Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Howie Frazin

I don't know how to make a link, so I'll just copy and paste what I've edited. I figured I'd add to my comp. teachers page which is small and uninformative. I wrote:

In March of 2007, Frazin's new Double Tuba Concerto was premiered at Fanuil Hall, in Boston MA. It was performed by the Boston Classical Orchestra, under Steven Lipsitt. The Tuba soloists were Boston Symphony principal Mike Roylance and pediatrician/jazz musician Eli Newberger.

Wiki Update

Hey all, I've updated Longy's Wikipedia page. Go check it out, then let me know what you think...or just change it so that it's better. Still, I'd appreciate feedback.

The Modern Orchestra

Sunday's edition of the Boston Globe ran an article called "Ears Wide Open: Gil Rose is reimagining the modern orchestra, and taking Boston with him."

Rose says, "'I don't believe in the argument that those masterworks, as the highest expression of Western artistic thought, need to be constantly played over and over again...I think we minimize their impact by doing that. I think Beethoven would be shocked with our current musical culture--shocked and upset. He wouldn't recognize it.'"

"...[W]hile new music is isolated within the classical music world, it is also strangely off the radar screen of many who follow other trends in contemporary visual arts or theater. Then there is the problem of the name. A well-educated friend of mine once confessed that he hadn't realized classical composers still existed. After all, he asked, wasn't classical music an art form of the 18th and 19th centuries?
"This is the murky cultural netherworld in which contemporary music ensembles exist, perform, and fund-raise. What's more, many casual concertgoers associate all 'new music' with the aggressively complex modernism of the postwar avant-garde, but that tradition actually represents a small slice of today's vibrant musical landscape."

He carries the same frame of mind to his work as music director of Opera Boston, which he was appointed to in 2003.
"...he has helped steer the company into its position as the most artistically vital opera organization in the city, with productions of 20th-century classics...and under-explored operas from within the repertory, such as Verdi's 'Ernani' and Mozart's 'Clemenza di Tito.'"

Monday's Boston Globe had an article, "The power of music," in the Health/Science section.

"Just why evolution would have endowed our brains with the neural machinery to make music is a mystery.

'It's unclear why humans are so uniquely sensitive to music - certainly music shares many features with spoken language, and our brains are particularly developed to process the rapid tones and segments of sound that are common to both," said Dr. Oliver Sacks, the neurologist whose latest book, "Musicophilia," is about the brain's sensitivity to music.'"

The healing power of music covers every imaginable arena: stroke (for speech and movement), pain (burn patients, colonoscopy procedure), schizophrenia, premature infants, hospitalized children in general...

MTT - Composing classical music's future

We had talked previously in class about Michael Tilson Thomas and his work with the San Francisco Symphony and New World Symphony. I found this article "Composing classical music's future" from the Scotsman Newspaper. The article is about MTT's appearance with the SFS at the Edinburgh International Festival this past August and many of the comments speak to our discussion:

"MY MUSICAL life is driven by the consideration of four questions," says Michael Tilson Thomas (who is universally known as MTT). "What is happening, expressed in terms of melody, harmony and form? Why is it happening? As musicians or audiences, what does this mean to you? And what do you propose to do about it?"

"What concerns me is that people are growing up not experiencing classical music, or its interpretation - that is the zeitgeist," he says. "Keeping Score is an attempt to address this."
The $23 million (£11.4 million), five-year project has kicked off with explorations of Beethoven's Eroica Symphony, Stravinsky's Rite of Spring and Copland's Appalachian Spring. Each programme comprises radio and TV shows, DVDs, public performances and schools events. An interactive website allows users to follow timelines and open the scores and explore themes and motifs highlighted under a moving cursor as the music unfolds.

"In our society it's a goal to try to meet in the middle," he asserts. "In music, that's a terrible idea - extremes are better, but everyone has to know where they are. There is a fear/embarrassment threshold to recognise and cross."

For some music lovers, interaction with an orchestra might still mean little more than paying for a ticket and turning up. But beyond the passive experience of sitting through a concert, a world of engagement in the music, via technology, awaits. Punters can take it or leave it, but for orchestras the marginalisation of classical music and concern for public access to it is introducing systemic change. "In the old days," says MTT, "orchestras didn't envisage that music education on this scale would be part of their future. But that future is here, and I'm impatient for this work to go forward."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Just a thought.

Just a thought: Perhaps more people will start to make music amateurly, but that doesn't extinguish an appreciation for artists who make music for a living and have been studying it seriously for years. If anything, I think great artists inspire people to take up art amateurly.

I think we as musicians just have to keep thinking up new, creative ways of presenting our music and of creating projects that we work on. Everyone says that you just have to find your own nitch. Classical music certainly won't 'die out' or anything, people's tastes will change back and forth, popularity will rise and fall, it's just how things work, and I don't know how reasonable it is to worry quite so much about it.

I'm just overwhelmed and am not quite sure what else there is to say.

Benjamin on youtube

I have to finish a paper soon for a class I took last semester. (Because I changed my topic a hundred times, I got some extra time.) I was thinking about posting something about it before, but I wasn't sure if it's appropriate. The paper is about an essay of the philosopher Walter Benjamin. In 1936, he wrote an essay called "The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility". It's the most famous writing of Benjamin today; it has almost become a winged word.

According to Benjamin, every hand-crafted piece of art (especially fine art but also music) has a certain "Aura". Contemplating an object, people experience this aura. However, it is destroyed when the piece of art is reproduced mechanically on LP (
CD, DVD, you tube...). Benjamin admits that every composition is intended to be reproduced in a certain way (painters teach students by letting them copy their own works, a composition is reproduced at every performance); however the value of a technical reproduction is different. A camera can copy a picture in the most perfect way, no painter could ever do it better. A recording can be played at any time any place, no musicians are needed. In both examples, the technical reproduction is superior to the manual version. However, the emphasis doesn't lie on the piece of art itself, but on the fact that it's reproduced. The sound of a recording is not art, but only a document of it.

This is just a very, very brief summary on one of the aspects and I'm not very happy with it. For the whole text, go to Benjamin has been criticized by many people, e.g. Adorno, his theory has been called incomplete and one-sided.

I'm not a fan of this text either, but I think it's incredibly interesting. He totally underestimated the role of the new evolving media. The very best advantage of reproduction, the easy accessibility, isn't considered at all. When he talks about "people", he has very few very intellectual old men in mind. This is an assumption, but I think I'm right. The question is only: are we right to laugh and shake our head about his ideas? Right now, we are probably as far away as we can be from the ideal musical world he had in mind. We are not even thinking about the "value" of a Mendelssohn symphony Nr. 5 radio broadcast, we are not hesitating to listen to it in the background. But we claim to listen to music and often forget that this music was intended to be art and not background noise. If I go on thinking, I'll probably become even more conservative (is that really conservative?) so I stop here.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The future of internet music?

Going back Cook's view of industrialism in making music, I am beginning to think that that model is starting to change or is at least becoming significantly modified. And that has to do with the influence of the Internet.

Our motivation for making careers is first of all to earn money in order to be able to live. In order to make money, we need to participate in a capitalist society. However, I think the connection between industrialism and making money is becoming weaker and weaker.

The Internet has really turned everything on its head, and when we think about the future of classical music and how it will be influenced by the Internet, just thinking in terms of a greatly increased means of distribution is not enough.

The stockpiling of labor used to be a laborious process. First, it was through hand-made items. Then, it was through mass production by the industry. Now, it is simply through an internet protocol. One copy of one file on one server can be sent to any computer connected to the internet that chooses to view it, creating a number of copies equal to the number of computers that choose to access it. Thus, while handmade items are expensive and mass-produced items cheap, Internet content is free. And the very nature of music, so ephemeral that it is able to be stored in an abstract file on a computer, ties it inseparably to the Internet. This, of course, pits a musician's need to make money at odds with the nature of Internet distribution (free, and there is no non-artificial way to make any Internet download transaction cost money).

And the very nature of making money off of the Internet is now different. Instead of exchanging money for goods, it is now influence and popularity that determine how much money is made on the Internet. For instance, take Google, Facebook, Youtube, etc. Because of the sheer volume of users who visit those sites, those companies are able to leverage ad purchases and other things I don't even understand.

