Saturday, November 14, 2020

considering a little vacation from blogging, some long-incubating writing projects probably work better by being offline for a while, some guesses at directions for 2021 if this "vacation" takes.

 It's not that I run out of material, exactly.  I still want to blog about the Wenzel Matiegka Op. 31 guitar sonatas; the Dusan Bogdanovic guitar sonatas; the Atanas Ourkouzounov guitar sonatas; the Ferdinand Rebay guitar sonatas; Nikita Koshkin's two big sonatas for guitar solo; the magnificent solo guitar sonatas of Angelo Gilardino; German Dzhaparidze's 24 preludes and fugues cycle for solo guitar ... but that's twenty-seven solo guitar sonatas and an entire cycle of preludes and fugues (I haven't ruled out Rekhin altogether but, alas, literally no one has seen to it to record that entire cycle whereas literally all the other works I've mentioned have been or are likely be recorded.

And then there's this ...

Justin Dean has shared more on the record about his Mars Hill years and there's stuff in the Bad Christian podcast that is of interest to anyone chronicling the history of the late Mars Hill.  The picture of the late Mars Hill comes across more and more as a meticulously micromanaged to death top-down cultural system in which it turned out Justin Dean was basically, by his account, prevented from being able to do his  actual job for a while.  Having written many critical appraisals and citizen-journalistic chronicles about Mars Hill Dean's interview deserves some more detailed discussion, especially with respect to his past on-record interactions with Throckmorton and, as longtime readers know, I reviewed Dean's book PR Matters a few years back.  

I do not take it as a given that anyone is lying or even exactly "spinning".  The stuff that Dean has shared checked out with stuff Turner shared and while I have, ahem, obviously, had my differences with both of those men I have never once had any reason to doubt their statements ... which is more than I can say about another guy but even that guy probably really believes the stuff he says as best I can tell.

All that noted in the most cursory way, I was thinking back on the blogging that I have done this year.  A twelve-part updated analysis of Koshkin's 24 Preludes and Fugues Volume 1 is about 29,000 words. Ragtime and Sonata Forms is 53.800 some words and while it took years to do all the reading and citation assembly and preliminary research the writing itself, minus two chapters, I basically blazed through and wrote in a single week.  Covid-19 lockdown has a lot of bad things about it but the silver lining for me has been discovering how much I can really write when I set my mind to it.

The third really big long-form project was the nine-part "what did they say?" survey of former Mars Hill executive elders and while it took months to listen to about twelve to fourteen hours worth of podcasts and prodigious reference to transcripts (thank you Sutton Turner!) the 29,000 word nine-part series was something I wrote through in a single weekend.  Fifty-six single-spaced pages in a weekend is a kind of creepy amount of writing even if fully half the material is citations.  Between those three blogging projects I wrote 230 pages; while the later 2014 66-part juggernaut on Mark Driscoll's 2008 spiritual warfare teaching session transcription with analysis might be the single longest project I've tackled I don't know that for sure.  A lot of those individual posts were fairly short.  This year I wrote three projects that don't necessarily have a high number of posts but they're projects that have to be read as continuous long-form arguments.

Part of me wants to keep on keeping on and writing here at the blog about music and the significance of 2020 top-level leaders of the former Mars Hill sharing stuff; and I haven't even finished Maren Haynes Marchesini's PhD on the history of music at Mars Hill ... which I'm about halfway through and am finding fascinating ... 

part of me feels like a bunch of stuff could wait a while .. .maybe not as far out as 2021 but wait a while. 

There's also that giant reading list,  and when just one of the books on that list is the unabridged The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall (which I must confess I just might not finish) blogging could take up time that could be spent reading or writing offline.

Sometimes I get this inspiration to write and discover after I've written what I want to write I've cranked out 46 to 130 pages when I stop and look at what I did ... and sometimes I feel like hanging out with a buddy and watching Star Blazers 2199 or re-watching Venture Bros is okay, too.  When another season of the adventures of Ladybug and Cat Noir makes it on to disc (I hope) I plan on watching that, too.  That ... of course ... reminds me I haven't blogged about animated anything in a long time and French language animation could be its own topic (Long Way North, Persepolis, Miraculous, etc). Yes, I live on the West Coast of the U.S. and I even got to attend one of the only legal screenings of Mamoru Oshii's Angel's Egg but there's more to cartoons as an art form than the U.S. and Japan.

