Saturday, September 26, 2020

Adam Neely and Ethan Hein discuss the absence of rappers covering rappers--a sideways thought on Robert Gjerdingen's excavation of Neapolitan partimento as a tradition in which kids jammed on existing bass lines as part of learning to master the craft of music

First, Ethan Hein has a post and video discussion about rap covers and how, although there are covers of rap songs rappers do not cover each other's work and how there is a norm against "biting" other rappers.

For me one of the most memorable "Major Interpretation" covers of this century was Johnny Cash covering Trent Reznor's "Hurt".  At the risk of a digression, the line between major and minor interpretation can depend a lot on reception history.  Stripping down a song in terms of instrumentation is one of the patterns that shows up, such as Cash covering Reznor but his example is just of many potential case studies.  Anyone remember the cover of "Mad World" by Tears for Fears at the end of Donnie Darko?  I suspect that the difference between "major" and "minor" may depend on popular music being what Theodore Gracyk described as "ontologically thick", which is to say that this timbre created by playing this guitar through that amp with these settings through these pick-ups is important. I haven't played the Telecaster in a while but I know the Tele and a Gibson hollow-body have VERY different sounds and you'll want one sound for one kind of song and the other sound for another.  But I've digressed pretty early into this post ... .

This is fascinating to hear about because there have been anti-rap polemics that have argued that sampling shows a lack of musical creativity (this was my stance twenty-five years ago when I was a teenager and first heard rap). I have, over the course of twenty years, come to a point where hip hop isn't exactly my favorite style of music but, you will note, I have referred to it as music, which it is.  As Leonard Meyer used to put it, a democracy doesn't mean everyone will like the same thing but it means that everyone can and should be prefer to like the music that they like.  

"The Arts Have Failed Us" by way of The Critic, by way of Norman Lebrecht, but if the arts decorate life rather than give it purpose what kinds of decorations can this era afford?


Too much can be expected of art. The clichĂ© that art has become a substitute — or even actual — religion for too many civilised people is a commonplace for a reason: they have mistaken what art is there to do. Which, more often than not, is to decorate life, not fulfil it. Art serves purposes, it doesn’t provide them.


On the one hand, such a claim is the ultimate bullet to the head of "autonomous music" anyone could have written, for popular magazine standards.  On the other hand ... there's Lebrecht's reaction to suggestions that Beethoven represents a racist and elitist standard ... .

If art decorates life rather than fulfills it then who can afford and would also find suitable to buy the "decoration" of another Beethoven box set?  I love Beethoven's last piano sonata.   Just because I generally hate Beethoven's choral music and think he had a penchant for being a bloviating blowhard in some of his works doesn't mean I don't admire Beethoven!  Mozart and Haydn wrote better choral music because they sang in choirs and anyone who has sung and sung choral literature can feel that two of the Big Three had actually bothered to sing in vocal ensembles!  All the same, since the folks at The Critic made a point of saying art decorates life ... 

Friday, September 25, 2020

A W Nix sermon "Watch Your Close Friend", an early recorded sermon

Basically just because. Nix was an early success in the recorded sermon genre.  If in a non-studio setting preachers were known to preach much, much longer than a mere 2 minutes early recording put pretty severe time constraints on sermons, so you could hear this as a kind of blues homily on a passage in Judges (which reminds me that I never got around to blogging about Barry Webb's commentary ... )

The great Blind Willie Johnson may have been one of the great exponents of gospel blues but the musical vocabulary and style he refined was taking shape in the 1920s and onward.  

some back and forth stuff between Fredrik deBoer and Nathan Robinson's shifting take on The Cult of Smart, with an Alan Jacobs interlude

 Robinson's review of The Cult of Smart is over here and, even for Robinson, it's rather long-winded, even bloviating:

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Perchance to Dream: Dream Divination in the Bible and the Ancient Near East--basically just sharing the title (reading and writing about it may come much later)

Perchance to Dream: Dream Divination in the Bible and the Ancient Near East (Ancient Near East Monographs)

Oh, this looks like it could be a ton of fun!  

It's available via the link but it may be a while before I have anything close to a write up about it.  The next post I was aiming to write would be an analysis of Matiegka's Op. 31, Sonata No. 2 in A minor but, obviously, that post hasn't arrived yet.  It probably has to wait for the weekend.  

Rhodope Song and Dance (Premiere), for Cello and Guitar, by Atanas Ourkouzounov. Duo Villa-Lobos

As I wrote long ago back when I first started this blog, I like the music of Atanas Ourkouzounov. Here's a performance of a duet for cello and guitar he's written.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Lukas Krohn-Grimberghe outlines reasons why the streaming subscription service royalty system currently does not help classical musicians

Lukas Krohn-Grimberghe makes a case for why the contemporary winner takes all music model adversely effects classical music in the era of subscription stream.  Besides the lump sum pot from which musicians get royalties and the fractions of a cent royalties paid per play, there's a third problem that Krohn-Grimberghe says harms the possibility for musicians to net royalties when they're in genres and styles of music that are not at the top of the listening habits of subscribers:

There is a third problem — an important detail — that is typically overlooked: In this streaming business model, user fees are effectively re-distributed based on the overall listening behavior of all subscribers: If 5% of all streams this month were accumulated by BeyoncĂ©, 5% of my subscription fee would go to her whether I listened to her music or not. Conversely (and this is why this model is particularly problematic for niche genres like classical), if I listened to only classical music this month, but overall classical streams accounted for 1% of all streams, then only 1% of my subscription fee would be attributed to classical.  

The result is an increasing divide — on one side there is a winner-takes-all mentality in which the superstars and major labels rake in millions, while at the same time there is an erosion of music’s middle class and numerous stories about how artists are suffering from this model, because the revenue they receive is incremental.

There is a simple fix (yet certainly not the sole solution): Distribute revenue on a per-listener basis, which means that your subscription fee would be shared out only to what you listen to. This would result in fairer payouts and most likely redirect revenue to the artists the money actually belongs to. But, as the current model works in favor of those who own the most content, and with the three major labels contributing about 70% of the catalogue, this solution has, so far, been blocked.