If the financial motivation for making music were gone, it would be detrimental to the quality of music that is available. We would be back to a society of amateur music makers. Youtube particularly fosters an amateur music making community, as I was saying in the reply to I'm thinking's post. However, there is the belief in a capitalist society that if you are excellent, you will be recognized and rewarded, and Youtube especially provides a gigantic user base for democratic evaluation of performances. This creates an interesting question of how one might be able to leverage popularity for one's career in the future.

one of the biggest dissapointments in my life.......

YOu can judge me for that opinion....... BUT... it is only mine and I can be wrong.....

Yesterday I listened to Itzhak Perlman concert in Boston Symphony....
When I found out that he is going to play solo music I was so excited that I will hear the ONE, THE very PERLMAN...
He played
J.S. BachSonata No. 3 in E Major for violin and keyboard, BWV 1016
that was really good

R. StraussSonata for violin & piano in E-flat Major, Opus 18
I had a feeling they were reading it

SchumannPhantasiestücke (3 Fantasy Pieces) for violin & piano, Opus 73
he was over using gliss...(though hiss gliss is very nice.)

Small works.(Sight reading and not a great choice)

Perlman playing wasn't perfect, it was a lot squeaking false notes......

for example: in Saint-Petersburg we have pianist Grigorii Sokolov and when he is playing encore pieces you can hear that work have been done the same way the serious pieces been worked: with form, idea and real phrasing..... but he is not very popular and not world famous, but is very well known in Russia and Germany...

And even more afterwards everybody in the hall was applauding and as always everybody was telling each other how great it was......

If you have a big name, name start to work on you.......

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Study Questions for Hewitt, "Healing the Rift"


1. Although Hewett examines the entire musical realm, he defines his discourse in terms of Western classical music. Why?

2. Why is the term “world music” a misnomer?

3. What does Hewett see as a reason for the “unhealthily hermetic character” of modern music?

4. Why does Hewett see as ironic the attempt by modernists like Boulez to rebuild the musical realm?

Chapter 1 Depths and Shallows

  1. Historically, in what regard has its social function been an important component of music’s identity?
  2. When music began to be transported from one location to another, what new formal aspect was created?
  3. As the Age of Sentiment shifted criteria from taste to sincerity, how were musical forms affected? The notion of “pretty”?
  4. What was lost as certain features of music became highlighted for particular attention?
  5. What ironies are suggested when Couperin is accepted into the canon while Liszt in not?
  6. Is all folk music admired?
  7. What is the artistic response to a middle class that does not want to be highbrow all the time?
  8. “In traditional societies, music cannot be a matter of personal choice.” Why?
  9. Enumerate other ways in which our Western conception of music differs from that of traditional societies.

Chapter 2 Words, Words, Words

  1. In what regard is music “cultural fly-paper”?
  2. As music evolved from a public to a private endeavor, what changes did it undergo? Conversely, what changes emerged in the public music experience?
  3. Characterize Stravinsky’s and Schönberg’s opposing concepts of music’s content. Which 19th-century figures would agree with one or the other of the two composers?
  4. How did composers and promoters respond to music’s becoming, increasingly, the province of professionals?
  5. How did 19th-century musical trends develop in the 20th century?

Chapter 3 Things Fall Apart

  1. How has classical music historically viewed the musical Other? In what regard is this view more complex that the view held by tradition musical cultures?
  2. In addition to a gloomy Viennese mainstream, suggest a second vein in which modern music developed in the 1920’s.
  3. Before Western music embraces a novelty, it customarily neutralizes it. Which musical cultures was Western music able to embrace readily? Which cultures, conversely, proved problematic? For what reasons?
  4. As we read in Levine, “mass culture” poses problems for modern music. How was jazz regarded, positively and negatively, in the first decades of the 20th century?
  5. Hewett suggests an underlying cultural agenda behind Schönberg’s 12-tone system. What is it? Why is his point curiously valid?
  6. What qualities in Balkan folk music allowed Bartók to constitute his later compositions in a wholly different light?
  7. In retrospect, what salient characteristic dominates the music of the 20th century’s giants?

Chapter 4 Multiplicities

  1. How did fascism and Stalinism respond to the modern?
  2. How did mid-century composers respond to the absence of a simple, agreed-upon ordering of music?
  3. How do middle-class audiences frequently respond to compositions that lack melody, harmony, tempo, or form?
  4. What is the ironic result of the cult of “pure” music?
  5. How do composers like Carter and Ligeti manage, in some regard, to make their music a collective experience?
  6. How is Boulez’s highly mathematical system problematic in a way that Schönberg’s is not?
  7. How does one best describe the institutional unity shared by the highly personal constructions of modern composers? How does this differ from 19th-century Vienna, for example?
  8. What danger do we court in our neutrality?

Chapter 5 Text, Body, Machines

  1. Explain the distinction that Hewett makes between craft and technology in modern music.
  2. In the first half of the 19th century, sincerity and simplicity were acceptable modes of musical discourse. What specter arose in the second half of the century? With what unfortunate and enduring results?
  3. What key elements of classical music composition does electronic music eliminate? What “metaphysical duality” is lost as a result?
  4. How does a score differ from a blueprint?
  5. In their attitudes towards the score, how do contemporary composers and performers differ from their counterparts who worked before the end of the 18th century?
  6. The increased fetishization of the score has what result on performance?
  7. What expressive need does the violence of modern music serve? What is its opposite?
  8. Why did most mid-20th-century composers ultimately abandon attempts at styles of notation that gave performers more choice?
  9. In what respects are the solutions of John Cage, Luciano Berio, and others, problematic?
  10. How have some composers attempted to reconfigure the relationship between text, performance, and audience? With what result?

Chapter 6 Authenticities

  1. In its futile attempt to reconstitute a historical unity, what result has modern music achieved instead?
  2. In what respects have the paradigms of modern music changed in the past 30 years? What are some characteristics of the recently new plurality?
  3. Since so few specifics characterize the bulk of modern music, is it sufficient for it merely to aspire to seriousness?
  4. What traps make authenticity a slippery criterion?
  5. What contradictions inhere in discussions of the authenticity of world music? Jazz? Baroque and classic repertoire?
  6. When composers scrupulously avoid expressivity, what ironic result ensues?
  7. When obliquity becomes a composer’s goal, what dangers lurk?

Chapter 7 Expression Makes a Comeback

  1. What reasons does Hewett offer for spending more time on modernist music than on neo-tonal music?
  2. At the start of the modern era, when tonality was seen to be not a law of nature but a convention, what changes occurred in its status within a composer’s available choices? With what results?
  3. How does Hewett characterize sentimentality? How does minimalism avoid genuine sentimentality?
  4. Hewett describes the music of several American composers. Which are you moved to investigate? Why?
  5. How does Hewett distinguish between discourse and gesture?
  6. What lay behind the 19th-century dream of a music without conventions? As modernism strove to realize that dream, what new conventions did it create?
  7. What characterizes modernism’s fraught relationship with the past?

Chapter 8 The New Naivety

  1. In modernism’s continuing dialogue with the past, what form of memory produces a deep discomfort?
  2. What other processes tinge the “desire to re-enter a lost paradise” that characterizes the new tonality?
  3. Repeated patterns, and references to tonality, make possible un-classical classical composers. For all that they reject, what do they still desire?
  4. What function did the “web of allusion” serve during the period of common practice?
  5. What does Hewett see as the result of a musical discourse consisting solely of evocations?
  6. How have the sampler and the fader affected modern music?

