May 16, 2022
9:45am 1 hour
May 12, 2022
9:45am 1 hour listened to Talking Heads, Talking Heads: ’77. I think his singing is technically wrong in an interesting way. He uses the kind of muscle movement that one would use to control notes in one’s chest register up high, he “pushes his chest up” but he also uses falsetto. Something very odd about it. He sings so wildly it almost sounds more healthy than some, because he doesn’t commit to a long phrase, so there’s no tension from holding, just from stretching too thick of a cord too high. In some sense, it’s freedom.
I find his lyrics repulsive. There is so little empathy or understanding of other people in them, it sounds like a celebration of selfishness, which makes sense given this album’s popularity in the 1980s, a time when interest in capitalism in the west eclipsed interest in social justice, at least in the media-sphere. I think it’s interesting that the conversation about David Byrne’s autism became prominant in the 2000s and 2010s, when the pendulum was swinging back toward emphathy at a large societal level with the black lives matter, me too, and occupy wallstreet movements, as well as the orange revolution in Ukraine and the Arab spring. Now, we need to account for the coldness of his narrative voice. We need to excuse or explain it, not celebrate it.
That’s not it. His pain and bafflement is so obvious, and I feel the performance invites me to leer at his awkwardness which he is not fully consenting to share with me, because he doesn’t understand that its there in subtext. I get the feeling that if I asked him what …
Okay, looked up what he said it was about. It was co-written, the creepy part for me being the contrast between the French bridge and the rest of the lyrics. The bridge actually seems to be emotional, but maybe I’m reading that into it. Turns out the label promoted the band by releasing this single just after Son of Sam started murdering women, and people he thought were women. They were angry because they had started writing the song years before, but acording to Wikipedia the label said they would release it with or without the band’s consent, so they agreed.
The most alienating part is the verse where it says, “You start a conversation; you can’t even finish it/You’re talking a lot but you’re not saying anything/When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed/Say something once, why say it again?” but… that’s the whole point of music, to say something again with different emotions, or to drill it into someone’s heart. The meaning changes with repetition. That the lines don’t rhyme, and then it goes back into “Psycho killer” feels so odd. I would be okay with this song eliciting my prurient attention if it seemed aware of itself, but the way it comes across, it’s alienation, separation from the effect it has on the audience.
Read that his 1986 film, True Stories can be read as a portrait of how an autistic person sees the world. From medium.com.
“Meninblack” is a song on The Stranglers The Raven. It’s about oppression. Long before the Will Smith movie. So that movie was like the remake of Stepford Wives, diluting a concept that was far more revolutionary in the 1970s. Watching Sneakers there are men in black in it.
Listened to the song, “Men in Black.” It’s straight pro grovernment propaganda. Although with a pastiche of black empowerment, but within existing systems.
May 11, 2022
8:45am 1 hour listened to Barbara Streisand, Stoney End and The Talking Heads, Remain in Light and Fear of Music. Talked about David Byrne and empathy and the song, “Once in a Lifetime”.
I have an interpretation of this song. It feels like the narrator is leaving his wife or maybe killing his wife, getting on the highway, and saying “My God, what have I done?” Every other interpretation says that line referrs to the whole life, like how have I created this, and why? But what about the line, “when the money’s gone?” Maybe it’s autobiographical. Because he made money one album and one tour at a time. He had a beautiful house and was married for a while. Maybe he thought he would lose it all when the money ran out. Maybe he longed for that because it would mean change, and an end to the pressure of having to pretend to understand another person’s feelings.
Been watching through Folding Ideas after I saw Line Goes Up and going back to earlier and earlier stuff… seeing that he did some experimental stuff, just like I did, when he was younger. This is my Folding Ideas. Except I’m not trying to get publicity. I’m hiding. But I’m still making stuff. It’s just funny because he talks like he has so much experience editing, but he doesn’t really, at least not a long career. And I sound like I’ve sung so much, but I haven’t, at least I’ve thought about it and my own work much more than I have worked. I’m a good listener. I’ve been listening. I guess he’s been watching critically.
Maybe it’s a a thing that happens because there is so much media, and artists are evolving into critics because the hive needs us to interpret rather than add to the too much. There are some eusocial insects that can change roles when the colony needs more workers or more fighters or more queens.
May 10, 2022
9:45am 1 hour listened to entire podcast, Suave with music by Taka Yasuzawa and Alex Segura. I also liked thier intro “Futura” the way they say it.
May 9, 2022
9:45am 1 hour listened to Barbra Streisand People, My Name is Barbra, The Second Barbra Streisand Album, and My Name is Barbra, Two. She sings like Frank Sinatra, choosing when to belt, when to use straight tone, when to use breathy voice, but otherwise keeps strictly to good technique. She covers her lowest notes, not sure why. Even in her last album from 2018 she does that. May 5, 2022
9:45 1 hour listened to The Stranglers Rattus Norvegigus, No More Heroes, The Raven, La Folie, and Black and White. Seems to have influenced Lou Reed’s voice, or maybe the other way around. Also Black Francis in “Tame”.
May 4, 2022
8:45am 1 hour listening to Unplugged and Seated by Rod Stewart, songs that came out when I was 11, but they were on the radio throughout my teenage years. Seemed to be personal to me, themes of love and loss. A lot of songs I used to process feelings about my mom who had left around that time. Somehow his singing always gets to me emotionally. He’s the opposite of Frank Zappa or Steely Dan, all emotional intelligence with very little musical experimentation of politics. I don’t know what it is. I think the portamenti help. The vision of the emotional state seems to be really clear to him. It creates a little world, very intimate but universal. Someone like Steely Dan seems to portray themselves and all the world around them, or even them looking down upon situations and characters outside of themselves. As a singer, one is the director of the play as well as the actor. As a singer-songwriter, one is the costume, set designer, and lighting as well.
This music takes a lot out of me to listen to, especially these songs that have personal meaning. As I look back as an adult, I can see that they are about romantic situations. Romantic love having worked out for me, it’s pleasant to look back at my disappointments through the lense of these characters. As a teenager, scared of never finding love, on the edge of abandoning hope of love, the stakes were a lot higher. The only thing that made it bearable was this voice with this seeming confidence, the strength to persist in vulnerability despite the painful events of life, both caused by him and done to him, his guilt and his suffering.
And yet, can’t help noticing that it does paint an old nostalgic picture of America, cleansed of any racial, gender, or class politics.
We ate this up in my region, growing up. A lot of people who moved there to raise kids thought there was an innocent special magic amoung white people in the country. We also beleived we were going back to some kind of ethnic heritage and this Scottish-English singer gave it to us, but without reminding our parents that they felt uncomfortable in the cities because of their relative privilege there, and their inability to advance civil rights without giving up what prestige they had, jobs, social standing.
I wonder if for British audiences, America served that role, that place of innocence, especially in soul music because it was the other both ethnically and geographically. Most of Rod Stewart’s songs have a gospel choir in the background. It also redefines religion as something immediate, living, wholesome, not like the anglican church.
A short list of Supremes albums that went the highest in the charts. There was a tie so I chose the one that sold more records:
Diana Ross and the Supremes Join the Temptations
I was not sure this was political until they got to “The Impossible Dream”. It’s not better music. It’s old fashioned. People like Rod Stewart added something to make it better. The unplugged concert in 1993 had better mics, better production and filters, the playing was more consistent and professional sounding, but that’s what makes The Temptations awesome – their energy and that they sometimes make mistakes. They’re on the edge of their technique at all times. Rod Stewart’s backup musicians sound comfortable and safe. Some of the chorus work by the Supremes is pitchy, and the solo lines are uneven, even by Diana Ross. Rod Stewart is so practiced by comparison, but that makes him sound safe and boring. It also means that he can delve deeper into the emotional content of the lyrics. The Temptations sound like a 1950s band. They seem to be reaching backward to popular song, rather than forward to rock. Their music feels intimate in that it feels like they expect to relate to the audience in live performance in a small venue where everyone will be looking at them closely and trying to relate to them. It’s not a spectacle like rock, or a one-man show. It also doesn’t seem to be about the recording. The recording sounds like an example, a business card of their musical act. Bands like the Rolling Stones, on the other hand, seem to have been creating records, the important thing being creating a recorded pattern in sound on disc rather than a composition which can be played multiple times by the same people for different audiences. The Temptations make something more sturdy and adaptable, but the Rolling Stones make something more polished, but more likely to be played the same way, or if improvisation happens, it breaks the piece apart. Those might be racialized assumptions. Rod Stewart seems to be playing for headphones.
We switched back and forth between “Having a Party” and “Mashed Potatoes,” the song mentioned in “Having a Party” and noted the differences, and how everything in the Rod Stewart recording was idiomatic and obviously all the players were big fans of the original. The strings even sound like the strings in “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers.
Then F asked about lo-fi because I had been listening to it on youtube. The Wikipedia article talks all about people rejecting the find musicianship and polished productjion of peole like Rod Stewart in favor of something more rough, which sounds like the Temptations, but the chords and melody are more like other New Wave bands. It mentioned that Nirvana was also part of this rejection of production in order to recapture something authentic in the 1990s. This wasn’t the lo-fi on youtube. One sentence at the end of the article mentions lo-fi hiphop djs J Dilla and Nujabes.
My problem with Rod Stewart isn’t that his music is bad, it’s that like the Temptations, he’s looking backward, trying to perfect a style. So, my discography of these djs who I feel do something different as well as good:
J Dilla: The Diary, J Stay Paid, The Shining, Donuts, Ruff Draft. One album was very close but I’m limiting this to 5.
Nujabes: Metaphorical Music, Modal Soul, Spiritual State, Hydeout Productions 1st Collection, Samurai Champloo Music Record: Departure (The last one is half Nujabes, half Fat Jon).
May 3, 2022
9:45am 1 hour listened to Gasoline Alley and Never a Dull Moment by Rod Stewart. Talked about and tried to define “roots rock” and my criteria was that it was made by Americans, but Rod Stewart is not. Read about why people think Brits sound American when they sing, unless they try hard not to. Too competing theories I found were that they emulate the sound of old R&B records, and when you sing, you naturally use more “neutral” pronunciation, which sounds American.
May 2, 2022
9:45am 1 hour listened to A Dirty Old Raincoat Won’t Ever Let You Down. Read Rod Stewart described as “blue-eyed soul”.
April 29, 2022
9:45am 1 hour listened to Rod Stewart Every Picture Tells a Story, of which my best memory from growing up is “Reason to Believe.” I’m sure for my region in New Hampshire, the song was played as a way of putting the 1960s in perspective. For me, it was about my mom leaving.
April 28, 2022
9:45am 1 hour listened to Steely Dan, Aja. I can see why people kept telling me to listen to Steely Dan when I was a kid. It’s using chords with alterations, and I was playing jazz then, on the piano. The lyrics are also thoughtful. It’s interesting like Keith Jarret or someone, but it’s all composed out, yet spontaneous and flexible between band members. The microtiming isn’t fixed. It has a groove.
Each band I listen to affects the way I perceive my relationship to music. Some make me want to sing, some compose, some get educated about social issues related to music, but Steely Dan has me thinking philosophically about my position in society as a musician. What good can I do? Or maybe it’s a parellel journey, the intellectual one and the musical one, and correspondences are coincidental.
Going back to Slavoy žižek, in the end I think he locates trancendence too far into the future. At the end of his movie, he says every failed revolution redeems all the ones before it. It’s a feel good line, to say that we tried and failed, but at least we changed peoples minds, at least we changed the terms of the debate. It’s not wrong…just old fashioned. Write a letter, a speech, a script and deliver it as a finished work, which will sustain us until we hear the next literate work in a week or so, because there are so few who can read and write. Not true now. Now we have the luxury to speak out every day, about what we are doing each day. What am I doing? Housework, and I listened to a Steely Dan album. Conclusions will be drawn, meditation is needed for the meaning to sink in, but just for today, I can tell you that tomorrow, I will probably be here again. It doesn’t have to be twittering nonsense. It can be, “Hello, how are you?” of ideological mutual support. It also compromises the myth that intellectuals always work amazingly on amazing ideas. I work slowly and follow a lot of deadends. And then I get inspired by something I never could have predicted, and everything comes together at once. And then I could either develop that thought into a thesis, note it down for later, or write it down so badly that I have no idea what the thread of it was or why I cared.
When I read and listen, same thing. I read a lot of things that don’t matter to me, some that do, and with those, I can either make note of them, summarize and explain them to someone, write around and about them, or completely misunderstand them. Sometimes I come back later with more knowledge and pick them up again. Sometimes I forget.
I want to say I work in good faith, but sometimes I also lose that. I think this is too far away from anything that has a name, or it’s not worthwhile, or I get busy, or I think it should look different and I try to overdetermine what I will do. Most commonly, I get very excited and get great expectations and make too much work for myself so that I give up and go in another direction. The thing that composer said returns, though. “Never say, I can’t. Say, I’ll try again tomorrow.” It’s a long meditation of life, where each day is a breath.
Listened to Graucho, Steely Dan. I think Frank Zappa really took a lot of influence from this, especially the use of chorus with intricate story telling lyrics, a lot of the timbres: saxophone, piano licks at the ends of phrases, but in Zappa it’s always blistering satire. Here it feels sincere. Also in the song Gaucho, at the end, the instruments of different timbres all playing rhythmically varied lines in unison. A lot of jazz people do this, but combining it with rock was Zappa’s trademark. Don’t know which way the influence goes, or if they were both reacting to jazz. In “My Rival,” the way his voice slides around, the way he places his voice very nasal, patter singing but not too fast, similar to Zappa. And his lyrics are usually stories about people from the sixties, consciously at arms length.
April 27, 2022
8:45am 1 hour listened to Pretzel Logic by Steely Dan and watched The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology. Thought I could listen to three albums a day. If I were listening to long romantic symphonies every day, I wouldn’t expect myself to listen to three. These albums are information dense, complex musical products of hundreds of people from a different time period that I must grapple with. The lyrics are complicated poems that require their own analysis. Parts of them are improvised, parts not. Parts are composed aurally, so they do things I can’t picture in notation because they were never notated. The sound effects and distortion are idiomatic and familiar, but also specific to each band and instrumentalist, and I don’t have language for explaining their influence on the whole sound.
We were talking about Slavoy Žižek’s ideas in the film and Felix asked me what his degree was in. I looked it up – PhD in sociology. I thought, what am I qualified to talk about, and how can I support humanity with what I do? How can I deconstruct a reactionary ideology with my work? The boundaries in my head that still force me to believe what I’m doing is pointless because I’m litening to pop music and taking it seriously… I can challenge those… because of a feeling of wanting to raise up working people and working people’s music, but with technical expertise. I can say that it takes me a whole day to process one of these albums, same as a symphony. For me, with what I know about this music, the references I hear to other music, the lyrics, the politics, the performance, the production/recording traces, the structure of the album and how it flows together or sounds like a bunch of separate tracks… I can tell you this music is just as worthy as classical music.
I know I’m not alone in believing this because there are journals dedicated to studying popular music but I have found in my reading so far that a lot of articles focus on the politics or lyrics alone, perhaps assuming that analyzing the music will reveal its poverty. I know some people do analyze rock music, but this is still my feeling, that if we want to tell these stories we need to work on our technical vocabulary for timbre, how to talk about aurally composed works, forms of notation that we can use during analysis and to communicate with each other about these works on paper without having to listen to long clips… these things we can do.
Also we can work on the canon, on investigating and lifting up women and people of color who write and perform and produce and publicize music, even people who edit music, who informally contribute by being a shoulder to cry on or the subject of lyrics and music. And writing criticism is important, especially women, people of color, working class people. I want to extend my listening to include a long list of the people who weren’t on this list of bands, like Dolly Parton and Ariana Grande, but I can’t find a reputable list, at least not as authoratative as Colin Larkin’s list, which includes them. I don’t want a “women in music” list… I just want a list of good musicians that has different genders in it. I asked some friends and family to help me name at least 70 women pop and rock stars but I’m questioning this plan because a lot of the albums are really bad, and some of the artists are really bad.
There is so much to be done.
I feel called to make a list like Colin Larkin’s but for my generation. I feel that as more people had an opportunity to get recorded there are more people of color and women to choose from for this list than there were for him to choose from looking at music from the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and a few from the 1990s. This is the work of a lifetime for him. I couldn’t do this yet even if I wanted to because I haven’t lived long enough to experience enough music. This is a project for next decade… but I can start writing things down as I hear them. I should ask him how he did it. He’ll probably tell me something embarrassing like he asked his friends and family to name important rock bands from the last few decades, listened to them all, then chose to use five albums from each because it eliminated most of the bands but kept a general feel of the changes in style over time, and included most of the successful bands who codified the genre.
April 26, 2022
9:45am 1 hour I was going to say… but Steely Dan doesn’t seem to be improvising – they seem to be playing note for note a composition. Read something like that today. Listened to Steely Dan, Can’t Buy a Thrill.
April 25, 2022
9:45am 1 hour listened to Steely Dan Countdown to Ecstasy. Talked about how playing jazz can be like probablistic thinking, in that one has to stay loose, stay balanced, and ready for any shift in the energy of the music… maybe not so much in jazz that is very “in” but if people are going out of the chords, or you are playing free jazz, or atonal improvisation, you have to kind of be ready to adapt to what is happening and not hold too closely to your expectations about the music. Read that healthy families are ones that can adapt to changing circumstances. Basketball also, one stays relaxed and keeps balanced so they can go in any direction.
April 22, 2022
9:45am 1 hour listened to “Break My Heart” again. I love the melody and chord choices, and I love the blass playing, how aggresive and tuneful it is, but he doesn’t seem to support the chords very well. Also for some reason the vocal melody is sung very low and low in the person’s range, making it hard to determine pitch and reconsile this with the chords. What could have been… listened to the rest of Ridiculous and a live performance from 2021, Ridgefield, Connecticut. He still can sing just the same. I don’t understand, except that he sings more gently than most. He does use a bit of mix, not a ton. There is a lot of pushing the chest. He’s a pretty high tenor. That helps. He has a bit of a wobble. “King George Street” is the song I listened too. Better than most. Of course maybe they didn’t tour as much as other bands, not being quite as popular. Maybe he got more rest over the years.
Changed my mind. You can hear a steady decline from Cool for Cats through the other albums to Ridiculous. The tension produced by managing those odd modulations might have hurt a bit, but the songs had to be written in a sort of patter style because of that, which helps the voice since there are less sustained lines. I also noticed that Bruce Springsteen wrote songs that he could sing at every age.
The song, “Cool for Cats,” is one of the only songs sung by the lyricist and also the only one I’d heard before. He’s good. I wonder if they made it modulate less so he could have a firmer footing. It works. Also he articulates more like a story than a song, which works for this style.
April 21, 2022
9:45am 1 hour listened to Squeeze, Ridiculous up to “Walk Away,” what a good song about mother child relationships, don’t hear many of those. Continue to be impressed with this singer, also in the song, “Heaven Knows,” that soaring melody, awesome.
I planned to sweep through these albums but things keep catching me up and making me think.
April 20, 2022
8:45am 1 hour listened to Squeeze Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti. Getting bored of all the key changes. Doesn’t seem to serve the songs so much. Pathway to prog rock? Listened to Simon and Garfunkle “Somewhere They Can’t Find Me” and marvelled at the use of harmony in the end of the chorus. So simple, and yet perfect for the lyrics, because the upper voice “escapes” upward to the major seventh scale degree as the bottom voice stays on the tonic. It’s beautiful and meaningful.
April 18, 2022
9:45 1 hour listened to Squeeze, Argybargy. Man is that vocalist good. One of the melodies was tritones back and forth. Good airflow, too.
April 14, 2022
9:45 1 hour listened to Bruce Springsteen, The River and Squeeze, East Side Story. The vocalist of Squeeze is pretty good in many styles and across multiple weird chord changes. The River feels self indulgent and was too long.
April 13, 2022
8:45am 1 hour listened to Bruce Springsteen, Tunnel of Love and Darkness at the Edge of Town. I think he strength is in his songwriting. He’s got a really heavy back placement a lot of the time. Beth Roars channel points out that he shouts sometimes to get into more of a mix. Maybe he took voice lessons at some point.
April 12, 2022
9:45am 1 hour listening to Dusty Springfield, I think her version of “Think it’s Going to Rain Today” is the best. She gets the weird phrase length in the bridge better than Nina Simone and sings the full melody unlike Randy Newman. It’s a masterpiece of fusion between blues, jazz, modern classical music and musical theater style singing. Listened the albums, Where Am I Going? and Definitely Dusty. Listened to Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run. Puzzling. His technique is the most hoarse, pushed I’ve heard in a while, with breath flow issues as well. But he writes his phrases so short and shouty, he’s still singing in 2016 and sounds pretty much the same, even using falsetto. Maybe his voice was thrashed from drinking and smoking like Tom Waits. He doesn’t really oversing in his live show. He has backup singers carry most of the weight.
Andrew Hidas points out that Nina Simone’s version is more true to the cynical intent of the song. That’s true. Judy Collins almost mutes the interesting chords in the bridge.
Irma Thomas does a good job with the interpretation but also doesn’t nail the bridge. Randy Newman is playing the piano on that one and it has very clearly played chords on the bridge, the clearest besides the Dusty Springfield version. Bette Midler’s version is pretty good, too. She gets the notes right. Barbara Streisand does not. I got this list from Tim Riley’s article in the Los Angeles Review of Books, “Adrift in Cosmic Quarantine: Randy Newman Turns 77”.
It’s difficult because the vocal melody outlines a minor seventh chord with a suspended four. I forgot about this, but vocalists hold the chord made up of the melody notes in their mind and sing to it as they go. When the melody is weird and angular and atonal, you have to essentially make each note its own chord and pick it from the note before or somewhere in the texture of the other musicians notes. When it’s a blues or gospel or something with chords that share a lot of common tones, you almost don’t need to think of chord changes, but more of a single chord, a mode in which you improvise. With this weird song, which is more like the romantic songs of Fauré, Shostakovich, or someone, or Richard Strauss, you get to sing these lush, beautiful chords that mesh with other chords like them and move in unexpected directions because the added chord tones means the composer can modulate random places. This is fun. I never hear this in popular music.
This song is almost like a litmus test of who has chops for that kind of difficult singing.
If you unwind the minor seventh sus four chord looking for another inversion that makes more sense, you get a series of perfect fourths. This guy, Peter Gavin Long, wrote a paper called “The Sound of In-Between: Exploring Liminality in Popular Music” where he notes this song as well as “Pinball Wizard,” “She’s So High,” by Blur, and “Kashmir” as using quartal harmony.
April 11, 2022
9:45am 1 hour listened to Dusty Springfield, Brand New Me.
Got into a big fight with someone who wrote alternative words to “Ironic” by Alanis Morrisette.
We had fought before about whether her song was ironic or not, and I said that I got hurt in highschool because I wasn’t allowed to like Alanis Morrisette. She got so much shit for that song, was called a “bansee” etc. She wasn’t the only one I couldn’t admit to liking, and I also avoided buying her albums for fear of being labeled a wuss, or worse, a feminist.
I had agreed that her lyrics weren’t ironic but today I pointed out that by his own definition, some of his weren’t either.
It was frustrating. He wanted me to leave his lyrics alone, and I needed support in loving this woman’s music because her Jagged Little Pill album is actually pretty good. It’s Beatles good, I would say, in terms of number of hit songs, catchy tunes, the full emotional commitment in her singing, the relationship of the lyrics of each song to the others in setting a scene, and her interesting position between punk and pop, which paved the way for bands like Garbage. I wasn’t trying to improve his song, and failing. I was defending a woman from hypocrasy.
So my constructive question is this: How can someone write a parody pointing out a flaw in another person’s song, and still support the women who wrote it and her role in rock and roll history? There is nothing wrong with the music in her song, or with the lyrics in her other songs, or in her singing, the composition of her band, the chords she picks. Sometimes we tolerate ambiguity in lyrics to make better music. How can we empower girls to love themselves as musicians? There is another parody of her song by a women, which doesn’t bother me as much. It’s strictly ironic, with no exceptions. She solves the problem of having to fit in very long lines to explain the irony by using patter along with her singing. But she’s also a woman. I don’t read it as pile on, but as playful critique. As a woman, I can see myself in the position of the parodist as well as the parodied.
It’s an old question. Can a special group make fun of themselves in a way outsiders can’t? It’s more acceptable. When you make fun of your own group, it can be a way of owning the criticism and getting over it. It can be a way to do better. It can definitely be overdone.
Am I being too sensitive? Maybe. It’s a sensitive enough issue that I’m still writing. I don’t like these women musicians because they make me feel uncomfortable about my own journey. I don’t want to write about them, think about them, listen to them. But I have learned to go through the uncomfortable places. This was probably such a fight because as I assert myself as a musician, a critic, a writer, I get very insecure. It’s no longer a hobby. It’s turning into something that I care about. Except in times of emotional distress when music was my salvation, I always had to force myself to practice, to compose. My best hope was to get into a situation where someone else could force me, like an academic job or an endless stream of comissions. But I never really wanted that. I wanted to do something freely that didn’t feel like work. I’ve found it in spite of myself. I started this as a joke at my own expense. I’m writing this blog as a list of “Upcoming Events” on my webpage, because I don’t have any real upcoming events. I suck too much to have comissions. I suck too much to have interviews. I just hung on in desperate earnestness, promising to do something.
And I found that I could do something musical. I guess I let go of my expectations of what it would be, and of anyone else caring enough to force me, and of the day after tomorrow, and of today if yesterday I didn’t make the promise to work.
I don’t have an assistant. I do have an assistant. I talk about almost everything I write with my husband as I’m developing my ideas. We’ve gotten into some fights, too. It’s a challenge to try to work things out in a way he cares about or can understand. I’m making him sound dumb but he’s not. When I came back from college the first time, I shared a paper I had written with my dad. He said it was “bullshit”. I was a baby academic, throwing around words I didn’t understand. Sometimes, with someone who speaks that language, you can throw a bunch of words out and they will make sense of it for themselves because you’ve repeated back what they know. With a lay person, I have to break down each concept and why it matters, and how it applies to the music, and why I care so much. He also has a lot of familiarity with many of the songs and bands, just as I do, and we both heard much of this music growing up.
I guess in bringing this project eventually to a close, I’m saying goodbye to something that we did together that I will miss. I can’t keep listening to albums like this. I begin to repeat myself. I want to read papers, do more theory, learn the I’s, IV’s, and V’s in all keys, I’m afraid of change.
Dusty Springfield is S. There’s only one more page of bands. Then what? One day at a time. Stick with music. You do have something to say, girl. You’re doin’ it.
April 8, 2022
5:30pm 1 hour watching Birdman and listening to the awesome score by Antonio Sanchez who was Pat Methany’s drummer. It’s such a different way to score, because it fits the beats of the actions exactly, like an improvisation where one of the participants is the movie.
The movie is about acting and playing to full or empty houses, among other things. Remembering playing to empty houses, and it prepared me to write this blog.
I love that the critic is in it. I love that they talk about prestige and popularity but they show art. There was a review that said they talk about art less than other things. Yes. They showed it. Art is when you fly. Take off the training wheels, stop labelling yourself and live your real life in the well controlled form of your work. It’s not actually hyperrealism or method acting. It’s not violent and it shows love very well.
The camera, when he was drunk on stage, was tipping side to side. When he was high, it zoomed back suddenly like a rush. When she was sitting on the edge of the building’s roof, it kept lurching closer frighteningly.
I loved that they talked about the role of the critic. She was one of the heroes. You could say not, but I think she brought out their best performances. She was strong. There was the statement that people who can’t act criticize, but then it kept going and she got to say her part. She always got the last word.
April 7, 2022
9:45am 1 hour Carmen is also blue-eyed soul of its day. So is Brian Ferneyhough’s music in that it sounds like free jazz. It’s black face, a performance of liminality, an appropriation of the styles and works of people of color, an exploration in disguise outside one’s upper class world, a day at the carnival, Siddhartha’s voyage outside his palace walls, St. Francis’s mission among the poor sold back to the rich, “slummin’ it”, becoming a subaltern with a magical ticket back at any time. Listened to part of A Brand New Me, by Dusty Springfield.
April 6, 2022
8:45am 1 hour listened to the rest of Spirit, Spirit of 76 which was a bunch of b-sides and random covers they had lying around. “Hey Joe” still bothers me. I want to hear it as a cautionary tale, but I hear so much machismo in the music, the understanding that it’s still a choice a man must make because honestly, other men won’t stop him. Eh. Watching a documentary about 4chan, 8chan, gamer gate, and Qanon… feeling sad. Still reading If Women Counted and paid the taxes, writing down and signing the statement quantifying my economic contribution as nil. You can change, it, you can get a job, someone said to me. But I’d still have to do all this housework and childcare and it will wouldn’t be considered economically productive. Only if I gave up my children and went to work as a cleaning lady and a childcare worker for someone else’s children and someone else’s house could I get “credit” for what I do. What is slavery? Is it physical compulsion to work for free? What about emotional compulsion? If you entered into it willingly because you had no other options and you genuinely love your family that you helped create, and your home, and yet these things are used against you to get more and more and more out of you every day… if it feels like escape is futile, how I struggle to keep loving under these conditions. Let alone continuing to participate in a musical life. There must be a better way. There just must be.
A big part of why I started writing like this almost every day was to document if it is possible to keep going, and under what circumstances and what can you contribute when your life is this way? And I’m a priveleged person, with education, technical skills, resources, state sponsored primary and secondary school so I have a little time in the day. And if it’s this hard for me, and basically what I have energy to do is comment on music that I’m basically already familiar with – not read papers, not write music, not even practice… what hope can I offer? I met a composer who told me, “If you have too much work to do one day and you can’t do it, don’t say ‘I can’t,’ say, ‘I’ll try again tomorrow'”. Didn’t realize that would be such an important thing to hear.
I had the opportunity to change my profession on my tax forms to something besides “composer” but I left it. My mother in law says I’ll be able to so more once the kids are older. When they were real little it was hard to see that, but I have more space now, than I did. We got through the pandemic (at least the first part) and I’m still posting, and it still feels comfortable here. I haven’t psyched myself out of it. Partly becasue I make no promises about what I will do in any given day, just when I will start and how long I will do something. I don’t know if it’s valuable to others. I feel that, given my experience reading posts online, that this is something I would like to see. I even heard someone on a podcast say it would be interesting to read a one-line review of the many many albums one of their wives had started listening to while she worked. It could be worse. I could be making the most awful things I could think of. Maybe this is, from one perspective. Learning music from people who read Adorno, I think reviewing old popular American albums instead of composing is one of the worst possible things. What a waste! And yet, these are the people who didn’t invite me to music festivals after I had a baby because they didn’t know how to house us. These are the people who stopped being my friend after I was married.
My friends know who I am. I won’t say it doesn’t matter, that I would do it anyway, because I wouldn’t. I have the strength because I believe there are people who care so much about me that they check in once in a while, or they will.
April 5, 2022
9:45am 1 hour listened to Dusty Springfield, Dusty in Memphis and Ev’rything’s Coming Up Dusty. Blued eyed soul. Heard her name so many times but except for “Preacher Man,” didn’t connect her name with her music.
April 4, 2022
9:45am 1 hour listened to Spirit, The Family That Plays Together, Spirit, and part of Spirit of ’76.
April 1, 2022
9:45am 1 hour listened to Future Games by Spirit. Had a long discussion about the song, “Ironic” by Alanis Morisette, whether there was a pile-on on her, what the different definitions of ironic are. Learned about Glen Ballard who also cowrote or helped produce Bad, Thriller, and Dangerous plus a bunch of Paula Abdul and other people’s albums. Might want to learn more about him as well as Quincy Jones. Also just found out Quincy Jones produced The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
Morrissey was called an “angry young man” and Alanis Morissette was called and “angry young woman”.
March 31, 2022
9:45am 1 hour listened to Strange Ways, Here We Come by The Smiths and The Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus by Spirit, which sounds like rock music from another dimension because it’s language is totally familiar, but I have never heard it before.
March 30, 2022
8:30am 1 hour listened to Meat is Murder by The Smiths. Read a little about Morrissey, his diet, his love life and political leanings.
March 29, 2022
10am 1 hour listened to Hatful of Hollow by The Smiths. His melodies are often monotonic. He’ll hang out on a couple notes, like the fifth of the tonic, and sing a melisma down to the third over and over, for example, or from the minor third to the tonic, over and over.
March 28, 2022
6am 30 min. made a short list of tasks to do to learn composition. Read on a website about doing one thing at a time all the way through instead of hopping around. Listened to The Smiths, The Smiths and read some youtube comments about how good this music is and how it changed people’s lives, usually from teenage time to now. His singing really is strange. It’s better on the earlier albums. Too far back, and one of the very few to have that particular problem. Otherwise okay. Some airflow issues lead to breaks in his tone when he’s holding long notes. Melodies don’t always sound thought out, rather like someone trying to improvise a melody over a very static chord progression.
March 24, 2022
6pm 1 hour listened to Jimmy Smith, Cat and The Smiths, The Queen is Dead. Listened to a podcast that uses The Zombies song, “A Rose for Emily”. The two vocalists used to be choirboys and it shows. They have amazing technique. Choral, for sure, but well placed.
March 21, 2022
March 16, 2022
10am 1 hour listened to Jimmy Smith, House Party
March 15, 2022
10am 1 hour listened to Jimmy Smith, The Sermon at dinner with family. The classiest music I have heard in a long time.
March 14, 2022
9:45am 45 min. (read a paper or two on March 12th, listened to Jimmy Smith, Organ Grinder Swing.) Listened to Jimmy Smith, Mojo Workin’ and read about Hammond B3 especially volume control.
March 11, 2022
9:45am 45 min. skimmed a few papers, listened to Frank Sinatra, A Swingin’ Affair.
March 10, 2022
9:45am 1 hour skimmed 3 papers
March 9, 2022
9:45am 1 hour skimmed a couple of papers from a journal I thought would be better, but some of its papers have problems, too. Most of the papers so far haven’t really made an assumptions that they try to interrogate. It’s hard to evaluate whether some research is effective when it’s mostly just describing something.
March 8, 2022
9:30am 1 hour read the rest of the papers from the fuddy duddy journal. Started looking at a better paper.
March 3, 2022
9:45am 1 hour listened to Frank Sinatra, Swing Easy! again because I forgot we listened to it before. Jeepers.
March 1, 2022
9:45am 1 hour skimmed a paper. These are annoying because they’re in German, so I have to copy each paragraph into the translate website.
February 28, 2022
9:30am 1 hour skimmed a paper
February 24, 2022
6pm 1 hour skimmed a paper
February 22, 2022
9am 1 hour listened to A Swingin’ Affair, most of Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely, and Swing Easy by Frank Sinatra. Looked up the definition of crooner. Noted better microphones, allowing more dynamic range. His career lasted so long. He had excellent technique and got better with age. That’s why we should teach good singing technique, not so people can continue to sing into their old age, but so they can better and better express what’s inside them, what needs to be sung about, and an adult perspective on world events, which we don’t have now in popular culture full of young singers singing with belting technique.
February 17, 2022
9:45am 1 hour made a list of music journals i have full text access to through J-pass and open access music journals.
February 16, 2022
6pm 1 hour tomorrow
February 14, 2022
7am 1 hour read the concert and CD reviews from that issue of Tempo.
February 11, 2022
5pm 1 hour and 10 min. read a bunch of papers from Tempo, a music journal published by Cambridge.
February 10, 2022
5pm 1 hour and 10 min.
Carefully read the title…”newer despair” sounds like a reference to “the new (fill in the blank),” despair sounds Nihilist or European leftist, and Johannes Kreidler sounds like some German guy from the Bauhaus era. I bet he wrote some obscure theoretical work. I hope it’s about music.
…the abstract… Johannes Kreidler is a composer of the “digital age” who is part of the “New Conceptualism” school (which I don’t know about). The author seeks to examine the aesthetics of Kreidler’s teacher, Mathias Spahlinger, who said New Music can be socially relavent without “political cliché” – does that mean without being political? Then he places Kreidler’s aesthetics in the New Conceptualism and compares them with others of that school in order to understand the aesthetic precedents for the New Conceptualism generally.
What’s the difference between examining someone’s aesthetics and their music?
…the introduction… Aesthetics instead of music analysis because Kreidler doesn’t really write music, though he thinks of himself as a composer of art music. His teacher taught him to use the techniques of “engagement and detachment with political content” and “the construction and manipulation of musical material” in a certain way, and by examining these, we can understand how he really is making art music. There are a few other branches of the New Conceptualism: glitchrave, cyborg virtuosity, and hypermodern art (the last is inexplicably capitalized), or which Kreidler is in the last. He has been dismissed by critics. We’re going to make a case that his aesthetics make sense if you look at his teacher. I’m interested in this because I know about New Music, and I am also not making music right now. I think the author capitalizes Hypermodern Art and not the others because it’s the most reactionary of the three. Sometimes, as modern poets did, groups that are political choose not to capitalize their movement because it seems more democratica and humble that way. Glitchrave is more of that sort.
… part section and subsection headings…”Will New Music sink the FDR” “form and function” “conclusion: dissection of a movement”
… conclusions… of each section? first section: one of Kreidler’s pieces is making fun of New Music audiences and composers by pretending to be a Chinese imitation of itself, but it’s actually by Kreidler. He is also making fun of the FDR somehow, this wasn’t in the last paragraph, I had to read a description of it earlier. Next section, Kreidler’s pieces are gimmacks showing how exhausting and futile playing new music can be, as he makes players lift and close piano lids over and over, or put guitar strings in their mouth and chew on them… it draws attention to the failure of creating musical structures, and itself has structure, and everyone likes them (no evidence) because we share in his failure. It’s cringe theater but it also has a social meaning: for the worker, the performer, playing new music can be frustrating. This article is weird because it’s about someone recent but the language sounds so old fashioned. I thought Kreidler was from 50 years ago because of the language. The critical language heightens his stature, and that of the author, and places them in the critical discourse without updating it.
final conclusion of the article: there are other parts of New Conceptualism besides Kreidler… he lists some other people who are doing other stunts, some witty, and says whether critics dismiss them or not, they’re proliferating, not going away.
glance over the references… I don’t recognize the article, but he says in a footnote his uses a paper by one of the composers whose aesthetics he evaluates to help him in this paper. Seems circular. Recognize many of the pieces mentioned in the footnotes and some composers. One book I haven’t read but heard of. Oh, the author is a composer, too, and timidly puts forward his own submovement’s name, augmented performance, in a footnote. You’re not being humble by putting it in a footnote. This all makes sense now. They’re all academics, but one can’t have the skills of the musician and the skills of a writer/researcher, so the academic composers are writing papers and passing them off as musical works and the real music critics are dismissing these, and the academic composers are fighting back by saying it’s conceptual and political. I did now expect to come to that conclusion!
Category: it’s promotional material for the author and his friends
Context: it’s connected with Darmstadt and some academic composer who are trying to do something political without being so political that they will be rejected for faculty positions (this is extremely cynical. probably this music is good, I don’t know) but there are a lot of even more academic critics who dismiss this all as not music and not important. They fight back.
Correctness: don’t know, haven’t heard the music, but if all he’s arguing is that there have been academic composers before who addressed these issues in their works by doing stunts, so it’s part of a tradition, yes.
Contributions: a list of music to check out, a way to appreciate it.
Clarity: yes, it’s blazingly clear despite sounding like it was written in the 1970s.
That took about 45 min. Would have taken less time if I hadn’t been writing as I went. Hopefully I will get faster at this. But even this pace is acceptible. My plan is to read through one issue of all the music journals I have access to to try to narrow down what area I want to keep up with, and read any papers in depth which I find very interesting. This one is compelling. I’m jealous of these guys doing stuff… I’m annoyed because I was doing this stuff in 2003… but I don’t think it’s important for me to read this right now. Maybe I’ll add them to a list to listen to, but I think it’s unfair. They have an unfair advantage in getting my attention. Also it annoys me that someone (Jennifer Walshe) would call herself an outsider when she’s not… but I feel that way too. It’s alienation.
Listened to Frank Sinatra, In the Wee Small Hours.
February 9, 2022
6pm 1 hour listened to Frank Sinatra, Songs for Swingin’ Lovers. A baritone! didn’t know. Like many operatic singers or crooners from the mid-twentieth century, he picks his moments to belt and then immediately transitions to mix on the same note and finishes with well supported vibrato. He’s quite skilled, but F pointed out that his songs all sound the same. I wonder if it’s type casting by the arrangers and songwriters he worked with. Also what turned me off about his voice for so long – his support is so good I feel he could sing anything well, which makes me not trust him. He sounds insincere because of craft.
Trying out a new method for skimming an academic paper from this website
First journal I have access to only lets me read abstract online. Pass on that one. Second journal lets me read articles but they’re in German and there’s no way to copy and paste text into the translator and I’m not typing it in for a 5-10 minute quick read.
Here’s one I have access to:
February 8, 2022
6pm 1 hour listened to Paul Simon by Paul Simon
February 5, 2022
February 4, 2022
6pm 1 hour listened to part of The Paul Simon Songbook but couldn’t stand the sadness, especially hearing “I am a Rock” and “Songs of Silence” sung alone and angrily/sadly. Looked up why they broke up. Started listening to Sounds of Silence by Simon and Garfunkle. Simon sings better than almost anyone I’ve ever heard. Perfect mix.
