Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010

Dance Magic, Dance

I will admit that in the past I have not, perhaps, paid enough attention to the oboe on this blog. But all that is about to change:

(via oboeinsight)

Let's Take A Ride / On The Countryside

What a classic! Then again, with eight pianos (and what pianists!) in the room, it's hard to go wrong.

(from the Verbier Festival 10th Anniversary Piano Extravaganza)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Jam Master's Jammin'

Friday over and out.

There Will Be Snacks

Pianotable! Designed by Georg Bohle, this little baby is like something out of a dream. It gives such nuance to the expression: "I would rather play piano than eat, sleep, breathe, or do homework." Maybe that's not a widely known expression.

(via notcot)

Let's Pretend We Don't Exist / Let's Pretend We're In Antarctica

An annotated list of music written about / inspired by Antarctica. Awesome! And surprisingly long.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Age of Aquarius

Pierre Boulez
Born: March 26, 1925, 5:00 PM
in: Montbrison (France)
Sun: 5°32 Aries
Moon: 1°52 Taurus
Ascendant: 24°28 Virgo
Midheaven: 23°16 Gemini
Chinese Astrology: Wood Ox
Numerology: Birthpath 1

You can read the full celebrity Astrology and Birth Chart right here. And the next time you impress your friends with Boulez's Chinese Astrology sign, you know who to thank.

The Winner Takes It All

10 biiiiiilllllion downloads.

(via CBS youtube)

He Could Play The Guitar Just Like A Ringing A Bell

Crazy guitars of the musical and famous: "50 Guitars" courtesy of the LA Times Magazine.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Vengababes From Outer Space

Now I've switched to juxtaposition.

(The Voca People; via youtube)

On Top Of The World

Apparently today is all about superimposition.

This one was supported by the Arts Council of England.
(via creativereview)

When David Heard

I wrote a paper about Eric Whitacre once. I think I compared him to Liszt: classical music rock-star. In retrospect, it wasn't a very good paper.

(via ectoplasmosis)

Monday, March 22, 2010

World's Greatest Ever

"I didn't imagine being this good...but I guess I am."

Chris Chike is the Guinness-Book-recognized #1 ranked Guitar Hero III player in the world.

(via CBS on youtube)

She Is The Prom Queen / I'm In The Marching Band

High school marching band plays Shostakovich? My vote is: yes please.
This one wins Alex Ross' award for "Badassiest Shostakovich Band," but the runner-up(s) are also worth checking out.

(via unquietthoughts)

If We Bought A Trailer / We Could Go To Vegas / And Be Very Happy

Trailers from the Royal Opera House: Le Nozze di Figaro, Salome, The Cunning Little Vixen, Carmen, more.

They might not be comprehensive, but they are compelling.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Got My Blueprint / It's Symphonic

The term "earworm" is a loose translation of the German "Ohrwurm" - a particular part of a song that repeats over and over in your mind.

I am a little bit chagrined to report that DJ Earworm wins again: I've woken up two days in a row with this mash-up already running through my head.

Let's Have Some Fun / This Beat Is Sick

Fluxus scores are endlessly amusing! Let me show you:

Choice 9
Robert Bozzi
Two performers fight between themselves using two violins as if the violins were swords, axes, or clubs.

Shower II
Ben Vautier
A performer sits on a chair in the center of the stage holding a fire hose and does nothing. On hearing the audience begin to complain, he shouts "Go!" The water is turned on. The performer soaks the audience.

Concerto for Solo Piano and Performer
Albert M. Fine
Date Unknown
Performer removes a different item from himself for each of the 88 notes: top hat, tie, shoe laces, pen, handkerchief, etc.

For La Monte Young
Emmett Williams
Performer asks if La Monte Young is in the audience.

Larry Miller
Teeter-totter with your own weight in carrots.

You can get your own copy of the Fluxus Performance Workbook (online, for free).

Friday, March 19, 2010

Recyle / Recyle / Recycle Rap

Derrick R. Cruz makes necklaces out of recycled piano keys!

(via trendhunter)

Home, Home On The Range

As you can well imagine, Kazakhstan didn't really care for the Sacha Baron Cohen movie "Borat" - and they particularly didn't like the made-up national anthem (choice lyric: "Kazakhstan's prostitutes, cleanest in the region, except of course for Turkmenistan's") written by Cohen's brother, Erran Baron Cohen.

