Thursday, September 29, 2011

Blues and the White Critic

"Some blues critics become irritated if even one other group of white people is at a club when they arrive. ... The irony is that the critics themselves are overwhelmingly white, but seemingly blind to their own race when critiquing a club for its own clientele."
       —From Jennifer Ryan's article "Beale Street Blues?" in Ethnomusicology.

John Searle

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Timothy Andres Reimagines Mozart

The composer Timothy Andres has recomposed Mozart's "Coronation" piano concerto, adding a postmodern left-hand part.  Read about it and listen here.  The original score is here.

Bob Dylan's Unoriginal Paintings

It seems odd that some folks are shocked (shocked!) that Bob Dylan's current art show is full of paintings copied from widely circulating photographs, given that practically everything he's ever done has been pilfered from one place or another, from his early songs to his autobiography.  (You can view some of the paintings here.)  I guess it's all about the folk process...

Thursday, September 22, 2011 Sweatshops: This Ain't Notting Hill

According to this exposé:
Workers said they were forced to endure brutal heat inside the sprawling warehouse and were pushed to work at a pace many could not sustain. Employees were frequently reprimanded regarding their productivity and threatened with termination, workers said. The consequences of not meeting work expectations were regularly on display, as employees lost their jobs and got escorted out of the warehouse. Such sights encouraged some workers to conceal pain and push through injury lest they get fired as well, workers said.

During summer heat waves, Amazon arranged to have paramedics parked in ambulances outside, ready to treat any workers who dehydrated or suffered other forms of heat stress.
There's a petition here, but surely a boycott would be more effective, especially if it included all those companies that have been outsourcing their Information Technology to Amazon's cloud.

This all seems rather a far cry from the world Hugh Grant's cute little bookstore in Notting Hill:

The real bookstore where the movie was set is closing...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dick Gregory

Deresiewicz on Harold Bloom

In this review, William Deresiewicz characterizes his former colleague, literature scholar Harold Bloom, as the "Mr Kurtz" of the Yale University English Department. Apparently, the two never met during the ten years they were colleagues. Bloom, Deresewicz writes, "has conspired, with ample help from the media, to make his personality more significant than anything he does, and ... everything he does now serves to keep that personality afloat before the public. Bloom is the story, and more and more, Bloom’s story is the story." And there's this:
Bloom must surely be the most solipsistic critic on record. Harold is, indeed, a world unto himself.
    And as he piles up book on book, it’s only getting worse.
And this: "Bloom, it seems, talks only to himself..."  And also this: "Harold fills up everything with Harold..." And the final twist of the critical scalpel:
Harold Bloom is fond of inveighing against the vulgarity of American culture, but by setting himself up as a kind of literary shaman, he has done his part to vulgarize it.

Here's Bloom, interviewed last spring:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Kimberly Bartosik

Kimberly Bartosik's "Ecsteriority 1"

...and "Ecsteriority 2":

Read Alistair Macaulay's review here.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Kristian Bezuidenhout Plays Mozart's Fortepiano

Of course, in 1790 Mozart wouldn't have had to compete with car horns.  Why don't modern classical pianists ever try playing nineteenth- and twentieth-century works on older instruments?  After all, to play Xenakis on a fortepiano or Brahms on a harpsichord wouldn't be any more anachronistic than playing Bach on a modern piano.  It can't be simply that the keyboard range is too small on older instruments.  On the other hand, Keith Jarrett played the clavichord on the Book of Ways:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Giuseppe Di Stefano Sings "Vesti La Giubba"

The NY Times Intellectual Property Beat: Rohter Needs to Brush Up

Although it's nice that the NY Times has been covering recent developments surrounding intellectual property laws in the musical world, hopefully their journalist Larry Rohter will find time to brush up on some basic principles.  At present, he evidently doesn't understand the distinction between the copyright that protects a musical composition and the copyright in a sound recording.  In this recent article about Europe's extension of the sound recording copyright term, he writes that, if the current law were to remain on the books:
the Beatles’ first hit record, “Love Me Do,” which was released in 1962, could have been treated next year in much the same way as works by classical composers whose exclusive ownership of their music has expired.
This isn't true.  In most nations, copyright on the composition "Love Me Do" won't expire until decades after McCartney dies, and until then it will still be yielding performance and mechanical royalties, etc., so long as people keep playing and recording it.  Only the Beatles's debut recording was set to lose its copyright protection.