Wrote down all the journals I have access to through JPass and what is the most recent year I can see. Downloaded Zotero.
Listened to Still Crazy After All These Years by Paul Simon. Changed my mind about his music. I think The Paul Simon Songbook was the worst because it sounded so sad and lonely. I read on Wikipedia that he thought Garfunkle was the star and that Garfunkle essentially left him to do a movie career. I could really hear it in the music. The mourning. The less-than. But Graceland is amazing. And Still Crazy After All These Years was also good. As he got further in his solo career he gained confidence. Really good singers move me. It’s an exercise to distance myself from what they are expressing and make my own analysis. He’s as good as a met singer as an actor.
February 2, 2022
8:30 30 min. and 10:15 30 min. listened to Paul Simon Graceland and There Goes Rhymin’ Simon. It’s too hard to read papers during the day and I had to work out this morning, but I did read a paper about musical collaboration the other day, and it applies to Simon and Garfunkle, whom I much prefer to Paul Simon alone. They have five albums but the first wasn’t released in the U.K. so I’ll listen to those:
Wednesday Morning: 3 a.m.
Sounds of Silence
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme
Bridge Over Troubled Water
It sounds like all the musicians collaborating with Paul Simon are the best, but also not challenging him in any way. I prefer more push and pull. Okay Graceland is amazing but that’s all the bass player, Bakithi Kumalo and Ladysmith Black Manbazo.
It’s not quite tomorrow, but a while ago I wanted to make a wikipedia page for Nainita Desai, because she was a woman of color composer and I wanted to be political. I never got around to it. I don’t find politics very motivating sometimes. I just watched an inspiring movie called 14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible and the score was amazing. Guess who it was by. Nainita Desai.
January 29, 2022
January 27, 2022
6pm 1 hour listened to Santana Shango. Listened to Tana Mongeau, “Fuck Up”. I can relate. I often tell myself negative things too. I think what she says is true about being hated, chasing views to feel okay because it doesn’t give me actualy intimacy to put stuff up online. The only thing I feel that’s good about it is that I am keeping a promise to myself, and to know that if someone wants to, someone who knows me or knew me, or I can at a later time, check up and see how I’m doing and what I said. I like that it’s just about music, not my music but other people’s music, but that in talking about other people’s music I’m talking about my life. I like that I have training to think critically about music, so all my teachers are here with me, too.
I like that in analyzing works of the past, the past generations are with me, and my parents, especially my dad, who listened to this music when it was new, and who listened to me when I was new. I like that my family listens to a lot of the music with me and has comments and they end up here, too. So most of what I get out of it isn’t from the response. I have no idea if anyone besides me has ever read this. And it has value despite that. Maybe it’s an inverse law. Maybe the less people that know about it, the better for me. Because anyone can do their own thing. It’s like literacy. Books aren’t limited to the few who can read. We decided everyone can read. We decided everyone can put stuff up online. So there are reasons for it being there besides it being deserving or something. When resources are limited, like we’re writing on parchment or there are only a few recording studios, okay, get the best authors and the best musicians.
About Tana’s singing. It’s fine. She doesn’t try too hard so she doesn’t embarrass herself. She doesn’t push her voice. She doesn’t really have vibrato but it doesn’t sound tense either. It sounds like she’s speaking her truth. The beats are fine. It’s not the best but it gets its point across and I think that’s part of the point – its message of inclusiveness wouldn’t work if it was too polished. It’s one of those songs that makes you want to write a song. She makes it look easy, but having written songs, and having sung my own songs when I really had something to say I couldn’t say any other way, it was hard to get to that point of honesty with my body and my heart where I could for example, feel sad that someone had broken up with me, and let it out and support it with my instrument. It’s the first time I felt like I could sing. In the shower in Brooklyn, when I was alone. I don’t remember the words or the tune anymore. I forgot it the next day. It wasn’t just the emotion that made it happen, either. I had been training, singing, practicing technique and scales and other songs, and reading everything and going to the opera every week and that was in my seventh year of regular voice lessons. And I didn’t push myself either. It was low and medium register, nothing too sustained or loud. Just enough.
F has been practicing “Let Down” by Radiohead, and today I was singing it on my walk and I realized that the trick is to detach the face and throat muscles from the emotion of the song and express the emotion instead with the core muscles, back and sides and belly. The head and throat I just kept trying to relax over and over as I was singing. It was scary not to be expressing something on my face. But it was better supported. Like Roy Orbison or most opera singers. Then if you want you can layer facial expressions back on as long as they don’t cause the throat or face to tense in any way.
January 25, 2022
6pm 1 hour listened to Santana III. I looked at their personal throughout the years. They’re the John Mayall Bluesbreakers of the USA. The racist dudes in my home town didn’t talk about them that way, but my dad did. My dad also spoke that way about Siouxie Sioux.
There are so many people on each album, and so many people working harmoniously together over the years. You want to know about government, ask a musician.
Also this band has the most musical guitar solos. I actually hear the organist and the guitar trading themes.
January 24, 2022
6pm 1 hour listened to Caravanserai by Santana.
January 23, 2022
rest listened to Santana Santana. Again, no comments means it’s the best. No notes. Ok one thing. Carlos Santana seems to prefigure the type of vocalist in King Crimson in a couple of the songs in English.
January 22, 2022
rest listened to Santana Abraxas.
January 19, 2022
6pm 1 hour listened to Country Life by Roxy Music. I don’t think they’re good. I think they have hot women on their album covers.
January 18, 2022
6pm 1 hour listened to Stranded by Roxy Music. David Byrne’s vibrato sounds like his. F says orchestration is similar. Curious, because you don’t have control over vibrato too much. So someone in the band or the music producer chose this band to be a successor to Roxy Music. Almost like a manufactured trend to oppose punk. I have no evidence for this other than David Byrne’s vibrato.
Watched Don’t Look Up twice, once with F. The score is ambiguous. It could be hopeful with parts of the choral music, wickedly cynical, as the violins during Isherwell’s presentation to the president… and mocking in a more broad way during most of the montages. It’s good. It uses exactly the same theme over and over, which is annoying on a second watch. It uses many real instruments.
Watched some nature documentaries like David Attenborough’s Extinction and Climate Change: The Facts, and also Sea of Life. The David Attenborough ones were orchestral, very beautiful and traditional, but I’m not sure if they really got the point accross. Seemed to be just reacting to the footage but not the argument of the film. Sea of Life‘s soundtrack was cheap and made me appreciate the orchestral ones.
January 14, 2022
January 13, 2022
6pm 1 hour listened to Roxy Music Roxy Music. What a weird album.
January 12, 2022
6pm 1 hour listened to Roxy Music, For Your Pleasure. I said it sounded like proto punk and that it also probably influenced bands like The Talking Heads. That is also what Wikipedia says. They also say it included “more musically sophisticated elements of glam rock” and also used synths and keyboards. I also noticed that they seemed to be interested in setting a scene or a mood, rather than writing catchy pop songs.
January 11, 2022
10pm 1 hour listened to The Rolling Stones Aftermath and glad that the online education software my district picked this year is much better than last year so I have the energy to do this. I decided Mick Jagger is a good singer. He’s a coloratura. His voice goes low in “Lady Jane” so I don’t think he has to push too much to sing high, but he sings it raspy as if he is a lower voiced man who does have to push to get up there. But he lets his voice go wherever it needs to – front or back production, nasal or throaty, and he lets it be rough. He’s not trying to control it into a perfect line, which is good. Also he’s a good performer, his emotional performance is convincing. And he does a rare thing, being a good singer but varying the dynamics enough so that he can be singing but you still hear the guitars and care about their melodies.
January 10, 2022
10pm 1 hour lsitened to Sticky Fingers by the Rolling Stones. Man. The guitar solo on “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking”. Sinced I was a kid I loved that song. A lot of guitar solos from the 90s, people would talk about rock being about guitar solos and I never got it until I heard this song. It’s not even that it’s fast, it’s just so musical.
January 8, 2022
January 6, 2022
9am 1 hour, naw, still doing all the home school. Test positivity in Orange County is 27.6%. Hope I don’t look back on this one day and laugh because it was only Covid 19.
January 4, 2022
9am 1 hour did this on Jan. 5, still setting up homeschool but listened to Beggar’s Banquet by the Rolling Stones. When I was a little kid, everyone talked about how great the Rolling Stones were. There was a magazine named after them, after all. Then in high school, I started hearing that they sucked. I could never find out specifically why, just a rumor. I felt like I was going crazy. So it’s gratifying to finally listen to their albums and find that I like them. They’re a good band. Pretty liberal, even revolutionary, one of the few rock bands that actually talked openly about revolution. Maybe that’s why the rumor started.
January 3, 2022
9am 1 hour getting kids into online school bc omicron.
December 31, 2021
9am 1 hour listened to Let it Bleed and Exile on Mainstreet of the Rolling Stones. I don’t get the second one. The first one is a good album, which my dad used to play occasionally. Actually, a very early manifestation of this list of reviews was an evening I spent in 1998 or so trying to make a mix tape for my boyfriend from the songs on the records we had. Trouble was, I hadn’t listened to most of them, so I hurriedly tried to listen to all my dad’s records in one night, and some of my mom’s. It was too much to process, and none of the songs was really good for a mixtape in 1998. A lot of Chicago, he had, some ZZ Top. It’s better to do it one album at a time. And not for a dude. But without that dude, I never would have gotten started listening. Thanks, Shawn.
December 30, 2021
9am 1 hour listened to Loaded by the Velvet Underground and Lou Reed’s Sally Can’t Dance. I don’t know how anyone can say Lou Reed’s solo stuff is better. I discovered Loaded I think around the time I discovered the Pixies in about 2003 or 2004.
December 29, 2021
9am 1 hour “Some Kind of Love” explains the Velvet Underground. The Blues is a drone based genre. Having a simple music without to many guitar solos and lots of “experimental” drones actually gets closer to the way the blues is played on for example, a diddley bow. Why isn’t Velvet Underground on the list? Only had four studio albums. Listened to The Velvet Underground and Nico, The Velvet Underground, and Rock n Roll Animal. Read in Wikipedia that Lou Reed was “tragic in every sense of the word” at an early live event with a pickup band at Lincoln Center, but that management decided to give him awesome musicians so that if he was just mediocre, it would be a success. I think he already had a huge wobble in his voice, though. I think Lou Reed is there on the list because of the Velvet Underground, though.
Pretty sure Frank Zappa has a parody of “The Murder Mystery”.
Listened to some sufi music after reading Greg Barrios 1970 interview with Sterling Morrison, who mentioned Angus MacLise was their neighbor and used to play with them, and lived in India for 8 years and listened to sufi music there.
December 28, 2021
9am 1 hour listened to Berlin by Lou Reed. Bob Ezrin supposedly inspired this album by asking what happened to the couple in the song, “Berlin” and he is playing piano on the album. He might be worth looking into, as he has played on a lot of famous albums. Maybe my next list will be Bob Ezrin, Quincy Jones, Michael Kamen, and other people who have produced, arranged, or been studio musicians and helped create the sound of their decades. But I want to do something more recent. Biggy maybe, and other producers.
December 27, 2021
9am 1 hour listened to Pablo Honey, Hail to the Thief and Kid A from Radiohead. I added Radiohead to Mr. Larkin’s list because I think it deserves to be on there, only they didn’t have five albums in 2000 when it was published.
Looking for inspiration to make new lists of more recent music, I listened to Wikipedia’s list of top youtube videos. I skipped the kid videos. I was unimpressed with the musical quality as music. All were competant but they seemed to be short ballets or musical videos instead of pieces of music. Also interestingly the most videos were from around 2014. I would have thought that if youtube was still increasing in popularity, some videos would have been from 2018 or later. So people are moving to TikTok for videos of dancing.
December 20, 2021
9pm 1 hour listened to Avicii “Wake Me Up” because I heard it in my dream, and Deorro “Five Hours” both of which have videos set in California’s central valley. Wondering why I never heard it when it came out. Had started my family in 2011, so, off the dance floor! Listened to Wildflowers with the extended family. It was rough in the sad part. I reminded people that it gets better. We had to stop for the night before the last couple of songs, which was appropriate, because the last song is “Wake Up Time”. This is the second time I’ve ever chosen music for a group of people outside my immediate family. The first was this summer’s vacation when I put on B.B. King when we were packing up.
December 18, 2021
December 17, 2021
9:30am 1 hour. Made a Radiohead list because it seems they might not be on the list because of their digital download thing. Looked again and they released that album after Colin Larkin’s book came out. But they also reseased Kid A after the book was published, and they had only released three albums so far, and the list is bands that have at least five albums.
Listened to The Bends pointing out that the opening guitar riff from “Just” sounds just like Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. And again near the end around 3:20 it comes back in the guitar.
Around 2:20 in “Iron Lung” there seems to be a quote from “Foxy Lady”
December 16, 2021
9:45 1 hour listened to Otis Redding, The Soul Album and The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads and Lou Reed, Transformer and New York. I had no idea he was so political. I only knew about “Venus in Furs.” But there’s also “Busload of Faith” about how rapists can have children because if the woman aborts the fetus the pro-lifers will attack her. I like that song. I’ve been thinking that for a while and it’s the first time I’ve heard someone say it out loud.
People used to tell me political music couldn’t be good and I believed them.
December 15, 2021
9:30am 1 hour listened to Otis Redding Sitting on the Dock of the Bay and Complete & Unbelievable: The Dictionary of Soul.
December 14, 2021
10am 1 hour listening to REM Murmer the one about Marat, “We Walk” I think is about R.E.M.’s mission. Wikipedia calls the painting of Marat the first modernist painting because it takes politics as its subject matter. I think when politics was done in the church, religious paintings from the renaissance also took politics as their subject matter, but anyway I think R.E.M. sought to make politics and American life the subject matter of their songs. It’s so hard. Did they sell out? I think they tried not to. “Radio Free Europe” was one of the first songs I sang along with on the radio.
And it becomes impossible to wonder why we didn’t learn about this in school.
Listening to Otis Redding, Otis Blue. I still think his “Respect” is far more progressive politically than Aretha Franklin’s. She gets to demand sex, which is sort of new for a woman, but she reaffirms the patriarchy’s ownership over her body by being faithful, although of her own free will “Ain’t gonna do you wrong ’cause I don’t wanna”. In Otis Redding’s version, he breaks down this concept of ownership by offering, “Go ahead and do me wrong if you wanna,” only stipulating that she also love him, “when you get home.” I guess they’re doing different things and I love Aretha Franklin, but Otis’s version of this song is better. This is something I see in mainstream feminism a lot. Women get to make money and demand sex like men, but men still have exclusive access to their bodies. Women even get the privelege of making more money than men, which they share with men. What if women weren’t expected to make money but got sexual freedom? As it was for my grandma’s generation, they got taken care of financially in exchange for marital fidelity. At least that is an exchange. Getting to make money and give it to someone else and also having to be faithful… why? What if we shared all the money so it couldn’t be used to manipulate people sexually? And what if we dealt with fidelity on a case by case basis as people worked it out among themselves, not expecting an entire gender to be one way?
I think it is these questions that make it hard to talk about this music in school. Liberated music leads to liberated thinking.
Okay, Otis Redding, so that’s who Randy Newman and Mick Jagger were trying to sound like. He sings with a coloratura if you think about it that way, lots of embellishments, facility.
The only other band that sings in quasi-rounds like R.E.M. does in “Radio Free Europe” that I know of from that period was The Slits as in the song, “Instant Hit”. Ten years earlier. Could have inspired them… No evidence of anyone saying they were an influence, except that Kurt Cobain loved both of them. There’s no writing online anywhere about Kurt being influenced by girl bands either. Wonder why…
December 13, 2021
9:30am 1 hour just wanted to acknowledge the website, Genius for their lyrics which I often refer to. Reading the lyrics to “Orange Crush” at last. Listened to R.E.M. Green. Love the contrary motion in the chorus to “Orange Crush” where the main singer sings, “I’ve had my fun and now it’s time to serve your conscience overseas” and the chorus sings “over me, not over me” over him.
Watched The Hunt for Red October because the podcast, Unclear and Present Danger did an episode on it. It won an academy award for sound effects editing and I can see why. The tension of the drama is told through the sounds (and the acting, of course). I love the concept of men listening carefully to each other. I love that it’s all underwater. It seems rare to that within toxic masculinity there can be a space for listening, gaining trust, taking chances, trusting. I might want to say more about the sounds in detail at some point. I also love the sonar operator, how listening can be heroic, and the main character, the analyst, who has two minutes to convince the American sub captain not to fire on the Red October, how being able to articulate a case can be heroic.
It reminds me of Tarkovsky’s Stalker, the way that sound sets the mood, evolves, becomes acoustic, becomes electronic, then becomes sound effects again.
December 11, 2021
Decmeber 10, 2021
9:30am 1 hour listened to Them Crooked Vultures eponymous album, because John Paul Jones did the string arrangements in Automatic for the People by R.E.M., which I also listened to. These songs are so familiar it’s hard to listen for the string arrangements. The ones on “Everybody Hurts” are essential. Not sure about the ones on “Drive”. I’m not sure if being in Led Zeppelin gives him any particular skill at arranging for strings. He was a keyboard player, not a bowed string player or arranger. Looked up the lyrics to “Try Not to Breathe” which refers to the “Tears in Rain” monologue from the end of Blade Runner in which the actor inserted the words “Tannhauser Gate” so I looked up the plot to Tanhäuser. Listened to Out of Time and New Adventures in Hi Fi, where the lyrics to “E-Bow the Letter” mention “Maria Callas, whoever she is.”
I think the Silversun Pickups stole the guitar riff and distortion effect from “Be Mine” for their song, “Lazy Eye” with better results.
December 9, 2021
9:30am 1 hour listened to Queen A Day at the Races. His song, “Teo Torriatte” reminds me of Rumi. I’ve been hearing that in Tom Petty and Prince, too, a spirituality oriented to love. Talking of the lover in the song, but it sounds like a relationship with a spiritual entity, with all beings maybe, with fans, with the listener. Recorded music is interesting in that you can reach both the single person and the many at once. Also you can reach yourself since you can listen back. But “Teo Torriatte” takes it a step further, seems to also be about furthering the love revolution after Freddie Mercury is gone. “When I’m gone, They’ll say we’re all fools, and we don’t understand. Oh be strong; don’t turn your heart. We’re all; you’re all, for all, always.” Really, after all the musicians of that era are gone.
Listened to Queen 2.
December 8, 2021
9:30am 1 hour listened to Queen, A King of Magic.
Debember 7, 2021
9:30am 1 hour listened to Prince, Parade and Dirty Mind. Listened to Bruno Mars’ 2017 tribute to Prince. He’s less political than Prince, who often sets up the sexual revolution to oppose war. The kids in the end of the song, 1999 asking why everyone has a bomb, for example. Mars is the sanitized Prince.
Listened to Queen A Night at the Opera and Sheer Heart Attack. Eddy Mercury is a good singer. A good singing actor. So is Prince. As opposed to Roy Orbison who is a good singer but not a good actor. A person who stands perfectly still on stage. Orbison’s acting is in the singing. Watched the 1985 LiveAid performance of “Bohemian Rhapsody”. He looks like my dad. Born Farrokh Bulsara, wow, he was a Parsi, and he was born in Zanzibar. After watching him, although he has learned to move around the stage he’s basically a stationary singer, not really a dancer. He has even vibrato also like Roy Orbison. And he died of AIDS. Maybe this is why we didn’t study him. Or foucault.
December 4, 2021
rest… listened to Roy Orbison In Dreams, There is Only One Roy Orbison, and The Orbison Way. Unfortunately, Orbisongs didn’t make my list because it sold less copies than the other albums, but it has the best title.
December 3, 2021
9:30am 1 hour listened to listened to Elvis, Loving You and Elvis and Prince, Sign o’ the Times and Purple Rain. Listened to Prince play “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” with Tom Petty, George Harrison’s son, and some other famous rock people at his induction into the rock and roll hall of fame. Listened to Mystery Girl and Crying by Roy Orbison. Listened to Nazareth version of “Love Hurts”.
Thought about why Prince didn’t play more awesome guitar solos in his music. Then realized the question could also be, “why do I only consider him a good musician now that I know he can shred?” Because Tom Petty played with him, I think he’s cool. Before I was scared of his vulnerability, his gender expression, his funk sound which I read in a racialized way.
December 2, 2021
9:30am 1 hour listened to Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here, Piper at the Gates of Dawn, and Meddle. Last night at dinner, listened to The Wall.
Decided Syd Barret wasn’t that good. He was a diamond in the rough, like all of them. F pointed out that they all got better without him. Their love for him is what made them truly great. They reached beyond what he would have done. But they just got better by playing and writing music.
I was worried, but Meddle really was okay.
Did everyone get better without me? Surely! I remember Carolyn and Jeffrey talking about a rhythm class they took and understanding how to write more complicated rhythmst that I couldn’t understand. Problem was, I was never prepared as well as they were. I probably would have barely gotten into a DMA program. I would have been on probation or I would have been humiliated. And it doesn’t matter. I would have been brainwashed. That’s what I thought. Sincerely. I wanted what I ended up getting, which is an education to be able to listen to and appreciate this popular music. I could have done it later. But I don’t think so. Singing opera was one of the most mid opening practices of my life. Maybe it’s not possible to do both. All I know is everyone who seemed to know what they were doing as a composer had an instrument. Carolyn and Jeffrey did. They both had more years of better piano instruction than I did – better in the sense that they had technical facility. I think my teacher got me to listen in a good way. They both played an orchestral instrument. I had sung in musicals. Which is why I needed to learn about popular music and opera instead of orchestral music and new music. I literally did the next thing that it made sense to do, given my background.
It still hurts, though. I wish I could be good at what they do. Then I decided to start a family. I played and wrote a little during grad school, not as much as they did. Now what am I doing? I could be practicing cello. I’m listening. Still listening and listening. And feeling hollow and forgotten, and left out of my community, and not in a new community.
I did think there should be a word for what Michael Kamen can do. It’s not minimalist because it doesn’t go on forever. It supports song the way an opera composer does. I like his underscoring of songs better than his film scores. It’s certainly not modernist but also not reactionary, because it’s not pompous, and it is rock music.
I always could write songs and don’t know how to do it when my heart isn’t broken. I guess my heart is broken. Is it better to write music than to write about music? For me, I feel empty when all I do is think about things.
I can finally sing with vibrato. My body works when I sing. It doesn’t slouch over. I’ve found out why I needed to sing and learn in my body how to sing. There was a lot of trauma in there that had to come out. I knew if I went into academia, or tried to, I would get even more twisted up. That doesn’t mean other people who have less trauma or who are already comfortable in their bodies can’t do fine there, or that you can’t learn how to inhabit your body there. I think Carolyn did by taking dance classes. Maybe I could have learned opera there, but I didn’t like their singer. She sounded all scrunched up and thin. Anne Marie Ketchum sounded full and warm. A mezzo, like me. It helps to have someone who has the same voice type.
Maybe it was hard for them too, a struggle. Maybe they also feel like they failed sometimes. Doesn’t mean they didn’t get better without me. It’s harder to get better at music when you have to pay your rent and blah blah blah. A subaltern. I did read Marx.
I wanted to shake out the sheets, decide for myself what I wanted to get better at. Thinking? Feeling? Dancing? I wouldn’t have met the people I met, wouldn’t have been able to relax and learn to be humble in school. Maybe I would have. Would have taught. Would have met people. Would have been able to continue to hide behind the “smart” label.
So if it wasn’t … it took so long to get better at singing. I finally got it, now. It was the instrument I picked, and who I am and what I went through that made it difficult to get it, but now I can sing.
So I guess it’s time to pick up the composition wagon again. Just for the time being I’m going to aquire string techniques as they become necessary and not devote years to studying like I did with voice. I think I have a few years left in me, but who knows.
Also listened to Elvis Sun Days, Elvis Presley, and King Creole. He had good support. His vibrato was even. He did scream a little at the beginning of verses, same like the early Beatles did. He used his vocal space well, going from a heavy, dark tone to a forward tone freely. One of the best techniques I’ve heard in a pop singer. Partly it’s because he’s the oldest I’ve listened to. A lot of people had technique back then, such as Billy Eckstine and Mel Tormé. Listened to Bill Eckstine sing “Blue Moon”.
December 1, 2021
9:30am 1 hour
Ah, that’s why Tom Petty he sounds like the Beatles and Bob Dylan in Wildflowers. He literally was in a band with George Harrison and Bob Dylan in the 80s and 90s called The Travelling Wilburys. I think I need to be an old man to appreciate this. Good thing I mostly am.
Wildflowers is the first album so far I’ve listened to from my childhood that I like more now than when I was a kid. I think because it was made by an older person who was growing up.
Listened to The Travelling Wilburies Vol. 1 and The Travelling Wilburies Vol. 3, the only two albums they made. I love that they have a blues song about being a motherless child that is actually about orphans. I love they have an ode to the tour bus, “Dirty World” and instrument storage warehouse, “Cool Dry Place.” I love that nobody is grandstanding. They’re just trying to enjoy making great songs together. It’s lovely. Tom Petty might be grandstanding a tiny bit.
Jeff Lynne’s production I remember from the two John Lennon tracks released in the 1990s, “Free as a Bird” was the better one.
I think Tom Petty preserved his voice the best.
Moving on, listened to Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon. It’s an album, not a bunch of songs, I realized, as about 3/4 into it I was feeling really low and not liking them or it, until the very end there is a payoff and a message of hope.
Michael Kamen made very nicely understated but effective arrangements and conducted the orchestra musicians for some of the tracks on Wildflowers, notably “It’s Good to be King” and “It’s Wakeup Time”. In the former it’s strings. In the latter, strings and horns.
Ah, and Michael Kamen arranged the classical musicians on The Wall.
November 30, 2021
10am 1 hour listened to Tom Petty Wildflowers. It’s one of the albums I had when it came out in 1994. I was just at that impressionable age. The album is a coming of age story. I think it’s about faith, a lot of it. Faith in a higher power (although it’s written as if it’s faith in a lover), in relationships and love, in oneself, and in time and change. It almost feels like a fourth step album. There’s a lot of Bob Dylan’s vocal quality in it, especially the last song, reminds me of “Like a Rollin’ Stone”. It was hard to get ready to listen to it. I’ve been freaking out. This album helped me and my dad get over my mom leaving.
Ah, that’s why he sounds like the Beatles and Bob Dylan. He literally was in a band with George Harrison and Bob Dylan in the 80s and 90s called The Travelling Wilburys. I think I need to be an old man to appreciate this. Good thing I mostly am.
Wildflowers is the first album so far I’ve listened to from my childhood that I like more now than when I was a kid. I think because it was made by an older person who was growing up.
November 29, 2021
9:30am 1 hour listened to Tom Petty Southern Accents and thought about and sang Cumbaya a lot. It should be in 4 and each verse should be 7 measures long (except the last which seems to resolve with a silent 8th measure that’s 3 beat’s long because the first beat of the song is a pickup).
I have heard it sung with 8 measures in every verse, but it’s much better when the last words squish into the 7th measure and it starts over immediately: (measures in parentheses)
(1)Crying Lord, Cumba(2)ya. Someone’s
(3)Crying Lord, Cumba(4)ya. Someone’s
(5)Crying Lord, Cumba(6)ya oh Lord, Cumba
It can be sung in 3, but then the turnaround in the last measure means the beats restart in the wrong place and you have to add two beat measures.
November 24, 2021
9am 1 hour listened to Into the Great Wide Open by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
November 23, 2021
9am 1 hour listened to Tom Petty, Full Moon Fever, as well as the last song from Damn the Torpedoes. Talked about how overplayed Tom Petty was in the 80s and 90s. Compared him to Dave Matthews. He sucks. We should have been listening to good rappers who came out around that time, except for racist boomers who kept pushing music that sounded like their favorites well into the 2000’s after Disco Demolition Night. However, in his defense, Tom Petty walks a fine line between surfer music, roots rock, and the blues. His rhythms are always solid and he made a ton of good albums throughout the 80s and 90s.
Also listened to the soundtrack of Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition. Which is a weird early music/rock/newage amalgam. Not too bad, and I like that the music subtly changes when you enter new areas so it doesn’t get boring. Also it has strings which is nicely in tune.
November 22, 2021
9am 1 hour listened to all but the last song from Damn the Torpedoes by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
November 21, 2021
9am 1 hour Randy Newman Randy Newman. He did sing more smoothly when he was young. This is unlike anything else, the chords, the orchestrations. Sounds like Disney, Jewish music, Jewish symphonic music, and Bob Dylan to me.
November 19, 2021
9:30am 1 hour listened to Randy Newman Little Criminals. Listened to Frank Zappa “Camarillo Brillo” and “Cosmic Debris” later. He seems so much angrier than Newman, and none of his songs ever take off the ground. He doesn’t relax enough.
November 18, 2021
9:45am 1 hour listened to Randy Newman 12 Songs. As someone in between classical and popular music worlds, I love that title. It’s the kind of title a classical composer would give to a collection of songs that are not a song cycle but are a collected work, and it’s never a name a popular artist would give for an album, but that’s what every album is.
Also, listening to “Mama Told Me Not to Come” and then the version by Three Dog Night, also thinking about his singing on the best-of album I listened to before this, it seems that singer-songwriters are as much composers who can’t sing their songs very well as classical composers are. Imagine if the world only knew Verdi’s work from his at home piano version with him singing all the parts. Or transposing them for his voice. I like to think of people like Jackson Browne as composers who did the best they could singing their music, also nerfing their concept to make it easier for them to sing, but not completely, because they still write things they can’t quite pull off. It’s amazing to me that real performers who make great covers can hear the potential in those. I guess maybe it just gets stuck in their head and they have to make their own version, but some of the cover versions are so different! The Three Dog Night shifts the rhythm of the chorus and changes the melody and adds harmony.
Also I bet “sugar with your tea” is a metaphor for cocaine with your marijuana, and I think that’s the cleverest lyric. “Do you want whisky with your water, sugar with your tea? What are these crazy questions that they’re asking of me?” His delivery is amazing.
I want to talk about musical blackface, because both bands sing in a delta blues style. The difference between theatrical blackface and musical blackface is that the point of theatrical blackface was to mock black people. In the case of the blues, I think white blues musicians use the intellectual system of the blues to create independent works that while they can be racist, like “Sweet Home Alabama”, most of the time they’re about similar topics of blues songs black people write: love, loss, responsibilities to different people.
Well, Neil Young is in Colin Larkin’s list while Lynyrd Skynyrd is not, so we have that. Actually “Sweet Home Alabama” itself isn’t really racist; it’s attacking a white singer-sonwriter who wrote a song about the rise of the Klu Klux Kla. Neil Young’s song is “Southern Man”. Which kind of rhymes with Randy Newman’s “Rednecks”. Newman also has a sarcastic song about hating short people, hiring a maid from Mexico, etc. He’s like a Frank Zappa whose blues singing is much more intimate. A Frank Zappa with soul?
Ah, Young’s song came out in 1970; Lynyrd Skynyrd in June 14, 1974, and Randy Newman’s in September 10, 1974, so maybe it was a direct response. In the Wikipedia article he says he wrote it in response to Dick Cavitt’s 1970 interview of Georgia Governor Lester Maddox.
Neil Young is another one who I think sings his own songs pretty poorly. His delivery is good but because he pushes his chestvoice up so high it always sounds very brittle. Merry Clayton covered the song in 1971. It’s pretty good. He didn’t really use a blues progression, so the gospel version is a little weird but the singing is good. Robert Plant has a live version (at 70 years old!) that preserves the fragility of Neil’s singing but places it better in his voice. They add some bass portamenti down that sound like something I heard Tool do that are pretty good. Rock music is a fusion of the blues and other chord progressions. It’s not purely black face. Robert Plant recorded that in 2018 after the 2017 Unite the Right rally that where a white supremacist killed one person and injured 35 others with his car.
Neil Young also has a song called “Alabama” to which “Sweet Home Alabama” is probably a more direct response.
Neil Young took it well, even writing the other band a song to use on their next album. Unfortunately members of that band died in a plane crash before they could use it. After their deaths, Neil Young performed a medley of “Alabama” and “Sweet Home Alabama” at a concert. Of course it ends a minor chord, the key of Young’s song… so a gracious apology but not a concession.
That song is called “Powderfinger” and is about the Civil War from the south’s point of view. What a big heart Neil had to want to right racism but then to take an empathetic look at the reason the south feels so unique and defensive.
November 17, 2021
9am 1 hour listened to Randy Newman, Lonely on Top. It’s as if Lyle Lovett/Tom Waits had access to a good string composer. Listened to “Big in Japan” by Tom Waits and “Big in Japan” by Alphaville. Tried to figure out if the later was big in Japan. I don’t think so. That’s the first song I heard by Tom Waits. I got into him after that, but I assumed that song itself was older. 1999. About when I heard it. His crowning grace. They both mix with the classical avante garde: Randy Newman and Tom Waits, Tom Waits more on the experimental side. Whoever finds a way to get groups of strings to play in interesting rhythms and chords syncopated together with rock music will be a hero.
November 16, 2021
10am 1 hour listened to Randy Newman, Good Old Boys.
November 15, 2021
9:30am 1 hour listened to the rest of Honey Suckle Rose and Slow Down Old World. Read about “outlaw country” on Wikipedia.
November 11, 2021
holiday, spend time with kids
November 10, 2021
9:30am 1 hour listened to Willie Nelson Honey Suckle Rose up to track 15.
November 9, 2021
9:30am 1 hour listened to Willie Nelson Across the Borderline.
November 8, 2021
10am 1 hour listened to Redheaded Stranger and Shotgun Willie by Willie Nelson.
November 6, 2021
November 5, 2021
10am 1 hour listened to What is There to Say? and Two of a Mind, the second with Paul Desmond, 1962. At dinner, listened to Mulligan plays Mulligan.
November 4, 2021
10am 1 hour listened to Jerry Mulligan Jeru. Trying to explain to F who Jerry Mulligan is before reading about him. On first hearing, I thought he sounded like cool jazz but at the very beginning of it, where it still sounds somewhat tightly arranged and uptempo compared to later cool jazz like Miles Davis’s later stuff, but has a laid back feel and more melodic approach, rather than running chordtones all day. Turns out he played on Birth of the Cool.
November 3, 2021
10am 1 hour listened to Gerry Mulligan Meets Ben Webster.
November 2, 2021
10am 1 hour listened to St. Dominic’s Preview and Veedon Fleece. “Bulbs” is a decent country western blues. That ones feels more organic than “Western Man”. Maybe because it’s a love song. In St. Dominic, Van Morrison sings a lot of nostalgic songs about San Francisco and other places. Songs that don’t seem to be about any place, but just trading on words that have a lot of cache because of other songs and events. I could have written songs like these. They just name drop but not for any good reason. Maybe that’s why I never heard most of these songs before. It seems like he put his craft together bit by bit. Here and there you hear a little bit of “Moondance”.
One thing the LA Times article pointed out is that his voice is well preserved. I agree. The blues can be easy on voices because it’s so in tune. Also his phrases tend to be very short and trail off at the end, so even though he doesn’t really use his head voice or blend, at least he’s not holding long notes which he’s pushing. Most of his music has large improvised sections, so he’s in charge of doing what feels good.
November 1, 2021
10am 1 hour listened to Van Morrison It’s Too Late to Stop Now. It used to be “brown-skinned girl,” according to Reddit, songfacts.com, and other places. The most reputable source was Belfast Telegraph October 7, 2011, which quotes Van Morrison saying “That was just a mistake. It was a kind of Jamaican song… Calypso.
“It just slipped my mind. I changed the title.”
He continued: “After we’d recorded it, I looked at the tape box and didn’t even notice that I’d changed the title. I looked at the box where I’d lain it down with my guitar and it said Brown Eyed Girl on the tape box.
“It’s just one of those things that happens.”
What does that mean? He wrote the title on the box, recorded it with the lyrics, “brown eyed girl,” and then mistakenly told someone the song was called “Brown Skinned Girl?” Or did he mistakenly sing the lyrics as “brown eyed girl?” I’m confused.
Here is my interpretation. Singing “brown skinned girl” makes no sense. It doesn’t flow as well, and in the idiom of African American song, you wouldn’t call attention to something that would have been the default, that your lover had brown skin, like you. In fact, an African American would not write this song because it’s so nostalgic for the 1940s or 50s, a time when racism was rampant throughout America. The song became an anthem for white classic rock aficionados who were old during my childhood and who did have nostalgia for these times. The myth that the song was originally about a biracial relationship somewhat assuages this guilt, and the added myth that the record label made him change it adds a swipe at capitalism which makes a liberal feel good. Then they don’t have to examine how disembodied this song is, how Van Morrison uses the blues to celebrate the time before the civil rights era.
This is so hard because it’s such a good song. My entire childhood was built on nostalgia for the 1950s. We heard classic rock nonstop. The gospel backing band in the song went on to back Elvis until his death. It’s a biracial song. His accent is so southern! I had no idea he was Irish until a few days ago. His vocal production is pure delta blues. His tuning and timing is impeccable. And it does something the blues rarely does, laying out a detailed narrative almost like a ballad, with guitar harmonies along with the vocal line. It’s so ambitious. It’s so lovely, like many Beatles songs but it sounds more authentic than that. More personal. Which is what makes it such effective propaganda.
I wonder if Van Morrison’s statement that he had 300 songs that he thinks are better is a way to back away from this contradiction.
The LA Times article, “What happened to Van Morrison? The Fall from Eccentric Genius to Conspiracy Theorist,” argues that in his old age, Van Morrison strayed into white supremacy by following his spiritual impulses, but I think it was always there. This is what his songs always meant. The culture has changed but he stayed the same. He has a song on his new album called “Western Man,” which quotes ideas in The Fall of Western Man, a book about how white people need to “reclaim their birthright,” which some amazon reviewers call “white supremacist propaganda.”
“Western Man” has some country music timbres and melodies thrown in on top, but it feels like the song is wearing a coat, rather than it being integrated into the style as blues is. With the song, “Wild Mountain Thyme,” the melody and words were Irish, from a folk song, but the rendition Van Morrison did was a blues. It was a full, competant blues. In “Western Man,” it’s his own song, with his own words, written as a blues, but with slide guitars thrown in on top. I’m biased though because I don’t agree with white supremacy. But I did like the music and lyrics of “Brown Eyed Girl” even though I think the song is propaganda. “Western Man” is a poor song and it’s propaganda, or an attempt at propaganda, because I’m sure no one is listening to it, except 4Chan people as quoted in the LA Times article.
Propaganda is when a message gets to an audience that wouldn’t normally be open to it by being good music. If you write a bad song and share it with an audience that already agrees with you, that’s preaching, not propaganda.
“October 31, 2021
October 30, 2021
October 26, 2021
5pm 1 hour listened to Van Morrison Moondance.
October 24, 2021
October 23, 2021
5pm 1 hour listened to Van Morrison, Astral Weeks. Talked about how it’s different from John Lee Hooker (uses ground bass rather than blues progression, breathes more, bass player goes up into the stratosphere). Compared with Tim Buckley and Chopin’s “Berceuse”.
Also been listening to Go West’s “King of Wishful Thinking.” I counted out the clave for the whole song. Right before the chorus he slams all three beats of the first part on the words “fool myself” but then in the chorus, he sings both in the clave and in four four. It goes back and forth. “over you” seems to be in four four, but then “know I will” seems to be on the clave, and it keeps going like that. But on the phrase “my ship’s not sinking” he starts the m sound on the clave beat, but only opens the vowel on the four four beat.
I also think the song is about loss of the British empire. The sinking ship could be from the Boston Tea Party. Singing music that sounds so latin is very common in the 1980s and parellels the growing commercial ties that replaced imperial domination. This time, however, Latin America is dominated by the US, not Britain, so Britain can only access its wealth (including cultural) by hanging out with the country it broke up with in the eighteenth century.
The band is called Go West, the direction the British went to settle America, and the direction Americans went to conquer land from Native Americans. It’s also the direction Africans were taken on their journey to the Caribbean, where they helped invent the rhythms in this song, and then further west to New York, where they create salsa. This song has a horn section like a salsa band.
It would be interesting to look at clave in other 1980s songs that I know, and how they integrate it, and whether their lyrics or any other part of their performance reveal an understanding of the cultural work that they are doing. I could talk about “Faith” by George Michael, and how he dances and sings like Elvis as if to say, Latin music is the new black music.
But these feel like not interesting questions anymore. They feel like they are asking how is it possible for cultures to mix? when actually that’s the norm.
There’s an article like this which talks about lots of clave and partial clave in different songs:
All these seem like white people questions. Where to go from here?
October 21, 2021
9:30pm 1 hour on October 22, listened to Monk’s Music.
October 20, 2021
9am 1 hour listened to Thelonious Monk in Oslo aftr finding out most of the tracks from Pure Monk were on Thelonious Alone in San Francisco. I have decided Thelonious Monk is the best. We talked about ensembles and decided jazz trio or quartet is, as small chamber music is for classical music, the sweet spot. More is possible than with solo music, but there aren’t so many players that there has to be something happening all the time so people don’t get bored waiting to play.