So it was something of a surprise to the composer when Kazakh and violin virtuoso Marat Bisengaliev called him up to commission a Kazakh Symphony. The final work went over well in England...and less well in Kazahstan.

You can watch a clip and hear an excerpt, courtesy of PBS' program Sound Tracks: Music Without Borders.

Willst Zu Meinen Liedern / Deine Leier Drehn?

This past weekend I saw Opera Vanguard's staged version of Winterreise. For the last song, "Der Leiermann," they pushed aside the piano and pulled out an accordion! My first reaction was: "that's kind of kitschy - and it's not even a hurdy-gurdy." But, you know something - by the end I was sort of convinced (at least in the context of that performance.)

So for you: an accordion version of Der Leiermann. As the youtube comments point out, the singer isn't really in an ideal range...but you get the idea.

(ps. Opera Vanguard's Winterreise runs one more weekend for those of you in the Chicago area!)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

You Keep Your Bell and Edison

Brahms speaks to you from 1889: "I am Doktor Brahms, Johannes Brahms!"


A Life / Where Spring Is Sprung

Interviewer: Did you even play a musical instrument?

Ernest Hemingway: I used to play cello. My mother kept me out of school a whole year to study music and counterpoint. She thought I had ability, but I was absolutely without talent. We played chamber music - someone came in to play the violin; my sister played the viola, and mother the piano. That cello - I played it worse than anyone on earth. Of course, that year I was out doing other things too.

From: The Paris Review Interviews, Vol I.

History Will Teach Us Nothing

Greg Sandow posted the syllabus for his graduate class "Classical Music In An Age of Pop." It really makes me want to write a paper - or at least read all of the (linked) articles.

I love syllabi! Especially when nothing is mandatory - it's like a make-your-own-adventure story for the grad school crowd. AM I RIGHT?

(For more, Sandow's blog.)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Rock Paper Scissors

These ice dancers are performing to a tango from...Schnittke's 1992 opera "Life With an Idiot." Not your average ice dancing music!

(via youtube)

Every Grain Of Sand

Yes, that's Chopin, painted by Eugène Delacroix. Originally, this was a two paneled painting; at some point, the larger work was cut into two halves - both of which are extant, though separated.
The other half, you ask? Chopin's lover: the writer George Sand.

(more Delacroix paintings)

I'll Be Brand New Tomorrow / A Little Bit Tired / But Brand New

I give you this article: "Pluto, Paradoxically, Joins The Planets" by Daniel J. Wakin.

Pluto was discovered in 1930 and Holst didn't die until 1934, but for some reason the composer never even considered updating the suite. Holst knew what was up.

(Note the article was written in 2006; I still laughed. Via metafilter)

Monday, March 15, 2010

She's So High / High Above Me

Queen of the Night (Trip Hop Dopaminex REMIX)

I think Mozart would have thought this was hilarious.


We Bout That Cake / Straight Up The Gate

Today is my roommate's birthday - and I am making a cake!

A "Mozart" is a type of cake, you know. It's pretty putzy, but doesn't it sound delicious: layers of almond-cinnamon pastry sandwiching chocolate mousse and apples. Yes, that does sound delicious.

Recipe and picture.

I'm Giving You A Longing Look / Everyday I Write The Book

This typewriter-piano is wired so that every key plays a different musical note. Just imagine if I had one of these when I wrote that paper about musical symbolism in Jane Austen, eh? I'll show YOU symbolism.

Typing Sound from Long Tran on Vimeo.

(created by Fabian Cappello and Yamaha, via popularscience)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

It Doesn't Take A Genius To Figure It Out

We've all heard of the MacArthur Genius Grant: $500,000 over five years no strings attached, to be given to the brightest stars of our time. Nice.

Reginald Robinson
, Chicago (!) composer, won one in 2004 for his "hauntingly lyrical" original rags. He's considered the leading composer of 21st century rag AND the foremost expert of ragtime history - not bad for someone who dropped out of high school (or for - well, anyone). He's had a whole slew of engagements since his win, many of which he admits would not have happened without the MacArthur. But at the end of the day, where did this award really get Robinson, or ragtime for that matter? "'Even with the MacArthur 'genius' title … I'm invisible,' says Robinson in a characteristically gentle, soft-spoken voice."

