Greg Kurstin, the guy behind

Nobody knows who Greg Kurstin is. I suppose.

With no reason I had in my head this Lily Allen music, which is like… the perfect pop song for me. The little acoustic guitar, the beats, the chorus, the sound, the whole harmonical chemistry…

When I see the 53 millions views on YouTube I’m a bit jealous. Who wrote that? Google, tell me!

Greg Kurstin

Okey! He’s good! What did he do?

But well, he’s the half of The Bird and the Bee! That’s him! That’s the guy!

With Blonde Redhead it’s a group I adore, because of… constant modulations.

That sounds so British, right? Good influences, I bet.

OK, bonjour, Mister Kurstin, I kind of like you!

Thanks for reading!

Photography: “La Dordogne”, a French river

Photography: “La Dordogne”, a French river. How to photograph a river? She’s like the lady you’re in love with: she’s complex, multiple, given, elusive, clear, dark, changing and marvellous. What do I choose? The light? Water? Trees? Rocks? Here are 14 pictures of La Dordogne, near the little town of Carsac.

Photography: The roofs of Sarlat, Périgord, France

Sarlat-La-Canéda is a medieval town in France, near Bordeaux. Yes, it’s a good place to drink wine and eat meals made of ducks and geese (confits and all).

Today I choose to show you the roofs. I took many pictures thus you’ll see streets, forests, rivers and… the cemetery.

I added a little Poulenc because it’s my little obsession of the time.

Have a good day!

Rivière, French painter

Rivière, what a fantastic name to wear, right? Henri Rivière (1864-1951) was a French painter. He’s a bit forgotten today in France. Etchings, lithographies in the “Japonism” manner (cf Hiroshige).

It’s very… French, and you’ll need a little Poulenc music to listen to (I provide a link at the end) and some Paul Valéry poems too.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_Rivi%C3%A8re_(painter)

Have a nice day!

Music Chronicles 6: Tricky Creatures & The Old London Voice

I went on using poems for music (do you have some for me I could use?). Today: Verlaine!

Léandre le sot,
Pierrot qui d’un saut
De puce
Franchit le buisson,
Cassandre sous son
Capuce,

Arlequin aussi,
Cet aigrefin si
Fantasque
Aux costumes fous,
Ses yeux luisants sous
Son masque,

— Do, mi, sol, mi, fa, —
Tout ce monde va,
Rit, chante
Et danse devant
Une belle enfant
Méchante

Dont les yeux pervers
Comme les yeux verts
Des chattes
Gardent ses appas
Et disent : « A bas
Les pattes ! »

— Eux ils vont toujours ! —
Fatidique cours
Des astres,
Oh ! dis-moi vers quels
Mornes ou cruels
Désastres

L’implacable enfant,
Preste et relevant
Ses jupes,
La rose au chapeau,
Conduit son troupeau
De dupes ?

Colombine

English Translation here: https://www.oxfordlieder.co.uk/song/5112

Again, a walking bass. I love them! Dong dong dong dong dong. I tried to add less mechanical music. I added string chords, but interrupted them sometimes. I tried another style for the end, a long stroll of bass string going nowhere…

The pictures I took along a long walk strangely fit the song: creatures. Birds. Drawings. Things.

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For this one I found an old voice from the London docks, with a bell, announcing something.

The game is the Moby one: add drums, JP, bass, strings, saxes and whistles. Then it’s a puzzle around this loop: adding things/cutting things. I should chorus but nope. I should double the bass with somme upper pianos… maybe.

I stole some pictures to clip it.

Have a great day!

Music Chronicles 5: The Past & The Little Queens

I’m casual, I know. When I compose I don’t finish. I draft. I need a producer!

Also, I sing and I shouldn’t. But well, I’m the only singer around 🙂

Also, I build films with a few pictures and the Ken Burns effect. I don’t want to finish, it’s boring. Voilà.

These days I have fun with poems.

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“Aimez-vous le passé ?” means “Do you love the past?”. I googletranslated the poem for you:

Do you like the past And dream of stories Evocative With erased outlines?

Old rooms Widows of steps Who smell all low Iris and amber;

The pallor of the portraits, The worn-out relics That the dead have kissed, Dear, I would like

May they be dear to you, And talk to you a little Of a dusty heart And full of mystery.

“Veuve de pas” : widowed of steps, meaning “deprived of people walking in these rooms”.

I found pictures I took in Cabourg ten years ago in Normandy (yes it’s near the D-Day beaches), hop, iMovied.