October 19, 2021
5pm 1 hour made a list of best singers in my range, classical and popular, with help of books on famous opera singers and wikipedia.
October 16, 2021
October 14, 2021
5pm 1 hour updated my bio on CCRMA:
Adrian Coburn is a musician who attended classes and concerts at CCRMA from September, 2000 to June, 2005. As a composer she learned to edit sound at CCRMA, to listen to Iannus Xenakis, and to work and improvise with other musicians including Carolyn Chen, Jeffrey Treviño, Grace Leslie, Sasha Leitman, Roopa Mahadevan, Mahan Esfahani, Neepa Acharya, Jennifer Lane, Jonathan Berger, and Robert Huw Morgan.
After graduating from Stanford, Adrian relocated to southern California where she attended Pasadena City College, learning from Anne Marie Ketchum and singing alonside Anne-Marie Reyes and Hortensia Tamayo, and then moved to New York to work with Judy Natalucci, and also to hear wonderful drumming by Larry and Sonia Wright.
In the summers, Adrian attended the Poto Festival and the Burning Man Festival. During cleanup of the latter, she met her husband and they moved to Austin Texas, where Adrian earned a Masters of Music degree in music composition from Texas State University, studying with Dr. Ippolito, Dr. Pedroza, Dr. Pete Rodriguez, Dr. Mooney, and Dr. Schüler, and befriended Laura Brackney.
After this, she and her husband moved back to California where Adrian raises her kids, is listening to the entirety of Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 5 Albums by 100 Key Artists as well as other stuff and writing about it on her upcoming events page on her website. She started doing this as a way to stay connected to music between housework, then during the pandemic, and now because it’s important to listen and write, to work through the prejudices she’s gained in some of the above places, and to connect to some of the music and cultures of people of color that she has had the privelege of encountering in some of the above places, and in coming to terms with her own identify as a biracial person.
Also, listening to Serial podcast, edited at first by Ira Glass. All the time there’s this minimalist music slowly getting louder and a tiny bit more complex, adding an instrument here or there… can’t help but believe the success of This American Life might have been partly due to the kind of musical thinking pursued with his brother.
October 13, 2021
5pm 1 hour listened to songs from Pure Monk by Thelonious Monk.
October 12, 2021
5pm 1 hour listened to Thelonious Monk Thelonius Alone in San Francisco. Same comment as yesterday except also how he sounds just like the ones that came after, Keither Jarrett, etc. Or they sound just like him.
October 11, 2021
5pm 1 hour listened to Misterioso by Thelonious Monk. 1958?! It sounds… like rock and roll was so following after this sound a decade later. Jazz is so much closer to the blues than rock. “Ahead of the times” privaleges the white people. Thelonious Monk was doing the thing and other people caught on later and followed along. Rhythms, syncopations, use of the blues scale, song structure blending together more instead of splitting cleanly into verse and chorus, all of it sounds like rock of the 1970s.
October 9, 2021
5pm 1 hour on October 10, listened to Thelonious Monk, Genius of Modern Music: Volume 2. Listening to the podcast, Serial, it’s the most I can do right now to listen to these albums. I think modern classical music exists to justify evil done to black people by white people. As if to say, “See, we’re better, see?” Not playing. Thelonius Monk.
October 6, 2021
5pm 1 hour on October 8, listened to Thelonious Monk, Genius of Modern Music: Volume 1. Started eating chocolate every day for caffeine. This type of project requires it.
October 4, 2021
6pm 1 hour on October 5, listened to Ladies of the Canyon by Joni Mitchell. Even though she correctly negiotiates her registers, she uses so much breath pressure to lengthen the notes that she has developed a wobble by this point. Her songs are so hard, and she thinks up new ones so fast, it would take a good singer a while to get them healthily into her voice. But by then, the songwriter has moved on.
October 2, 2021
6pm 1 hour on October 3, listened to Hissing of Summer Lawns by Joni Mitchell.
September 29, 2021
9:30am 30 min. Listened to a couple of R.E.M. songs, started out watching an episode of Sesame Street from the 1990s because I wanted to find out why it was better than Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood for me, growing up. The combined uncanny valley of a dude preaching to me, puppets that have painted faces, and constant smooth jazz piano music creeped me out. Also didn’t help that the message that I was special just for who I was was not how my life was. But Sesame Street was better. More instruments, the muppets shook and moved around more than the puppets, and there were more voice actors. It felt like an ensemble rather than one guy. One of the songs was the REM “Shiny Happy Monsters” so I listened to the original, also “Losing My Religion” and “Love Shack” (for the female vocalist, who was also in the B-52s.
R.E.M is really formative for me. And it’s in the list after Joni Mitchell in a ways.
This whole list is feeling more and more tiresome. I struggle to find a place to approach it. I got a new computer, also. Today, teaching my kid how to back up a hard drive and reinstall the operating system so the old computer can be his, we went through all my music from grad school and before, transferring it to the new computer. I always resisted putting it in the prebuilt “music” folder because… it was something else. I was something else. They were compositions. Now, just want simplicity. Music is music. It’s fine. So little. After so many years. Time to write. Time to think about music.
Listened to a podcast about the challenges of scientists just starting out, founding a new lab, getting a professorship, applying for grants of millions of dollars. I learned how to do that. It always seemed unfair. We shouldn’t be allocating money to the people who can talk the best or who meet our expectations of what a scientist or a musician is. That’s not how progress actually works. But… at one point, the woman had won the grant, had her small child, settled down a bit, and finally got to do science, and she just took some time to think about it. Could i ever do that? The next thing in Jersild is to learn the I, IV, and V’s of all the keys. I guess I should learn minor, too? But it didn’t say that, just major. Okay. As a colleague told me he learned from a blues musician, we’ll learn “the chord, the other chord, and that chord.”
Backing up is emotional.
September 28, 2021
9am 1 hour – we spent a few minutes after dinner discussing and singing the different sounds the cleaning robot makes and talking about how they make us feel. From dejection to triumph! Also talked about key signatures at dinner. I finally feel confident to identify all the major key signatures on sight. F quized me on Ab. That was the last one I got straight.
September 27, 2021
6am 20 min. The birds were singing because it was overcast and sprinkling. I wonder why they do that.
September 26, 2021
4:10pm 30 min. Tuned into my son’s Scratch games’ soundtracks. Mostly dub step influenced Kpop. Pretty good. Diversity of beats, song structures. Sometimes intentionally unprofessional sounding, like with weird out of place chords or mostly right but sort of wrong chord progressions in otherwise conservative sounding synthesizer instrumentals. It’s kind of inspiring, thinking that anything is okay. Anything that you might play and record. It’s wierd. Sometimes the loop is very short and there’s an annoying pause. Mostly it works, though.
September 21, 2021
10am 1 hour watching Ecological Design: Inventing the Future scored by David Darling
Been thinking about how the oil and gas companies plied a narrative of personal responsibility for carbon emissions… when what’s needed is change on a larger level… Watching a lot of ecology documentaries and reading what Chris Newman, the farmer, says about regenerative agriculture – that we’re not going to solve food security and environmental problems by going to the farmer’s market and by a handful of people starting homesteads… what’s needed is collective action – distribution points, equipment in common; giving people equity as payment for their services.
Been trying to apply this to music and to my career. It’s not on me. I didn’t fail. Chris Newman said it’s unbelievable rare to find a farmer who is both good with the land, the processing of the food, and the marketing. I think it’s equally rare to find a musician who’s equally skilled at making music, promoting their music, and running a business. It’s the myth of the rugged individualist. We’ve already broken ourselves down from towns to individual families… what’s left now is the individual, or even a part of the individual, spun off in multiple roles.
I sit here typing while my kids go to sleep. I spent all day moving mulch from the front yard to the back yard to convince people I’m doing something about the rat problem, or the image problem of my house on the block, or the fact that we fly a pride flag, or something, trying to fit in, trying to do it right, trying to compartmentalize, trying to play music during dinner so I can think about it. Would it be better if I had succeeded more in the way other people do? Teaching at a college, busting my ass, my kids, if I had any, in after school programs until someone can pick them up, never enough time for research, never enough time to clean. A cleaning lady, a gardner, babysitters, daycare, cable subscription. I’ve known there isn’t a way to win, but I still thought it was all my fault. What’s that song? “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.” Daft Punk. (Stronger, faster, higher is the Cub Scouts slogan.)
We need to deal with carbon emissions at larger levels than the family home. I can be mostly vegetarian, not fly, share a car and not drive every day, but I need a rebate program to afford solar panels. I need more efficient appliances, or a neighborhood cafeteria that sells healthy food so we don’t all need every appliance.
We need to support farmers by ending agricultural subsidies and somehow factor in the value of the land and the health of the soil to the cost of doing business.
I need a healthy community to be able to practice music. I need kids around, a safe place for them to play that’s shaded, and enough time and leisure that people, the same people, actually go there. We need a community hang out for every hundred people, not a giant one in the center of a city of 80,000. Commutes need to be shorter. We need all ages of people around and with an incentive to hang out with us instead of being invisible in their living rooms or segregated with all the families in the suburbs, all the young people in the city. I don’t even care if people are not musically literate. A much bigger problem is that we’re all isolated from each other in our anxiety. These are not things I can fix, even if I was a gregarious neighborhood leader like my mom was.
The problem is too big and the solution is not on me. I do not need to keep trying to prove to someone that I’m a hard worker and hope one day everyone will see. Music has so much power to motivate people, heal people, start dialogue, end dialogue, resolve conflict, allow people to initiate conflict and get in good trouble. And it works best within a community. There is no best rock and roll album in isolation. “We Built This City” on Rock and Roll on the job site, together.
I’m sure there are communities here, but they’re separated. For example, there might be a catholic church that meets on Sunday and one other day per week, plus a weeklong summer camp, but there are different people at school, and different people at work, and different people at the supermarket. There’s never downtime with these people. You go to attend an event. Everyone is “on”. Then you go home.
Music happens when people are just sitting around with nothing to do.
The number of friends people have on average is declining. Being alone means every task is more boring and takes longer. Every period of leisure is shorter and I spend it trying to find something to make me feel less anxious. The things that I gravitate toward are things were other people are expressing anxiety, whether in fiction or not, because I can relate, but it’s not relaxing.
The best time of my life was a time when I ate in a cafeteria, slept in a dorm room by myself but in a dorm full of people, spent a lot of time in the library, and met at seminar once a day for an hour to talk about ongoing research. It wasn’t a community. I didn’t remember the people later. But I felt supported and free. For once, no one was keeping tabs on what I researched. I learned about Lawrence Ferlinghetti. I listened to him read his poems. I listened to the Kronos Quartet. I thought about writing a thesis that was actually music, but music that made an argument. Now I think the only argument music can make is love. But it has to be specific. I love these people that are near me this moment. I love their drive, their idiosyncrasies, and those two people might have a fight. Specific. Helpful. It shares with the community what is going on in the community so that poeple can become aware of it, but without naming names.
I can’t do that online. The solution doesn’t have to be like what I’ve experienced in summer camp. It can be technologically mediated. I think a healthy land and plants must be part of it since those are so energizing and I think we share the life of the other creatures a lot more than our art and music analysis would imply.
I can tell my ecosystem is in trouble. The hawk comes to visit when there are rats biting my kabocha squashes, but no other predators can get around the fences between the yards. There are argentine ants making super colonies and it’s too warm for my Japanese maple and my Sweet Shade tree. They’re suffering. I can feel it. But when I water them, the water goes under the house and makes fungus grow and then we all start coughing. Something is out of whack here. I read that Native Americans here used to keep their acorns in cedar baskets so the rodents wouldn’t eat them. I’m sure they would think my house is awesome because I have no trouble with rats in the house, but we’ve gone too far, eliminated too many species.
I’m sure everyone everywhere has always been annoyed at their community members and I know living close to other people is challenging. I’m sure my parents in Sandwich, NH would have been happy to live in a big anonymous city like this. But we don’t know anyone. There has to be a better way, and I am not going to get there by thinking about it alone and trying to make an individual solution.
When we first moved to town we lived in an apartment complex built so that there was common space between, walking paths, and the cars were on the outside. It was wonderful. I wish we could have stayed, but we had to pay rent there; this way we could own a house. We almost stayed anyway. In New York, there are apartment buildings where everyone owns their own apartment in the building. That would be okay but there needs to be enough open space as well. So much of the infrastructure is already built. So many cars. What does this have to do with music?
The leaf blower. That’s what I hear most often. And the sound of the road, the big street down the hill, and of cars pulling out nearby. I don’t hear people or animals or birds. Sometimes I walk up the hill where it’s quieter, the lots bigger, the people even more car dependent and further apart, but there is more nature. There are birds up there. I met the hawk up there. I’m taking out all the weeds that the songbirds like, making my yard like everyone else’s. It feels like a betrayal. My neighbor keeps protein in his trash. My yard is a good habitat. One of those things needs to change. He says it’s because I compost. It’s not. I’m trying to split the difference, keep my trees and plant things so the weeds won’t return. Is this what it would have felt like if I had just sung “Oh Rest in the Lord” to the nice people in San Marino at my first church gig?
Except, instead of a difficult situation that I feel I have to compromise on, would it have been my soul? I couldn’t tell them that I couldn’t sing “Rest in the Lord” to people who had dumpsters for trash cans. I should have but I thought I would get fired. Turns out I got fired for not showing up to sing the song. I’ve always hated myself for letting that happen. But…
It’s not about me. That contradiction, even my inability to assert myself or explain myself, wasn’t about me. I was socialized to be nice. The only way I could keep my soul in that time was to be irresponsible. That way I didn’t challenge anyone. Another singer sang the song. I got a different job, not a music job, never a music job again. I don’t want that to be the end of it.
Did I create the situation where the only thing I can do with music is type my feelings into the computer? Nope. In Islam, they say if you see an injustice, you should try to fix it by your acts. If you can’t do that, then by your words. If you can’t do that, then by your silent disapproval. If you can’t do that, then in your heart.
I can’t seem to make music these days. I can’t relax enough. I can’t seem to listen to music very often, either, since now I have to fix my yard along with taking care of my family. I feel that my silent dissaproval is wasted when there is no one around to see it. And what would I gaze at? The lawns? The houses? The smell of meat cooking? So what I have is my heart. I can sing on my walk. I can sing to my kids. I can know there could be music. I can listen for it. I can write about the music I would write if I could write music. My cello is getting dusty. I need to move it again to clean that room.
I don’t think it’s ever been music and my ability to make music I have been mourning all this time. I has been the lie that I was trained to do something in community and I can’t find that community. I could find like minded people by flying places to conferences and composing and writing articles. But that’s not what we need. That does as much good for community as a safari trip by plane to hunt giraffes does to help the environment.
I could try to find out how to teach in a school, even beginning music, or piano, but that’s like ordering seeds of European vegetables from the East Coast seed distributer to plant a garden in drought California when what you need is a healthy local ecosystem.
I could start a music coop and teach for free and do improv workshops, and that would be like building an ecovillage in New Mexico or Arizona for white people when what we need are reforms of zoning and building code to allow for better, more efficient building systems and cheap housing for the unhoused.
I could start a blog… what would that be like? It would be like a blog.
This is not a blog, it’s a list of upcoming events. I guess it’s a silent protest. My friend Honor Hingston and I started a band in junior high called Silent Protest.
Everything I’ve been listening to that I’ve written about has been influencing me in different ways. I hesitate to label the singer or composer as the source of this. Sometimes it’s the producer or someone I don’t know.
This time I feel like pointing out that…
it’s not a list of upcoming concerts because I don’t fly places and I can’t really travel because I’m raising kids. It’s not a list of upcoming lectures and appearances because everyone already knows that we need community. I don’t need to get attention for spelling that out. Besides, I would be speaking to the people least motivated to change anything, and if I spoke to indigenous or people or color, we would probably say that we have community, such as it is. What we really need are jobs and food. Can your music or your community give us that? Yes, but we need political reform.
It’s not a list of upcoming album releases or webinars because I’m too busy fighting my neighbor’s rats right now. And also I don’t have leisure to do that… and I’m losing my fear of being abandoned and ignored, so maybe I don’t need to do that as much anymore. I’d love to compose. I sometimes make elaborate plans in minecraft with the numbers from the game. It’s not music but it’s the part about music that I like. I sometimes sing. Every time I start again I realize how far I have come and make lots more ambitious plans and promptly lose interest.
Maybe I’m too priveleged to feel that drive. Maybe I can afford to abandon any soapbox I might have. I feel solidarity with the gardeners who work in my neighborhood. I see them more than most of my neighbors. We work in the heat together in different yards. Them doing it for money and for beauty. Me doing it because we have a composting toilet so we have endless good compost and I can’t plant native species or cactuses in rich soil like that. And I don’t want to used flush toilets because that causes algie blooms in the ocean. We should have municipal toilet composting, but as it is, the sewars and the storm drains are connected, so motor oil and toxic crap would mix in. Again, a bigger problem than I can solve. I can plant a decent garden, I can come in and do something. I can write about what I thought about.
This is a list of upcoming events which is both silent and not a silent protest. I listened. To something almost every time I wrote. Writing about music can be verbal. I hear myself speak words when I read. Is it music, itself? No. I’m failing at performing music. But I’m sticking with music. Is it composition? I’m not going to get hung up on what it is. It’s here. It’s also an act. I think about things while I do things. I open this page and I update it and back it up. It changes. I keep my promise to do something. I open the binder. I call up an album. Or I pay attention to a song on the (local) radio or at a store. I am not going to change everything by doing this. It isn’t enough. Still I do it. Sometimes.
September 18, 2021
September 17, 2021
September 15, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour listened to Joni Mitchell Court and Spark.
Why am I doing this? It’s nice to have something musical to do. I put most of my energy into cooking, helping the kids do various things, providing a clean environment for them, a schedule that allows them to get enough sleep, good meals for them, helping them resolve their disputes and discover their interests, and also bonding with them, sharing stories, telling them about the world… so it’s using exactly the same energy I used to use to compose. I never composed regularly, though. Always on a deadline. I used to sing regularly.
I used to cook for myself, shop only for myself, so it took much less time. Also, I’m an adventurous eater so I never had to make alternative meals for myself. I lived in a room 12×10 or so. Not much cleaning necessary. I didn’t have to supervise the laundry, just do it. I went to sleep when I needed to, or when I wanted to, did not have to sit and tell stories in the dark for an hour to calm anyone else down for sleep, although if I had made myself sleep on a regular schedule I would have been a lot happier and more productive. I only had to resolve disputes with others… although I’m not sure if I did a good job of that. I spent most of my time worrying about various things but a lot of time pursuing my own interests. I spent time with friends, usually other musicians, sharing knowledge about music and about life, hooking up with people, having relationships and gossipping.
It’s not so different now. If I had a magic wand and I could change the past, of course I would have made my family more responsible toward me, teaching me life skills, doing what I’m doing with my kids, creating a stable environment and a set of good habits for life. That way, when I started being capable of creating things, I wouldn’t have been so distracted by being dirty and tired and pissed off at other people.
But nothing is wasted so I have been learning those life skills as I raise my kids. I have become cleaner, saner, more serene, although I still sometimes stay up too late.
But why am I writing these messages and keeping these promises to do music tomorrow and listening to these albums?
I have a second cousin once removed who is an artist. I say she is an artist although she hasn’t painted in years. She did some very good work when she was young. Then she had children and stopped painting. I don’t know if she said this directly, but I got the feeling that if she had just done a little each day through the time she was raising her kids, it would have been enough that she could have picked it up again after they grew up and left home. So that’s what I’m trying to do.
Without sacrificing my sanity or my good work with my kids and my family, I’m trying to do both during this long stretch of fallow time. I’m just putting a little compost in the bin each day, dumping it out on the pasture, mowing it down in the autumn so that in ten years when I have really good soil with lots of organic matter, something can grow there, maybe many things. That’s my plan.
Although… I do think the expectation I put on myself to keep achieving at the level I did as a young person is unrealistic. I did that to impress a future partner, gain credibility with my friends at a time when that was important to me, and prove to my parents and elders that I could take on a leadership role when it was my turn to run a household. I created massive doll dynasties with my music as practice. And now that it’s my turn, I am busy with people and things and I don’t want to play with dolls anymore. I don’t need to play with dolls.
But sometime soon my kids will be grown, my things will be all set, maybe I can do some dollmaking.
September 13, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour listened to Joni Mitchell, Hejira. A jazz album. One I would have bypassed had I not put it on my list because it sold well. It’s different but I wonder if she was just following the music to the best style, as I did. Do?
September 12, 2021
September 7, 2021
9:30am 1 hour listened to Joni Mitchell Blue. Talked about having had a miscarriage… that’s why the long delay… after Mingus. Long delay because it’s September 11th now.
Been watching videos of people building log cabins for the last few days. This one of Erik Grankvist building a log cabin mostly with axes, and one of Nik Rigavec building a log cabin with power tools. The sound of the build is so different in each one. With the axe, the resonance of the wood is so clear, and it changes as he takes out material from the logs. You can hear each one settle into its spot after he carves the groove.
In the video where the man builds using power tools, the generator dominates the soundscape. You can’t hear the birds or the wind. A lot of buzzing. It becomes about the man, his power, his machine, rather than this consensus like process between the man, the axe, the log, and the forest. Also the man using only axes – you could hear his breathing, grunting, shuffle of his feet. The power tool man’s sounds were dwarfed by the tools.
That being said, power tool man finished his much bigger cabin in less than one year, while axe man took two years to build his. Of course, in the past, whole extended families would have been helping, so it wouldn’t have taken so long.
The tools make things easier, less precious. He touches things less carefully. He makes the cuts rougher. Axe man changed through the process. His body changed. He becomes precise. He becomes more careful, more skillful as he goes.
I wonder if I can apply this to music. A whole village could write a string quartet together, but I can write one in finale just myself. In community, I listen. Over time, I become precise, communicating rhythms, tempi, gestures with my eyes, body, hands, arms. With a calculator, I can assume I know what notes should go where, based on my plan, my diagrams, calculations. I like this work. I want there to be a place for it and be a skilled listener, player, community member.
September 3, 2021
10am 1 hour listened to half of The Jazz Composer’s Workshop by Mingus.
August 30, 2021
9:30am 1 hour listened to the Sixpence None the Richer version of “Don’t Dream It’s Over” which came out in 2003. In the store. I hated their big hit, “Kiss Me,” because it seemed to be saying that we should follow our parents’ paths and it was just such a change from all the sixties music I grew up hearing that said we should go a new way. I think the cover was a step in the right direction.
Oh, okay, they’re a Christian band apparently. Makes sense now. I wonder if the “wall between us” then becomes the rift between Christians on the political right and liberal Christians… or between Christian bands and mainstream bands. I think Christian music is the final frontier for music I ought to try to understand. I really don’t want to. Then again, I didn’t want to learn about Country music. I thought Indian music was out of tune at first. I used to think opera was stuffy.
August 28, 2021
August 26, 2021
9:45am 1 hour listened to the same black hole video’s music again. He only uses two tracks – a slightly old but strange sounding melody for the beginning, and the same thing with artificial chorus for the second part. It’s effective. The crescendo is in the writing (narrator).
August 25, 2021
9:30am 1 hour watched Kurzgesagt The Largest Black Hole in the Universe and thought about the way the genre of music changed from something more like lofi or techno into a chorus that sounded religious when they switched from the smaller black holes to the larger set. Wondered if the genre would change to dance music at the highest level, but it stayed on the religious music. Clearly, for this composer, choral music is the most moving music, the most impressive. Sometimes, like in The Matrix, the most impressive scenes happen underscored by fast, rhythmic, instrumental music. In an episode, “What’s Past is Prologue” of StarTrek Discovery that we watched, classical singing was used when the character was performing a task of unusual, almost superhuman concentration and excellence.
I wonder how I would use classical music, or classical choral or operatic music in a drama. I wonder, if I were to score a short video about black holes, which hierarchy of genres I would choose. I think the choice would be spontaneous but something like… guitar or banjo – instrumental country, then instrumental rock, then techno, then choral like carmina burana, then solo opera, then a chorus of dancers accompanied by their feet, rattles, shakers, and drums… I think the sound of community has to be the highest for me. Maybe jazz after that, like free jazz, the modern sound of a community of skilled musicians. They must be skilled, but they must being playing for each other and absolutely human – that means humble. Maybe comfortable enough with each other to have small disagreements and resolutions. Comfortable enough that the audience doesn’t matter, especially.
August 24, 2021
9:30am 1 hour listened to Mingus, The Jazz Workshop which is not what I was supposed to listen to. I was supposed to listen to The Jazz Composer Workshop.
August 23, 2021
9:30am 1 hour listened to Charles Mingus, Oh Yeah.
August 20, 2021
9:30am 1 hour listened to Mingus, Ah Um. This is one of the first albums that I feel made me a better person. I’m more able to keep cool in stressful situations because of it. I can just breathe.
August 19, 2021
9:30am 1 hour listened to Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, by Charles Mingus.
August 18, 2021
8:30am 1 hour listened to Black Saint and the Sinner Lady by Charles Mingus
August 17, 2021
9:30am 1 hour listened to The Singles by Bikini Kill
August 16, 2021
9:30am 1 hour listened to Pussy Whipped and Reject All American of Bikini Kill. Read about Tobi Vail’s friendship with Kurt Cobain and looked for her column but couldn’t find it.
August 15, 2021
August 13, 2021
4:40pm 1 hour talked about the music in StarTrek: The Next Generation and Battlestar Galactica and The X-Files. I said the latter was an intimate drama and the characters had such good chemistry, and there was so much silence and whispering because it was spooky, and so many eery sounds, that there was a lot to listen to even though the music was minimal. We said the StarTrek had orchestral music that heightened the drama, but we disagreed about Battlestar Glactica. I think there were too many characters for it to be an intimate drama, although it tried to be. The music was too repetitive for a drama or action adventure show.
August 12, 2021
August 11, 2021
4:40pm 1 hour listened to the EP Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah by Bikini Kill.
August 9, 2021
August 8, 2021
4:40pm 1 hour listened to the motley jumble of F’s programmed playlist. Many songs from South by SouthWest 20-something. Also lots of 80s. Felt okay after I let go of picking out individual artists. Less ego driven. Good for dancing and washing the dishes.
August 7, 2021
August 6, 2021
4:40pm 1 hour listened to Revolution Girl Style by Bikini Kill
August 5, 2021
August 1, 2021
July 31, 2021
July 30, 2021
4:40pm 1 hour listened to Scatter the Rats, L7.
July 29, 2021
4:40pm 1 hour listened to L7 The Beauty Process: Triple Platinum
July 28, 2021
4:40pm 1 hour listened to Lyle Lovett, part of Road to Ensanadas and the song, Pontiac. His lyrics are masterpieces. We listened to it because F played “Texas Love Song” by Slaid Cleaves which says, “And if you make me leave this state, I’ll curse but I won’t hesitate” whereas Lyle’s “That’s Right, You’re Not from Texas” says:
And as we were driving down the highway
She asked me baby what’s so great
How come you’re always going on
About your Lone Star State
I said that’s right you’re not from Texas
That’s right you’re not from Texas
That’s right you’re not from Texas
But Texas wants you anyway
That’s right you’re not from Texas
That’s right you’re not from Texas
That’s right you’re not from Texas
But Texas wants you anyway
Oh the road it looked so lovely
As she stood there on the side
And she grew smaller in my mirror
As I watched her wave goodbye”
July 27, 2021
4:40pm 1 hour uh family is in town. try again tomorrow.
July 26, 2021
July 25, 2021
rest listened to half of The Rough Guide to Tito Puente.
July 23, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour listened to Duruflé Requiem and Fauré Requiem and The Rough Guide to Salsa Columbia.
July 22, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour listened to L7 Hungry for Stink. Seems influenced by The Velvet Underground, especially the song “Stuck Here Again” which reminds me of “Venus in Furs” the way the rhythmic cadence of the vocal line and the drums are similar, and the themes, of Venus in Furs, the Furs of whom were picked out by the man… and the idea of being stuck in a role, even that of femme domme, decided by a man.
and Ambulance LTD’s song, “Primitive” seemed to borrow the repeated notes of the first song on the album, “Andre” although topically they’re very far apart, but that’s another band that borrowed heavily from the Velvet Underground.
July 21, 2021
4:30 1 hour listened to L7 Bricks are Heavy. The ones where I don’t say anything, they’re the ones.
July 19, 2021
July 18, 2021
4:40pm 1 hour uh… we listened to Heart, Heart the other day… and it was interesting because they are not punk, but they are metal, but they were pidgeonholed as pop because of the female voice I think, and it’s interesting because I think trying to be mainstream is a bigger challenge than being a rebel. You have to pass. You have to wear the makeup and the hair and the tight pants and take all the shit everyone gives you. As a punk, at least there’s freedom to be comfortable, as in some pictures of the Slits at live shows. They look like me. They wear clothes. Regular clothes. And their hair is whatever, in a scrunchy. And they don’t have makeup on. And there is something in the music that is new that comes from the place of having to invent that space for yourself. Being unacceptable pushes the musical boundaries as well. Whereas Heart is conventional. Good, competant, rich, but they walk the line of following all the rules and they still get some shit from people.
I’m sure The Slits got shit from people, but you expect it. When you’re trying to follow the rules and you still can’t quite get accepted, that’s heartbreaking.
July 16, 2021
4:40pm 1 hour
July 15, 2021
4:40pm 1 hour Yesterday, listened to Wicked and today listened to The Slits Bootleg Retrospective and “In the Beginning There Was Rhythm”.
July 12, 2021
July 11, 2021
July 8, 2021
4:40pm 1 hour practiced my vocal warmups, practiced the song, “She” by Greenday.
July 7, 2021
4:40pm 1 hour listened to most of The Slits Trapped Animal. This band did not change.
July 5, 2021
4:40pm 1 hour listened to KUSC playing “name that tune” a piece by Charles Ives, then “Sheep May Safely Graze,” by Bach (but I thought it was a French composer like Berlioz!) and also listened to In the Heights soundtrack. Talked about who created the main character (as an opera singer creates a character) even though in the movie it’s someone else singing. I think that’s still composing (I mean, I know he wrote the songs, too, but when someone makes a song their own, I think that’s composing).
July 3, 2021
July 2, 2021
4:40pm 1 hour listened to and watched Carolyn Chen’s “Private Ocean” on youtube. Talked about writing for a blog where the posts will be interactive and funnel readers through a series of lines of reasoning about a question or topic, landing at a common point to all the arguments, and then branching off again to gently introduce a contrasting perspective, like a good literary seminar.
July 1, 2021
4:40pm 30 min. Listened to Dookie by Greenday and some of an album by The Wynona Riders who came out around the same time. Commented to F that bands usually aren’t influenced by bands that come out near the same time, but by bands that came out when they were 13, same as everyone else. They probably grew up listening to Siouxie and the Banshees and The Pixies. Both Greenday and The Wynona Riders did, I bet.
Practiced just a bit. Looking at Greenday’s “She”.
June 20, 2021
4:40pm 1 hour uh… since I wrote June 20th, going to assume I was out of my mind worrying about taking the kids to the dentist today so we’re going to write this one off.
June 29, 2021
4:40pm 1 hour practiced some scales in Lamperti’s book, listened to The Slits Return of the Giant Slits. I think they knew everyone would be making music earlier than other bands that I’ve heard.
June 27, 2021
4:40pm 1 hour read about Foucault. Realized looking at the title of Structural Hearing in Tonal Music that I’ve been trying to conjure a structure all this time, to find the god-given right of my learned system of order to exist when there isn’t one. It’s arbitrary what we choose to focus on. It’s human. From a post-structuralist perspective, the relative importance of different parameters can be negotiated, and the feeling that something must take precedence… the power of the traditional – the music encoded in my as a maleable teenager… is a form of power.
a little more about my history: i try to free people by making structures for them – compositions, thought structures, concepts, performance instructures… i try to dominate them (in a way we have negotiated or according to known conventions)… to give them an excuse to say things or play things or feel things or think things they wouldn’t have otherwise done.
“a genius to explain things simply” is what i offered Dr. Pedroza as a definition of genius… but that’s just my special genius. The book, Writing About Music: An Introductory Guide, by Wingell, says the purpose of this writing is “to inform and explain”. I love that. I don’t need to persuade or educate, or pontificate, or justify or glorify. Just inform and explain.
One more thought: I thought people who write about music were writers who chose music as the subject of their thinking… but I can see that to understand music enough to write about it… one must be a musician, or rather it’s okay to start with the musical understanding and from there develop the skill to communicate about it. The understanding is the thing people who want to understand music want, not the pretty words or the logical argument. So the prettiness must suffer a bit, and the logic sometimes faulter if I am to keep the goal in mind. Can’t bend truth to suit the argument.
Tricky because words are so musical. But everything has musical logic. Using math or movement to get a better perspective on music is just as fraught, as the math can turn into its own argument. Movement can go on after the music is over and turn into something else. Words can be so compelling that you get carried away unless… unless you’re not really a word person. That’s me. I get bored when I read too much if it’s not about music. I get bored with linguistics once it’s out of the sounds of words and into the symbolic grammar. So… being bored by words and not really a writer is actually an advantage for me.
Need to point out that I hardly ever do these at the time I say. It’s usually in the afternoon but sometimes as late as 6pm or like today, was reading from about 10am to 12, and thought more about it in the afternoon. Writing this at 4:28. Also it’s June 28th. Sometimes I do it the next day if I wrote the date wrong or skipped one. Being honest. I’m only off by a day or two usually. Thanks for your forebearance.
June 26, 2021
June 25, 2021
rest… listened to Dietrich Fischer-Diskau. Thought about how I learned to hear middle, chest, head voice in singers while trying to teach this skill. It was in New York. At the time, I was still coming off an undergrad where I learned to associate anything sounding harmonious with soft, (bourgeois?) conservative?… BAD music. So I transferred that whole cloth into singing where I thought chest voice was awesome, pushed as high as possible sounded amazing (although why do all the old singers have a wobble? that sounds bad. long live the youth!) which is what musical theater and rock were also doing. I learned chest voice singing from Russian folk music.
Anyway, eventually I learned that those pansy vocalisms were actually healthy for the chords, and that the pansy string orchestra sound a lot more harmonious and nuanced in tuning. So I applied it back to orchestral music. Long journey.
June 24, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour listened to Emerson Lake and Palmer Piano Concerto 1 and for context, Frank Zappa’s Mo ‘N Herb’s Vacation. The ELP one seemd to be more like an improvisation, but not one with a plan. The Frank Zappa started off well, seemed to be describing something, but there wasn’t really any payoff. It didn’t have a large tutti section, though the style was more unified.
June 22, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour listened to the happy sounds of children laughing, birds singing.
June 21, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour listened to Siouxie and the Banshees Tinderbox and The Slits Cut – read that The Clash’s song, “Train in Vain” is a direct answer to The Slits’ “Typical Girl” because that song says typical girls stand by their man, but Mick Jones is sad that Viv Albertine broke up with him. I think the song, “Adventures Close to Home” could be an answer back, because it says she went “like a demented train” and “don’t take it personal/I follow my own fate”. But that means they must have shared songs they were working on before making the album, or performed them in concert. I guess it was a tight scene.
The Siouxie album reminded me of the music always playing in the club in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
June 20, 2021
4:30pm listened to Siouxie and the Banshees A Kiss in the Dreamhouse. Practiced some exercises. Tired. Decided not to stretch or walk today. Can barely get my lungs to sing. Luckily stopped before I got too sore.
June 19, 2021
June 18, 2021
4:40pm 1 hour listened to Siouxie and the Banshees Juju. Played a couple of episodes of Nova from the 1980s with scores by Martin Brody, the modernist/orchestral composer/improviser/computer musician I associated with science and exciting new discoveries since I was a child. Probably those scores are why I wanted to major in biochemistry at first, before discovering the computer musicians and modernist musicians at my school.
June 16, 2021
4:40pm 1 hour practiced in Schirmer Easy Songs for the Beginning Mezzo Soprano ed. Boytim.
June 15, 2021
4:40pm 1 hour practiced the Lamperti exercises. Looked at the break of mezzos and altos. According to him, sopranos start at C4 and have no chest voice, mezzos start at Ab or so and break around E, and lower voices break higher. That’s counter intuitive to me, but lately my break has been feeling lower than I thought it was, around E.
Played and sang songs from Schirmer, Easy Songs for the Beginning Mezzo Soprano/Alto.
June 14, 2021
June 12, 2021
June 11, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour finished Dr. Faustus and sang the alternate first verse of “Birdhouse in Your Soul.”
June 10, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour practiced “Birdhouse in Your Soul” and figured out the chords and read the alternative lyrics. Realized that the child, Nepomuk, in Dr. Faustus, the boys in Naked Lunch, Lolita in Lolita, and even Hamilton (or maybe Philip) in Hamilton are supposed to represent youthful idealism of a new country. It’s nationalism where the nation’s hopes are personified by a child who gets tortured or killed. It’s a nation-god. And it rhymes with baby jesus. We’re supposed to protect it, but we fail, and it dies or suffers for our sins.
Not sure I believe… well, but isn’t this what all of my complaining about Americans polluting, and our broken system that lets people die of covid and lets children go hungry… it’s also the internal metaphor of Democracy Now, that we are to blame for the sufferings of not only Americans, whoever they are, who are in trouble, but also those in other countries affected by harmful US policies. I’m only worried that confirming the metaphor might become more important than finding solutions to the problems or envisioning a good outcome, or even having hope. One time, 2020, Juan Gonsalez chastised Amy Goodman and said something like, “You have to give the people something to do, some action to take to give them hope.”
But taking recyclables to the recycling center is not enough. We can’t be personal action is enough conservatives. Buying candy from a catalogue your child brings home is not a good way to fund field trips. Organizing a beach cleanup is much less effective at stopping polution than bringing a class action suit.
I know how to imagine a glorious future. I know how to imagine a glorious past. I know how to pretend that the present is okay because I’m doing the most I can personally. I don’t know how to change things now. I do know how to feel grateful. I know how to feel like a martyr. I know how to recognize when I’m doing that.
I know how to spend just a little less time with my kids than they need so I can do what I can with music. I know how to spend enough time with them and do what feels like much too little music.
June 9, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour read Dr. Faustus and listened to Triforce Podcast # 179 where they make fun of movies with songs that are relevant intitle only. Looked up all the songs he mentioned and read the lyrics.
June 8, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour read Dr. Faustus and came up with an idea for an opera retelling of it. Worked on “Birdhouse in Your Soul”.
June 7, 2021
June 6, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour listened to a bunch of videos by Mike Bereal, an organist for the Church of God in Christ in LA. He plays the Hammond B3 and he plays basslines that sound like they could be r&b or gospel basslines played by a bass player, with his feet! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fE2DrkeIEog
Also showed my kids Larry Wright and his wife playing bucket drums in New York.
Also F played part of They Might Be Giants Flood. Figured out the chords to “Birdhouse in Your Soul”. The band sounds really jewish to me, like Weird Al, but allowing songs to be songs, not making all lyrics totally understandable. More musical. Nasal vocal production. Different timbres, sometimes accordion, or I might be wrong about that. More chords than just I IV V. No vocal harmonies? They’re from Brooklyn.
June 5, 2021
June 4, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour listened to Peter Gabriel Us and listening to the track, “Kiss the Frog,” looked up Bjork’s “Big Time Sensuality” which came out a year later, and I think copies the way Peter’s lyrics remain on the offbeat the whole time. Both songs are also about love.
June 3, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour listened to Siouxie and the Banshees Kaleidoscope. Looked up the lyrics to “Israel” because it seemed to be about Palestine. In a statement quoted on Songmeanings.com, Siouxie said she meant it to be a general universal statement about independent thinking, but it does refer to the colors red and green, which are on the Palestinian flag. Also finished watching Hair. Looked up stuff about the draft. We only didn’t have a selective service system from 1973 to 1980. Men 18-35 are still “liable” for military service, it’s just that the military hasn’t called them up for any recent wars. It’s a voluntary force. I wonder what that does to you, knowing you could be called until you’re 35.
We also listened to The Knife, “Silent Shout” and commented that under capitalism, a band can make a whole sound out of one song by another band. It all sounds the same, so it works for the consumers. They get a known quantity. No challenge.
For me, goth style explains the seeming unmusicality of Siouxie’s music in this album. I can see goths shambling to this. It doesn’t groove. It’s anti-groove. But still groves more than The Knife.
June 2, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour. Listened to Siouxie and the Banshees debut album, The Scream. For some reason I always mix up the painting called The Scream with Schoenberg’s painting, The Red Gaze. We listened to some PJ Harvey, “Man Size” and compared it to a song on The Scream, “Overground”. It’s a wicked ripoff. Siouxie’s invocation of the opening riff to “Foxy Lady” by Jimi Hendrix is not a ripoff, it feels like a starting point, because the song, “Metal Postcard,” is all about metal, but seems to also be about women. Then again, when I listen to a woman artist and the only thing I know about her is that she’s female, I read that into anything. Still, women are tough. Women glow, which is not the same as shining, but sort of, and we oil and clean ourselves, and we do lots of hard work, and after dinner we have to recreate on Friday night, and the loudspeakers, including as an example, the song, “Foxy Lady,” always blare these same messages about women.
