30 August 2006
Had the pleaure of taking in a marimba recital by Nathaniel Bartlett yesterday. He has a very interesting and surprisingly (to me) successful system of creating the iilusion of a larger concert hall. Four speakers are set up surrounding the audience; mics pick up the sound of the instrument, which goes to a computer; the computer adds the reverb and the next thing you know, you're in a large, reverberant room. At first, I thought to myself "How gimmicky" but it actually worked VERY well. Perhaps tuba players will be stealing this technique in the near future as our instruments are also made to sound ideal in larger, more reverberant spaces than are often available. Aside from matters of acoustics, it bears mentioning that Mr. Bartlett showed himself to be a fine player and very intelligent speaker.
26 August 2006
20 August 2006
Saw this short film yesterday as part of the Sound Unseen Festival. Ayler is one of those figures who, despite my best efforts to educate myself about as much music as possible, I still have barely had a chance to listen to at all. Unfortunately, while the movie was exceptionally informative, I still didn't get to hear much music. It serves as a reminder that being an "expert" means listening and digesting a lot of actual music rather than keeping track of biographies. The biographies, after all, are only significant because of the music that the individual made. I need to check out some Ayler.
18 August 2006
It was long before my time but nonetheless not too terribly long ago that a college course on the history of European classical music would simply have been called "Music History." Somewhere in the intervening time period, Europeans (and Americans) have become more aware, respectful (and in some cases enamored) of musical traditions from other parts of the world, some of which rival the European tradition in age, refinement, or both. In an effort to acknowledge these traditions and the place they occupy in their respective cultures, the textbook used by most university music departments in their history classes now bears the title "A History of Western Music." But by the time it finally caught on, this minor qualification was wholly insufficient, for the United States had become the scene of a musical cross-polinization that would pose even stickier problems. Since that time, jazz, blues, rock, pop, and rap musicians (man, am I going to take some heat for those last two) have all made significant contributions to Westerm music per se, but none are represented adequately in most universities' music degree program curricula. Musicologists have seemingly chosen to lump this vast body of work together, equating jazz with rock with rap, and make no effort to consider works individually, thus precluding the drawing of any distinction between meritorious and superficial works from each area. This is not "Music History" or even "Western Music History"; it is "Western Classical Music History." How uncomfortable it would make these musicologists to sample the far-reaching and vital European contributions to jazz. How enlightening it could be for them to experience a profound musical statement made by an electric guitarist. And how embarrassing it would be to have a genre in the title of their course or textbook (everyone knows genres are, like, so last century). Alas, it seems that they have avoided it as long as they can. Thelonious Monk is very Western and so very musical; to omit his work from any history of Western music is becoming more egregious with each passing day. Multiply this single case by several hundred others, and thus a technicality balloons into a crisis. Hence, to the musicologists out there, I propose two options regarding next year's courses: add an adjective or add a semester.
This blog will be devoted to all things musical. I will not be discussing what I had for dinner last night or complaining about my friends. If you absolutely must know these things, send me an e-mail or something. I want to use this space for discussion and debate about various musical topics. I am interested in classical music, for one, but this is not a "saving classical music" site. I am working on creating a personal website that will feature a large-scale project of mine that I hope to debate here soon. Stay tuned for that. Until then, read my senseless rants and tell me what you think.
Posted by Stefan Kac at 20:07