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Good to know

from Saturday, August11th of the year2007.

A really quick aggregation of links: 300px-neapolitan.jpgHere is Kyle Gann talking about the Times article I blogged about yesterday. He rightfully says that these pieces are basically the Vanilla, Chocolate, and Strawberry of the Minimal canon. While I agree with him, I’m not entirely sure that everybody needs to hear about Terry Riley’s Peyote Superfudge Drone Chunk over their morning coffee; let the New Yorker fill them in on that stuff. Check both articles out!

Here is A.C. Douglas talking about iPod culture, iPod generation, iPod something. He’s a really interesting blogger worth following as much as you have time for; he’s sort of a traditionalist, a serious Wagner fanatic, someone who believes fiercely in the purity of a composer’s Musical Text. He writes in a sort of organized, composed style with deliberate barbs up-in; it’s sort of a provocative Ann Coulter vibe, but writing about stuff I’m totally all about.

Interestingly, he (as well as New York Times critic Bernard Holland, whose excellent distillation of Minimalism I linked to yesterday) is deeply mistrustful of composers writing about their own works. I, too, hate bad liner/program notes and try really hard to avoid getting into the situation where people roll their eyes when they read them. They are, though, by no means mandatory.

Anybody who knows me knows that I think the music should speak for itself. But, when Holland reviewed my show at Zankel last year, he didn’t investigate why my music was juxtaposed with older music (it was my decision), and wrote a really funny and baffled review that has some nice things and some not nice things in it. All in all, it was a fine review, from my perspective, although I wasn’t too pumped that so traditional a listener was unable to distinguish between a violin and a viola – maybe that’s a typo? Seems like something you’d merely have to peek inside the….oh….right….program notes to verify. Never mind. Anyway, a really hardcore argument ensued up on this blog, with a lot of angry personal attacks between A.C. Douglas, some people I don’t know, some people I know, and some anonymous and disappointed concertgoers. This is, to me, a really interesting underbelly of the modern classical music world, these blog comments sections. Check out this little node if you get a minute, just to see how circular and involved this stuff can get.

1-gentleshepherd.jpgAnother side-point about Blogging (both about Music and Otherwise), which I think I can expand on later in a more concise fashion, is the way a lot of the bloggers seem to be trying to gently point out to listeners things that are going on, things that are new, things that are great. This is map-making, guide-writing. In this category I’d put first and foremost The Rest is Noise, or Ionarts, or my friends Jenny and Danny’s blogs. Then there is another kind of blog that seems to be more interested in shepherding the music and the world itself. I’m thinking here about A.C. Douglas’s, or Sequenza21, where it regiment_apahansklaustecht20070402181700.jpgseems like there is a real master narrative at work: lay readers of the blog can find themselves inadvertently staged in battles they didn’t know existed, viz. in particular the Upptowne-Downtowne Nugget of Despaire and Miserie, or the Regietheater Situation at Sounds and Furý.

annc.jpgEvery morning, I have a tab on my browser that auto-loads a series of about sixteen blogs, some about music and some about everything. Then another tab opens a bunch of more Institutional Blogs (like ABC’s The Note or Miss Þing’s The Caucus) along with some hardcore left- and right-wing sites. I think this distinction between pointing-out and herding applies to political blogs as well, and I guess the point of this post is just my appreciation for both techniques of organizing the world and presenting it to others. I’m still fleshing out what the point of this space is for me, and I imagine that it can be used to do a little pointing or shepherding of its own, to the extent that people read it.

In conclusion, here’s a picture of me merrily recording celeste for this piece Mothertongue.

Nico recording keyboard glock / celeste parts. Greenhouse, 8/11/07.


  • I was at your Zankel concert. Here’s another take:

  • Yay, thanks for the shout-out! For the most part I think you’re right on, here–

    But I don’t care what you think, Nico, I still say that’s a TERRIBLE way to describe minimalism, and a worse way to describe Saint-Saëns.

    Nico responds: Yeah, but, I like how it describes it how Minimalism describes itself, in those short aphorisms. Can’t you see Steve Reich setting it for three women’s voices, two vibraphones, four pianos, and the sounds of the Marais at night?