May 31, 2021
May 30, 2021
3pm 1 hour sketched a project based on Dr. Faustus and listened to Doolittle by the Pixies.
May 29, 2021
May 28, 2021
4pm 1 hour listened to Yoshime Battles the Pink Robots by The Flaming Lips. It has groove: more than most rock like the Beatles, and the vocals are lower volume and the bass and drums are higher volume, but not as much groove as rap beats, and somewhat on the way to Lofi, which has similarly electronic sounds, relatively loud and syncopated bass and drums, and quiet vocals if there are vocals at all. All this displaces the “star” or singer and the message of the song, foregrounding the sound of the music, the mass of the whole album, the people listening to it. It’s also undemanding. You can listen to it in the car or while studying or even worrying about stuff that you need to think about, no problem.
It’s almost like jam band music but it’s not improvised. But it goes on and on.
May 27, 2021
4pm 1 hour listened to Bossa Nova Pixies.
May 26, 2021
4pm 1 hour listened to Eugene Onegin the finale, and “A Heart Full of Love,” from Les Misérables as well as Rush, “La Villa Strangiato” to try to put our finger on a way of scoring a dramatic scene such as the “Quiet Uptown” scene in Hamilton. F argues that there must be enough structure and repetition to not lose the audience. I argue that the audience is smart enough and invested enough in the drama that some points can be less musically coherant to serve the words, especially in scenes of conflict. The most important part for me is change of meter and tempo.
May 25, 2021
4pm 1 hour listened to Pixies Trompe le Monde. Wow. Kim Deal’s bass is so amazing, locked in, virtuosic, independent over so many time changes and weird parts. It’s the pinnacle of this style. The drummer is good and really fast. Black Francis’s lyrics are opaque but straight to the heart and not just about love, but also about love, and his melodies go way beyond the lyrics in long phrases like Radiohead, who came after. The guitar player, Joey Santiago, plays awesome lines but doesn’t demand long solos. They all lock in but it sounds like four people making music. Like chamber punk.
May 24, 2021
May 23, 2021
5pm 1 hour started listening to The Pixies Trompe le Monde and watched Minecraft: Story Mode which has wierd music, very groovy at all times and doesn’t seem to drive scenes the way tradition cartoons work. At the end of episode 3 though, music was not playing ball with what should have been the triumphant ending, turned out there was a twist! Also the music in the opening credits is very long because that’s the action sequence you get, since the pacing is broken up by having to make choose your own adventure style choices in the format of the show, and because every ending is a cliffhanger, not a triumphant battle scene as in episodic cartoons. The musical style is Lofi.
May 22, 2021
5pm 1 hour Once a person asked me where my music comes from. Usually it starts from a broken heart. Helping someone set up a blog, realizing I don’t structure these as actual fullon “posts” in my editor because it’s too much pressure. Weblog. Just a little update. We listened to Surfer Rosa by the Pixies, an album I discovered in college in a the record collection of a person who lived where I was subletting during winter break. It was so cloudy and rainy and sad there, and cold for California, and my dad was dying, and I couldn’t go home, and I was going to have to graduate and face the world, but then I found this ember of warmth, this album, and it seemed to say, “You can do it. Anything you can do with love and the right people can be alright.” They recorded it in 10 days.
Also they’re Nirvana’s spiritual daddy.
May 21, 2021
3:30pm 1 hour worked in Finale. When you transpose something down, you have to fix the muddy piano part. Also a lot of it was in the middle register notated for the right hand in treble clef. I had to shift a lot of the measures to bass clef for both hands but not all, like every two or three. I wonder how people write for piano and baritone. I don’t want a lot of jinglies above his voice, either, as those would cover his harmonics. One thinks the piano and our notation system can do everything but it’s really better for tenors and soprano voices. Actually guitar is the perfect instrument for the tenor.
May 20, 2021
3:30pm 1 hour listened to the music of the videogame, “Aida’s Strange Christmas,” which was so simple as to be almost funny, but I like that. Worked in Finale. It was extremely simple work, but satisfying. It fits like an old familiar glove. Or glass slipper?
May 19, 2021
4:00pm 1 hour worked in Finale. Also listened to Tupac “Changes” and Nas, “Black President”. Sadder than I expected, the second one, but it makes sense.
May 18, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour input the rest of the lyrics from “Quiet Uptown.” I wish I had known that other people also ran into the same ugly notation when trying to notate syncopated R&B type lyrics. Whenever I write I song, I have the same problem. Everything is in sixteenth or thirtysecond notes and tied everywhere including across the barline. This notation system was not created for the music I think of.
May 17, 2021
May 16, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour listened to The Pixies Indie Cindy. I wish bands would stay together and embrace creative tension… and realize that there’s usually tension in a good band because people join as equals before they get famous. Two bands each made up of one of the people from the original bands are not usually as good. But it makes more money that way.
May 14, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour watched The Great Rock N Roll Swindle and read the wikipedia article about The Sex Pistols. Realized The Pixies is perhaps a contraction of sex and pistol.
May 13, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour listened to Cats broadway recording. Talked about how episodic it is, how we would do it differently, but how all the poems are so different… it wouldn’t work as a drama, how it’s a good album, how we might try to do something like a musical as a song cycle just to get to try out different styles. F talked about doing a musical about a different historical figure like Hamilton. I talked about doing remixes, and how I love youtube videos that gamers make, and the conversations in the comments, and other projects like the actor of Phantasmagoria 2 making a series of interviews after the game he was in got featured in a couple of videos, and how it’s a little bit freeing how there’s not too much of a way to make money doing this yet.
Listened to “Somewhere” the Barbara Streisand version, and “Somewhere Out There,” which was the first song I loved when I was 4. F had the sheet music so we sang the duet. Wow, my head voice is really out of shape. Better start warming up again.
May 12, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour worked on putting a song into notation software for Felix. Fun getting back into it. Watched the rest of Cats. Gave F advice about middle voice in the song
May 11, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour started listening to Sex Pistols Some Product: Carri on Sex Pistols.
May 10, 2021
rest. i did rest, but i also heard this song and these are the lyrics: “Obama llama – yes we can!”
May 9, 2021
really rest, except we’re watching Cats… so maybe. Watched half of Cats. Appreciated the ballet. Appreciated how in a work that’s very “number” driven, the ballet in the middle ties all the themes together musically. I think that’s why modern operas don’t have ballets too often – it’s not necessary or possible to draw together themes from different character pieces when the story is through composed and one part blends into the next. It’s also like the old variety show in American musical theater, which I think transported itself to television variety shows like Laugh-in, Saturday Night Live, and eventually became youtube.
Also listened to an album by Yes, 90125, where the synthesizers were better used than in Les Mis, because they were distorted i.e. not trying to be orchestra instruments, and the music was out there in other ways, which the synthesizers supported. I don’t think Yes would have used orchestra musicians instead if given the option, but I think Les Mis would have and I’m surprised they didn’t rewrite the score for orchestra when it became a hit.
Also sent an email to a composer
May 8, 2021
rest listened to teh rest of Les Mis and enjoyed it. Looked up a contemporary recording of “On My Own,” by Stephen Scaccia which seems to change it to be about a man loving another man who’s in the closet and will only see him during the night. I loved it but he did push his chest a lot. Also listened to the music in Stalker which we watched part of. It was made before the accident at Chernobyl, but is often mentioned in association with it, since it discusses themes of hubris, environmental destruction, and how both the scientific method and artistic methods alone fail to comprehend or respond adequately to the whole of life and our place in nature.
Also listened to the reprise of “Let the Sun Shine In” from Hair, and talked about how if you want to make a musical that’s political, sometimes you just need to go for it. Les Mis is a bit subtle, not Hair. Also listened to Rziewski’s “Attica” and reread the history of the uprising. Talked about the piece, how it’s straightforward, minimalist, and centers the word and the concept of the prison, not music or the composer. In fact, the music feels a bit like a prison… or a platform. It feels like you should go look up what the hell happened after you hear it.
Also learned the chords and words to “Anna Begins,” by Counting Crows. Talked about how all I knew about Hair as a kid was that people streaked on the stage and that was scandalous. Only in my 20s did I finally watch it. All the American Jesus musicals. Also talked about how Cats, Les Mis, and Phantom of the Opera were from a time when people tried to take the blackness out of broadway musicals and make them more dramatic, but it didn’t work. That’s why we watched the clip from Hair. Until Hamilton, I wasn’t sure what the future of broadway would be.
May 7, 2021
4:45pm 1 hour listened to more of Les Mis symphonic version (just with incidental music included). I can’t stand listening to these people with ruined voices and poor singing technique (though very good singing actors) tell this story in painfully articulated English over a synthesizer and an orchestra that sounds like it was composed on a synthesizer so that no two notes would overlap in a way that was at all ambiguous ever. Gah.
May 6, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour listened to Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols by The Sex Pistols and read about the Bundy incident, which was prompted when the host propositioned their female friend on the air! They were defending her. That’s why they called the host a “fucking rotter”.
May 5, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour listened to the full version of Les Mis with the incidental music. The synthesizers! The emotions! Can’t….handle… feeling things….in…music.
May 4, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour listened to The Ramones, Brain Drain. Have to say don’t know if it’s this band, but have experienced more real life changes through these albums than any others in this project, especially around spirituality, communication, and love of self and others.
May 3, 2021
May 2, 2021
my mom’s birthday. 4:30pm 1 hour listened to Counting Crows August and Everything After, which we think was influenced by Tori, also a pianist, in the rhythmic freedom of the vocal line, the delivery of the voice with lots of vibrato and falsetto, the chord resolutions, how the melodies often end on a note other than the tonic… but he doesn’t cop to this influence.
May 1, 2021
April 28, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour started transcribing “It’s Quiet Uptown” from the sheet music for F so he can transpose it. listened to Tori Amos, Little Earthquakes
April 27, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour listened to Rzewski, “The People United Will Never Be Defeated”
April 24, 2021
April 23, 2021
5:30pm 1 hour listened to The Ramones Subterranean Jungle. This music makes me so happy! It’s so bouncy and accessible but also political. Songs about overprescribing psychoactive medications and medicallizing teenage rebellion!
April 22, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour listening to The Ramones Sweet Dreams and I’m pretty sure the opening to Blur’s “Machinehead” sounds just like the opening to “We Want the Airwaves”.
April 21, 2021
really, really rest:)
April 20, 2021
really rest watched the rest of Flower Drum Song.
April 19, 2021
rest listened to End of the Century by the Ramones
April 18, 2021
2:30pm 1 hour Listened to the Ramones Rocket to Russia. I think “I Don’t Care” might have inspired Nirvana’s “On a Plain” and “Cretin Hop” inspired The Pixies “Monkey Gone to Heaven”. Commented on a Texas State Music School video on youtube. They had covers on their trumpets and masks with holes so they could still play.
Watched half of Flower Drum Song and looked up Patrick Adiarte to see what else he did. Unfortunately, it seems he was typecast as a color character and didn’t really get to show the world too much of his amazing dancing skills. But he’s still dancing. This is him with Fred Astair https://youtu.be/lwiVcgEzHW4
April 17, 2021
5:30pm 45 min. listened to The Clash, Combat Rock. and read about the drummer’s heroin addiction.
April 16, 2021
5:30 pm 45 min. listened to the rest of Sandanista. Read that according to Joe Strummer, they made it a three part album just to piss off the record company because they wanted to release a London Calling as a double album, but the company said it was too expensive, but then released Sting’s double album, The River, less than a year later. I don’t think this one needed to be a triple album though. There’s some filler. But another idea is that the length somewhat camoflages the very controversial songs.
Apparently the record album contained hand written, though legible lyrics in the liner notes, but then it was released as a double CD with shrunken, illegible lyrics. It was the second most played album on college radio in 1981. I’m going to stop quoting Wikipedia now.
April 15, 2021
5:30pm 1 hour listened to more of The Clash Sandanista. It’s a triple album. Today ended with the fake gospel song, “The Sound of Sinners”.
April 14, 2021
5:31pm 1 hour listened to Taylor John Williams, a couple of his songs and his performance on The Voice. His technique is good.
April 13, 2021
April 10, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour watched Lilo and Stitch with a score by Alan Silvestri. Very exciting. But is it really music in the same way as a music that can catch you up in its drama like Hamilton? In this way, I think movie scores are more like high modern concert music than popular music is. That’s because in the first two, there’s always a break in the rhythm. It’s showing us something, it’s active, but it’s not lulling us in any way, wheras in a musical, say, or a song like London Calling, it sets up a rhythmic cadence that carries you to a different place, and in that place, works on your emotions.
I guess movie music works on your emotions, too, but it feels to be at the service of the movie. It’s placed in there for a certain effect. I guess I’m saying high modern music I learned to compose feels more performative than transformational. The popular music I’ve been listening to lately is brave in the face of emotion. It transports you, gets stuck in your head, changes you. It has words and regular rhythm.
Why were the high modernists so resistent to rhythm and words? Could be trauma? Personal as well as generational from the second world war. Could be fear that that kind of transformation could be used to manipulate popular emotions in support of a political agenda the creator disagrees with, like Nazism for example. This is the argument I always heard. But if we’re going to swear off music so the bad guys can’t get their hands on it… what do we have left? If we can’t explore our own feelings and make our traditions, and recreate them… then we’re pawns to be exploited by anything with a little rhythm to it. I think people need rhythm. Either you own that, or you pretend you’re fine and then secretly go to the drugstore to hear the canned music as I used to in New York. Who’s being manipulated then? Listening is its own practice. I have to listen to things that move me.
I think trying to teach people that it’s only okay to love music that is complicated… or putting any restrictions on what you can love is abusive. However, an initiate into a style of music does become a purist for a little while. That’s natural. But there’s so much more! Why I never listened to The Clash before, and was assuming people stopped making political music in the 1960s… or that if they did, it wasn’t very good… that was an actual belief of mine – that music with a political agenda can’t be good because it’s too heavy handed. I think if you’re timid about it, it doesn’t work. An anti-war symphony with no connection to music that the composer actually listens to would be terrible, like a propaganda piece… but if you’re all in, balls to the wall with what you believe, there’s no way forward but for that to be the very center of the music, and you use every tool at your disposal, smashing down technical and cultural barriers wherever they get in the way, such as whether it’s acceptible to turn up the drums in the mix in a broadway cast album, or whether we’re going to pretend that we’re giving the audience a literal recording from the theater. (as mentioned in the Song Exploder episode about “Wait for It”)
Musical theater performers have used mikes for years, but only gradually have they started singing like they need one.
Hypocrasy is another problem. If a person listens to rock or pop but they want to compose music that sounds classical or modern because someone told them that’s better and they believe it, what a lie! I’m not saying you have to write music that matches what your family or your ethnicity or even a broad survey of americans listens to, but how can you write except from what you learned to love in that early stage, just after puberty when identity is formed? Hardly anyone is listening to classical music then. Maybe some if you’re a musician, but also so much more.
The classical music I heard at that time was Angelo Badalamenti’s score to Lost Highway, the music to The Lion King, the Forest Gump soundtrack, which I played on the piano, too, and the soundtrack to The Piano, which I learned, too. The Badalamenti was okay, there was some atmospheric stuff with sound effects and he had a good tune with rhythm that repeated a lot but rarely the same way. Forest Gump was so simplistic compared to the older classical music I was playing. It seemed like a dumbed down children’s music compared to a real sonata… I guess I was ready for the lie that popular music is basically simplistic garbage which infects good classical music to make it worse.
Only… those are the most commercially successful sound tracks. Like the most popular top 40 songs, they’re meant to appeal to a broad audience and not overshadow the movie. But there’s much better popular music than that. If I had heard The Clash… I listened to all of Toru Takemitsu’s works in grad school and was amazed that whatever style he tried – movie music, symphony, song, chamber music, there might even be some jazz in there, it was all good and never sounded compromised.
In college, I would have said Takemitsu was out because it’s tonal, or because he was sometimes tonal. He was brave about his emotions. Whatever the means to get there, emotions were explored. The music wasn’t formuleic because emotions bring up the unexpected… contingencies. Trying to make it sound better, you end up changing the traditions you were brought up with. Trying to make it feel more true, you invent new solutions.
I can’t say high modernists didn’t do the same thing, breaking many traditions, but unless my truth here in my city in my time with my friends and the sounds that I hear, unless this matches their life and traditions and traumas exactly, my technical solutions must be different. It’s like rebelling against a parent who was herself celebrated as a rebel. I’m with you in spirit… just might sound different.
Also, for me, rhythm is very important, but I’m not trying to universalize that. For someone else, rebelling against rhythm in order to paint a picture with sound, or rebelling against concert music make a movie score might be their truth. Maybe rebelling is not important and instead perfecting a style heard from childhood is the right thing to do. It was a very effective musical score, Lilo and Stitch. Somehow, whatever the motive, there is a way to tell whether it works, whether it is really perfecting a style or being derivative; whether someone has really found their voice or is doing whatever they can to sound really out there with no commitment in it.
It’s what Robert M. Pirsig described as quality.
April 9, 2021
5pm 1 hour The Clash Sandinista is blowing my mind right now.
April 8, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour I played the melodica a little, takes a lot of breath! and the recorder. takes much less breath. happy with my singing these days. my vibrato is faster than i thought it would be. it’s ticklish.
April 7, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour listened to The Clash London Calling.
April 5, 2021
April 4, 2021
rest listened to The Clash, Give ’em Enough Rope
April 2, 2021
April 1, 2021
5:30pm 1 hour listened to The Clash The Clash and started making a list for hip hop.
March 31, 2021
5:30pm 1 hour went over a bunch of stuff, emotional stuff trying to write a musical book. Listened to Steve Miller Band Number 5
March 30, 2021
4:45pm 1 hour Ross Scott says, “I’ve done an honest effort to not make garbage videos for you guys.” in his videochat from March this year. That’s how I feel. I’d like to make some not garbage music for you. Spent the evening listening to different Hamilton songs, playing different songs from different musicals, deciding whether Les Mis is an opera or a musical and whether Patty Lupone has good technique (yes) and expressing gratitude that because Hamilton exists, we don’t have to teach the world to accept good decent singing in a pop style for a musical. (Not much belting) Also checked out Victor, Victoria, the show that messed up Julie Andrews’ voice, and considered whether making a musical about a trans person was worth it, given that it paved(?) the way for Rent which opened the door for Hamilton. Reflected on the responsibility of the songwriter or composer to the singers, to write things that are singable. Rediscovered the Disney Robinhood from 1973 that I watched over and over with my childhood best friend, who later starred in the town musical with me.
March 29, 2021
March 28, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour watched the second half of Hamilton. My criticism is that the story doesn’t give the main character a chance to change or grow very much. Only at the death of his son and reconsiling with his wife. There he seems to have some resolution. But no one else changes. No one grows. Everyone’s either with him or against him. It’s Hagiography. However, the music is good. But how good can it be when it has no dramatic progression. It’s the court opera. The musicians don’t have a chance to express much, when their characters remain static. It was a good album. The raps were witty and full of quotes. The singers were good. The dancers were good. It was a good performance. I liked it while I was watching it. All hail the central bank. All hail our founding fathers. The might have disagreed about things, but that’s what made our country great.
Where’s the pique? What did we learn? That boring historical figures had interesting lives? We’ll never know because they only represented themselves in the best possible light, and that’s what we have to go on. We can cast black actors as them and break limitations that way. It was an American hagiography. It was in the vernacular. It was a really and truly American styled musical. I hope America can also make art that questions itself.
March 26, 2021
rest (March 27, listened to Steve Miller Band Children of the Future. I didn’t know who Boz Scaggs was, still not sure who he is on the album, but that last song by Bill Bill Broonzy and Charlie Segar, God Damn.)
March 25, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour Watched the “Diggy Diggy Hole” video, The Evolution of Diggy Diggy Hole.
March 22, 2021
6pm 1 hour listened to Brave New World by Steve Miller Band.
March 21, 2021
March 20, 2021
rest listened to Steve Miller Band Fly Like an Eagle, on which “RockNMe” refers to a woman who’s “a friend of mine” just like “Take it Easy” by the Eagles says, of the “seven women on my mind,” one, “says she’s a friend of mine.” I like that. I like that the cynical one came first, the empowering one after.
The song, “Take the Money and Run,” this time around struck me as much later in style, almost punk rock or garage rock, compared to the other songs. The album was cut in 1976, and according to Wikipedia punk rock started around 1974-1976.
This brings me to a point about this list. There’s not a single punk band in there, unless you count the post-punk The Fall. I read about the schism between old punk and hardcore that happened in the 1970s. I think Colin Larkin might be on the side that thinks that the earlier punk was “anti-intellectual, overly violent, and musically limited.” He doesn’t include The Clash, The Ramones, or The Sex Pistols, but does include The Cure and The Fall. Actually, maybe this has more to do with Virgin, the publisher of the book. It’s tough to sell a big corporation like that on anarchy bands.
So good albums that still sell are not available for free on youtube, and good bands that talk about anarchy too much are not available that much in lists of music published by big companies… however a tricky thing here is that he included usually the first of its kind of every subgenre of rock, given the limitations of space, except punk. Here he only included the commercially safe ones. I would also include The Pixies, The Slits, and Siouxie and the Banshees. My dad named our dog after that band. Sioux. And also that Johnny Cash song, “A Boy Named Sue.” My dad was born intersexed. He had surgery at birth and was assigned a gender, but he always said his brain was half female.
Nirvana could also be considered a descendent of punk. So maybe L7 and Bikini Kill should be included. Maybe we’ll take a digression here.
Okay, this is my list I made in 15 minutes by looking at which of their albums charted the highest:
The Clash (1977)
Give ‘Em Enough Rope (1978)
London Calling (1979)
Combat Rock (1982)
Rocket to Russia
End of the Century
Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols
The Great Rock N Roll Swindle
Some Product: Carri on Sex Pistols
Flogging on a Dead Horse
Trompe le Monde
Return of the Giant Slits
The Slits/Bootleg Retrospective
In the Beginning
Siouxie and the Banshees
A Kiss in the Dreamhouse
Bricks are Heavy
Hungry for Stink
The Beauty Process: Triple Platinum
Scatter the Rats
Revolution Girl Style Now
Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah
Reject All American
March 19, 2021
9:30am 1 hour listened to Sailor by Steve Miller Band.
March 17, 2021
10am 1 hour listened to Pat Metheny Letter from Home. Looked up the Grammy for fusion, which they one five times, and their arranger won two other times without the group. Then the award was abandoned.
March 16, 2021
9:15am 1 hour… um… I looked up Shaed’s “Trampoline” because it’s been stuck in my head. We’ve been talking about torture porn and what that is, and why people watch Saw movies, and how pretending you’re falling apart helps you fall asleep, and how I started watching videos from Ask a Mortician and what morbid curiosity is. There were a couple influences I noticed… it’s like a Brittany Spears runaway southern choirgirl thing, plus additionally Billie Eilish’s pouty morbidity. Opera dramatizes death often. I think it’s a way of performing sex… which is why I’m confused by the lyrics of “Trampoline”. Does the songwriter not know that being on fire is a metaphor for falling in love? Or falling in water? Or that death is a metaphor for orgasm? Have we forgotten metaphor?
And it has the kind of gospel choir as Hozier’s “Take Me to Church”. Apocalyptic.
March 13, 2021
11:30am half an hour listened to As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls by Pat Metheny group.
March 12, 2021
9:30am half an hour listened to the first song on American Garage by the Pat Metheny group. The song, “James” off Offramp keeps being in my head, which is unusual for an instrumental. It was for James Taylor. I can hear the gospel in the piano, and the head is so vocal. The chord voicings and the way the chords move are so gospel, but that popular gospel from the 1980s.
March 10, 2021
9am 1 hour didn’t do it.
March 9, 2021
4:30pm 1 hour listened to Pat Metheny, the rest of Offramp this music makes me feel like doing endless gymnastics with numbers.
March 8, 2021
3:30pm 1 hour started listening to Pat Metheny, Offramp
Mar 6, 2021
Mar 5, 2021
6:30pm 1 hour listening to Pat Metheny Travels
Mar 4, 2021
6:30pm, 1 hour Metallica, …And Justice for All One of the great albums. The closest I have heard to a classical symphony in American popular music. Possibly because of all the instrumentals. Or the harmonies, or the compound rhythms, or that the songs are pretty long, or the musicianship, or the formal thinking. Also I think the soundtrack to Contra was influenced by this. I wish I had known that when I wrote the string quartet. Instead I could have picked Johann Stamitz out of a lineup. Not that there’s anything wrong with him; he’s fine. It just wasn’t what I was doing, and I wasn’t learning stuff about what I was doing. But I am now thank god. And it was a fellow student who was a metal head that got me interested.
Mar 3, 2021
6pm 1 hour forgot.
Mar 2, 2021
6pm 1 hour Metallica Load
Feb 27, 2021
Feb 26, 2021
6am 1 hour read about David Pocknee, a mixed race composer like me! But he’s not a composer anymore, he says. Look at this bullet I dodged. He did two things I wanted to do: he wrote a words-PhD thesis that was musically composed, and he started a video series documenting his compositional process. I can see now that the words things will always be words that’s why we make sound. And they’re not too precise on the timing, not precise enough, and that for me is where the spirit is. And the documenting project… yes, here it is. It’s a whole life. But it’s not live. It can’t be. For me I recognize that recording a video is a performance, and busking as well, in a way that kills or… makes redundant the composing project. But I can document my life as a composer. That’s what I can do. Here is what I listened to, although I’ll probably leave out a lot of the music by people of color I listened to because it “doesn’t count” like DMX this morning. And stuff but I can do my best. And I can realize that when I spend all morning reading it’s okay.
Like Dr. Pocknee, I also got to a place where I wanted to die from many years of hustle. My song was “Long Black Train” by Richard Hawley. It also has horns or some kind of larger orchestration for a singer songwriter song. It was in V is for Vendetta. It’s sad and about dying, the lyrics, but the music is so comforting… as if music will always be there for you. And whether you want to keep going or not is fine. Eventually you’re getting on the train anyway. No need to hurry things. Also his vocal production is free from tension and stress, so gentle. He’s absolutely not fronting. He’s right there. That inspired me to keep going. Also a friend pointed out that maybe I was really down. I couldn’t see it. He was genuinely worried. I looked at that song and was like, huh. I guess I am in a dark place. That’s when I chose Richard Diebenkorn’s work to explore. Ocean Park. Light. I guess you have to choose consciously what you’re influenced by sometimes. That’s how I came back to California in 2009.
Started listening to Richard Hawley’s 2019 album, Further. I don’t think I could have handled the sentimentality before, but it’s perfect now. So loving. Sheffield. He also chooses to go to a good place in “Alone”.
If I had been successful with my goals… rather if people had taken the goals I, in my twenties, parroted from others, and handed me the things those others said they wanted… it might have been more devastating than being kicked out of the castle and having to scrounge my own creative life wherever I could find it.
Maybe composition is changing. How we keep music in our heads for passing on to others. How we communicate about music, and plum these depths for ourselves and others by way of music, how we communicate music, how we create music by communicating… it doesn’t have to be notes on a staff or a guy who’s memorized/composed a piece waving his hands while walking backwards in a bateria… it could be a list of musical experiences through… it could be a practice of listening to the pieces mentioned in someone’s blog.
If I look at it the way my audience will perceive this… which is something I should have been doing all this time… it’s like when I look up “Groove is in the Heart” because it’s in a You’re Wrong About episode. No… it’s like when look up and I hear “Groove is in the Heart,” and dance, and look up related music, and dance more. The video is the score and the recording.
I’m just doing the next right thing.
Why did my composing survive? My dark water friend was a session musician. There is hope in technical knowhow. How the body. There is singing better, living better. I am a singer and I am a composer, and I am still a composer because I am a singer. I took a trade. I learned a skill. The humility of having something you’re good at that you’ll never be the best at but that you can get better at that’s physical and not all intellectual is a tethering rope.
Feb 25, 2021
6am 1 hour listened to “Groove is in the Heart,” read about gogo dancers, and gogo boots, because I used to wear my mom’s, and learned about agogô bells and samba drum lines. The only actual cultural connection from my family with Africa.
Feb 24, 2021
6pm 1 hour… didn’t do it
Feb 23, 2021
6pm 1 hour didn’t do it.
Feb 22, 2021
rest listening to Metallica Kill ’em All
Feb 21, 2021
6pm 1 hour forgot. But listened to the theme to Red Dwarf a few times. It’s totally different at the beginning and the end. There’s are some Liberace piano arpeggios in it, too, in the first version.
Feb 19, 2021
6pm 1 hour listened to Metallica Metallica (Feb. 20, 2021 Metallica Master of Puppets)
Feb 18, 2021
6pm 1 hour John Mayall Wake Up Call. “Nature’s Disappearing”…
Feb 16, 2021
6pm 1 hour did this one on the 17, John Mayall Turning Point. Once a blues musician hazed me by making me name an African American father or mother of blues. I said Willie Mae Thornton, but anyway, people who love rock and roll or alternative music or punk or whatever need to realize that the blues that underlies rock is a multiracial invention.
Feb 15, 2021
6pm 1 hour listening to John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers Bare Wires. Boy, “I Know Now” sounds like a revelation. And “Sandy” so that’s why people like the Rolling Stones. Goddamn. I think when I’m better rested I can hear better. And when I”m not in pain. Been trying to let my neck rest. I want to say more about the amazing timbres, from harpsichord to slide guitar, and the horns, each on a different track but blues throughout. What a palette. His singing is very froggy. Perfectly musical, but too pharyngeal to be mainstream acceptable. But wow, what a musician. And what an ensemble, or series of ensembles in each album and each track.
Feb 14, 2021
6pm 1 hour listened to John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers Hard Road and You’re Wrong About “Yoko Ono Broke up the Beatles”.
Feb 13, 2021
Feb 12, 2021
7:30am 1 hour listened to John Mayall The Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton. Man. Also learned about Maggie Mayall. I like the blues a lot, but whenever there’s a jazz influenced person like the previous, John Martyn, or also Keith Jarrett… I feel really conflicted. It’s in my soul. I should be doing that. I would be making music like that if I were playing music regularly. At least this project has taught me that: that of all the kinds of rock on this list, it’s the jazz inspired ones that are closest to my heart. Not Basie, though… it’s the later, cool jazz I relate to. Or maybe it’s the fusion of European classical music like Debussy with jazz. That makes sense. Brian’s teacher’s teacher… was Debussy. But I knew about it before that. Through Bartok? Through Vince Gueraldi and Dave Brubeck, Lee Evans… I always thought these people are not authentic enough because they’re not black, but they were doing something else, a fusion, similar to the fusion of the Bluesbreakers. They must have sounded so rough to English audiences! Being a mixed race person, there was some stuff for me to work out in regards to fusion.
It doesn’t seem like jazz is something I picked. It picked me. There were a lot of styles presented to me as a kid, but that one got in there. And yet the blues is fundamental to jazz. I don’t think it’s simplistic at all. It’s complete. And it has its own mores and culture and topics. So what is jazz, the kind I feel familiar with? It’s playful. It falls flat sometimes, which makes it treachurous for people who want to sound polished. It’s humble, and not formuleic. This is what separates it from the blues. There are more chords and multiple traditions of how to harmonize the chords colliding and interfering with each other in surprising ways.
It’s not for primetime. Yet the way of articulating the modes is as easy as the blues. There are formulas. There is improvisation. The words tend to be less important. Timbral experiments exist but not like in prog rock or classical music. Rhythm is negotiable. Rhythm is virtuosic and contains the expressive content. Especially rhythmic interaction. There can be choruses or refrains and repeated basslines, and as in the blues, these are stretched or traded for effect, though not nearly as thoroughly as in the blues. Also the songs structures and chords are so often new patterns, the role of tradition is less than with the blues. This is a chamber genre, foregrounding interactions among players as in European classical music, rather than showing off one person as in classic rock or the song or words as in folk rock or gospel, or the performance, as in stadium rock. It’s hard to listen to because you feel like you’re eavesdropping. Sometimes as with Keith Jarrett, it’s just one guy. I think, well anyone can do this. They make it look easy. Sometimes I make it look so easy that it’s easy to write off.
Sometimes I want that anonymity. But in the back of my mind I expect to get back into it, to be with other people making music, to exercise the power to drop the walls between us. In that moment it doesn’t matter who else is watching, which is where the teeth of capitalists grip. Music cannot remain an excludable commodity unless people forget how to love. Let me put that positively. Music can be the lingua franca for all hearts as it has been before as we remember how to love through these new technologies of connection.
Feb 10, 2021
7:30am 1 hour actually Feb 11 at dinner, listening to John Martyn Glorious Fool. Danny Thompson is the bassist. He also played before in Pentangle with Bert Jansch but then shifted to playing with John Martyn. That makes sense. John Martyn is much more abstractly musical than Bert Jansch, the consummate songwriter. John Martyn sings words only to get the vocal mechanism to work, and produces musical ideas with repeated simple lyrics. It’s a more instrumental way of singing, and the interaction with Thompson is fun to listen to.
Feb 9, 2021
listened to the rest of Well Kept Secret. The bass playing sounds good.
Feb 8, 2021
9am 1 hour listened to half of John Martyn Well Kept Secret.
Feb 7, 2021
9am 1 hour listened to “It’s Still Crystal Lake To Me (No Matter What They Call It In Part 6)” by The Jasons,
and watched short films: Toke with music composed by Paulo Gallo, played by Maria Laskowska, Bláthín Eckhardt, Julio Madrigal, Merle Green, Edgar Maggs, recorded by Pablo Wagner
and Kaduna with music composed by Anibal Sandoval with chorus by Gbagyi tribe, recorded by Khadijah Yunusa
and Dolly Parton, “The Grass is Blue”… all things shared with me from my social media. I love the diversity of my friends, and also the commonalities. Maybe I never listened to music on purpose before because I didn’t really want to get to know myself. Now’s a good as a time as any. Listening to lists of albums from the 70s because someone said they’re good is getting boring. I was looking at my cello bow today. Maybe I need to actually play music. Or maybe this is okay for now, too. Or maybe I never had time. I have less time than ever now, but things aren’t right for me unless I’m learning some music, writing some music, playing some music or singing some music, or listening to music and talking about music.
After graduating a couple years ago I think inertia just kept me going like a boat whose motor had been turned off. But… now it’s time to choose a destination. I’ve been to the mountain, and come back to the valley. And what I saw up there doesn’t make any sense in this new context as usual… but the habits of mind and the practices are still going… and maybe this is the time to trust myself.
Feb 6, 2021
10:30am 1 hour
Feb 5, 2021
9am 1 hour
(Feb 4 listened to John Martyn, Bless the Weather. Interesting use of bossa nova rhythms with the folk and the blues. It’s doesn’t quite work i.e. it’s not authentic, but it’s pleasant to listen to.)
Feb 3, 2021
January 31, 2021
9am 30 min. That line, “thinking you could leave without me,” feels like the line an abuser would say. The abuser who feels like the victim. Sad.
January 30, 2021
8:30am 30 min. Halsey, “Without Me” has been in my head since that last track on the Reynessy mixtape. Also looked up Reynessy’s album and video.
January 29, 2021
listened to Reynessy mixtape called Rhythm and Wraps. Liked it. Especially the last track, the thank you track.
January 28, 2021
9am 30 min.
listened to an album of Evil Needle remixes. Some of the songs were good. Rather negative for hiphop. I would guess this guy is writing for a white audience. Of the many kinds of hiphop, two are the kind black people make for themselves that’s really inspiring and uplifting, though it can talk about disturbing experiences, and hiphop white people make for other white people, where they use the topos and trappings of black culture to say things they can’t say any other way, like how damn bad they feel, or how left out, or how sad, broken, or unsuccessful. They inhabit the racist stereotype, and write from there. Then I started listening to his original tracks and it was even more depressing but also monotonous. It was free, though. I appreciate his taste in tracks to remix.
Let me know if you disagree, as always. These are flippant comments.
January 25, 2021
January 24, 2021
6:54am 30 min.
listened to Jusuf Islam, as I have for months, singing the call to prayer, and finally found out it was Cat Stevens
listened to Grace and Danger of John Martyn
January 23, 2021
6:54am 30 min. listened to the bird. listened to the rain.
January 20, 2021
6:56am 30 min.
listened to John Martyn, Solid Air
January 17, 2021
January 16, 2021
7:30am 30 min. listened to the birds an the beginnings of lawnmowers and hedge trimmers as it starts to get warm here. Read that trees scream if wounded or dry.
listening… Madonna Bedtime Stories. Meshell Ndegeocello?! And what sounds like very early chillhop. Wow. Amazing.
January 15, 2021
6:30am 30 min.
listening. Madonna Madonna. Wow, She’s got producer credit. She didn’t at first, but learned everything from the people she worked with. Also she was a dancer. When I think of her as a type of composer or producer/choreographer, it makes sense that her voice has flaws. She just tried to get it out there, the whole thing. Not as a polished musician, but as a competant person who had a whole vision.
January 14, 2021
6:30am 30 min.
listening. listened to a podcast instead of the minecraft music. much better experience. much less creepy and alienating.
January 11, 2021
6:30am 30 min.
listening Madonna Erotica and looked at some pictures from Sex, her book that came out with the album.
January 10, 2021
listening to Madonna Like a Virgin
January 9, 2021
6:30am 30 min. The birds, the leaf blowers… oh, because all the leaves have fallen. Many cars as well.
listening to F play the piano and sing again.
January 8, 2021
7am 30 min. Heard a lot of lawn mowers. Heard the monotony of the suburbs. Whipporwills or something though. Maybe doves.
listening Madonna Like a Prayer
January 7, 2021
7am 30 min. heard birds and someone saying hello to me.
listening … did the news tonight instead of music. Did listen to the minecraft theme music for a while:)
January 6, 2021
January 5, 2021
30 min walk, listened to some barking dogs. They were really upset today, and looked hungry and worried. I took a deep breath with them but they kept barking, so I resolutely turned my back on them and walked away. They stopped barking almost immediately and didn’t bark on me when I walk by that way again.
listening Bob Marley Burnin’ and Lootin’.
January 4, 2021
30 min. walk, listened to lots of cars and felt sad about Covid and about people going places.
listening heard F playing some songs he’s been working on. It’s nice to have live music at home.
January 3, 2021
30 min. walk; listened to mechanical sounds from people’s houses.
listening to Bob Marley Live from 1975.
January 2, 2021
30 min. walk; listen did listen. there were bird portamentos and a lot of leaf blowers across the valley
listened to Bob Marley Natty Dread Good title for a loving album. Couldn’t handle reggae or Mr. Rogers in my twenties. Glad I’ve gotten used to emotions.
December 30, 2020
dawn 30 min. This is too much.
walk 30 min.
3pm 30 min.
December 29, 2020
dawn 30 min. slept in. It was a rough night.
walk 30 min. Did 15, listened to birds. Noticed the mockingbird in our front yard for the first time in a while later in the day.
3pm 30 min. Took my youngest to the park and threw the ball back and forth and listened to him.
listening finished Bob Marley Catch a Fire. Surprised that the message of love was so unified across genres and culturap products in the 1960s.
December 28, 2020
dawn 30 min. listened to the rain.
walk 30 min. listened to the rain and cars
3pm 30 min. Lo fi washing dishes and talking to the kids. I’ve never put on music to relax before.
listening Bob Marley Catch a Fire
December 24, 2020
7am 30 min. um… read in my son’s book that the same part of the brain that works when we’re listening to music also activates when we are listening to other sounds. so… thought about allowing sound in on my morning walks as a sort of practice.
3pm 30 min. I don’t think we did this one.
listening to Legend by Bob Marley
December 23, 2020
7am 1 hour got one tiny step closer to being able to hook up a controller to a laptop
3pm half hour nothin
listening nothing. this is too much to ask. I scheduled it out so that I could work the sweet spot of 24 hours a week at music. But I can’t. It’s too draining. I’m unable to concentrate on music and keeping house. It’s too much. It’s not the time. It’s the mental energy. Going back to what worked this summer.
December 22, 2020
7am 1 hour…um it’s cold. Didn’t want to get out of bed. put an option by my bed for tomorrow.
330pm thirty minutes Listened to Kermit Unpigged.
listened to Little Feat Little Feat.
December 21, 2020
8am 1 hour. slept in. But think now I’m caught up on sleep. Darkest day of the year. Getting lighter from now on. This is not the happiest time of the year at all. It’s propaganda that it is. It’s the darkest, coldest time. But we all agree to gather together. We can get together and try to make it nice without believing that it isn’t dark.
3:30pm music time. Listened to Raffy’s Christmas album.
listening – listened to F playing Christmas carols on the piano.
December 20, 2020
2pm 2 hours. Took the Harvard music lab musical IQ test again. Figured out that if I tap along with the rhythm, I’m above average at that. Otherwise, below average. Slightly above average at pitch patterns; way above average at tuning. Makes sense. I tried to learn that as a singer.
