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Favorite Music, Artworks, Movies, Shows, etc.

Found 5 results

  1. Music Universals and Science Sometimes I come across something that validates my youth and leaves me seething with anger. I just came across one such thing. Here is the press-release-based article (by Brooks Hays at UPI): Music, songs from diverse cultures feature universal commonalities Here is the teaser article by W. Tecumseh Fitch and Tudor Popescu in Science, where the study was published: The world in a song And here is the study itself. Universality and diversity in human song Before anyone thinks this is a one-more-theory-presented-as-science thing, here are the authors of the study--all being scientists and/or academics: Samuel A. Mehr, Manvir Singh, Dean Knox, Daniel M. Ketter, Daniel Pickens-Jones, S. Atwood, Christopher Lucas, Nori Jacoby, Alena A. Egner, Erin J. Hopkins, Rhea M. Howard, Joshua K. Hartshorne, Mariela V. Jennings, Jan Simson, Constance M. Bainbridge, Steven Pinker, Timothy J. O’Donnell, Max M. Krasnow, Luke Glowacki. I don't know anything about most of these folks, but I do know about Steven Pinker because I have read several of his books. He's top quality in the science/academic field. I now have one more thing on my plate to study. But what leaves me furious is the sheer amount of taunting and ridicule I suffered in college for espousing the fundamentals of this study (not exactly, of course, but as the direction I wanted to go in). I was a music composition major. Along with the taunting (one composition teacher even said I wrote "Gypsy fiddler" music--and man, did that piss me off back then ), I was badgered and intimidated into learning the dodecaphonic system of Schoenberg and other avant-garde techniques. All of it sounded like shit, too. Try as I may, I couldn't learn to like the stuff I wrote, not because of any lack of talent, but because the systems I had to use were anti-human-brain. I was so frustrated, I was going to write a work about musical epistemology to force myself to study the fundamentals and prove this crap was crap and good music was good music--and why. I had recently discovered Rand and, of course, scorched earth became my style. But for practical matters, meaning money, I concentrated on the trombone because I was constantly working at gigs. And when I took an audition for a contract with the São Paulo State Symphony and was offered the principal trombone seat, I left the US just to get away from the madness, especially this avant-garde crap. (The Vietnam War was still going and that didn't help my disgust.) Oddly enough, when I started conducting down in Brazil, I became a bit famous for conducting this crappy modern music and pulling it off well. That's because I not only knew how and why it was composed, and I made sure those bases were covered correctly in the concert hall, but I went for dramatic effects in the compositions, sometimes even imposing dramatic gestures that were not in the score. In other words, I polished turds and made them shine. At least the composers and their political allies liked me and they opened lots of doors for me back then. They said I understood their music better than any other conductor. And I was doing it masochistically in a "give 'em the crap they want to eat, no, give them even more" frame of mind. How's that for irony? That's why I went off into producing pop music and songwriting, but that's another story.. Anyway, science is finally catching up with common sense about music. It's good to know--at a science level--that I was right back then and the people instructing me were wrong--maliciously wrong. To use a Randian metaphor, I was the intended man in the shape of a pot of a comprachico education system. It's a good thing I'm hardheaded and did not turn out like a pot. Still, being forced into a pot hurts like hell. That was a long time ago, but I'm still pissed. I can't get those years back from those assholes who were charged with teaching me how to compose. (On the tonal side, I did learn some useful things, like how to write figured bass in the style of Bach if I ever time travel to the 1600-1700's and need to offer my services to church organists. Bah...) Anyway, I will go through this study and comment when I get the time. I am no longer a professional musician and haven't written any music for years, although recently I have been getting the itch again. So I am intensely interested at several levels. If this topic interests you, look into the study and let me know what you think. I would love to know. Michael
  2. I was recently asked by an organization called The Voices of Vienna for permission to use my song "To Venus and Mars" at a concert on April 13. The attached has been created for this event. I am referred to on page 2, as "Rawlings." I love the Vienna and Franz Lehár connections! Lehár was my original inspiration to start writing music. It is especially pleasing to me because this song expresses the Objectivist metaphysics in an essential sense.