Ugh ... which reminds me ... I never did finish that extended series on Justice League Unlimited for Mockingbird. :(  The Green Lantern chapter was something I was looking forward to writing because between John Stewart Green Lantern and Samurai Jack Phil LaMarr is up there in the pantheon of spectacular voice actors for me ... but life happens.  

And blogging too much makes it harder to write music.  I, er, blogged in years past about how I was writing 24 preludes and fugues for solo guitar and that project is done and there's a second set of 24 preludes and fugues that I'm working on that will draw more from the examples of Anton Reicha, Rodion Shchedrin, Michelle Gorrell, Nikolai Kapustin (of course!) and, yes, Koshkin, too (because he's one of my favorite contemporary guitarist-composers), than the Bach/Hindemith/Shostakovich/Castelnuovo-Tedesco/Rekhin approach I took earlier.

I'm also close to done with a two-dozen cycle of compositional studies exploring what's possible using natural harmonics on solo guitar. I cheat in one study with an artificial harmonic but I'm getting close to 45 minutes worth of material where everything is composed using natural harmonics on the guitar--eighteen little character studies and a projected six sonata forms.  You didn't misread that part, six sonata forms for solo guitar using only natural harmonics.  I really am the sort of person whose idea of a fun weekend is writing tens of thousands of words about stuff I care about or working out how it's possible to compose a post-Mississippi John Hurt version of "All Creatures of Our God and King" with a ragged rhythm imitative /canonic call and response episode.  

Doing that kind of thing is how I have fun during what looks to be a ramped up covid-19 lockdown phase in Washington this winter.  I'm going to keep missing friends and family I won't be able to see ... but such is 2020.

While I want to write about Ephraim Radner's latest book and my friend Wendy Alsup's latest book I'm reaching a point where I realize that I've been blogging here at Wenatchee The Hatchet since 2006.  I'm the kind of person who kind of "has" to write but I might not be doing so much of the writing here for a bit.

I kind of want to write some kind of book on sonata forms and fugue geared specifically for guitarists but since I'm not an academic in music theory I've got zero odds of being able to put such a book together and running it by a publisher as things currently stand.  But that a book about fugue specifically for guitarists ought to be written is something I think needs to be done because the Koshkin cycle deserves a book-length analysis of the entire cycle which I will totally do (practically speaking) when the second volume gets recorded.  The Dzhaparidze cycle isn't published but it should be!  If there are any classical guitar publishers who read this blog I encourage you to go look up the recording of the cycle and consider publishing it.  I'm eventually, I hope, going to write an analytic series on the Dzhaparidze cycle.  

I don't think we guitarists need abstruse theoretical books on fugue drawing from keyboard literature or choral traditions (former choirboy though I am). What I think guitarists would benefit from is a compendium that analyzes the actually published preludes and fugues of contemporary guitarists.  I'd even be willing to use, um, my own cycle since there's only a grand total of six cycles of preludes and fugues for solo guitar across the entire planet at the moment, so if I took the otherwise cheeky approach of discussing my own work alongside Koshkin's and Dzhaparidze's the resulting survey could be a book that covered literally half the large-scale contrapuntal solo guitar cycles that have been written in this century. 

I know Dusan Bogdanovic has a great book on counterpoint out there and I've got it, but I have wondered whether guitarists might find it useful to have a book on fugue, specifically, geared to guitarists.  I don't think we should feel too sheepish about having didactic fugues when so few fugues exist for the guitar.  I can think of a candidate for a didactic fugue idea that could not just be a didactic fugue but which could demonstrated techniques for fugal composition and do so in a way that would lend itself to jazz guitarists.  