6pm 1 hour. Started to listen to Little Feat Little Feat. This is silly. It’s overwhelming. I like 3:30 music time a lot. Dinner music is sometimes ok but sometimes it’s too much. I think having listening time be flexible seemed to work well toward the end of the summer. Getting up before everyone is essential.
I’m grateful the worst problem I face is scheduling time to do music.
December 19, 2020
around dawn 1 hour slept in, went for a walk, thought about things being half baked
10:30 half hour colored anatomy
1pm 1 hour colored anatomy
3pm 1 hour colored anatomy
6pm 1 hour listened to Little Feat Dixie Chicken
after book cuddle time 1 hour
December 18, 2020
around dawn, 1 hour slept in but did go for walk.
3:30 half an hour took a nap and was sleeping
5pm 1 hour did exercises instead of this but at dinner, listened to Little Feat, Sailin’ Shoes.
after book-cuddle time, 1 hour colored the spinal chord and parasympathetic division.
December 17, 2020
around dawn, 1 hour slept in. Did color the spinal nerves for 15 min.
3:30pm half an hour listened to the radio with the kids while reading to them and cuddling. Remembered that Reggaetón was the thing in 2005 in Pasadena.
6pm 1 hour Little Feat The Last Record Album
December 16, 2020
on waking up and getting ready, 1 hour. helped my son with his handwriting. i used to have really bad music handwriting, but then improved it.
3:30pm half an hour. listened to “We Wish You a T-Rexmas” and other dinosaur Christmas carols.
dinner 1 hour. Listened to Christmas music. Yesterday, listened to Little Feat, Feats, Don’t Fail Me Now
December 14, 2020
on waking up, after getting ready: 1 hour slept in and missed this one. Realized that there are some expectations I’m putting on myself about what I will do early in the morning which don’t need to be there. It can by anything.
Someone once said to me, “Just stick with music,” in the context of a conversation about artists who switch disciplines or become multi-disciplinary. I agree with that. It’s like a marriage. Unless it’s really not the right one in some sense, the ups and downs are part of the experience. I can no longer wake up because I want to be like Beethoven. I’m not sure where I’m headed now. There are lots of projects. I’ll probably still do more Fux at some point but the underlying questions are changing.
I wanted to be famous because I wanted everyone to love me when I couldn’t love myself, but that’s changing. In my own skin is an okay place. The other reason was to have enough money to be comfortable and have some freedom. That’s there. Community was another reason, and that’s there as well. Finally, opportunities for intellectual challenge that come with being known and invited to do things. Hello, Maslo:) It’s alright coming up with challenges on my own. The work seems endless regardless of who’s involved. This isn’t a paean to being alone and an individual, or an invitation to sell every person the means of production to every artist and make the music industry into a solipsism farm. No.
What is the yes? Yes to when you’re going through hell, keep going. Yes to the people in music who are my community. Yes to other communities in music. Yes to having a family and lots of responsibilities and still keeping an inner flame of art going. Yes to music. Yes to learning how to be a member of the audience for the first time, and asking, “How does one contribute as a listener? How does one recognize and develop and offer up the bubblings within?”
There were two communities with a very strained relationship to criticism: members of the Hoover Institute, and the new music community. For one, journalists were pesky and didn’t understand. For the other, musicologists. Why say this? Doesn’t seem right. It’s like a villain in Scooby Doo saying, “Pesky kids, asking too many questions!”
It’s possible to respond, “Yes well, you would compose if you actually could, but you can’t, so you pick on your old friends and write about race and stuff.” That is a question that has tormented me, but here’s the thing. The only way to avoid race is to only think about music that’s made by people who don’t think about race. And people of color in communities of color usually think about… not the nature of race, so much, but the divisions, the names, the experience. We should say, they think about racism. When I think about racism, too, it causes that little tickle of shame and recognition that means I’m entering an area forbidden by my previous ideology. We’ve taken the diamond cutter to the glass bubble and it’s jiggling and making vibrations. Every time this has ever happened before, there’s been good stuff on the other side.
We decided that even though radio djs were playing Led Zeppelin because they didn’t want us listening to disco or house anymore after disco demolition night and that is aggravating, Led Zeppelin still a was good band, possibly the best.
3:30pm half an hour gave youngest a piano lesson.
dinner 1 hour listened to Houses of the Holy by Led Zeppelin.
December 13, 2020
after zoom meeting 2 hours Listened to Keihatzu Beats for Relaxation by Raimu and was surprised that after the first four tracks, they kept repeating for the hour. Raining Nagoya was the same way, Studio Ghibli Chill Music Collection, and then back to Chilled Cow. I prefer when the songs keep changing like the radio when I need to do work at the same time.
dinner 1 hour listened to Led Zeppelin eponymous album.
December 12, 2020
6:30am 1 hour read Dr. Faustus and finally finished the devil chapter
10:30am half an hour… colored anatomy about nerves
1pm 1 hour listened to Zep IV and Zep II
3pm 1 hour listened to Led Zeppelin Physical Graffitti
6pm 1 hour talked a lot about why I wanted to compose before because I wanted to be famous, but actually it was the intellectual challenge, but realizing that it’s important to be an informed audience member as well.
about 8:30 or 9, 1 hour Colored and listened to a podcast about the O.J. Simpson trial, and then looked up Michael Bolton’s “Completely” video.
December 11, 2020
6am 1 hour, possibly while watching kids; depends when they get up. Got up late; still managed to read for half an hour about da man dem Jungle. I remember it being sketchy to say you liked Jungle, but I always did. It was the best to dance to.
3:30pm half an hour while watching kids. I like this one the best. We’ve been listening to Raffy. I love his vocal production.
5pm 1 hour while watching kids, but not thankfully also cooking dinner. Struggled here. Wasn’t really prepared, and put off other stuff I had to do during this time. Did watch a Two-set violin video about taking care of health, so I didn’t my stretches and stuff and didn’t worry about it.
6pm 1 hour with whole family – listened to Kiss, Penis Gun. wait, I mean, Love Gun.
about 8:30pm or whenever F is done his exercises, 1 hour. Listened to a podcast while I colored anatomy about nerves because F watched a voice video where she said to watch a TED talk about vulnerability and I said that’s what I struggled with most, learning to sing. I always wanted to push my chest because I didn’t feel comfortable showing emotion.
December 9, 2020
6am 1 hour worked on installing Gentoo on my old laptop with the working USB ports so I can have a synthesizer that plays in any temperament .
exercise/walk time yep
listening: Kiss Alive
December 7, 2020
6:30am 30 min. Listened to a song by Justin Timberlake produced by Pharrell Williams while listening to a podcast about Janet Jackson’s “warddrobe incident”.
December 4, 2020
6:35am 15 min. I’m going to start writing again. There is worth and truth in what I’m saying, according to the dream dictionary interpretation of the dream I had last night. Love you. We’ll get through this together. Also I realized it’s impossible for me to get motivated to get up just to read something. Maybe some listening early in the morning. Or at least looking at a score or composing.
December 2, 2020
6:35am 15 min.
December 1, 2020
6:35am 15 min.
November 30, 2020
6:30am 15 min. I can also say if I failed to do anything. Today I did something.
November 29, 2020
November 28, 2020
6:35am 15 min. I’m getting really sick up coming up with something I did each day. It’s hard to work on long term projects this way. I’ll still write what time I’m working and for how long, and check in once in a while, but no more virtue-sharing.
November 27, 2020
listened to Kiss, Dressed to Kill and “She” is from “Foxy Lady” but not as good, but “Rock Bottom” and “C’mon and Love Me” are good. They’re honest, at least. Their music is so simplistic after listening to this house music!
November 26, 2020
November 25, 2020
6:30am 20 min. Went for a long walk and thought about the Miranda Lambert song I listened to yesterday, and about the devil chapter in Dr. Faustus. Read in Wikipedia that one of the inspirations for the music discussed was the opera, Palestrina by Hans Pfizner. Listened to the last hour or so of that.
November 24, 2020
6:30am 30 min. Had to sleep in. Rough night; kid nightmares about nuclear war from reading the history book to them at bedtime. Listened to a good Miranda Lambert song, “Old Shit”. She sounds completely in the style of country, not Nashville country but older country… but makes it come off up to date and natural. That word, natural! Totally let’s it be new when it needs to be, lets her voice crack or not when it needs to, and the band is amazing on this. Let’s the lyrics be about old emotional baggage even as it’s about antiques, and the antiques, the old America all those old little towns like mine aspire(d) to is a type of emotional baggage, too.
Musically, although she slides to many notes, she always gets to the perfectly in tune notes. In the band, I noticed the exceptional fiddler, who does the same thing. Both of them are free with rhythm, except for certain beats which they hit dead on. The fiddler is Glen Duncan; the contrabass player is Glenn Worf.
Yesterday read more of the devil chapter in Dr. Faustus. That is a wicked chapter. It’s long. It’s emotional. It’s contrarian, and it’s taking me to some weird places. Gettin’ through it with help. The present is helping. This dilemma of the modernist composer is boring to me now. There is no contradiction between authenticity and musical progress unless you confine yourself to the piano. Pick up your cello. But I guess men who sing an octave lower than me would need to pick up their contrabass, which is a bit heavier and unweildy. Women, pick up your cello and write.
Musicology is indispensible… but writing notes gets me up in the morning.
November 23, 2020
6:30am 30 min. Reading some more All Crew Muss Big UP and listening to Jungle Book: Intelligent Minds of Jungle Vol. 1 and trying to understand how this music resonated with me so much when I encountered it in Colorado and at Burning Man, even though I hadn’t heard it growing up. Looked at airplane flight graphs, and Boston to London is a very busy flight corridor, so there was back and forth… but I never heard it. I heard a little old school hip hop. Finally the race thing fell away. It’s step dancing. It’s the Irish/Scottish element of it that appealed to me. Seen from the eyes of an outsider, an anthropologist to this Irish/Scottish/English/Welsh world, combined with Ragga okay, and that gave it interest, a new political dimension, something beyond an old-timey obsession that I grew up around, bring back the dying white people culture, but this did bring it back in a new life. Or showed it in a new way. It sounds like I’m minimizing the Jamaican element. More to follow. Step dancing went to Jamaica, Cuba, and Puerto Rico and came back to England again a changed thing. It was a mixed scene in London. Whereas I think the ragga or reggae scene was more just black people.
The bassline is like… there’s step dancing on top and something else underneath, something that makes things sway back and forth. Something that reminds me of how we danced to filmi music, but a lot faster and more intricate. Somehow it had elements that let me express many of the styles of dance I had done before, but in one dance.
All I can do off the top of my head is talk about race and my life experiences. I’m not doing the music justice. Maybe the tracks are different from each other. Maybe the structure of the album is interesting. But I think the specific dance references in the rhythms and the bassline are interesting.
Growing up, we always talked about Scotland as something long lost, in the past, great, something we could potentially revive our culture but we never really could, especially as we were mixed race. I think those same issues might have been present for Jamaicans and other members of the African diaspora in London, and I think within London, there were probably also Scottish people, Irish, Eastern Europeans, all people looking for their lost homeland. Even just struggling with technologoy and modernity and techno music, and especially jungle, spoke to all of that.
I guess it’s so easy to sample, there’s something there potentially for everyone. Lots of Indians in London, too. Their beats feel like they’re in there, too. It’s the subjects of the former empire dealing with the end of the empire. A counter interpretation would be that without an actual empire, at least they could rule a sonic empire. Maybe it’s both.
The movie, Requiem for a Dream was about the impossibility of good race relations, and conflated the rave scene with heroin abuse. So sad. But the race scene wasn’t about heroin and it was very loving. In the US, too.
November 19, 2020
6:30am 15 min. Read a little of this book about the Jungle scene, All Crew Muss Big Up: Some Journeys Through Jungle, Drum and Bass Culture and listened to the tracks it mentioned: Shut Up and Dance “5,6,7,8”, “£20 to Get In”, the Ragga Twins “Hooligen 69”, part of The Prodigy What Evil Lurks and Voodoo People, which was a sad sellout; Lenny Dee Ice “We Are E”, part of LTJ Bukem Logical Progression, part of GTA Vice Fever 105, which was not even sad, it was like a complete misunderstanding and really lewd; Reinforced, “Internal Affairs” and then I watched All Junglists A London Someting Dis, a 1994 BBC documentary.
November 18, 2020
15 min. after I wake up, 15 min. This didn’t work; it needs to be a time.
November 17, 2020
dawn, 15 min. Man, The Kinks’ To the Bone is my favorite album after Nirvana: Unplugged and Nevermind. The songwriting is so tight. The riffs are so iconic and so weird and they cover so much stylistic ground within rock – from reggae to rawkous punk to The Beatles.
November 16, 2020
dawn, 15 min. For classical musicians, especially Jews, it must have been hard to appreciate Wagner and all the romantic music after the holocaust and after this music was popularized the Soviet Union in order to suppress other modernist or “formalist” developments. And yet, Wagner’s music and the long tradition of tonal music has value. In a completely less extreme way, it’s hard to deal with classic rock after realizing that it was used as propaganda to replace contemporary black music and social movements of the 1990s. However, classic rock is still good. I can love both. I can study both. As one of the You’re Wrong About hosts put it, “We can take it all in. We’re strong enough do to that.”
The Kinks’ “Black Messiah” rubs me the wrong way because they put the words “racial equality” on the minor six chord. uh oh! There’s another song called, “Out of the Wardrobe,” about a person of color who is a cross dresser, where the words in the bridge, “he’s only living out a fantasy” fall on a nice V I cadence. So why can’t the black dude in the first song be living out a fantasy? Why can’t that be okay? Because, as in the last song, “Get Up,” he’s a working class guy who’s taking it from the left and the right, and he’s threatened by the civil rights movement. His job is literally threatened by affirmative action. The Race Relations Act was passed in the UK in 1976 by the labor party, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race in hiring. This album was published in 1978. They’re all really good songs… but I really want to know what that rasta music he was spoofing in the first song was saying at the time.
Listened to The Kinks, The Misfits.
November 15, 2020
rest. This is messed up. After disco demolition night, all the radio stations turned from disco to classic rock. I grew up with a reactionary movement. Until I found techno. My favorite was jungle and drum and bass. How? How did I know those east coast beats from Jamaica by way of England? There was the banana boat song, and louie louie, and la bamba, and the Fugees… but… anyway it’s getting harder and harder to listen to people like The Kinks when I know this blues based music was just pushed on my generation in order to minimize the music black people were making right then… or maybe it was just good old New England conservatism, in music as in anything else. Wait and see till the new stuff is well tested. But there must have been a racial aspect. These were mostly people who moved away from Boston and Connecticut to find an older, whiter truth.
In fact, when we went back to visit a few years ago, the old-timey marketing vibe was in full swing, with antiques and ordinances about what houses have to look like and whether people can live in trailers. Growing up, that’s just the way it was. It was us against them. Then I found out I’m them. Now it’s me against myself. It doesn’t have to be, though.
November 14, 2020
November 13, 2020
dawn, 15 min. Worked for almost an hour! Wrote about how music handles contradictions (multiple different meters or rhythmic patterns; the stable chords within a tonality or stable keys within a temperament) and how writing handles contradictions – the question, the narrative, the intext citation.
Decided to print out a piece of mine that has a bunch of chords in different inversions and write a bassline to it.
Asked the questions, “where does Hanslick talk about meaning in music in his reviews? What does he say?” Decided to try to get an idea of exactly what texts of his I have access to, and what texts I don’t. Some of them are already in modern text. I think there was a website that had the articles from the archived newspapers. Those are in Fraktur. No problem!
November 12, 2020
5:45am 15 min. Try again tomorrow. This is too early. Especially after putting my eldest son to bed until 10:30pm.
November 11, 2020
5:45am 15 min. This guy who wrote a choral piece that was sung at Barack Obama’s inauguration told me not to give up, that if there were days when there was just too much work and I couldn’t compose, to try again tomorrow, but to never say that I can’t. So. I’ll try again tomorrow.
November 10, 2020
5:30am wake up; 5:45am 15 min. 6am; long walk. wrote out some chords in 7 clef systems: treble; soprano, mezzo, alto, tenor, baritone, bass. If you write out the harmonic series starting on the bass, the top four staves have the same notation – it looks like the same note, because they’re spaced in thirds. Love it!
November 9, 2020
6:18am 20 min. Sleep debt. Couldn’t get out of bed until after my youngest woke up. Realized daylight savings changed my schedule. I had been waking up at 6:30. I need to wake up at 5:30 to keep it constant. But the eldest doesn’t fall asleep until 10:30… maybe he’ll fall asleep earlier if I’m completely wiped from getting up so early. This doesn’t sound like a healthy plan.
November 8, 2020
7:30am 20 min. Read Dr. Faustus and looked up “dici et non faci,” something that weighs on me always. Loving to write about music is not actually doing music… but there are insights. Balance. Balance.
November 7, 2020
6:30am 20 min. Read Dr. Faustus and Hanslick’s reviews. I love the original theme music from You’re Wrong About. It’s so down, yet playful, and it has a nice crescendo/decrescendo.
November 6, 2020
6:30am 30 min. Practiced clefs in bass and treble. Looked up the different clefs. Wikipedia and Grove both list 9 clefs: sub-bass, bass, baritone, tenor, alto, mezzo, soprano, treble, and violin clef, but my clef quizing software lists only seven, leaving off the highest and lowest. I like seven.
November 5, 2020
6:15am 30 min. This is hard. Today I practiced key signatures for five minutes because my finger accidentally swiped over a bookmark in my toolbar for that exercise while I was shopping for books. That’s what I did.
November 4, 2020
7am 30 min. This time doesn’t work because my kid gets up and asks for breakfast.
November 3, 2020
7am 30 min. Worked on the song I wrote on Sunday. Had a dream whose message was, “you don’t need to be more rational” but “you need some clarity” and lots of stuff about taking a test and lining up dots.
October 31, 2020
October 30, 2020
6:30am 30 min. Listening to The Kinks The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, which begins with a really weird eponymous track, reminds me of Jethro Tull, “Living in the Past,” because it’s an ironic song about being traditional. But… the music is really traditional, so it’s not really lying. And if you believe the argument that rock is a steam valve for social protest, it’s relevant. Also Face to Face.
October 29, 2020
6:30am 30 min. Listened to B.B. King Lucille. Wrote something.
October 28, 2020
6:30am 30 min. Was losing steam with Fux because I had no way to play the examples, not trusting the piano. So, I busted out the violin and sang along. And the cello. For the four part examples, I’m hoping to get my old computer working with a keyboard in some temperaments, because this computer’s USB ports don’t work. Also wrote a few measures of whatever and played that too. Listened to Have You Heard George’s Podcast, the episode 17 where he gives a history of black music. He describes where jungle came from. I love to dance to jungle. That’s why salsa music made sense to me, similar rhythmic patterns. Need to learn all about it.
October 27, 2020
6:30am 30 min. Listened to the Halliard ensemble performing Ockeghem’s Missa Prolationum. How are they so good? Probably because I first heard them (also singing Arvo Pärt) at an impressionable age. And there are funky chords in there! Listened to Imogen Heap Sparks and spent the evening tracing her influences. Seal, and the bassline of his song, “Killer,” which I’m pretty sure is that same timbre as Nicolette, “No Government”. Reread the articles about the music we like when we’re 16. Read about “Genre” in Musicology: The Key Concepts. Taught a couple of kids how to tune their violin and trumpet and played with recording notes and analyzing the overtone spectrum. That was surprising to them, that there could be more than one note in one note. Hence the term, “chord” which means string. Listening to Have You Heard George’s Podcast while putting the kids to bed. Listening to “Must Be,” by J Hus.
October 26, 2020
6:30am 30 min. Rebarred “The Path to Han Shan’s House” and played it with cello, writing out the basline. I wasn’t thinking about counterpoint I guess, when I wrote it, so the bassline often goes down when the voice does and up when the voice goes up, but that fits the text. Also, there’s a secret! It turns out the last question, “body asking shadow, ‘how do you keep up?'” is answered in the music, the B on the word “do” to the E at the very end, the echo without voice, spells “be”.
Been translating some of Eduard Hanslik’s Die Moderne Oper. It must have been the one Dr. Pedroza was reading because just in the first lines it talks about the critic as musical statistitian – the concert review as a snapshot of history.
October 24, 2020
6:30am half an hour… what did I do…? Read about “Emotion” in Musicology: The Key Concepts.
October 23, 2020
Listened to B.B. King There is Always One More Time
October 22, 2020
October 21, 2020
rest. Felix wanted to hear Richard Strauss so we listened to Thus Spake Zarathustra. I also listened to “The Logic Song,” by Super Tramp after hearing it was Princess Dianna’s favorite band. I’m listening to a podcast about her. Both pieces of music struck me as being particularly intense and enveloping today. Somehow I listened to them more like I listened to the “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” the other day. I saw more in them. The depth seemed more detailed.
October 20, 2020
9:30am, half an hour. Listened to the rest of B. B. King Live at San Quentin. Did the Farinelli exercise; read the introduction to Forsyth’s orchestration book, wherein it mentioned that the technique for the cross strung or chromatic harp died with the last teacher at the Paris Conservitoire, looked it up, and it was revived in California in 1987. Listened to some recordings of people playing Bach pieces and Chopin pieces on the chromatic harp. Amazing. It’s like a little piano, and they can play both courses of strings with both hands. There’s also a Welsh triple harp (also an Italian version) that Monteverdi would have been familiar with, where the chromatic notes are on the inner strings. That was a continuo instrument. Why did we go back to the diatonic harp with peddles? A lot of people were killed in World War II, the forward to Forsyth says. That’s why the orchestra went from Right of Spring size to Histoire du Soldat. Not just a simple creative decision or aesthetic choice or people like Schoenberg couldn’t afford a whole orchestra when they were first starting out. A whole generation of musicians was decimated. And the instruments, themselves, and the sheet music, and the learning. It’s amazing.
Set up the rock band drum set for the kids. Discussed teaching theory with a friend. After this year and a half of listening, I can finally talk intelligently about popular American music. And it feels much less dogmatic when I do, simply because the nuances are there, in my memory, to draw upon.
My son needed a flu shot and we talked about how bravery means being scared but acting anyway. So I told him all about moving to Pasadena with nowhere to stay and no job after college, before classes at Pasadena City College started. How scared, how precarious. How every job for the next four years barely paid rent while I dumpster-dived for food and rode my bike around. How desperate I felt in New York in 2008 when the financial crisis came and in 2009 when I lost my job, and how I left all my belongings on the street like so many had before me (that’s where I got clothes to wear and furniture when I first moved there), and went to Burning Man. How brave I was, but also how lucky, how my friends were there, and how I needed my friends and they needed me. But also how much music we all made together. How much time there was to talk and make music. How privileged that the friends that had gone to Stanford had friends who could hook me up with gigs or jobs. How lucky that my dad owned his house, so when he passed away I got some money, and how fortunate that my parents taught me to save my money by buying certificates of deposit.
Up until this moment I thought I was going to write, “and how fortunate and undeserving that I met someone who could work and support us…” but that’s how we’re shaped. Men help each other out to get jobs even more, because they know they need to support women while they’re having children. Women have children, and despite what people do, unless it’s absolutely necessary, I can’t see how a person could want to go back to work soon after, unless somehow you were being paid to do what you would have done anyway, or afraid of losing some opportunity in the future. Me, I realize now that what I found in a husband was a job – a difficult, sometimes thankless job, a job whose terms must be negotiated privately, even though they involve exactly the same kinds of things regular jobs have, like pay, health insurance, time off, and feedback. I don’t mean to suggest that biological sex=life role. Just the opposite. I think it’s a social construction. Part of the reason I was allowed to do music was that no one thought I would have to support myself. It was extremely damaging.
It would have been helpful to know that I wouldn’t be answering those help-wanted ads again after I had kids, partly because I would have made exactly enough money to pay for childcare and the packaged food I wouldn’t be cooking. Partly because to breastfeed as long as they want and have more than one kid means you have to be available at home most of the day. Partly because I wasn’t available anymore, so most of those job opportunities dried up. Partly because it actually takes a lot of work to keep a place clean when you have kids. Having kids wasn’t expensive… because I did all that. Why do I still feel guilty, then? Habit? Feeling the insecurity of our situation through the feelings of my husband. I guess it’s where I locate the devil. If the government paid for everything, I would locate it in environmental degredation or censorship. If we were hunter-gatherers, the vissicitudes of nature. Things could be better and I wish we didn’t have to struggle to feel safe, but the precarious feeling, the one that allows and necessitates my bravery in the first place, is mine.
I will always already be okay. I will always already feel the need to be vigilant. And I can change the mix. I can balance it a little more evenly. This website has shown me that I am constantly doing a little. It also motivates me to continue to do a little, especially on days when it just feels so unfair. Why couldn’t all of us just have had what we needed to be able to make music without fear of starving? Why can’t we have more community members involved in raising our children, so that it feels like the town I grew up in? Why do I have to be so far from home. Why don’t I already know how to compose a symphony? I do know how. This is how. And since this is the only question I can answer right now, we’re going to do it. Maybe someone knows the answer to a different question and they can show me, while I show them how to write a symphony.
Why do I still think in this day and age that it’s worth trying to write music? Why would that be something anyone would want? Let’s be brave here. In World War II, we lost an entire generation of musicians but we have the cross-strung harp back already. And as an American, things like Quincy Jones wrote came out of a notated tradition. Thriller only happened through a mind versed in notated music. Jazz, Salsa, big band swing, all notated. We don’t need to preserve these genres. But we have this craft, half-forgotten, very rewarding, good for the brain, beautiful. We have these means, this wealth to share. Much like homemaking skills and childcare, it’s completely undervalued. Childcare is necessary for our survival. Music… helps us think better and communicate our feelings and feel the feelings of others and identify ourselves with tribes. If we lived in a perfect totalitarian system we wouldn’t need to talk to each other. It would all come down from above, as most music does. So music is good for the kind of world I want to live in, for the kind of community I yearn for and know is possible, and so comforting.
So actually, how to write a symphony is a part of the answer to the other questions: how to value musicians’ lives, how to help more people to get along while they raise kids in a community, how to send love back home, how to participate in a community from afar in a detailed, emotional way. And to extend this, how to give back the resources white people stole from all other groups of people. We made sugarcane for white people. We ate cake and composed chamber music. I’m biracial. How do I balance it? We learned to read music from white people, then wrote our music down, mixed with theirs. I’m synesthetic. How do I balance it? I see-hear what they show-play and when I listen, I remember the picture. I’m genderqueer. I hold the hammer, the shovel, and the rolling pin. I’m a member of the green party and I think we need a multiparty system. I’m not a conservative trying to bring back the glorious classical era, or a modernist neoliberal trying to use a self-tuning keyboard to fix everything.
I’m just holding a conversation because it’s the right thing to do. It’s in my heart coming through hints and suggestions from you. I act in faith and I’m scared so I’m brave.
October 19, 2020
6:30am, half an hour. Listened to “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” with the score, and most of the album of Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes by the pianist Takahashi. Also listened to the Adagio ascribed to Albinoni conducted by Karajan.
October 18, 2020
6:30am, half an hour. Wrote a few bars with harmony. Played the cello with F while he sang and played guitar. Listened to Respighi’s Roman Trilogy.
October 17, 2020
6:30am, half an hour. Read most of the article on theory in Musicology: The Key Concepts. Listened to part of B. B. King Live at San Quentin. Also listened to Portishead because I read an article about the music music theorists analyze, and many articles have been written about this artist for some reason. I have to say, if they pick rock and pop music to analyze as a departure from classical repertoire, you’d think they would pick some of the best but that doesn’t seem to be the case. It seems they picked whatever was to hand.
October 16, 2020
630am, half an hour. Listed down all the music I played an heard between 12 and 22, decided not to try to make a unified field theory by studying physics and then composing music about it. Decided to use the grandness of physics as a metaphor and do what the physicists do instead: learn the basics, respect the classics, climb the tower.
October 15, 2020
6am, half an hour. Read about analysis. Listening to B.B. King Deuces Wild. Also read a couple of articles of “Mix Rescue” from Sound on Sound and listened to the before and after recordings.
October 14, 2020
6am, one hour. Wrote about hermeneutics. Saw a cover of “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” and found the only cover of it by a black person, Eric Heartbreak, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mtwZT6ZWmM&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR2hzNo3swRMEi7ydgMG-ItC3F2abFD1dJGfOV0oUppXMhmMi2HTSLoRgZw
October 13, 2020
6:30am half an hour. Read about hermeneutics.
October 11, 2020
6:30am half an hour. Read even more musicology and got bogged down in details without questions.
October 10, 2020
6:30am half an hour. Read all the musicology.
October 9, 2020
6:30am half an hour Listened to BB King Live At the Rebal
October 5, 2020
5:30am 1 hour Listened to Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy by Elton John.
October 3, 2020
October 2, 2020
5:30 1 hour. Listened to Tumbleweed Connection and Elton John by Elton John yesterday. Today read about the difference between logic and superstition. Been installing linux for the last few weeks. Thinking about how a computer is a big interactive book, math is a set of arbitrary agreements, and music is divided into three conceptual parts for me: the symbol area – the math or computer language part where the sounds patterns or rhythms or harmonies mean something only in combination with each other and with other musical patterns that have been agreed upon arbitrarily, the socio-psychophysical effect area – the part where those combinations of sounds or symbols that are part of our collective consciousness affect us emotionally and therefore physically, and the physiological – the part where the sound patterns or rhythms or harmonies or timbres directly affect our bodies or our bodies directly create them.
Actually instead of three, it’s probably more of a set of discreet affects that correspond to the different hormones secreted by the different glands of the endocrine system and the different electrical pathways in our bodies, multiplied by the different parts of our minds and ways memories are encoded and communication is sent and received, and sent without us knowing it, and received without us knowing it. And it could probably be conceptualized differently depending how many different social groups one belongs to and how information is transferred around, and maybe also by environmental factors like how far sound carries in different ecosystems, and what other animals or machines make sounds, and how important decoding those sounds is for survival.
And of course every living thing in this story has unique DNA and is an individual with their own history and special potential. I got annoyed at the book’s description of superstition, because it sounded like it was saying anything that can’t be consciously comprehended and argued doesn’t matter… but it does matter! I must grasp at the knowableness of music and its processes, even if they can only be tested later. I must make my hypotheses and do my imperfect experiments. Along the way there are definitely lesser truths, ones that I know for me, at least, are true. I understand so much more about singing than I did. I understand what to do in my body to make the precise sound that I want, and I understand what other people are doing to make the sounds they make.
I don’t understand completely why singing with the cello, I can sing with less tension, but I have a hypothesis. I think it’s because it’s a continuous sound that even gets louder as it plays, as opposed to a piano, which klinks and then dies away. When I try to blend with the piano, I use my voice to make a sharp attack, then decrescendo. Decrescendo is one of the hardest things to do, and unless one keeps the support very steady, it will cause tension and also a bending forward. Also, the cello note stays constant in pitch as it sustains, whereas the piano notes get sharper because of high string tension, so when I try to blend, I have to get sharper, which increases tension.
Also Paul Buckmaster’s arrangements are amazing.
September 30, 2020
September 28, 2020
5:45am 1 hour uh… sang on my walk. that’s about it. thought about whether i could be doing more, whether we could be leading the transition as the people rise up, and helping make peace where people are threatened.
September 27, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. Rearranged my table, put a couple of books I’m not working with away.
September 26, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. Listening to Baroque Duet a documentary about a concert with Winston Marsalis and Kathleen Battle.
September 25, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. Watched a documentary about Marion Anderson
September 24, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. Listened to a Livecast recorded in 2012 by the Carolina Chocolate Drops. The last song, “Country Girl,” is singing with a cello. It’s the best way.
September 23, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. Did breathing exercise. Listened to Elton John, Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road.
September 22, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. Listened to Kendrick Lamar, Damn. One of the most interesting things was at the end of the song, “Fear,” how his dad or someone is talking about how black people are the people of Israel who abandoned God and everything has been going wrong for them because they need to come back to God. A song earlier, he talks about how no one is praying for him. At the end of the quote, the man says he’s praying for him… but after an entire song about fear and reasons for fear that are usually upheld in the black community, like disciplining kids severely, actually that religion could be a cause for fear but simultaneously a source of love. It could be read as the answer to the song about fear, or the ultimate cause of fear. Or both. I don’t think I could set a psalm to music, not because they’re not beautiful poems… although a lot of them seem judgemental… but because of my associations with that institution. But where do we go without it? Can we go through it to someplace else?
Did Farinelli’s exercise and wrote out the cello part for the first Lamperti exercise. When I sing it with piano, I just can’t place my voice. Voice felt off today. Been eating too many delicious mangoes that I’m slightly allergic to.
September 21, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. Read some Psalms.
September 20, 2020
rest. Listened to Jethro Tull Aqualung. Colored sensory cells and neurons. Practiced breath exercise and sang one of Lamperti’s exercises with the cello. Played the viola to show my son what glissandi are when we heard them in Jethro Tull. He calls them “police sirens”.
September 19, 2020
5:45am 1 hour Listened to Jethro Tull Songs from the Wood and Thick as a Brick. Listened to a concert of Raffi.
September 18, 2020
September 17, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. This passage seems to exemplify what Taruskin calls out as careless historiography – assigning no agency or responsibility to those composers, academics, board members, and musicians who helped close the door on black classical music in the US in the 1950s.
“As the roots of jazz, gospel and the blues began to spread, so did the beginnings of an African-American classical music canon. By the 1930s, audiences were lining up to hear major orchestras perform works by black composers like William Levi Dawson, William Grant Still and Florence Price. Dawson’s 1934 Negro Folk Symphony premiered at the Philadelphia Orchestra and received a standing ovation during its second performance at Carnegie Hall. But due to a number of factors, including the rise of modernism (an atonal musical style at odds with traditional melodies and rhythms) and run-of-the-mill racism (a refusal to hire black performers), those opportunities dried up. ” from here: https://reasonstobecheerful.world/future-classical-music-diversity/
Started reading about medieval music and history. Trying to do this thing called composing my way through the Taruskin Challenge. But I can’t until there’s music. So… it’s not so much about Taruskin’s ideas and composing in response to them, or about the bloggers and their ideas… but about composing a lot of pastiches and having some friends along for the ride, or at least riding along a nice trail premade, packed down earth through lovely forests, blazes on rocks.
Listened to most of Jethro Tull, Stand Up. I really like “Living in the Past.” The song, not the act. Their sense of rhythm is so satisfying. Wind players have awesome diaphragmatic control. It’s true in salsa coros too.
September 16, 2020
5:45am 1 hour Did the exercises in The Body Book for pretending to be an amoeba, etc. Did Farinelli’s exercise, and read some Taruskin and some good ol’ Dahlhaus.
September 15, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. Started the work on feeling body symmetries in The Body Book. Started listening to examples of Coptic singing online by looking up names in Ruth M Stone and Frank Gillis’s old book, African Music and Oral Data: a Catalog of Field Recordings: 1902-1975. It turns out Coptic christians use the word “Allah” to refer to their god, too.
September 14, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. Started reading the first couple of posts in The Taruskin Challenge. Played “Chasing Cars” with the cello and the piano and the voice. Did the Farinelli exercise where you breath in for four beats, hold four, out four, then in five etc.
Listened to Bless its Pointed Little Head and Crown of Creation.
September 13, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. Listened to Jefferson Airplane Volunteers and Bathing at Baxters.
September 12, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. Listened to Jefferson Airplane Surrealistic Pillow.
September 11, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. read day 5 in Body Stories.
September 10, 2020
rest. Listening to Keith Jarrett Lausanne Concert. Sounds like the person only edited together the interesting bits and not many of the transitions, which is a pity. Seems to me that what some people (read: me) don’t like about jazz is that the head comes back exactly the same way each time, unchanged… And it ought to be different. Minor, or faster, or something. But for that to work the music has to be written out, or rehearsed.
September 9, 2020
5:45am 1 hour did day 5 in Body Stories.
September 8, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. Listened to Keith Jarrett Lausanne Concert. He sounds like a gospel meets Chopin fantasy.
Also, wrote day 3 of Body Stories.
Also, realized that if theory means getting outside of something to get another or better perspective on it, and music theory means getting outside of music (into history of literature, music criticism, gender, reception history, numbers as in analysis or graphs as in Schenker or even notation) to get a better perspective on it, then what is music a theory of? It, along with the other arts – sculpture, dance, painting, filmmaking, dance, poetry, etc. – is a theory of aesthetics. Music and the arts get us outside of our heads so we can appreciate God, or spirituality, or the mind, or emotions, or beauty, or consciousness, or society, or whatever you conceptualize this connection or experience between us, and between us and other living and nonliving things, and within us, to be.
September 7, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. Listened to Keith Jarrett Standards vol. 1. Someone said it in a review but he really does well with gospel. Wrote for an hour about kinesthetic experiences learning to play music, dance, and about body image. Installed a thing to remind me to take breaks when I’m on the computer too long. Realized that when my arms fall at an angle from my shoulders at the computer keyboard or at the piano, the tendon on the side of my neck that always gets overstretched has to tense up.
September 6, 2020
September 5, 2020
September 4, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. Wrote my first body story. This is the third “to do” exercise. Neck still hurts too much to do the rolling up the back exercise.
September 3, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. Did day 2 of Body Stories. Did the first “to do” exercise, constructive relaxation. Listened to Keith Jarrett, Belonging. Practiced being aware of posture and keeping hips under shoulders. He seems like a better accompanist.
September 2, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. Colored a skeleton. Practiced being aware of posture.
September 1, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. Listened to most of Keith Jarrett Facing You. Worked on anatomy. Drew my skeleton.
August 31, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. Worked on an Experiential Anatomy book. Listened to Keith Jarrett, Köln Concert. He sings.
August 30, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. Did the damn thing even though my neck was kind of sore. Went for a walk and came back to work on it more. Listening to Bert Jansch, Nicola. Weird. He has the kermit voice when he’s old, but not as a young man.
August 29, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. Slept in. Then my neck went out. Ow ow ow.
August 28, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. Worked on chords a little more, didn’t know parallel fourths are allowed! An intervals of a sixth is okay when the third of the chord (on the bottom) moves up by step, but not if it moves some other place. Then a fifth is better.
Listened to Bert Jansch, It Don’t Bother Me.
August 27, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. Wrote the rule about keeping to stepwise motion in the voice. Looked up songs that inspired my “Molitva” and started collecting the musical collections that Jersild lists in his book, Ear Training. Started a file for notes for my book about writing music.
Listened to Bert Jansch the rest of When the Circus Comes to Town and “The Song of the Golden Dragon” by Esdas Tonne.
August 26, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. Wrote out some chords. Realized that in dorian mode, the vi chord has a tritone. The vi chord is a common alteration of the I or i chord in Fux’s theory.
Listened to part of Muse, Simulation Theory, Kermit the frog singing “Rainbow Connection,” because we wanted to hear the Kermit voice as pharyngeal middle voice as suggested to connect chest to headvoice, which Bert Jansch uses in When the Circus Comes to Town. We both practiced doing the Kermit voice and singing.
Also listened to the call to prayer, but that’s not music, just beautiful calling.
August 25, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. Did the damn thing. Wrote all about the concept, “everything is permitted,” as it relates to musical temperament, composition, and rehashed how the whole system (could) work with instrument builders, players, composers, conductors, audience members, critics, dancers, recording engineers, and musicologists.
August 24, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. and listening. Did the Fux. Printed Palestrina 12-part masses on Psalms. Not sure what Thomas Mann was referring to when he said 4 voice Psalm settings. These look like they were converted to 12 voice from 4 voice. Anyway they look amazing. Listened to “Baby Baluga” playing in my head all day.
August 23, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. and listening. listening to Bert Jansch, When the Circus Comes to Town. For some reason his voice sounds really different in this one. Didn’t do the thing this morning. Slept in.
August 22, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. and listening Bert Jansch Bert Jansch and copied the rules from the ligatures chapter in Fux. Puzzled over the Bb’s that are allowed. He seems to be okay with descending tritone when it lands on B natural, but then flats the B when it continues to A. Maybe learning some actual Palestrina choral pieces would help.
August 21, 2020
7am 20 min. Fux; 1 hr. listening can be anything music. Listened to Michael Jackson, Dangerous and Bert Jansch, Jack Orion. Did not do Fux because I slept in. Last night did a bunch of looking through Grove for good articles.
August 20, 2020
6:30am 30 min. Fux Did it.
7pm 1 hour unstructured. Restructured my studies to be articles in Grove instead of papers I have to track down. More focused on music. Once I learned how to read, I don’t need the undergraduate textbooks so much, just the main issues in an area, the terminology, and a few controversial papers and books. At least that’s what I think right now.
August 19, 2020
6am 1 hour: Fux/unstructured Did the Fux, went for a walk
August 18, 2020
Worked out how to play “Feeling Good” popularized by Nina Samone on Cello and on my electric fretless bass. The bassline and the melody are incontrary motion.
August 17, 2020
5:45am 1.5 hour: 1 hour Fux; half hour unstructured. Did the Fux, went through a few old syllabi from UT Austin I had downloaded. Listened to one string guitar performance of “Chicken in the Corn.” and Planet X and Derek Sherinian.
