Saturday, August 12, 2017

John Halle writes a defense of Kenny G against the respectability politics of "real" jazz

A few weeks ago, an off duty flight attendant discovered that her neighbor on a Tampa to Los Angeles flight was a musical celebrity. Having recently lost her daughter to brain cancer, she suggested an impromptu performance to raise money to for cancer research. The request was immediately agreed to, resulting in the artist strolling down the aisles with his instrument, passing the hat for donations which quickly exceeded the $1,000 goal.

All that would seem innocuous enough. But as might be expected within some corners of the internet, what was an anodyne act of charity became the grounds for opening the floodgates of abuse.
Why this was the case will make sense when name of the musician is revealed, a figure so universally reviled that to utter a word in his defense is to invite social ostracism, namely “the weasel-toned saxophonist,” as he was referred to by the New York Times, Kenny Gorelick, or Kenny G, as he is known to his fans. So toxic are the sounds he emits that an encounter with them constitutes “torture”-the aural equivalent of the United Airlines assault of one of its passengers, which had occurred only a few days before.

At least, such was the perception of the cross section of the left/liberal consensus which appears on my twitterfeed.

As was often the case within this sector, the apparent fact of the matter was something other than what was imagined. According to reports, many passengers on the flight found it the exact opposite having reveled in “the show of a lifetime.”

But these expressions of enthusiasm were easily written off. They were, after all, deriving from a “large crowd” whose “basest impulses” manifest “callous disregard for the larger issues . . .marking a new low point in modern culture – something that we all should be totally embarrassed about – and afraid of.” All this “we ignore. . . at our own peril.”

This bit of cultural news or trivia passed me by ass I'm not a Kenny G fan and have never much liked his music.  But if he put on an impromptu charitable performance to raise money for cancer research, that's great.   It's certainly possible to not be on the same page as Halle about his "Jazz After Politics" piece or even the various heated reactions written to that piece (although, in a way, that could have invited an opportunity to revisit Adorno's "On Jazz" polemics as having possibly been vindicated, even though I think there are reasons to reject that assessment (interesting to me now is how Halle's piece predated the no-jazz-at-Yale incident that would happen the following year, and get a response by Ethan Iverson, one of a number of people Halle seemed to bracket into the "jazzbro" category).  Still, this recent defense of Kenny G was interesting reading because what Halle decided to take direct aim at was the respectability politics of despising Kenny G's music.

One might dare to suggest Kenny G's music is so widely despised among respectable circles that nobody would even think to suggest, as has been done with so much more popular and respected entertainment acts, that Kenny G was guilty of cultural appropriation--who, after all, would dare to suggest that whatever Kenny G culturally appropriated was worth appropriating if they could figure out what it was!?  ;) 

Halle wrote:
Metheny and those who cite him have evidently failed to learn the underlying lesson from the collapse of these defenses of the traditional canon. For it will be apparent that their criticisms amounts to little more than retrofitting the discredited assumptions of the old musicology to defend a post modern “high/low” distinction. The only difference is that pure jazz now occupies the summit (1) with the debased form represented by Kenny G and others viewed as fundamentally unserious and beneath discussion. The grounds on which this is claimed to be so is just as was the case in the benighted past: some analytic characteristic is shown to be present or absent in the objective structure of the music and taken to be a proxy for aesthetic merit, artistic seriousness of purpose or the lack of it based on the assumption the there is a necessary connection. But that matters are not so simple, while taken for granted within what was formerly known as “classical” music, has evidently yet to register with those who concerned with policing the boundaries of jazz.

For example, for them, G making use of a “limited vocabulary” constitutes a de facto criticism. It is, however, obvious that this is not the case and that Metheny himself doesn’t believe that it is: for if any composer can be described a making use of a “limited harmonic and melodic vocabulary” it is Steve Reich, whose Electric Counterpoint Metheny himself commissioned and presumably admires. What is the difference between the “minimalism” of Kenny G and that of Reich? Showing that there is one is not so trivial. But even if we could determine what it is, it would not answer the question why “we” (those claiming to have acculturated and informed musical tastes) tend to value the music of Reich above Gorelick.

Or, moving closer to Kenny G’s soul/pop/jazz idiom, if a “limited” harmonic and melodic vocabulary is a fatal flaw, what to make of the blues? Yes, one finds objectively less chromaticism in B.B. King, Muddy Waters or Albert Collins than in Wagner or William Byrd. But only a pedant or a chauvinist would suggest that this, or any “limitation” unearthed via a music theoretical analysis should take precedence over the visceral experience evoked by the blues.

At this point I'd interject that what we can find in music is that simplicity in one area can be offset by complexity in some other area.  Anyone who has tried to play music in open D and open G tunings on a guitar will understand how drastically your range of easily-played notes becomes.  That helps me appreciate why blues recordings can blur together.  A lot of songs in A and D and E and G where open strings abound.  It used to bug me sometimes but I can respect it as a convention and the guitar lets you play the same note in six different places if you've mastered the geography of the fretboard.

Ah, back to my actual point, a harmonically and melodically "simple" musician like John Lee Hooker can abound in subtleties in rhythm.  There's all kinds of beautiful things you can do in compound meters that John Lee Hooker did throughout his career even when it could seem to an inattentive listener he was just endlessly vamping on a seventh chord in an open G tuning, or open D. If you can't hear oblique motion you might slip into thinking this performance, for instance, is just constant vamping on a single chord.

Not too surprisingly, Halle builds up to this point, which is not so much a defense of Kenny G's music itself (of which he, too, has never been a fan).


At this point some readers are probably wondering why I devoted 1300 words to meta-theoretical questions provoked by the music of Kenny G-probably 1300 words more than any previous discussion of the subject.

I should make clear that, appearances aside, it is not my intention to defend Kenny G or his music for which I have as little intellectual and temperamental affinity as those attacking it. But while the music doesn’t require a defense, those being belittled for their musical preferences and, by implication, their lack of intelligence and sophistication do. And it is one which they deserve to have since, as was demonstrated above, the attacks on them are fundamentally fraudulent in that the supposed authority on which they are based collapses when subjected to scrutiny. [emphasis added]

With that in mind, we can return to the comparison alluded to above: what accounts for near identical rhetoric deployed in jazz purist attacks on Kenny G and those emanating from the political establishment against Trump.

Which, as so often happens lately when I read about these kinds of things, reminds me of what Richard Taruskin described as the gap between the academic canon of music and the repertoire canon of music; between that music which is regarded as respectable to discuss and teach in colleges and which people pay to hear with their own money in concerts and through recordings. 

Getting back to Iverson ...

