Monday 28 April 2008

Tymoczko Literature

Currently the Arthur Scribner Bicentennial Preceptor (don`t ask) and also an Assistant Professor of Music at Princeton University, Dimitri Tymoczko has been getting some press recently for his forays into the world of harmony and geometry (not far removed from his colleague Paul Lansky`s interest in affine music, perhaps)

Discussed in the Telegraph for instance (referencing work published in Science). I post this here partly because of this recent geometry stuff but also because of the wealth of interesting written work on Tymoczko`s site. Enjoy (sort of). [the written work is listed in 'publications' on his Princeton page, cant link directly to it unfortunately]

There is also a Princeton podcast on this topic.

One of Tymoczko`s geometric images from this page.

Clarinet Of The Future

Well no not really, but 'The Clarinet of the 21st Century' is not far away as titles go. As it happens it`s a really super resource of information about contemporary clarinet techniques (you know the deal, quarter-tone fingerings, multiphonics and so on).

And no, not just Bb clarinet either , before those of you at the back start muttering.

A special bonus is that many of the fingering charts and musical examples have Mp3 examples to go with them, good job E. Michael Richards.

A Quarter Tone clarinet made by Fritz Schüller (1883-1977), via Wiki.

Quote of The Day (28/04/08)

'All our sense organs function in response to the geometrical or proportional - not quantitative - differences inherent in the stimuli they receive. For example, when we smell a rose we are not responding to the chemical substances of its perfume, but instead the geometry of their molecular construction. That is to say, any chemical substance that is bonded together in the same geometry as that of the rose will smell as sweet. Similarly, we do not hear simple quantitative differences in sound wave frequencies, but rather the logorithmic, proportional differences in sound wave frequencies, logarithmic expansion being the basis of the geometry of spirals.'
Robert Lawlor: 'Sacred Geometry.'

Takemitsu Soundtrack Albums

Via the dmtls Merzbau blog this link will take you to a page which contains rapidshare links to four .rar files containing Mp3s of two Takemitsu CDs, 'Film Music By Toru Takemitsu' (now out of print apparently). Got that? (this message will self destruct in 5 seconds). Good luck (we are all counting on you as Leslie Nielsen would say)

Note that the above blog entry kindly refers you back here, and perhaps more relevant are the links to the Takemitsu soundtrack documentary on my YouTube 'Channel'.

Fractal Documentaries

Two free to stream documentaries on fractal geometry. One featuring the recently deceased Arthur C. Clarke called 'The Colours of Infinity'...

The other is on Teachers.Tv entitled 'Clouds are not Spheres' which is basically a biography of the fractal godfather Benoît B. Mandelbrot (you can stream the video without registering but you`ll need to do so if you want to download it)

Wednesday 23 April 2008

Music and the 'Mind'

Someone recommended Aniruddh Patel`s book about music, language and the brain to me the other day, I thought the name 'rang a bell', I saw this lecture he gave a while ago.

I shall be buying the book (when it comes out in paperback hopefully).

Thursday 17 April 2008

Boston University Messiaen Project

Thats right, its here, and very interesting/useful it is too. Also don`t forget the 2008 Messiaen conference that I mentioned in a previous post. And this centenary site (he was born in 1908 you see, so was Elliott Carter as it happens).

May I also recommend the excellent DVD about Messiaen made by Ideale Audience International, part of their Juxtapositions series. The documentaries are mostly footage of the man himself discussing his methods/ideas/concepts/practices etc (focuses on bird song and talk about nature mostly, not much technical detail or mention of his modes/rhythms etc, also some DVD extras with talking heads about his teaching etc).

Addendum [05/04/08]
Some clips from the DVD above have found their way onto YouTube...

Also the Philharmonia Orchestra have some short Messiaen documentary videos in their YouTube collection.