Chapter 9 Rediscovering Music

  1. When it seeks public funding, what double bind does classical music encounter?
  2. When music loses its social function and becomes an autonomous realm, how do performers and listeners then participate?
  3. How is modern music faring in its strenuous efforts to maintain the integrity of its realm and not be taken over by expressivity, evocation, words, and images?
  4. Discuss the two parodic inversions that music has undergone in the past decade?
  5. What is the unspoken assumption of their music that composers fail to question? Why is this dangerous?
  6. Why does Hewett feel that Western classical music offers the last best hope for the future of music? How do you evaluate his reasons for denying comparable status to one or another of the rival claimants for musical “depth”.
  7. How is Hewett able to state that classical music is both historical and contemporary?
  8. Within the concept that music only serves us well when we submit to it, what advantages does classical music hold over other musical practices?
  9. What results will ensue if and when we are able to make musical culture active again rather than passive?
  10. What advantages are there to being musically bilingual? Why does Hewett embrace this condition?
  11. Hewett invokes Leonardo and Jung to suggest an essential component that is missing from our contemporary experience of music. What is that component? How are we to compensate for its lack?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

teaching across the continents

The yamaha digital piano allows teacher to teach across any continents. They tested this remarkable feature on Oct.9. and is currently not availbe to the public yet. The instrument they used was called the "Disklavier." I think this is really exciting. From my own experience, it is a great opportunity to seek out the best teacher for yourself. And for those teachers who travel alot, or who needs to conduct master classes but, couldn't travel for which ever reasons, then, they can still attend the master class via internet. In this age of technology, it opens up so much opportunities to students who are disable; students who wanted to have trial lessons with teachers who worked for different academic instutions across the globe. It is really a turn of the century phenomeon, and I think it would take another 5 to 6 years for it to flourish, if not sooner. There are a tremendous growth of international students (especially from Asia), who can take the DisKlavier as an advantage. Although sometimes, I think the internet is inpersonal, but,this brings people together --- in this example, the disklavier is connecting musicians together around the globe. What we can do is to learn from each other, and to make music together. What I can see from this is having all musicians across the glove to perform via video conference, and broadcast it to the world, without the costs of traveling, jetlag, anxiety, bad hotels, bad food etc. I really can't wait, how the "remote teaching" is going to turn out. If anyone would like to see a live demonstration on the new yamaha disklavier "remote teaching" you can go to the site below. For more information, I will posts an article about this "remote teaching" phenomon on wikipedia once I get my user page.

Historically informed performance

The historical performance is a great thing. It is quite obvious that a historically informed performance is often more enjoyable than a performance that applies twentieth century techniques to a historical work. One would think that, at least in respect to instrumentation, the work would just work better, because the performers are playing the instruments that would have been played at the time. This may also speak to the “all powerful composer”. You are playing his/her work as he/she intended right down to how many buttons the oboe would have had at the time. However, I think we can say, for any composer, they did write for the instruments of their time not the ones of the twentieth century.

The problem I see with promoting historical performance, which I’ve already told you I think are great, is that, could it not lead to more specialization in musical performance: ensembles specializing in musical performance. It is no doubt important to understand the music of the past in order to understand that of the present. Yet this is the present, and as artist we must not lose touch with the world of our time. That said the idea of a historically informed musical performance is certainly attractive. It may even be compared to musical authenticity. Cook subjects that an ensemble would gain authenticity by being historically accurate. This is perhaps the most obvious way that music is used to create a perception of the world. In this case the performers are creating a perception of the past. They, in doing so, may even present something about the world today.

What should our Wikipedia article be like?

I too, am confused of how we might give any coherent sense of a future of classical music with so many reports from the front. That is assuming it is a possible to construct a coherent view of the future of classical music, which there is really no reason to do. There are probably many threads of musical development, with the victor only being made clear in hindsight, in history. For our wikipedia article, do we attempt to list all these different threads? Do we attempt to identify the forces acting on music today so that somebody reading our article might be able to form their own view of the future of classical music? I think this is ideally the best way to go. But it is difficult to consider all the relevant forces. For instance, Cook gives a few examples, like market economy and certain ideologies. We also might not be able to identify important ideologies because we are so immersed in the times or tradition we don't even notice them. But I think we should attempt to give a somewhat comprehensive view of important forces. Given that, I think we have been focusing too much on “liberal” issues in music to the exclusion of examining “conservative” views on music. We have examined some conservative views, such as 19th-century snobbery, but they were only discussed in contrast to the more progressive views we were talking about. In not thoroughly examining the influence of conservative bastions (such as conservatories, and I don't even know the identities of other ones), we are only giving them more power. It may be that only “liberal” stuff makes the news, so those are the only things we have been reporting on. It is more difficult to examine the less visible influence from “conservative” sources. But we should, otherwise our article might end up too optimistic, like those past grand predictions for our time that we laugh at.

classical music in the radio

This weekend, I looked into regional radio programs, especially classical staions. I focused on WCRB and WGBH, they seemed to be the most common ones in this area. What I liked was that both of them send live performances and that they broadcast a lot of regional recordings, for example Boston Chamber Music or old Pops recordings. Anyway, I wouldn't listen to any of these programs. The schedule is very conservative, a lot of Mozart, some Copland between, maybe one or two unknown composers. The purpose of these programs is to please the listener with music while he or she is driving the car, working at home, or even having a conversation. It is obvious that you can't broadcast Ligeti for this kind of an audience. We would have a lot of car accidents. That's why such "shocking" music is sent at night - when nobody is listening. But the program can claim that it broadcasted Ligeti. Another point: between the music, there is just a short announcement about the title and the composer, maybe the artist. This is another way of keeping the audience listening; if there is too much text spoken inbetween, the listener becomes uninterested. He can't focus on a text, since he is busy doing other things that need his attention. Classical music through the radio is hard. It mostly doesn't fulfill the purpose of introducing the audience into new pieces, but it serves just like a pop radio station for easy satisfaction. Of course it all depends on the listener, but you just have to look at statistics to find out that the radio today is a background noise!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Teaching Technology

"Harried Schools Trumpet Digital Music Teacher: Technology eases pupils' boredom, directors' burden"

This article discusses the use of SmartMusic, a program that allows students to play into a computer and get instant feedback on how many notes they played correctly or incorrectly. Is this helpful for band directors? It's got to be. Is this helpful for the student? Maybe note-wise. But perhaps at the expense of other musical aspects (all of which are waaaaay more important than just right notes), including the students' mental and emotional approach to learning music. This article does address that aspect, and says that the program could never replace individual lessons with a person. My own inclination is that this could, in the long run, be more harmful in the creation of the upcoming generation of musicians than beneficial. I realize, though, that I tend to be an old stick-in-the-mud, and am refraining from giving an "authoritative" opinion...

Too much explanation?

I just found an article from the Philadelphia Inquirer that considers the increasing trend of explaining the music before a classical music concert to be hurtful rather than helpful. Here is an excerpt:

"Yet the question remained as to how useful information is in art. If there's a formula here, it's that knowledge equals understanding equals appreciation. But what's really needed is an intuitive response. My strongest emotional experiences of the two concerts were where understanding didn't come into play. The copious Rothko Chapel explanations felt like layers of scaffolding that were meant to buttress the experience but might have obscured what's there - and taken away a sense of discovery. All you really need to know is that Feldman makes expressive use of silence and composed with sophisticated structural concepts."

I had been convinced more and more lately that more explanations were the way to go, but now I'm not quite sure (although I haven't quite changed my mind completely). Of course, I'm sure there isn't any particular rule that would work in every given situation, and that the performers or music directors would have to just use their own judgement, based on who they expect their audience to be. In class we've discussed cases in which prior explanations seemed to get better responses from the audience... I wish I could wrap up this post with some sort of stance one way or another, but I really don't have one right now. I'd be curious to hear what everyone else thinks about this.

Philip Glass's New Opera Premieres in San Francisco

A new Philip Glass opera based on Appomattox, the site of the surrender that ended the American Civil War, and commissioned by San Francisco Opera, California (USA). Libretto by Christopher Hampton, directed by George Wolf.

Appomattox is about the days leading up to the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia, -- the ethos of the time, how our present time has been affected by it, and what is still left to do.

Scheduled Premiere: October 5, 2007 at San Francisco Opera at War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco, California (USA) directed by George Wolf.

San Francisco Chronicle Website –

Philip Glass’ ‘Appomattox’ to have a World Premiere in San Francisco

Philip Glass opera 'Appomattox' both impressive and inconsistent

Monday, October 22, 2007

thinking again...