Robert Blocker put his foot in it properly last week. Outraged tweets on my timeline were soon followed by several valuable longer objections.

Alex Ross.

Michael Lewanski.

Matthew Guerrieri. (If you look at just one of these links, make sure it’s this one, a brilliant set of unlikely connections concluding with a luminous call to arms. Soho is always a good read.)

It’s so nice when a member of the opposition makes a public mistake, it gives us a chance to pile on and declare what we are striving for on our side.


I'm sure for most people the talk of not teaching jazz at Yale came and went without so much as a thought but amongst blogging musicians it was a big thing, even a scandal.  Iverson didn't unpack so much as suppose a definition of "opposition" to jazz being taught at a place like Yale as part of the Western canon.  There's something of a self-imposed double bind in Iverson's approach which seems not atypical of self-identified liberal white musicians who like jazz.  Let's see if we can come up with a demonstration:

All the jazz greats existed outside the system. Indeed, most of them ignored the limitations of their racist society to create not just music but whole ways of living that forced fellow Americans to give respect. This kind of cunning, streetwise, and unstated elegance is a key to the music. I’ve never met an important jazz musician who wasn’t some kind of gangster. (The last sentence could be said of most significant artists in any field, but it might particularly apply to jazz.)

Outside what system?  The music business?  The American market?  Or does the system refer more strictly to American academics.  Because if the jazz greats existed outside the system ...

Thelonious Monk's The Complete Riverside Sessions had to come from somewhere.
How about Ellington's RCA/Victor centennial edition?  How much did this great musical legacy really exist "outside the system"? 

Some kind of gangster?  Like racketeering or violent crime?  Really?  If Iverson was so sure that important jazz musicians were always some kind of gangster then jazz fans like him and others shouldn't have found Terry Teachout's biography on Ellington so upsetting.  Is it so difficult to grasp that Ellington's band could be both a haven and a prison for the openly gay and black Billy Strayhorn, whose nickname for his boss was "Monster"?  Or was it awkward to read that a lot of what Ellington pursued could be described as a politics of respectability?  Gaining respect, earning respect and using that respect as a platform from which to press for better treatment was considered a legitimate path to take by more than just a few blacks in the United States, wasn't it?  Or could a mythology of the American outlaw risk distorting the history of jazz a teensy bit? 

Iverson gets to another composer in the aforementioned blog post.

I’ve gotten quite interested in Harold Shapero, a major composer who just might have been the greatest American Neo-Classicist. When he died only recently, I had barely even heard his name, partly because he hadn’t composed much since about 1960.

There were apparently two reasons Shapero stopped composing, both connected to college. He became a teacher himself: He stopped being a gangster. He fell in, raised a family and had hobbies. (All this is very bad for artistic production.)

Somehow ... it's a little tough to buy the idea that Harold Shapero was a gangster. There's a phrase that sometimes pop up in discussions about politics about the state having what's sometimes called a monopoly on legitimate violent.  If the difference between a gangster and a cop can be elucidated in the bluntest colloquial terms, the difference is the monopoly of legitimate violence.  The cop has it by dint of being part of the state machinery and the gangster doesn't.  There in is the blood-letting rub, we know many, many times the monopoly the state has on legitimate violence gets used toward ends we could agree are not legitimate on the one hand, on the other hand a lot of violence perpetrated without the rubber stamp of the state is not necessarily legitimate just because a gangster does it. 

 Iverson's got a bit more awe of serialism as a style than I have been, but he highlights something Halle addressed in another context, the dominance of serialism and atonality in American academic composition and theory textbooks:

The other reason was peer pressure to deal with the twelve-tone system. “Academic” is right! A whole crew of postwar intellectuals seized power in the universities and declared that rigorous atonality was the perpetual future.

When Blocker says, “new music,” I suspect that this kind of  unpopular “academic” genre is what he’s talking about. Of course, “new music” could mean just about anything these days, and I certainly don’t know what exactly they are up to at the Yale composition department. But surely a gold standard for the phrase “new music” is Milton Babbitt, and it is impossible to divorce Babbitt’s (terrific) music his academic positions at Columbia and Princeton.

Having never heard of Shapero, that I can recall, prior to reading Iverson's mention of him, I'd hesitate to agree with "major".  I've found that on the whole I've got better things to do with my time than listen to Babbitt, even if I can get there being a certain cheeky humor to something like "All Set".  I have a few recordings by Penderecki, Lutoslawski, Xenakis, Ligeti, Kurtag and a few others so it's not like I have no appreciation for avant garde concert music but Babbitt ... eh, has moments but I'm still just not sold on the idea that Milton Babbitt or Elliot Carter comprise more than a long-term dead-end without a foundational apparatus (there's a pun for you, cue up Benjamin Britten's concern that a lot of "foundation music" was written to please well-heeled patrons without seeking a wider audience) to keep it alive.  Aka a proverbial hothouse growth. 

There was a period of time in which serialism and atonality was held to be the legitimate way "forward" for the art of music.  Atonality as symbolic of the exhaustion of the language of Western European expressionism and Romanticism distilled in Schoenberg was something Adorno famously got behind.  If there was a Hegelian end of history that could be translated into a self-aware end of art then maybe atonality represented art able to reflect on the ends of German Romanticism.  I ... actually kinda do like the Schoenberg violin concerto ... but Schoenberg paid tribute to the music of Gershwin and said there was still music to be written in the key of C major.  Adorno was less reconciled to this possibility. 

But Iverson's defense of jazz comes with a certain kind of trade-off.  He wants jazz taken seriously as an art as high as Bach or Stravinsky but he doesn't really want the art culture of a century from now to be comic books, video games or Star Wars movies.  Halle's larger polemic regarding jazz and politics is that once jazz ended up on the right side of respectability politics its advocates started to look down on pop and mass culture in much the same way that defenders of the literature musical tradition of Western Europe looked down on jazz as a base dilution of anything good about the art music tradition.  If Adorno looked down on jazz compared to Beethoven and Schoenberg then Ethan Iverson can look down on Star Wars and Batman movies compared to Milton Babbitt and Bud Powell.  Okay.

I just refuse to concede that we can't study Stevie Wonder's harmonic vocabulary in a way that insists that it has to somehow be different than a similar study of the harmonic vocabulary of Scriabin or Stravinsky.  I get that Ben Johnston and others who have followed in the wake of Harry Partch have liked to say equal temperament is an acoustic lie.  I can even get why they say that.  But for all of us who aren't in a collegiate system with access to programmers and resources to map out microtonal possibilities we use fixed pitched instruments like guitars.  Johnston, at least, has declined to insist on his approach being "the" way, it's just one of many possible ways to take from the older musical traditions and use them to create something new.  His argument that serialism and associated techniques are refined forms of organic thematicism and that these can still work in tonality but are not sufficient devices to work past the cognitive constraints of the human brain (i.e. serialist music makes sense to the producer but not the untrained would-be consumer), is more cogent than anything I've seen from the Future Symphony Institute side of things against either Schoenberg or Adorno. 

