The great group blog Dial "M" for Musicology
throws down the gauntlet:So, in the spirit of ripping off other people's ideas, I issue this challenge to my fellow pointy-headed music-bloggers: post a randomly-generated Ipod playlist on your blog, with relevant commentary.
I don't know if I'm pointy-headed-I have a freakishly large, fleshy Irish head, but I will accept. Also look in the comment section over there for some of the pointy-headed's
Here are mine with meager, running commentary as I skip through them:
1. "Beware the Friendly Stranger"-Boards of Canada
-This is one of Boards of Canada's effective, creepy interludes. 37 seconds of an insistent synth
line and audio of a steadily burning fire. Boards of Canada (whom I've written about here
) are one of the most stylistically consistent
electronic artists out there. Their fondness for 70s educational film samples, drum machine loops, ambient synth
noodles or backmasking
, contributes to a warm, analog sound. They are smart without being pretentious, quirky without being wildly eclectic. Haunting, hypnotic.
2. "What a Fool Believes"-Doobie
-One of the greatest pop songs ever. Yacht-Soul at its best. Rameau
and Voltaire. Boito
and Verdi. Lennon and McCartney. Kenny Loggins
and Michael McDonald. Deadly combinations.
3. Intermezzo, from Suite for Piano Op.25-Arnold Schoenberg
-The Suite for Piano, Op. 25 is an early 12-tone piece. Not entirely convincing, but still interesting.
-Wow. I've really liked everything that has come up so far. Maybe except the Schoenberg. This is a trance piece. Sibelius has a real interesting approach to the voice. You have seeds of L'amour de loin
5. Lecture 1h (Romeo and Juliet
-One of my heroes talking in his wonderful, pompous way about the best plays ever. Still, not what I was hoping to come up.
6. The Window (from The Turn of the Screw
-This is from the great recording by Daniel Harding and with Ian Bostridge
as Quint. I think Britten is at his best with chamber ensembles like this. His handling of each instrument and the voices is absolutely flawless. This sort of technical brilliance puts one in awe. To say nothing of the dramatic power (which I admit has always been secondary for me-I like Britten's operas musically beyond all else).
7. Send One Your Love-Stevie Wonder
-You know, my tastes are unmatched. Really. This is a goshdarn
classic from Stevie's strange "A Journey Through the Secret Lives of Plants", a soundtrack to a documentary that I don't think was ever released. I'm not sure if this song has anything to do with plants. If so, there is some Pteridospermatophyta
that is going to get laid tonight.* Side by side, Wonder's harmonic genius is the equal of Britten. Also he is a better harmonica player.
8. Scene 2, Pas de Deux
is one of my favorite pieces of music ever. This is a beautiful section from Stravinsky's greatest neo
-classical ballet. Orpheus
is in a category, albeit an odd one, with Mozart's Magic Flute
, Berg's Lulu
, Bartok's Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta
and a few others, of works that I hold dearest either for my own pompous aesthetic reasons or their importance personally. Magic Flute
was the opera that got me into to classical music as a youngin
'. Music for Strings Percussion and Celesta
was the first real piece of 20th
century modern music that I got into. Hearing the final Allegro Molto
on a tape of my brothers (which he had for a class on Music History) shocked me as a 12 year old by its strangeness and brutality, and still to this day is a work I hold as one of the supreme masterpieces of the century. Lulu
absolutely devastated me through reading George Perle's book on it and looking at score at the U of M library in the last few years. The true reaction Berg's opera should have to someone studying it deeply will be veneration and also extreme vertigo. It has no end; the amount of thought put into the intricate web of ideas is at once astonishing and frightening. It swallows everything. Orpheus
is simply timeless and sublime. Stravinsky musically depicts Orpheus looking back on Eurydice in Hades, the event that cements their eternal separation
and his death, with a bar of silence. Perfection.
9. "Up For the Downstroke
-Early Parliament track. Bootsy
Collins on bass. This is in its own very very funky way, timeless and sublime
10. "I Can't Reach You"-The Who
-Beautiful pop song from the great "Who Sell Out" album. Pete Townshend
on vocals. Even in his pretty songs there is an edge of violence: "The distances grow greater now, you drink champagne and pass me plow/You fly your plane right over my head, you're still alive and I'm nearly dead." Townshend
also joins Britten as the second person on my random shuffle accused of pedophilia
. When they are as great composers and songwriters as Britten and Townshends
I can only hope for more pedophiles!
11. "Parisian Thoroughfare
-Unstoppable! Until he cuts it out midway. Tragic the way this man's life direction took after these first few sessions in the late 40s, early 50s. And Chris Botti
releases another album and is sound of mind. Meaningless world we live in.
That's all for now. Nothing too embarrassing
. Admittedly, the spectre of the two-disc Styx greatest hits album was always overhanging me with dread every change of song. But, alas, no "Grand Illusion" or "Renegade."*I looked it up and this species is a long extinct prehistoric plant and thus, Pteridospermatophyta, sadly will not be getting laid tonight. It must have seeped into my unconscious as I read way too much about prehistory and evolution and have a fascination with long dead flora and fauna, extinct rivers and lakes and so forth. Sadly, this means I will not be getting laid tonight either.