It is rather interesting that the Western Art has dominated the world, while other music/arts has been only locally known in their specific region, or country. Not until Bartok has arrived, we're not only discovered the field of ethnomusicology, but there's also a crazed to embrace other musical features world wide, such as Indian music (Messieans: "Mantra,"for two pianos and live electronics, and "Stimmung," for six singers and electronics), Petatonic scales (Debussy: Estampes), Balinese orchestra (Colin McPhee: "toccata for orchestra"; also Debussy),European, especially Romanian folk tunes (Bartok: String Quartets No.3, and Romanian dances) etc.
Ethnomusiclogists such as Bartok himself, found there is a need to explore real human emotions. Reasons why we consider these transcriptions as 20th century music is due to the fact that the composer is in the 20th century era, despite the materials that he gathered was more than hundred years ago. Because he was the first to transcribed Eastern European folk tunes and infused with Western harmonies. We see it as innovative. But, what's really interesting is that we don't necessary perceived them as traditional "folk tunes" as an essential musical element. Instead we still analysis these folk tunes with Western theory symbols.
What I don't understand is: If we valued the folk tunes so highly as a part of 20th century music practice. Then, is it fair to say that what we perceived as "ancient" or "traditional" practice is a modern creation as long as there's an infusion invovled? Therefore, the raw creativity will be consider as "present" music taht represents today; in which symbolized our present society. If such "present", (20th century) music that we create today will surivived into in the next decades then, it will consider as a "high" art, or "class." In order words, the categorization of arts really does rely on time reference --- not how we perceived it as.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


I’d like to write about the documentary that I saw recently.
It’s about Seiji Ozawa’s project. Seiji Ozawa organizes the project called “Ongaku-juku”. It is founded in 2000. The goal of this project is to educate young musicians through playing of operas and symphonies. He does this project once a year with performances of an opera with young musicians as well as professional musicians. In 2005, Seiji Ozawa brought this project to China. He himself was born in China and lived there until 6, so he has a deep connection with China. They performed the Barbiere di Siviglia and Beethoven Symphony no.7. Although the instrumental levels of the Chinese students are very high, they had a less experience in ensemble playing. The struggle that Ozawa had was making music together. He said that it might be because of the One-Child Policy in China. The children don’t have to learn to do something together, so the ensemble playing was difficult for them. It was interesting to compare this to the Japanese music students. He says that at the first rehearsal, it is normal that people can’t play together because everybody has their own feelings towards music. But in Japan, people can play together at the first rehearsal. Because in Japanese society, harmony is emphasized greatly and everybody suppresses their feelings in order to become the same as everybody else. He says that this is not necessary positive thing in music making. At the end, Ozawa was positive that he was successful to convey his message to the musicians and would like still to continue his involvement with their education.

my music museum

This is what my imagination has taken me to today. The need for us to explore different music is nesscessary. So this is what I came up with....

We need to put music into a museum literally. I can imagine a museum that is three stories high, holding a room that represents different musical periods, (from Gregorian chants to electronic music; from jazz to free jazz). When you enter into each room, there will be a touch screen computer and a headphone per seat. The computer will let you choose which composers/performers/gener of music you want to hear, and it also lets you to see the composers artifacts and historcial sites that are connected to the composers.
While you're listeining to the music that you choose, you can go to the computer screen, look at the score, or the importance of that particular work too.
Along the sides of each wall, there will be pictures, a brief history, about each composers who represnted that particualr musical period.
Another speical area will be desginated for people to interact with live musicians, and composers, (while snacks and coffee are provided) before their live performance.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Alex Ross, "The Well-tempered Web"

In the October 22, 2007, issue of The New Yorker, Alex Ross, who spoke at the Longy Commencement not so long ago, suggests that "[t]he Internet may be killing the pop CD, but it's helping classical music." Click here for the article.

You would do well to download it: they don't leave the complete post indefinitely.

Georgian Chorus

Tonght I am taking the china town bus to New York City to see a particular visiting chorus. The chorus is from the Republic of Georgia. They are called Zedashe and they sing a range of folk music from Georgia and perhaps some contemporary "Georgian Classical music". After deciding to attend his concert and go all the way to NYC I realized that perhaps this was a form of active participaion in the classical music scene on a global level. As you can imagine I felt very proud, and that I alone was contributing to the music scene.

I think it's very important to support musicians that you think are worth while, even if i means going out of your way to do it. This kind of music excites me a lot more than a lot of "classical" music, or rock music for that matter. I hope my attendance acts as an inspiration for me, so that I might write more glorious music.

Cook mentions in his book that there is not a lot of music being written for young / amateur performers. This is true. Very few composers write pieces for amateur, or if they do they don’t seem to put much effort in to it, because they see it as a “lower class” of music when in fact it shouldn’t matter how difficult your piece, or at least it should not effect the amount of effort put forth on a work. On some level one might say in more difficult music the work is trying to state a more abstract or deeper concept than that of simpler music. I do not believe this to be true; needless to say, there are many significant works, which portray something very meaningful. I my opinion there simplicity can do quite a lot for a piece of music.

Cook also mentions the complete lack of regard by composers for the audience and in some cases even the performers. This speaks to the progressing difficulty of “new music”. If composers are not thinking about such things then pieces, I would think, would be more difficult, when at times the only this making a piece difficult is the awful key. (Assuming there is one.) There is however, one other factor: the fact that if a composer writes a piece that is too easy, he/she may only be able to get it preformed by amateur groups, which there is nothing wrong with, of coarse. However, they may not be satisfied with the performance, because no matter how good the ensemble is, nothing compares to a professional or college ensemble. Elliot Carter, early in his career, wrote a piece that has only, after many years, and many other pieces, been performed by anything other than amateur ensembles, which is not what he had originally intended. In fact he was once asked about the piece in an interview, to which he responded that he had, after that piece learned not to write music that was “too easy”, and from Carter’s later works we know that he did not forget.

Regardless of this fact composers were in the twentieth century, and still are, push to write “academic music”. The result in some cases has been pieces consisting only of theory and not of music or artistic thought; Pieces that may say something about music but, have no larger purpose, which is so important to a work of art. It connects the audience, not to mention the performers, with the music (thereby “making your point”).

Bach, Messiaen and Cage

Last week, I attended two quite different events: The first one was a complete performance of Bach’s “Art of the Fugue” by various Bostonian pianists. The second one was a presentation of a movie about “The Apparition of the Eternal Church” by Messiaen, afterwards the piece was played and the filmmaker led a discussion with two critiques. Both of these events took place in a church, but they were attended by a completely different audience. In very flat terms, I would call the Bach concert highbrow. Tickets were expensive, I saw mostly old and important looking couples. There were a few piano students whose teachers were playing, and I noticed one bored little boy who didn’t seem to enjoy the concert very much. There was no break in these two hours, and between the pieces one shouldn’t clap. That was said in the beginning.

For me it was a thrilling concert. I’ve never heard the whole work complete with all the two-voice canons, although I made arrangements for some pieces for vibraphone, flute and piano. When I performed these with friends last year, we got very different feedbacks. Some people loved it and found it “very interesting”. Others said we played “nice”, but this work should never be performed in such instrumentation – its spirit would get lost. These people had probably a performance in mind like the one I attended last week.

I think performances like this are very important for the musician and for those people who know the composition – but probably not for someone, who is not very exposed to classical music. But I think even those people would enjoy the “Art of the Fugue” when it is presented in a way that is interesting for them. For example if the work is played only in excerpts and by a jazz trio?

The other event took place at BU. They have organized a little conference about Messiaen and invited the New Yorker violinist and film maker Paul Festa. Last year, he made a movie that shows people listening to Messiaen. That’s all. You see people with headphones for 40 minutes, see them moving their head, their arms, wiping their eyes, hear them talk about the music. But you don’t hear the music till the very end, and still not complete.

