Inner Party – The “Second Pleasure” of the music-lover

Everybody knows the First Pleasure of the classical music lover. You like this or not, that’s all. Pleasure of the music, from the music!

If your curiosity is intact, you will read about the composer and its time.

It’s the beginning of the Second Pleasure. When you explore different versions of the piece, you read about this, you compare, you wonder.

Thanks to YouTube you can pre-explore. Listen Fêtes (festivivities) from Debussy. It’s from Nocturnes. Imagine there’s a party somewhere but you go outside is the night :

By Boulez :

 

Bernstein goes much faster. Electric festivities !

 

 

 

If, on both examples, you go to the middle of the piece, the party is now far. The lovers are in the night, and another energy unfolds : the pleasure of being alive and enthralled under the stars. Like an inner party, an elation. Then…

Oh, there’s a version with two pianos !

 

Pleasure is to talk about this with a another hunter. Third pleasure?

Tool : Where could you apply that? How could you enlarge your researches? Change of nature? Change of subtleties?

Thanks for reading!

(for the pleasure of being just beside a party, you could read Sipping Moods)

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Keep a part for later – Masterpieces from Masters

If you’re an explorer, you sometimes discover an artist you… adore.

It’s so good that you can’t resist : here you are exploring the whole chest, pigging out the whole thing. We are all lost souls, craving for…

But sometimes you climb “one more degree”. It’s so good that you decide something.

Keep a part for later. More in reserve. Some gas left in the tank.

This is what I did with a few masters : Puccini, Chekhov, Faulkner, Borges, Jünger. Who are yours?

I know Manon and La Bohème by heart, and pretty well some of other Puccini’s operas, like Tosca or Butterfly, and one third of Trittico. Each time I listen to a part of Turandot I’m floored… but I keep it for later!

Chekhov wrote hundreds of short stories. I have shelves of that guy! But I never read “everything”. It’s the same for Jünger or Borges, or Faulkner.

  • Keep the pleasure to discover something new from a Master you love.
  • One day it’s maybe to late : you’re dead. Or you’re not interested any more.
  • You sometimes don’t remember if you read this or that. Even better, right?
  • There’s a middle choice : listen or read once, and then wait for years.
  • Years after, you read or listen… another way.
  • Choose an infinite area. Restaurants in Paris for example. Hmmm?

Thanks for reading!

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The Ravel’s Bolero Syndrome : when you know someone from ONE thing only

Some names are well known for only ONE work, one event, one place.

Dorothea Lange is well known for “this” picture only. Maurice Ravel is linked for ever to his Bolero. The city of Agra with the Taj Mahal. The Korgis have a great hit : “Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime”. Where’s the rest?

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I call it The Ravel Syndrome. The structure is : “Something is known for ONE thing and the rest is globally ignored”. It’s not necessarily one work, it can be one domain : for example, Chekhov is very well know for his theater, and nobody knows his short stories.

This dial should lead us to take the wheel, think, and explore. Lange probably took other good pictures, Ravel composed a great Daphnis & Chloe and his concertos for piano are fantastic, Agra is full of great other places to visit. The Korgis, well, I don’t knowww (there are pages of lists of “One Hit Singers” on the web)…

There are two lessons to get from this :

  • This flaw could be called “Hit Laziness”. Let’s enter the house and discover the other rooms, why not try to see what the artist has behind his “hit”. Maybe treasures?
  • “Someone is known for ONE thing and the rest is globally ignored” can be very cruel. I think of Monica Lewinsky, which is probably a much more interesting person than this label you just put on her, in your mind. Hmmm?

 

Thanks for reading!

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Schmaltzy Frontier : quiet #piano music from Satie to Eno

Cucul la praline is a very common French “idiom” meaning schmaltzy, ludicrously & overly sentimental. You can put this “ass-ass the pralin” on a person in love or on a picture, or… some music.

Quiet Piano Music draws a line in brains. Before the line, you find it peaceful and great, and after it, it’s… schmaltzy!

Of course this line is personal. I love Erik Satie’s Gymnopedies (I chose voluntarily a neutral clip : if you search YouTube, you’ll find plenty of “beautiful” things with flowers and flying birds). On this side of the line, here are the Preludes from Debussy.

OK, let’s get closer to the line. Eno/Budd’s The Pearl is a perfect balance. Satiesque gorgeous piano and ambient sounds. Try Goldmund, or the much more “melodic” Tim Story, which is, for me, the “line”. I won’t go further. No thanks. Cucul la praline.

Funny game : try the other way. Go quiet-but-more-complex (Berg? Boulez?). Nope? Well, see, there’s another frontier.

Tools/Dials/Levers :

You advertise, you compose, you take photos? Do you think about the Schmaltsy Frontier?

Who will watch your work? Where is the audience? Pleased but comfortable? Disgusted by complexity OR by “two much sugar”?

Where is the risk to lose the audience? What’s the worst?

Is there a way to add “complex nuggets” or “ridiculous nuggets” in a comfortable piece of Art?

Where is sarcasm and how will you play with it? What line would you prefer to touch?

Why is something cucul la praline? Too simple? What could be surprising?

#orsanmichele #firenze #florence #gravure

 

Brian Eno & Steve Reich : Music to listen to while writing

When you write, you have to focus.

If you are one of these young people, you have to listen to the music you love, you put TV on, you check your phone and your Facebook Instagram Twitter whatever accounts, you open the window to hear the cars passing by and you Skype your best friend while you work on your exams. Perfect multitask.

I do not own this kind of brain. I really have to focus!

If you write, sometimes you need music, but music is too much. Music is CALLING you. It goes :

“Hey! Listen! I’m interesting! There’s a change here! Listen to meee!”