The music is an exercise about obsession: there’s no change, no chorus, it “walks” all the time.

I wrote the bass after hearing “In the Army Now” by Status Quo : dong, dong, dong, dong, adding a tatatatata guitar over it.

The game was to weaveknit chords under this walk. I added little dissonnances in the piano, it’s a bit irritating for ears and all – but now so much. Here it is:

Aimez-vous le passé

Aimez-vous le passé
Et rêver d’histoires
Évocatoires
Aux contours effacés ?

Les vieilles chambres
Veuves de pas
Qui sentent tout bas
L’iris et l’ambre ;

La pâleur des portraits,
Les reliques usées
Que des morts ont baisées,
Chère, je voudrais

Qu’elles vous soient chères,
Et vous parlent un peu
D’un coeur poussiéreux
Et plein de mystère.

Paul-Jean Toulet, Chansons

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I wanted to try another one, so I googled “dance in poetry” to find this “Dansez, Petites Reines” (Dance, Little Queens). I found a possible translation (I did not use the whole poem) which changes things a bit:

THE GRANDFATHER'S SONG. 

Dance, little Queens, 

All in a ring ; 
Loves to Lasses 

Sweet kisses will bring. 

Dance, little Madcaps, 

All in a ring ; 
The crabbed old mistress 

Will grumble and fling. 

Dance, little beauties, 

All in a ring ; 
The birds will applaud you 

With clapping of wing. 

Dance, little Fairies, 

All in a ring ; 
With corn-flower garlands 

And fair as the spring. 

Dance, little women, 

All in a ring ; 
Each Beau to his Lady 

Says some pretty thing. 

The game here was to alternate a crappy vintage sound and a more luxurious one in the choruses (voices and instruments). I had fun with the bass line, and linked parts with a golden trumpet.

I found images with ducks for YouTube, because why not, right?

Here’s a remastered version: https://soundcloud.com/user-894673824/dansez-les-petites-reines-24-04-2021-14-54-mastered

Good day!

Dansez, les petites reines,
Toutes en rond.
Les amoureux sous les frênes
S’embrasseront.

Dansez, les petites folles,
Toutes en rond.
Les bouquins dans les écoles
Bougonneront.

Dansez, les petites belles,
Toutes en rond.
Les oiseaux avec leurs ailes
Applaudiront.

Dansez, les petites fées,
Toutes en rond.
Dansez, de bleuets coiffées,
L’aurore au front.

Dansez, les petites femmes,
Toutes en rond.
Les messieurs diront aux dames
Ce qu’ils voudront.

“Intentions and Elegance”: Overthinking about Art

I read a good book about a… harpsichord player. I found ideas. Here they are.

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The easy question is “What is it?”. Another question is “What does that mean?”, therefore “What does the artist want to say to us?”. This is a totally higher question, right? Instead of the work, you ask about the artist’s mind, and their will. Does art need a meaning, after all?

Where should we, instead of focusing of things in front of us, focus on what the maker wants?

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If you are a Bach (b 1685) specialist and you want to study or play Mozart (b 1762), you have to make a jump in time and music, and Mozart will appear very modern. But if you come from 19th Century, it will feel like a loss.

From where will you come, to study this or that?

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If you’re enthusiastic, do you master your work?

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Does elegance need the existence of another person? What about the idea telling that real elegance consists in not getting noticed. And Balzac says that to reveal some economy of means is inelegant.

It’s from Latin “elegans”: who knows how to choose.

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A pretentious simplicity, does that exist?

Goethe : When an intention is too visible, it irritates

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Who plays – and how – the tango of strength/delicacy?

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Purity of the sensation, or of the landscape?

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When you touch the harpsichord‘s key, the note appears, that simple. There’s no possibilities of ppp or fff. It’s “the note”, always the same intensity, it’s a yes or no thing.

Without any possibity of nuances, of touch, the subtleties must come from elwhere: the phrases.

Where else do we have this?

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Deep understanding” and at the same time, “spontaneity” (or precision/passion). Both. Same time.

Where? Sex? Conversation? Acting? What kind of skill is this?

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When a rule emerges, its exceptions appear at the same time.

In French: “Déroger à la règle” (The English “to contravene” and “to infringe” sound “to go against”, to fight, but the French one sounds “to take a hidden door”, to depart from, to invent my own path).

An artist who knows enough rules to depart from them: to explore/invent.

