Friday, February 27, 2009

Things that Make Me Groan (02/27/2009 Edition)

Things that make me groan: music that quotes the Dies Irae.

Great musicians have done it, in great pieces too (although this list has lots of pieces I haven't heard, there are still a few that I question, i.e. the dreamy, cradle-rocking flute chords of the opening of the second part of Le Sacre), but quoting the famous chant became cliché immediately after Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique. From that moment on, a composer or musician using the melody in his or her piece would effectively be deploying a sort of Rip Taylor on the listener-a brightly adorned, loud entertainer tossing confetti upon your head with "gloom," "doom," and "death" written in big, clever letters on each of the scraps. It's the musicial equivalent of the car driving through the tunnel in a film. Subtle in a way more obvious than obvious.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Father's Gift

Friday, February 20, 2009

The War Has to Continue

"Yes, the war has to continue. The muck-heap has been growing for decades...Believe me, if the war ended today, we should be back in the same old sordid squalor within a fortnight...It is not enough that shrapnel is knifing through the ranks of poor soldiers and even slitting up the money-bags of rich non-combatants. The war's great surprise will be in the guns, which are going to show a frivolous generation their utter emptiness..."

-Alban Berg (Letter to his wife, 1914)