It's been noted by a few music historians that the revolution that took place in the early Baroque by way of the Florentine Camerata was a revolution undertaken by educated amateurs.  It's possible that if we live in an era of mercantile powerhouses in the United States that elements of the Baroque era won't literally repeat themselves ... but history could rhyme. 

It can seem as though, per Halle's polemic, that the battle for the respectability of jazz in academic contexts may be moot if it's turned out to be a music enjoyed by a ruling elite.  A lot of people I've met in my life say they just don't like jazz.  I like jazz but I have wondered whether it's procedures have become so entrenched and sclerotic that the relationship between the popular and the idioms of jazz have fractured past the point where they will be recovered without a titanic amount of effort. 

A particularly vicious irony could be if a musician like Kenny G has retained the ability to play impromptu concerts because, whatever his failures to comply with the criteria of high art sanctity, he has worked in a pop idiom close enough to what people enjoy to retain a connection to an audience.  Kenny G is probably not going to end up being discussed in academic musicology, ever, but that might be the thing about being popular, he won't need that.  Respectability politics, whether the aspirational kind through which some black artists sought to gain and retain respect to make a social point about the injustice of racism or the other kind of respectability politics that seeks to fence out the "wrong" kind of popular music from being taken seriously as art, is obviously never necessarily the same thing as being popular. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

links for the weekend--Fredrik Deboer on public writing; Franklin Foer on the change at The New Republic; men as minorities in higher education enrollment; and on how badass warriors would l quilt in their downtime.

Not that it's customary to link to a discussion of a syllabus but somebody posted stuff about public writing and De Tocqueville's writing on the United States with some commentary that caught my eye.
Public writing is a field concerned both with writing objects designed for public consumption and with the theoretical and practical structures within public writing. It foregrounds the role writing plays in various types of political power structures, with an emphasis on its generative potential within a deliberative democracy. Public writing is ideally designed to produce effects within the world. Those effects may be as passive as mutual understanding or as active as generating concrete expression within the political process. In every case, public writing looks out from the individual or small group concerns of the creator of the writing onto a larger public to which it is addressed.
Of course that could be said of not only a treatise by Alexis de Tocqueville but also, obviously, a blog.  The influence of public writing is never assured and if there's a temptation I've noticed in blogging and bloggers that I have tried to have some vigilance against, it's falling prey to the idea that if you blog about something it should have some measurable effect.  If you treat blogging as any form of journalistic or historical supplement you can't afford to have that mentality.  The thing about clickbait or about the variations on clickbait that are around the internet is that that's a measurement of something but not necessarily the substance of what is being written or what is read or how whatever is read gets read. 
Which, for the weekend, works as a conceptual transition to this, Franklin Foer's account of departing from The New Republic.
The TL:DR summation is that in the quest for clickbait virality and viability in the digital era, the collapse of the management side and the journalistic side of traditional publication led to the decline of a magazine, in Foer's understanding of things.  But since you who have read this blog know we can't help quoting stuff:
Over the past generation, journalism has been slowly swallowed. The ascendant media companies of our era don’t think of themselves as heirs to a great ink-stained tradition. Some like to compare themselves to technology firms. This redefinition isn’t just a bit of fashionable branding. As Silicon Valley has infiltrated the profession, journalism has come to unhealthily depend on the big tech companies, which now supply journalism with an enormous percentage of its audience—and, therefore, a big chunk of its revenue.
Dependence generates desperation—a mad, shameless chase to gain clicks through Facebook, a relentless effort to game Google’s algorithms. It leads media outlets to sign terrible deals that look like self-preserving necessities: granting Facebook the right to sell their advertising, or giving Google permission to publish articles directly on its fast-loading server. In the end, such arrangements simply allow Facebook and Google to hold these companies ever tighter.

What makes these deals so terrible is the capriciousness of the tech companies. Quickly moving in a radically different direction may be great for their bottom line, but it is detrimental to the media companies that rely on the platforms. Facebook will decide that its users prefer video to words, or ideologically pleasing propaganda to more-objective accounts of events—and so it will de-emphasize the written word or hard news in its users’ feeds. When it makes shifts like this, or when Google tweaks its algorithm, the web traffic flowing to a given media outlet may plummet, with rippling revenue ramifications. The problem isn’t just financial vulnerability, however. It’s also the way tech companies dictate the patterns of work; the way their influence can affect the ethos of an entire profession, lowering standards of quality and eroding ethical protections.
Also this:
At the beginning of this century, journalism was in extremis. Recessions, coupled with readers’ changing habits, prodded media companies to gamble on a digital future unencumbered by the clunky apparatus of publishing on paper. Over a decade, the number of newspaper employees dropped by 38 percent. As journalism shriveled, its prestige plummeted. One report ranked newspaper reporter as the worst job in America. The profession found itself forced to reconsider its very reasons for existing. All the old nostrums about independence suddenly seemed like unaffordable luxuries.
Growing traffic required a new mentality. Unlike television, print journalism had previously shunned the strategic pursuit of audience as a dirty, somewhat corrupting enterprise. The New Republic held an extreme version of this belief. An invention of Progressive-era intellectuals, the magazine had, over the decades, became something close to a cult, catering to a loyal group that wanted to read insider writing about politics and highbrow meditations on culture. For stretches of its long history, however, this readership couldn’t fill the University of Mississippi’s football stadium.
The culminating zinger about Trump mastering the methods and memes of digital era journalism seems too easy.  If Trump could be considered the culmination of all those trends those trends were helped along by Jon Stewarts and Rachel Maddows and Rush Limbaughs and Ann Coulters across the political spectrum.  In the last twenty years here in Puget Sound I've come to the conviction that the differences between a Mark Driscoll and a Dan Savage are the formalities of teams. Sure, these two formally stand on opposites sides of a variety of issues but the self-aggrandizing confrontational style was easily observable in both men during their respective stints as public figures here in Puget Sound.  The punchline and the meme seem more important across the board than conversation across any proverbial aisle. 
Now perhaps Mark would find this recent piece at The Atlantic of interest:
A few years ago I saw some headlines to the effect that more women were getting more advanced degrees than men.  While on the one hand this could be construed as women getting a chance to use those advanced degrees to get into the job market I'm not sure if that gain is separable from the problem of student debt or from glass ceilings or even from the lately discussed pattern (in another Atlantic article) of how women in corporate settings can come to dread working for other women. 
Though advocates complain that few in higher education are doing enough to keep those men who do get there from leaving, there’s consensus that men’s reluctance to enroll in the first place isn’t necessarily the colleges’ fault. The problem has its origins as early as primary school, only to be fueled later on by economic forces that discourage men from believing a degree is worth the time and money.