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What is a work of art with simultaneity of significations? Sorrow and courage at the same time; violence and sweetness; pride and vanity. What kind of richness is that?

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To admit” (it’s the same in French, admettre) is a curious verb: to confess, to acknowledge, to allow entry, to accept validity, to place, to permit, to conceide or recognize.

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A style emerges, how?

  1. Origin.
  2. Development.
  3. Blossoming.
  4. Refinement.
  5. Saturation.

Where? Examples?

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When can’t we prevent aggravation (or stop worsening)?

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Baudelaire: The restless crowd, whipped on by pleasure

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Do you produce differently (by other means) or something else?

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Is the existence of the past Law, or Force?

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Acknowlegment or recognition? Even gratitude, if you push?

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Which one is the most interesting? Beauty created by nature, or beauty created by men?

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Could you go that far, without the resistance of it?

Thanks for reading!

Dumb as a log and other things

December is a good place to spot idiots. People running around, in crowded/emptied stores, like headless chickens, to find horrible presents, for a hated mother-in-law or a mean cousin, with a mask under the nose, ohlalaaaa.

Our word in France for morons is “con”. You can check on wordreference, “con” is a name AND an adjective.

Yesterday evening I was wondering about the English “Dumb”, therefore I googled “dumb as a” and found silly words, so funny I was hilarious in the streets.

I loved the “bag of hammers“! Haha!

We use hammer (marteau) to say someone is not dumb, but silly or crazy. “Il est complètement marteau” : He is completely hammer. Yess, it’s not “he is a hammer”, but “he is hammer”. I know.

We also say “Il est con comme comme un”, but with other “things”.

Il est con comme un balai (like a broom), comme ses pieds (like his feet), like the moon, or a chair, a suitcase, whatever.

These days I like to say “Il est con comme une bûche” (like a log). It’s more like a super-heavy-dumb, see?

The game is to go on https://www.expressio.fr/expressions/con-comme-un-balai to find things in other languages. Dumb as… bean straw (Germany), like pigeons, like a back door…

Thanks for reading!

Chekhov’s Gun & its Disobedience :Chronicle 63

Confinement 2.0 in France: the whole of November – but most specialists say that it’ll need 2 or more months to be effective, and only if people respect the game.

The problem is if universities are closed, all schools are opened. If people are encouraged to work from home, many can’t.

More: a problem appears from the fact that all small stores are closed (florists, hair styling salons, bookstores) AND supermarkets are not. The little ones want to stay open, but if you do that, the confinement is silly! Therefore the government ordered them to close the “non-essential” parts, like toys, flowers, books, etc.

Strange days, right?

oOOo

I had the idea to build an alphabetical exploration in the blog. So now I’m working on A, but I’m lazy! I watched Losey’s Accident for that.

oOOo

I reached 500 “real” followers here, after 4 years. This means, I want to believe, that readers love “one subject” blogs, but not that much “a little of everything” blogs.

oOOo

Chekhov’s gun is a dramatic principle that states that every element in a story must be necessary, and irrelevant elements should be removed. Elements should not appear to make “false promises” by never coming into play.

Of course, you want to disobey this, right?

oOOo

I wonder what an American person does to imitate the British accent. I think there’s something with “t”. Better said better instead of bedder. Often said often instead of offen. There’s also a singing quality, I think. Am I wrong?

oOOo

I searched the two words “Trump Lord” on Twitter and read a few dozens of tweets. Ohlalaaaa! US religious persons sound very strange to me, I really don’t get it. I asked a question and got an answer: “We need to look to God & His Word for His plans & purpose. He desires repentance & readiness for His 2nd coming. He desires that all be saved through Christ and come to the knowledge of the truth. He is Holy, faithful & just. God will keep His promises.”

oOOo

Watched a documentary about U2, full of little ideas. What I realize, after such months with The Beatles, it’s how… The Beatles are good composers!

U2 has been a hitmaker. The film (about Joshua Tree) shows their different ways to achieve that…

Bono is very charismatic, Edge has an interesting “sound” (infinite guitar, etc), the bass player is limited (dom dom dom dom dom) but very effective, and the drummer is fantastic. They are not great “composers”, but they have plenty of energy, goodwill and a great singer/lyrics writer, they have good rhythm ideas, a sense of “hymn” things, and… Brian Eno/Daniel Lanois are good producers!

If you type “U2 Chords” on YouTube you get things like “Four Chord Easy Beginner Guitar Song”, which is cruel.

