Tuesday 31 March 2009

Top of the Un-Pops: Composer Rankings

Debussy playing the piano: Of the 'normal' composers he is the most wiki'd over the last 30 days (excluding Zappa, who isn't easy to categorise, I umm'd and ah'd about whether to include him.)

Here it is, a big list that took longer than I thought it would to compile. Composers active from the 20th Century onwards ranked by the popularity of their English language Wikipedia page in the last 30 days.

The links in the list go to Wikirank so you can look further into the Wiki stats, if you like. Also from the Wikirank page you can click through to the relevant Wiki article or do a Google search etc.

It isn't an exhaustive list for what should be fairly obvious reasons (it's subjective, too many composers to list, and where do you draw the line?, for instance I excluded soundtrack composers and Paul McCartney but did include Zappa).

If you think I have missed anyone or wish to debate the list in some fashion leave a comment. (Oh and don't re-post the content on your blog without linking back here, as if you did all the leg work, this took me a few hours, if you do I'll find you out and will remove you from my Christmas card list)

Regards the 'take-out' of this 'research' (to use a marketing term, cough), not sure yet, only just put it together, make up your own minds. I just thought it would be interesting to see which composers people are reading about.

For some comparison, Beethoven's page was viewed 256, 439 times over the last 30 days, Mozart's 165, 698, Bach's 154, 182.

For a 'pop' comparison the Beatles' page was the most viewed on Wiki overall in the same period, 3, 341, 283 views.

I will check this list for gaffes over the next day or two, I don't think my brain can take any more stats right now (I'll probably wake up in the night realising I've left out some important composer or other.)

UPDATE on 01/04/2009 22:08....added, George Perle, Paul Lansky, Ludovico Einaudi, Kyle Gann, Roger Reynolds and Carlos Chavez.

UPDATE: AM 02/04/2009 : Post some discussion on the PCME group on Facebook I've included results for the last 90 days for the top 20 composers and provided a summary and a link to the relevant 90 day graph.

Not sure what is the best sample size to use, both would be ideal but I don't currently have the time to collect data for everyone in the list, so the last 30 days will have to do for most of them (better than nothing eh.) I don't see any major changes in traffic, just a few peaks here and there (a couple of fairly major ones, Gershwin particularly.)

I don't think using a slightly larger time window will make that much difference in terms of accuracy, and I think the last 30 days is a easy period to look at (views per month more graspable than views per three months, arguably), but then statistics are not my strong point so if you disagree let me know in the comments section.


1. Frank Zappa viewed 101,954 times in the last 30 days, 307,276 for the last 90 (fairly smooth graph)

2. Claude Debussy viewed 88,219 times in the last 30 days, 228,214 for the last 90 (some moderate peaks in March)

3. Sergei Rachmaninoff viewed 48,258 times in the last 30 days, 137,921 for the last 90 (fairly smooth, one moderate peak)

4. Igor Stravinsky viewed 45,651 times in the last 30 days, 126,151 for the last 90 (a bit up and down, low in early January but with a fairly large blip later in the month.)

5. George Gershwin viewed 45,560 times in the last 30 days, 145,624 for the last 90 (smooth apart from a very large blip around the 5th of February, not sure what that's about)

6. Philip Glass viewed 41,720 times in the last 30 days, 110,407 for the last 90 (fairly smooth with one moderate peak in January)

7. John Cage viewed 39,429 times in the last 30 days, 109,060 for the last 90 (fairly smooth, one moderate peak in February)

8. Giacomo Puccini viewed 35,017 times in the last 30 days, 98,505 for the last 90 (fairly smooth with three moderately large peaks spread out across the period)

9. Richard Strauss viewed 34,092 times in the last 30 days, 92,197 for the last 90 (smooth apart from four moderate peaks)

10. Leonard Bernstein viewed 33,484 times in the last 30 days, 96,685 for the last 90 (a few peaks)

11. Dmitri Shostakovich viewed 33,063 times in the last 30 days, 95,532 for the last 90 (fairly smooth)

12. Sergei Prokofiev viewed 32,771 times in the last 30 days, 89, 807 times for the last 90 (a bit spiky but generally consistent)

13. Gustav Mahler viewed 32,055 times in the last 30 days, 92, 661 for the last 90 (a few spikes but nothing major)

14. Aaron Copland viewed 31,845 times in the last 30 days, 99,814 for the last 90 (smooth apart from a fairly large peak in February)

15. Maurice Ravel viewed 30,784 times in the last 30 days, 98,764 for the last 90 (very large peak in January)

16. Arnold Schoenberg viewed 28,869 times in the last 30 days, 79,641 for the last 90 (fairly smooth)

17. Erik Satie viewed 25,590 times in the last 30 days, 73,606 for the last 90 (two smallish peaks)

18. Béla Bartók viewed 24,453 times in the last 30 days, 66,496 for the last 90 (fairly smooth, one smallish peak)

19. Ralph Vaughan Williams viewed 19,084 times in the last 30 days, 60,203 for the last 90 (two big peaks)

20. Benjamin Britten viewed 18,830 times in the last 30 days, 55,676 for the last 90 (a bit spiky but nothing major, fairly consistent)