August 16, 2020
5:45am 1 hour. work on Fux and look for Jersild examples and modern day ones. This was too prescriptive. I stayed up late and slept in. Unstructured time is absolutely necessary. Also I’ve noticed that when I’m trying to do counterpoint exercises, read, and practice, I don’t listen as carefully to the music on my list. Need to choose one project at a time. But it’s horrible because of course I need to practice. Also I have no desire to listen to Nainita Desai even though it would be good for the world if I could write about her. The sexism/racism is strong in me.
6:30pm 1 hour listen to Nainita Desai’s music
August 15, 2020
5:45am 45 min. continue writing rules from Fux chap. 2. 45 min. unstructured. Uh… spent all morning writing down dream I had about how I jumped in the ocean, lost my diamond earrings, was a squidman, then went through a machine and became human wearing jeans but having three legs. It says I’m ready for change; I’m worried about money; I used to be greedy but now I care about people, and I’m taking on too many projects.
Spent the rest of the day reviewing this blog up to this point to write down all the projects and maybe put some of them aside for a while.
3:30 5 min. strung and tuned the banjo. played a tiny bit.
6:30pm 45min. listen to one album an episode of Have You Heard George’s Podcast
August 14, 2020
5:45am 45 min. Wrote one rule; spent the rest of the time going on a long walk. subscribed in imslp; made some folders for the Jersild materials.
3:30pm play some music or work on pd patch. Played Bach a little.
6:30pm listen to one album. Michael Jackson HIStory: Past, Present, and Future – Book I.
August 13, 2020
5:45am 45 min. write down Fux chap. 2 rules; 45 min. unstructured. Did it.
5:45pm listen to one album… podcast You’re Wrong About “Disco Demolition Night.”
7pm play something um… read Jersild some more. The book is so disorganized. It needs updated examples, too. Maybe I can do something. Most of the pieces are available, either to listen to and transcribe or find in IMSLP.
August 12, 2020
5:45am 45 min. on Fux exercises and 45 min. unstructured. Did it. Read some Doktor Faustus
7:00pm 20 min. practice some instrument or sing. uh… read Jersild book a bit.
5:30 listen to one album Michael Jackson Off the Wall
August 11, 2020
5:45am 45 min. on Fux exercises and 45 min. unstructured Did the Fux. Read the full paper, “The Difference between Aesthetic Appreciation of Artistic and Popular Music: Evidence from an fMRI Study,” by Huang, Ping; Hanhua Hwang, Qiuling Luo, and Lei Mo in PlosOne 2016.
3:30pm 20 min. practice some instrument or sing; 20 min. unstructured. Wow, playing the first Lamperti exercise with cello was a revelation. I went into headvoice exactly at my break without even thinking about it. Just blended. Also simplified. I didn’t need to play all the notes in the piano arrangement since all of them were overtones of the bass note. Transposed down to G. Maybe go to Ab tomorrow. G felt a little low.
6:30 listen to one album Michael Jackson Bad. Never was silence so profound as after this album finished.
August 10, 2020
5:45am 45 min. on Fux exercises and 45 min. unstructured. Did Fux. He does multiple skips in one direction a lot. Worked a bit on Pd patch. Read a chapter of Doktor Faustus.
3:30pm 30 min. practice instruments or sing; 30 min. unstructured. Practiced bourée on the piano. Read that Bach was a person who danced well and had rhythm, from contemporary accounts. Realized when trying to play on the keyboard with high latency that rhythm is key to my conception of music. It’s the identity of a melody for me, along with maybe the mode and phrases a little bit. It’s also how I shape my interpretation of music, and how I know when I have something “under my fingers,” when I can manipulate the rhythm.
6:30 listen to one album. Thriller Michael Jackson. I owned this one on cassette tape. It might have been the first album I had. I’m surprised at the harmonies. So many sus chords, major sevenths etc.
August 9, 2020
5:45am 45 min. unstructured and 45 min. composing the Fux exercises. Did it!
sometime during the day, 30 min. unstructured time and 6x5min. playing piano, violin, voice exercises, drums, ear training, and searching for musicians like myself…uh this was stressful all day trying to remember what I was supposed to practice. Played on keyboard. So much latency. Made a pd patch instead.
6:30 listen to one album; do random stuff for an hour. Listened to people playing Bach 2-part inventions on violin and cello and had a crisis about whether to invent a new way of composing or struggle on with the stupid keyboards that are either not weighted, in the wrong tuning, or really expensive. Went for a walk. Remarked how Ozzy sounds just like Iron Maiden, and Bush sounds just like Nirvana/Pearljam, only more refined. It sounds better but uses the same chords and song structures.
August 8, 2020
5:45am 45 min. unstructured and 45 min. composing the Fux exercises. Did it.
sometime during the day 30 min. unstructured time and 6x5min. playing piano, violin, voice exercises, drums, ear training, and searching for musicians like myself. Did about 15 min. on violin. Listened to Suzuki version of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” a few times and played the first variation. Looked up how to hold right elbow when playing different strings and practice that. Did vocal exercise. Looked up keywords for music in PlosOne. Music Cognition, Music Perception, Acoustics, Signal Processing, and Music Therapy were some of the more common ones. Read some papers. Wrote down lists of music and composing topics about which I want to learn more. Practiced Bach bourée from English suite. Remembered I wanted to play it in Werckmeister. Read a paper that showed influence of difference composers on each other. There’s a weird divide between the Vivaldi camp and the Bach/Beethoven camp, but people in the 20th century seem to sew it back together.
Looked up a few friends. When women can’t have kids because they are awesome at music… I don’t know. It’s been stressful trying to balance a need to express my musical intelligence while also doing so much physical labor all day, most of which is exhausting or emotionally draining. Taking care of children and a house is no joke. It taxes every part of me. And yet, just like going to graduate school while raising two small children has taught me, creativity lies in doing what we can with what we have. Bach had that little stupid harpsichord on which to reproduce all of Vivaldi. And he didn’t. But he did something else good. No, I can’t do everything. For the next decade this is going to be very slow going. But the thinking about each and every thing I can do will be more, proportionally, than if I could work for six hours a day. So let’s just call it a snail’s walk up Parnassus. Or maybe a tardigrade.
6:30pm listen to one album; do random stuff for an hour. Listened to Iron Maiden Iron Maiden.
August 6, 2020
5:45am 45min. Calculated how much times to spend doing what. Looked up graded lists of piano, violin, and vocal repertoire. Wrote down the rest of the rules from chapter 1 in Fux.
listened to… a piece by Kenzaburo Oe’s son, Hikari.
August 5, 2020
5:45am 45 min. Straightened out plans for studying voice and composition in terms of what books to use for voice, piano, violin, ear training, notation, and orchestration, and what to work on in the morning vs. the evening.
listened to…people supposed to have good vocal technique like Garth Brooks, Leann Rimes, and a lot of recordings of the songs from Easy Songs for Beginning Soprano and Easy Songs for Beginning Mezzo-Soprano/Alto and First Book of Soprano Solos.
August 4, 2020
5:45 1 hour Repositioned controller so I can sit and play. Downloaded all Huygens-Fokker scala scales… many many many. Have played them before but now have set up the weighted key controller to play them right. This little emac from the early 2000’s has outlasted two mac laptops manufactured since, and my son sticking a headphone jack in the hole and breaking it off. I got it out after two years with superglue, tweezers, and magnets.
listened to… the rest of 7th Son of 7th Son by Iron Maiden. It’s amazing the different things these different groups and artists inspire me to get into. This one is computers for some reason.
August 3, 2020
5:18am 1 hour set up controller to work off old emac and play in 1/4 meantone.
listened to…first few of tracks from Jolin Tsai Ugly Beauty
August 2, 2020
5:17am 45 min. Set up MIDI controller and tried to get it to work with Ubuntu 12 on my ancient emac. Most of the way there. Got a synth that can take SCALA .scl files. Looked up what tuning systems Palestrina, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven… and Pharrell Williams used and what instruments their earliest pieces were for. We’ve come full circle. From a cappella voices through fixed just and well temperaments back to the adaptive just intonation of voices and overtones from recorded instruments.
listened to…7th Son of 7th Son by Iron Maiden. Their playing is really rhythmically tight.
August 1, 2020
5:16am 45 min. Read Doktor Faustus. The translator to English was a woman. And Thomas Mann lived in times similar to mine. I can’t help noticing the resemblance.
listened to…Vivaldi viola d’amore concerto in D minor and Kurdish music for viol and viola d’amore by Abdullah Jamal Sagirma, a duet based on Kurdish folk songs. The viola d’amore, the instrument the narrator plays in Doktor Faustus, has sympathetic strings like the sitar!
July 31, 2020
5:15am 45 min. When it’s not about music, Dr. Faustus doesn’t do it for me. This schedule working depends on me getting a good nap in the the afternoon. Yesterday I slept only 45 minutes because my son let a fly into the room and I had to get up to let it out the window, and even though I went back to sleep, it must not have been enough because this morning I was exhausted and couldn’t get out of bed.
listened to…played the first 2 part invention of JS Bach.
July 30, 2020
5:14am 45 min. Started reading Dr. Faustus again, by Thomas Mann. This time it’s more timely. He’s a man who had to leave a beloved country and teaching career because of Nazis. All the metaphors are falling into place this time. I’m ready. Then figured out chord progression to “Calma” by Pedro Capó. IV-I-V-vi, which isn’t the most common rock progression, but here’s a list of other songs that use it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_songs_containing_the_I%E2%80%93V%E2%80%93vi%E2%80%93IV_progression.
listened to…1619 episode 3, “The Birth of American Music.”
July 29, 2020
6:02am 1.5 hours This is when my youngest woke up. Been trying to switch to napping 90 min. in the afternoon to be able to get up before the kids, but also be able to put them to bed.
listened to…Iron Maiden, Piece of Mind. So that’s the theme to the game Contra is ripping off.
July 28, 2020
6:01am 1.5 hours. My piano teacher’s name is Anne Winchester. Her teacher’s teacher’s…etc. teacher was Beethoven. And Beethoven studied with Christian Gottlieb Neefe, who was a pupil of a pupil of Bach. Kevin Mooney told me to look into JS Bach. I found out that someone he played a lot with studied with Gunther Schuller. Here is the list (from Wikipedia and my teacher’s memory)
Bustehude–JS Bach–Gottfried Augustus Homilius–Johann Adam Hiller–Neefe–Beethoven–Czerny–Theodor Leschetizky–Paderewski–Edwin Hughes–Ann Eppinger went to a summer master class with him, and she was my teacher’s teacher when my teacher was age 10-18.
listened to…John Lewis playing Bach’s preludes and fugues book I.
July 27, 2020
6am, 1.5 hours Slept in because I stayed up late. This keeps happening. Change to focusing on when I take breaks rather than when I compose. It’s a stronger motivation.
listened to…music in the podcast by Daoud Anthony in 1619 “Episode 1, the Fight for a True Democracy.”
July 26, 2020
6am, 1.5 hours. Watched ET this weekend, and Back to the Future last. Thought about how movie music, even pretty good movie music, just repeats the theme a few times and then waits for the next action sequence. Then thought about how if a female composer finds no Wikipedia article about Nainita Desai, and so can’t write a paper about her in high school, might never consider that she could be a composer… so much to do. Started writing down the actual rules for note against note counterpoint. Thought about vocal register. From the bottom line of the bass clef to the top line of the mezzo clef (Fux doesn’t use G clef) gets you to the fifth partial exactly. Either this was music for men and boys to sing, or women never used a big full bodied head voice soprano sound at this time.
listened to… the last two songs of The Number of the Beast by Iron Maiden. Read that the torture device, iron maiden was probably a myth invented in the 1700’s. Read the lyrics to “Hallowed be thy Name,” which someone on a forum called an anti-death penalty song.
July 25, 2020
5:59am 1.5 hours Started writing down the rules to the counterpoint in Fux chapter 1: note against note.
listened to…Mike Relm’s remixes of Bill Nye saying “Wear a mask,” and a caller to an LA city council meeting saying “I yield my time; fuck you.”
July 24, 2020
5:58am 1.5 hours. Read Dahlhaus’s essay, “Does music history have a ‘subject’?” Germans use the word ‘object’ to mean what English speakers call ‘subject’ as in ‘the subject of the essay’. Subject means something like identity or independent existence or autonomy, as in a human subject. Does historical conditions have a birth, life, and death like people? He says, No, obviously not really, but I think writing them that way makes it easier to remember facts about them. He says musicologists and other historians tend to follow the literary styles of their times, whether hagiography or hero legends, novel with many characters, stream of consciousness, or I think, scientific report, and he says ones that don’t think they’re doing it are doing it, but they’re following an older, outdated model. (like he is) He says if we don’t try to write an all encompassing history of music of the world, it’s possible to write a coherent history of say, European classical music, and that if people decide to also act in unison toward a common goal, there can be a history of that action. I suppose he says we ought to do this, or help with this, both by writing and by making culture, according to our ideologies. Or we could do this in order to come to a common or coherent ideology. Otherwise, he threatens, we “‘degenerate’ into utopian abstractions.” Does he mean if we cross fertilize, then we degenerate? Or if we refuse to make something having meaning for the people of our time, we withdraw from relevance, and is this a charge laid at modern composers? Because it’s definitely deserved.
It’s obvious from the last couple of days of trying to find a good list of an up to date genre of music, that without critics, there’s no way to tell what’s good. And critics can’t just be anyone. They have to know a lot of music and practice writing. Or else I end up looking for the best music by looking for what’s searched the most on youtube and finding that the best song is basically a beer commercial “Calma.” Colin Larkin’s popular list of 1001 albums compiled from survey data sucks. His personal list that he also includes of 100 albums is much better.
I could make a 100 composers of modern music and their 5 best… pieces? opuses? something like that. Bigger than a song, about the length of a symphony. Maybe 5 best recordings?
Could we every all be in unison and work towards… what? Do we really want that? Maybe as a unified Europe without any immigrants that makes sense. Or maybe if traditionalists both political and musical confront their racism and help make a space where resources cultural and material can safely be shared both ways. Do I dare hope for this?
July 23, 2020
5:57am 1.5 hours. Tried to play the cello. Needed to fix my bow hold. Forgot to let the strings take the weight.
listened to most of Iron Maiden, The Number of the Beast, published in 1982, the year I was born, including the song “Run for the hills,” and my parents left the city that year to start over in the hills.
July 22, 2020
5:57am 1.5 hours. Tried to figure out what to listen to after this rock list. Decided to focus on classical music, new music (classical) (welcome home), music from all over the world (mostly traditional), and rap music.
listened to I’m John Lee Hooker.
July 20, 2020
5:55am 1.5 hours worked out what it would take to get a green card in Canada – to support my entire family through self-employment income. Listened to an interview with Nainita Desai, looked her up in Wikipedia and Grove and found she wasn’t there. Started reading about how to write a Wikipedia article and dug up some sources.
listen to … Ondara “Pulled Out of the Market”
July 19, 2020
6am, 1 hour Wrote about my goals, reading the Grove article, “Composition,” and searching for the word, “technique.” It says there’s instrumental and vocal technique, often kept secret – but i don’t think it’s actually secret, it’s just subtle… too hard to explain to someone who’s not going to practice and figure out things; a repertoire of musical phrases or gestures; something you receive in a dream; counterpoint; something you acquire by copying models (up to date ones, but that was written by Tinctorus… later authors said you should copy older models); a way of reworking older works; developing musical ideas; a style invented by a person such as Messiaen or Schoenberg.
July 18, 2020
6am 30 min. ended up working from 6 to 8. Read about musical material, well, not really. Musical material doesn’t exist as a concept in literature except in the course description to music 305C at Stanford… oh wait, it’s Adorno. Should have known. I guess it’s time to reckon with this dude or run away. Or… something else.
10:30am 1.5 hours
July 17, 2020
5:53am 45 minutes worked out the proportions from each of the blues scale notes mentioned in the paper, “Microtonal Analysis of ‘Blue Notes’ and the Blues Scale,” by Court B Cutting with respect to the V chord in the bass.
3:53pm 45 minutes gave kids piano lessons, did some rhythm reading with one son.
listened to…Kid A
July 16, 2020
5:53am 1.5 hours. Played up to the 11th harmonic on the cello. Can’t really hear the 13th too well at all. Calculated whether the natural fourth degree of the blues scale is the 21/16 from the perspective of the G. I suspect it’s more like the 16/9. The paper I read recently said blues musicians usually use the 3 or 5 limit minor seventh, but the 7 limit minor third.
Also read about genre vs. style. Up to 1980, genre and style were used interchangeably by musicologists. Then they started using genre to mean the type of work or occasion, and style to mean personal style, a distinction pop music musicologists have been using for longer.
listened to…John Lee Hooker Don’t Look Back. and since Van Morrison was on one of the tracks, read about him. He’s on this list for later.
July 15, 2020
5:52am 1.5 hours. Decided to look at the Stanford DMA program as a template for what I’m doing, because someone suggested I write more music. History is also something I need to examine – need to find out what the women and people of color were doing while all those good compositions were being composed, and why, exactly, they didn’t write them, so I can convince myself absolutely that it’s because of reasons and not that they (I) were (and are) constitutionally incapable. Why do I need this bulwark? Don’t know. Maybe that’s a good question to ask. Maybe the construction of that bulwark is the history of ideas. We call it aesthetics when it’s white men doing it. I often call it unnecessary activist political baggage to myself, because when I do it, it’s difficult, makes me angry, is incomplete and poorly funded, and I’m not used to thinking of works by women and people of color as good. I’m not familiar with them. They’re not part of my aesthetics. I’m a foreigner in my own head. But, as Kathy Irwin wrote in 1992, “We can and will do this work.”
I wonder if the focus on numbers and abstraction is an aesthetic of distancing oneself from the dirty, the sensual, the physical, the work done by slaves and women, who literally carried out their poop in buckets to put in compost piles. Not knowing how to garden means not being the one to carry any poop. The white people’s aesthetic is part of the life of people who look like me. It exists partially to exclude me, and the people who listened to the music could have done so to advertise that they didn’t carry poop anywhere either. So… to accept that aesthetic would be to deny my ancestors and alienate myself from my own experience. On the other hand, I can both do the dirty work myself, and fully acknowledge when I’m not, and investigate how to make things more just, and confront my ignorance, and also make space to care about numbers and abstract things.
listened to…John Lee Hooker Mr. Lucky. I think he’s the most dynamic arranger of songs on this list so far. Every one sounds different. Different tempo, different expression, different structure in each one. And this one when he was so old! But it’s still really good.
July 14, 2020
4:30am 1.5 hours. worked out the out of tune notes in the other church modes if Ionion was in JI with the lowest five limit proportions. Figured out what tones would be out of tune for the fifth mode of a scale based on Lydian, played with least proportions including either 7/5 or 11/8 for the sharp 4. This scale would have the same half and whole steps as the major, or ionian scale, but if 11/8 was used for the fourth degree of the Lydian, the ionian’s seventh would be 11/6, the neutral seventh. Also read the definition of consonance and dissonance in the Harvard Dictionary of Music and Musicians 4th ed.
listened to ..John Lee Hooker The Folk Blues of John Lee Hooker aka The Country Blues of John Lee Hooker. It’s simple. He’s very practiced. Get the impression he took half finished things from people he met and made them all with what he already knew into finished compositions. Get the feeling it’s strange to abstract out the blues from all the other music made by delta people. He’s an anthropologist, and ethnologist, and outsider and a native informant, a performer, and it’s so nice to listen quietly in the dark and just sit.
July 13, 2020
5:51am work 1.5 hours. derived the Tristan chord from the overtone series – the A minor has a fundamental of E. The D# and F are the 15/8 and 8/15, and then E has a major third and a fifth, then take away the E.
listened to…John Lee Hooker The Healer.
July 12, 2020
5:50am work 1.5 hours Tried to figure out what happens when certain voicings of chords are sung… whether you could sing the fundamental of the chord and whether you could hear the formant of the highest harmonic sung in the chord. Decided that minor thirds (fifth to sixth harmonic) can be sung by men lower in the range even though the fundamental would be an octave too low because they probably learned to sing them as choirboy (in Fux’s time) sopranos and altos, and then kept singing them as they got older. There are theological implications of a “great father” whose fundamental is that low. In the person of the acoustics of the church, it might have been striking to realize that something beyond the human voice can boost the resonance of the grown men.
Also seeing the ways this system is fragile.
8am work 1.5 hours Read many papers about formants, found this interesting graph from here: Schwartz, David A et al. “The statistical structure of human speech sounds predicts musical universals.” The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience vol. 23,18 (2003): 7160-8. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.23-18-07160.2003
showing that different languages show peaks at the same frequency ratios, which are labelled in the following graph from the article:
Bowling, Daniel L, and Dale Purves. “A biological rationale for musical consonance.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America vol. 112,36 (2015): 11155-60. doi:10.1073/pnas.1505768112
but note that the 7:4, 1.75, is not labelled even though it has a peak, and the 9:5, which barely has a peak, is labelled. Also there seems to be a little smudge at 7:6, 1.16
Also M7 and M2 are missing, but the authors state that they found peaks for these in the octave above this. They didn’t find any peak for the minor second.
10:30 work 1.5 hours. From looking at the top graph, and including the M2 and M7 that they say they found in the upper octave, I get 1:1, 9:8, 7:6, 6:5, 5:4, 4:3, 7:5, 3:2, 8:5, 5:3, 7:4, 9:5, 15:8 and 2:1. 13 different notes.
Then again, there is this paper, which says a tribe of Bolivian indigenous people can distinguish laughter from gasps, but accept both conventionally dissonant and consonant intervals as equally pleasant.
McDermott, J., Schultz, A., Undurraga, E. et al. Indifference to dissonance in native Amazonians from Bolivia, the Tsimané, reveals cultural variation in music perception. Nature 535, 547–550 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature18635
It would be nice to think that this aesthetic is an invention in its own right, a habituation and appreciation of dissonance, rather than some kind of lack of differentiation that Bolivians from towns, cities, and Americans possess in increasing amount, as the authors describe it.
3pm work 1.5 hours Read about Concepción, Bolivia, where people who live near an old Jesuit monastery have kept a baroque tradition of instrumental and choral music going for hundreds of years.
This study says that Hindustani people perceive what Westerners would call dissonant intervals as not as unpleasant. Maher, T. F. (1976). “Need for Resolution” Ratings for Harmonic Musical Intervals: A Comparison between Indians and Canadians. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 7(3), 259–276. https://doi.org/10.1177/002202217673001
This study says that Japanese and Americans perceive consonance and dissonance similarly. Butler, J. W., & Daston, P. G. (1968). Musical consonance as musical preference: A cross-cultural study. Journal of General Psychology, 79(1), 129–142. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221309.1968.9710460
points out in this review of research that the Tsimané prefer the fifth over the M2, but not over the M7. Also, that the dissonant chord used was the augmented chord, which isn’t very rough, and seems dissonant to conventionally acculturated ears because it doesn’t fit into a major scale. Also the Tsimane’s music is pentatonic.
July 11, 2020
10:30am, 1.5 hours Made a tonnetz of 13 tones, rejecting the ones with ratios larger than 16, as they wouldn’t be heard clearly in vocal music – we can hear only the four octaves from the fundamental to the overtones around 5kHz. Learned about why not to use F# as a key, or Gb, because you couldn’t tune it from the tonic by ear. Learned why not to use the 7th partial, because it can’t be multiplied by 3 or 5 without going out of the range of hearing, so you can only make a lattice with 3’s and 5’s. 7, 11, 13 can be used in modal music, or in modal sections of tonal music, or if you have a reference pitch such as an instrument with a constant fundamental – a saxophone for example. These instruments could ground you.
3pm, 1.5 hours. Why does the dominant seventh note resolve to the third of the tonic? Because in the tonal lattice, the 9/5 of the dominant (its flat 7), swivels to be the 19/9, which, when multiplied by 3:2 (the dominant), becomes 4:3 of the tonic.
7:30pm, 1.5 hours Put the kids to bed. Thought about what questions I want to ask tomorrow, like could you use four octaves of overtones within just two octaves by starting in the flattest key near the fundamental, modulation up to middle C at the top of the range… but people can’t sing that high. We’re writing Palestrina style vocal music. Getting a better sense of the chaos Fux talks about in the beginning of the Gradus.
July 10, 2020
5:49am, 1.5 hours. Read a paper about how the only difference between African American and non African American voices is the pitch variation and amplitude variation – greater in African Americans, and the amount of noise mixed with the overtones (less noise for African Americans). Found a paper about noise in speech overtones. Shows that power of signal goes down significantly after about 15000 hz, or about 4 octaves above the fundamental for men or women. Question – where does the noise kick in? Do African Americans make clearer harmonics? If the fundamental is 200hz, and the noise kicks in at the seventh partial, like 2nd partial would be 400, 4th at 800, 8th at 1600. So if someone were going to use a lot of seventh and higher partials, like 11ths or 13ths, and tune them with other people, they would need to hear them. So did the white people’s voices get noisy at 1600hz or a little lower? Or were they the same up to 15000hz?
Also discovered that by buying the index to the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, I got all the discographies of all the world regions. Add that to my list of albums to listen to, along with the Gramophone Shop Encyclopedia of Recorded Music from 1936 and Mark Levine’s discography in the back of The Jazz Theory Book. That’s a lot of music. Unfortunately, The Rough Guides are getting a little dated. We tried listening to the Taiwanese bands and they just sounded old fashioned to me.
listened to Jimi Hendrix Live at Monteray. Very angry about the lyrics to “Hey Joe.”
July 9, 2020
5:49am, 1.5 hours. Looked at Cutting’s data and tried to come up with alternate explanations. Read a response to his paper. Came up with some more papers about the blues and meend and blue notes. Pondered how there is so little about this. Most literature about the blues is biographical.
listened to the rest of Band of Gypsies by Jimi Hendrix. Feeling very inspired by this music… to take what I have and contribute what I can.
July 8, 2020
5:48am, 1.5 hours Read an article, “Microtonal Analysis of ‘Blue Notes’ and the Blues Scale,” by Court B Cutting, published in Empirical Musicology Review, Vol. 13 No. 1-2 (2018). It said that blues musicians use the major third, but not the major sixth, that their minor thirds are usually 6:5, the sharp 4 is either or 7:5, 11:8, and the flat 7 is usually 9:5. They also use the neutral 3rd, which might be 11:9, and it’s in a continuum with the 6:5 minor third and the major third, just as the sharp 4’s make a continuum, but there are independent clusters for the #4’s.
listened to…”Who Knows?” and “Machine Gun” from Band of Gypsies by Jimi Hendrix. It says, “I’m going to pick up my axe and fight like a farmer.” The conception of this album, the structures of it, the colors for me, they seem so crystalline, so organized, that of the few cds I actually bought as a teenager, this one doesn’t get old at all. Wonder if it’s because it’s about something outside itself and the people making the music.
July 7, 2020
5:48am, 1.5 hours. Played the diatonic scale that results from the 5 and 3 harmonics above and below, plus the 5/3 and the 3/5. No sevenths or seconds, exactly as demanded in the first species… except, this is almost a blues scale. Looked for harmonic derivation of the blues scale but couldn’t find it. Puzzled over the fact that the pythagorean major 6th is less than ten cents away from the seventh partial–could explain a lot of six chords in jazz I’ve played. Also maybe the blue minor third is really the 8/7? Or is it 7/3?
listened to…Jimi Hendrix, Bold as Love. There were a lot of songs I recognized. They seem to need his phrasing, timing, and partially spoken singing to make many of them work. It’s a trio, so a lot of the weight is on how they do things, rather than filling out every harmony or producing a lot of sound.
July 6, 2020
5:47am, 1.5 hours distinguished between 5 limit and 15 limit with no 7th partials. Looked everywhere for evidence of 7th partial in actual music. Wikipedia says barbarshop quartets use it, but a study disputes this. Some say jazz musicians use it. Sounds like the melody of “Night Train,” ends on the 8/7. Sounds awful on the piano. Not like the version in Back to the Future at all. The chords don’t even seem to fit.
Thought about how strange it is that F# is not in the 15 limit series, but there are two enharmonic sets of notes: Fb and E, and G# and Ab. 13 notes.
listened to…Jimi Hendrix Are You Experienced? So many famous songs on this album!
July 4, 2020
10:30am work 2 hours This was kind of a mess because no one was used to me working on the weekends, but I figured out how many scales one could generate from the 12 tones of the chromatic scale, assuming that for every scale that used one of the enharmonic tones, like B natural and C flat, one would be strongly preferred due to harmonic derivation of the tones. Works out to 792. Read a paper that made an algorithm to determine how simple the ratios were in the different scales that are possible in five and seven notes scales. Voilà, all the church modes, two Arab scales, and no Hindustani or Carnatic scales. So annoying.
2:30pm work 2 hours. Puzzled over the fact that f# doesn’t show up in the 5 limit scale even if you take a five limit scale from every note in that original scale. I played an instrument in Bb, though. For us, F# would have been necessary for us to play concert C scale, or even a concert F scale. Starting from C on a nontransposing instrument, you would get F# from going to the 3 partial, G, up to its third partial, D, and then taking D’s fifth partial, F#. This is 45/64. The most complex ratio we get from the full chromatic series (where each note of the five limit series gets its own five limit series) is 32/25 F flat. Guess I’ll always be a cornetist.
7pm work 2 hours. Stared at the equal loudness curve. So tired. Should this factor in to what notes are allowed, or more likely, in any system? Don’t know. All instruments seem to be designed to be hearable i.e. compensate for this. Looked up proportions used in Carnatic scales. Surprised to find no seventh partials. The thing with seventh partials is that while they may be simpler proportions from the tonic, they don’t imply other harmonies than the tonic, the way multiples of 3 and 5 do. 9/5 Bb implies both Ab and Eb giving it the possibility to modulate there.
July 3, 2020
5:45am work 1.5 hours figured out the range of human hearing. Learned about the cochlea. Looked at pictures of the little hairs and read about the trap doors and the ion gates.
3:45pm work 1.5 hours. Worked out how many octaves in the range of human hearing. Derived the chromatic scale from the five limit harmonic series, where each note has its own five limit harmonic series within the range of the whole thing.
listened to…Electric Ladyland by The Jimmy Hendrix Experience. We decided it sounded like someone falling down the stairs, but then beginning to fly.
July 2, 2020
5:45am work 1.5 hours Wrote out the dissonances and tried to figure out why the Europeans didn’t use all the 7th derived notes from an 8 limit system.
3:45pm work 1.5 hours Derived the pentatonic scale from the three limit system (within SATB vocal ranges) and figured out within the 5 limit system, why we resolve minor scales to their relative major instead of going to their five and back.
listened to…Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town by Emmylou Harris.
July 1, 2020
5:45am work 1.5 hours Wrote out all the proportions with numbers up to 8. Stretched up and down from middle C to C1 and to C8.
3:45pm work 1.5 hours. Made a theory as to why fourths are dissonant. In the lower octaves, they go beyond the 8 limit. There is only one derivation for them, like the dissonances of the second, seventh, and tritones.
listened to…”Like a G6″ by Far East Movement ft. The Cataracs, DEV, some older Taiwanese pop songs, “Vulture,” by Ak Benjamin from Taiwan, a song inspired by the song”Lucid Dreams,” by Juice WRLD, who I thought was a white guy from upstate New York, but actually is a black guy from Illinois, and the song I was thinking of was “Better Now,” by Post Malone. Then listened to “Rockstar,” by Post Malone and while I was trying to remember “Better Now,” a couple songs by other white rappers like Porches, Action Bronson.
June 30, 2020
5:45am work 1.5 hours looked up old European wind instruments to see if they go up and down 8 partials. Close. Learned about Fauxbourdon and the Netherlands during the renaissance. And they played lots of trumpets!
3:45pm work 1.5 hours. worked 3 hours in the morning.
listened to…Roses in the Snow by Emmylou Harris. “Jordan” sounds just as I remember singing those baptist hymns in church, in the winter. In the summer, we sang methodist hymns. It was a federated church.
June 29, 2020
5:45am work 1.5 hours Read the part about God. Watched Hasan Minhaj pray on television and tried to figure out why it was so powerful. I think it’s vulnerable to show my craft. I think it’s scary to show my faith, whether spiritual or any other kind, to other people. But there’s a strength in integrity and honesty. My feet are on the ground.
3:45pm work 1.5 hours Did not do a whole lot more today. Thought about whether God is the fountain of all wisdom. If music came before speech, and the religion I know is based on speech more than on music, then I can take what I like from the music of the church and concentrate on music, and not on churches.
listened to the rest of Wrecking Ball.
June 28, 2020
5:45am work 1.5 hours slept in instead. stayed up late watching a documentary about servants. and another one about living rooms throughout the ages in britain. there was lots of classical music in the second one. it made me feel bad. classical music was, like the church, an institution that enforced social hierarchy. But I grew up poor and I’m making music, and I’m not making music for elites or for reactionary groups. So maybe I’m dangerous.
3:45pm work 1.5 hours. Figured out the difference between Bellerman’s definition of counterpoint and Fux… interval against interval in series vs. note against note vertically… except Fux also believes that pleasure is brought about by alternation of different intervals… so maybe the only thing that isn’t right is that counterpoint is an exercise of following strict rules. It’s a method of writing harmony so as to bring about pleasure through continuous contrast.
listened to… half of Wrecking Ball by Emmylou Harris. She blows me away. Also Brian Blade is great on the first track. Drummer.
June 26, 2020
5:45am work 1.5 hours or until kids wake up… worked for about fifteen minutes looking up etymology of some words in the very beginning of the Fux dialogue, like venerable and observant, and master. Feeling weirded out by the gender stuff but got to a better place once I brought it out consciously and examined it.
3:45pm work 1.5 hours Wrote down what instruments we have and play (and at what level) to try to figure out what I’m going to be writing these exercises for. Abandoned the idea of pitch shifting my voice after reading about formant shifts.
listened to…Emmylou Harris Luxury Liner. She does what she does so consistently. Always the same clear vibrato, the same pushed chest in the same places and the same flip to head voice in similar places.
June 25, 2020
5:45am work 1.5 hours Realized it’s not worth it to put the kids in front of minecraft to be able to do this. Had to find another way.
3:45 work 1.5 hours. way too tired to do this today. But did have a good conversation about music and was reminded that i got excited about this because of temperament, not for my own personal amusement or aggrandizement… but to inform and explain, and bring some proof that with discernment and wisdom, one can play in multiple temperaments with one voice.
What about the temperament makes it sound like the style that was current then, and what was just arbitrary? If you’re in meantone, will everything sound like French baroque music? Or can you explore? Could you have impressionism in meantone? Could you have a blues scale minuet? But I don’t care so much about stylistic questions. What I care about is, what natural limits are there on what can be expressed in music with a given set of instruments in a given tuning and temperament? How big is my canvas? What colors are in my paintbox, and how do they mix?
If color is timbre, shape is musical form or structure, and line is melody/bassline… and shading is… voicing, density, dynamics, or noise… can we add another metaphorical parameter and talk about temperament as artistic medium? I don’t want to say texture… but it’s more like how it feels and what’s possible with it, and how many colors you get, and how they mix. It’s related to timbre. For example, if timbres are different because different overtones are reinforced, then if the tuning more just, a chord will reinforce them more, depending on what chord and what timbre it is. But if the temperament/tuning is really noisy like an equal tempered piano, when you play a bunch of the same chord, you get more noise, not a purer timbre. But that could be cool, the way outlining in crumbly charcoal and then partially coloring in with smooth oil paints creates a vivid color with a rough line around it… the noise accentuates the boldness of the color, softens the overall effect.
It seems we could approach these things with curiosity, warmth, and daring rather than with persuasion and ideology. I’m speaking to less than 200, writing for smaller ensembles, not more than 30 or so. We don’t need neon and broad brush strokes just to be heard. Maybe for fun though, we could use them sometimes.
listened to… Rhiannon Giddons featuring YoYo Ma playing her song inspired by black lives matter.
June 23, 2020
5:45am work 1.5 hours Researched counterpoint studies, how long it takes to learn, why I want to learn… whether the mantra I sing uses only intervals derived from the vocal range, whether I can get away with learning counterpoint by singing soprano and alto parts, and playing tenor and bass parts of viola and cello. I think it helps to have different timbres.
8:45am work 1.5 hours Talked a lot about counterpoint and why Fux continues to pretend he’s using modes when they all have accidentals, or don’t even include the one cool note, like the #4 in Lydian. Decided he did that because he wanted people to think he was using Greek theory because people respected the Greeks more back then. There’s a passage in Palisca’s book about opera that mentions books of dances for guitar that were supposedly in all of the Greek modes but were really major and minor. Thought about getting a lot more books on counterpoint, but the fortune cookie said something like, “he is wealthy who appreciates what he has,” so decided so start where I am with what I have. Researched how long it took Palestrina, Beethoven, Haydn, Bach, and an African American composer, Coleridge-Taylor to learn counterpoint. Average 4.4 years.
listened to part of Emmylou Harris’s Pieces of the Sky and some Beethoven, El Gran Combo, Queen, Radiohead, and Liszt seeing if we could hear counterpoint. Why don’t rock bands have more counterpoint? Is it ideological? Undemocratic? Is it a good message from enlightened monarchs that a strong lead (composer) is necessary to make everyone sound like they’re free? And the new social villages of the Grateful Dead to argue that people who have loved and trusted each other long enough can just improvise it? Or does that work only for geniuses? The new old virtuosity of the rock concert? The DJ could be going back to that, except, is there counterpoint in techno music?
June 22, 2020
4:45am 1.5 hours Listened to the birds (camping outside).
8:45am 1.5 hours Tried to parse information about audience sizes and ensemble sizes. Came to the conclusion that solos, duets, and trios can play for family size audiences, solo up to about 14 players can play for the whole block. Quartets and up to about 32 to 35, so chamber orchestras, wind ensembles, a musical, or a full choir can play for the whole neighborhood (up to about 130 people), while the larger groups like symphony orchestras, opera companies, large choirs of 60 or more people, and large marching bands can play for groups of about 400-500, which is kind of like a small town or quarter of town
listened to From the Mars Hotel and the last two tracks from Live/Dead by the Grateful Dead. This music has probably changed my life the most so far in this list of albums. It’s way beyond music. I’ve rethought spirituality, my obsessive daily schedules, how I relate to and feel gratitude for my family and friends. It’s been truly life changing.
June 19, 2020
4:15am 1.5 hours. more “Optimising Human Community Sizes”
8:45am 1.5 hours. Figured out that the rule of thumb that kids have an attention span of their agex4 applies to me. At 11, it becomes 45 min., the length of high school class periods. At 22, 90 minutes, the length of college classes. At 45, it becomes 3, longer than most works of art from the classical period. Most people didn’t live that long. At 67.5, it becomes 4.5 hours, retirement age.
listened to… Grateful Dead, “Death Don’t Have No Mercy,” from Live/Dead.
June 18, 2020
4:15am 1.5 hours. Lists and lists following this: “Optimising Human Community Sizes”
8:45am 1.5 hours
Song: 飛魚樂園, Artist: 徐清原, Album: 島嶼漫遊-台灣音樂地圖-2
June 17, 2020
4:15am 1.5 hours Tried to figure out based on social groupings, how many people could attend certain concerts of certain ensembles if a certain number of people in the audience were musicians.
8:45am 1.5 hours Got up to 12 or 14 people.
listened to…”Dark Star” Grateful Dead Live/Dead
June 16, 2020
5:45am 4.5 hours. Worked on different ensembles, which kind of tuba they use, what the wavelength of their fundamental frequency is, how many people they have and whether it’s close the the ideal size of human communities – 50, 150, 500. Looked into how many people are musical based on “multiple intelligence” theory (40%) and how many people play some music professionally (about 2%) and how many make all of their income from music (less than 1%) in the US. Worked out community size if 40% of the people are playing. Worked out ensemble size based on this.
listened to…Grateful Dead, part of Live/Dead. And Shea Diamond “I’d Love to Change the World.”
June 15, 2020
5:45am 4.5 hours finished my ratio chart… but how do you harmonize a melody that has a half step in it when you can’t use a 16:15? Maybe the church people were harmonizing based on their understanding from vocal music, melodies that had been written with instruments playing way below the singers that hence used higher harmonics.
Modes: everything still goes back to C, the ringing of the church interior. Week by week, mode by mode the liturgy unfolds until some special feast when the lowest note is played and everything makes sense. But… you get weird intervals in the modes by basing everything off a different harmonic series. For example, if you base the lydian mode off the harmonic series of C (just supposing the church resonated in C, it was all relative back then)… the tritone would have been 45/64. Whereas I’m pretty sure Rag Yaman which also uses the tritone for the fourth degree uses the 11/8 or even 7/5. Easy to check.
Chords under melodies, and these entire sets of chords and melodies modulating to another mode. Because Fux “reckons from the bottom,” the 1/3 F is a consonance… instant IV chord.
listened to…Maki “Lit”
June 14, 2020
5:45am 3 hours. Had to order a new notebook. Very triggered because my mom was an artist and it was tough to differentiate from her because of codependency. Got a small book about art supplies. Eventually realized that this notebook works for me because it has a picture of a saxophone player on it. Remember Michael asking us what our instrument was, and answering, “Pencil and paper?”