  3. Just heard that a song of mine will be performed on March 11 in Minneapolis! (The song was premiered in Austin and is slated for a Chicago performance.) Rodney, We are pleased to inform you that we have selected your piece, “When Matter Touches Antimatter,” to be performed at our New Arias on Tap performance on Sunday March 11th at Honey in Minneapolis, MN at 6:30 pm. Please let us know if you’re able to be present at the performance. I’ll be sending out a separate e-mail to introduce you to the singer performing your piece. The rehearsal dates with our accompanist are are Sunday March 4th in the afternoon and Monday March 5th in the evening. Once we’ve worked out a rehearsal time we’ll let you know and you can let us know if you’re able to attend in person or via Skype/Google chat/Facetime. In the meantime, if you could please e-mail the following: … [photo, bio, etc.] Thank you for being a part of our collaboration! We look forward to working with you! Eryn Tvete Managing Director Opera on Tap Twin Cities
  4. I discovered the video of the sample-based song “Since I Left You” after encountering a YouTube comment on another video that read: “It [the video] changed my life.” Aside from my reaction to the song (see below), it led me to ask myself: Can a piece of music consisting entirely of manipulated samples of other records qualify as “art” in the full sense, i.e. as the term is applied to an original song? Some people might object to the concept of “art in the full sense.” My thinking is that not everything artistic is art. For example, wallpaper design, handicrafts, and (dare I say it) architecture are not art in the full sense even though they employ many of the tools and techniques of art. In fact, I am sure art evolved out of the streamlining and “beautification” of utilitarian objects. Anyway, such an over-the-top statement as “This video changed my life” piqued my curiosity, so I looked for and watched/listened to it. Here it is: The song, especially as here interpreted, deals with a spiritual awakening of sorts. I had a strong positive reaction; for me, it brought thoughts the call of music as such—a dance in the mind that yearns for physical expression. (Incidentally, I have always found something very life-affirming in the sight of an obese person dancing well. I don’t know if others have this reaction.) Given this result of artistic pleasure, one certainly might be willing to accept sound productions like this as compositions in their own right, and thus as art “in the full sense.” But since art demands thorough selectivity, some might question whether importation of sounds wholesale from other (sometimes famous) recordings allows the degree of control by the artist that seems required. Certainly, the sonic manipulations on this recording are very numerous and varied—tempo, pitch, fades, echo, attack, decay, and many other parameters. But this leaves a lot out of the hands of the “composer.” Once a sound is chosen, it is more or less “frozen” and one is constrained by the original musical idea. However, a musical creation is often built up from a starting idea, and that idea influences the subsequent choices. This phenomenon of continual adjustment, to my mind, is enough to push such massively sampled works into the category of art in the “full” sense that applies to any popular recording. Many people will of course not like or identify with it; many factors are involved in one’s response to music. (Some might be turned off by the slightly weird overall sound.) But that does not prove there is no objective worth in music. (Would anyone maintain, for example, that Chopin’s Etude in E is not a great melody, and a great piano work?) This is from Stylus Magazine writer Ally Brown, quoted in the song’s Wikipedia article under “Critical Reception”: That might be a clue to some objectivity about it at least. I hope some here find “Since I Left You” a happy discovery.
  5. So far, of the performances of my art songs that have taken place in the past few years, I have only one audio or video. I thought I’d post it here because it has a definite Objectivist influence. The song, “To Venus and Mars,” was one of three of my songs chosen for presentation at an event hosted by Opera on Tap called New Brew: A Warm Welcome, held in The Elbo Room in Chicago. (The two others were titled “Ave Maria [Ellen’s Prayer]” and “The Lone Last Leaf.”) Another recently performed song of mine, “When Matter Touches Antimatter,” has outer space as its background as well; but there is no Objectivist influence in that work. That song was a winner of the Second Fresh Squeezed Ounce of Art Song competition, hosted by One Ounce Opera and held at Central Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas. My next post on this thread will present the lyrics of “To Venus and Mars.”