21. Carl Orff viewed 18,625 times in the last 30 days.

22. Edward Elgar viewed 18,152 times in the last 30 days.

23. Samuel Barber viewed 17,557 times in the last 30 days.

24. Jean Sibelius viewed 16,144 times in the last 30 days.

25. Steve Reich viewed 15,844 times in the last 30 days.

26. Gustav Holst viewed 15,305 times in the last 30 days.

27. Olivier Messiaen viewed 13,667 times in the last 30 days.

28. Aram Khachaturian viewed 12,471 times in the last 30 days.

29. Arvo Pärt viewed 12,277 times in the last 30 days.

30. Kurt Weill viewed 11,624 times in the last 30 days.

31. Charles Ives viewed 11,533 times in the last 30 days.

32. Karlheinz Stockhausen viewed 11,234 times in the last 30 days.

33. György Ligeti viewed 11,138 times in the last 30 days.

34. Alban Berg viewed 9,978 times in the last 30 days.

35. Alexander Scriabin viewed 9,458 times in the last 30 days.

36. Francis Poulenc viewed 9,252 times in the last 30 days.

37. Iannis Xenakis viewed 8,652 times in the last 30 days.

38. Edgard Varèse viewed 7,989 times in the last 30 days.

39. Heitor Villa-Lobos viewed 7,972 times in the last 30 days.

40. Paul Hindemith viewed 7,714 times in the last 30 days.

41. Pierre Boulez viewed 7,670 times in the last 30 days.

42. Anton Webern viewed 7,608 times in the last 30 days.

43. Leoš Janáček viewed 7,602 times in the last 30 days.

44. Ludvico Einaudi viewed 7,497 times in the last 30 days.

45. Terry Riley viewed 7,401 times in the last 30 days.

46. La Monte Young viewed 7,325 times in the last 30 days.

47. Krzysztof Penderecki viewed 7,244 times in the last 30 days.

48. Ástor Piazzolla viewed 7,204 times in the last 30 days.

49. John Adams viewed 7,155 times in the last 30 days.

50. Manuel de Falla viewed 7,144 times in the last 30 days.

51. Tan Dun viewed 6,034 times in the last 30 days.

52. Darius Milhaud viewed 5,671 times in the last 30 days.

53. Zoltán Kodály viewed 5,587 times in the last 30 days.

54. Frederick Delius viewed 5,488 times in the last 30 days.

55. Ottorino Respighi viewed 5,407 times in the last 30 days.

56. Henryk Górecki viewed 5,346 times in the last 30 days.

57. George Enescu viewed 5,319 times in the last 30 days.

58. Henry Cowell viewed 5,135 times in the last 30 days.

59. Elliott Carter viewed 5,063 times in the last 30 days.

60. Luciano Berio viewed 4,630 times in the last 30 days.

61. Carl Nielsen viewed 4,271 times in the last 30 days.

62. Morton Feldman viewed 4,227 times in the last 30 days.

63. William Walton viewed 4,171 times in the last 30 days.

64. Alfred Schnittke viewed 3,975 times in the last 30 days.

65. Paul Dukas viewed 3,914 times in the last 30 days.

66. Ferruccio Busoni viewed 3,808 times in the last 30 days.

67. George Crumb viewed 3,738 times in the last 30 days.

68. Jacques Ibert viewed 2,588 times in the last 30 days.

69. Bohuslav Martinů viewed 3,543 times in the last 30 days.

70. Alberto Ginastera viewed 3,537 times in the last 30 days.

71. Milton Babbitt viewed 3,506 times in the last 30 days.

72. Peter Maxwell Davies viewed 3,472 times in the last 30 days.

73. Karol Szymanowski viewed 3,308 times in the last 30 days.

74. Witold Lutosławski was viewed 3,261 times in the last 30 days.

75. Frank Martin viewed 3,260 times in the last 30 days.

76. Henri Pousseur viewed 3,281 times in the last 30 days.

77. Ernest Bloch viewed 3,246 times in the last 30 days.

78. Arthur Honegger viewed 3,237 times in the last 30 days.

79. Malcolm Arnold viewed 3,232 times in the last 30 days.

80. John Corigliano viewed 3,194 times in the last 30 days.

81. Max Reger viewed 3,137 times in the last 30 days.

82. Erich Wolfgang Korngold viewed 3,067 times in the last 30 days.

83. Tōru Takemitsu viewed 2,895 times in the last 30 days.

84. Maurice Duruflé viewed 2,799 times in the last 30 days.

85. Alan Hovhaness viewed 2,766 times in the last 30 days.

86. Michael Tippett viewed 2,742 times in the last 30 days.

87. Conlon Nancarrow viewed 2,593 times in the last 30 days.

88. Einojuhani Rautavaara viewed 2,427 times in the last 30 days.

89. Luigi Nono viewed 2,403 times in the last 30 days.

90. Cornelius Cardew viewed 2,327 times in the last 30 days.

91. Arnold Bax viewed 2,276 times in the last 30 days.

92. Sofia Gubaidulina viewed 2,230 times in the last 30 days.

93. Thomas Adès viewed 2,223 times in the last 30 days.

94. Henri Dutilleux viewed 2,186 times in the last 30 days.

95. Hans Werner Henze viewed 2,174 times in the last 30 days.

96. Louis Andriessen viewed 2,148 times in the last 30 days.

97. Virgil Thomson viewed 2,102 times in the last 30 days.

98. Lou Harrison viewed 2,057 times in the last 30 days.

99. Ernő Dohnányi viewed 2,048 times in the last 30 days.

100. George Antheil viewed 2,032 times in the last 30 days.

101. William Bolcom viewed 1,985 times in the last 30 days

102. Harrison Birtwistle viewed 1,979 times in the last 30 days

103. Mauricio Kagel viewed 1,955 times in the last 30 days.

104. Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji viewed 1,901 times in the last 30 days.