Of course, this was a delight to hear Eno & Lanois and their differences and facets, Eno as an intellectual (who loves gospel), Lanois as a fascinating clever person. Both have such a look in their eyes…

oOOo

I bought Ronan Farrow’s book about the Weinstein affair, a Gertrude Stein biography and Bryson’s book about England. Then I realize that the two last books are about Americans living for decades in Europa. I’m probably interested in what they noticed.

Have a nice day! Thanks for reading!

Reinette and Mirabelle have a lesson for us

It’s a short story included in a French Eric Rohmer movie : Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle (1987).

Let’s ask Wikipedia :

The film consists of four episodes in the relationship of two young women: Reinette, a country girl, and Mirabelle, a Parisian. The first episode, L’Heure Bleue/The Blue Hour, recounts their meeting, and Reinette’s wish to share the Blue Hour, a moment of silence between the natural sounds of the night and the dawn.

So they wake up before dawn (very early in summer) and go outside in the night. When the sun is about to rise, the country becomes silent… Shhh…

But just before the magic minute, a motorcycle comes from nowhere on the road, destroying, evidently, the precious groups of silent seconds. Then the sun comes and the birds begin to sing. Oh dang!

One girl (guess who) cries and screams of anger : the moment has been spoiled! The other one consoles her. C’est la vie! No big deal…

I love this little tale, saying two things :

  1. it can be cool to be ready to catch magic moments
  2. it is no big deal if it fails

Catch it next time! Voilà!

Thanks for reading!

Ambiguity & Types : Chronicle 59

A few years ago I read an interview of a teacher, he was smart and interesting. The last question from the journalist triggered a shift, though. What was bothering him? His answer was a surprise. It was something like:

“What bothers me is that in every class I taught in my career I found the same typology, with very little variations : in every classroom of 15 years old students, you find a sporty, a fat kid, a funny idiot, an angry rebel, an introvert girl, a shy blond, a dreamer, a goth, a nerd. That’s boring!”.

“I empty my head in front of stupid TV”.

Hmmm?

How TF do you translate a Style? There’s a witchy case:

Marguerite Duras was a French writer with a very special style. It’s difficult… even to define it! And of course it’s a part of her wizardry.

It’s between spoken language and a modest incantatory style. It’s full of mistakes, like a dyslexic person with strokes of genius. It’s gorgeous, blazing and magic… and completely quirky at the same time.

Therefore when you read Duras you have to let go something, a logical normal way to accept narration. It’s audacious, fascinating, it swallows you in a strange, new rhythm – a words-witch!

I really wonder how people in the USA consider the people of other states

I wanted to write an article about “mean quotes about women”. Here are some :

Women show up and they cling to you and they destroy you
Thomas Bernhard

Beware when you’re caught in a woman’s dreams
Gilles Deleuze

What does that mean? That these guys were afraid? Afraid of what? A power? Are men defenseless?

I read a book about ambiguity in architecture, therefore I wanted to write “At once This and That, the pleasure of ambiguity”.

Ambiguity is when you can’t decide if this is something or something else. In buildings : a window, a corridor, stairs, everything can be two things at the same time.

Of course it TELLS something, that some architects want, seek this. They hate minimalism, the obvious “clean” thing. They love what I think is the essence of modernity :

To make something to make people wonder and smile, instead of making people say “Ohhh that’s beautiful”.

Zola about Manet

Of course I love this! Things (and us) can be this AND that, we can juxtapose, rotate, double-fonction, adapt. It’s enrichment, intelligence, faces. A door can decorate. A cook can be a musician. The superfluous is necessary…

Haecceity

Incompleteness gives untranquility.

  • Game of desires (I want what I don’t have), I buy it, it kills desire for a moment. A loop and a dodge.
  • Incompleteness born from boredom : “what can I do I don’t know what to do something is lacking but what”.
  • Media pressure to be rich or famous or happy.
  • Desire to be valued by people around, or… the world, and nobody really cares.
  • Linked to “lost childhood”, nostalgia from great old days that didn’t even exist.
  • Fado, Saudade…

How to adapt? What is adaptation? When is it positive, or negative?

Thanks for reading!

Small Units Speed & Ways of Escaping : Chronicle 57

“A very trying summer”? I found this in a Willa Cather short stories book. Who “tried” what?

Dictionaries give me the French “éprouvant” (punishing, demanding, grueling), which comes from “épreuve” (ordeal, hardship).

Question : is “trying” colored with “he tried”, or is it, for English speaker, like another word?

oOo

There’s a whole continent to explore : idioms of a language.