“It’s funny that it’s the colleges that are finally seeing this issue and trying to resolve it,” said Patrick Maloney, the president of the Nativity School, a Jesuit Catholic middle school in the central Massachusetts city of Worcester that tries to aim low-income boys toward college. That’s because, by the time students reach college age, Maloney said, “It’s way too late. You’ve already lost them. Maybe [admissions officers] should be going into middle schools and start talking to fifth-graders about the benefits of college education.”

Or even earlier than that. The “anti-school, anti-education sentiment” in boys has roots in kindergarten, when they’re slower to learn to read than girls, said Jim Shelley, the manager of the Men’s Resource Center at Lakeland Community College in Ohio. Girls at the primary and secondary level worldwide far outperform boys in reading, according to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.

That disparity continues until, “by eighth or ninth grade, boys have lost interest,” Shelley said.
Many boys beyond that point perceive little benefit to college, especially considering its cost, said Jerlando Jackson, the director and chief research scientist at Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who has written about this. To them, he said, it means a lot of sacrifice for a vague payoff far in the future.
The question of whether or not college really is worth the trouble seems legitimate.  Somebody got a degree in journalism twenty years ago and realized it wasn't worth a whole ton on the job market even back then.  The article goes on ... :
Men may also feel they have more alternatives to college than girls do. “For a lot of my [male] high school friends, it was just too much time,” said Smith, the orientation leader at Carlow. “They were ready to get out. As opposed to a four-year college, they could go to an 18-month [vocational-education] program and make just as much money.”

That was the choice of at least one high-school classmate of Vinny Bucci, the male Carlow student Smith pointed out across the student center.

“I had a friend who, instead of going to college, went into trade work, and he said he’d have a job before I did,” said Bucci, who just earned a biology degree and is headed on to graduate school to become a mental-health counselor. “And he does. But when he’s 45, he’ll be miserable.”
He’s also likely to be poorer. People with bachelor’s degrees earn 56 percent more, on average, than people with only high-school educations, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Would that includee people who got degrees in journalism, too?  :)  Anecdotes aren't evidence, so the saying goes, but I know a couple of guys who never got formal education beyond high school as such but they became electricians and they and their wives and children are doing okay, if with rough patches here and there.  Which is to say what standard of living is being tacitly or explicitly invoked for "he'll be miserable?"  People age out of manual labor, true, but technology can render jobs obsolete. 
Now it may be as some say "you can't teach hustle" but you can't just invent a good old boy network out of whole cloth, either. 
I went to college and I'm even glad and grateful I went to college but I've advised my younger friends against going unless the work they want to get can not be obtained without that academic credential.
Much as I love the arts I hesitate (to put it mildly) recommending people go to college.  It's clearly not because I don't love academic writing and theoretical stuff.  I wrote thousands of words about early 19th century guitar sonatas informed by Hepokoski & Darcy's Elements of Sonata Theory to demonstrate that their Type 2 is readily demonstrated in works by Matiegka, Diabelli and Sor.  But I never got pasting having a B.A. and I didn't even technically major in music. 
I guess what I'll say for now is that there's a difference between college as a rite of participation in the middle or upper class (something Alastair Roberts has touched upon), and the sort of scholarly intellectual curiosity and love of learning and argument and discovery that no amount of formal credential in academia can really impart to you if you don't already come to school with it.  It may be that a lot of guys believe college isn't for practical men and it isn't practical for some men and women.  I wouldn't want to say that my friends and relatives who never went to college made a mistake.  In fact ... it's not hard to think of a number of friends and relatives who didn't go to college who easily make more money than somebody I know does!  I wonder if an ideological commitment to the inherent superiority of college education on the job market is just that, an ideological commitment.   I now view arts education with skepticism not so much because I don't love the arts but because the idea of going into a mountain of debt to learn how to participate in the arts seems unfortunate to me.  I'd rather, to invoke Paul Hindemith and John Philip Sousa, that we had a culture of avid and active amateurs than the kingdom of professional entertainers we've developed over the last century. 

HT to ArtsJournal ... let's just close with this, for the kinds of manly men who at one point went to some megachurch ...

What might a manly man of war do during down time?

Quilts made by men at war to go on display

Three years ago, St. Paul’s Cathedral in London restored and displayed a hand-made altar frontal that had been by intricately embroidered by 133 convalescing soldiers during World War I. Sewing was considered a highly effective form of occupational therapy for soldiers because it could be accomplished while seated, improved manual dexterity and mental focus. The notion of occupational therapy was birthed in the crucible of World War I which left so many men physically and psychologically disabled, but it was a new name for an old practice.

Soldiers and sailors have been stitching masterpieces of the sewing crafts for hundreds of years. It was a longstanding tradition that during lulls in fighting, while prisoners of war or over extended hospital visits, they would hand-stitch quilts, wool work seascapes and embroider their own uniforms. Sailors maintained ships’ sails as part of their duties and therefore had basic sewing skills. Soldiers didn’t have the same job requirement, so if they knew how to sew it was either fortuitous or professional; i.e., they had been tailors in civilian life and were often employed as regimental tailors in the military.

The quilts displayed in the post are impressive.  Back in the day a guy would need to know how to sew and that kind of skill set would be necessary in sailing (mending the sails and clothes), and the post expands on how quilting was something soldiers would do during lulls in fighting.  It's a way to focus the mind, maintain manual dexterity, and find a creative outlet in the midst of wartime. 

Soldiers ... a decade ago there was some video somebody had ... and Michael Spenser had some thoughts about it back from April 2007:


What’s bothers me in that presentation?

It feels like discipleship is almost completely (and increasingly) identified with a particular style of maleness, and that is a problem. [emphasis original]

I have to admit that when I heard Driscoll say that young men want to know how to have sex with their wives once a day, I was stunned. I know Driscoll walks the edge, but this was the kind of juvenile distortion I don’t expect to hear. I’ve had plenty of young males ask me about sex in marriage, and I’m not bashful or less than straighforward, but this isn’t a good answer, and it’s presenting the wrong description of a Christ follower.