105. György Kurtág viewed 1,758 times in the last 30 days.

106. Lukas Foss viewed 1,743 times in the last 30 days.

107. Frederic Rzewski viewed 1,739 times in the last 30 days.

108. Marcel Dupré viewed 1,696 times in the last 30 days.

109. Vincent Persichetti viewed 1,695 times in the last 30 days.

110. Giacinto Scelsi viewed 1,683 times in the last 30 days.

111. Brian Ferneyhough viewed 1,625 times in the last 30 days.

112. Paul Lansky viewed 1,562 times in the last 30 days.

113. Gavin Bryars viewed 1,529 times in the last 30 days.

114. Christian Wolff viewed 1,479 times in the last 30 days.

115. Frank Bridge viewed 1,468 times in the last 30 days.

116. Ernst Krenek viewed 1,381 times in the last 30 days.

117. Kaija Saariaho viewed 1,263 times in the last 30 days.

118. Jonathan Harvey viewed 1,243 times in the last 30 days.

119. Wolfgang Rihm viewed 1,235 times in the last 30 days.

120. Luigi Dallapiccola viewed 1,208 times in the last 30 days.

121. Helmut Lachenmann viewed 1,170 times in the last 30 days.

122. Gérard Grisey viewed 1,153 times in the last 30 days. TIED

123. Roger Sessions viewed 1,153 times in the last 30 days. TIED

124. Carlos Chávez viewed 1,107 times in the last 30 days.

125. Tristan Murail viewed 1,074 times in the last 30 days.

126. Oliver Knussen viewed 1,076 times in the last 30 days.

127. Salvatore Sciarrino viewed 989 times in the last 30 days.

128. Edison Denisov viewed 982 times in the last 30 days.

129. Paul Creston viewed 969 times in the last 30 days

130. John Luther Adams viewed 965 times in the last 30 days.

131. Magnus Lindberg viewed 959 times in the last 30 days.

132. Galina Ustvolskaya viewed 886 times in the last 30 days.

133. Bernd Alois Zimmermann viewed 827 times in the last 30 days.

134. Carl Ruggles viewed 808 times in the last 30 days.

135. Earle Brown viewed 794 times in the last 30 days.

136. Charles Wuorinen viewed 768 times in the last 30 days.

137. Bruno Maderna viewed 749 times in the last 30 days.

138. Michael Finnissy viewed 732 times in the last 30 days.

139. Mark-Anthony Turnage viewed 716 times in the last 30 days.

140. George Perle viewed 693 times in the last 30 days.

141. Andrzej Panufnik viewed 683 times in the last 30 days.

142. Franco Donatoni viewed 620 times in the last 30 days.

143. Kyle Gann viewed 615 times in the last 30 days.

144. Alexander Goehr viewed 610 times in the last 30 days.

145. Claude Vivier viewed 605 times in the last 30 days.

146. Julián Carrillo viewed 589 times in the last 30 days.

147. Peter Eötvös viewed 555 times in the last 30 days.

148. Alvin Curran viewed 545 times in the last 30 days.

149. Alois Hába viewed 516 times in the last 30 days.

150. Pascal Dusapin viewed 499 times in the last 30 days.

151. Alun Hoddinott viewed 491 times in the last 30 days.

152. Roger Reynolds viewed 469 times in the last 30 days.

153. Kevin Volans viewed 456 times in the last 30 days.

154. James MacMillan viewed 415 times in the last 30 days.

155. Richard Barrett viewed 412 times in the last 30 days.

156. James Dillon viewed 396 times in the last 30 days.

157. Gloria Coates viewed 345 times in the last 30 days.

158. Karel Goeyvaerts viewed 333 times in the last 30 days

159. Horaţiu Rădulescu viewed 321 times in the last 30 days.

160. Beat Furrer viewed 302 times in the last 30 days.

161. George Benjamin viewed 274 times in the last 30 days.

Sunday 29 March 2009

Coming Soon

A Screenshot of a work in progess animation based on Stravinsky's 'rotational arrays' (the row from 'The Flood' in this instance.)

Apologies for not posting anything recently, I have been busy sorting out my computer (installing new programs, DVD burner, fixing stuff), playing at FES (Birmingham University) and reading (library scores and books like Arom's)

Coming fairly soon will be (hopefully) an animated video (possibly with 'narration') describing/explaining (see Nietzsche for the difference/s) Stravinsky's 'rotational arrays' (from his later 'serial' period.)

You can use the method for structuring any group/sets of pitches, it's not just a 12-tone serial thing.

Also i'll be posting in the next day or two with a sort of 'Top of the Un-Pops' composer list, I won't spoil the surprise by saying any more about that.

So, that's it for now then.