In French, if someone asks you something and there’s NO WAY you give it to them, we say “Des clous !” (“Some nails!”) while you say “No way” or “Nothing doing” (which I like a lot).

When something’s fabulous, I hear you say “the cat’s meow” (or whiskers), and I think “aaaawwwww”.

oOo

Today, web pages are all somethered with Java and PHP. I’m an old fool and in 1993 I was writing my blog in HTML without any editor. Raw. As French is full of accents, it was much worse than you can imagine :

The word “hétérogénéité” needed : hétérogénéité, yeah. I don’t tell you about the tables and charts. It was a mess to code that!

As I type, I was very fast, and my hands, today, remember the sequence “é” very well.

But at this time, I was getting some emails from guys asking me what was my secret to have “so fast display”. Well, nothing more than HTML, that all.

Make it simple. Decrease sophistication. Small fast units. It’s a little tool.

I remember Robert Fripp thinking about that, against big pop groups’s tours, with dozens of trucks. He preferred small fast groups.

What do we gain?

oOo

My fantasy is to explore the States of America in a slantoblique way. Maybe I should visit Bowbells, after all?

One day I was talking about that with a friend, living near Seattle. I asked her : WHY don’t you take the train to go to San Francisco?

In France, the “train thing” is more important. TGV (Trains Grande Vitesse) go 190 miles/h and I can cross my whole country in train in less than 6 hours.

From Seattle to San Francisco by train, I checked : 22h, 1300 km, it’s taller than France itself!

How can I explain? My brain watches the map, and like refuses to get that USA is bigger than that. Of course I knowww the distances and that France is smaller that Texas alone!

oOo

Warfare, strategy, tactics, yeah, you know the Art of War, and that it’s useful out of the field of war, too, blah blah blah : in a couple, in a group, sports, trial, business of course : these “applications outside the military” are fascinating, right?

There are many other Chinese strategy books. The best is probably The Thirty-Six Stratagems. Very interesting in itself AND in the way our mind wants to apply them elsewhere.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty-Six_Stratagems

oOo

There are many sorts of humor, and it’s funny to sort and categorize them. I like when humor is to “say the truth” : Demetri Martin & Dilbert are two examples.

I like sports bars. Sports bars are great because they collect all the people I don’t want to hang out with and put them in one room. I’m not against sports. I don’t have a problem with sports. I’m just not good at them. I’m not coordinated. I’m not drawn to sports. I don’t even look like someone who could spend time in a sports bar. I have a very punchable face in a sports bar.

I set a personal record on Christmas. I got my shopping done three weeks ahead of time. I had all the presents back in my apartment. I was halfway through wrapping them and I realized ‘Damn, I used the wrong wrapping paper.’ The paper I used said “Happy Birthday.” I didn’t want to waste it, so I just wrote ‘Jesus’ on it.

oOo

One of the best games is to “find a common structure, then differences between things”. Find examples.

oOo

When is it you have to work well against your hierarchy? You need a mask. You have to forget about your need of approval, play the hierarchy play, knowing its principles, invent your own laws and principle. Loneliness and autonomy, samurai. It’s exhausting though.

oOo

Who likes your little enthusiasms?

oOo

What kind of burning tryingness is there? What are ways of escaping?

Thanks for reading! Stay safe!

“My friends, keep your old friends”

Diderot, a French philosopher of the 18th, laments the loss of his old dressing gown, which he wore around the house for casual clothing. He bought an expensive new one, but regrets his old comfortable one.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denis_Diderot

440px-Denis_Diderot_111

He wrote :

“My friends, keep your old friends”

I like it : it’s the contrary of what you’ll read everywhere! The whole world seems to associate success and freedom to speed, goals and ignoring of the old and the past. I like to think the other way.

I love the tools here.

  • Starting from scratch is maybe less effective than adding a room to the existing house.
  • We sometimes don’t need to “replace” things, but use what we comfortably have.

I found the Diderot story in a French Chantal Thomas book, “Café Vivre”, made of two or three pages chronicles.

It’s a good book if you learn French : texts are short, and full of frenchness, I suppose. Curiosity, a way of inventing slow moments to contemplate the world, traveling, culture, It’s a happy book !

She talks about Patti Smith and Roland Barthes, Hokusai, Sade and Saint Patrick, about New York city in spring, old houses on the French seashore, swimming and Canada.

What old friends will you keep?

Thanks for reading!

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