Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 5

Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 5

There’s one newsletter I follow, more professional, by the MIT, it’s here :

https://forms.technologyreview.com/coronavirus-tech-report/

***

Watched a duo, great movies : The Post (Spielberg – 2017), and All the President’s Men (Pakula – 1976), same newspaper (Washington Post), same executive editor (Ben Bradlee, by Tom Hanks and Jason Robards). Interesting concepts (freedom of the press, sources, decisions, investigation methods), strongly increased by this pleasure : comparison between the films. The bonuses on the Blu-rays are fantastic!

When the pleasure is in the comparison

In a way, the second movie is the following of the first, though it’s been directed 40 years before. I LOVE to couple movies, like Fellini‘s 8 1/2 and Allen‘s Stardust Memories. It can be a remake, or a ‘connected’ film – which is the case here.

***

When I was a teenager I suddenly understood why music was so… pleasantly toxic to me sometimes, with Ennio Morricone or Mike Oldfield for example. I know people love music for different reasons – energy, memories, genre, a voice, virtuosity, lyrics. My reason is the pleasure given by modulations.

I found an article in French, you don’t have to read it, just click on the two YouTube movies. The guy gives examples of typical “Floating Harmonies” invented by John Williams in Harry Potter or Indiana Jones. It’s here : https://compositiondemao.com/harmonies-flottantes/

You have have an… unexpected torsion in the middle of it, before it goes back to normal.

Williams does this all the time, it brings magic to a melody, therefore you can’t forget it. The Vader (The Imperial March) theme is based on this trick :

On this page ( https://www.leandrogardini.com/single-post/2017/02/12/The-Williams-Modulating-Themes ) , watch the Minority Report (first movie). His “Floating Harmonies” decisions make him modulate the melody (at 0’56”, 1’45”, 2,07″).

This makes me think that Morricone and Williams are the best movie music composers. This makes me adore Joni Mitchell, Mike Oldfield, Abba, Röyksopp, or… Puccini!

  1. Modulating Solos : The Pat Metheny Swervy Syndrome
  2. The Strong Liquors of Dissonances
  3. “Pick the Quarter Best”, a Quincy Jones pattern
  4. Passages, Modulations, Transitions
  5. The Abba/Puccini syndrome

Of course I’m interested in… what would be a modulation elsewhere, in poetry or architecture, literature or blogging…

***

So I read that Miles Davis is the Pablo Picasso of Jazz, like Federico Fellini is the Picasso of movie makers. If you’re bored, this is a trio : there’s material here for a couple of months.

***

Agnes Obel, again. In the vast terrible ocean of soft female voices with a piano, she’s with her cousin Vienna Teng. Here she sings with a male voice (which is herself with treatments), it’s delicate and sophisticated, and I love the mysterious lyrics…

Hmm, there are floating harmonies here, right?

For our love is a ghost that the others can’t see

***

My godfather passed on this week. It is a mess for the funeral (only 20 persons allowed). He was in his nineties, and he sometimes talked to me about when he was a kid when Germans occupied his village, the coming of the Americans after the D-Day in the summer of 1944. My father was an orphan when he was a little boy, and Ernest was next to him for years to help…

He’s the guy on the bike :

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Thanks for reading! Stay inside!

JP

What is Third Stream? – a personal uncharted territory

What is Third Stream? Let’s ask Wikipedia :

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

“Third Stream is a synthesis of jazz and classical music.”

Critics have argued that third stream—by drawing on two very different styles—dilutes the power of each in combining them. Others reject such notions and consider third stream an interesting musical development. In 1981, Schuller offered a list of “What Third Stream Is Not”:

It is not jazz with strings.
It is not jazz played on “classical” instruments.
It is not classical music played by jazz players.
It is not inserting a bit of Ravel or Schoenberg between bebop changes—nor the reverse.
It is not jazz in fugal form.
It is not a fugue played by jazz players.
It is not designed to do away with jazz or classical music; it is just another option amongst many for today’s creative musicians.

 

I’m interested because I love classical music and I don’t know contemporary jazz very well, but I think the “melting” genre can give interesting things, I’m excited by this personal uncharted territory (as a French, I always want to write “unmapped territory”).

