Sunday, February 24, 2008

Greatest Songs of All-Time

Stevie Wonder - "Creepin'". Bad sound quality here, but a great example of his harmonic genius.
I Work it Into Everything

(Sartre: Shitty philosopher, but strikingly handsome nonetheless.)

Even an old French assignment I just found again on my computer:

"Je ne suis pas connu pour mes bonnes prédictions, mais je ferai une prophétie au sujet de quelque chose avec quoi je suis vraiment familier: la musique classique. C'est une bonne question: qu'est-ce que la musique classique sera dans 25 ans? J'essayerai de deviner.
Beaucoup de personnes pensent que la musique classique est morte; cela est une idée fausse. Il y a plusieurs compositeurs contemporains intéressants qui travaillant aujourd'hui. On pense à Pierre Boulez, Steve Reich, Thomas Adès. Une chose qui rend ces compositeurs modernes si intéressants, est leur utilisation d'autres genres de musique (par exemple, Steve Reich a été a influencé par les rythmes de discours hébreu et les rhythmes du Ghana) aussi bien que l'utilisation des technologies de la musique.
Je pense que dans 25 ans, beaucoup plus de compositeurs utiliseront les instruments électroniques et les ordinateurs dans leurs oeuvres. Naturellement, je crois que les compositeurs continueront à écrire la musique pour les instruments acoustiques. Pendant que la technologie domine nos vies, les compositeurs trouveront nouvelles assistances qui auront besoin seulement d'un ordinateur.
En plus, à l'avenir la télécommunication mondiale continuera à augmenter. Ainsi, les compositeurs et les musiciens pourront étudier la musique de partout dans
le monde ; les musiciens collaboreront par l'Internet et les compositeurs auront plus d'accès aux musiques du monde de toutes les périodes. Et même maintenant, on peut écouter Bach pendant une minute, Public Enemy la prochaine, et la musique Javanese de Gamelan apès ça. En effet, c'est incroyable et deviendra plus incroyable!"

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Those Were Different Times

The times when Dean Martin would introduce Casey Kasem playing Adolf Hitler to roast Don Rickles.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I've Recorded a Pop Song


If you are in the mood for a pretty pop ditty you should head to my electronic music alter-ego Kid Icarus' Myspace and listen to "Thomas Aquinas", a song I've just finished. It was written with the help of Chris Farstad from the great Mouthful of Bees; my friends' group whom the Minneapolis City Pages named "Best New Band" this year. He also plays guitar and does the main vocal duties. It was produced and engineered by my friend since 1st grade, Simon Larson (also of a brilliant band-Tokyo Pop, a duo with my friend since 2nd grade, Peter Lutz).

The song is a love song. It's sort of latin-jazz-pop sounding, with a clear Steve Reich influence in the Music for 18 Musicians pianos, along with Animal Collective in the yelping at the end. I'm especially proud that the track uses, except for the bass, all acoustic instruments. Even the ambient wash of chords at the end are simply some piano overtones (a trick I stole from the song "Milky Way", from the Weather Report's debut album. Sue me!). I would play a run of fifths and then we would record the ensuing reverberations.

For those wanting to play along at home, you might want to simply whistle along, as the guitar tuning I wrote this in is BADF#AC#, which is guaranteed to break strings on some guitars. I know that all of you were wanting to play along at home.

WARNING: MySpace's sound quality on non-Tila Tequila songs put up by "artists" is awful. If you want to hear the actual song, which sounds very very good sound-wise, then it would be wise of you (wordplay) to contact me. The reason MySpace's quality is so horrible, again, is that MySpace is an evil thing that is ruining an already ruined nation and making America's incredibly dumb young people, even dumber.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Greatest Thing I Ever Wrote

Sometimes I coquettishly peek at my online flummery and hi jinx of yore. Though I don't like anything I write (yet, at least), this is the greatest sentence I have ever composed in all my years of writing for this blog, as well as the 14 papers I have written on "The Yellow Wallpaper":

Ms. Browne's strange and unsettling facial contortions should be viewed with due sympathy, as the spirits of the Eternal Feminine and all sorts of Vortex Crystal/Feng Shui paroxysms are competing within her head to divine their otherwordly secrets to the woman, so that she may pass them on to middle-aged suburban mothers who've paid for tickets to Montel and the Learning Annex.

God, I'm great.

I don't do drugs. I buy books, and this is my luxury. My most recent internet jaunt!:

(Acclaimed Michael Hamburger translation-time.)

(A new and supposedly very good translation of Kant, who writes with the passion of a washcloth. Penguin Classics always do shit str8 up and in style.)

(Also a new acclaimed translation by Robert Alter. Pretty damn good literary critic, and that is saying a lot, James Wood praised it for the London Review of Books here.)

(These Library of America editions are also the shit. Though the designs are sorta lame and the red white and blue stripes are more GI Joe than Henry James).

(A recent book I read on the evolution of language has made me completely interested in word etymology and history, a change that will surely mean more hot ass for me in the future).

It's admittedly not a fun list, but what can one do in these increasingly dark, Mittless times?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Bream, Stravinsky and Dowland

Follow the link to watch a nervous and fanboyish Julian Bream talk with an exhausted but still (slightly) cordial Stravinsky. Bream then asks that eternal question-"Would you like to see my lute?", a pick-up line which has never worked for me.* Stravinsky is then hypnotized as Bream plays Dowland's Lachrimae Pavan.

This is from a Canadian documentary on Stravinsky that is quite worth seeking out. It has some great stuff in it: a classic recording session of "Symphony of Psalms" in Toronto (where this footage of Bream is taken), Stravinsky chatting in Russian, English, German and French over whiskey with Nicholas Nabokov (where the latter informs the former about the recent heart-attack that would soon kill Jean Cocteau), etc. etc. etc.

Stravinsky in later life quite liked the music of Dowland, and showed a surprising love of Elizabethan music, and the keyboard music from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book in particular. I myself have a Dover edition of the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, but don't find myself opening it up that often. Perhaps I haven't yet the lordly taste to appreciate the finer subtleties of John Bull.

*Still, more successful than my other pick-up line: "Would you like to see my sackbut?"
DJ Reich

Steve Reich is going to be hosting a special program on the fine and online Counterstream radio website. He will be spinnin' his favorite trax at 9pm. I think that is Eastern time?

Hopefully you and I will be around to check it out!!!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Let's Get Serious


The Who > Led Zeppelin.