I thought this movie was excellent. It was made for everybody, for people with not the slightest idea of Messiaen and for musicians who even played Messiaen before. The reactions of all these people were not so different! Hearing the organ piece afterwards was amazing, you finally heard what you could only imagine during the movie. It is hardly to describe how quite the audience was when the piece was finished. It was a very rare moment, people didn’t feel like clapping at all – so they didn’t, and the silence felt very good. They clapped much later, after the organist came down from the instrument and sat in the audience for a while. Why didn’t come more people? This was something, which everyone would have enjoyed. But the concert was just attended by the conference people and a few students.

PS: I went over some Cage writings. Take some time and read some of his stuff, it's essential! There is one book by him in the library that includes his "Credo" for the future of music! It's just a few pages long.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Commencement address

At the Flesch Symposium this weekend I got to reading the program book and thought the excerpt from Alex Ross' commencement address at Longy last May is very relevant to our discussion. (Alex Ross is a music critic for the New Yorker.)

" have a responsibility to tune out completely this endless up-and-down, back-and-forth debate about the future of classical music, because it can only distract you from the fundamental task of waking people up to the power, beauty, magnificence, intelligence, relevance, coolness and, if I may be so bold, awesomeness of this music. (A little while ago I proposed renaming classical music Awesome Music, but it hasn't quite caught on yet.) Talking about whether classical music is dead or not is really not going to entice people to become interest in it again. In fact, I can't think of a deadlier marketing plan. Imagine: Fly Superb World Airlines! Our planes might fall to pieces any day now, so do it while you can! History tells us that nearly all predictions about the state of the art, whether rosy or dire, have failed to match up with complex reality as it has unfolded year by year, decade by decade. So forget the chatter. Play the music and communicate your passion for it. Write the music. Make it new, reconnect the present and the past."

After I read this Ida Handael, a legend violin player (almost 80 years old or well into her 80's, I'm guessing) came out and blew me away by what she could still do. Was it perfect? no, but it was brilliant, it was human, it touched on the past and touched everyone in the hall. It was pretty awesome. If it had been a recording I don't think I would have had the same reaction. It was her presence in the live performance that was awesome.

To continue the recording discussion Alex wrote in one of his blogs: "Topic for another time: classical music went into cultural decline at around the time recordings became available. The only way to keep the art alive is to go to concerts."

You can check out his blog at

12 Tone, Performer/Audience Relations, and Record Labels

"Unraveling the Knots of the 12 Tones" gives a brief history lesson on Schoenberg's 12-tone system as well as an intro for those who are unfamiliar with it, and places it within a context for today's composers, performers, and audiences. It also has a video going through the same material, but with actual examples to be heard along the way. He describes Schoenberg's development of this system as "The Emperor has no clothes."

I was going to post a couple of other articles but when I just went back to them I was unable to access them: the link went to a page saying you have to be a NYT member to access them. So I looked at them once, it's worth taking a quick peek and seeing if you can as well.

The first was a music review, "A Quartet Climbs Out on a Limb, With Heat and Heart." It talks about the Takacs Quartet taking a break from the usual "make a perfect performance because people are used to perfect recordings" mentality in a recent concert. Not of course, neglecting to play in tune, etc., but if anything along those lines was lacking, who cared anyway? The performance went beyond that.

The second was an addition to the growing list of articles discussing artists leaving labels to go it on there own: "Led Zeppelin to Make Its Songs Available Digitally."

"Are Record Labels Dead?" Madonna is one of the latest big shots to leave record labels for their own deals. She is joining Live Nation. But will Live Nation end up having to make a deal with a label to get the promotion they need for Madonna? "'It comes down to, do you need a label? Possibly not. Do you need the expertise that a label traditionally brought? Absolutely,' Cohen said.

Solo Singers take Manhattan by Storm

A theatrical experiment is happening for the next two weeks in the vicinity of Time Square. The experiment, referred to as the “Musical”, is put together by the Miami artist Dara Friedman, who works primarily with film. (She has a work currently at the Museum of Modern Art and recently had a show at the Kitchen in Chelsea.) She hired 60 performers ( a variety of people from Julliard to grandparents ) to sing a would be a private, personal performance in a busy public place. Friedman wants the soloists to interact and interrupt other people’s rhythms. The ultimate wish is to have the spectator react, be involved, and enjoy the performance. Her camera crew will tape the experiment from a safe distance away. Friedman has not decided what she will do with the different sequences of the performances.

Can you make a busy city dweller stop and hear the music?

Here’s the article:

Philip Glass Article

I’d like to post a link to an article today. I found it in Guardian Unlimited. It is an interview of Philip Glass. He is now 70, and describes about the future of the music in very bright way. He says that the compositions nowadays have less to do with schools of traditions and styles and that is very exciting.
Here is the link,,,2189892,00.html

Classical Music outside of the U.S.

It seems to me that when we've been talking about the future of classical music, we've been discussing it from a U.S. point of view. Maybe this isn't such an important point, but is the situation any different in Europe, Canada, Australia, China, or Japan (just to name a few places)? For example, is it true that symphonies and operas in the U.S. are funded largely by big donations from individuals, whereas in Europe they are mainly government-sponsored? This could make a difference in how the public views it and responds to it.

By the way, here's an interesting article that I just found from the New York Times:

It initially surprised me to see the title: "Classical Music Looks Toward China with Hope." It mentions how, while people in Europe and the U.S. are concerned with the increasing trend of disinterest in classical music by the mainstream culture and younger generations, China has the opposite trend--their conservatories are growing, instrument production is growing, young people flock to see concerts whenever possible even outside of major cities, children are taking mandatory arts classes in school that are there to ensure that children develop into "respectable, well-rounded adults", nearly every child learns some kind of instrument at a young age, etc. etc. It also says that Western classical music became less popular during the Cultural Revolution, but regained popularity during the 1970s, and that especially when Mao Tse-Tung was it power, musical talent was one of the few ways that one could escape from labor in the countryside. I thought this was interesting to get a little information on the context in which classical music rose or fell in the favor of a particular culture. Maybe you might think the article makes some interesting points, maybe you won't, but I liked the change of perspective. I find it interesting to see how culture changes over time, what directions it takes, as well as what factors in politics and history and sociology influence them.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Radiohead album issues

I just saw this article about the Radiohead album. It seems many people assumed that they would be downloading a CD quality recording over the net. It turns out many people were wrong. Here's a link to the story. The idea of getting an album only over the internet is just seems like that wasn't what Radiohead was intending. Gotta give 'em credit, though. It was turned out to be a great marketing tool.

Radiohead Article

The Future of Live Performance

"The Future of Classical Music". This is such a broad topic that my brain overloads and shuts down every time I contemplate us organizing a wikipedia page. It is obvious from the blog that our class has many ideas, opinions, and knowledge bases. Our next step, in my opinion, is to figure out how to break this enormous category into easily digestible sub-categories (and don't rule out sub-sub categories, etc.). One of these sub-categories that we brush up against frequently but never directly address is the future of live performance.
In my opinion, the future of classical music is not in jeopardy. We have talked about the 'invisible museum', and this I think will preserve most of what are considered the classical 'gems'. With the storage capacity of digital audio, space is no longer an issue, and even the loss of sound quality is being addressed. However, my confidence wavers when faced with the issue of live classical performances.
The purpose of this post is not to bring up a new topic, nor is it to re-hash an old one. We have discussed multiple solutions to bolster audiences, reach new listeners, and bridge the divide between 'highbrow' and 'lowbrow'. We have found great examples of ensembles putting many of these ideas into practice. I simply wish to point out the need to organize. I therefore put forth "The Future of Live Performance" as a viable branch that needs the most attention both in our wikipedia page and in the future of our art.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Information theory for connecting with audiences

I just thought of a good way of understanding how to connect with audiences. It's funny, because instead thinking about audiences as a group, with various subgroups, as we have tended to so far, this approach is geared more toward the individual. It is to apply the psychological model of information theory. What better way is there to think about communicating with music than information theory, which deals with the communication of information?