I think about progressive rock (who probably encroaches upon this genre). The first label I thought about was ECM, but I found Rune Grammofon too. Of course, I find everywhere the reference of Bela Bartok, who collected and used old Magyar folk melodies…

ECM, a music label

It seems that today the genre is now 100,000 streams, like the Mississippi delta, a vast complex that has been fed by countless tributaries, with other musics, ethnic, folk, etc…

Let’s Google this. I find :

This last link casts wide, for repetitive/minimal to ECM to Miles Davis or Lalo Schifrin (who wrote the Mission Impossible theme).

Well, that’s just the beginning of a new exploration!

Like each time, some branches will displease us, but with a bit of luck, we’ll find a golden one.

 

Thanks for reading!

What did I Shazam recently? I suppose because of…

“What did you Shazam recently”, she asked?

Chimacum Rain – Linda Perhacs, I suppose because I liked how flowers of voices blossomed in the middle of this little whispering lazy folk.

 

Richard Hawley – The Ocean, I suppose because of the Tindersticks-like voice, and the crescendo, voilà.

 

Martha Tilston – The Waters of Tyne, I suppose because of the silver pointy voice, or the “little Irish tale I’ll sing for you” tone…

 

Whispering Sons – Alone, I suppose because of the sound of 80s, very Xymox, no?

 

Juliette Gréco – un petit poisson, un petit oiseau, I suppose because of this :

A little fish, a little bird
Loved each other with tender love
How to go about it
When you are in water

 

Schubert: Sonata For Arpeggione And Piano In A Minor, D.821, I suppose because Schubert with a guitar, it’s possibly good!

 

Andrea Motis – Louisiana O Els Camps De Coto, I suppose because, as it was “not enough”, I couldn’t stop listening until the end, though. That’s why.

 

The Internet – Wanna Be, I suppose because I’m not used to this sophistication in this music (listen to the bass, or the way it ends).

 

Bolerisch (From “Femme Fatale”) Ryuichi Sakamoto, I suppose because of these Sakamotoish strings, the modulations…

 

Elbow – Magnificent (She Says), I suppose it trapped me with the end. The bass & percs system is cool.

 

AIR – High Point, I suppose because it’s instrumental, modulating, comfortable and quiet.

 

LALO – Concerto russe pour violon et orchestre, Op. 29: II. Chants russes, I suppose because it… sings!

 

 

What I didn’t find : Havoun Havoun by Tigran Hamasyan, Für Lou by Oliver’s Cinema. Also I passed Indochine La Vie est Belle (the clip is violent).

Other options of Ran Blake, a Jazz pianist – an exploration

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I don’t like jazz that much, and I know why. I have too much empathy, and I put myself in the guy’s shoes TRYING to make his thing, I feel bad.

So, I opened my book about Jazz, page 206, randomly, to find Ran Blake, born in 1935, pianist. Never heard about him. You?

I kept him because of some elements I read : he worked with female singers, he was said to make “singular covers”, he has been a music teacher in Boston, he’s influenced by gospel, Monk, Prokofiev, Messiean, movie musics.

So here it is : I use my own method of exploration, which is to YouTube randomly around his name.

His solo piano style is very unique, with nonsense any old things invading old standards for seconds (Epistrophy), delicate memories framing ice water on broken tooth picks, suspended chords, splendid high notes, wobblings.

Comfy cool jazz is like drunk, invaded with errors, shaken memories, blurriness (Round Midnight), it’s like a dream where fast vignettes of remembrances dance around…

“Let’s Stays Together” is just delicious – though at many times you want to say “Hey, be careful!”. Walking on a string…

( see also Epistrophy : Reflections )

With Rave (trumpet) or Lacy, he brings… insecurities in mellow jazz :

This sounds like a confused memory of something we know…

The delicious fragile modulating waltz beginning and ending :

Tools here :

  1. It’s interesting to listen to someone who disturbs my tastes and tests my limits. Sometimes I say : “NO! Come on!”. Sometimes it’s just perfect. My brain begins to focus more, to think, to search, to be afraid maybe. It’s an interesting process.
  2. I discovered great singers, like Sara Serpa (which lead me to the lakes of voices of Naka Nishina), or Jeanne Lee (incredible somber voice).
  3. I have pleasure in analyze. For example, Blake loves the extreme high notes of the piano, which is rare. And one of his “tricks”, when he supports a female singer or a trumpet player, is to let the other one stay steady, like a tree. The piano player is NOT the solid base, he’s the one which wanders, which drifts…
  4. I discovered a Genre : “Third Stream“, a synthesis of jazz and classical music. This is funny because the Wikipedia article lead me to this tool of defining something by what it is not :

It is not jazz with strings.
It is not jazz played on “classical” instruments.
It is not classical music played by jazz players.
It is not inserting a bit of Ravel or Schoenberg between bebop changes—nor the reverse.
It is not jazz in fugal form.
It is not a fugue played by jazz players.
It is not designed to do away with jazz or classical music; it is just another option amongst many for today’s creative musicians.