Talked about the statement, “That’s so nice you have a passion,” and explored its sexist dimensions… as it relates to ladies’ accomplishments and the patronizing suggestion that it’s good that a woman do something of no consequence, because her thoughts will be of no consequence. Of visual art, though, it’s clear that’s a hobby for me. It feels like one. Losing interest, doing it in a very unfocused way but with occasional flashes of brilliance, and fetishizing the materials like the pencils and papers… all feel very spaced out. With music it’s quite different. Very focused almost to the point of being unable to work.
Worked out a few more intervals for choir. Still mystified by “reckoning from the bass.” Have been thinking of intervals like 3:4 as a perfect fourth, but for Fux, it was a perfect fifth. It’s a modulation factory, which must be necessary for singers, who don’t have a big collective range. Modulation (including mutation) must have been essential. Not so with the big orchestra. Paradoxically, modal music is easier to write for the larger ensemble because you don’t have to mutate your mode to play in a different key.
listened to… Anthem of the Sun by the Grateful Dead. Had heard they were known for their live shows… never connected it to improvisation before. I did this for four years at college, and never knew that the only band my neighbor back home would accept as authentic good music also improvised. There was a stigma to the words “jam band,” as if they didn’t really know what they were doing. Honestly they sound less drugged out musically on this album than on other ones, although the album cover is very psychadelic looking. I think it excuses them. What people can’t understand they are welcome to ascribe to drugs or just being far out. In fact, it is a far out intellectual exercise in fusion of jazz, blues, rock, hillbilly music, and experimental western classical music plus Indian influences.
June 12, 2020
5:45am 4.5 hours. Put it together. The overtones to use are the ones within the range (up and down, overlapping) of the ensemble. For a choir, up to the 9th partial. For other ensembles, different partials are possible. Best to learn from something simple. Also so many revelations about crowd size, ensemble size, and the nature of propaganda – when you’re audience exceeds the number of stable relationships one can form. (from “Optimizing Human Community Size” in Evolution and Human Behavior. Volume 39, Issue 1, January 2018, Pages 106-111)
listened to…Workingman’s Dead by the Grateful Dead. I think most of these songs are about racial tensions and how far we have to go in this country… and how it’s been this way for so long.
June 11, 2020
5:45am 4.5 hours. Worked out what happens if you try to organize people in groups of 50, 150, 500, or 1500 arranged in a circle a few people deep such that the people damp all the sound (which means that their combined depth is 1/4 the wavelength of the lowest tone. For choirs, the limit is about 50 people spaced around a 12 ft. across circle, 2 deep. For orchestra, which can play an octave deeper, it’s about twice that, 30 feet across, and you can fit 150 people. La Scala and the Apollo theater actually fit 1500 people into that circle by elevating some of them up on balconies. The lowest pitch we can perceive is about 20 hz. The lowest common instrument is the 32′ pipe on a large organ. At about 60 ft. across, you can fit about 500 people around the circle. That’s how many people fit in a large church. After you get a circle wide enough to fit 1500 people, it’s too far across to play music without the sound being delayed by the time you hear it, hence the boxes and raked seating in the Apollo and La Scala.
listened to…American Beauty by the Grateful Dead. Such a beautiful album.
June 10, 2020
5:45am 6 hours. Worked out more ratios. Looked up the highest and lowest pitches professionals can sing, choirs can sing, and orchestras can play. Found a note that allows partials up to 16 above it, and down to 8 below it. The graph looks square though. It should be round. Perception has fuzzy edges. Can’t figure out how to set limits on how complex the fractions can be. Trying to use the ultimate range as a sort of limit… these fractions are allowed if their highest partial could speak, before your brought them down, but the problem is, since we’re using more than one note, their partials overlap. For example, a pitch in the C4 octave could be the fundamental, and you could go down lower than 1/8. If a note lower than the E3 was used as the fundamental, you could go higher than the 16th partial. How many of these fractions can we hear, anyway? What I’m most interested in is the fuzziness around certain intervals. How many pitches are almost a major third in a middle octave? In a way low octave, are certain notes not present at all? Would a staff showing all fractions that derive from E3 going up and down show a bunch of E’s everywhere, greatly reinforced, a cluster of close fractions all around that octave, and then notes farther apart as we got higher and lower? And is this the key of E?
Can we really hear overtones better than undertones?
Ah, the building has a resonance, deeper than the deepest voice. The voices can sing overtones of the fundamental of the space.
listened to: Genesis, Abacab in the evening. “Man on the Corner” is a very good song. It’s one of the true blues songs by these people. Seems like it could go forever and always be different.
June 9, 2020
5:15am 1.5 hours tried to figure out what notes would fit in the different clefs. G clef could have been mixolydian and the bass clef could have been lydian. They really just determine whether more overtones or undertones are used in the scale. (This is based in inference, not historical research).
9:45am 1.5 hours Kept working until 11:45 on clefs and ratios
listened to the rest of Genesis, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. This listening is generally happening in the evening.
June 8, 2020
5:15am 1 hour. Worked out ratios. Comes to mind that we use more upper ones than lower ones.
7pm 1 hour “oo wee” by Dun D, that I heard on Have You Heard George’s Podcast? and Genesis, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.
June 7, 2020
5:15am 1 hour. Wrote out more partials. Discovered that if you line up the fractions in order of complexity with 1 being the least complex, up to 15/16 the most, you get a line going from least to most dissonant. The 7’s. They’re right in the middle. And 11. Where are they in the theory?
6:45pm 1 hours. Listened to Genesis, Invisible Touch because F wanted to, and Passenger and Gregory Alan Isakov doing Simon and Garfunkel’s “Kathy’s Song” because a high school friend shared it. June 6, 2020
5:15am 1.5 hours. Tried to work out the ratios for all the modes, assuming people didn’t actually sing fractions above 15. So 11th partial must be allowed. Thought about Phrygian mode, how it gets to be in the modes even though it’s weird and hard to sing, but Yaman doesn’t get to be there because it has the 11th partial which is an accidental in the “diatonic” scale. So arbitrary. It’s easier to sing than Phrygian!
6:45pm 1.5 hours. Listening to Genesis Genesis. Started reading Jeppesen’s modal counterpoint book. Wondering, if this book is so good, why weren’t there a bunch of Beethovens in the US. There were. Amy Beach, Menotti, etc. They all compared what they learned from writing those motets in the style of Lassus to the piano, though. Dissonance is different on the piano. We’ll just keep the spirit of it but make it sound good in the piano sketches. Then learn to orchestrate afterward, sort of. It’s not their fault. Beethoven’s piano was tuned differently. They were being true to their equal temperament. Does this mean I can do better? I don’t know. It’s hard, and I’m not much of a violist yet. I guess you have to write a little bit, play it in a well temperament, try things out on the instruments, let it sit for a while, sing it… not sure if recording multiple parts together would be helpful. Probably, since getting things performed is not going to happen soon. Maybe stay humble and hold it all lightly.
June 5, 2020
5:30am 1.5 hours Thought about whether I had a burning desire to understand music. Never have been satisfied with any amount of musical education or experience. Always felt unworthy because of that, but maybe that’s what a burning desire is.
6:45pm 1 hour Listening to Genesis Duke.
June 4, 2020
5:15am 1.5 hours Summarized the first part of the dialogue. Thought about the phrase “young student.” Looked at life expectancy in Vienna in the 16th and 17th century, which was 34. Calculated how long it took Fux to learn to compose if he learned to compose before his thirty year career counting from when he got hired by the emperor. Ten years, not counting five years of college, and time learning to play music before college. A weighty decision. How much sooner he could have learned if he had had his own book as a teenager. I can relate. At least I have it now.
6:45pm 1.5 hours Listened to Nina Simone I Put a Spell on You and Public Enemy, “Fight the Power.”
June 3, 2020
5:15am 1.5 hours learned about prima prattica and seconda prattica. Listened to a lot of parts of Bach’s B minor mass to try to hear the difference. Made a metaphor for F that it’s like people standing on the steps of a building, and in Palestrina style, they all hold hands and move up and down the steps together, but in the Agnus Dei, one of them leaps up, and they all have to catch up somehow. Read a definition later that in primo prattica, all dissonance had to be prepared and move by step, but in seconda prattica, it could move by leap.
6:45pm 1.5 hours Listened to Genesis Selling England by the Pound. Read about Colin Larkin and the Encyclopedia of Popular Music.
June 2, 2020
5:15am 1.5 hours Read the notes at the end of the translation of Gradus I’m reading and the intro to the volume on fugues. Gathered that accidentals should not be used in the first part unless they ameliorate a diminished fifth or augmented fourth, or make a better cadence. Apparently Fux wrote a chapter about modes but I don’t have it. Having the easel in the front yard works much better. Flat space for a yoga mat and it’s easier to see the sunrise. Also neighbors walk by. It’s nice. Always imagined doing composition publicly but low key.
6:45pm 1.5 hours. Listened to podcasts on the first three songs of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, “Lost Ones,” “Ex-Factor,” and “To Zion,” and listened to part of the analysis of “Doo Wop (That Thing).”
June 1, 2020
5:15am 1.5 hours. read about whether or not to use flats or sharps; looked where Fux used accidentals.
6:45pm 1.5 hours Listened to Marvin Gaye Trouble Man and Here My Dear. Apparently Trouble Man was mentioned in the movie, Captain America: Winter Soldier. Surprised how latin his music sounds.
May 31, 2020
5:15am 1.5 hours. tried to summarize the intro and chap. 1. The professor replied but I couldn’t understand it. Ordered the book. Researched what kind of algebra I need to know to get the theory. Thought about what Fux said about beautiful melodies heard day and night. I think it’s about audiation. And thinking about if from childhood you loved consonances. I think that has to do with early exposure to music… we know some early training is necessary. Before it seemed very fluffy but now they all seem like practical recommendations. Even good health and a way to pay the bills. It’s all necessary. Moved desk outside.
6:45pm 1.5 hours. listening to Marvin Gaye I Want You. Listened to a clip of “Doo Wop” by Lauryn Hill in a dance remix at a dance party today. Played the song and found a podcast dissecting the album. Hope they go into musical analysis. There’s always so much to say about the people… but then again, we are complicated people, and we have so much information about everyone now. With some historical figures, it’s maybe easier to get to know them by analyzing their music. Still, listening to Marvin Gaye, it’s so satisfying to hear someone whose contribution seems to be in the music as well as the singing/acting. He played drums, worked on remixes, made the first soul concept album… and Wikipedia describes his works as compositions.
May 30, 2020
5:15am 1.5 hours the hours seemed to disappear today. fell into looking at why Fux uses flat b’s and when he uses sharps. Read about Jeppesen’s book on modal counterpoint. Played through the melodies one more time with and without flats. Want to set up a just intonation keyboard.
6:30pm 1.5 hours listening to Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On. Only for 30 minutes. Forgot.
May 29, 2020
5am 30 min. tried to understand first light as opposed to dawn, and how to go to bed before 10, and when to have first sleeps and second sleeps, and made a circular chart showing that fourths and fifths are all 3:2 except between D and A which is 40:27; tritones are between F and B only, and the only kinds of thirds are major and minor, but there are two kinds of seconds: 9:8 and 10:9, and actually mixolydian has a 10:9 major second between 1 and 2nd degrees, even though the other intervals are major. I think people corrected the 40:27 to a 3:2, but did they use 10:9 or 9:8 when singing in mixolydian? Dorian is older than this overlapping system, a time when the intervals were chosen, not fit into a keyboard layout. How can you tell from a melody what kind of second it has between the first two degrees?
6:45pm 1 hour listened to the rest of Aretha Franklin, Amazing Grace. Wow. A Gospel album. I knew she was the daughter of a preacher, but never heard her sing gospel before. At the end of the last song when she says she god religion, I believe her. Also listened to Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On. His voice is like silk, and the arrangements are surprisingly fluid and experimental, structurally, harmonically, rhythmically, timbrally…
May 28, 2020
5am 45 min. tried to figure out all the interval ratios between all the notes in the diatonic scale. not done yet.
6:45pm 1 hour listened to part of Aretha Franklin Amazing Grace.
May 27, 2020
5am 30 min. Read Gradus for about half an hour, trying to rewrite the rules, finally realized if he could have written it in less words, he would have, and it will be a game of trying to find ways to understand all the exceptions. Looked at a run of a few notes that made a tritone, but formed a five chord, so it was okay.
6:45 pm 1 hour Listened to Dvořak 5 and spotted the Tchaikovsky theme in the second movement. Heard that at the Tchaikovsky conservatory several times.
May 26, 2020
5am 30 min. ended up working for an hour researching the reason the ottava battuta and quinta battuta are not allowed. sent an email to a professor who wrote a book applying math to composition practices.
7pm 1 hour Listened to the rest of Aretha Franklin Soul 69 which we started yesterday.
May 25, 2020
4:45am 30 min. Learned about the rule that you can only move outer voices outward to an octave on a downbeat and thought about why.
6:45pm 1 hour Listened to the rest of Aretha Franklin’s Aretha Now.
May 24, 2020
4:45am 30 min. played through cantus firmi on keyboard with headphones. made some notes about a new sleep schedule.
1-3pm 2 hours danced to some very synthy music at an online dance party. had hardly any remixes or even vocal samples. was just almost entirely beats and synth pads with synth bass and drum machines. they’re from new york. minimalist dance music? Also we listened to Dvořak 6. I liked it. He carries the mantle of Beethoven well. And I’m sure there is a reference to one of the dance numbers in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin in the beginning of the fourth movement.
6pm 1 hour Listened to Hindemith’s Serena symphony and Aretha Franklin’s most of Aretha Now.
May 23, 2020
5:45am 1 hour read more of gradus, decided i needed a bigger keyboard. spent all morning searching for an ACDC adaptor and sorting audio and computer cables
6pm 2 hours listened to and watched an 45 min. of episode 9 of starwars. researched streaming concerts that are live. ultimately didn’t listen to any of them. Also watched the trailer to Willow. Didn’t realize the theme music was so iconic. Ah, James Horner of Star Trek and Aliens.
May 22, 2020
5:30am 15 min walked
6am 1:15 researched the scale of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night,” finally settling on an African American nonequidistant hexatonic scale with occasional natural third. Did sun salutations.
5:45pm 15 min I’m going to stop writing in walks.
6:15pm 45 min.
8:15pm 15 min.
May 21, 2020
5:30am 15 min. walked and sang. voice feels better
6am 1:15 learned about plagal and authentic modes, and whether my cantus firmi are one or the other. Recopied melodies and changed them a bit. Did sun salutations.
5:45pm 15 min. walked and sang.
6:15pm 45 min. listened to Aretha Franklin’s I Never Loved a Man the Way that I love You.
8:15pm 15 min.
May 20, 2020
5:30 15 min. walked and sang. voice feels wimpy today, so cold.
6am 1:15 looked at interesting scale used in “Where did you Sleep Last Night,” on Nirvana’s unplugged album. listened to the whole recording to try to figure out what other notes are in the scale besides the triad with the major and minor third degree. In the bass at the end is an emphatic major run up to the tonic, so that’s that. Major scale with both minor and major third.
5:45pm 15 min. walked and sang. talking voice was sore today. maybe from an argument yesterday. or maybe from humming quietly and quite high in the morning while arranging these tunes.
6:15pm 45 min. actually did this at 8, listened to Aretha Franklin’s Aretha: Lady Soul. It was mind blowing. They shout-sing, but still. It was so soulful. So syncopated, so together, but together so slightly off the beat all the time in expected ways for the genre, but more so. And the harmonies were amazing. All the singers were as good as Aretha.
8:15pm 15 min. did exercises. tried to follow breath.
May 19, 2020
5:30 15 min. walked a bit, woke up late
6am 1:15 wrote out rag bhopali composition as a cantus firmus and looked at typical sitar tuning. Pretty sure my sitar in India was tuned at B. Used musical memory to figure out key of Russian folk song I learned in Russia. Pretty sure it’s a quarter tone sharp of Ab, but then again, it was a tape recording, so it was probably a half step flat from how she recorded it.
5:45 15 min. walked and sang
6:15pm 45 min.
8:15 15 min. did exercises, following breath
May 18, 2020
5:30am 15 min. walked and sang
6am 1:15 worked on finding correct key and clef for tunes I want to use as cantus firmi. Did sun salutations and tried to be led by breath. Why do I consider this musical?
5:45pm 15 min. walked and sang
6:15pm 45 min. listened to half of Fleetwood Mac Future Games.
8:15pm 15 min. breathed and did exercises
my friend asked me something about something else and I said “it’s a hustle” and it got me thinking maybe what I’m doing here might be a hustle. it’s easy to say that it keeps me going, that as a housewife there are only a few moments and ways I can engage with music, and this keeps me hanging on until my kids are grown.
and that’s true… but don’t take the false impression that this is all I’ve ever done with music. These aphoristic and breezy comments on albums come after years of writing about music in academia. These practices of stretching and walking and singing and composing come after years and years of practice, playing in hundreds of ensembles, two degrees in music, having multiple voice coaches, a personal trainer, a yoga teacher, and someone who taught me a special mantra.
also a disclaimer, and perhaps I need to hear this as well, the road to Parnassus is about the walking: the rocks in my shoes, the exhausted breaks by the side of the trail, questioning the whole thing and then finding the strength to go on, the dreamy late evening rambles and the early morning hustle. in the sense that it’s cold but move your muscles and you’ll feel good afterward. that kind of hustle.
i had a teacher once compare me to a charlatan. maybe because i was always trying to talk people into things. i think that feels gross, though. it was just a habit. what is worth doing? a gentlewoman composer? a dilettante? i have deep knowledge and interest so that’s not it. quack… do i pretend to have skill, knowledge, qualification or credentials they don’t have… well, i have a masters in composition now, and i have some skills, and not others; some knowledge about music and not some other. Can I heal people? Sometimes. Am I trying to gain people’s trust in order to defraud them, gain fame or other advantages? Nope.
It feels nice to be accountable to this screen. It would be nice to get like 700 people to come here once in a while. My name used to come up in google searches but it doesn’t anymore because I stopped performing, but it does come up on my friends sites, where I’m credited in performances. I stopped doing new music gigs because I wanted to expand my horizons beyond what felt comfortable. I had no technique as a singer and wanted it. It didn’t feel right to fake it. Then there were a lot of problems learning basic technique because I had had a surgery as a kid and consequently didn’t use my abs on a regular basis. By the time all that got partly sorted out I was too old to compete.
By the time I went and learned what I needed to learn outside of the academy, there was no way to get back in. Not without massive debt, which might have always been the case. Went to a little school in Texas. Got into Calarts as well but chose Texas, where we were living. Used my inheritance to pay the tuition and we lived like paupers. Couldn’t perform much or be in everyone’s shows or write all the things because of two young kids and husband working 3/4 time. Learned what was necessary. A beginning. West coast and East coast met in the middle. New music and strings and me. Now to push it out of me.
May 16, 2020
5:30am, 15 min.
6am, 1 hour
7am, 15 min.
4pm, 15 min.
4:30pm, 1 hour
6pm, 15 min. uh this is way too complicated
May 15, 2020
5:30am, 15 min. sang mantra
6am, 1 hour copied cantus firmi and tried to find original key and clef
7am, 15 min. did some yoga and tried to follow breath
12pm, 1 hour listened to rest of Fleetwood Mac, Tango in the Night and Fleetwood Mac
4pm, 15 min. went for walk and sang mantra
6pm, 15 min. went for walk and sang mantra
May 14, 2020
5:30am, 1.5 hours
Listened to some Amy Winehouse songs and read about her on Wikipedia. Listened to part of Fleetwood Mac, Tango in the Night. Very impressed by McVie’s songs. Remembered she was the inspiration for saying I wanted to play the piano and sing when I grew up, as a little kid. My keyboard made that winkling sound on the beginning of “Everywhere”. Figured out that the Dr. Who theme is in phrygian mode and read about the person who realized the tune with the electronic instruments, Delia Derbyshire. Learned the tenor octave clef was invented in the eighteenth century while trying to figure out why someone would reckon dissonances down from tenor to alto. Would if you had two g clefs. Read some more of Gradus ad Parnassum.
May 13, 2020
5:33am, 1.5 hours
Found tunes for Mixolydian and Lydian modes. Listened to Fleetwood Mac Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. Listened to The Moody Blues Days of Future Passed, Deep Purple “Burn” and “Smoke on the Water”. Because I always thought “Nights in White Satin” was by Fleetwood Mac.
May 12, 2020
5:33am, 1.5 hours
read some of the translated Gradus ad Parnassum and tried to find melodies that would work as cantus firmus. Found one for each mode except phrygian, plus a pentatonic and one that has both major and minor third. They’re “live fish,” that is, they’re melodies i care about and they’re still flopping, that is, they feel like they could go any number of places. This feels important. Before when I worked through the melodies given they felt old and cold and dead like the marble of a church floor. Read that Beethoven used major and minor only. I might skip phrygian.
The cantus firmi must start and end on the same note, the tonic of the mode, for these short exercises, I think, and they can’t have a lot of the embellishment notes that come with the melody. They have to be the skeleton, but sorting that out is tricky. What are the bones, and what are repetitions, or cadential figures? That’s hard work. Also, since every note has to be the same length, if you take out a lot of embellishments in one part, you sort of have to take out more notes in the other part to keep the relative weight of the different scale degrees in the melody.
Listened to some Dire Straights songs.
May 11, 2020
7am, 2 hours
12, 1 hour
4pm, 1 hour
revamped schedule, scrapped this one, listened to more of Rumors and most of the Talking Heads concert video, Stop Making Sense.
May 10, 2020
7am, 2 hours
Listening to Fleetwood Mac Rumors and reading about Mic’s balls.
May 9, 2020
7am, 1 hour
Listened to Ella Fitzgerald How Long Has This Been Going On.
May 8, 2020
7am, 1 hour
Listening to Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Rodgers and Hart Songbook. Looked up the word “counterpane” from in “Dancing on the Ceiling” in etymonline.com, an etymological dictionary–it comes from counterpoint, because the quilts were made of squares, or panes, juxtaposed. So does that make a composer a quilter? I like that.
Rodgers and Hart seems more classy somehow… everyone’s a “sir” and there are more chords somehow and they go together better. Also the words make more sense than the Gershwin ones. And it swings just as much. Maybe not as much blues though. Okay, the lyrics of Cole Porter are the best. Looked them all up in Wikipedia. Surprised that Rodgers and Hart are American. Thought they were British.
May 7, 2020
6:30am, 1 hour
Realized I need to wait until the kids are supposed to get up to play music. Listened to Ella and Louis. It’s good. There are a lot of place songs, like “Stars Fell on Alabama,” “Moonlight in Vermont,” “April in Paris,” and London (“A Foggy Day”). Jazz musicians took pains to reach out, try to get a bigger audience, promote. There’s something nostalgic about this album. A lot of breakup songs near the beginning. It feels like they’re saying goodbye to bop. There’s a line in “Tenderly,” where Louis says, “You took my chops away from bops, tenderly”.
I thought, wow, who’s that pianist? Oscar Peterson. Oh. Yeah. It kind of goes to show how ensemble oriented these musicians were. I listened to “The Priest, They Called Him,” by Kurt Cobain and William S. Burroughs and couldn’t help but noticing that Kurt couldn’t shut up. He was just so present all the time. Not a good accompanist at all.
May 6, 2020
6:30am, 1 hour
Phew. Listened to the end of Ella Fitzgerald Sings the George and Ira Gershwin Songbook. I’d like to know what actual influence this album had on jazz. It seems fundamental, or maybe it’s a compilation that celebrated what were already the classics. Or maybe it popularized and standardized what a small coterie of people were doing and made it legendary.
Listening to a podcast called “The Triforce” and they were talking about how everyone has an opinion these days and don’t realize that their opinions don’t matter. I realize my opinion doesn’t matter, but I still like to do this. I guess that’s it. When I was an opera singer, realizing that I was never going to be famous hurt, because I didn’t like singing opera that much. But doing this is fun. It’s not that singing isn’t fun; it’s that it was such hard work every day, that for me there had to be a payoff. This is hard work, too. Many days I don’t want to listen to anything new or think… too busy etc. But I watched a youtube video by Twosetviolin, about practicing, and they said to get your instrument, and it was very late and the kids were asleep. I thought about getting my viola… thought about singing, but ultimately I opened up the browser to Ella because that’s what I’m practicing right now. And the next few days it’s been easier to listen. That taught me good discipline, being an opera singer for a while.
Listened to Stokowsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition”. Listened to Ravel’s the other day.
May 5, 2020
7am, 1 hour
Listening to more of Ella Fitzgerald Sings the George and Ira Gershwin Songbook. It’s very thick. Thinking a lot about vocal technique. Her lower notes bother me. She got a wobble by 50. So… I thought it was tension before her vibrato comes in in the high notes, but reading about the wobble on voiceteacher.com, came to the conclusion that pushing your voice down really is bad. Does anyone ever not develop a wobble? Sure. Anyone I like? Don’t know. Did Ella do better than most? Was her artistry wonderful even if she had flaws? Sure. She sang a lot of tenor songs. I wonder if they were always transposed for her or if she sang them in the tenor keys.
May 4, 2020
7am, 1 hour
Listened to half of the Ella Fitzgerald Sings the George and Ira Gershwin Songbook a few days ago and today. Also getting the feeling that it’s about the composer. Maybe she’s performing that humility. We were listening to John Eliot Gardner’s Beethoven. I liked it. We talked about how some conductors try to put their stamp on the music, while some just try to figure out what the composer was trying to do and support that. I pointed out that people who play period instruments might also pay more attention to other historic aspects of the music, to accuracy, etc. It feels like that’s what these Ella recordings are about. Also she’s a genius. Her singing isn’t perfect, but she pulls it right back in balance every time. It’s about adjusting.
Apr. 27, 2020
7am, 1 hour
Listening to the rest of Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook. I guess this is about Cole Porter. Ella’s singing, somehow she gets away with a depressed larynx on certain notes only, but her air pressure is so steady… also some high notes have no vibrato. More and more I think vocal “mistakes” are okay if the person lets go of the tension immediately afterward, or balances it with a different tension. Anyway, this orchestra is amazing! And the orchestrations! So varied, so full… Buddy Bregman was the arranger/orchestrator. Wow. I want to check out his other stuff later.
Apr. 24, 2020
7am, 1 hour
Listening to a Trevor Noah monologue the mentioned “Mambo No. 5” by Lou Bega so listened to it again. He’s another outsider, that is, looking in at the US, and biracial like me, so doubly outside. Except I’m American. But traveling away for a year a couple of times and then coming back reminds me how to see us from the outside. It’s so valuable, that perspective.
Listened to Emerson Lake and Palmer doing the second movement of Prokofiev’s Scythian Suite from the documentary Planet of the Humans. The music was so exciting. It sounded sometimes rhythmic like rock, but there’s an orchestra. It perfectly fit the movie, or created the mood. I wonder if the “primitivism” in the Scythian suite was actually Prokofiev’s take on rock music.
Apr. 23, 2020
7:30am, 1 hour
Listened to “Machine Head” by Bush on the Madden NFL 11 soundtrack. Heard Panic! at the Disco’s “High Hopes,” from my neighbor’s party. Seems a little disjunct now, with everything shut down. Looked up the video, the guy in the suit. Seems totally inappropriate in the age of climate change. I always thought he was black before I looked it up, which made it seem to make a little more sense, but now I don’t know what to think. Still it’s a great song.
Apr. 22, 2020
7:20am, 1 hour
Listened to half of Ella Fitzgerald sings the Cole Porter Songbook. I’m interested in her vocalism… but also the composition of these supremely simple songs. with so much monotone!
Apr. 21, 2020
7:30am, 1 hour
Listened to the rest of Hex Induction Hour. I guess I had actually listened to most of it yesterday. Sometimes the album that comes up has lots of extra versions of songs and extra things so it seems really long. I dig the monotone music. It’s different.
Apr. 20, 2020
7:30am, 1 hour
Listened to half of Hex Induction Hour by The Fall. This album is really dense. Got caught on “Who Makes the Nazis,” and reading an interpretation that mentioned Alex Chilton, want to see who he is, because there’s also a song called “Alex Chilton” by The Replacements.
Apr. 19, 2020
7:30 am, 1 hour
Listened to half of The Wonderful and Frightening World of the Fall by The Fall.
Apr. 18, 2020
7:30 am, 1 hour
Listened to Dragnet by Fallout. While doing a video game about false information and propaganda. The rhythm in “A Figure Walks,” is one of my favorites. I respect this music because by being monotone, they nail the rhythms. This is one of the only songs yet on this list by rock musicians, not jazz, that makes me want to dance.
Apr. 17, 2020
7:30am, 1 hour
Listened to the rest of The Fall’s Shift Work. I wonder if I’ve been looking at politics more acutely since listening to this album. It’s on of the few not available as a full playlist online. I wonder about those.
Apr. 15, 2020
7:30am, 1 hour
We just listened to The Fall’s “The War Against Intelligence,” and then read about Margaret Thatcher and the first Iraq war.
Apr. 14, 2020
7:30am 1 hour
Listened to part of Shift Work by The Fall.
Apr. 13, 2020
7:30am 1 hour
Listened to The Fall This Nation’s Saving Grace, a post punk band.
Apr. 12, 2020
10am, a couple of hours
We watched a production called Dancing on Dangerous Ground by the former female lead of Riverdance, and talked about culture, ethnicity, race. There was an Asian American in the cast who was a great dancer but couldn’t be cast as the lead, we assumed. Talked about how searching back in history yields less cool stuff. Watched part of actual Riverdance and then some highland games performances of step dancing. Looked up tap dance and looked up juba dancing and hambone, English clog dancing, and more highland games. All pretty lame on their own. Then looked up Bill “Bojangles” Robinson’s “Stair Dance.” Decided that you always have to construct cultural pride.
Watched a broadway rehearsal video of “Anything Goes,” from the music of the same name, where I learned to tap. I lied to the choreographer and said I could already tap. When she found out she was sad, but it ended up being fine. I pulled it off.
The rhythm of tap is really cool. I like how it’s a way to play an instrument and dance at the same time. It’s fun, and it’s made out of cultural contributions of the two groups who contributed to my culture, and my genes, personally.
Talked with F about how the fusion in Fairport Convention feels really natural. They have elements of blues because they’re a rock band and they have a drum set and a funky bass player. They also have a fiddle, viola, and lots of Celtic themes in their lyrics. Contrasted to the fusion of the 1990s, which seemed more forced, I wonder what happened.
Apr. 11, 2020
7:30am, 1 hour
Listened to Fairport convention, the song by the violinist, Ric Sanders, “Summer in December,” a very sweet sounding almost classical piece, after listening to Emerson Lake and Palmer and commenting on how improvised it sounded, and wanting to share this piece. This started a conversation about nationalism because F kept saying how Celtic Fairport convention sounds.
Apr. 9, 2020
7:30am, 1 hour
Listened to Jewel in the Crown by Fairport Convention. British folk rock. That’s what it’s called. Listened to JayZ “Empire State of Mind,” and thought about New York. Looked up Richard Hawley, who wrote “Long Black Train.” I’m hearing a lot of resonance with American country music in British folk rock. Especially the ballads but also some of the phrase structure and rhythms, like three’s.
Apr. 8, 2020
7:30am, 1 hour
Listening to the “blocked in country” songs from Fullhouse. “Now Be Thankful” is a masterpiece, with the mixolydian scale gets me every time. It’s the pop side of Ligety and everyone using old music in new ways.
Apr. 7, 2020
7:30am, 1 hour
There’s a solo at the end of “Dirty Linen” that has a spondee at the end and that rhythm comes to me seemingly naturally, and comes back whenever i improvise. i think these are my people. Fairport Convention, Fullhouse.
Apr. 6, 2020
7:30am, 1 hour
Listening to Fairport Convention Unhalfbricking. I really like her singing. It’s so head in the head voice, chest in the chest voice, relaxed, and she does the Celtic embellishments that come so naturally to me. The whole point doesn’t seem to be about getting famous, but about spiritual progress.
Mar. 31, 2020
7am, 1 hour
Listened to Fairport Convention What We Did On Our Holidays. I’m surprised I hadn’t heard of these people before. They seem integral to the hippie sound, and also an interesting early form of afro-celtic fusion.
Mar. 30, 2020
7am, 1 hour
Listened to Fairport Convention Liege and Lief. Wow, so that’s where Led Zeppelin got the idea for “Stairway to Heavan”. Very compelling. I’d like to sing like that. I could do that. Improvising in the Celtic tradition comes naturally to me. It’s why the blues comes naturally to me, and Bach’s endless melodies seems to flow out.
Mar. 27, 2020
7am, 1 hour
Listened to Newport ’58. I liked this one a lot, too. Sorry I haven’t been writing a lot of notes. We listen to these now during breakfast before our walk; my two kids are distance learning now… formerly there was more time to think about the music, listening while the kids were at school. They’re a nice sanity check, to put on a new album in the morning. Especially these. It transforms my kitchen into something suave.
Mar. 26, 2020
7am, 1 hour
Listened to Ellington at Newport ’56.
Mar. 24, 2020
7am, 1 hour
Listened to Ellington Indigos and finally realized why the song, “Mood Indigo,” is called that. It’s a blues. There is a version of “Autumn Leaves,” in French and English on this album and the singer, József Kozma, has such beautiful vibrato and musicianship. Wow.
Mar. 23, 2020
7am, 1 hour
Listened to Money Jungle by Duke Ellington and Max Roach, and the band of course. I sometimes skip a day and change the date on here. It’s because it’s embarrassing to admit some days the listening doesn’t happen. From now on I’ll try to be more honest.
Mar. 22, 2020
7am, 1 hour
listened to a friend’s playlist of electronica. composed an improvised trio plus percussion using cello, viola and violin and some drum sticks on a piece of foam. Remembered you have to tune the instruments if you want to play them together. Realized why most people play only one instrument. Was not satisfied with the result at all. A string piece needs a plan, or else technical fluency on the instruments.
Mar. 21, 2020
7am, 1 hour
Listened to Duke Ellington The Jimmy Blanton Years. F brought up Count Basie. I said I can’t help dancing to Ellington, that’s the difference, but maybe need to relisten to Basie. Basie sounds so classy to me. Ellington is just infectious, so to speak:)
Mar. 20, 2020
7am, 1 hour
Listened to The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, and it’s really pretentious, but precocious too, and literate. And classic. I could tell this was the earliest album of his I’d listened to so far, but there’s such a sense of hope, not all degraded and downtrodden as in the later ones. I love the line in “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall,” where it talks about knowing your song well before you start singing.
Mar. 19, 2020
7am, 1 hour
Listened to Bringing It All Back Home by Bob Dylan. This writing is the most rewarding thing I’ve done in music since improvising. Love to anyone who’s reading.
Mar. 18, 2020
7am, 1 hour
Michael says, “You can also learn to compose by doing it.”
Listened to Highway 61 Revisited of Bob Dylan. Michael also said, “Listening is a lot. It might be everything.”
Mar. 17, 2020
7am, 1 hour
Listened to Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks. I Love “Rosemary, Lily and the Jack of Hearts.” It’s… the rhyme scheme. It’s incredible. And his delivery.
Mar. 16, 2020
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde. Explained to the kids that even though it sounds like Bob Dylan is talking and not singing, his lyrics are really good, which is why his songs have been played by so many people. Then realized actually, that he sounds like he’s talking, or, just saying whatever occurred to him at the time, means it’s masterful singing and acting, and not many people have been able to sing his songs.
Mar. 15, 2020
9am, 1 hour
Schools have closed. Listened to Waiting for the Sun of The Doors. I can’t believe how French it all sounds. Especially “The River Knows” but also “Soul Kitchen”. Listened to Scott Weiland singing “Five to One” and “Break On Through” then Stone Temple Pilots’ “Interstate Love Song”. The bass voice is somewhat rare in rock. I really respect his impression of Jim Morrison. These words all only matter if you care.
Mar. 13, 2020
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Strange Days of The Doors.
Mar. 12, 2020
9am, 1 hour God willing
Listened to The Doors Morrison Hotel. Talked about keyboardist Ray Manzarek. It’s not what I’d want to play, too out front, exposed! But it’s iconic. And it’s good. And he doesn’t play perfectly. It sounds a bit organ grinder, but the modulations possible with this band because of the prominent keyboard push the lyricist into new territory. And I think those far out lyrics push the timbres further out in turn.
Mar. 11, 2020
9am, 1 hour
Listened to The Doors L.A. Woman and read about symbolist poets.
Mar. 10, 2020
9am, 1 hour, God willing
Listened to The Doors by The Doors. My first boyfriend was obsessed with The Doors. I almost can’t hear the music; I’ve listened to it so many times with such particular feelings. It was like a talisman that kept me alive during one year. Now I hear the jangly influence of The Byrds, the lyrics influenced by psychedelic culture. I also figured out all these songs on the piano and the guitar as a teenager. It was the first time I got something to sound like the radio version, because I cared so much. I especially remember playing “The End” and singing, with a drone on the piano. This was before I went to India. Along with the Counting Crows song, “A Long December,” this song may have been one reason I moved to California. The poetry of The Doors is just so good.
Mar. 9, 2020
9am, 1 hour, God willing and the creek don’t rise.
(I thought the best contribution a musician could make is some help in timing the washing of the hands… but maybe it’s the regular pacing of work, even in times of pain and fear.)
Listened to Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew. Wow. This was my college experience, but I never heard it until now. Thanks, Mark.
Mar. 6, 2020
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis. A different kind of album. Sort of pretentious title. Liked it a lot. The most amazing part was the long improv on some kind of minor scale, where I felt the two worlds of jazz and Arab/Spanish music colliding and refracting through a shared history. Very cool.
Mar. 5, 2020
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Miles Davis, Birth of the Cool. Felix said he liked the keyboards. I agree. Also the word cool… this was before saying “cool” was cool.
Mar. 4, 2020
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Miles Davis In a Silent Way. Wow. I was able to think more clearly while listening to this.
Mar. 3, 2020
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Miles Davis, Kinda Blue. What a comforting album. It’s like an old friend. This morning my child told me that the kind of help I do in the community is through my instruments. Thank you all for listening to my listening. It’s a trip, mostly because a lot of this music my dad used to listen to, but sometimes because I can straighten out some misconceptions, eg that Kate Bush is different form Katie Perry, and CSN&Y is different from CCR.
And also because sometimes a band like The Cure was around the airwaves when I was growing up, overshadowed by newer stuff but still somehow part of life, and it’s nice to put it in context and see what they accomplished. They might be part of why I had such a hard time accepting operatic technique. It sounded so polished compared to The Cure, a band which sounds as earnest as I feel, while sometimes flopping… but that’s what happens when you’re not holding anything back. At least that’s what I thought before I learned how to sing.
Now it just sounds like he doesn’t ever go into head voice, so his pushed up chest voice is really croaky.
Real opera singing (not recordings or the edited Met stream) is brave as hell and also flops and isn’t perfect all the time. That’s what I love about it. It’s a high wire act. And you can flop, just like a gymnast. Good performers can turn the mistakes into art. There are people who don’t know how to use their head voice, and composers who don’t know how to write for it, and people who build venues too big so people have to sing too loud, but there’s a craft that works, and sometimes people get it right. I don’t want to hold them to unreasonable standards anymore, as a student does naturally.
Sometimes when opera singing sounds bad, people say it’s more about the acting than the music. But it could just be that part failed. It was a crappy part through which a person moved as they tried to express things through music. And when they do get there, as Robert Smith does sometimes, it’s mind blowing. He can do that with no head voice. So imagine what a person can do if they’re A) not obsessed with sounding perfect B) have a rudiment of vocal understanding including about registers, vowels, posture and C) are willing to go slow, breath, and listen to their body as they sing? Also of course transposing songs to an appropriate key helps too. I guess you would have to have a musical feeling or sense, and some desire to communicate that with others. And of course the leisure to pursue this, supportive loved ones, appropriate models offering different challenges, and someone to offer objective feedback (could even be your roommate – whether they turn their music up when you’re practicing, or down).
Mar. 2, 2020
9am, 1 hour
Listened to The Cure, Faith. Ate at a restaurant owned by a Palestinian in the US. Went home and looked up Kahlil Gibran’s life story again.
Feb. 26, 2020
9am, 1 hour
Listened to The Cure’s Wish.
Feb. 25, 2020
9am, 1 hour
Listened to The Cure’s Disintegration. He finally sounds like he means the love songs, starting with “Lovesong.” I found a quote of the singer’s about how hard it is for him to sing love songs, straight sentiment, and how he always felt the need to disguise it.
Feb. 24, 2020
9am, 1 hour
Listened to The Cure’s Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me. Somehow this sounds so not romantic at all, like he’s not even attracted to the person he’s singing about. Listened to Credence Clearwater Revival after realizing the reason I expected Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young to sound like roots rock is because I mixed up these bands.
Feb. 22, 2020
2pm, 1 hour
Listened to The Cure’s Pornography.
Feb. 21, 2020
Listened to If I Could Only Remember My Name by David Crosby. Listened to Wind on the Water by Crosby and Nash.
Feb. 19, 2020
9am, 30 min.
