Saturday, August 09, 2008


NetNewMusic, a website spoken in hushed tones around new music circles, has been reborn using the Ning social network interface. I don't know exactly what I did to get an invite within the first 24 hours of its existence, probably the annoying song thing. The medium of the social networking site surprised me at first, but after some thought one can cross their eyes and think of sites like these just as web forums with really tricked out profile pages. My hope is that this particular clubhouse, unlike brothers-in-arms NewMusicBox and Sequenza21, maybe some performers and musicologists show up to break up the composer fest. Despite my apparent ascension into the new music glitterati, everyone really should check it out.

Speaking of new social technologies I'm trying to get better with Twitter. I've essentially only used it to follow the Mars Phoenix lander but remember a hubbub among academics about it some time ago. I added it to the sidebar some time ago (increasing the cussing on the blag by a factor of one hojillion) but mainly use it to emit questions into the aether. However, if anyone else is doing such this or has a better idea of what Twitter can do, look me up.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Quantum of Venue

The Complexity Wars of a couple weeks ago have morphed into a discussion about treating the audience and their reaction to a work as a single entity, in an Composer vs. Audience sort of way. Kyle Gann says that reaction is more indicative of venue that anything else, Soho links it in a Freakonomics-way to the dialectic of American and British broadcasting, and Dial M wonders whether performers can bear to acknowledge the apparent disconnection.

Mahler/Post (Post-Mahlerian?) concert etiquette has entirely negated any connection between performance and reception in a modern symphony. The audience is either following rules of courtesy or applauding themselves for listening, no matter what a bunch of shits the NY Phil audience might be. While the "special unique snowflake" crowd may bristle at generalizing people as such, it does give another angle to explain music intertwining with society. This is, I assume, something musicologists are allowed to do.

The problem is, to use mathematical terms, that venue is rarely, if ever, the dependent variable. When orchestras do tour, their repertoire is universally more established* than the home court programs and potential crowd aberrations are much less likely. One of the few examples at immediate memory is the BSO doing home-and-away shows with Steve Reich's "Four Organs". The breakdown is a simple one:

Boston: Quizzical enjoyment
New York: Riot

There must be something to learn from this, although it seems to endorse Gann's "bunch of shits" prognosis. While I was writing a paper on "Four Organs" last year, the riot was explained away by everyone with a phrase similar to "The New York following of the Boston Symphony Orchestra was particularly conservative." How can you say this without data points like the Reich riot? Perhaps it is a dark road I'm traveling, attempt to quantize the Musicks as such.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Once You Are, You Are All The Way

Personal prediction: He doesn't make it to the Patriots rematch before being traded to the Chicago White Sox and subsequently the Washington Wizards.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Zander Conducts the "7 Habits" Set

I recently found this video of Benjamin Zander, best known to me as conductor of the Boston Philharmonic, giving a talk at TED. Techniques of evangelizing classical music seem diverse, but this is the second time I've someone use phrasal analysis (in a sense). However, instead of an affable family-friendly crowd, this is a CEO/high executive crowd whose time is really fucking important to them who, granted, are spending a week at an invitation-only wonderland conference. Conservatory students are remarkably similiar in being overprotective about their time, but unlike CEOs they aren't at all interested in optimizing or streamlining or really other people at all, hence the slow choking death of "student life" at most such institutions.

Zander's humor and good nature make me wish I had seen the Boston Phil more often, having only seen them once when Sharon Isbin rolled through to play the Concierto de Aranjuez. Coincidentally or not, this was two weeks before Pepe Romero played the same piece with the BSO. While I made several jokes about the battle for the rights of "Boston's second best orchestra", the Boston Phil and BMOP seem more and more like two sides of the same coin: more nimble and adventurous than the elephant across the street can be. If one can call a Mahler cycle over four years nimble.

P.S.: On a Boston-related note, Go Revs!