Have fun! Thanks for reading!

Un article en français : https://www.lemonde.fr/musiques/article/2017/05/15/jazz-ran-blake-pianiste-de-passion-et-de-patience_5127752_1654986.html

How to build an Anthology?

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How to build an Anthology? #Jazz

Maybe you remember, I wrote an article about the fact that one book-lover could read only prefaces.

Imagine you have three hours free in a place full of books. You can pick one, or you can pick two dozens, reading prefaces only. That’s what I’d do, I think…

Yesterday I bought a book, “Jazz en 150 Figures”. It’s a great hardcover book, not about stars of this music, but about creative jazz.

This, alone, could be an article :

Choose a field (poetry, photography, history, etc), and don’t look for stars, but for creators. I reckon that they’re sometimes the same – but let’s focus on lesser-known explorers.

The foreword is one paged. The author asks What is an anthology? – to tell us, of course, what his book is NOT.

  1. It’s not a dictionary, concerned to be exhaustive – and being objective, boring.
  2. It’s not a kindWho’s who“, telling for example that a tired aged musician is as great as himself as a young explorer.
  3. It’s not an Almanach of an elite, made from a list from stardom status.
  4. It’s not a chronological retrospective.
  5. It’s not a ecumenical overview submitted to different kind of quotas.
  6. It’s not a chory monstrosity which tries to make an impression.

So here I am reading this book randompagely, discovering names like Jimmy Lions, Grachan Moncur III or Roscoe Mitchell… with YouTube.

Tools here are multiple :

  • Buying a good anthology, as a map do discover a universe you don’t know at all, or almost.
  • Thinking, when you build something, about what it should not be.
  • Reading prefaces only why not? Go to a library, then.
  • Which domain to dig, for creators?

OK, I’m now writing something about Ran Blake – you know him? Me neither!

Thanks for reading!

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https://www.udiscovermusic.com/stories/50-greatest-jazz-albums-ever/

https://www.jazzwise.com/features/article/the-100-jazz-albums-that-shook-the-world

https://www.senscritique.com/top/resultats/Les_meilleurs_albums_de_jazz/193105

Record Labels I remember

What are the Record Labels I remember?

 

ZTT (b.1983) was for Zang Tumb Tuum, Propaganda, Art of Noise, Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Great cover art, and sophisticated dance/pop music, with luxurious arrangements and production (Trevor Horn).

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4AD (b. 1980) : Dead Can Dance, Clan of Xymox, Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil. Sophisticated, English, great sleeves…

this-mortal-coil-filigree-shadow-lp.jpg

 

Virgin (1972 – Richard Branson). Mike Oldfield of course. Tangerine Dream. But also Simple Minds (New Gold Dream), Steve Hillage…

tangerine-dream-ricochet-lp-album-tan.jpg

Charisma (b 1969) : the sound of Genesis (and Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett). This progressive rock sound is sooo English!

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Mute (b 1978) : New wave! Depeche Mode, Yazoo, The Assembly, Laibach. The eighties were fascinating with this way of putting synths into pop music – Depeche Mode, for me, staying the best group of this era…

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Private Music (b. 1984) was founded by an ex-Tangerine Dream. It was New Age music, the American way – very digital, very “DDD”. It had clearly a sound, often too much sugar for me (too much reverb, too much synths, cf Yanni), but I found some pearls. Patrick O’Hearn. The minimalism & Fairlights of Sanford Ponder. Suzanne Ciani’s piano. The Art-of-Noisish David Van Tieghem. Lucia Hwong!

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EG : Fripp, Eno, Budd, but also Jon Hassel and Penguin Cafe Orchestra, this label is almost the fabric of my twenties. I listened to these sophisticated musics for hours…

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Factory (b 1978 in Manchester) : Durutti Column (Post-Rock before it ever existed), fragile, naive, so touching, and New Order. Both inexplicably haunting…

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Les Disques du Crépuscule (b 1980) : From Brussels with Love is a record I listened to thousands of time.

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Have fun! Thanks for reading!