Listened to Deja Vu. Listened to “Wooden Ships” a couple more times. Listened to the Jefferson Airplane version.
Feb. 18, 2020
9am, 1.5 hour
Listened to Stephen Stills 1.
Feb. 16, 2020
9:30am, 1 hour
Listened to Crosby Stills and Nash self titled album. My dad had this one. Also listened to Heart, “Barracuda”.
Feb 12, 2020
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Elvis Costello Armed Forces. It’s hard to listen to. It’s good, but he sounds like he’s about to fall down all the time. The words are so clever in a song like “Chemistry Class,” the melodies so interesting, the rhythm so coordinated, and sections to clearly contrasting and well proportioned… but it sounds like he didn’t bother to learn how to sing. It’s like listening to someone performing their own compositions, and you hope they get covered, or at least that other people took this influence and ran with it.
“Party Girl” uses the baseline and chorus at the end from the end of the Beatles, “You Never Give Me Your Money,” on the words, “one sweet dream came true today.”
Feb 10, 2020
9:30 am, 1 hour
Listened to Elvis Costello’s Get Happy. There’s a song, “Men Called Uncle” that has the same melody and chord changes in the beginning of the chorus as the Radiohead song, “No Surprises.” Okay, apparently I’m not the first one to point out the influence. Apparently Blood and Chocolate changed the way Thom Yorke thought about recording and writing music, according to Peter Paphides in “Time Out” No. 1420.
Feb 7, 2020
9:30 am, 1 hour
Listened to Elvis Costello’s My Aim Is True. Liked the title track and already knew “Watching the Detectives”
Feb 6, 2020
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Elvis Colstello’s This Year’s Model. Really hear the Dylan influence in the song, “Pump it Up,” which I know from the game, Rock Band.
Feb 5, 2020
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Elvis Costello, Imperial Bedroom. “Little Savage,” the beginning of the chorus, the words right before it says, “He’s just a little savage,” remind me of the Radiohead song, “No Surprises.” Come to think of it, I hear his influence all over the place, the way he uses his voice, and the long serpentine melodies, and the songs with different sections totally different from each other. Elvis Costello does the thing Frank Zappa did where when he wanted to have harmony, he forced his voice too low and also sang in falsetto to get three voices, rather than teaching his song to other people. It’s sad, but I can relate. It can be hard to approach other people about music. But the breathy voice is not good. He’s a great songwriter.
January 31, 2020
11:30am, 1 hour
Listened to Coltrane Jazz. Really enjoyed “Fifth House,” and although “Harmonique” sounded like a mistake, it was striking.
January 28, 2020
9am, 1 hour
Listened to My Favorite Things, which is one of my favorite things. These Coltrane albums sound really familiar. I think I got them in college.
January 27, 2020
11:30am, listened to Giant Steps album.
January 24, 2020
9:30 am, 1 hour
Listened to Pilgrim again. It gets better. Listened to Coltrane’s A Love Supreme.
January 23, 2020
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Eric Clapton’s Slowhand. Read about Marcella Detroit and listened to her song, “Stay.” I wonder why Cream wasn’t in the list. Probably because they made four albums, not five.
January 17, 2020
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Clapton’s Pilgrim which and looked up Chyna Whyne who sings the awesome backup vocals on most of the tracks, including “My Father’s Eyes.” Listened to her song, “Melanin.” This album seems to attempt to do R&B and succeeds on a few tracks. Most of them have odd chord progressions, which sometimes work, sometimes don’t. Many of the songs seem to wander around with no obvious lyrical focus, but the ones that work have a subtlety beyond what you usually hear on rock albums. They sound mature.
January 15, 2020
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Eric Clapton’s From the Cradle, read about Catherine James, and listened again to Jackson Browne’s song, “Under the Falling Sky.” I wonder a lot about the kids of women, musicians or groupies, but somehow less about the children of men who are these musicians. Why? The kid who died and inspired “Tears from Heaven” was the product of an affair. Somehow that makes me blame him less. It’s on the mom. He wasn’t actually involved and doesn’t bear responsibility. I don’t think he’s a terrible father. I think he’s a good musician. Maybe the women were stupid to sleep with him.
Will we ever have a sane debate about abortion while I, as a woman, react this way? Catherine James might not have been a musicologist, but she helped produce great music and a great scene. Should I care if she screwed up her kids? I don’t think she did, which is amazing, but some women have, notably Christa Päffgen. Eric Clapton, Jackson Browne, Jimmy Page, all of these people drank so much and did so many drugs back then, but we forgive the harm they caused to their kids because the music is so good.
They didn’t make it in a vacuum, though. When you’re working on a song, you run things by people, play first versions of stuff for people, discuss ideas for songs and what the point of it all is, and listen listen listen with people to other bands’ music. People point stuff out to you that you didn’t hear. Many of those people could have been women. And those women who offered musical input, when they also screw up their kids, need to be also remembered as musicians, even if they didn’t record a note.
January 14, 2020
9am, 1 hour (9am is an ideal). Listened to Eric Clapton’s Live at MTV Unplugged concert. It was recorded just a couple years before Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged album, which was my favorite as a teenager. “Alberta” with the words, “Alberta, Alberta where’d you sleep last night,” reminds me of my favorite Nirvana cover, “Where Did You Sleep Last Night,” by Leadbelly. Wikipedia lists the origins of the song “In the Pines,” as the contiguous part of southern Appalachia in Kentucky, Tennessee, Northern George and North Carolina, but the town of Welch, my grandmother’s maiden name, is in southern West Virginia near this area.
January 13, 2020
9am, 1 hour
Listened to 461 Ocean Boulevard two more times. This is the first album so far that has done that to me. I thought the most special albums for me would be the ones others would pay the most to hear. Turns out they’re the ones I want to listen to the most.
January 9, 2020
9am, 1 hour
Listened to half of Eric Clapton, 461 Ocean Boulevard. Wow. He makes it sound easy. Actually, this could be our literacy level.
December 30, 2019
9am, 1 hour
Pondered “Copa Cabana” and read about the song and the place.
edit: heard it on a cruise to Mexico
December 20, 2019
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Ray Charles, My World. It’s rare to hear a song about earth. I wonder if you have to be loved by the whole world to do that. He is. It occurs to me that this album hasn’t aged well, the synthesizers… and that the modernists who taught me composition were talking about timbres like people from the 80s. So much hope, yet such disappointment in that technology. Still, some of it has aged well. Xenakis’s tape pieces still sound cool. This Ray Charles album is hit or miss in terms of timbre, but the vocals and the songs are uncompromising as ever. Or rather, they’re timeless. I’m not sure uncompromising is still a complement.
Arguing with Felix over his Christmas playlist. It’s simple. It just needs to be timeless. Questions I wished I’d asked in graduate school: how do I write timeless music?
December 19, 2019
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Ray Charles Genius + Soul = Jazz, The Genius of Ray Charles, The Genius Hits the Road, and Modern Sounds in Country and Western. I can’t believe he did a country album. They used to be not as far apart, even until the early 60s. The Beatles helped change that. Johnny Cash didn’t write “Folsom Prison” but he made it great. So… that’s why I don’t like copyright law. It seems incremental change is the way things work. Nobody can be original all the time and a great performer.
December 18, 2019
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Ride This Train and American Recordings of Johnny Cash. A lot of people had a resurgence of popularity in the 90s. Bob Dylan did too, and the Grateful Dead.
December 17, 2019
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Orange Blossom Special by Johnny Cash. Surprised by all the Bob Dylan. Also that this was his 21st album! Also that his wife sang with him.
December 16, 2019
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Johnny Cash at San Quentin. I can’t believe he wrote that song about San Quentin.
December 15, 2019
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison.
December 13, 2019
9am, 1 hour
This was Saturday… what did I do? We were listening to an a capella version of “The 12 Days of Christmas” that had a parody of Toto’s “Africa,” and the kids were asking about the glissandi in the bass voice, so I played them some Ladysmith Black Mambazo and tried to explain isicathamiya style.
December 12, 2019
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Captain Beefheart Strictly Personal and Lick My Decals Off Baby.
December 11, 2019
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Captain Beefheart Safe as Milk and Clear Spot.
December 10, 2019
9am, 1 hour
Listened the great album, Trout Mask Replica. What a trip. Fast and bulbous. Introduced to me by Mark Applebaum or Phil Ford. Went to hear the Messiah on Sunday. Kids made it through the whole (shortened) thing!
December 8, 2019
8am, 1 hour
Listened to Monster Movie.
December 7, 2019
1pm, 1 hour
Listened to Soon Over Babaluma and Tago Mago. Wow. Inspiring.
December 6, 2019
9am, 1 hour
Ege Bamyasi sounds much better at the right speed. Man that drummer. He’s so speechlike.
December 5, 2019
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Can’s Future Days and Ege Bamyasi. It’s nice to listen to something primarily sonic, or instrumental with minimal intelligible lyrics after listening to Frank Zappa and The Byrds. Frank Zappa’s songs lack internal continuity, like pickups in the drums between sections, or bass licks between sections, that would make it sound more like a song and less like a series of jokes. Maybe it’s intentional. Listened to “San Ber’dino” a few times after it was stuck in my head. The lead singer of Can for a while was born in Japan.
Just found out I listened to the second one at half speed because the person who posted it posted it at half speed to avoid copyright. Whoops. That I didn’t know that until 2/3 through says something!
December 4, 2019
9am, 1 hour
Listened to the Byrds Turn! Turn! Turn! and Fifth Dimension. What is psychedelic music?
December 3, 2019
9am, 1 hour
Listened to the Byrds Beatleesque Mr. Tambourine Man. And thought about why the Beatles were so popular and influential. According to Mark Spicer in his review of Walter Everett’s The Beatles as Musicians: The Quarry through Rubber Soul in Music Theory Online, he says it’s because, among other things, George got the Rickenbacker 12 string electric guitar. This is the one Roger McGuinn of the Byrds later had. This was the hippie sound, especially on the west coast of the US. David Durham writing on Quora says it was because they got so famous.
There are two questions: 1. why did they get so famous. 2. why were they so influential. I think the first one explains the second one. And the first one can be answered this way: they were good, experienced, innovative musicians who took advantage of competent management and producers, as well as technology such as film (Smashy Claw on Smashyclaw.com says they invented the music video), tape loops and dubbing, and innovations in how concerts were organized and promoted.
Their concert venues were bigger; there was a huge generation of teenybopper babyboomers to attend them. They were the first stadium rock group. Then they got a lot of resources because of this fame, both in money for engineering talent, backing orchestras, and technology, but also in access to different pockets of music such as Indian music and all genres of American music, and they were able to respond to it coherently and integrate it. Audiences were there to give instant feedback.
They stopped touring, so they got to be creative but also more relaxed. John Lennon was murdered just after the band broke up, so he became a martyr and they didn’t make a bunch of crappy albums later on.
They wrote in the idiom of American music, but weren’t American, so they functioned as outsider commentators on the events and musics of the United States. They managed this adequately. They refused to play in segregated venues; they wrote about general topics like peace and love and sex, and except for a few issues like opposing the Vietnam war, did not get angry-political (like Bob Dylan). The only difference this makes is that bands from all political persuasions have been able to borrow from them, and executives have been able to make money off them for decades.
Because of these things they became the most popular band. Because of that, because of how music works, many, many people hear them as kids, cementing their influences for generations to come. After them, there were a million stadium bands with music videos, albums where many of the songs are good, and innovative use of different instruments and tape loops. It doesn’t really matter that they were the ones who got to be the first. It could have been another band, but it was them, so it’s their impact we feel through all these other bands today.
For another band to have that kind of reach, it would have to not be a band, since the template for a band is the Beatles. It would have to ride the crest of a huge population surge. It would have to take advantage of a relatively new distribution system for music and combine music with another medium in a novel way that became universal once its utility was recognized. The musicians would have to be competent, creative, and keep it positive for the most part, and they would need a team around them that was rock solid.
Someone, not this band, would have to invent a new distribution system for music and many many musicians would have to try it in different ways to see what worked. People, also not this band, would have to combine music with every conceivable other medium and have successes and failures. Other people would have to evaluate these successes and failures and publicize this information. People would have to be music teachers as well as supportive parents, friends, spouses, and kids. Dancers, visual artists, actors, and other creative people would have to exist and practice to inspire and be inspired. There would have to be national and local media to discuss what all this meant and means. There would need to be people in good enough shape to love, and to love music. There would have to be hope.
Also, for one band to have the kind of attention focused through it into a music, there would have to be the lingering persistence of a monarchy within the fragmented shreds of a world empire. There would have to be the idea of the sovereignty of the subject, or at least the small group, the family. There would have to be ways to travel. There would have to be security, at least most places. There would have to be trust.
December 2, 2019
9am, 1 hour
Listened to the Byrds Younger Than Yesterday.
December 1, 2019
11am, 1 hour
Listened to The Notorious Byrd Brothers. Why do sus chords and guitars with that nasal sustain read “hippie band” to me?
November 29, 2019
9am, 1 hour
Listened to The Sensual World and Never Forever. I can’t tell if the music sounds like freedom, or like someone messing around and doing weird stuff just for the hell of it. Maybe it’s the same thing. She sounds very rock and roll at times. I saw a video where her dancing/pacing was graceful and wonderful. She does sing in tune, even though there’s a flaw in her technique.
November 27, 2019
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love and The Dreaming. I can’t believe how much Tori Amos sounds like her. She uses the darker and lighter, nasal and open qualities of her voice, similar to Tim Buckley. The synthesizers turn me off. Also her high voice. I read her as competition.
November 26, 2019
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Tim Buckley, Happy Sad, and Blue Afternoon. Why did I never hear anything like this before? We sounded so much like this when I improvised with friends.
November 24, 2019
9am, 1 hour
Listened to the rest of Dream Letter. And listened to Kelly Joe Phelps, Sky Like a Broken Clock. Read some more from Invisible Republic and listened to a track, “Long Distance Operator,” from a concert in 1965. Continually impressed by how much rock draws on blues. Rockabilly and Soul being the missing link, but also Country and Folk. Listened to Ambulance Limited’s “Primitive.” Thought it was the Velvet Underground at first. There’s a Frank Zappa song making fun of Tim Buckley but I can’t figure out which one right now.
November 23, 2019
Listened to Tim Buckley’s Starsailor, Goodbye and Hello, and some of Dream Letter. Wow. Closest I’ve heard to what I used to do when I improvised. Irish guy and Italian. It seems there’s a tradition of lovely melodic singing in Italy, Ireland, and Scotland, and wonderful chords in Germany. He was even inspired by Cathy Berberian and Xenakis! But unfortunately, according to Wikipedia, after publishing Starsailor, which wasn’t a commercial success, he began to drink heavily and do drugs, and was totally broke. Why we don’t support our artists, I don’t know.
November 22, 2019
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Jackson Browne’s debut album. Listened to some Nico and the Velvet Underground, because Browne used to date her and cowrote and played on her first solo album. Listened to Allison Kraus and Union Station doing “Opening Farewell” and talked about letting the song breath, or not as in the case of Allison. Talked about expressing words, or making more of the tune, as Bonnie Raitt does in her version, and talked about Browne’s tour with Linda Rondstadt and Joni Mitchell. That’s amazing. A man on tour not being the star. I think that’s pretty special.
November 21, 2019
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Jackson Browne, Still Alive and The Pretender. His lyrics are really amazing. Good choruses too, good singers in the chorus. All kinds. Even sings “Linda Paloma”. Seems like a nice guy somehow. He got into politics. His music seems to be more about other people, like caring for others, than most albums on this list. He’s one of the few who didn’t have a big drug or alcohol problem. I wonder if the natural thing is to start to focus more on others once adolescence is over. Why does our popular music system reward so much people who stay stuck in the selfish mode, usually through addiction? Maybe our system selects for those. What about the rest of the musicians?
November 20, 2019
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Jackson Browne’s Late for the Sky and For Everyman. What strikes me are the lyrics. My dad loved “Take It Easy.” That was his motto. Jackson Browne’s lyrics are simple, sweet, nostalgic but also acknowledging brokenness. A lot like The Band. More intimate though. Many images of the father to a little girl, the inner child, vulnerability and being beat down but still hopeful. The music is more twangy than I remember. It was right on the line as I recall. We couldn’t like country music but this was alright. Class issues.
November 19, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Listened to James Brown’s Pappa’s Got a Brand New Bag. It just occurred to me that “Fake Plastic Trees,” could be talking about the same quality that Rubber Soul, “Polythene Pam,” and the Plastic Ono Band refer to.
November 18, 2019 California
9:15, 1 hour
Listened to the album I Got You. That fourth scale degree on “Lost Someone” oh boy! And “Night Train”! Thank God for this music.
November 15, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Live at the Garden. I love James Brown. Found out “Run, Run, Rudolph” is by Chuck Berry. Trying to remember his name, we thought of Chubby Checker and Fats Domino, and remembered that “Twist and Shout” was a rippoff of “The Twist”. The Beatles were the Bruno Mars of the 60s. Actually neither band wrote either song. They just popularized them.
November 14, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Listened to James Brown Live at the Apollo Vol. 1 and Pure Dynamite! Live at the Royal. Lots of screaming just like early Beatles live shows. Somehow I don’t wonder what it means as much as with the Beatles and especially David Bowie. I don’t think that means it’s unconscious. It seems to be better rehearsed so that the singer can think about other things.
Also each song seems to be in contract with the audience. He often says, “I gotta songmaker,” or basically, he has a little idea he wants to share, to get the crowd going, and he doesn’t take off until making a big show of getting their approval and participation.
November 13, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Alladin Sane and to “Life on Mars” a few times. The piano part where it crescendos and descrescendos reminds me of some other piano piece, classical, by one of those people like Liszt or Rachnaminov.
Zumba class full of music.
November 12, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Yesterday listened to David Bowie’s Hunky Dory and Low. There are a couple great songs but otherwise I don’t get it. Listened to 1966 Royal Albert Hall Bob Dylan. So that’s why there are 4000 holes to fill the Albert hall (mentioned in Greil Marcus, Invisible Republic).
Listened to “Ziggy Stardust” and “Suffragette City” again and compared them to “Black Sabbath.” Talked about the importance of rock songs being easy enough for fans to learn themselves, as opposed to virtuosic music, which excludes the audience from being able to play it. Read about and listened to “Paralyzed,” by the Legendary Stardust Cowboy. Thank God I lived in Texas.
November 10, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Ziggy Stardust.
November 8, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Rubber Soul and Abbey Road. “Polythene Pam” is a spoof of “Sympathy for the Devil” I’m pretty sure, with the “woo woo’s” going on. And I’m pretty sure the androgynous but very attractive Pam is an analogy for Mick Jagger, who wore plastic pants.
November 7, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Sgt. Pepper and the White Album. Also read about the movie, Easy Rider, which I saw once and didn’t like. Now I know why. Why do they always portray hippie types and lifestyles as unworkable in media? Even though I have met so many people succeeding with permaculture, alternative marriage arrangements, long disorganized road trips, and interacting with “straight” local individuals without getting killed. Tried to remember lyrics of “She Said She Said” all day because of the bluesy chorus, “you’re makin’ me feel like I’ve never been born,” which wouldn’t appear in a blues song because it doesn’t make sense. It would be like, “you make me with I’d never been born,” but the Beatles way sounds more existential and trippy.
November 6, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Listened to The Beach Boys Today! and Revolver. Listened to Joe Cocker’s cover of “With a Little Help from my Friends.” and his, “Marjorine,” and read his bio on Wikipedia.
November 5, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
After midnight on Saturday listening to the medley from Abbey Road. Heard it on the radio. The first song blew my mind with the lyrics, “One sweet dream came true today.” Can’t tell if it’s ironic, that most college graduates don’t actually become rock stars, but all i can hear is gratitude. In a way, any kind of having a place to go and any kind of music to make or listen to is a dream come true. Reading On the Road again and realizing I based a lot of my travels just after high school on it without knowing it. Read it because of Abe Hughes. Went to Denver, San Francisco, LA, New York, Texas, and traveled by bus across and around the middle a lot. It was always in there. Man. San Francisco has the highest rents in the world. I can’t be the only one. Value artists.
Listened to Beach Boys Surfs Up, Smily Smile, and Holland and I don’t get it. It sounds like a bunch of outtakes with a couple great songs in there. The great songs are great though. They’re the first band I’ve heard from the classics with an environmental message, too.
November 1, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Listening to cd3 of Count Basie The Complete Decca Recordings
October 31, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Listened to cd2 of Count Basie The Complete Decca Recordings.
October 30, 2019
9am, 1 hour
Listened to disc 1 of Count Basie complete Decca recordings. One song where the singer sounds like he’s trying to be like a posh French popular vocalist. A pastiche. Decided not to say a place anymore. These lists of days sound like they want to be lists of places conquered, but they’re not. It’s only just time, and a promise to be here next time. Here? California does actually give you some context for why this is a list of mostly notes on popular music, and why this appeals to me now. Not to say a place, even an imperial name like this, would cover up something instead of saying that I’m sorry, which I am. I am both a Californian and a product of imperialism. So is the music. So is the date and the time, actually.
Played the cello a little bit.
October 29, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Listened to The Million Dollar Quartet which was mentioned in the liner notes to The Basement Tapes. Listening to disc 2 now.
October 28, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Listened to the rest of disc one of The Basement Tapes. Especially loved “Lo and Behold.” Read about Seumus Macmanus’ book of the same name and read one of his stories. He was called the last bard of Ireland, who could translate old stories for a modern audience.
October 24, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
October 23, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Played Bloodhound Gang, “Fire, Water, Burn,” the original Rockmaster Scott and the Dynamic Three, “The Roof is on Fire,” for my kids and explained that quote about integrating into a burning house. Dr. King was talking with Harry Belafonte, and he said, “become the fireman.” He said the nation needs to be deeply concerned with the plight of the poor. Listened to Chemical Brothers, “Hey Boy Hey Girl,” and Daddy Yankee Ft. Play N Skillz, “Firehouse,” which is a popular Zumba song.
Listened to The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds.
October 22, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Count Basie at Newport 1957. Was playing videogames at the same time. Didn’t really hear it. Good singer though. None of the other albums had singing. Also listened to some more of The Basement Tapes. It’s getting to sounding pathetic. Some songs are good, but those are the ones that sound like cheap covers of soul songs with less focused lyrics. The ones Bob Dylan sings on are good.
October 21, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Listening to The Basement Tapes. Civil Rights leaders alluded to in the song, “Yazoo Street Scandal,” include Delilah L. Beasley, Dorothy Cotton, Martin Luther King, and Clyde Kennard. The reference to St. Vitus Dance could be about the disease Sydenham’s Chorea which affects many people who had rheumatic fever as kids. This is very common in Africa and in third world countries, as well as poor parts of developed ones, including people experiencing homelessness in the US.
During Dr. King’s march on Washington, several cases of strep, once case of tuberculosis, and one case of epilepsy were diagnosed, leading people to joke about the movement having “a million germs.” In his later years, Dr. King talked about extending the work of civil rights activism to help people experiencing homelessness because of economic inequality. He talked about ending poverty in his very last speech, specifically about ending homelessness and increasing access to doctors. He called poverty in the US a “domestic colony”.
Later in the speech he says that “nothing will be done until people of good will put their bodies and their souls in motion,” in other words, from the song, “rock it kinda slow and kinda easy.”
The reference to making it rain and forty days and forty nights and Sweet William all point to William Kunstler, radical lawyer, who, in his last speech, talked about Moby Dick and said that the whale was evil, and that everybody dies trying to kill the whale, but they can’t, but one man goes back to sea, and that’s Ishmael. His jist is that we have to keep going. We have to keep fighting injustice and just keep moving.
October 18, 2020 California
9am, 1 hour
“Skippin’ with Skitch” inspired Thomas the Tank Engine’s theme song. The flute theme at the end. Listened to Count Basie, On My Way and Shoutin’ Again. The Complete Decca Recordings are not available on youtube. There are a few albums like this: The Basement Tapes, and OK Computer for example. The publishers must still be making money from sales. So those are the albums of lasting value. Worth keeping track of.
October 17, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Count Basie’s April in Paris. The Penguin Guide to Jazz as quoted in Wikipedia calls the rhythm “pinpoint”. I agree. The album cover shows Count Basie wearing a beret and giving or receiving flowers from an older white lady. Not only are the musicians really together rhythmically, but there are some really cool parts where everyone plays precisely together, just a hair behind the beat. It’s breathtaking. Yet it’s what I grew up with and expected, as movies like the Jungle Book, the cartoon Robinhood, the Little Mermaid and others follow in Count Basie’s footsteps, all based on big band swing. I was disappointed when I heard a classical orchestra and everyone wasn’t precisely together. At the same time, I was hearing that classical music was higher class than jazz, and it didn’t make any sense to me, when what the jazz musicians were doing was so much more satisfying to listen to, rhythmically. That may be one of the reasons “avant garde” music appealed to me. It had more winds, smaller ensembles, and rhythmic precision. It was probably also influenced by jazz. Anyway that album covers lends support to my theory about the music celebrating the black experience of discovering Paris, a place with much less racism than the southern US, and being inspired to form a civil rights movement. This album came out just as the movement was starting.
October 16, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Atomic Count Basie and read the ICRC’s information about nuclear weapons detonation, especially how it would be impossible for groups such as the Red Cross to respond adequately. Could not find any evidence that Count Basie cared about this issue, except that there is a mushroom cloud on the album cover. One website claimed he or his record company reappropriated the image to stand for creativity. I have a hard time believing that. His music is very organized, clear, and the band is very tight. Perhaps the bomb and the war was a kind of chaos to which the music could stand in relief. “We’re still here. We survived. Here is the order we create in response.” For the US, the war did create prosperity. For blacks experiencing places like Paris and then returning to racism, it catalyzed the civil rights movement, which was very organized. Rosa Parks sat on the bus in 1955. The supreme court ruled segregation was unconstitutional in 1956. Count Basie’s album came out in 1958. Jazz depends on the history of the military band: snare drums, horns, conductor… and the civil rights movement held marches.
edit: maybe to the album’s white producers it was like a bombshell to hear music like this made by black people.
October 12, 2019 California
4pm, 1 hour
Went for long hike in canyon. Talked about how pastoral music relies on people having a day to day experience with nature and natural sounds, and maybe a desire to see art make structure out of it. Whereas today (when we camp out in our backyard we see few stars, hear no cicadas), we create noise or indeterminacy to recreate nature. But we can’t ever recreate nature. We can simulate chaos, which stimulates a desire for order, but nature isn’t really chaotic. It’s order that’s too big to comprehend. I don’t want to strive to write music that is a mall with potted palms in it. I desire real nature sounds in my life in addition to any noise or indeterminacy that may be in music.
October 10, 2019 California
9am 1 hour
Listened to The Band’s North Lights, Southern Cross, read Phil Ford’s paper, “Time and Belief in Exotica,” where he talks about Marcus’ Greil’s book, Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes.
October 9, 2019, California
8:30, 1 hour
Sang Sikh mantra and listened to The Band’s Rock of Ages and the hymn of the same name. Robbie Robertson was native American and learned to play guitar on the reservation. My dad had the soundtrack of Easy Rider and we listened to it a lot when I was little. Maybe we can’t have a great American novel, but we can have a great American band.
October 8, 2019, California
9am, 1 hour
Sang Sikh mantra and listened to The Band’s Stage Fright
October 7, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Sang Sikh mantra i learned a long time ago for half an hour. Sang also “Mary had a little lamb,” and thought about what it means to “break the teacher’s rule.” I think when you have a child, whether as a teenager or not, it does shake up your relation to your mother. At least it did for me. When I became a mom, I became a teacher, and at some level, I meet all teachers as an equal now. Of course I can still learn from them.
Wow, “The Weight” is by The Band? Listening to more of Music from the Big Pink.
Started up a videogame I’ve been watching play throughs of since the summer. For some reason I keep playing only games with beautiful string soundtracks.
October 3, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
October 5, rented a cello, talked with a violinist/violist friend about my song cycle for viola and soprano. Realized what my comissioner probably wants from me is something just like what I did before. I can do that. Only problem is the text was too personal. He’s given me very specific guidelines this time, for what it should be about. Where to find a text?
On Oct 2, visited ashram in La Habra and chanted a bit and did yoga.
October 1, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Listened to The Band’s album, The Band, and started listening to Music From the Big Pink. Remember Phil Ford talking about the basement tapes. Still not sure what the controversy was about. Electrified Dylan? Was it bad? I don’t know. The Band sounds like the Grateful Dead to me. With a tiny hint of Captain Beefheart thrown in there. Why? Because the vocalists are pretty quiet, there are multiple of them, and the music is layered, multisectional, with interesting changes of tempo and meter. Roots rock is a good description. Jangly banjos and stuff. Blues influenced. There’s a song about joining the union. No wonder I hadn’t heard them much before.
September 30, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Joan Baez’s first album.
September 28, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
listened to a couple of Neil Diamond songs and a Peter Gabriel song and tried to articulate why the latter sounds better. Gabriel uses dynamics to taper his phrases. They have a similar level of technique. Gabriel’s lyrics sound more interesting and better but it might be because he articulates better. More African rhythms and contrast between sections of the songs. Diamond’s music sounds “white.” Even American folk music of this time sounds more blues influenced than his. He was a symbol of a reactionary musical public, and older people I remember. He sings pretty loud in his low range and hardly ever goes up, making the songs sound both unchallenging and effortful, whereas in Gariel’s songs, you don’t think about his effort. Gabriel plays the guitar while singing. Diamond does not.
Bought a violin and played a little. So silky! And so light. And much cheaper than the viola. Bought it from a cellist. Nice to have contact with a real musician. Found out friends of music of Fullerton concerts are free!
September 27, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Discovered Nancy Kerr, who plays viola and sings with a guitarist who also sings. Listened to about half of Joan Baez Volume 2. Read about the myth of the selkie. Started analyzing the rhythms in the accompaniment. Are there codified rhythms in folk music? They share more with blues and rock. Tried to listen without getting caught up in the words, the way I listened to the December festival in Chennai, and just sense the meaning of the expression. Her guitar playing is masterful. She plays in counterpoint.
September 26, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Joan Baez album, Farewell Angelina. Why did I never listen to this during my music studies? I don’t know. My mom played all these albums. They’re a part of me. Especially the Dylan covers: “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.” The conventions of harmony, melody, and rhythm of the words are what make them. It’s so familiar. Especially phrase lengths other than 4, or songs where there can be a number of different phrase lengths because there is a conventional melody at the end that can be repeated any number of times. That’s an advantage of solo voice and guitar music. It doesn’t have to be so regular.
Organized calendar around music, housework, and exercising.
September 25, 2019 California
Dishes, lunch, exercises. If I do music the housework gets hopelessly behind, every day. If I don’t do music, there seems to be no point. Rebalancing is necessary. That’s a problem worth solving.
September 24, 2019 California
Looked into renting violin and cello. Listened to crappy arrangements for piano and violin of popular songs I want to arrange. Could do better.
Remembering Balkan singing where one part is a drone, but sings the same words in the same rhythm with the other parts. Usually one other part only moves a little. Is this where our arrangements with static alto originate? Is the alto part actually basically a drone part? Is that okay? Can I stop fighting it? I once said a performance is an analysis. Is an arrangement? Almost all covers involve arranging in some way.
Contacted Hal Leonard for permission to make arrangement.
September 23, 2019 California
September 22, 2019 California
2pm, 1 hour
Listened to Billie Eilish. Read about her. Listened to Richard Hawley. He’s from Sheffield. Eilish is Scottish and Irish. Radiohead, also from northern England. Kurt Cobain Scottish descent. Hozier’s northern Irish. The Snow Patrol is from Northern Ireland and Scotland. At the end of the summer I thought of doing some research into Scottish music, and finding bands that had Scottish members, then I forgot about it. But it seems to have worked out. What do they have in common? Lilting melodies, good singing with use of mix, head, and chest. Guitars. Clean sounds, mostly. Not too much distortion. Lots of 6/8, 9/8. Lyrics are often somber and philosophical. Counterpoint, but not too much. Songs have verses and choruses. Many slower songs favor vocals. Rhythm of the vocal line is important, so the singing is a bit reserved. Agile and light, not broad dramatic melodies, except for Radiohead sometimes. That might be the music department influence.
September 21, 2019 California
1pm, 1 hour
Talked about drum technique and metronomes with F for a few minutes. Listened to Joan Baez/5. Wow. The Villa-Lobos. I guess lots of classically trained liberals in the middle of the century played mostly folk music. But wow! Just read that she was a natural talent, never studied voice, and so she had to retire in 2018 because her voice gave out. That’s still a long career, but it convinces me to learn how to sing even more gently. I don’t want to have to stop ever. She lost range at the end.
September 20, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Aerosmith album, Rocks and Joan Baez album “in concert.” Read about Anne Bredon, who wrote “Babe, I’m gonna leave.” Joan Baez is Mexican American! She got taunted at school. She only played at integrated venues.
September 19, 2019 California
September 18, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Watched the Jojo Mayer video, practiced the exercises on practice pad.
September 17, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Practiced drum patterns for 5 minutes. F checked my grip the other day. He also gave me a DVD of Jojo Mayer with some drum exercises and an illustration of grip and mechanics. Listened to a talk about the heterodox academy; thought and talked about my experience in a conservative program, and how I am still piecing things together that I didn’t learn. Thought about old colleagues and resolved to write a string quartet somehow. Visualized the Aerosmith song, “Permanent Vacation,” specifically the rhythmic interplay between voice, guitars, and drums. The opening of “Just” won’t leave my head. Rescheduled B’s piano lesson for tomorrow. Sang mantra as usual for 20 minutes this morning. Sang another 15 or so minutes and tried to hear vibrato without controlling it. It’s very fast. Yesterday gave Felix lip trill exercise and suggested he find a mantra to sing instead of scales, since it worked for me in establishing muscle memory of diaphragmatic breathing and placement over the break. Yesterday we listened to various mantras from Sikh, Taoist, Buddhist, Hindu, and Sufi traditions. Played “Permanent Vacation,” for F and we talked about rhythmic and timbral complexity of rock. Explained the difference between timbre (different frequencies of one voice interacting to produce a color) and texture (different voices or timbres interacting to produce a pattern) and how these can run into each other, like when a synthesizer (or a good orchestrator) combines timbres to create what sounds like a new voice. Thought about how I never had words for the reason I felt intimated about ever playing rock – that the analysis I knew, functional analysis, did not reflect this complexity. We also talked about stationary harmony. Played the recorder for about one scale. Looked up the “whistles and steel drum music” referenced in “Permanent Vacation,” Junkanoo, and watched part of a New Year’s parade in the Bahamas.
September 16, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Listened to album Permanent Vacation and did Pedroza’s analysis sheet on it. Read Wikipedia article on music. Reorganized binder from reflecting understanding of music as an industry with categories like works, commissions, song texts, program notes, as when I was a singer, to more of a scholarly discipline. Works and program notes are still there, but now performance, history, theory, aesthetics, and composition fill it out. Decided my analysis falls into aesthetics. Read about Holly Knight, who wrote “Rag Doll”.
Played sharp scales two hands on piano.
September 14, 2019 California
7pm, 1 hour
On September 15, tried to do one hour of listening and thinking about composing. However, couldn’t keep concentration while watching kids and doing various things around the kitchen. Now I know.
September 12, 2019 California
9:15am, 1 hour
On September 13th, listened to Radiohead’s “Just,” Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit,” Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars,” and Hozier’s “Take me to Church,” and described the progression of references through the music, lyrics and videos. Ultimately, I think Hozier’s song contributed to gay marriage becoming legal in the US, Britain, Ireland, and Scotland.
September 11, 2019 California
11:59pm, 1 hour
Listened to Zep II and a couple of songs by Dobet Gnahore (she was mentioned in the comments to Whole Lotta Love). Thought about what makes Led Zepplin part of psychadelic culture, aside from they themselves having been part of it. Rescheduled string quartet performance for nine months from now.
September 10, 2019 California
9:15am, 1 hour
Worked on Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars.” Relocated lower and upper passaggi and found my fach again. Sang through at “Smanie Implacabile.” Commented on similarity between Snow Patrol’s music video and Radiohead’s “Just,” where the former is the positive side of the same idea, that one holds within them the agency for destruction or love.
September 9, 2019 California
9:15am, 1 hour
Listened the song, “Get a Grip,” by Aerosmith. nspent some time listening to nothing and feeling my constant anxiety about time. Minus the anxiety, it’s the constant awareness of time that is my musicality. Tuned and played the viola for a while. Learning the difference between the heavy and the lighter strings. Played some patterns on the drum pad. Thought about my lessons with La Monte Young. Growly lowest possible note, vocal, with very open mouth, that he learned from Pran Nath.
September 8, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Aerosmith Toys in the Attic and Big Ones. Good albums. Good, sometimes great stuff. Did not understand them until parsing the relationship with the Beatles. Also listened to Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack. Also Big Bottom of Spinal Tap. Also Marvin Gay and the original and Bowie/Jagger “Dancing in the Streets.” That version sure sounds like propaganda now!
edit: not gay propaganda, that’s fine. It seems like a sales pitch for America just at the end of the cold war… which I guess includes the freedom to be gay and queer, which is a good thing.
September 7, 2019 California
9:15am, 1 hour
Listened to the U2 album again. Talked about hearing them on the schoolbus and every other band sounded like them. Decided to abandon Colin Larkin’s list of 1001 albums that he put together based on survey results and listen instead to his curated list of 5 best albums from 100 key artists. Listened to XTC’s “Generals and Majors.”
September 6, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Listened to one of John Cale’s albums. Listened to U2’s last Irish album, Unforgettable Fire.
September 5, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Listening to Kinda Blue. Improvised on the viola for a few minutes.
September 4, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
Listened to Velvet Underground and Nico, read about the band, about Nico and her son, and about Valerie Solanas.
edit: it’s just not fair, the way women artists live and the way men artists live. The problems that women have, like Nico’s experience of motherhood, reflect on the person. Men who are musicians and bad parents… it’s just expected.
September 3, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
listened to last Love track, rewrote John Denver song in 3 and moved it to D
September 1, 2019 California
4pm, 1 hour
listened to Love’s album, Forever Changes and the TLC song, “No Scrubs” and Skee-lo’s “I wish”. read about Skee-lo.
edit: because he quietly retired from music for ten years because of a dispute with a music label. because he converted to Islam, and he had the confidence to stand up for himself.
August 31, 2019 California
6pm, 1 hour
worked on variations on Country Roads and I Never Will Marry. Stupid copyright. Have to change the whole melody. All the great medieval music that wouldn’t have been written under today’s copyright law. You’re free to disagree, of course.
August 28, 2019 California
6pm 1 hour
August 27, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
worked on fast movement some more. played viola scales. listened to smiths album for the first time. listened to sex pistols “God Save the Queen” and the British national anthem. added interpretation of sting song lyrics to a website.
August 26, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
9-11 with a long break processing some stuff while i scraped chilis. worked out second movement going into third, decided to borrow heavily from other quartets in my catalogue, decided fast movements are about chords. thought a lot about how to use the banjo for percussive effect, not as a solo instrument. Listening to NWA and the themesong from Skate by Young Jeezy.
August 25, 2019 California
4pm, 1 hour
at 10pm after kids got to sleep, listened to Dark Side of the Moon, a few Brian Wilson songs, the Béla Fleck banjo concerto, and discovered banjo player Alison Brown. Wow. Keep it moving. It really only plays in one key.
August 24, 2019 California
4pm, 1 hour
tried to find a way to make theme from John Denver song minor. found chords for several versions. wrote everything out. transposed it for viola and played it viola. Sang a song by Sting. Gathered all the papers for this project and put them somewhere safe.
edit: the safe place was in the music paper notebook, but the sheets come out all the time and once there are a lot of sheets going on, it’s really hard to find anything.
August 23, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
listened to Abbey road; sang Seal song, listened to Tracy Chapman song, started writing down lyrics and figured out a good key for me.
August 22, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
ended up going exactly one hour, started out playing piano, a sketch from yesterday. Learned a John Denver song (to sing and play chords). Figured out the chords – checked the recording and a tab website. Figured out a good key for the John Denver song theme on viola. Looked at the Radiohead song I’ve been singing. Rewrote it so I can sing off the sheet. The rhythms need special notation. Put all my songs in a binder.
edit: lost the binder for a year
August 21, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
August 20, 2019 California
9am, 2 hours
August 18th, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
August 17th, 2019 California
7:30am, 1 hour
August 14th, 2019 California
9am, 1 hour
August 13th, 2019 California
9am, 30 min.
August 11th, 2019 California
9am, 30 min.
August 10th, 2019 California
7:30am, 30 min.
August 9th, 2019 California
9am, 30 min.
August 8th, 2019 California
6am, 30 min.
August 6th, 2019 California
6am, 30 min.
August 4, 2019 California
11am, 30 min.
July 30, 2019 California
6am, 30 minutes.
July 24, 2019 California
6am, 30 minutes.
July 22, 2019 California
9am, 30 minutes.
April 28th, 2018 Texas State University
Master’s recital! Woo!
March 6th 2018 University of Texas at San Antonio
Singing “Molitva” with Michael Ippolito, accordion.