To just come out and say this, I am sketching out a fugue in three voices in B minor based on The Lick.  I know it's one of the biggest cliches in the history of jazz but it became one of the biggest cliches in the histor yof jazz because it is a great lick, particularly because the melodic contour lends itself so readily to modal mutation and if you've ever sat down and really looked at it ... the beauty of The Lick is that its dorian aspect means that you can go full Schoenberg and use it in prime, retrograde, inversion and retrograde inversion and the underlying dorian element of the implied harmony in The Lick means it works in literally every direction you play it.  Another wonderful thing about it is that you don't have to assume The Lick starts on the root of the scale, it could start on other scale degrees and by now, however many people may be reading this post, you might be getting a clearer sense of why I am thinking of taking a vacation from blogging.  

There will ... eventually ... be more detailed discussion of Win Your War itself and as part of the glut of spiritual warfare books that have been cranked out in American pop level Christian publishing for the last, oh, sixty years.  One of the reasons I haven't reviewed the Driscoll book yet or discussed it is because I really am having fun reading dozens of book on the topic of exorcism, spiritual warfare, diabology, The Watchers traditions, and stuff like that but not just from a theological/seminary approach.  I'm also planning to read political/sociological monographs like ... 

Passing Orders: Demonology and Sovereignty in American Spiritual Warfare

I know Jessica Johnson, who wrote pretty much the only book about Mars Hill Church that, to date, I think you should read, knows about Passing Orders so those of us who have documented the late Mars Hill have a book that's coming up we want to read, at least two of us.  A whole lot of spiritual warfare and revivalist talk has struck me over the last twenty years as more explicitly than implicitly Americanist and maybe even more implicitly than explicitly has what, on a completely different topic, Philip Ewell described as the "white racial frame" of music theory.  It's way, way more explicitly a white racial frame on the topic of spiritual warfare in United States pop publishing, which is why I was very excited to read the Ghanaian theologian and pastor Esther Acolatse's work on the topic because back in my college days I had a number of African Christian friends and, to keep a sprawling post within some boundary of wrap-up, I have too many Christian friends across the world to think there's any business, literally or figuratively, in American Christians thinking of us as some Special Land.  Babylon the Great or The Beast seems more apt to me ... 

but anyway ... it may have taken the rise of heretics like Paula White for academics to start catching on that MAGA was a goal within a lot of American and charismatic and New Apostolic Reformation scenes for a generation or two before Trump ran on an official MAGA hat slogan.  I've merely touched on this here and there and not necessarily here at this blog but I recall telling Jessica Johnson that Mark's whole approach to spiritual warfare seemed to not draw on the Puritan tradition of learning spiritual disciplines that let you do battle with your own vices, he had more of a demonize the groups you don't agree with.  Now, sure, that does happen in religious traditions but a lot of spiritual warfare manuals at the pop level ... well ... for the handful of readers who come here maybe we can "all" read Passing Orders and compare notes later at some other time when I try to blog about it in 2021?  Or not.  I'm reading the book for sure.  

There's a big pile of writing about music I want to do and it's starting to seem like it makes more sense to take some down time to do some of that writing.  I've shifted the blog away from Mars Hill stuff over the years and the plan is to keep tackling music, music analysis and associated topics but I really didn't expect the executive elders and Justin Dean to all go on record this year ... it was almost like five years after the corporate dissolution of the company was the threshold of some non-disclosure agreement or something, I don't know, Turner or Dean could maybe field whether or not there were actual non-disclosure agreements.  Either way I am actually grateful guys like Sutton Turner, Dave Bruskas and Justin Dean are sharing stuff on the record.  Maybe they're slowly coming to terms with things that someone like me struggled with 11 to 12 years ago when I decided I couldn't be part of that organization any longer.  

So after all this I might take a break and it might not even last that long.  Little breaks followed by explosions of writing have been known to happen here but I get to find out.  Either way, I hope that readers have a safe an pleasant holiday season as much as possible.  I've got pages with tags and posts and while that Matiegka Op. 31 No. 3 analysis is on my to-do list I might take the short vacation to go through the other three sonatas so as to have a complete series.  