The theory is that each communication consists of packets of meaning (either in word form or musical note form). Each word when communicated, gets your mind going, thinking about the meaning of the word, and then thinking about what might come after the word. Also, each word does not have to convey an equal amount of information. For example, take the word “God.” It has a great deal of meaning, bringing a bunch of associations in your mind. If you think about what might come next, there are so many possibilities. Then, say you add “save” onto it. Okay, so God is saving now. “Save” gives a significant amount of information that God is doing an action, namely saving, and also eliminates a lot of other possibilities. You would then probably think about who or what he is saying, and this would narrow your expectation to some noun. The next word is “the,” giving “God save the.” At this point, I think you would expect the next word to be “Queen,” based on your own personal knowledge of the world. If the next word is in fact “Queen,” then since you are already expecting it to be, it would not convey very much information. Suppose the next word had been “hippopotamus” instead. That would have foiled your expectations, surprising you, so “hippopotamus” would actually contain a lot of information. This is readily applicable to music, since there is so much setting up of expectation, resolving those expectations, prolonging them, or going against them.

And the second part to the theory is how amount of information relates to liking. If there is a lot of information in a communication, it is complex, and if there isn't, it is simple. If you imagine a graph where on the x-axis you have a range from simple (near the origin) to complex, and on the y-axis you having a range from not liking at all (near the origin) to liking a lot, the theory is that the graph relating these two parameters would be an inverted “U.” When a piece contains really little information and is simple, it will be boring so you won't like it. If the piece is really complex and you can't make heads or tails of it, you probably won't like it also. If the piece contains just the right amount of complexity for you, you will probably like it very well. Familiarity with a piece will also reduce the amount of complexity in a piece. This model explains why pop songs are immediately catchy but lose their appeal after repeated hearings. (It think it is telling that in today's society pop songs are designed this way. In the past, it was for one to immediately like the song when you heard it on the radio so you would go out and buy the CD. Now, an additional aim may be to have you impulsively buy songs off itunes. This culture of instant gratification not only makes the acquisition of music instantaneous, but also the emotional experience of music instantaneous.) It also explains why songs grow on you after repeated listenings: something that was too complex before is now more familiar and less complex. Also, we had talked in class about how the New World Symphony had introduced Shostakovich 9 and given the audience things to listen for before the performance, and how the audience really enjoyed it because they were able to hear some of the things they were listening for. The pre-program talk allowed the audience to have some expectation as to what was going to happen, and allowed them to make some sense of a complex jumble of notes. It also explains why atonal music is so difficult. It is very hard to predict what note will come next, unless you're a serialism expert, or you are already familiar with the piece. I think with atonal music, you expect to be surprised. My personal feeling is that liking atonal music means you are smugly surprised.

As for a general way of thinking about how to connect with audiences, it is important to recognize that the music we play is part of the Western music tradition. Our aim as classical musicians is not to just produce pleasant sounds to listen to. We want to communicate the meaning that the piece has for us. But the music only has meaning for us because we understand the expectations. When we talk about the progress of Western music, even something as radical as the development of atonality, it is all progress within the tradition. Because composers compose in dialogue with past composers, the tradition is continuous. The motivation for never straying too far from the tradition is, I believe, complexity. Let alone the listeners, the composer himself must understand the new music he is writing, and his taste in complexity is based on the Western tradition. It is obvious that what we think of as good music of the 20th century, is not palatable to much of audiences because it is too complex for them. They have not had as long a time as we to familiarize ourselves with the development of Western music. We have to be careful not to become too Western music-centric. I believe information theory provides a good way of judging what music audiences would enjoy and for judging the amount of preparatory work we have to do in order to let audiences enjoy more complex pieces.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

dissonance and consonance & who are we to judge?

We always say that music is a language. If this is true, then, if language (the way we speak) are still evolving, then, music is also evolving too. Because time presses on forward, and so does music. Nothing stays where they are, unless we are dead. So until, then, arts, science will always moves forward. And this is exactly what Schoneberg did when he came up with the 12 tone row. It is the most original and revolutionary idea since Bach wrote two books of the Tempered Clavier. Bach was exploring the tonal key's region, and here we have Schoneberg to explore the other side - the "atonality" key region.
The idea of "EMANCIPATION OF DISSONANCE" is the opposite way of viewing tonality, because it's ATONAL. The theory that dissonance and consonance are all relative to one another in terms of ratio. Then,dissonance comes out of consonance, and vice versa.
The pitches are locators on score, and the interaction between pitches within a composition defines their being.
Tonal music was about balance between melodies and accompaniment. Atonal music concealed more questions. There are more music than just melodies, music is also in tented for descriptive images, create new atmospheric sphere, emotional stirs, sonority, reactions to a particular events, paintings, realities etc.
In fact, when a piece of composition maintained, or increased its tonal ambiguities, a consonance (in a tonal sense) would in fact becomes a dissonance, because there are more dissonance than consonance. Also, when our ears are tuned into the most obvious, and familiar sound (dissonance), when an unfamiliar (consonance) sound occurred, we hear it as estrange or dissonance. Therefore, the dissonance and consonance ratio determines the "pitch" center.
I think music is a progression by reaction, and creation from raw materials that allow new music to emerge.
Stravinsky was first rejected the 12 tone row method when he embraced the neo-classical style. However, after Schoneberg's death, Stravinsky begin to composed with the 12 tone row in year 1955. This is an example of how composers are continually reacting to each other's innovation, and improved its creation.

lily pad concerts

Last year the MAM department started a concert series at the nearby venue, the Lilypad (formely the Zeitgeist). The idea of the concerts was to have a relaxed friendly atmosphere, where people can come and really listen to music, and not worry about the formalities of most concerts. Collaboration is also key in the function of these events. The concerts try and combine depatments, so many different people can enjoy them. Last year there was a chamber music MAM collaborative concert that I attended. First chamber music, and then the Jazz. A fine idea this concert was, but its design was flawed. Few people from the chanber concert stayed to hear the jazz, and almost nobody playing in the jazz concert arrived early enough to hear the chamber music. Hardly a collaborative concert. But who can expect people to sit around for a 5 hour concert, or whatever it was.
Classical music concerts have become such a hassle to go to for many people. They have been slowly crafted into this form for over 100 years. It will take more than just contriving a relaxed concert series to actually change anything. All you'll get from that is underatteded concerts, and eventually, no concert series.


Last lesson we talked about Apple Iphone+Starbucks ads company (the one where you can download the song you hear in Starbucks)...
I want to say that mobile phone companies already having more advanced feature than this...
The music recognition....... if you hear music you like, you just take your phone and it will say who is an artist and name of composition.
The one from Sony Ericsson Walkman series called TrackID™.
"If you ever need to identify a piece of music that you don’t recognise, simply record a few seconds of the track, either via the microphone or by tagging a clip straight from the phone’s FM Radio, and TrackID™ will send the clip to the Gracenote Mobile MusicID™ database. This quickly identifies the track, the artist and album and relays the information back to your Walkman® phone."
I believe some Nokia series 60 smartphones has it and Sync from Cingular(At&t) and Verizon as a provider has such a feature......(needs correction)

If you want to know more about MusicID technology welcome to this site

Classical music with an outreach mission

In class last week I had mentioned the ensemble that I am currently a part of, International Chamber Artists, based in Chicago. When we first started the ensemble the tsunami had just hit in Asia and Hurricane Katrina had just devasted the coast. Outreach and helping others was on everyone's brain. We thought how insignificant our work was compared to what was happening in these regions and it made us analyse how we could make our work as musicians important and relavent to audiences. In addition to the aural program notes I talked about, we decided to make our ticket prices a suggested donation. We did this for a couple different reasons - first no one will be turned away because they are not comfortable paying for a ticket when they have no idea what the music is like, and secondly, we choose to identify a music organization to support each year with a percentage of the ticket donations. We have been working with a music school in inner-city Chicago that is mainly scholarship based to allow kids from less fortunate families to take lessons. For each concert 1 or 2 students from the school is choosen to perform a short work at the concert and they get special time with one of the musicians of the ensemble to prepare.

This has been wildly successful. The audience visually sees how their act of going to a concert is supporting great work for kids. In all the start-up music ensembles I've been a part of I've never seen such successful ticket sales from start. They are able to make a real contribution to the school while supporting the concerts.

Tomorrow's Classical Music???

