The Rambler :: blog

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Links for the week 

Music industry losing money? I blame the children.

Mwanji keeps finding those blogging jazzers.

Scott posts on music in other disciplines.

Kyle posts on meter and postclassicism, and includes a surprising András Schiff exposé...

And Matt previews some of the graphics he's done for the Practice Hours 2 DVD. Cool. Plus there's some characteristically heartfelt introspection on the state of Grime at the minute.

György Kurtág wins 2006 Grawemeyer 

I've just read on Sequenza21 that György Kurtág has won this year's 200,000 dollar Grawemeyer award for composition for Concertante Op.42 for violin, viola and orchestra. A very deserved winner - David Salvage on Sequenza21 calls him "the best alive", and I don't think he's far off the mark. The already illustrious list of previous winners has been further enhanced.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Mark E. Smith and the Football Results 

God bless WFMU, who have posted a video of Mark E. Smith reading of the football results, as noted back in September. In an experience familiar to all us fans of League Two clubs, you have to wait a while before you get to the good bit - which in this case is Ray Stubbs floundering (no! surely not!) as Smith slags off his haircut.

Bonus track: Mark E. Smith removes his dentures on a Newsnight tribute to John Peel. It's all at WFMU.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

About the Music Deathwatch 

This has been running in my sidebar for more than a year now, but I thought it required some sort of explanation and clarification for new visitors to the blog.

The list is a regularly updated feed, drawn from musician obituaries I post to my del.icio.us account, and processed for presentation here by the very fine Feed digest. When I see that a musician has died (via any number of sources), I post an entry to del.icio.us, and soon afterwards it appears here. At the end of the year, I post the full list for that year. Links to these may be found in the sidebar.

The name of the deceased musician is in bold, and clicks through to a recently published obituary; their principal profession is in italics; the date shown is the date of posting - NOT the date of death. Note that many newspaper articles expire or disappear behind paywalls. It's always worth searching Google Groups to see if anyone has posted a copy to any mailing lists - some fabulous people are very assiduous about doing this, and we love them for it.

I can't claim anything close to comprehensiveness about this list - because of the nature of the world and my sources, the vast majority are American and European musicians, an imbalance I've not yet been able to correct. I have a pretty broad notion of what constitutes a professional musician, so patrons, promoters, publishers, recording engineers and the like all get in, as long as they have had made a professional impact of some distinction.

Note - if you are looking for more details of musician deaths, you could do much worse than visit the Washington University in St Louis' Gaylord Music Library Necrology. This is an awesome, regularly maintained, scholarly resource.

'Re-imagining' Shostakovich 

Here's a free new music event that slipped under the radar for November's cheap new music post, but it looks good enough to warrant a post of its own. This Sunday, Vladimir Ashkenazy will be performing Shostakovich's Sixth Symphony (plus some other stuff) with the Philharmonia at Bristol's Colston Hall. Should be a splendid do, but it hardly qualifies as new music (and it's a full-price evening). But then, in the bar after the concert, audio-visual collective I am the Mighty Jungulator will present a remixed version of said performance, a so-called 're-imagining', through an octophonic sound system and dual video projections. This sounds like it could be ace (could be awful, too, but the group sound like they've done their homework, so I hope not). IatMJ are going to discreetly film the evening's Shostakovich performance for their basic materials, which will then be remixed live. And this is what intrigues me, because the source material for the reworking will be so site- and time-specific. It won't be a remix version of a temporally/spatially orphaned pre-recording, but of the events that the audience in the bar have just been listening to. IatMJ are drawing several (slightly ropey) comparisons between Shostakovich's Stalinist Russia and contemporary Britain as a way of approaching Shostakovich, but at first these seems at odds with - or at least tangential to - the key modus operandum of the project. Other than providing a convenient hook (and some top notch primary material to work with), why choose this concert over a recording? Why Shostakovich? Why the Sixth, for that matter? Something about time and memory and musical construction and concert hall convention will emerge, surely, but what, and how does this fit with Nathan Hughes' remarks on the project that "in this piece [the Shostakovich symphony] the parallels with the present day are inescapable. Russia was falling into a state of degeneracy; millions of people died at the hands of Stalin; yet you had the paradox of the media saying everything was great. It made you feel mad, yet you had to keep going, in a kind of coping mechanism"?

If anyone reading is going to be in Bristol this weekend, do go to this - the bar event is supposed to start at around 9.45, and it's free - and then let me know what you made of it. Ta.

[This Independent article has more. Colston Hall homepage]

Monday, November 21, 2005

Links for the week 

Sony rootkit mini-special:

The BBC report that uninstalling Sony's XCP copy protection system could leave your computer vulnerable to malicious hackers.

Wired unwraps the real story of the Sony rootkit, and finds "extreme hubris", "incompetence" and "collusion between big media companies who try to control what we do on our computers and computer-security companies who are supposed to be protecting us".