Wednesday 16 April 2008

Quote Of The Day (16/04/08)

'The early Greeks were uncertain as to whether 2 was a number at all, observing that it has, as it were, a beginning and an end but no middle. More mathematically, they pointed out that 2 + 2 = 2 x 2, or indeed that any number multiplied by 2 is equal to the same number added to itself. Since they expected multiplication to do more than mere addition, they considered 2 an exceptional case. Whether 2 qualified as a proper number or not, it was considered to be female, as were all even numbers, in contrast to odd numbers, which were male.

Division into 2 parts. dichotomy, is more significant psychologically and more frequent in practice than any other classification. The commonest symmetry is bilateral, 2 sided about a single axis, and is of order 2. Our bodies are bilaterally symmetrical, and we naturally distinguish right from left, up from down, in front from behind. Night is separated from day, there are 2 sexes, the seasons are expressed in pairs of pairs, summer and winter separated by spring and autumn, and comparisons are most commonly dichotomous, such as stronger or weaker than, better or worse than, youth versus age and so on'.

David Wells; The Penguin Dictionary of Curious and Interesting Numbers (revised edition)

Monday 14 April 2008

Quote Of The Day (14/04/08)

'In a way, art is a theory about the way the world looks to human beings. It`s abundantly obvious that one doesn`t know the world around us in detail. What artists have accomplished is realizing that there`s only a small amount of stuff that`s important, and then seeing what it was. So they can do some of my research for me.

When you look at early stuff of Van Gogh there are zillions of details that are put into it, there`s always an immense amount of information in his paintings. It obviously occurred to him, what is the irreducible amount of this stuff that you have to put in. Or you can study the horizons in in Dutch ink drawings from around 1600, with tiny trees and cows that look very real. If you look closely, the trees have sort of leafy boundaries, but it doesn`t work if that`s all it is - there are also, sticking in it, little pieces of twiglike stuff. There`s a definite interplay between the softer textures and things with more definite lines. Somehow the combination gives the correct perception.

With Ruysdael and Turner, if you look at the way they construct complicated water, it is clearly done in an iterative way. There`s some level of stuff, and then stuff painted on top of that, and then corrections to that. Turbulent fluids for those painters is always something with a scale idea in it'
Mitchell Feigenbaum, quoted in 'Chaos' by James Gleick.

Mitchell Feigenbaum, courtesy Rockerfeller University.

Sunday 13 April 2008

Quote Of The Day (13/04/08)

'I`ve always respected the science in the music, though I haven`t respected some of the related value systems: for instance, the concept of notation - I don`t think notation is the problem, it`s the concepts that surround notation. Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, all of the master Europeans who solidified Western art music were instrumentalists and improvisers as well as composers. Notation wasn`t used then as a choking device to stop the blood, the dynamic, of the culture; it was later, when the technocrats made the process more important than the results, that we got the so-called crisis of Western art music, which is still with us. In fact, we can see the same mind-set entering the bebop continuum: now they`re making bebop so "correct", it will be bopbe or something - it won`t be the same music that Charlie Parker and John Coltrane played'.

Anthony Braxton: An interview with Graham Lock (from 'Contemporary Composers on Contemporary Music', originally from 'Forces in Motion' by Lock)

Gödel, Escher, Bach

This book by Douglas Hofstadter is in my general science reading list (not finished Gleick`s 'Chaos' yet, one at a time). As a useful introduction to the work someone sent me a link to this MIT opencourseware lecture series, nice action.

Friday 11 April 2008

Quote Of The Day (11/04/08)

'You were asking about the rules. There`s a parable of Kafka`s about a man living in a country where he doesn`t know the rules. Nobody will tell him what they are. He knows neither right nor wrong, but he notes that the rulers do not share his anxiety. From this he deduces that the rules are for those who rule. What they do is the rule. That`s why all my knowledge doesn`t make me understand what Mozart did that I should also do in order to reach a state of artistic grace'

Morton Feldman; Conversations Without Stravinsky (from Give my Regards to Eighth Street)

Milford Graves Documentary

Yes, a documentary on the free/jazz drummer/percussionist Milford Graves and saxophonist David Murray, via Pedro Mendes` fantabulous YouTube channel, here is part one..