 

New Sounds Hunger : Obel, Hval and Lola Marsh

 

Yum! I bought a FLAC reader and I walk with music since a few months. I knowww I could use my phone, but my reader is small like a credit card, and I really don’t want to use Deezer or Spotify. I want Flac, unaltered music, sound density.

I’m in my 50s and I admit I almost completely lost contact with the music of the time. So I explore a bit. Lists. YouTubes. “Best of the year” selections…

I listened a lot to Jon Bellion (The Human Condition, 2016), because I love his voice, his lyrics, and the fractured structures of his songs, a roller-coaster of sounds and surprises. A good example : Good Morning America.

Thus I listened a lot to AJR. Their hymnic energy, the quirky arrangements… and Bishop Briggs gives me a good telling off in each song! She’s intense!

I liked Agnes Obel‘s Riverside, but I am flabbergasted by the album Citizen of Glass (2016). Good trajectory, adding strangeness the her delicate-pop songs, cellos, odd sounds. Kate Bush could have been there. A good example : Familiar.

What is painful? When a group you adored presents new things and you don’t feel anything about it. St Vincent for me (lost her Bowie/Crimson energy, or Metric (lost the fractures & modulations.

I admit I’ve been tricked by some video-clips. Aldous Harding is a splendid example. Her clips put you in a fascinating state. I listened to her albums for weeks, slowly understanding that it lacked something (for me : harmonic risks).

But it stays way better than the gigantic list of “ladies whispering calm songs” haunting YouTube with slow motion Super-8 filtered low angled light clips. Pffff.

Sometimes it goes a bit too far on the other side : listen to Rose Elinor Dougall, elegant, icy, complicated, full of broken subtle harmonies. I’ve been able to float with her for hours, without catching a single song. Try though : A New Illusion.

Billie Eilish 2019? The production is fantastic! Whispering voices weaved with surinventive sounds, great bass lines, dirty electronics. It’s impressive!! I will follow her closely.

I listened endlessly to Blood Orange (Negro Swan 2018), luxury soul, intimate and clever, perfect sound, great voices. Example : “Take Your Time”, horizontal and fluted…

I’m interested in how groups use the eighties mood. Sharon Van Etten (Remind Me Tomorrow, 2019) shows a good use of synthetic sounds. How “No One’s Easy to Love” is slowly invaded by layers…

Jenny Hval? A girl from the North, could be Laurie Anderson working with Björk! In The Practice of Love (2019), “Lions”, or “High Alice”. Volutes of machines, spoken words, blurry arrangements…

The danger is real : it’s to wander in YouTube playlists and put all what you find in fast boxes : post Cocteau Twins in the water, interchangeable country groups, The Smiths copiers, melancholic idiots in cemeteries, NYC fringed happy sugar idiots…

My best finding of the day is Lola Marsh, a group from Israel. Waow! I have to go. Listening to this one in loop. Imagine a Lana Del Rey with nerve, all waken up…

 

How do you find your sound?

Have a nice day.

 

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What will you explore in the next 10 days?

What will you explore in the next 10 days?

 

• The best albums of Arvo Pärt? (or what’s the best version of Brahms 4)

https://www.gramophone.co.uk/feature/top-10-arvo-part-recordings

• Willa Cather‘s life? (or how Tennessee Williams is adapted in movies)

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

• Why the black in Pierre Soulages paintings? (or Picasso in the 1930s)

https://www.artsy.net/artist/pierre-soulages

• What does Aldous Harding sing? (or Rose Elinor Dougall)

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvYnfuCRhq6PRYK2MltekXA

• Is it the moment to explore Francis Ford Coppola‘s movies? (or Truffaut’s)

All 24 Francis Ford Coppola Movies Ranked From Worst To Best

• What are the elements of the Battle of Kursk? Waterloo?

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

 

Who else? Pinker? Kundera? Losey? Plath? Masina? Hosoda? Pinter? Doisneau?

What else? Poetry translators’ difficulties? History of Roma? Nietzsche’s last books? Russian cinema? French musicals? Brasil’s cooks? Best Puccini’s operas?

How do you get out of “reacting” in front of what’s talked today?

How to do it? Web searches? Biographies? Books? Documentaries? YouTube?

 

Thanks for reading!