P.S. you can read a bit about rotational arrays in this PDF (courtesy of The University of Houston.), and/or buy the Cambridge Companion to Stravinsky (a USA Amazon complement.inversion.etc. link here.)

Wednesday 25 March 2009

Stretch Yourself: Avoid RSI, Tendonitis and Carpal Tunnel, etc.

Something about RSI, via this page.

Ok so this isn't a post about music or music stuff but it's important (you can't play an instrument or compose very easily if you hands/arms are in pain)

Whether you play an instrument or compose a lot, and/or sit at a computer for a few hours a day you are risking a repetitive strain injury of some sort. Jazz saxophonist Matt Otto has suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome since the 1990s but is still playing regularly, daily stretches, exercise and diet are his solution (you can here him play if you go to his blog as linked to above, two free albums to listen to.)

He has uploaded some useful YouTube videos of the stretches he does (see embedded vid below) and he talks a bit about the condition and his experience of it, here is a link to his YouTube channel.

Also he answers some questions on this topic here (Casa Valdez, a jazz blog mostly focusing on saxophone, that's where I got the blanksheetmusic.net link in the previous post from too.)

I am trying to do these stretches every day and in my opinion (so far) they help avoid aches and pains and hopefully keep any more serious injuries at bay (I was getting a slightly annoying 'clarinet thumb' recently, seems to have gone away now after exercising, better to try and fix these things sooner rather than later for obvious reasons.)

Free Stuff!!!: A Sheet Music Utility and a Firefox Mp3 Plugin.

A couple of useful free things I have found recently on teh internets are Blanksheetmusic.net, a site which unsurprisingly offers various types of blank manuscript paper (you can customise the page to your liking, like Sibelius or Finale but faster and browser based.). Good if you want to print some blank sheets to write on with that antiquated technology, the hand.

The other is the Foxytunes/Yahoo Firefox plugin. It works really well for those sites that have mp3 links but don't feature a browser player (you know the ones, where you click on the mp3 link and it loads a whole new page, not ideal.).

An example (and this isn't a criticism btw) is the Clarinet of The 21st Century site which has lots of mp3 examples (click the images on the page) of the listed techniques/fingerings, now you can play them all from the same page with ease, you'll see a little play arrow underneath each example. Nice :-)

Monday 23 March 2009

Quote For Late March

Igor Stravinsky, at work, from LIFE Magazine's photo archive.
The creator’s function is to sift the elements he receives from [the imagination], for human activity must impose limits upon itself. The more art is controlled, limited, worked over, the more it is free . . . My freedom consists in my moving about within the narrow frame that I have assigned myself for each one of my undertakings.

I shall go even further: my freedom will be so much the greater and more meaningful the more narrowly I limit my field of action and the more I surround myself with obstacles. Whatever diminishes constraint, diminishes strength. The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one’s self of the chains that shackle the spirit.
Stravinsky, Poetics of Music in the Form of Six Lessons, trans. Arthur Knodel and Ingolf Dahl (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press,1947), 63–5.

Available from the USA shop here, and UK here (and excellent value might I add.)

Saturday 21 March 2009

Messiaen's Technique of My Musical Language: Available!!

This essential text was out of print for ages (I had to look for years and years before finding a copy of it, its importance as a reference and its rarity is arguably the primary reason why various scans of it are floating round on the interweb, which I won't link to here for legal reasons.)

It's now available (in legal hard-copy) from a few sources, Lynn* has managed to get a copy for the complement.inversion.etc franchise (thanks Lynn.), check it out here (only USA though, you could buy it in other territories obviously but that is where it ships from, only one in stock apparently so if you want it via the 'store' move quickly.)

I've included it as my 'deal of the week USA' if you check the side bar on the right and as the link above shows it's in my USA 'store' (which still needs its stock sorting out a bit, books are not in much of a decent order, bear with me.)

Also, you can buy it from Thompson Edition, here (ships from the USA but you can select different territories and currencies to display using the gadget thing at the bottom of the page.)

Amazon dealer price is currently $79,95, via Thompson Edition it's $71.50 (not including postage, I think.). So for those in the UK that's in the £50 'ball-park' at the current exchange rate.

And in the UK, it's available from Musicroom.com, here (a slightly pricey £79.99)

I can say (from the bottom of my 'heart') that it's a really useful text, not just for interpreting Messiaen's music, but of wider compositional interest. Importantly, its practical, succinct style and its bevy of musical examples make it an easy read.

Not only that, but I have uploaded a DVD list to my UK 'shop' which has some excellent titles on offer, most of which I have seen/own hence their inclusion, i.e. they are not a load of rubbish (I am tempted to get the Lachenmann DVD next, I don't have that, or the Wolfgang Rihm one.)

I'll do the USA DVD list next (I am holding off doing CDs and Scores for the time being, they will take longer to select, CDs particularly, obviously.)

(*I should mention, just in case my straight faced 'humour' has confused anyone, Lynn and the other 'staff' at the complement.inversion.etc store don't actually exist, just a bit of fun, i'll continue to make reference to them though, until I get bored of it/them....etc.)

Thursday 19 March 2009

Opera, Intellectuals, and the Emotions, (sic, etc)

The Rhetoric Analyser (pat pending: Lawes Industries 2009). False Dichotomy warning light on, now with added feature specifying a 'standard' or 'binary opposition' form.

