Sunday, December 31, 2006

In 2006 I...

  • Went to Korea (Not technically accurate, I was in Korea for New Year's 05/06)
  • Resurrected a radio station
  • Gave my senior recital
  • Graduated with a Bachelor of Music from Lawrence University
  • Started a blog
  • Had a guitar student accepted to an undergraduate music program
  • Moved to Boston
  • Began work towards a Master of Music at the Boston Conservatory
On initially compiling the list I was upset that what I thought to be a rather eventful year could be summed up by eight points. I suppose these aren't exactly non-trivial points, however. The events I've set in motion will have their biggest ramifications in 2008 (Hopefully another graduation, perhaps another admission/move) so I'll really have to work to make sure 2007 doesn't look like a lull.

Happy New Year's everyone, and do much enjoyment in the 2007 season.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Most Annoying Song - Quarterfinals Round 1

Now the actual tournament feature of these shenanigans really comes into its own. Dashboard def. Stefani, unsuprisingly. Mark Dinning performs a stunning upset over Pachelbel!

I wanted this matchup, I wanted it to happen a lot. Ascension by rock band, or ascension by Shepherd tone. This whole thing was an excuse for an answer to this question.

H.P. Lovecraft forged a new brand of horror writing by depending entirely on the imagination of the reader. Both of these combatants work in basically the same way having defeated more concrete songs.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Celebrity Deathwatch - Holiday 2006 Edition

It is often said that deaths come in threes, so I was waiting for the tres before commenting on either of the two previous. However, it's getting unfashionably late for me to discuss the late Mr. Brown.

Dial M has a really great tribute that ropes in the idea of hip-hop (and funk and so on) being a music of vertical complexity rather than horizontal. Probably just best to follow the link rather than have me try to explain it, it makes sense. I also suggest another reason that the Hardest Working Man in Show Business was so damn fonky. Much like Reich and the minimalists would the next decade, James Brown didn't just master the beat. He was the beat. YouTube fails me in illustrating this, but either the PBS Rock and Roll series or the oft-syndicated History of Rock and Roll has priceless footage of James Brown in action. One of his saxophones cracks the note, and James Brown whips his head around looking straight at the offender and hits on the beat "You know I got you!" That guy was fucked.

Also something I hear about preventing Boston, and often by extension the rest of the nation, from descending into race riots singlehandedly.

I can't say much about Ford, being his prominence was outside my lifetime and the scope of this blog. You were a President, thumbs up for that even if you weren't elected.

(Current news is predicting that this trifecta will be concluded rather shortly, even if there's another recently deceased pair that probably have more in common.)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Most Annoying Song - Round 4

I told you I'd do it. Lambchop def. Macarena, Ludacris def. Vengaboys (barely). Here's the last round of preliminaries, after here it's winners only. I am sad that the extra traffic I got this week didn't result in a great upswing in voting. Come on, we're doing serious work here!

If you have chosen to attend a wedding, you've probably heard both of these songs. Compounded if it happens to be a shotgun wedding. (Those usually aren't well attended, poorly decorated) These also happen to be the oldest combatants in the tournament (1960 and 1680, respectively) Poor Pachelbel has had this relatively obscure work in his oeuvre, the only canon he wrote and not particularly representative of the rest of his work, turned into a spectacle for jackasses of all sorts, especially ones with guitars. Not to mention an entire album dedicated to it. Mark Dinning, on the other hand, deserves everything he gets for having invented the "my love interest has died in a tragic accident" genre of 60s pop.

I unabashedly hate both of these songs. Two main themes seem to have arisen in this tournament, whining and repetition. Two modern practitioners present their wares to do battle here.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Sounds of Science

 I occasionally disappear for weeks at a time, because the physical limitations of the universe and time-space continuum. Whenever anyone talking about how blogging is hard work it sounds like whining, because it is whining. Sort of like all those crappy songs about how the road is fuckin' tough, man. You could make blogging hard work, and but you can't not make it long work. Even posts that I think are going to be easy (this one should be a good example) take a not insignificant amount of time.

My good friend Dan Willis came to visit the past couple days, it my first opportunity to talk shop about this form of writing we've both chose to attempt. As a cursory glance will show, his posts are less common but significantly longer, each of which he said takes him the better part of a day. (It deserves mention that the blog isn't the sum of his writing, he also plays music critic for Lawrence's campus newspaper) Granted, since he posts at least every six months, most indices would consider him active.