[you`ll have to put up with some odd video compression artefacts and the end of the film appears to be missing, no one said life was fair eh, perhaps Pedro will upload the rest at some point]

and parts two, three and four.

None But The Lonely Flute

An excellent flute album here from Dorothy Stone, free to download courtesy of the Different Waters blog.

1. Milton Babbitt - None but the Lonely Flute
2. Morton Feldman - Trio for Flutes
3. Stephen L. Mosko - For Morton Feldman
4. Kathyrn Alexander - And the Whole Air is Tremulous
5. Stephen L. Mosko - Indigenous Music II: Flute
6. John Cage - Ryoan-Ji

Rapidshare link.

Thursday 3 April 2008

Quote Of The Day (03/04/08)

'It is sad to have to admit that most men consider it their human right to dispute, even to overpower the human rights of their fellows. Even sadder is the aspect of the world today, which offers no hope of improvement in the foreseeable future.

But this should not stifle our longing for a state of affairs in which the sanctity of each man`s human rights is intangibly self-evident. Humanity has benefited by all such blessings only because an ever-increasing number of people have yearned passionately for redemption until it was granted. All progess in social thinking and feeling which eliminated friction in community life has come about only through the force of such longing. We must never give up our longing.'

Arnold Schoenberg; Style and Idea (pg 204)

Wednesday 2 April 2008

Quote Of The Day (02/04/08)

'Where in life we do everything we can to avoid anxiety, in art we must persue it. This is difficult. Everything in our life and culture , regardless of our background, is dragging us away. Still, there is this sense of something imminent. And what is imminent, we find, is neither the past nor the future, but simply - the next ten minutes'.

Morton Feldman; The Anxiety of Art (part of 3 essays in The Music of Morton Feldman edited by Thomas DeLio)

Tuesday 1 April 2008

Gresham College Lectures

Picking up from my previous post which mentioned Gresham College, here are some more of their lectures on music which can be streamed from their site (audio/video).

For instance Gresham music professor Roger Parker`s lectures on string quartets...

Mozart - Quartet in C major, K465 (Dissonance)
Bartok - Quartet No 2
Debussy - Quartet in G minor, Op 10

Previous music lecturers and groups at Gresham who have some of their work archived for online use are...

Professor Adrian Thomas: a list of his lectures.
Professor Piers Halliwell: a list of his lectures.
The ensemble Chamber Domaine: A list of their lectures/peformances

And here is a list of Gresham Professors of music past and present.

A couple of other music or music related lectures of note (more there if you search), one by Professor Keith Kendrick entitled 'Music art and the brain' and one by Professor Jonathan Cole entitled 'Music and Architecture: Confronting the Boundaries Between Space and Sound.'

Oh btw, if you don`t like RealPlayer (all Gresham`s files are in this format) then try RealPlayer Alternative (no background processes).

Bartok, Quartet No2, Clarinets, U.S Military Band

Yes I know, it`s a heady mix but it really works, free download of Bartok`s String Quartet No2 Op.17 arranged for clarinet quartet here.

Arranged by Sam Kaestner, performed by The Academy Clarinet Quartet, part of the United States Academy Military Band, West Point, New York (you can buy the score here).

The United States Military Academy Concert Band

And why not watch a lecture about Bartok`s String Quartet No2?, given at Gresham College in 2007, by Professor Roger Parker and The Badke Quartet.

Quote Of The Day (01/04/2008)

By now, we should be able to tentatively formulate the fundamental Feldman paradox: Each and every element of Feldman`s music is quite definite, whereas the constitution of fixed significations through the establishment of relationships among those elements is being indefinitely deferred ('differ`ed').

Herman Sabbe: The Feldman Paradoxes (The Music of Morton Feldman, edited by Thomas DeLio)