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My 100 Best Tracks of the Decade

My 100 Best Tracks of the Decade (or 2009 if it’s too good), in no particular order :

  1. The Field – Over the Ice (Live)
  2. Röyksopp – Keyboard Milk
  3. Loney, Dear – Under a Silent Sea
  4. Trentemøller – Shades Of Marble (Live in Copenhagen)
  5. Rover – Tonight
  6. Marina & the Diamonds – Hermit The Frog
  7. Digitalism – Blitz
  8. The Bird And The Bee – Lifespan Of A Fly
  9. Tim Exile – Family Galaxy
  10. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Ballad Of The Mighty I
  11. Lily Allen – The Fear
  12. Hanne Hukkelberg – Pirate
  13. Vitalic – Under your sun
  14. Katie Melua – The Flood
  15. The Avener, Kadebostany – Castle In The Snow
  16. Astrix – Poison
  17. Baxter Dury – Palm Trees
  18. Tame Impala – Let It Happen
  19. Alt-J (∆) – Taro
  20. IAMX – Tear Garden
  21. Paul Kalkbrenner – Böxig Leise
  22. Jacco Gardner – Outside Forever
  23. The Dø – On My Shoulders
  24. The Republic Tigers – Buildings and Mountains
  25. Röyksopp – Running To The Sea
  26. Madness – Given The Oportunity
  27. Röyksopp feat. Robyn – Monument (The Inevitable End Version)
  28. MGMT – Siberian Breaks
  29. Dominique A – J’avais oublié que tu m’aimais autant
  30. Charlotte Gainsbourg – Ring-A-Ring O’ Roses
  31. Jon Bellion – Morning In America
  32. Kendrick Lamar – King Kunta
  33. Citizens! – True Romance
  34. Zero 7 – The Pageant of the Bizarre
  35. Blood Orange – Charcoal Baby
  36. The Internet – Come Over
  37. Blonde Redhead – Mind to be Had
  38. Agnes Obel – Riverside
  39. Woodkid – Run Boy Run
  40. Zedd – Beautiful Now ft. Jon Bellion
  41. Metric – Gimme Sympathy

(to be continued)

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The Strong Liquors of Dissonances

ONE

When I began to explore Classical Music, I read a lots of books and I listened (with appetite) to some spicy pieces : Stravinsky, Bartok, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, then French adventurers like Ravel or Debussy.

The Strong Liquors of Dissonances – the weird rhythms and sharp melodies of the Russians, the iridescences of the French – acted like a drug on my hungry brain.

I was with Berg and Webern in an awe!

TWO

Then, I tried to “descend” in time, without finding any pleasure in Berlioz, Tchaikovsky or Schubert, until I found Brahms and Bruckner. Having listened to many composers, from Bach, Mozart and Beethoven to Sibelius, Penderecki and Boulez, my ears are skilled enough now to determine the century a music is from.

Style, but also the way the composer plays with harmonies – this is where my pleasure is.

Brahms sounded like Beethoven, with a deeper, risky way of using modulations. His concertos (piano, violin) often put me in ecstasy!

Less “risky” than the guys of XXth Century, but with strength, and like a brown clay river. Earthy! Terrestrial!

The vast desert lands of Sibelius. The cathedrals of Bruckner…

THREE

I explored a lot more, finding treasures in interstices : Franck, Roussel, Martinu, Koechlin, Hindemith, Walton, Holst. New forms. Liquors!

And I found Puccini, with this misunderstanding : he’s popular, some melodies are easy, but he’s very subtle and complex… down under. I have been completely intoxicated by this mix of Italian “singing” and the crazy modulations he streams under it.

FOUR

And here’s my tool : I realize I’m now digging for more subtle things. Slight changes in harmonies (Schubert’s 9th). Complex forests to explore (Mahler). Less Whisky, more great wines.

 

Where else?

Thanks for reading

 

 

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Coffee & Music : Cycles

ONE

A few centuries ago, you had no coffee in bed in the morning – and I seriously wonder how were people doing without it!

A long time ago some guys in Africa realized it was cool to get these little red seeds, then burn them a little before making this cool black beverage. Coffeeeee…

It came to Italy, then France, then England, you know the rest…

I heard about the three waves of coffee :

  1. Black coffee : cheap, sold and consumed everywhere.
  2. Starbucks culture, making coffee a candy mess with caramel, chocolate, cream…
  3. A need to come back to simple black coffee with a knowledge of origins, ethics, taste subtleties : specialty coffee.

TWO

Before the invention of recording, the music you had is the music you or people played.