But no music and closed window, it’s silence. Sometimes, it’s too much. It’s a no.

I thought about this a lot. When I have to work, I ban singers, because, errr, they sing. Pfff. They talk to you, right? They talk about problems, mainly. OK : no singers.

I pick up instrumental musics for the mood. Röyksopp or any electro dancing music are great. Classical is a whole kingdom : I choose Brahms if I want powerful brown thick thinking, Prokofiev if I want triangles and fast drive, or Debussy if I wanna be impressionismistonic. You can push to Boulez (complex rotating-moving architectures) or Hindemith or Chopin for other “moods”.

  • Between watching TV and watching nothing, you can evolve around a painting.
  • Between listening to music and silence, you can write on Eno or Reich.

Both are enough “neutral” to let you work. Both are enough “full” to feed you.

Eno’s Thursday afternoon is a one hour piece. It’s not really music (and it NOT new age music), it’s more like a PLACE. Listen at a low level. Layers of sounds passing by. Quiet like a cloister, a convent. It’s a bit aquatic, slowly evolving like if you were watching clouds. You have a place to think, to work. You will notice it’s a set of loops. Some sounds come back. You’re in a fresh air coil…

Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians is a one hour piece. It’s a strong fast weaving of notes. They call it “repetitive music” because of the pulses, but it changes constantly. It’s also a “decor” for you to work, but more intense, with more DRIVE. Energy. The 1978 ECM recording is the best. It’s more like you were watching a land from a moving train.

Put them in “loop”. Eno has been in my place, sometimes, a whole day. It’s like a painting. Reich makes you wait, pushes your brain to fast mode. It’s more clever than that. Each piece makes you move. It triggers something.

Find your own tools (Phil Glass? JS Bach? The Field?).

Thanks for reading !

 

 

Jungle Syndrome of Mahler, Proust, Marx

I call “Jungle Syndrome” the feeling you have in front of the big-size-map of some masterpieces (or so-called), or artworks. I chose three examples : Mahler, Proust, and Marx. You can add anything you want : French Revolution, American Civil War, Napoleon, Italian Renaissance, ou alors tout Picasso.

Something, in these, is “too much”. Trop complexe, too rich, too interesting, too big. You pick a leaf, then you have a tree, a forest, a universe. Gasp !

I tried many times to explore Mahler‘s music. The last time I’ve been very persistent, reading about him and his life, watching concerts, listening to different versions of the symphonies. And hooo : it’s too big for me, too complex. 9 long symphonies…

Proust is the same. Thousands of RICH pages. Each page contains style ideas, it’s gorgeous, interesting, full of ideas and subtilities. And it’s lonnnng.

It becomes, each time, a strange weave between boredom and fascination (oui, c’est possible !), as if you could really guess that there are treasures and marvels to discover if you insisted. Efforts necessary, this time ? Yes.

Each time, I let it go. I did !

I did not try Marx, and just a little Picasso. These can keep you busy for YEARS !

You can give up. You will. But you can keep exploring, as well. Just to see what happens. Persistence.

This month I was trying to explain Proust to a friend. So I chose a random page and I began to read. The style was gorgeous, and the idea expressed in this single page let us floored in awe. It sparkled in the conversation. It triggered a urging desire to go on with Proust.

A few months ago I listened to Mahler a lot. This was exhausting for my ears, even if they are trained to listen to classical music. But I insisted, because I was amazed by the beauty of some moments. I was like in front of a complex architecture, trying to find a door.

I found one, then another one, then a movement, then… I kept finding gold nuggets.

Tools : In somes cases, even if it seems complicated, “too much” something, you feel it’s worth it, insist, be persistent. There’s gold, tons of gold : you maybe have to keep digging and find your own doors, find your gold.

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The Casualness Shades of Orchestras

I’m reading a book about orchestras. I liked the pages explaining how different do great orchestras really sound from one another, that’s interesting.

Try this article : World Greatest Orchestras

Cultural differences made me smile. Some American or German musicians hired by French orchestras were disturbed by our… frenchness. Instrumentalists are chatting before rehearsals, par exemple, ohlalaaaaa…

It’s a matter of shades, though. Italian instrumentalists think we are much more rigorous… Makes sense, no ?

In an American orchestra, everybody is on time, all the musicians did their homework, and nobody talks. Not a word. Riccardo Muti, coming from… Italy, was a bit surprised by this American “engine ready” effectiveness and once said to the orchestra : “You know, you can talk !”.

The author tries to be culturally fair. American or German (among others) orchestras are fast and effective, and French orchestras need more rehearsals to prepare a symphony, for example.

He says that the result is great, clean, and pretty much always the same in the United States. They do the job ! In France, orchestras are less like a perfect car and more like a living surprising entity. They do the job too, and sometimes it’s becoming amazing !

Leonard Bernstein always loves French orchestras for this reason : they follow his craziness if he tries something unusual. And… the author says than French instrumentalists are very quiet and attentive when the chief in Giulini or Haitink. Errrr…

Yes, I can link this arcticle to this other one, about following damn rules

So let’s say we can, but we don’t !

After all, the Eiffel Tower has no function, other than a symbol. The Eiffel Tower is uneffective.

I think that in France we just like to do things slightly improperly. Yesss we can cross the road out of the zebras, if there’s no car around. We really do that ! Ohlalala…

Lever : This lever is called “Obey” and has two ways. If something’s boring in your project, because it’s clean and right on the road, pull it here. Try something French. Add wine too.

Josef Krips, a great conductor, once said something like “With half more discipline, the French orchestra would become the best of the world”. Maybe you need half more discipline, then. Pull the lever there. Thank you America !

Day off with #orchestra #pluriel
Day off with #orchestra #pluriel