Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Put / Your Body In Motion

Performance of musical instruments is dance of a sort - (see how Mark Morris positioned Yo-Yo Ma?) - and Polish artist Odaibe's "Portrait of a Ghost Drummer" is a beautiful visualization of the choreography involved in a drum solo.

Motion-capture technology tracks the movement of the drum sticks to create a "visual map."  Et voilà.  

Portrait of the ghost drummer from odaibe on Vimeo.

(via this lovely article at fastcodesign)
(originally via 5thingsIlearnedtoday)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Our Experiment In Sound / Was Nearly Ready To Begin

No iPhone, no iPad.  I'm fine with it, but everyone knows a 2007 Verizon enV2 (sans internet) does put some limits on my ability to make Bjork-inspired tunes.  How am I supposed to know what all the avant/indie musicians are up to these days?  It seems awfully early to be falling behind in the digital-music world...

Good thing Acousmata is doing the legwork: here is a lovely review of the possibilities for Apps-as-Experimental-Instruments.

Have fun, iUsers.  (Then tell me about it.)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Nightmare On My Street

(I'm so glad I found this when I did.)
This Halloween night, I give you:
Der Erlkönig
performed by Anderson and Roe
set in a (haunted) Steinway factory.

HANDS DOWN the best "classical music"-video I've ever seen.
Ooh, I've got the shivers!

This comes from their soon-to-be-released album on the Steinway label - check it out.
(via collabpianoblog)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pioneer To The Falls

My (current) favorite MUSA publication: THE INGALLS WILDER FAMILY SONGBOOK.

Growing up in Minnesota, I claimed Laura Ingalls Wilder as one of us.  You know when she takes maple sugar and pours it in shapes on the snow and it freezes into candy?  That is a Minnesota Elementary School Staple. 
In any case, this book finds all of the references she makes to specific musical pieces throughout all the books - and it tracks them down - and it assembles them in one place.  127 songs! from children's songs to theater songs to parlor songs.

I was already predisposed to like MUSA - a musicological publication dedicated to publishing hard-to-find works from every cross-section of American music? - but add in this little interdisciplinary twist and now I'm practically ready to start an Official Fanclub.

It's $240 on Amazon, but GoogleBooks has your Ingalls Wilder fix.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Take It All Away

The Strauss-man used to live in this wedding cake.  I mean: house!  He used to live in this house.  ("Villa" if we're being pedantic.)

A wonderful flickr stream with pictures of the inside.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Don't Make Fun Of Daddy's Voice

Yesterday I discovered (well - "discovered") a poem
From the 14th century
In Middle English
Satirizing Guidonian notation.

It is my hero.

Let me pique your interest:

Un-comly in cloystre. i coure ful of care
I loke as a lurdeyn. and listne til my lare,
The song of the cesolfa. dos me syken sare,
And sitte stotiand on a song. a moneth and mare.
I ga gowlende a-bowte. al so dos a goke.

[Uncomely in cloister I cower full of care,
I look like a lout, and listen to my lesson;
The song of the C Sol Fa causes me to sigh sore,
And I sit stuttering o'er a song a month and more.
I go staring about like a gawky.]

NO WAIT this post isn't over yet!
If you would like to read the rest of the poem (plus a translation) about our new friend Walter (who has trouble singing on sight), you should click on this link - which will take you to a twenty-first century scan of a nineteenth century printing of the fourteenth century poem included in a publication called The Gentleman's Magazine, Vol. 27. taDA! All of the Musica Practica students are pleased by this transhistorical urge to complain about music theory.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Brush Your Teeth / Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch

Of all the things he could possibly shill for, Frank Zappa chose the American Dental Association.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCMENT 1981-82 -- but still relevant today, ladies and gents!

Mm, yes. Raffi agrees.

(via openculture)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

So Many Roads

Yesterday I stumbled across a website called The Magic Victrola.
Obviously I clicked through.

As it turns out, the site hosts an online book in eight parts by Sunnie Day. Aside from the fact that it's about a time-machine Victrola leading to a 1920s incarnation of George Clooney (what more do you really need), it's also blog-worthy thanks to the medium: because this is an online book, Day is able to insert picture slideshows of relevant images and embed youtube videos of the songs that she writes about directly into her prose.

On some level, this is becoming de rigeur for major print books about music: Alex Ross' (non-fiction) The Rest is Noise and Listen to This have a companion website featuring snippets of the music he describes; and Wesley Stace's novel Charles Jessold Considered as a Murderer refers readers to the author's website - which leads to other informational sites including the Charles Jessold homepage. Academics have also been getting in on the action: check out Marcel Cobussen's awesome interactive dissertation.

But all these last examples still store the material in two separate locations: text v. sound, print v. web. Day's novella may not be a book for the ages (whatever that means), but she does such a wonderful job using the internet medium to its fullest potential.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Look At Me / I Gotta Case Of Body Language

If this year's AMS conference had been scheduled for one week earlier than it actually is, a critical mass of musicologists would be in San Francisco during the 4th Annual International Body Festival (Nov 1 - 6, 2011).

I dare you not to watch the whole video once you've started.

Friday, August 19, 2011

It Ain't No Sin To Take Off Your Skin And

Dance around in your bones!
Overtone singing in an x-ray machine.
(excerpt from INLAND (2002) by Pierre-Yves Borgeaud)

Overtone singing with X-ray (extract of INLAND) from momentum_prod on Vimeo.

(via notcot)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

New Slang / When You Notice The Stripes

A little late to the game on this one, but Q2 and NPR released a crowd-sourced 100 Composers Under 40 list way back in April.

Generally I don't buy into Lists, but I do think it's interesting to see what "the people" have come up with as representative of today's musical culture (ahem ahem: a lot of music that might fit in the much-disputed indie-classical genre). I'm a musicologist and I actively search for music by young composers - and even so, I've only heard works by 37 of the finalists. New music: not dead yet!

How did you do?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

One Of These Mornings / You're Going To Rise Up Singing

Porgy and Bess is getting a fresh coat of paint à la Broadway: a new (happier) ending, extra dialogue, revamped music, modernized sets and costumes, the works!

Not to show my hand too soon, but based on the New York Times preview I think this production sounds amazing:
It seems as though the impetus for the makeover was a fleshing out of Bess' character - and, in fact, the musical is directed by Diane Paulus; Suzan-Lori Parks modernized the libretto; Deirdre L. Murray adapted the music; and Audra McDonald signed on for the title role. Despite the fact that this will be a commercial musical designed to appeal to a variety of theatergoers, the production team is in no way skimping on the issues written into the plot, including rape, drugs, poverty, and racism.
In other words: a group of strong, mostly African-American women are re-examining what has always been a (beloved, but) problematic opera, they are introducing an entirely new audience to an old work, they are making it relevant to the 21st century, they are pushing at the boundaries of how we interact with "the canon," and in the process they are making new art.

But Stephen Sondheim hates everything about it, so.

I could get on my soap box and write about how adaptations do not debase the original - but it may be enough to say that I would hate to live in a world without gems like these: