Kidnapped (notes)

Public domain ebooks might be a good way to stay amused and edified during plague time. For example, Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped, known as a boy's adventure story, in fact details the intricacies of manners, social position, notions of honor, and the limitations of masculine pride in the Scottish highlands, during the time of the Jacobite uprising of the middle-1700s. The Wikipedians say the novel is about "justice," and that's in there, too, among uncounted arguments about how gentlemen should behave. It begins with a rousing shipboard battle with an alarming body count for a boys' book (or maybe that's what makes it so), and then tracks the two main characters through various physical trials as they cross the wild, sparsely populated Scottish outback. Their narrative includes many encounters with hill people, scrupulously describing dialects and customs, and the writing is fairly brilliant throughout. The Bloomsbury Group excommunicated Stevenson from the canon for some reason, relegating him to the children's section of the library, even though his admirers included (as the Wikipedians tell it): "Jorge Luis Borges, Bertolt Brecht, Marcel Proust, Arthur Conan Doyle, Henry James, Cesare Pavese, Emilio Salgari, Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling, Jack London, Vladimir Nabokov, J. M. Barrie, and G. K. Chesterton."

Occult Classical (new Bandcamp release)

Am pleased to announce my 35th Bandcamp release, Occult Classical.

[Note: embedded players -- which I basically hate -- are replaced with links when they move off the blog front page]

Liner notes for the LP:

"Higher powers command: paint the upper right corner black," quipped Sigmar Polke in a notable artwork title. Such commands might also lurk behind the meandering signal flow of a modular synthesizer patch or the inchoate logic of placing scraps of digitized vinyl within the layered timeline of a digital audio workstation.

This release combines synth tunes (modular and soft-), beatbox beats, and reassembled sounds from the jazz and classical crates. There is less use of MIDI pattern generation to make chords and arpeggios than in the previous few releases; however, quantization is used within the modular to turn random and/or sequenced pitches into conventional chords and scales.

There is also some emphasis on getting novel timbres into clips, and reacting to those within the composition. A recurring device for turning lead into audio gold is Doepfer's A-112 sampler module, used in about half these tunes. Some custom waveforms were made and uploaded via MIDI to the A-112, using PrivatePublic Music's Doepfer A-112 Waves application (www.privatepublic.de/blog/software/a-112-waves/)

If you'd like to support this blog (now in its 19th, ad-free year) buying the occasional Bandcamp song or LP is a great way to do that.

the necessity of a musical score

Michael Schell discusses a duo performance of Cecil Taylor and Pauline Oliveros and questions why Oliveros is classified as a classical composer and Taylor is not, when they are working in the same conceptual tradition:

"At the same time, though, this coupling highlights a prejudice that continues to haunt conventional narratives of Western art music. Of these two musicians -- both of similar age and similar stature among musicians, and both clearly capable of articulating a shared musical language in a public space -- only Oliveros is consistently mentioned in textbooks and retrospectives on contemporary classical music (see, for example, the otherwise admirable surveys by Paul Griffiths, Jennie Gottschalk, and Tim Rutherford-Johnson). The omission reflects the idea that art music requires a score, that it must be 'fixed in some sort of notation for a performer or creator to interpret or execute' (Rutherford-Johnson) to be authentic. This was a legitimate premise prior to the 20th century, but it has become obsolete in the age of audio recording, radio, and digital media. Nowadays the record, not the score, is the real 'text,' and the persistent conception of classical music as an exclusively literate tradition has pushed the music of Taylor, and his fellow improvising avant-gardists (many of whose backgrounds were impediments to the academy), to the margins of the canon.

"Ironically, Oliveros also emphasized improvisation in her work, and almost all of her published scores use verbal instructions rather than musical notation. But she was still invariably described as a 'composer,' and was able to achieve success in the milieu of universities, concert venues and foundations, whereas Taylor was always a 'jazz musician' who mainly performed at night clubs and festivals. And so his eminence languishes in the domain of jazz history, jazz radio, and jazz CD bins. Despite today’s well-publicized efforts to improve diversity in musical opportunity and programming, it seems that the segregation borne of professional biases can be just as intractable as the cruder chauvinism of social bigotry. Taylor’s music, so powerful and innovative, deserves recognition that transcends these boundaries."