And of course, the copyright in "Love Me Do" is owned by EMI, whose parent company, Citigroup, as previously noted here, is in deep financial doo-doo...

Michael Denning on Hardt & Negri

Anita O'Day & Roy Eldridge With Gene Krupa

Monday, September 12, 2011

Lotte Reiniger's Silhouette Animation

An excerpt from a short documentary about Lotte Reiniger:

Read about the making of The Adventures of Prince Achmed here

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Laurence Lesser's Amati Cello

Laurence Lesser talks about his almost-four-hundred year-old cello—with a one-piece back—made by Hieronymous Amati in 1622:
To put that in historical context—Lesser's instrument was made two years after the Pilgrim Fathers arrived  on the Mayflower at Plymouth, about fifty miles from where Lesser lives today.

Friday, September 9, 2011

David Orr Wanders into the Tangled Web of Copyright Permissions

In this NY Times Op-Ed, David Orr tells of discovering what anyone who's written a book about the arts in the twentieth century knows—the world of copyright permission licensing is quite a can of worms.  Hmm... I wonder how much of the Op-Ed I'm allowed to quote here without paying for a license from the NY Times:
The difficulty is not so much that the copyright system is restrictive (although it can be), but that no one has any idea exactly how much of a poem can be quoted without payment. Under the “fair use” doctrine, quotation is permitted for criticism and comment, so you’d think this is where a poetry critic could hang his hat. But how much use is fair use?
If you ask publishers, the answer varies — a lot. 
 I'm surprised the words "safe harbor" don't appear in Orr's piece.  He might find Susan Bielstein's book a source of solace, if nothing else...  And he should count his lucky stars he hasn't tried publishing a book about James Joyce.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Problem with Baby Elephants on Live T.V.

The famous appearance by a baby elephant on the British children's television show Blue Peter:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

James Levine: Time to Retire...?

James Levine conducts Bizet's Overture to Carmen:

The maestro has hurt his back again and withdrawn from conducting at the Metropolitan Opera this fall.  It's a shame, but maybe it's time for him to move on.  There might be lots of different ways of doing something, but they don't include not doing it...

For all that Levine's a big cheese in his own right, the larger problem is that he's set off a butterfly effect that's causing headaches in the classical music world internationally..

Levine may

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

Marzette Watts

Marzette Watts (tenor saxophone); Marty Cook (trombone); Tom Berge and J. C. Moses (drums); Juny Booth, Steve Tintweiss, and Cevera Jehers (basses); Frank Kipers (violin); Robert Fews (piano); George Turner (cornet); Patty Waters and Amy Schaeffer (voices).

The Future for Books and Authors...

Writer Ewan Morrison has come to the realization, as he explains in this short piece, that the book industry is inevitably going to end up being napsterized.  Well... duh!  Do publishers really think they're going to be able to keep their e-books wired shut in kindles and nooks for very long? Pdfs of copyrighted books are already proliferating on file-sharing websites, and .pdfs can be read very conveniently on iPads.

Since authors are increasingly unable to earn a living from writing alone, they're probably going to end up taking teaching jobs, like Toni Morrison and Joyce Carol Oates at Princeton.  In the last decade or so, lots of critics and journalists have been doing that, such as James Wood, who used to be at the Guardian and New Republic and is now a "professor of practice" (i.e. adjunct) at Harvard while occasionally writing short pieces for the New Yorker.

Writers in the United States have been hit with a double whammy in recent years: not only is there a bleak outlook for the magazine and newspaper industry in the internet age, but the skyrocketing cost of health care has made freelance careers increasingly unfeasible in general.