Sonata Forms for Guitarists; Contemporary Prelude and Fugue Cycles for Guitar; and A Primer on Fugue for Guitarists seem like books that really need to be written.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

45's spiritual advisor Paula White declares "victory" for him, Julia Duin asks who's covering this at GetReligion and asks whether Pentecostals are behind Trump's refusal to concede

Ex-Pentecostal though I am for many reasons I'm finding this is a weirdly apt period in which to be reading on the topics of spiritual warfare, diabology, exorcism and their connections to American cultural activity.  It's something that indirectly cropped up in reading Anthony Heilbut's books on Gospel music where in The Fan Who Knew Too Much he pointed out that more traditional evangelicals have not been as prominent in the Trump administration as Word Faith and prosperity teachers such as Paula White.  I.e. while an increasingly religiously illiterate mainstream press has tended to fixate on the evangelicals who were regarded as having put Trump in office Heilbut has tracked Pentecostal music for enough decades to know the differences between white conservative evangelicals of the Graham variety and the more Pentecostal/charismatic types like T. D. Jakes, Creflo Dollar or Paula White.  The prosperity teachers are still regarded as heretics by more traditionalist evangelicals (and for that matter old school Pentecostals across white and black Pentecostal church movements if memory serves).  

Julia Duin has written at moderate length about the significance of the kind of charismatic/Pentecostal movement Paula White is part of here:

Sunday, November 08, 2020

links for the weekend: old stuff from The Bellows on a double horseshoe theory of class conflict and academic guild behaviors; John Gray on American solipsism; Wilsonian handwringing; and a withdrawal from ECFA

Living in such curious times as we do some writing projects take more time and focus than I have had lately. This being early November 2020 with me living in the United States I trust I don't have to explain too much as to why.  Musical analysis and music blogging has been temporarily on hold, as has blogging about things connected to the history of a former 501(c)3, although I want to mention that on that orbit of topics Justin Dean had a fascinating (for me) conversation on the Bad Christian podcast I want to eventually blog about.  But for this weekend, links for the weekend will suffice.

As an attempt to explicate class warfare Lind's proposal seems to have some merit. I'm reading deBoer's The Cult of Smart and also Lind's The New Class War lately. Reading Lind reminded me of a willfully ridiculous set of jokes in Whit Stillman's Metropolitan about the difference between a titled aristocrat and an untitled aristocrat with a member of the latter saying the former are "the scum of the earth". Lind proposes that the underclass is basically not relevant to an examination of the political battles within the overclass and that the competing interests and allegiances of the professional bourgeois and the small business bourgeois can help us get a clearer sense of what neoliberalism in its progressive and reactionary forms has been up to in this millenium.  As Lind puts it:

At the risk of being overly schematic I would suggest that the “center,” “left” and “right” of America’s top-thirty-percent politics can be mapped imperfectly onto the managerial elite, the professional bourgeoisie and the small business bourgeoisie. In particular, both DSA progressivism and Tea Party conservatism can be understood as different strategies for enlisting the power of government to stave off the proletarianization of the constituents of the two bourgeoisies

The goal of so-called progressivism in 2020s America is to expand employment opportunities for college-educated, center-left professionals, while adding new wings to the welfare state that are tailored to their personal needs. The slogan “Defund the police” is interpreted by the bourgeois professional left to mean transferring tax revenues from police officers, who are mostly unionized but not college-educated, to social service and nonprofit professionals, who are mostly college-educated but not unionized. The enactment of proposals for free college education and college debt forgiveness would disproportionately benefit the professional bourgeoisie, not the working-class majority whose education ends with high school. Likewise, public funding for universal day-care allows both parties in a two-earner professional couple to maximize their individual incomes and individual career achievements by outsourcing the care of their children to a mostly-female, less well-paid workforce at taxpayer expense.


The upper horseshoe schema explains American political factions in terms of different combinations of its elements. When the professional bourgeoisie allies itself with the Managerial Elite, you get Clinton-Obama-Biden left-neoliberalism. When the small business bourgeoisie allies itself with the Managerial Elite, you get George W. Bush-Paul Ryan-Nikki Haley right-neoliberalism.