Rufus Wainwright's new 'opera' is discussed in the Independent here. I don't have much to say about it really, not my sort of music so on the one hand good luck to him, I hope people like it. On the other hand, at least as per the quotes in the article, he comes out with some rather challenged guff about the state of the art which seems worth commenting on. The issue primarily is the false dichotomy* presented here...
"Opera seems to have been hijacked by intellectual elements," he said. "For a long time I wanted to make it a little less intellectual and have more emotional engagement. You have to remember it was a populous form, like the bandstand of its time."
Let's assume we know what he means by the terms 'intellectual' and 'emotional engagement' and go on to contrast the two (let's also give him the benefit of the doubt and assume the grammatical error, malapropism even, was a product of faulty transcription, of course it should be popular, not 'populous', that would suggest opera was once densely populated, like the Netherlands).

So, apparently, the intellect and the emotions are A: possible to define and separate B: antonymous. The caption underneath a moody looking picture of Wainwright reads.. 'Rufus Wainwright: Opera is for all, not just intellectuals'.

It might as well say 'Opera is for all, intellectuals and emotional people', this reframing highlights the false nature of this dichotomy (* it's not, perhaps, exactly a false dichotomy depending on which definition you use, there is no 'excluded middle' in Wainwright's formulation as he uses the term 'less', it's not an either/or argument specifically either, erm, see a philosopher UPDATE: a philosopher speaks, see comments)

Emotional states are of course, impossible to avoid if one is conscious, that is if we accept the concept at all. Card carrying 'intellectuals' are just as emotional as erm, normal (?) people. 'Intellectual' opera (whatever that is) is just as emotional as erm, emotional opera? (help me out here Rufus.)

I don't want to pick on him too much, he might not have even said the stuff attributed to him in the Independent article (as tends to happen in newspaper interviews, I remember my brother being interviewed by a local newspaper years ago about a BBC drama soundtrack he had composed, at the end of the article it quoted him as saying 'it was a real boon', he never said that, he never says that, the journalist just made it up and it became an mildly amusing catchphrase for a few weeks. I still use variations of the phrase now and then like in this previous post.)

However, this creaky old trope is a bit annoying and worth challenging or at least poking fun at. It gets trotted out every now again when someone trying to preempt criticism from those 'intellectual' meanies wants to justify making some 'nice' music ('emotional' could just be replaced by the terms 'romantic' or 'traditional' in Wainwrights 'world'.)

Nothing wrong with writing melodic romantic opera, not my bag but who cares, go with it, no need for polemics (by protesting it suggests he does think there is something wrong with it.)

Anyway, I don't want to be mean, just to suggest that the dichotomy intellectual/emotional is specious rubbish, and that Wainwright should have more confidence in his work, whatever sort of music it is (the rhetoric of enmity not required.)

Monday 16 March 2009

Spotify: Free Music Streaming Software.

Spotify: A mixture of 'spot' and 'identify' apparently.

I am normally quite skeptical about this sort of thing, but I saw a news story about 'Spotify' in The Times (which I don't normally read, honest) and thought I would give it a go, also I spotted saxophonist Bruce Coates gave it the thumbs up in a Facebook status update, proving they are not always inconsequential whimsy.

It turns out that it's pretty good, meaning it has a lot of music on it, including a lot of classical and contemporary classical stuff (not tried searching for anything else yet, only installed it today.)

According to the wiki page it's only available as a free beta service in Western Europe at the moment but the subscription service should be available in other territories.

For the free service you download the software and off you go (might want to check your firewall settings though, the program made a few server requests which I blocked and it didn't affect the streaming content so erm, not sure what's up with that).

I have the score for Lutoslawski's Double Concerto out from the library and the moment and was looking around for a cheap or free stream of the piece somewhere as it seems one of his less recorded works, glad to see Spotify has it, amongst lots of other peformances of pieces by him. Hopefully the free streaming service continues past the beta stage, probably something worth supporting.

Complement.Inversion.Etc Stores Open For Business!

Opening day today at the brand new complement.inversion.etc store in Tallahassee, Florida. Staff from left to right, Margret: Marketing Manager, Terri: Retail Assistant, Carl: Manager, Riley: Security, Lynn: Stock Manager. Welcome to the complement.inversion.etc family guys, and remember, companies don't succeed, people do.

Yes, check the sidebar on the right. I've only 'stocked' music books and some aesthetics stuff so far, not in any particular order (just listed the ones I own or have read and recommend, and a few I don't own yet but intend to, like 'The Music of Lutoslawski' which i'll order through 'shop' shortly.)

You'll see there is a US store and a UK shop.

Also I have created a 'product of the week' widget where i'll try and promote some worthy purchase (if I spot something cheap and good etc, available in a US and UK version)

I intend to add more stuff to the shop like scores, DVDs and CDs etc. Every time you buy something through the shop with your Amazon account I get some sort of credit with them which eventually gets turned into an Amazon voucher, so I can buy more books and music and post yet more quotes and rambling remarks here, so, everyone's a winner.

However, some items are not available through Amazon directly, used books etc via their various dealers, i've included those anyway as there is some good stuff you can get second hand thats out of print or whatever.

If you want to special order anything let me know, I can get Lynn to order it in.

Bon Marché.