Yikes. Luckily, Sony - aw, bless 'em - have been lovely enough to release a
of their products that will install dangerous, borderline-illegal, Windows-crashing, poorly-written, unwanted software on your PC. So if you're not one of the estimated half-million users already infected, you have been warned.


In other news:

This is more like it: the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project of the Donald C. Davidson Library, UCSB, has posted a library of more than 5,000 cylinder recordings, available for download or streaming. Jolly good show. Available until the next round of copyright extensions.

This is just a silly article about jamming on trombone with McFly, but I like it.

The Guardian's John Harris reports on New Orleans musicians hoping to bounce back

The Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies has announced the discovery of two fragments of Beethoven's skull

And the awesomely geeky Pace has statistically determined - once and for all - what the funkiest year ever was. There is even a spreadsheet of data... This would command respect on its own, but Pace goes one further on the riddim method blog and posts a Preamble for Ethics in Beat Research. This is serious ethnomusicological business, and I love it.

Madonna loses 'Frozen' plagiarism case 

Madonna has lost the plagiarism case made against her by Salvatore Acquaviva. Acqauviva's claim that 'Frozen' uses 4 bars of his song 'Ma vie fout l'camp' has been upheld by a Belgian court, with costly implications for Madonna and her record companies. The judge has ordered radio and TV stations in Belgium to stop playing 'Frozen', and EMI, Sony and Warners must withdraw the single, and Ray of Light from sale in the country.

Personally, I find these court decisions fascinating, from a musical point of view, because they push music into a strange role - as forensic evidence (worth large sums of money to whoever wins the case). This is a completely new sort of listening that - as intellectual property rights are warped closer and closer to the physical property model - is becoming ever more prevalent. It's a modern phenomenon that gives sounds considerable responsibilities (that they cannot always bear), and that is pretty much alien to my own experience of music. I therefore find it absolutely intriguing. Does anyone know any more details about this case - in particular the four bars Madonna has been judged to have nicked?

Most frequent word in my comments at the moment? 'Oops', perhaps. Standards in the Rambler editorial pool have got sloppy. Bananas have been witheld and things should get better...

Friday, November 18, 2005

New music on a shoestring: November 

Frankly peeps it's far too cold to go out for anything less than a great bargain at the moment. I love my radiators too much and have a stack of DVDs to catch up on, so I'm not getting up to much this month - but you could do worse than head along, with gloves and hat, to some of the following. You'll still have plenty of change left for Christmas shopping:

Tonight! Impressively-haired, media favourite jazz drummer Seb Rochford and electronica bods Leafcutter John and Martin Morales are playing for free - for free, I tell you - at the Hayward Gallery tonight, 6.30-11pm in the foyer.

Other than that, I've been a bit slow this month so missed a bunch of things, but you can still see:

Very young composers at St Lukes, 161 Old Street in the LSO's Sound Inventors Series tomorrow evening, 7.30pm. From the website:
This concert showcases the best of the next generation of composers. The music has been selected from over 1,000 young composers who have participated in the award-winning young composer initiative Sound Inventors. Featuring new music for an ensemble of 14 musicians conducted by Scottish composer and Sound Inventors Creative Director Alasdair Nicolson.
That one's free too.

If you're in Portsmouth on Sunday, catch the Maritime Brass Quintet at St John's Cathedral, Edinburgh Road, playing works by Andrew McBirnie, Judith Bailey, Michael Dawney, David Penri-Evans and Philip Drew. This one's 5 pounds, it starts at 8pm, call 023 9283 0995 for details.

Monday sees the second of the Philharmonia's Music of Today series, featuring three works by the young Japanese composer Toshio Hosowaka. The conductor is the not curly-haired Diego Masson, who you might have seen doing Xenakis last month. As ever, this is a free event by the Philharmonia, and one of my favourite little corners of the London music scene. 6pm, Queen Elizabeth Hall (smaller than the Festival Hall, so it doesn't feel quite as subversive, and you will probably have to sit next to someone, but we're stuck with it until the building work on the RFH is finished).

And if that's not enough free new music for you, next Wednesday you should poke your ears into the RAM, where Lisa Moore, piano, and friends will play four works by Martin Bresnick, and two of Ligeti's piano Etudes - 'Fanfares', and the dripping, glutinous 'Automne à Varsovie'. Details here if you scroll down to 'Mainly New' on the 23rd November.

That'll do you for the week.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Links for the week 

Sony are facing at least three lawsuits over their dodgy DRM system;

The Independent talks to Kano and Wiley looking for another angle on the 'why isn't Grime huge yet' question;

Alex Ross writes on Scelsi - plus behind-the-scenes material at the blog;

the always-excellent Kid Kameleon has a new mix at riddim method - a Peter K tribute special;

WFMU links to this great nostalgia site - pictures of apparently every make and model of blank cassette made in the last, oh, ages. You will, like me, squawk "I had that one!" at your monitor at least five times. Bonus points if you can remember what you had recorded on them.