Clearly, someone needs to stop and say “Wait a minute. What are we saying about the Christian life? That it promotes healthy, happy sex? Amen! But that it defines that terms in the mindset of a twenty-something male who thinks daily sex is a “need” that he deserves to have met by his “Biblically submissive” wife? Time out!!”

Yes. Time out. Time out to think about the fact that when you ask me what it means to follow Jesus, my first couple of answers will be insightful. And if I start talking about the culture war, global warming or having daily sex with my wife, I’m not thinking of discipleship, I’m thinking agenda. If you think good evangelicals are immune from this, go splash some cold water in your face. You’re wrong.

Listen, a lot of young preachers I enjoy talk a lot about sex and gender issues. Good for them. When I preach on sex and gender my students listen, ask questions and want more. I have a grasp on how this works. But I cannot present the Christian life primarily as a way to great maleness. Given too large a place, that’s close to just another prosperity gospel.

If you follow Jesus, you may have lots of sex or no sex. You may give up sex because you have to care for a sick or ailing spouse. You have to put your sexual agenda at the bottom of a list of things like crying babies, the stress of daily life, emotional realities and physical facts. If a man tells me his wife provides him daily sex, I’m happy for him. He’s way above average. But I have some questions about periods. Crying babies. Housework. Illness. Non-sexual affection. And I have some questions about demands being made for the sake of some idea of sanctified maleness.

If a guy shows up to talk to me about his marriage and says his wife is depriving him of daily sex, I’m going to bluntly tell him he needs to rethink what marriage means in more realistic terms.

It is probably a safe guess that by the time iMonk died he was not reading Real Marriage. That Mark Driscoll would share with the world for public record that he concluded the remedy for his moodiness was more sex ... well, we've got what iMonk said for the record about the kind of guy who would think sex on a daily basis is a "need" needed.

Driscoll, not entirely coincidentally, has a variant on Real Marriage called Real SexReal Celibacy is probably not going to be penned by Mark Driscoll, ever.  Thanks to some history we can learn that one of the things that good soldiers, real soldiers, would do to pass the time was quilting. 

Seriously, check out the quilts in the link, they look beautiful.  There is an artistic point that comes to mind here.  What I've been considering in the last five to six years is that artists and entertainers are in some strange sense the priests of our culture, not the pastors.  And if art an entertainment and athletics takes the role formerly played by religion then in America there's a pernicious form of clericalism commensurate to that change.  Sure, I know there are plenty of people who say that lack of education is why people voted for Trump but that seems like a canard.  If it's a glib explanation as to why stupid, uneducated people voted for someone you didn't want in the Oval Office then that's a glib explanation.  I love reading scholarly books about theology as well as the arts but this gets back to the distinction I was trying to make earlier about curiosity as distinct from credentialing processes.

And, yes, I'm a Protestant, I wonder if in our American cultural and educational milieu we've created the thing Sousa feared would happen, a caste of producers and consumers in the arts when what he believed was vital was an amateur scene, a kind of "priesthood of all believers" reworked as "everyone can participate in artistic life."  Soldiers quilting on the battlefield is a vivid reminder that these men were not "just" soldiers out there.  Obvious enough, but the kind of thing that can be missed in the faux-manliness of a Driscoll.  Real soldiers could and did quilt, bro.  Of course advocates of fine arts wouldn't consider quilting high art.  But if you're freezing on a winter's night will high art keep you warm?  That's kind of where I'm going with thoughts about a clericalism of the arts.   Bach fugues are beautiful and so are quilts. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

newer additions to local ministry leaders and staff at The Trinity Church, including Grace Driscoll--a review of statements by Mark Driscoll about his wife's history in ministry at Mars Hill with some observations about women's ministry sometimes being like "juggling knives".

Back on March 19, 2016 there were two people listed as local ministry leaders and staff for The Trinity Church in Arizona: Andy Girton and Brandon Andersen.  Girton is now pastor of creative, communications and construction. Andersen is ministries pastor.

By November 2016 one more person was added, Dustin Blatnik (worship pastor now).

Today there are other additions, Carrigan Wright (ministry assistant), Darien Bennett as a volunteer associate pastor, and Grace Driscoll, having a position Trinity Women and leads the Flourish Women's Ministry.

There's been a couple of updates, such as change in listed mailing address.
The street address for The Trinity Church, for corporate purposes, was changed to
2338 W Royal Palm Rd, Ste J
Phoenix, Arizona 85021
So also for the mailing address

Which looks to be the address of the registered agent, CAPITOL CORPORATE SERVICES INC

Recently the church filed an update with Arizona indicating recently added articles.

In light of Grace Driscoll showing up on the local ministry leaders and staff page, maybe we can revisit things Mark Driscoll had to say about his wife being involved and active in ministry from the old Mars Hill days.

For instance, here was something he shared in 2001:
2001-04-07 Women's Meeting Part 3
answering a question

41:39Best case scenario, I think, in ministry, is husband and wife working together. Beautiful. Like Priscilla and Aquilla, that's ideal to me because it's not good for the man to be alone, that includes ministry. [emphasis added]  So the wife is very helpful when she's a good fit. All our elders have wives that I admire and that I hope you would admire because they're admirable women. [emphasis added] And that's what it talks about in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, that the elders should be a certain way and so should their wives, because those women will know everything that is going on in the church; they will have more responsibility and have a higher profile.
That's why, you know, how many of your are in a home group with one of the elders? Some of you are. You should be. The way we set those up is that the elders are opening up their homes and teaching with their wives so that you can get to know them in a natural context.  That's the way it's generally working. And the reason is that because we feel that the husbands and the wives working together serve for the best model of how the church should work. It should NOT be 'the wife stays home with the children and the husband goes out and does ministry', it's that the WHOLE family does ministry TOGETHER. [emphases added] Our children are a part of our ministry. It's great. I love it. I love it when people come over and my daughter opens the door and welcomes them, sits them down--if you've been at my house you know how this works, she's little Miss Hospitality.
43:04Now her big thing before our Tuesday night study [is], she likes to open it in prayer, and then she likes to take the children upstairs and be the little hostess, which is great.  We have seen, I have seen, my daughter minister to people. I saw her, on one occasion, share the Gospel with a convicted pedophile, which was beautiful.  She was about, I think, right around about three years of age. About two and a half, three years of age. We were talking and he wanted to know as to whether or not God could forgive him for his sin. She came downstairs from her nap, saw him crying on the couch, and sat on his lap and asked me why he was said and I told her that he'd committed a sin against God and so she prayed for him.