Sunday 15 March 2009

The Mathematics of The Baroque

Gottfried Leibniz, 'baroque' mathematician and chocolate biscuit innovator (see the way the chocolate is on only on one side?, the man was a genius.)

The Baroque isn't exactly on topic for this blog but the combination of mathematics and aesthetics and/or rational approaches to it are, so there!.
Mathematician Marcus du Sautoy explores the role of science and mathematics in the arts of the baroque. From Bernini's architecture and sculpture in Rome, the playful gardens at Versailles, to the grand dome of St Paul's Cathedral and the music of Monteverdi and Bach, he discovers that new ideas about perspective, capturing movement and the infinite all play a part in the baroque vision.
A BBC Radio3 programme, Listen to it here (available for another seven days from Sunday 15/03/2009)

Quote For The Middle of March

Brian Ferneyhough: perhaps just after reading a funny computer printout.
One of the 'complex' things about 'complex' music is its quality of of refusing to present a straightforward object (as for instance in much minimal sculpture): it is always perceived in the act of underlining it's own ongoing and provisional nature. It doesn't present the illusion of not being an illusion - in large measure because of the continual problematization of the performance/interpretaton context.
Brian Ferneyhough; Responses To A Questionnaire on 'complexity' (1990), from Collected Writings (you can get the relevant pdf extract plus another one in this previous 'free stuff' post.)

My note, this concept of a piece being ongoing and provisional reminds me of Derrida's idea about meaning always being deferred, perhaps one could speculate that music like Ferneyhough's is a product of the same post-structuralist/post-modern milieux (if you like, or perhaps it would be better just to drink beer and crush the empty cans on our heads, it's probably post-something)

Friday 13 March 2009

Boulez Dérive Analysis Site Courtesy of The London Sinfonietta

Boulez: A man has no need for a comb when he has perfect pitch.

UPDATE: The sound intermedia site is down at the moment, has been for a couple of days. If this situation persists i'll email them and ask if it's permament (hopefully not.)

This little site about Boulez, specifically focusing on his composition Dérive is a London Sinfonietta project (built by Sound Intermedia and funded by various other bodies).

It's in the same mould as the Takemitsu 'Tree Line' site I linked to in a previous post. It's not the easiest site to get around (could do with keeping all the links in the same place rather than moving them around depending on where you are on the site) however, there is some straight-to-the-point analysis and information on it and some good ideas for workshops and teaching ideas based around Boulez's piece/concepts.

Also, check the London Sinfonietta's site, some interesting stuff, such as their audio-video section, this Lutoslawski video for instance (London Sinfonietta's 1989 performance of Lutoslawski's Chain 1 conducted by Lutoslawski).

Free Stuff!!!: Two Interviews, Ferneyhough and Xenakis.

Brian Ferneyhough Time and Motion Study III 1974 16 mixed voices, percussion, live electronics (detail of the score) [image and text via this James Wagner blog entry]

That's right, some extracts of interviews* with Ferneyhough here and here, courtesy of UNT again, both from Ferneyhough's 'Collected Writings', and here is an interview with Xenakis from 1993 (with James Harley).

Also, there is a good interview with Ferneyhough on Wiki-talk, here.

*well ok, part one of the Ferneyhough extract is a questionnaire on 'complexity'.

Thursday 12 March 2009

Sequenza 21 Feature

This is just a brief post to link back to Sequenza 21 who featured the Radio3 info in the previous post and linked back to this blog (via this post by managing editor and composer Steve Layton).

It's probably the main site/community weblog/community/call-it-what-you-will for contemporary music in the English language, check out their site if you haven't checked it out before, there is a main news type page (main link above) a Composer's Forum, and a CDs reviews section.

Monday 9 March 2009

Ligeti, Free Stuff, Again (and some Xenakis).

Ligeti: 'What?, me?, again?!, great!!'

I just can't help it at the moment, it seems the great man keeps appearing all over the place. This week Ligeti is BBC Radio 3's composer of the week (my Dad who listens to Radio 3 said to me today 'your mate's on the radio this week').

For those of you unfamiliar with the format, it's a one hour long programme with music and discussion broadcast every weekday (here is the Radio 3 schedule), these programmes are then archived for a short time (7 days I think). I have no idea how it all works if you are outside of the UK (though I think you can access the programmes, not sure though, good luck).

Then, Ligeti's Violin Concerto is on Performance on 3 on Friday at 7pm, and, while i'm at it, there is an edition of Radio 3's excellent Discovering Music series about the Violin Concerto which you can listen to as part of their archive (also you'll find a link to an interview with John Tusa).

And, Xenakis's music is featured on Performance on 3 tomorrow at 7pm again...(an event connected to the one covered by Lizzie a couple of posts ago).
A concert given at the Barbican, London, featuring the music of Iannis Xenakis, described by Olivier Messiaen as 'a hero unlike any other'. Xenakis's very original music has many complex rhythmic patterns, polyphonic melodies and distinct instrumental and vocal textures and draws on his training as an architect and his work as assistant to Le Corbusier. In his piece Nuits, voices explore the phonetic sounds of Sumerian and ancient Persian.