So I finally googled "classical music future" and was shocked what came up. I found a website talking about video game music. I know absolutely nothing about video games so forgive me if I'm naive on the subject. The subject of the article is "Tomorrow's Classical Music" so my initial thought was "oh neat they are using classical music in video games." Was I wrong! The writer suggests in his article that orchestras will have to make room in their programming for music composed or "remixed" specifically for video games. It seems to be all the rage for young people and some orchestras have recorded video game music or performed it to sold out crowds: Los Angeles Philharmonic, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, Czech National Symphony Orchestra to name a few. There is an orchestra in Sydney devoted to video and anime music, Eminence Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra's vision is to "inject something bold, dynamic and fresh into classical music," and "break down the barriers between the audience and the musicians, and to revive orchestra in today's society; particularly amongst youth".

Is this really the future of classical music? I think, at least from my perspective as a classical musician, this is an unorthodox use of the term "classical music." How one defines that term is the underlying question to all of our discussions. I don't see the connection between studying, listening to and enjoying classical music (in my sense of the term) and staring at a computer screen playing a game. At least for youth, classical music can be an opportunity to hone a skill, interact with others in a positive activity for the brain. Maybe it is my bias against video games but I don't see them as being constructive. This raises an important ethical question - what activities do we value in our society? Is my bias against video games a result of my highbrow mentality, or as a classical musician must I be more open to performing video game music in an orchestra to reach youth? Another question - is classical music pure entertainment or an intellectual experience? I think it is both and finding a balance is where it gets complicated.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

future of classical music - a trendy term?

I’m getting very uncomfortable with the title of our course. It seems that “future of classical music” is a very common term in these times. There are classes offered at other universities and conservatories that have the same name. I wonder what they are about. The term can be read in so many different ways! Reading the textbooks and your posts in the blog, I’m getting lots of new information and new ideas – but it’s hard to relate them to our topic. I’m very deconstructive, because I’m complaining about something which I can’t put in words…

Future of classical music industry is certainly important and everybody should keep track of what’s going on. Even I do, although I’ve never owned something like an mp3 player so far (and I don’t have a craving for one yet). But I think the question about our music industry is more related to economy in general than to classical music. The music industry is certainly not interested in classical music for the sake of being classic, but only in music that sells. Like cars or DVD players, music is something that stands for lifestyle and is consumed. (to consume music = listening to music???) This development started when the first gramophone was built and it still continues – but that’s the presence! Why do we say we talk about the future when we just report what’s happening right now? What does it actually mean that you can buy your Radiohead cd online for your own price? It’s impossible that music continues to become cheaper and cheaper. At some point, it won’t work anymore and people will have to pay more again to get the music they want. (That’s an easy economical fact, it happens all the time, lately to the world price of diary products:) Classical music seems totally lost in this system. Demand determines supply, but in this case, the supplier also influences the consumer! Lang Lang is not only bought by people who love classic, but by people who were atracted by the huge pop-like campain. That’s a double windmill. It makes me frustrated to think about it because I can’t understand it entirely. But I’m a musician and not an economist!

What I do understand is that I want to make a whole living with music one day. I’m very optimistic about it, because there are so many opportunities if one’s creative. So why don’t we talk about these opportunities? How can musicians offer their skills, how can they convince people to attend their performances and buy their CDs? How can orchestras attract more and also younger audience?

A slightly positive example is Berlin. Slightly, because the city is totally bankrupt and had to cut its finances for culture drastically. You can imagine what that means if there are three major opera houses, over five major orchestras and various choirs mainly supported through the state. How can you explain to somebody who is unemployed and dependent on public fund, that the state supports five (5) orchestras? The public was offended. The result was that each of the institutions had to find more own funding. They also had to work on attracting more audience, so they started campaigns in schools, started programs for working adults, workshops during the holidays etc… I’m not an expert to say that it worked, but none of the big institutions is in a real crisis anymore. A lot of students in Berlin have the classiccard, which allows them to go to any concert, opera or ballet for the price of a movie. This has become very common in the past years. Old couples don’t glare at students any more who show up in jeans and sweater!

PS: There is a conference in NY this weekend; jazz journalists talk about the future of jazz! They don’t call it future, but “global imagination”…

Music Industry - Articles

"What's the Future of the Music Industry?"
Five responses from very different sources, from a professor of business economics, to the founder of Engadget, to a music producer. Some are opinionated, others are more research oriented, but they are all interesting food for thought.

"How Much for That Song? It's Up to You"
A Freakonomics editorial from March, 2007. Apparently, Radiohead's recent decision to leave the price of their latest cd up to the consumers is not a new idea. The site featured here has a $.59 minimum per song, but had averaged over $2.00 per. It'll be interesting to find out what a well-known band like Radiohead will get.

"The Music Man"
A look from the inside out at Rick Rubin (producer for the Dixie Chicks, Slayer, Red-Hot Chili Peppers, and Neil Diamond) and his work for Sony, to keep them on the feet and pull their head out of the sand, in short, helping to shape their future.

record store nostalgia

Here's a link to a recent article from the Chicago Sun-Times about Chicago's sudden paucity of classical record stores:,SHO-Sunday-fine07.article

I was struck firstly by the similarities to the Boston scene... Two glorious Tower records closed - check! One so-so Virgin Megastore came and went - check! A frenzy of last-minute buying ensued when classical die-hards realized that the formerly disparaged Virgin was closing - well, at least from my own experience... check!

And now while Chicago's classical "obsessed individuals" turn to smaller, independent or used record shops, here in Boston I find myself visiting the marvelous Orpheus records no longer just to browse or to pick up the odd LP, but for much more of my 'I actually need this recording' shopping.

But more generally, I'm wondering about what effect (whether negative, positive, or negligible) the emerging lack of an actual physical product will have on our corner of the industry. I use iTunes ALL the time, and have grown to rely on it, especially the instant gratification factor. (I can't be the only one who has taken a last-minute gig, realized I have no clue what the piece sounds like, and grabbed it off of iTunes to listen to on the T on the way to the gig!) But how many of us have stumbled upon something we liked on iTunes, bought it, listened to it a bunch and realized that we really, really liked it, and then ordered it again from Amazon just so that we could own the actual CD, with liner notes et al.

I've done this, although I wondered if I was being weird as I did it. However, if I translate the idea to the (admittedly far less widespread) medium of books vs. e-books, and I think of how precious (in a nice way) true bookish people tend to be about their books, then the idea of absolutely needing to have an actual copy of the book rather than just an e-book seems perfectly reasonable. Why don't we seem to be attached to our CDs in this way? And does it matter? I can't come up with any compelling reason to mourn the things, but does anyone else feel deeply uncomfortable with the idea that from now on, great record stores with comprehensive and eclectic classical departments may just not exist?

Lucerne Summer Festival

Here’s an article from the New York Times about the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland. The Lucerne Festival was founded 1938 as an alternative for musicians who did want to travel to Salzburg or Bayreuth festivals after Austria fell into Nazi rule during World War II. Even though Lucerne is not as famous as other festivals in Europe, several famous musicians flock to this orchestra because of its beloved conductor, Claudio Abbado. Though this past summer due to Abbados’s illness, David Robertson and Pierre Boulez will conduct Lucerne festival. The article is about how close knit Abbado is connected to this orchestra and how his absence affected them and their performance.

Not Just Another Pick-up Band

Monday, October 8, 2007

Several Technology Based Articles

I found several articles that I thought might be interesting.

One references the Radiohead news we talked about last week and goes on to discuss the future of the music business as it relates to technology.

The second also relates to the future of music as it relates to technology. This deals more with illegal file sharing programs like Kazaa. The link goes to a series of articles about one woman who fought the RIAA in court. The court found for the side of the RIAA and awarded them $222,000 for the piracy of 24 songs on Kazaa.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

News from Japan!