And so I view my daughter as having a spiritual gift, or two or three, and I see her knowing Christ, that means I see evidence of the spirit of God in her. That means she is a member of this church and she is a part of this church and that every part, as Paul says, is necessary and vital. So to kick her out, or to kick the women out, or to kick the children out, and relegate them to some secondary position, it harms the church and it harms them.  [emphasis added]

Best case scenario--husband, wife, kids--doing the Gospel together as a family with Dad functioning as the pastor of that congregation. That's best case scenario. 

If that doesn't happen because the man abdicates his responsibility or he sins, we'll put scenarios in to help work around that.
44:45You'll get bored in your life if all you have is just you and your husband. When you're serving Christ and doing things NOW your life is going somewhere. You're doing something and it's fun. Most of my wife and my conversations are about OTHER people that are coming to Christ. People who are getting married. People who are having children. People who are learning Scripture. People who are getting their life together by God's grace. It's great because we don't get bored. There's always something to do. There's always something that God is up to.

So that was what he described as the best scenario, the entire family participating in ministry.  Thing is, when Mark Driscoll looked back on the earlier period in his 2006 book the account was slightly different: 

Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-27016-4

page 98
The church still was not paying me, so I was living off of outside support from another church. I was not making enough money to pull my wife out of work and start our family. So I started traveling a lot to speak at various conferences, hoping to help serve other Christian leaders and supplement my income.

page 101-102
During this season my wife, Grace, also started to experience a lot of serious medical problems. her job was very stressful, and between her long hours at the office and long hours at the church, her body started breaking down. I felt tremendously convicted that I had sinned against my wife and had violated the spirit of 1 Timothy 5:8, which says that if a man does not provide for his family he has denied his faith and has acted in a manner worse than an unbeliever. I repented to Grace for my sin of not making enough money and having her shoulder any of the financial burden for our family.  We did not yet have elders installed in the church but did have an advisory council in place, and I asked them for a small monthly stipend to help us make ends meet, and I supplemented our income with outside support and an occasional speaking engagement.

Shortly thereafter, Grace gave birth to our first child, my sweetie-pie Ashley. Up to this point Grace had continuously poured endless hours into the church. She taught a women's Bible study, mentored many young women, oversaw hospitality on Sundays, coordinated meals for new moms recovering from birth, and organized all of the bridal and baby showers. Grace's dad had planted a church before she was born and has remained there for more than forty years. Her heart for ministry and willingness to serve was amazing. But as our church grew, I felt I was losing my wife because we were both putting so many hours into the church that we were not connecting as a couple like we should have. I found myself getting bitter against her because she would spend her time caring for our child and caring for our church but was somewhat negligent of me. [emphasis added]

I explained to Grace that her primary ministry was to me, our child, and the management of our home and that I needed her to pull back from the church work to focus on what mattered most.  She resisted a bit at first, but no one took care of me but her.  And the best thing she could do for the church was to make sure that we had a good marriage and godly children as an example for other people in the church to follow.  It was the first time that I remember actually admitting my need for help to anyone.  It was tough. But I feared that if we did not put our marriage and children above the demands of the church, we would end up with the lukewarm, distant marriage that so many pastors have because they treat their churches as mistresses that they are more passionate about than their brides.  [emphasis added]

Although I was frustrated with both my wife and church, I had to own the fact that they were both under my leadership and that I had obviously done a poor job of organizing things to function effectively.  And since we did not yet have elders formally in place there was no one to stop me from implementing dumb ideas like the 9:00p.m. church service.  So I decided to come to firmer convictions on church government and structure so that I could establish the founding framework for what our church leadership would look like.

The timeline is a bit vague, yet it seems as though by Mark Driscoll's account there may have been one or two seasons in which he came to resent his wife for being involved in ministry at Mars Hill in ways where he felt he was being neglected.  Precisely HOW he felt neglected was not exactly specified.

This next period, if it was a distinct period and not a continuation of an earlier season, would have been when the church operated for a time out of the Driscoll home, if memory serves, roughly the 2000-2002 period:


page 120
A friend in the church kindly allowed me to move into a large home he owned on a lease-to-own deal because I was too broke to qualify for anything but an outhouse. The seventy-year-old house had over three thousand square feet, seven bedrooms on three floors, and needed a ton of work because it had been neglected for many years as a rental home for college students. Grace and I and our daughter Ashley, three male renters who helped cover the mortgage, my study, and the church office all moved into the home. This put me on the job, literally, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, as the boundary between home and church was erased.

We ran the church out of my house for nearly two years, including leadership meetings and Bible studies for various groups on almost every night of the week. It was not uncommon to have over seventy people a week in our home. Grace got sucked right back into the church mess. She was a great host to our guests. But I started growing bitter toward her because I was again feeling neglected. [emphasis added] I began working seven days a week, trying to save the church from imminent death. I had decided to go for broke and accepted that I would either save the church and provide for my family or probably die of a heart attack. I lived on caffeine and adrenaline for the better part of two years, ate terribly ,and put on nearly forty pounds. 

Then in 2012 Mark and Grace Driscoll published their book Real Marriage and it turned out that, perhaps, a new light was shed on the events previously described in the quotes above.  If in 2001 Driscoll described the cumulative Driscoll family ministry in positive terms, the 2006 account revealed in Confessions that at times he resented what he felt was his wife's neglect of him by dint of throwing herself into ministry activity.  Real Marriage added more retroactive caveats, indicating that Mark and Grace Driscoll had a marriage that was functional but not much fun:

REAL MARRIAGE: The Truth About Sex, Friendship & Life Together
Mark and Grace Driscoll
Copyright (c) 2012 by On Mission, LLC
isbn 978-1-4041-8352-0
isbn 978-1-4002-0383-3

pages 9-10
Before long I was bitter agaisnt God and Grace. It seemed to me as if they had conspired to trap me. I had always been the "good guy" who turned down women for sex. In my twisted logic, since I had only slept with a couple of women I was in relationships with, I had been holy enough, and God owed me. I felt God had conned me by telling me to marry Grace, and allowed Grace to rule over me since she was controlling our sex life.  [emphasis added]

from pages 14-15
In the second year of the church we had a lot of single people getting married, and so I decided to preach through the Song of Songs on the joys of marital intimacy and sex. The church grew quickly, lots of people got married, many women became pregnant, and my counseling load exploded. [emphasis added] I started spending dozens of hours every week dealing with every kind of sexual issue imaginable. It seemed as if every other young woman in our church had been sexually assaulted in some fashion, every guy was ensnared by porn, and every married and premarital couple had a long list of tricky sex questions. Day after day, for what became years, I spent hours meeting with people untangling the sexual knots in their lives, reading every book and section of the Bible I could find that related to their needs.