Some entries require a little bit more research than stream of consciousness rambling. One of my favorite webcomics xkcd took to his interblag to explain his research behind one of his more ingenious comics. Get Rich Slowly, a personal finance blog I've recently taken to, also posts about his typical writing process. He says that most of his posts take weeks to put together, and he posts three times a day! Since blogging is all about getting on bandwagons, I'm recording the process that a post I'm working on that might be a bit over my head. You'll probably know it when you see it. When it's finished in a couple weeks.

By the way, it took me 38 minutes to write this. (well, 26 minutes to write. 12 to find the links.) But I was watching Food Network while I did it. Multitasking!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Keys are Funny Things

The Bad Plus links to me and I get more pageviews than I did in the first two months of this interblag. When I submitted my answers to the original gentlemen of the Bad Plus, I included an anecdote of my brief conversation I had with Ethan Iversen. I tell it in its entirety:

At the 2005 CMJ Music Marathon I attended a panel will the presumptious title of "The Future of Jazz!" (exclamation point added) Intriguing indeed, but it wasn't just a panel but more like the meeting of the goddamn New Jazz Justice League. Bill Frisell, Chris Potter, and a drummer whose name I can't remember, being led in battle by Ethan Iversen. There were only eight of us in the audience so the panel really just consisted of everyone playing their most recent releases.

It was right before Suspicious Activity? came out, so Ethan introduced his jam by saying that there were no rock covers on the new album, (!) but that they still laid a cover down. "You'll probably recognize it when you hear it." Problems with the jambox. "It's track 9." "Chariots?" A look of dejection. Don't worry, knowing the punchline didn't ruin it.

With the small audience, I felt only a little awkward going up and talking to Ethan afterward. My burning question? Who's idea was it to go major at the end of Iron Man? (If you haven't heard the Bad Plus's "Iron Man", you haven't lived.) Ethan actually seemed hesitant, almost embarassed, to admit that it was his idea and then explained exactly how the modulation worked. Music nerdity straight from the source. I had forgotten it, but was kind enough to repeat the magic incantation.

Thanks, you're not just a good bloginnist and one of the bestest pianists around, but a solid gentleman.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Thoughful Gift

Whoever gave me this wondrous gift:
should identify themselves, since the packaging failed to do so.

I also have realized that I may have unleashed good sir Ethan's quizonnaire onto Facebook. I can't imagine it'll get far, it requires too much thinking and those that have taken the gauntlet thusfar aren't really the OMGWTFLOLBBQ types.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Music for Airports

By the time this is posted I should be back in Wisconsin for the holidaytime season. Thusly most of the posts for the next month would be more rumination than action, but maybe I'll get more research done when I can just drive to the library rather than taking the T. Not sure if they'll have the same selection.

I seem to gravitate to listening to Reich (God, I've been talking about him a lot lately) whenever I'm flying. And no, I don't own Music for Airports. And as I type this I'm actually listening to The Bad Plus's Blunt Object – Live in Tokyo. Nonetheless, I usually listen to Reich in airports, most often Music for 18 Musicians but this time it was Drumming. Perhaps by listening to minimalist music I become hyperaware of my surrounding and everything is interesting! Or captivating at least.

This led me down a train of thought: I thought of when I was first introduced to Steve Reich's music, by a friend of mine who is somewhere between session musician and local hero in Minneapolis's jazz scene. Or maybe he's dead, for all I know. It was late in high school, just as I was starting to approach the guitar as a classical instrument. He was attending Lawrence University, as I would the next year, and played for me the first four minutes of Piano Phase. Needless to say it was a bit of a shift from the steady diet of nĂ¼-metal I was ingesting at the time. (Don't misread this as a disownment, I will defend some of those albums to the death) The MP3 he had was incomplete, and for a couple years afterwards I thought the piece was only four minutes long.

Now my parents had taken me to the requisite children's symphony concerts, although I only have a vague recollection of them. However, that sliver of Piano Phase ended up being the touchstone that my knowledge of concert music would be built around. I'm not saying this is wrong, in fact it might be kind of cool, but the one point I kept coming back to as I ate my overpriced airport lunch was that this approach would be totally impossible and absurd if I had chosen any other instrument, Granted, this isn't the normal flight path for the guitar either but I think it's the only instrument where it's even possible. Maybe not, as with a lot of things, I'm starting to look into it.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Do the Math questionnaire fest

Do The Math invited the sum of the blogosphere to answer the questionnaire that they had offered to a variety of important or famous jazz musicians. As a non-important, non-famous, non-jazz (mostly) musician, I accept said invitation.

