Enhancing or Diluting?

On twitter, I came across someone who had posted this video.  I forgot who it was, so unfortunately I can’t get you to follow them, but this video is quite interesting to look at.

Do you think collaborations like this enhance each perspective art or dilute them both?  Is a little diluting worth it to get thousands of people involved in both.  Let’s be honest, usually diehard fans of James Brown are not fans (or even listen to) Pavarotti and vice versa.  So is it worth showing some of what each can do to compromise the difference in style?  Or does this make both styles, equally sweet in their own right, less pure?  You tell me!

Leave a comment.  Be opinionated!

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The last Bullfight in Cataluña

Photo Credit: lavanguardia.com

Today marked the last bullfight in Cataluña, the southeastern province of Spain (home to Barcelona).  The Autonomous Regions, as they are called, outlawed bullfighting.   Whether you’re for or against it, we know it was the end to an extensive history at least as long as the reconquista age of the country.  For those of you who do not know, I lived in Barcelona during the summer of 2007 studying abroad.  I cannot believe that was four years ago…man I miss it.

Anyways, I’m not really here to talk about whether or not bullfighting or its legality are a good or bad thing.  Just an FYI, CNN failed to report on the more global issue at hand, which is not only that there are some who love bullfights and others who see it as animal cruelty, but that many Cataluñians don’t see themselves as fully Spanish and vice versa.  The political diaspora between Castillans and Cataluñians is fundamental in understanding how these groups separate themselves, but I digress.

What does this have to do with music?  While going through the pictures of a Barcelona news site I like, in the story about the last bullfight, I saw a picture that unexpectedly surprised me.   Open another tab and go through all of them (the first one is an incredible picture btw), but if you’re lazy or pushed for time you can see the one I’m talking about here.

Did you know that there was a time when bands played at sporting events?  Did you know that now, even at colleges games, the sound systems are being turned up more and more, and sometimes (this REALLY ticks me off) at games the jumbo-tron speakers will play something over the band?   This is not just in college but also in high schools.  More and more, speakers are moving in, and less and less, band is seen as important.

I want you to think about the last time you went to an event in which there were not big speakers or amplifiers.  I’m not saying these tools are bad, quite the contrary I like them, but they are often used to blast out real music expression. However, I’ve noticed that in the digital age, so many have decided that live music is not good or acceptable for community events, or  if there is live music, it is of a specific rock/pop/r&b style.  None of those are bad, but most people miss so many elements of music and will go to their grave having never heard real counterpoint, jazz language, or the incredible sonorities of modern music.

Just like these Spaniards and Catalonians, our culture is changing.  However, there is not even the courtesy of controversy, or anyone batting an eye and the killing of musical involvement in community events.  Sometimes I wonder if the fate of live musicians will suffer the same fate as the bulls.

CV

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What do you want? YOU DECIDE 2011!

Step 1: Watch above video

Step 2: Watch Below video if you haven’t already

Step 3: Look at list and comment to cast your vote

Categories:

Parents

Politicians

Taxpayers

Teachers

Administrators

Unions

Universities

United States Department of Education

YOU DECIDE!

Original Post can be found here.

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Opinion: iTunes

It has been only several days since one of the most visible and well-recognized CEOs, Steve Jobs, stepped down from his position, and I felt it would appropriate to open up some discussion on CV.

My question is simple, and it has another secondary question attached to it.

Has iTunes been good or bad for the music industry?

Has iTunes been good or bad for the classical music world?

Obviously there are plenty of opinions to be had on each question.  I have an opinion if you care to read on.

I think the answer is that iTunes has been good for the music industry and the classical music world.  HOWEVER, this does not mean that it does not have its drawbacks.  The fact that one can get access to such a humongous library of music in seconds and find even obscure music, has completely changed how we think about music.  Yet, some have seen that as being soul-less, and have targeted iTunes as the killer of the record store.  However, Wal-Mart was already doing that long, long before (like in the Napster days) iTunes came around.

It is also in this very mentioning of Napster that brings me to the biggest upside of iTunes in my opinion.  It established a culture against the then bacchanalian sharing of music.  No matter how annoying Lars Ulrich from Metallica was, he was very often in the right about the legal sharing and distribution of music.  It was madness.  No one owned their music.  It was all burned on CDs.  Also, listeners had to deal with music shared with mixed bit-rate and quality, misnaming of files, corrupted files, possible hackers and the like.  I mean really??  It was a black market.  How one got music, or what condition was of no consequence.  And although you may not think so, iTunes restored the culture of music ownership.

Unfortunately, like I said, nothing good comes without a price.  Apple drove prices right into the ground.  Granted, that means you can own more music (are CDs still 17 dollars?  Maybe that’s why record stores went out of business), but it also means it has created a culture that does not see music as valuable.  When you think about it, a $1 song can change your life, so it seems ridiculous that it is valued at the same price as these items from the Dollar Tree.  (Make sure to get your dancing solar sunflowers while they last!)