Christian Lindberg (trombone)
Rolf Hind (piano)
BBC Singers
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Martyn Brabbins (conductor)
Stephen Betteridge (conductor)

Xenakis: Tracees; Anastenaria; Sea-Nymphs; Mists; Nuits; Troorkh; Antikhthon

Saturday 7 March 2009

Free Stuff!!!: Ligeti In Conversation PDF

Ligeti, none too pleased about having to pose with (100) metronomes (to add insult to injury it looks like he was asked to sign a print of the photo at a later date)

Here it is, a PDF of a conversation with Ligeti which is an extract from the now out of print In Conversation: Gyorgy Ligeti in Conversation with Peter Varnai, Joseph Hausler, Claude Samuel and Himself (1983.)

I found it ages ago via Google or Scribd I think and just found it now while going through the archives, it's hosted on Joseph Klein's region of the University of North Texas site. Some thanks due to him then.

UPDATE: as far as I can tell, Klein seems to have taken that PDF down (can't find it now anyway, thanks to keralitee for letting me know via a comment). Here is an alternative link I found (on Deposit Files).

UPDATE 2: Thanks to a comment from Lizzie it seems the link from the University of North Texas still works, I must have messed up the original link somehow (cough) and then failed to find it again on Google (and one PDF search engine I use has stopped working today for some reason). I've updated the original link now and i'll leave the Deposit Files one up too just in case. Thanks keralitee and Lizzie.

(the book the extract comes from seems to be out of print, if you own the copyright or the book is going back into print and think the extract should be removed, let me know)

Total Immersion: Iannis Xenakis - Double Bill of films

The Phillips Pavillion designed by Xenakis in 1958.

Here is a brief report from guest poster Lizzie on the recent Xenakis documentary double bill at the Barbican in London (originally posted as a comment on a recent Xenakis post then she edited it a bit so it could be included here, thanks Lizzie :-)

Total Immersion – Xenakis Composer Day at the Barbican

As part of the Barbican’s composer day on Xenakis was a double bill of documentaries about the life and music of Iannis Xenakis preceded by a talk by Ivan Hewett.

Something Rich and Strange: The Life and Music of Iannis Xenakis

The first documentary, by the BBC, comprised of interviews with Xenakis and his wife Françoise mainly filmed whilst he was visiting his old school on the island of Spetzai. It also had an interview with the writer Nouritza Matossian (who spent 10 years collaborating and working on his biography, simply titled Xenakis – well worth a read, although I think it is unfortunately now out of print). 

Anyway, it was more about his life and how his experiences and education influenced his music rather than how he composed. I can’t remember if it was him or his wife who said that he tried to explain and understand the world –particularly the order in chaos and the structure in randomness – through his music.

Speaker Ivan Hewett gave a 20 minute talk about his music before the documentaries were shown and he used the analogy of a flock of birds in the sky all flying in their own way/direction in a way that appears to be random but together they form an order – you can clearly see the outline of the flock of birds and where the sky begins – and that is how a lot of his music, particularly Metastaseis works. Roger Woodward, the Australian pianist who first performed Keqrops said that after he plays Xenakis music he feels like he can do anything, which is hardly surprising considering how complex and demanding the piece is! Anyway, it was a good documentary in that you really could understand what drove him to write the music he did and see what a complete thirst for knowledge and understanding of the world he sought but I really wanted to understand more about the way he composed.

The second documentary titled Building Sights Europe: Iannis Xenakis simply followed Xenakis on his visit to the Dominican monastery Le Couvent Sainte Marie de La Tourette near Lyon, which he worked on with Le Corbusier. Although Xenakis assisted Le Corbusier on the design of this monastery he had in fact never seen it until now. The documentary was very brief, only 10 minutes long, but enough to get a glimpse into Xenakis the architect and see how even then (he worked on this building from 1954-1957) he was using musical ideas as part of his architectural design.

Wednesday 4 March 2009

Text Quote For The Fifth of March

An all interval row, from Berg's Lyric Suite, courtesy of this page from Northern Arizona University.
I have been researching into the matter of twelve-tone chords, I have categorised them - I came to the conclusion that the fewer the number of constructive intervals is the more characterisitc the resultant chord sounds.

Sometimes I use chords constructed with three or four intervals, though; but the building material of my chords never amounts to Schoenberg's Allintervallreihe ('row consisting of all twelve intervals'), because such 'omni-intervallic' chords cannot but turn out colourless, insipid, flat and tame (although in some - execeptional - cases chords constructed in this fashion can be useful, too.)
Conversations With Witold Lutoslawski: Irina Nikolska (pg 121)

The grammatical error in the first paragraph is due, I think, to the translation from Polish to English, a few lightly amusing malapropisms also result, such as, 'from the angel of pitch organisation', and, 'Debussy himself was an empiricist of the first water' (both from p76.)

Visual Quote For The Fifth of March

'Lutoslawski's sketches of texture'. Click for larger image. (example 16c Pg181) from Conversations with Witold Lutoslawski; Irina Nikolska.

Tuesday 3 March 2009

Yet Another Quote For The Beginning of March

Milton Babbitt (centre) amuses the panel with yet more discussion about hexachordal combinatoriality. (photo via this Julliard article)
'The problem of analysis, of course, is that of significance, not of identification.'
Reply to George Perle; Collected Essays of Milton Babbitt: Milton Babbitt.