Hello everybody! I want to let you know about what’s going in the classical music world in Asia!
The Asia Orchestra week has just ended in Tokyo. This Asia Orchestra Festival started in 2002. Each year, it celebrates classical music performed by orchestras from Asia-Pacific countries. This festival focuses also in contemporary music and often features a promising young musician as a soloist in the program. The main aim of this festival is to generate cultural understandings between various Asian countries.
This year was particularly special because Indian and Sri Lankan musicians participated in the festival for the first time. Delhi Symphony Orchestra (India) and Colombo Orchestra (Sri Lanka) joined and performed as one orchestra. The program included Academic Festival Overture by Brahms, “Romeo and Juliet” Overture by Tchaikovsky and Concerto for Piano and Drums of Sri Lanka by Harsha MAKALANDA. More than 2000 people attended in the Tokyo Opera Hall and the performances were very successful!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

NYT barrage

Well, it's happened again. I went to the New York Times 'Music' section and found many amazing articles! I'll list the links to them after a brief description.

The New York Times embraces music! Their new(?) hall, called the Times Center, hosted a concert that kicks off an entire series. It was interesting for me to read this review, as it comments on everything from time/style period to using electronic sound enhancement features in venues.

Music has always been one of the greatest ambassadors, bridging countries and cultures. This article specifically struck me because of our discussion in class. The New York Philharmonic is making preliminary plans to visit one of the world's most secretive countries: North Korea.

Another famous quartet, the Kronos Quartet, has been busy breaking barriers with a modern performance of "'Uniko' - a long, often loud, always generous composite of sound, light and action by Kimmo Pohjonen and Samuli Kosminen (taken from article)" If anyone knows more about this piece, or the other pieces mentioned, please enlighten us!

Finally, news from the technology front! Apple's I-pod has been the leader in the personal portable music device race, but Bill Gates is preparing to offer up some stiff competition. Here's your chance to read about his plans for digital music, file sharing, and the second generation of 'Zune'.

That's all I've found so far, but I'll post 'em as I find 'em.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

New ART.

Not only does music can break away from the "old tradition." But, so can many arts in general. I was browsing at Barnes and Nobles few months ago, and saw an interesting book, titled "Only Revolutions," by Mark Z. Danielewski. The book layout consists of "360 pages of 360 words per page, about two protaganists who've come unstuck in time. It is a narrative book, fills with multicolored streamed of consciousness."
What makes me want to put this information out in this blog is the following statement during the interview with Mark Z. Danielewski.
"I don't really write books for today and tomorrow. I write for today, tomorrow and a thousand years and a thousand tomorrows after that. It would be foolish to expect dense pieces like this to be fully digested and comprehended within a week of their unveiling." This speaks for composers today, and the past who've been this artisry. Art is for an eternity, and "it's not like contemporary culture's obsession with DISPOSABLE products of all sorts." His books Only revolution is something that he "designed to last for a long time." And that's what so great about Art in itself. We can always come back to it, and each time, we would formed different opinions because it has many "dimensions" that offers variety of perspectives. ("only revolution" allows the reader to read the book from back to front, starts at the middle page and read outwards, from front to back, upside down, right side up.) What's more important besides exploring different ways to read that book, is the essence of the artist's mind, because that's what gives the art its identity; that's where the creative process begins; And that's also where the "true art" lies.
Art becomes infinite when the art itself continues to raise questions. The questions (that we have) are our curiosities of trying to figure out the artist's thoughts, ideas, concepts etc.
Art is progressive as we progress intellectually. ART doesn't defines time, or anything for that matter. ARt teaches us how the world is changing.
(For example, in music: 1) tempo marking: There wasn't in any chants, only because the music was transmitted aurally, and they're usually used for religious reasons. When Bach comes along, he described the suits by type of dances (Sarabande, Courante etc.) Mozart/Beethoven time, used daily expression and emotions (Grave, Expressivo, Cantabile etc.) Now, we used quarter note = 150 (of course, we still used the Italian words for tempo markings) I think all art emboided its historical values.
EAch of us is responsible for this change. Because we decide on which kind of arts are worth discussing about for the eternity.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

music and beyond

For everybody who likes crazy homepages... here is one I really enjoy:

An enormous collection of quotations and thoughts about old music, new music and New Music!

"I view the period we're in as 'post-style'. I think there are periods in the history of art when this kind of post-stylistic point of view is the thing. I think one could even look at the work of Mahler from a hundred years ago and say Mahler does not represent any one particular style; he's really kind of a magpie, looking back over the entire 19th century European art music and you can find Wagner and Strauss, but you can also find Verdi and Bach, Austrian village band music and sentimental music. The same goes for Charles Ives. It's interesting that we're now at a fin de siecle again, the end of the 20th century, and people my age and younger seem to be embracing all sorts of styles, with a lot of influence from outside the Western canon. We're feasting on this enormous buffet." — John Adams in conversation with Alan Olshan

Lichtensteiger is a lateral thinker - composer, musician, writer, photographer and philospher in one person, who posts his thoughts on a homepage as dense as a jungle. It's not easy to navigate, so there is a certain amount of luck involved where you'll end up. I know this page for a long time now and still find new things everytime I look at it. The language switches occasionally between English, German and French, but I'm sure some of you will like it!


I just wanted to say if I ever got off topic, it is only because I get too excited about a certain topic. And sometimes, I get out of control (as you've all seen this afternoon in class).

What I really think about electronic convience or any other convience is:
"It is a BLESSING, but also a CURSE." Reasons I said this, is because It is wonderful how electronic innovation can bring musicians/audiences closer (for example, you can read about a composer's bio. and other works of his/hers),and so easy to retrieve any type of music you want to listen to. From classical to jazz, to pop. It is so accessible on the internet. Companies such as Naxos, and Rhapsodies allow you to create an account, and you can get any music you want. (with little money, or no money at all. Trials are FREE for at least a month). This is a great way to EXPLORE music. With this great internet access, one can really get a sense of the style of composers, and performers. If one really enjoys whom they wanted to listen to. They can get concert tickets, and KNOW that they will enjoy the music they're going to hear!!! Personally I don't like music to go, but, great, if you do.

It is also a curse with this great accessibilities. The quality from the computer's speakers (without hooking up to one of those surround sounds) aren't so good. From the recording point of view, although you can still find out what the pieces are about online by google. But, the personal relationship between the performers and you is missing. Some composers such as Varese, and Philip Glass served a very intimate relationship with his audience.

In 1958 Varese composed "Poem Electronique" for the world fair premier. He built specifically an acoustic theatre that goes with his piece of music.

"Although you don't have the sense of the way it was presented originally at the World's Fair with 400 speakers, it still presents itself as a very poetic piece with a large variety of sound sources that are combined in an exciting way. You can also experience how these sounds move through space in a way that had never been attempted before...." Varese's music is about the relationship between space and sound. "sound being set free in space and very much concerned about how sound can move, interact, collide and integrate with sound. He talked about sound masses."
( My point here is that composers have innovative ideas about how the sound is perceived and project. And one could not get a "real" sense of this from 5 speakers at home, until he goes to the live concert.

For composers such as Philip Glass, he's the artist in the artists communities. He shared stages with dancers, painters, poets etc. His concert venues includes museums, art galleries. Where a sense of visualization is part of his music.

To conclue this, I hope that I've made my point clear about how conviences can help us to explore, but we can also miss out on the most innovative "IDEAS." No ideas are "avant-garde" maybe we just all need time to absorb them.

Solfege for the people

I was in south africa last summer (I noticed Nkosi sikelel iAfrica in the study questions of chapter 5 of the cooke) and I was surprised and delighted to observe their musical traditions and practice. I traveled there with a 30 person chorus to learn and sing folk songs from many different cultures, including south Africa. naturally, they learn most of their own folk songs just growing up and hearing them. There are also accompanying dances. i didn't expect them to know solfege, but lo' and behold, they did!. they all were quite fluent with what they call the "tonic sol fa" system. A series of punctuation marks connote rhythm and then the syllables are actually written out. eg. do re mi fa .... As you might have already guessed they use movable do, and usually during a song, the pitch progressively slides highr and higher as they become more excited, and as they realize that it was too low even for the basses. Like I said, movable do. I found this very interesting - I sing a lot of folk music with various choirs, and people almost look down on me for knowing how to sight sing, especially with a "classical" method such as solfege. But there they were, folk song and dance mixed with solfege. Fascinating.