And last and least, look away now if you don't want to read the worst music/internet article ever. (N.B. When I first read this yesterday, all the links to pitchforkmedia.com originally pointed to indie farmyard equipment retailers pitchfork.com. Oh, the hilarity!)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Bad news indeed 

One of the big grime bloggers, Silverdollarcircle, calls it a day. Boo! Still - Simon's promising a grime pirate radio mp3 site in the future, so it's not all bad news. Keep 'em peeled.

Good news indeed 

Woebot's back!. Hurrah!

Thursday, November 10, 2005


At last - someone understands what I've been driving at this last couple of weeks. Thanks, Eppy!

I qualify things a little in my comments to Eppy's post. I absolutely agree that I probably got a bit carried away with the whole "walk down the street and then Bang! Messiaen". Although this example is actually based on personal experience - I do believe that Messiaen's music has changed how I see and hear and feel the world - it's probably not a very good standard for judging the value of a particular piece of music, or we'd be having life-changing experiences every week...

However, I do want to retain some aspects of what I was getting at. I was fortunate enough, a few days after writing my last post on this applicability business, to be at an authors' talk with Karen Armstrong, Margaret Atwood and Jeanette Winterson on the subject of myth. Now, the fact that myths are literary objects that have some sort of power to sustain throughout centuries, even millenia, is not something in doubt. What the three writers got across as an idea is how myth remains, ahem, relevant today. It's absolutely not about slavishly reconstructing the literal story, confusing the discourse of, say, theological storytelling for a discourse of science, it's about the myth depositing - in Armstrong's image - a nugget of truth inside you, that remains for long periods of your life; and as you live your life that nugget grows until it begins to take on some practical value for you. Being a literary event, the three writers on stage only priveledged literature with this ability, but my own experience is that music - in exceptional cases - can do the same thing. It is not, therefore, something I would wish to rule out of music's discourse (or any of the arts'); music is strengthened if we admit this possibility. Why would we wish to deny it?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Links for the week 

Roll Deep win best album award at the Third Annual Urban Music Awards;

two articles on Stevie Wonder in the Independent;

Felsenmusik is another classical composer/critic's blog, by Daniel Felsenfeld;

Ofcom have been cracking down on UK pirate radio, although the article linked makes them sound confused about exactly why;

And you may have heard that Sony have been giving us plenty of friendly reasons to buy their CDs: well WFMU has a handy round-up of the situation ... and another one. And if you thought Sony were the only ones - exercise caution around Universal too. Well I'm off to spend my £50 on new CDs - aren't you?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Oh, great. 

I'm Google's no.1 hit for 'nobly porno'.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

(Belated) Links for the week 

New Paris Transatlantic is out, including reviews of a couple of tasty-sounding numbers by Candlesnuffer and Jonathan Kane. With John Gill on 'Macho Jazz', Bob Gilmore on Anne La Berge, Massimo Rcci on Lindsay Cooper, and more, they're touting it as their 'finest issue yet'. Check it.

The mighty Bassnation - purveyor of fine old skool hardcore, techno, jungle, dubstep and reggae mix action - is to close very soon. Bassnation mixes have provided many hours of pleasure on the Rambler's headphones, so I'll be sorry to see Marc's site go. Still, you've got a couple of weeks yet, so get those mixes in while you can. Start with the Old Skool Rewinds, Dr Wo's 'mysterious' guest spot, and Darkest Before Dawn, and work your way out from there.

Cheap-in-cover-price-only label Naxos have put their entire catalogue online at eMusic. That's 75,000 tracks, people. Is this the beginning of the digital music age reaching classical labels? Hmmm - possibly not. As the Boston Globe point out, there are lots of flaws in eMusic's system (searching, for one - bad), and the fact that the 32-track Goldberg Variations, say, would use up almost an entire month's subscription allowance of 40 tracks (that's $9.99), pretty much what the Naxos CD would cost you in the flesh. The 48 Preludes and Fugues (96 tracks) will cost you two and a half months. Not for the first time, big, single movement works are the way forward. (Incidentally, Naxos now have a blog, hosted over at Sequenza21.)

Andrew Clements interviewed Steve Reich in the Guardian last week;

Ivan Hewett interviews Esa-Pekka Salonen in the Telegraph;

and last week again (I said it was a belated round-up...), the Telegraph once more wring their hands ... over why Grime isn't as popular as critical enthusiasm suggests it should be;

WFMU links to a video of the early history of Electronic Music (we mean early - this is the 400BC to 1950AD installment);

and, in case (like me), you hadn't spotted, Carnivals of Music are still in effect - the last was at HurdAudio, the next will be at Elisa Camhort's Personal Weblog.

PLUS: Two new blogging critics: Marc Geelhoed of Time Out Chicago, and Steve Smith of, er, Time Out New York.

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