Another Quote For The Beginning of March

Ligeti: 'now, what did I come in here for?'
Although complex polyrhythms have existed in Ligeti’s music ever since he came to the West—practically every score abounds in simultaneous layers of quintuplets, septuplets, etc.—the difference between the earlier pieces and the recent music lies in this new conception of pulse.

In the earlier works, the pulse is something to be divided into two, three and so on; even thirteenth-tuplets occasionally appear. The effect of these different subdivisions, especially when they occur simultaneously, is to blur the aural landscape, creating the micropolyphonic effect of Ligeti’s music from the sixties. The smallest common denominator of all these subdivisions is a microscopic fraction of a beat; no one can hear it, much less count it.

On the other hand, the recent music (and a few earlier pieces such as Continuum, 1966) conceives of the pulse as a musical atom, a common denominator, a basic unit which cannot be divided any further. Different rhythms appear through multiplications of the basic pulse, rather than divisions: this is the principle of African music seized on by Ligeti.

It also appears in the music of Philip Glass, Steve Reich and others; and significantly it shares much in common with the additive rhythms of Balkan folk music, the music of Ligeti’s youth. In effect, the blurred rhythmic patterns are now seen through a microscope; instead of a dense web, the shape’s contours become clearer, though fantastically complex, like an image of a fractal coastline.

“In a piece such as Continuum where I (consciously) tried to create an illusionary rhythm, I came (unconsciously) close to the rhythmic conception evident in the music of sub-
Saharan Africa” (Ligeti 1988b:6).
Ligeti, Africa and Polyrhythm:// Stephen Andrew Taylor

Quote For The Beginning of March

A transcription of an Aka Pygmy song.

It is the conflation and ultimate unification of the horizontal and vertical “dimensions,” which, for us in the West, have traditionally been regarded as opposites, that could ultimately be regarded as the most deeply fundamental conceptual basis for both traditions.

Surprisingly enough, a precedent for the concept of horizontal-vertical unification exists, but in a completely unexpected place, the thought and practice of the notorious Twentieth Century composer and theoretician, Arnold Schönberg.

Schönberg’s “method of composing with twelve tones related only to one another,” was based on a conception of the “unity of musical space” as, among other things, a “succession of tones . . .
whose comprehensibility as a musical idea is independent of whether its components are made audible one after the other or more or less simultaneously” (Schönberg 1975:208). Or, stated somewhat differently, “The mutual relation of tones regulates the succession of intervals as well as their association into harmonies . . . ” (ibid.:220).

Thus, in most of Schönberg’s mature works, melodic lines and harmonies are tonally unified in
that both may contain essentially the same types of interval (or, more precisely, interval class). This is a highly distinctive and unusual aspect of Pygmy and Bushmen counterpoint as well.

Whereas in most types of polyphony, tribal, ethnic, folk or classical, melodies tend to be stepwise, i.e. based on intervals of a second, while simultaneities are most often based on thirds, fourths and/or fifths, such distinctions are disregarded in the “floating” musical space of Pygmy/Bushmen and atonal music alike. Additionally, we find yet another mode of horizontal-vertical unification in certain works of Schönberg’s student Webern, and serialist disciples such as Boulez, where, as so often in both Pygmy and Bushmen music, though with radically
different results, polyphony and heterophony are conflated.

While it would be unwise to make too much of such remote parallels, they do give us a sense of how remarkable and indeed sophisticated is the musical thinking of both of these so-called “primitive” hunter-gatherer peoples.
Concept, Style and Structure in the Music of the African Pygmies and Bushmen: A Study in Cross-Cultural Analysis;.. Victor Grauer

Monday 2 March 2009

Berio Documentary on YouTube

'Macca' talks to Berio.

Here is the first part of a German TV documentary about Berio, use the sidebar for the related sections (seven in total).

Looks like it was made in the late 90s/early noughties perhaps. Thankfully (unless you speak German), it's in English mostly, with some French and Italian bits here and there (German subtitles throughout). Unfortunately the audio and picture are out of sync quite a lot but what do you expect for free?.

Also check out Leporello1952's other videos here (a lot of interesting stuff, some Lachenmann and Rihm for instance).

Woodwind Techniques Free Stuff Update

Yes, a couple final points for the time being (possibly) on woodwind techniques and non-standard fingerings etc, here is a great site for flute from the University of New South Wales, called the 'Virtual Flute'.

Also on the same site is lots of info about acoustics and some fingerings info (like clarinet multiphonics) for these instruments... flute, clarinet, saxophone, brass, didgeridoo, guitar, violin, voice (none as comprehensive as the virtual flute though unfortunately, apparently they are working on a clarinet one next, then possibly saxophone).

And, (wipes brow) check out Mats Möller's site with his 'New Sounds For Flute' section, featuring a quarter tone fingering chart and score/mp3 examples of various non-standard/extended techniques.

For clarinet, may I remind readers about E. Michael Richards's excellent site The Clarinet of the 21st Century, which I featured on this blog way back in April 2008. Lots of information about multiphonics and microtones and all sorts of stuff for the common sizes of clarinet (Bb Soprano*, Eb Sopranino, Bb Bass).

*seems to be some confusion about what to call the Bb and Eb clarinets, sometimes the Eb is called a soprano and the Bb just a Bb (as in Blatter's book) most often though, it's as I have listed it, Bb soprano, Eb sopranino (I think anyway).