Wednesday, June 06, 2007

By Succeeding I am Failing to Fail

Things I somehow didn't do in my first year in Boston, and may be inexcusable.

  • Go to the top of the Pru. I managed most other touristy things like the Freedom Trail, but this one eluded me. I did however point to the top of the Pru during orientation week and declare if we didn't go to the top of it within that week we never would. This has held true.
  • Go to a goddamn Red Sox game. This isn't so inexcusable considering that tickets are somewhere in the realm of eleventy billion dollars, but it was infuriating considering I could see Fenway Park out of my window.
  • Go to a show at the Middle East. I sure may not have any at all indie cred, because the amount of hipsterati weird at the epicenter in Cambridge should have been a siren song to tempting to resist. Even worse is that I only really went to two (2) rock shows the whole year.
  • Fung Wah it to New York. I suppose not really a Boston thing, but plenty of other new music wonks will tell you that it is the Center of the Universe. Alas, I wasn't able to clear out a weekend so I could hang with my posse icelu.
  • Go to a show at regattabar. See Middle East entry, replace indie with jazz.
  • Meet any other Boston music bloggers. Most especially you, Mr. Guerreri. Isn't that library you mention on occasion the same one I work at fifteen hours a week?
Did I miss anything really crucial? My activities have been rather Back Bay-centric. As you see most of my failures are outside those bounds. I have at minimum one year to correct these errors.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Tasty Tunes

A comparison between food and music isn't really groundbreaking, Soho did a bit on composer recipes a while back and the Dial M gents are compiling a collection of musicological cocktails. My attempt won't be as clever or utilitarian as either of those, but I got thinking when I read a blog post from chef Bob del Grosso about an article from the Guardian's art critic. (I guess British papers get to still have those.)

Jonathan Jones, the Guardian's critic, argues that food isn't art because it doesn't have the freedom to disgust the way that other artforms do. Del Grosso counters by saying that it wouldn't be hard to find someone more disgusted by Ferran Adria's aerosol spaghetti than Damien Hirst's preserved cows. Of course both of them are right, cuisine is an artisan craft. As is so often stated on Top Chef and such shows "food is for eating". Once a dish abandons that, it turns from cuisine to sculpture from edibles.

However more important, and more applicable to music, is Bob del Grosso's response that this is sort of a bullshit definition for art. Shouldn't it be more along the lines of discussing something as opposed to being able to discuss everything? Placing the line of legitimacy at the point of repulsion does undermine the merit of things that are, shall we say, "pretty". It's a rather sophomoric stance (i.e. the one I was taking about a year ago). You'd think even with the pluralism of the times and the minimalism movement being now in the post-post stage or whatever that consonance would be okay, but the composition studios in both of the schools I've attended often treat it as something to be poked with a stick. Even the BSO's premieres for this season, all three came from composers (Wuorinen, Saariaho, Schuller*) who work in angular voices of varying densities. Yes, I realize I've given the BSO shit for being conservative but I think I was more giving the audience shit.

So, cuisine might not be able to discuss the horrors of Abu Ghirab or something similiar, but I could see a perfectly edible dish become a discussion of nationalism. You know, like a lot of music has been.

* Did that Schuller ever get performed?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

And Offered Him A Doughnut

Apparently in addition to bloggining and refreshing good taste in music, Scott Spiegelberg of Musical Perceptions and I also share our alma mater of Lawrence University. In fact we even both took advantage of the whacky two-degrees-in-five-years program. However, in the words of one of my professors: "Chemistry is physics without understanding." (That's not going to help me in the next list.)

Elsewhere on the Internets:

Darcy James Argue is in the middle of braving the entirety of the Bang On A Can Marathon, and liveblogging it to boot.

A decent answer to eternal question "Beatles or Stones?"

And in honor of National Doughnut Day (two days ago, alas) here's a map of everywhere in Boston proper to score yourself some doughnuts. No word yet on how many of those are Dunkys.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Truth In Advertising

Introductory tangent: Last night I saw Maria Schneider have her picture taken with a man wearing only an apron. I lead a bizarre life.

Newsweek has a story this week of one Jon Bauman (better known as Bowzer from Sha Na Na. Yeah, those guys.) as part of a Truth in Music committee, crossing the nation promoting similiarly named laws. According to Bauman, doo-wop and other pre-MTV musical groups are particularly susceptible to musical imposters due to their faceless radio popularity. Could you pick out one of the Temptations off of the street?

This leads me to think about another sort of faceless musical group. Can you name a member of the Guarneri Quartet? Would you recognize someone from the Raschèr Saxophone Quartet? Orchestras have the very visible figure of the conductor to lead them and ascend to rockstar-dom, but chamber groups (I suppose the pre-MTV analogue would be pre-Internet) normally don't have such as "face". Of course the answer of why there aren't any fake Takacs Quartets and such running around is simple: there isn't any money in it. I'll posit some other ones anyway.

There is the temptation (get it? get it?) to say that chamber audiences are more educated about the performers than doo-wop fans, but especially in the case of big-ticket concerts that's not really the case. However, I will say that chamber audiences, especially in the case of touring groups as opposed to seasons, are coming for the performance overall as opposed to particular songs. That's not to say that when I saw the Assad Brothers I wasn't hoping they'd do Piazzolla's Tango Suite, but there isn't the same sort of obligation to play the hits.

There are a lot of recognizable chamber groups now, either by being explicitly constructed as such (Il Divo, Bond or whatever those girls are called, those insufferable piano playing children) or badasses that also market themselves well (Kronos Quartet, Imani Winds, Los Angeles Guitar Quartet). Also most groups are business entities unto themselves rather than entirely slaves of a record label. Lastly, except maybe in the case of string quartets you can't just get away with putting a 70-year-old man on cello so everyone can elbow each other saying "That's the real one!"