious influence on Western European arts patronage I don't really even intend to dispute. I dispute Borstlap's broadbrush blaming Adorno as somehow having caused the upsurge in sonic art. Blaming Boulez and Stockhausen? That I can understand, but I can quote Adorno at moderate length lambasting the integral serialists and John Cage in fairly equal measure. If defenders of traditionalist classical music can't do better than inadvertently replicating Adorno's put-downs of integral serialism and aleatoric music without even seeming to have known he wrote those, a defense of traditional classical music will not benefit from these sorts of self-appointed defenders of traditions.
I tried to make a comment in reply to Borstlap but Mere Orthodoxy's comments box kept deleting them for reasons nobody can explain. So ... sometimes a comment in some other context goes up.
This page is going to get updated and modified as new material gets completed. To get a clearer sense of what stuff is incubating that hasn't quite made it to the point where it's tagged and shows up on this page the main page/blog is the place to go.
Comments are moderated. You can make them if you want but it doesn't necessarily mean they'll show up. I do allow comments but, moderation but not here or the other MH related page.