1. Movie score. Yojimbo (Masuto Sato set the standard for East-meets-West), Kill Bill
2. TV theme. Who brought up the insanity of the Transformers theme?
3. Melody. Elegy for Marianne (an obscure electric guitar piece played by my former sensei), Cherokee.
4. Harmonic language. McCoy Tyner, Vaughan-Williams's "Fantasia on a Theme by Tallis", Kenny Garrett "Sing a Song of Song" (I think I have a thing for Phrygian)
5. Rhythmic feel. Medeski Martin and Wood, all the time but especially "Bubblehouse" and "Reflector". I also invoke Louis Andriessen's "Workers Union" because I am a jackass.
6. Hip-hop track. Wu-Tang Clan "Triumph"
7. Classical piece. Michael Gordon's "Trance" renewed my faith in classical music, it will rip your face off/make you eat your own face.
8. Smash hit. "Africa", Toto. Unstoppable.
9. Jazz album. "Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus", Kenny Garrett's "Songbook"
10. Non-American folkloric group. Kodo: Heartbeat Drummers of Japan FTW!!!!!111
11. Book on music. Steve Reich's "Writings on Music", Hindemith's "Elementary Training for Musicians"


A) Name an surprising album (or albums) you loved when you were developing as a musician: something that really informs your sound but that we would never guess in a million years: I don't think I have a sound yet, but my youthful study of all of Brian May's work (especially "News of the World" and "Queen II") probably counts.

B) Name a practitioner (or a few) who play your instrument that you think is underrated: All the guys I can think of (Mark Stewart, Nick Didovsky, Jason Vieaux, Ben Wienman) are certainly considered heroes in the circle I run in, they probably don't get enough props with the world at large.

C) Name a rock or pop album that you wish had been a smash commercial hit (but wasn’t, not really): Spacehog's "The Chinese Album", neo-glam at its zenith. If there were justice in the world "Mungo City" would be some nation's anthem.

D) Name a favorite drummer, and an album to hear why you love that drummer: I try not to say Dave King but I must. ("Part of the solutionproblem" and "Give" battle in a battle where there can be no winners, who will win?) Chris Pennie (Dillinger Escape Plan) is also way crazy insane.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Most Annoying Song - Round 3

I'm so bad at this.

Tenney def. Cage, Muzak def. Stairway. (Both shutouts!)
But we press onward.

Los Del Rio - Macarena v. Lambchop - The Song That Doesn't End

We've left the land of academia to those infinite loops sounding in your eardrums as you stare in the gaping maw of hell. This decision basically comes down to whether you prefer your repetition to come from older Spanish gentlemen or puppets. Both feature invigorating dances.

Vengaboys - We Like to Party v. Ludacris - Number One Spot

Repetition appears to be the height of annoyance. The Vengaboys jam works in a similiar manner as our previous two combatants, even involving an older gentleman. Ludacris is far more insidious. (The following requires some music geekdom) The sample is well-known, Quincy Jones's "Soul Bossa Nova", the big dominant hit before resolving. Too bad the video starts with Soul Bossa Nova, fully establishing the key before driving in the leading tone until Doomsday. To add insult to injury, the video breaks down to "The Potion" which is in the dominant or whatever, crushing any dreams of resolution. How could you do something like this to us, Quincy?

I swear to God that this will run until next Saturday.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tonight I'll See The Light

When successful blogs don't post for two weeks they have all their bloginista friends do guest posts. I am neither successful nor do I have bloginista friends. (Post to your blog, Dan.) I now plan my march back into triumph.

1) Get Technorati shit done, embarassed at having not done this yet.
2) Post next round of annoying song contest, also embarassing
3) Post answers to Do The Math's questionnaire, hope for a link
4) Post, just do more posting

My research on Four Organs has reached the end of its current formation, term paper submitted. It's not very poetic, but maybe someday it will be. Right now I'm turning my attention back to a theoretical Reich concert, and perhaps a reconstruction of Pulse Music. Daring! Mega-genius Bryan Teoh is reconstructing the Phase Shifting Pulse Gate using magick, we'll see how it works.

And now, some links:

Judaism ∞ Billion - Richard Wagner 0

One of the last great men of the record industry leaves the building

God damn do I love Will It Blend