A Lesson in the Bleeding Obvious

Sunday 8 March 2009

Don’t take your severely hungover girlfriend to an early afternoon concert of percussion music by Iannis Xenakis.

Please Mister Please

Friday 6 March 2009

The Fall, “Dr Buck’s Letter” (2000).
(5’21″, 6.35 MB, mp3)

What are they trying to tell us?

Friday 6 March 2009

Make that six outside my house.

Redundens 6j

Thursday 5 March 2009

The series of works collectively titled Redundens was begun in 2001. All the pieces take Arnold Schoenberg’s Three Pieces for Piano, Op.11 as their starting point: only the top line in Schoenberg’s pieces is retained as an unaccompanied melody (or as a list of pitch classes if you’re more technically-minded.) Each set of pieces uses a different method of encoding this melody; by pitch, register, timbre, duration, dynamics, or other means.
Redundens 6j takes the sequence of notes as a melody without regard to rhythm, duration, or register. The melody is then split between two voices within a common octave, alternating from one note to the next. The second voice is shifted one beat back to produce intervals. Unisons are doubled two octaves lower, and played at half duration. For solo piano.
Redundens 6j (4’16″, 6.84 MB, mp3)

It’s Not The End Of The World

Wednesday 4 March 2009

Kyle Gann has reluctantly closed down his PostClassic Radio internet station. It’s a pity: over the past few years it’s been a superb way to hear hundreds of pieces of great music by composers who don’t fit into the standard pigeonholes of “modern classical” or whatever you want to call that stuff.
I can’t blame him. It’s not as if he doesn’t have other things to do besides update and maintain that service; and there’s no way I’d spend hundreds of dollars each year on letting everyone hear other people’s music.
Besides, over PostClassic Radio’s five years of existence a number of other internet resources have arisen (and some have fallen again). Although it will be missed, there are more ways today than when it started, of exploring a wider range of music, by hook or by crook. Even when a corporate behemoth crushes a technological innovation that gives people what they want, an alternative soon emerges. Goodbye Muxtape, hello Seeqpod – or whatever becomes next week’s vehicle of choice for sharing music. The situation will remain in flux but still active, as long as we can access the means of distribution.

What’s on top of the (virtual) pile?

Sunday 1 March 2009

New Directions in Music 1 (Robert Craft et al.)
This 50-year-old LP of Pierre Boulez’ Le Marteau sans maître and Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Zeitmasse* is just one example of many Vinyl Age recordings of the post-war avant garde I’ve been enjoying lately. This guy conveys some of the thrill in hearing performances made of music when it is still brand new and something of an unknown quantity (when this record was released, both of these pieces had been completed only the previous year**.)
That’s not all, though. These old recordings have a starkness to them, a thinness of sound which emphasise just how unfamiliar the music was to a contemporary audience. Modern recordings too often have a sweetness and softness to them that is appealing at first, but eventually sounds bland.
Lux and Ivy’s Favorites, volumes 1-11
Speaking of scratchy old records…. The Cramps have always been a band I intellectually admired but not subjectively liked. Lux Interior’s recent death has spurred WFMU into hosting on their website the complete set (so far) of Lux and Ivy’s Favorites: fan-compiled CDs of songs mentioned by Lux and Ivy in their various interviews. Liking random collections of old records as much as I do, this plethora of pop, soul, blues, and novelty records from the 50s and 60s has made my week – and given me a better-sounding copy of The Five Blobs’ “The Blob”.

* Or Zeitmasze. Stockhausen seems to have changed his mind later about how to spell it.
** And now they are old. And yet…

(Last time on that conceptual pile.)
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