So those are some thoughts, and they are no way exhaustive, but a start to some conversation I hope.

Facebook friends, please leave comments here if you would so the whole world can enjoy!  Also, share CV on facebook

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What I’m listening to right now…

If you’ve followed CV that much, you know I’m a pretty big fan of all of the composers of the Bang on a Can world.  I’ve listened to much David Lang, some Julia Wolfe, and now am starting to delve into the music of Michael Gordon.

I started listening to his work Timber, which is brilliant and I will hopefully finish this week, but I got caught up listening to his rewriting of Beethoven’s 7th symphony.  It is one of the most interesting listens I’ve had in a while. Give his podcast and the work a listen.

I am always unbelievably impressed with everything these composers put out.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.  If not, keep listening 🙂

CV

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Why “Merde” means so much

“Break a leg!”

“Knock ’em dead!”

“Good luck!”

These common expressions are known to the general public as a way of expressing well-wishes for a performance, be it on a stage or in an interview. Yet, there is one word reserved for the dancer. It comes from an unlikely definition (it translates to “shit” from French!) that oddly enough means “good luck!” Before a dance performance, and especially ballet where this tradition started, one could hear the sweet and cheerful proclamations of French vulgarity.

“Merde!”

But this word has a different meaning to me. I love collaborating with dance. I mean, I really really love it. It also just so happens that I am married to a wonderful dancer whose movement has inspired me time and time again.

Pieces have been written that she has danced in. One I performed on stage with the dancers, the other was one of the more personal works I’ve written. With every performance, I am able to utter a word reserved for those fortunate enough to perform in movement. A very interesting moment also happened this past summer at Interlochen, when I actually performed movement in a dance piece, and my wife was able to say (text) the same to me. “Merde!” It was in that very day I started this post.

So what is this post really about? It’s about today. Today is the fifth wedding anniversary for my wife and I. Hilary is my favorite dancer by far. She is also my favorite blogger, designer, social media guru, and yes even my favorite comedian.
In a life guided by our dedication to our faith and beauty in the arts, we have been fortunate enough to live in this beauty. We are truly blessed, and we will always be grateful to all those in the community of our relationship who have made it what it is today.

To Hilary,
Happy Anniversary.

Here’s to many more years together on the stage of life.

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Controversy

What do you think of this cover for Reich’s piece?  If you don’t listen to much Reich, maybe read an article to catch up on what’s going on.  I have an opinion for sure, but it’s not a popular one.  The image and my opinion are below after checking out some other links if you want.

http://www.slate.com/id/2299787/pagenum/all/#p2

http://www.andres.com/2011/07/21/cover-matters/

http://www.nonesuch.com/journal/steve-reich-wtc-911-album-cover-revealed-2011-07-20

Image credit: Slate.com

My opinion:

First, the designer Barbara de Wilde, is a brilliant cover/sleeve artist for books and music whose covers are art.  In a time where LP covers have faded almost completely into oblivion, and shoddy graphic design abounds, it is refreshing to see an artist with so much passion in something few have ever thought of as being an art form.  So, as far as to how I judge this cover, based on the designer/artist’s and the composer’s intentions, I must first judge this image as a piece of art.

Secondly, since I am judging the image as art with intention from its artist, I find its creation completely valid, and regardless of my own personal taste, should respect its creation, even if not its content.  It is seemingly not vulgar, pornographic, or in some way purposely detestable for the sake of shock value, which again means I should judge it with some sort of respect.

Thirdly and finally,

I love it.  Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t love it like ice cream, or hot wings, or movie night with my wife, but I love it like I do all art that moves me, especially art that reaches deeply inside my being and its experiences (like the Pulitzer Prize winning piece written for the same event that WILL haunt you if you give it your full attention with the lights off and speakers up.)  You cannot look at the image though, especially as someone who watched this happen, and think about something else.  You cannot look at the image and find room for other thought material or have a flashback to another moment.  You are immediately taken to an emotional or even spiritual place remembering an event as culturally changing as the Atom Bomb.  It is stunning, but not like a sunset, but like an aggressive surge of lightning only meters away.

And isn’t it funny?  The underfunded, under-attended, slowly bleeding-to-death classical music world has a problem with it.  It’s like classical music wants to be edgy without a risk of getting cut.  They don’t want to sell out to celebrities and collaborations with “lesser musicians,” but want to be “serious art” without taking the risks it takes to make serious art.

Not only do I love it, I think we need more marketing inspiration like this.  Many classical composers (like David Lang) have benefited from this type of emotional branding to emotional music.   Why should we fail to use art for the benefit of art just because it makes people uncomfortable?  Isn’t that fearlessness of stirring emotions what makes us artists in the first place?

What do you think?

Leave a comment below!

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