(via metafilter)

When We Combine / Nothing Goes Wrong

The banjolele! It's got a banjo-body, but a ukulele fretboard. I think it's pretty sweet - but in P.G.Wodehouse's "Thank You Jeeves," Jeeves resigns in protest when his employer Bertie Wooster starts playing the banjolele. Ah, literature.

Ooh, dueling banjoleles:

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I Love Rock N' Roll

Wally George: "When will you write more songs?"
Elvis: "That's all a hoax. I can't even read music."
George: "What about your guitar?"
Elvis: "Can't play it -- use it as a brace."
George: "What do you think of rock 'n' roll?"
Elvis: "It's the greatest ever, mainly because it's all I can do."

"Off the Record," Los Angeles Times, November 2, 1957

(via howstuffworks)

Ball and Biscuit

Bernstein on Beethoven. Brainy, brilliant, brief. Bassoon?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Love Like Jazz

Canadian Brass plays a jazzed-up version of Bach's WTC1 Fugue2. I'm equal parts fascinated and horrified.

(via youtube)

Hey Mr. DJ / Keep Playin' That Song For Me

Ruth Flowers is a 69 year-old DJ. She's rockin'. And she has much cooler hair than I do.

(via nerdcore)

Everything's Alright / Stuffed Animals Are Always Right

So, I stumbled across this website called Crappy Taxidermy? I don't remember how. I don't really want to talk about it.

You would like to see more specifically musical taxidermy? We are not the same, you and I.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Well This Car is Automatic / It's Systematic / It's Hydromatic

AMICA is the Automatic Musical Instrument Collectors' Association. You don't actually have to be a collector to belong, and where else on the web are you going to find this much information about player pianos, roll-playing organs, and orchestrions?

Members also attend conventions. Like the one coming up in July. Just saying.

Canned Heat In My Heels Tonight

Tchaikovsky in the 21st Century: because ballerinas are so passé?

(via boingboing)

It's A Good Time For A Photo

The Jazz Loft Project:
"From 1957 to 1965 legendary photographer W. Eugene Smith [that's him in the photo] made approximately 4,000 hours of recordings on 1,741 reel-to-reel tapes and nearly 40,000 photographs in a loft building in Manhattan's wholesale flower district where major jazz musicians of the day gathered and played their music. Smith's work has remained in archives until now. The Jazz Loft Project is dedicated to uncovering the stories behind this legendary moment in American cultural history."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

So This Is The New Year / I Don't Feel Any Different

"I see two [Gagas], or mine eyes deceive me."
Angela Gheorghiu, International Opera Star. (She also answers to "the world's most glamorous opera star," in case you were wondering.)

Check out Opera Chic (wonderful. the end.) for more of the soprano's latest gaga-style publicity shots.

Juliet / The Dice Were Loaded From The Start

Shakespeare and the American Musical, by Irene G. Dash
Secretly, you're psyched too.

(via Indiana University Press)

Walk The Line

(via ffffound)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Four Walls and Adobe Slabs

Beethoven lived here. But I hear he was messy - looks like Vienna did a little cleaning for company.

(via youtube)

Her Style Is Crossover

DJ Spooky on Iannis Xenakis.

Spot the Xenakis?

Peace, Love, Happiness

500,000 people
August 15-18, 1959
32 bands:

This. Is. Woodstock.

1. Richie Havens
2. Country Joe McDonald
3. John Sebastian
4. Sweetwater
5. The Incredible String Band
6. Bert Sommer
7. Tim Hardin
8. Ravi Shankar
9. Melanie
10. Arlo Guthrie
11. Joan Baez
12. Quill
13. The Keef Hartley Band
14. Santana
15. Canned Heat
16. Mountain
17. Janis Joplin
18. Sly and the Family Stone
19. The Grateful Dead
20. Creedence Clearwater Revival
21. The Who
22. Jefferson Airplane
23. Joe Cocker
24. Country Joe and the Fish
25. Ten Years After
26. The Band
27. Blood, Sweat & Tears
28. Johnny Winter
29. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
30. Paul Butterfield Blues Band
31. Sha Na Na
32. Jimi Hendrix

(via howstuffworks)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Should I Laugh Or Cry

"While mozart out chopin, this cello-playing doctor is bach raising funds for research. If he haydn given up a verdi promising musical career, it would be harder to handel these diseases."

