Saturday, October 02, 2021

Ethan Hein discusses the Kronos Quartet playing Jimi Hendrix and ... Blind Willie Johnson (for which I can never forgive them!)--update: I've found exactly ONE academic monograph on the lining hymn traditions so far, included at the end of the post

I agree with Ethan Hein about wondering whether the Kronos Quartet's attempt to play Jimi Hendrix was successful.  I lean "no".  The tempi for the different sections of the "Purple Haze" arrangement jack knifes away any possibility of either attempted groove actually working.  The down tempo intro is slower than what Hendrix did and the verse-and-chorus arrangement is faster than what Hendrix did and in neither case does a steady groove happen as the cumulative result.  

And the quartet arrangement of "Dark Was the Night" is frustrating beyond words.  Ethan Hein notes there's no groove but there's also no low end.  The groove that lives and breathes beneath Blind Willie Johnson's amazing performance is bolstered by those droning bass strings. 

Mahalia Jackson did an amazing solo voice performance of the lining hymn, so a spare, minimalist approach to the song can absolutely work.  

As for jazz violin, I tend to think of Ray Nance's wonderful solo on "Bakiff".

The thing I'm thinking is that if a string quartet isn't going to get the groove of folk blues and they have the chops to get at timbrel variation and microtonal inflections there should be two things going on. The first is low end.  The second is that some kind of heterophony that replicates the heterophony that often shows up in lining hymn performances should have happened and the Kronos arrangement doesn't get any heterophonic/quasi-polyphonic patterns going for long.  That would also, probably, require an arranger and ensemble to find out what groove against which the heterophony or polyphony would be playing against.  

Radames Gnatalli's Sonata for Guitar and Cello, movement 1 with video and score

I feel fortunate I got the score for this lovely work back when it was still in print!  Radames Gnattali's Sonata for Cello and Guitar deserves to be in the top ten pieces ever written for this combination of instruments.

Theme 1 takes up the first 1:08 and is in E minor, kinda.  There's a gorgeous dorian element to the soaring cello line and the guitar gets a magnificent 2/4 and 5/8 alternating groove. There's a lovely transition and Theme 2 kicks in (I think) at 1:09 but gets a clearer gestural identity at 1:34.  This second theme is developed across the space of the Theme 2 place in the "exposition". Gnattali veers from E minor into G# minor via sequential development of the Theme 2 gesture.  Theme 2 develops more by languid fantasia that fades out into a preparation for the return of Theme 1 than some kind of Beethovenian "drive" to the dominant pedal point that sets up a big syntactic climax.  This kind of "winding down" development is pretty common in Ferdinand Rebay's solo guitar sonatas which I shall have to write about later.

thoughts on The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill by episode 9: it isn't really a history and responses to it have often fit what Samuel D James has described and exemplified in his responses as "the take trap"

The series The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill has hit Episode 9. 9

I am taking a break from listening to the series, however, to take stock of some of the reactions I’ve seen and the gamut I’ve seen so far suggests that reactions tend to be of a wagon-circling variety across doctrinal and political spectrums.

an article at Vice on Doug Wilson's church gets a response from Wilson who regards it as a work full of lies but a great microphone handed to him to promote the 2nd edition of A Justice Primer

I've written intermittently over the the last few years about the seminal influence Doug Wilson had on Mark Driscoll's ideas about men, women, marriage and sexuality.  

Wilson's books were available at the Mars Hill book store. I got one or two and confess I can remember little about any of them.  I found it hard to shake a sense that Doug Wilson was a self-regarding gasbag whose persona seemed to influence Mark Driscoll's.  It turned out, based on Crawford Gribben's excellent work mapping the evolution of the American Redoubt, that Wilson was launching Credenda Agenda and other projects in the late 1980s and early 1990s when a newly converted Mark Driscoll was attending WSU and went on a retreat and subsequently claimed to hear an audible calling from God after praying by an Idaho river.  

Vice has run an article recently on Douglas Wilson's scene and its background.  It's both what I would expect from a Vice article and a reminder to me that even though The Stranger had hostile coverage of Mars Hill they also tended to have the most accurate coverage. In an era in which it is tempting to dismiss reports on account of the source I hesitate to be skeptical of a critical article merely because it has come from Vice.

yet ...

George Walker: String Quartet No. 1: I. Allegro

Because I like a fair chunk of George Walker's music, here's the first movement of his first string quartet

Thursday, September 30, 2021

a history of Mars Hill Fellowship by way of articles of incorporation and annual reports 1995-2007

One of the things the podcast The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill has reminded me of is how few people from the earliest stages of Mars Hill history have said anything on record.  A reason for this absence may partly be because people from Antioch Bible Church and Spanish River Church such as Ken Hutcherson and David Nicholas died years ago.  Conspicuous by their absence from the podcast are the three co-founding leaders of Mars Hill Mark Driscoll, Mike Gunn and Lief Moi.

But ... now that in the wake of the dissolution of the corporation formerly known as Mars Hill Church the original articles of incorporation and annual reports have been made available through the State of Washington and so, absent more comments (or any) from people from the earlier years as of the eve of October 2021 it may be as well to document a history of Mars Hill through filed documents.   Thus ...

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Dream Divination in the Ministry of Mark Driscoll: Driscoll on the rarity of his interpreting other dreams as an implicit baseline against which to appreciate his reliance on dream divination in his own ministry

I have already broached the topic of dream divination in Mark Driscoll’s ministry by way of his accounts of his reliance on what he’s called prophetic dreams in his own ministry. 

Following up on an old thread taken up by Warren Throckmorton, however, it’s worth revisiting that Driscoll claimed he rarely interpreted anyone else’s dreams.  That Driscoll said it was rare for him to interpret the dreams of others suggests that the base line against which he made this comparison was a history of interpreting his own dreams. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Van runs an article on the low state of classical music humor--much of the bad classical music humor is wordplay on extra-musical concepts, musical humor that lands usually upends or lampshades MUSICAL conventions and axioms

This article is worth reading just for the featured clip of Dudley Moore playing "Colonel Bogey" in the style of a Beethoven piano sonata.

The lugubrious minor key phrases, the bloviating coda that takes up the last 1:30 of an already short piece ... if you know Beethoven's style the parody is really funny. :) 

Marcyn Dylla plays Tansman's Variations on a Theme by Scriabin

I mean, I know I've linked to a performance of the work before ... but that video has long since been listed as private and this performance by Marcin Dylla is at hand.

If only there were a posted performance of his complete Suite in Modo Polonico for guitar and harp.

Among many other things musical I feel overdue to discuss some Tansman but, well, longtime readers may know that I've been side-tracked with some other projects of a more historical/documentary nature.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Warren Throckmorton republishes the story of one of Paul and Jonna Petry's children visiting services at The Trinity Church 9-26-21; Driscoll tweets a devotional 9-27-21 about triumphing amidst trials ... okay ...

I’ll be honest, as I preach about finding joy in the everyday and triumphing through trials, I’m preaching to myself.

7:23 AM · Sep 27, 2021


It looks like after having not preached from the Epistle of James since 2014 on the theme of Jesus’ bold little brother, Mark Driscoll is back to James. It’s been striking how much material from the era of The Trinity Church seems to be thematic recycling of material that Mark Driscoll preached at Mars Hill.  Is he ever going to preach through the book of Isaiah, the book or the book of Lamentations like he said he was hoping he’d one day do on Midrash circa 2005?  He did, to be fair, get around to Luke but it’s been striking to me how readily Driscoll has gone back to preaching through books he preached throughout his Mars Hill years. It’s not like people can’t go to the sight and spot how much recycling’s happened in terms of books of the Bible.  Still, sometimes there are hints in daily devotions of struggles. 


James 1:17-18 – Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.  

I’ll be honest, as I preach about finding joy in the everyday and triumphing through trials, I’m preaching to myself. As I preach James, I wrote at the top of my daily to-do list “Find joy” and it’s not one I’m ever going to cross off because I’m continuing in this pursuit daily. 

Along with this, I’ve started scheduling weekly hikes with the Lord where I turn my phone off, listen to Him and recount all the reasons to be joyful. Last week, I just started audibly listing reasons why I can be joyful, and the hike took several hours.

This week, I talked to God about trials I’m going through, and frustrations I have, and I came away from it unburdened. The Lord gave me wisdom, increased my joy, and showed me patterns in my own life where I’m living in the flesh and need to change so I can live in the fullness of the Spirit, freedom, and joy. 

I would encourage you to do the same. It may not be a hike and you may not have several hours to dedicate to it, but a set amount of time with the Lord each week is important nourishment for your soul. You will never be the same and will leave this time changed for the better and with an increased joy for your future. 

I hope that, among those things Driscoll has considered trials and frustrations he’s had, one of them was not Benjamin Petry’s visit to two services at The Trinity Church. Petry’s account was published recently by Warren Throckmorton for the record.