Although I loved our people and my wife, this only added to my bitterness.  I had a church filled with single young women who were asking me how they could stop being sexually ravenous and wait for a Christian husband; then I'd go home to a wife whom I was not sexually enjoying. [emphasis added] One particularly low moment occurred when a newly saved married couple came in to meet with me. I prayed, and then asked how I could serve them. She took charge of the meeting, explained how she really liked her body and sex, and proceeded to take out a list of questions she had about what was acceptable as a Christian for her to do with her husband. It was a very long and very detailed list. As I answered each question, she would ask related follow-up questions with more specific details. Her husband said very little, but sat next to her, looking awkward and smiling at most of the answers I gave.  After they left the counseling appointment to get to work on the list of acceptable activities, I remember sitting with my head in my hands, just moaning and asking God, "Do you really expect me to do this as a new Christian, without a mentor or pastor, in the midst of my marriage, and hold on for the next fifty years?" Peter walking on water seemed an easier task

This was, to put it simply, a pretty big contrast to what Driscoll was saying in ministry contexts about the nature of his marriage a decade earlier.  If the account in 2006 of how he at times resented Grace Driscoll throwing herself into ministry seemed to let slip that Mark Driscoll resented his wife throwing herself into ministry to his perceived neglect, Real Marriage presented a tale of a marriage that was functional in some sense but fraught with bitterness.  As to women's ministry in general by 2008, a few months after controversial firings at Mars Hill, Mark Driscoll was willing and able to hold forth at length about what he regarded as the problems generally inherent in women's ministries:
Spiritual Warfare part 2, The Devil
February 5, 2008
about 50 minutes in to the 1 hour mark.

How about this one? Idle gossip and busybodying. 1 Timothy 5:11-15. This one is amazing. Ladies this one is especially for you. Some of you say, "Oh, it's not me." Yeah, it is. 1 Timothy 5:11-15, but refuse to enroll younger widows for when their passions draw them away from Christ they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith.  Besides that they learn to be idlers

Women learn how to make a lot of free time. Going about from house to house. Well now it would be from email to email and from phone call to phone call. Technology makes idle busybodying far more effective than ever.

And not only idlers but also gossips. They like to talk about people. How are you doing? What are you doing? And this isn't sisterly accountability, this is "I need to know what everybody's doing because I like to know what everybody's doing and then I can tell other people what other people are doing and then I can say, `Hey, you need to pray for so-and-so.' and I can make it sound spiritual so that when I'm gossiping and busy-bodying I'm doing so in a way that seems really Jesus-like." And busybodies, they need to know what everybody's doing. They need to know what everybody's doing, saying what they should not. So I would have younger widows marry, bear children and manage their household, right? Stay busy, and give the adversary (that's Satan) no occasion for slander. For some have already strayed after Satan. Hmm.

A woman who's a gossip and a busybody; a woman who has to put her nose in everybody's business and knows what everybody's going on; know what they're doing, she's working with Satan. Now I know most women would say, "No, no, no. I'm not Satanic, I'm concerned. I'm not Satanic, I'm an intercessor. I'm a prayer warrior. I'm not Satanic, I'm an accountability partner.  I'm not Satanic, I'm a concerned friend."  Okay, you're a Satanic intercessory prayer warrior accountability partner concerned friend but just start the whole list with "Satanic" so that we don't misunderstand your job description. 

Now there's a difference between someone inviting you into their life and saying, "I want to be friends, I want to have an accountable  relationship." and you pushing yourself into everyone's life, okay?  I'll tell you, in the history of Mars Hill, I mean, I have had to put up a firewall, a moat, guard dogs, and a high wall with barbed wire on top, and snipers behind it, around my wife. There are certain women who, they just need to know what Grace is doing and they are determined, they say things like, uh, "Hey, we need to have dinner with your family." [slight chuckle] No you don't. [emphasis added]

"Hey, we need to have coffee." No you don't.  "Hey, phone number." What? Nope. "Email." Nope.  Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope.
"Oh, come on." Nope.
"But I thought you were our pastor."
I am and my first lesson is to tell you you're Satanic.

"Oh, come on, in our last church the pastor's wife [sob] she was my best friend and I got to talk to her all the time."
Well, she was Satanic, too.  Give me her number, I'll call her and tell her. We'll help her out.
You ladies KNOW these women. Right? How many of you ladies know these women? They will try first with the hyper-spiritual, "Oh, praise the Lord! I'd love to pray for you. Let's get together. Let's do Christian community. Let's go to heart." If you decline, then they emotionally manipulate, [inhales, sobbing voice], "I thought we were friends, I thought you loved me. I don't have anybody to talk to." It's all manipulation. It's FEMALE manipulation.  Some of you ladies, right now? You think, "I can't believe he said that." It's all true. It's Satanic, Satanic.

Paul says, "Don't be a busybody, stay busy." Right? Your husband, your kids, your family, your home, Jesus Christ. You got things to do.

Busybodies stay busy inserting themselves into everyone else's life. In some churches there are certain women, if you call them, they'll know everything that's going on because, somehow, they know everything. There's a difference between being a woman who is invited into someone's life for friendship, prayer and accountability, and a woman who emotionally manipulates and is pushy and is sometimes hyperspiritual and demanding and forces herself in because she's a drama queen and has to be at the center of all the drama. That is a Satanic woman.

You need to believe that and the worst thing you can do is accomodate it. Okay, we'll have you over for dinner once. And then, the next month, it's "Okay, buddy, we haven't been together in a month. We need to get together again. I'm sure a lot has happened in your life and I don't know what it is and I need to know because I need to know everything. I have a God complex of omniscience. I want to know everything about everybody." And what you find with these people, Paul says, they tend to be gossips, meaning you don't just talk to them, then they talk to other people.  "Well, did you know their marriage is struggling? Did you know that she's depressed?  Did you know that  she's post-partum?  Do you know that, sexually, her husband's impotent?" These are conversations I've heard in this building. Really?

Sometimes womens' ministry is the cesspool that this kind of activity flourishes in. Some have asked, "Why don't you have womens' ministry?" The answer is we do, but it's, you have to be very careful, it's like juggling knives. You put the wrong women in charge of womens' ministry, the drama queen, the gossip mama, all of a sudden all the women come together, tell her everything, she becomes the pseudo-elder  quasi-matriarch; she's got the dirt on everybody and sometimes the women all get together to rip on their husbands in the name of prayer requests. Happens all the time. Happens all the time.  [emphasis added] We have worked very hard so that the women who teach here are like Wendy Alsup who I really love and appreciate and respect. She's not like that. It is not that no woman should lead, that no woman should teach, that no woman should in a position of authority over other women  under the authority of their husband, Jesus and the elders it's just that the wrong women tend to want it. The wrong women tend to want it and they tend to want it for the wrong reasons. [emphasis added] And sometimes it's the humble woman, who isn't fighting to be the center of drama, control and power; who doesn't have to be up front; she's usually the one who is most capable and qualified.  