A whole thread devoted to musical puns (for the end of a Monday).

(special thanks to aaron)

Now Every Heart Has A Blindside / Where It Learns How To Improvise

Improv meets Opera in: Impropera.
Oh, I wish this was closer to home.

Someone's In The Kitchen With Dinah

Lost in the Supermarket: An Indie Rock Cookbook
Kay Bozich Owens and Lynn Iwens
"A creative compendium of recipes that reclaims the kitchen for the hip crowd."

I don't know about that, but I do know that I like both Animal Collective and chocolate zucchini cake. So.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Claquers is a term for members of professional organizations that rented out their applauding services to French opera houses. Particularly prominent in the early 1800s, opera house managers could talk to an agency, order up some claquers, and be assured of a très bon reception!

Mahler put the kibosh on the practice pretty quickly - man, that guy was a stickler for concert etiquette - but wouldn't it have been a nice way for poor grad students to see some concerts and make a little extra cash?

My Hands Shake / My Knees Quake

Micah Frank just finished the prototype for Tectonic - a sound sculpture created by real-time synthesis of seismic activity.
From the website:

When an earthquake occurs, seismic data is relayed to the system, sound is produced and Google Earth immediately flies to the coordinates of the latest earthquake giving us a visual representation of the newest developments. As multiple earthquakes occur daily, the sculpture builds, enmeshing itself in a complex soundscape of textures and tones - every second, different from the last and never repeating the same stage twice.

Music! and Science! and Computers! and Natural Disasters! All together!

(via nerdcore)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I'm Finding My Way Back To You

This past February, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra set aside two evenings and invited 600 amateur musicians to rehearse and perform Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony with the professionals.

Looks like they didn't sell too many tickets, but WHAT FUN.

Rusty Musicians with the BSO:

(via insidetheclassics)

I'm Pulling Your Strings

Viktoriya Yermolyeva covers heavy metal on the piano. You know it.

(via metafilter)

Friday, March 5, 2010

I Am An Opera Singer / I Stand On Painted Tape

It's official: Valencia, Spain has the best produce markets EVER.

(Verdi's La Traviata, via openculture)

They Call Her The Cat

IT'S REAL (well, sort of).

A Katzenklavier is a musical instrument such that a line of cats is put inside a keyboard with each key corresponding to a particular tail. You press a key, you hit a tail - it's like a Purina commercial, but with more pain-sounds. Put the cats in chromatic order according to their meow-pitch and you've got yourself a Katzenklavier.


German physician Johann Christian Reil (1759 - 1813) used the Katzenklavier as the original cure for ADD (basically). He figured if the patient was exposed to this particular instrument, they wouldn't be able to do anything BUT focus. And he was probably right.

I don't think PETA would be into this, yo.

(via wikipedia)

Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?

The Cat Piano: by Eddie White and Ari Gibson, narrated Nick Cave
(And lest you think I am once again pandering to the cute musical animal thing, I'll have you know that this animated short is 1. very film noir, and 2. shortlisted for an Oscar.)

(via collaborativepiano)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Oh No / She's Not So Usual

Ralph van Raat plays Frederic Rzewski's Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues. The best part? This was a live performance on Dutch tv! We need more Rzewski on our tv shows, USofA.

(via collaborativepiano)

Judge Me / Feel Free

“One can't judge Wagner's opera Lohengrin after a first hearing, and I certainly don't intend to hear it a second time.”

-Gioacchino Rossini

(via thinkexist)

When You Think Tim McGraw / I Hope You Think My Favorite Song

"George Strait Resistol Signature Straw Cowboy Hat. It's perfect for the summer, just Pure Country!"

Cowboy Hat Country: "specializes in custom Hand Shaped Cowboy Hats. You'll find Kenny Chesney Blue Chair Bay line, Toby Keith, Brad, Tim and more, we hand-shape and customize our cowboy hats to look just like your favorite music stars' hat."

Go get 'em, tiger.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Don't Make Me Laugh / Ha Ha Ha Ha

"Serving Size 4 Bunnies" is Carl Schimmel's new humorous-serious work: "a largifical listening experience," he calls it.
In this interview, you'll learn such things as whether or not performers of this piece are required to eat Peeps before the concert (A. "standard performance practice for the work has not been established yet") and whether it's necessary to look beyond the squeaky toys and funny sounds (A. Well..."Its dramatic pacing is chiefly informed by Stalling, Kagel, Janacek, Svankmajer, and rodent mannerisms" should give you a hint).

The interview also has the the fourth movement ("IV In which a bunny, delirious from the sugaryfumes, degenerates into a hysterical grinagog") for your listening pleasure.

(via newmusicbox)

Bonus: Bunny Suicides.

The Power You're Supplying / It's Electrifying

Qi Zhang plays "Ridiculous Fellows" from Prokofiev's "The Love for Three Oranges" (the orchestral suite) on a specially programmed Yamaha Electone Stagea organ.


(via TED)

Lost In A Dream / Waiting For Some Small Clue

Ever heard of Stanley Bate or William Henry Bell? Neither had I.

Classical Lost and Found: Forgotten music by great composers and great music by forgotten composers. There's a search function if you know what you're looking for, or you can browse through recommendations. CLOFO gives you cover art, the equivalent of liner notes, and information about where you can find these cds.

"Well worth the detour," they say. "It's like a treasure hunt!" I say.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Last Shot Ringing In My Ears

Designed by Jose Reis, these French Horn Headphones aren't actually available. Yet. But don't you wish someone would get on that?

(via trendhunter)

We Built This City On Rock N' Roll

That is one ka-ra-zy keytar. He built it himself! And here's a demo:

(via nerdcore)

All These Poses Of Classical Torture

England is "weaponizing" classical music against troublesome teens. Don't believe me?

1. West Park School in Derby has been holding "special detentions" consisting of two-hours of classical music as both a relaxant and a deterrent (the school claims bad behavior has fallen by 60%).

2. In the early 2000s, a railroad company began playing Mozart outside their train stations in an effort to discourage young people from loitering. Great success! An expansion of the repertoire has proven Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2 to be particularly effective.

3. Classical music has also been piped through speakers in Northern England at "troublesome bus stops," shopping malls, and even in the streets (marked decrease in graffiti, so they say).

While there are those of us who would be JUST FINE with a little extra Mozart, Brendan O'Neill makes a good point: "The dangerous message being sent to young people is clear: 1) you are scum; 2) classical music is not a wonder of the human world, it’s a repellent against mildly anti-social behavior."

Read all about it: How Britain is using classical music as a form of social control, by Brendan O'Neill.

(via metafilter)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Gonna Write You A Letter / Gonna Write You A Book

Berlioz to Liszt (30 April, 1855 from Paris):
I am writing to you these three lines to tell you that the Te Deum was performed today with the most magnificent precision. It was colossal, Babylonian, Ninivite. The magnificent church was full. The children sang like a single artist; and the artists… as I hoped and had the right to expect because of the strictness with which I had selected them. Not one mistake, not one moment of indecision. I had a young man who had come from Brussels [Adolphe Samuel] who conducted the organist in his gallery far away and who kept him in time in spite of the distance. […]
My god if only you had been there…! I can assure you it is a tremendous work, and the Judex surpasses all the enormities I have previously committed. I am writing to you the first, despite my exhaustion, because I know there is no man in Europe who is as interested in this advent as yourself. Yes, the Requiem has a brother, a brother who was born with teeth, like Richard III (but without the hump); and I can vouch that today he has bitten the public. And what a huge public! There were 950 performers. And not one mistake! I cannot get over it.
Friends had come from Marseille (Lecourt, Rémusat, etc.). Lecourt was in quite a state; he was flooding, like a river! Farewell, I am going to bed. What a shame I am the author of this! I would write an interesting article. Let us see what our colleagues our going to sing. This time it is not a matter of piccoli paësi [small landscapes], it is a scene from the Apocalypse. […]

(via hectorberlioz)

It's Alright

Spring is almost here. I hope.
A little bit of pop music history, from their Concert for Bangladesh:

(via opencultureyoutube)

I'll Soon Be Gone Now / Forever Not Yours

The life of an urban musician is fraught with perils.
Vijay Iyer's watch: gone forever.

(via collaborativepiano)