And for you single men as well I would say be very, very careful because if you're on staff at Mars Hill  (everything I say sounds terrible, this will just be added to the pile) there are certain women who will tell you, "I want to marry a pastor." Really? You should want to marry a Christian who loves Jesus, loves you, loves your kids should God give them to you. I've lectured enough Bible colleges and seminaries, the young women who come up and say, "I want to marry a pastor"  my immediate default question is, "Are you a gossip? Are you a busybody? Are you a drama queen?" "No. No, I feel called to serve the Lord."  Well, you can serve the Lord without being called to be a pastor's wife in fact, take it from me, it's easier to be a woman and serve the Lord than being married to a pastor.  

You single  guys, you gotta be careful, man. There are some women, they want to marry a pastor so they can be the center of power, authority; they can be the first lady;  everybody knows them, everybody wants to be their friend, everybody wants to tell them everything; and they can be the center of all the drama. Run for your life. Run for your life. Run for your life. It's Satanic.
See?  I need you women to really search your own heart. Are you Satanic? Is this still part of your flesh, this sick desire in you to know everybody's business? I'm not saying you don't have friends but how much are you on the internet? How much time do you spend emailing? How much time do you spend crying nad freaking out and knowing everybody's business and on the phone and having to meet with people because, "Did you know so-and-so did such-and-such and so-and-so is feeling this way and did you?" Are you the center of LOTS of activity? Why? It's Satanic. It's Satanic. I think I've made my point

For a time, then, Mark Driscoll seemed to regard women's ministry as a very dangerous and possibly dubious part of church life.  He has also been demonstrated as having said for the record in his books there were seasons during which he resented his wife's participation in ministry (of whatever sort) because he felt he was being neglected. 

Would Mark Driscoll still describe having a women's ministry as being like juggling knives?

Monday, August 07, 2017

HT Throckmorton: Former NewSpring Pastor Perry Noble Incorporates Second Chance Church

While Noble was actually fired from his church he's recently incorporated a new one.  While the comments at Throckmorton's blog tend to circle around second chance riffs it seems more apt, seeing as this year is the 20th anniversary of South Park, that the church might be more aptly titled the ...

Whatever, I'll Do What I Want Church.

But then that could probably turn out to be the real, functional name of a whole lot of churches in the United States, couldn't it?

It would seem that in America you can turn out to be guilty of any number of vices that, so long as you already got some kind of job in the vocation, can't possibly disqualify you from staying in the scene.  This seems to most often manifest with guys who were, quite possibly, never really fit for the pulpit as a matter of character rather than communication chops. 

Sunday, August 06, 2017

briefly noted, the half dozen cycles of preludes and fugues for solo guitar that have been composed that can be documented in some fashion

It turns out there's a half dozen cycles of preludes and fugues for solo guitar that have been composed.  Nikita Koshkin's is the most recently published and I still plan to blog about the cycle but in digging through online resources and researching for a more general overview of polyphonic music for solo guitar I learned that there's more than the Nikita Koshkin and Igor Rekhin cycles, though those are the two that have been formally published. Rekhin's cycle has not been recorded in full but you can get at least half of it in audio file format over here.

There's a cycle by German Dzhaparidze, for instance, which has been  recorded in its entirety by Esteban Colluci.  I've been listening to that cycle a LOT in the last month.

Samples can be heard as follows:
C minor
I think this one's actually G flat major on the basis of it being prelude and fugue No. 13.
G sharp minor

Having gotten the Colluci recording and also having received a copy of the score I'm just going to be very straightforward and say that Dzhaparidze's cycle is an excellent set of preludes and fugues that I really hope a publisher chooses to get behind and publish.  I mean to write more about these cycles of preludes and fugues later this year but life in the offline world has been of a sort where blogging's just not as easily done as it used to be. Some of that is the nature of work, some of it's the nature of time, some of it's the nature of composing and trying to perform music.  You can't drop thousands of words on the internet quoting Leonard B. Meyer, George Rochberg and theoretical writings about the syntactic scripts of sonatas as applicable to ragtime without it involving a ton of reading that slows down blogging activity.  In this case those delays have been beneficial because it's given me a chance to remember a number of contrapuntal cycles composed for the guitar, and I wanted to take some time to line them all up in a easily referenced list. 

There's a cycle by Gerard Drozd, of which there's one excerpt, the prelude and fugue in E major performed by Dimitri Illarionov over here.

While the Drozd cycle has an op. 86 appended to it, this cycle of 24 preludes and fugues and guitar doesn't manage to come up in online search engine results, which is a shame because if it's been officially and formally published I'd like to get the score for study.

There's a cycle of preludes and fugues composed by Philip Quackenbush.  I haven't had a chance to hear any of the works but I got to meet the composer a few years ago and see a couple of the pieces.  Quackenbush is a guitarist composer in the Puget Sound area. 

Finally there's some other guitarist composer who has written a set of preludes and fugues for solo guitar and the cycle is recorded in its entirety but in its duet form.  After getting advice that the solo cycle was promising but far more likely to get played if it were arranged to also exist as a set of duets somebody decided to take that advice.  So ... there's a volume 1 and a volume 2.  For folks who still use iTunes volume 1 and volume 2 are over there, too.

It may be an irony of the era of music as an industry in our era that the two contrapuntal cycles written for solo guitar that have been published are, as yet, not recorded in their entirety; meanwhile, the two contrapuntal cycles composed for the guitar that have been recorded in their entireties are not officially published, at least not through the traditional publishing industry platforms.  That might indicate the rarified niche that is classical guitar; it might indicate that the industry has reached a point where traditional publishing of scores confers an official role in the history of published music on the one hand, while on the other hand, recording technology has reached a point where musicians can record works and distribute them much faster than traditional publishing can bring those works to the public.

My hope is that all of the mentioned cycles can be both published (if they aren't already) and also recorded in some fashion.  Not that wishing makes it so but it's nice to learn that I'm not the only guitarist composer who has concluded that contrapuntal music for solo guitar is not only practical and possible but also desirable to compose.  '

Should anyone have publishing information about the Drozd cycle by all means swing by with a comment.  Comments are still automatically in moderation thanks to a long history of this blog being associated with other topics but things have settled down to a point where if you want to comment about music and arts stuff you're more than welcome to.