It’s been a climbing :

  • Came vinyl, then LPs. From mono came stereo, waow!
  • Hi-Fi has been the word, for a few decades : the goal was to get a better sound.
  • Compact Disc came : better dynamics, no clicks and pop, no pre-echo…

Then a fall :

  • MP3 and other “compressed” sound, a music disaster.
  • Then “the return of the vinyl”, which is like this :

LPEPsales2

What I expect today, like for coffee, is a… public sudden understanding that the quality of recorded music IS important. The tools already exist, with Blu-ray audios, or portable players which can play FLAC and other uncompressed music.

THREE

So the structure is easy, it’s a three parts process :

  1. Discovery, then mass market (a cup of black coffee homemade / a good CD)
  2. Decadence, quality collapse (Starbucks horror / vinyl, mp3 or YouTube)
  3. Rebirth with high-end products for everybody (a cup of good black coffee / high definition music)

Where to apply this triplebranch? Politics? Economy? Fashion? Literatures?

Thanks for reading!

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Hurt & Beguiled (by a masterpiece)

The Godfather movies (Coppola) or 8 1/2 (Fellini), Proust or Faulkner, Brückner’s 9th or Puccini, some Picasso or Manet’s paintings, some photographs, a poem…

There are many things we can feel in front of Art, from grief to enthusiasm, by way of curiosity or puzzlement.

(I had to check dictionaries to find the differences between puzzled, confused, or bewildered – it led me to… “beguiled”, which helps me here…)

A good movie or music makes you happy or entertains you. It triggers emotions. Good!

But some masterpieces hurt you, because they install in you a whole living pack of energies. Ideas, but also a big need to achieve something, to move, to act. You are… beguiled!

Suddenly you stand up and you have to do something. You got an understanding, a rush. You have a urgent need to know more about the author, or the piece of work which just floored you. It hurts!

You want to tell everybody about it, then you’re more hurt, because many people you know wouldn’t understand any of it, probably. Then you dream to lecture them, to explain!

It’s an enrichment, but also a great source of energy, which can supply you ideas and needs of informations or creativity – for months.

It happened to me, with many Chekhov’s texts, David Lean’s movies, Manet’s paintings, Eggleston’s pictures, with Visconti’s The Leopard, with Bergman’s Fanny & Alexander, with Wyatt’s Rock Bottom, etc…

This pattern is one of the sources of this blog.

What do you think? What are yours?

Thanks for reading!

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Fraternal Miniaturists Architects

I just read a J. Drillon article comparing two skills (or can I say, “talents”, “assets”?) of Beethoven and Schubert.

Schubert is described as a fantastic composer of melodies. A melody for him is a perfect little thing, like a poem verse, closed in a shell.

But unlike Beethoven, who will from a melody build fabulous architectures, Schubert will wear himself out. It’s not where his talent is.

As he needs to develop, he will repeat, vary, remodel, dwell on.

Voilà, here’s my structure :

If you’re good in little forms, or fast things, what will  you do with bigger things?

And should even you begin? And if you have to, what are the paths in front of you?

If you’re a poet, what do you do with a novel to write? (Faulkner is a perfect example of a success in this passage). If you’re a photographer, what do you do with a movie? (Puzzle of a Downfall Child, from Jerry Schatzberg, is a splendid movie). Waging war, how can a good strategist become a good tactician?

What I’m interested in is this : if you’re a master of little forms, what should you develop to be good in bigger forms?

There’s a whole conversation to lead with that : Use your weaknesses? Dare more? Be casual? Ask for help? Avant-garde? Stop? Cheat?

What about Schubert, this “genius of exquisite miniatures”? For his symphonies, he makes some long with some short, and it is… imperfection! And it moves us : it makes his art… fraternal. He’s like us. It’s hard, but he makes it. Voilà.

Thanks for reading!

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Musical Genres & Gorgeousities

Musical Genres & Structures : that was a lovely title, right? I changed it though…

It came to me in the shower, thinking about my “Best Albums of 2018” researches.

  1. I found many musics, soul, rap, indie rock, folk, metal, jazz…
  2. I found many shades of complexity, from simple to fractured or dissonant.

So I can draw an orthonormal coordinate system :

  • Horizontal would be “Complexity” (fractured, dissonant, too much something (too slow, too molten))
  • Vertical would be “Pleasure”.

So it becomes a cloche, a bell, a dome.

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On the left, things like Cat Power, Wanderer. Choose anything, you’ll be “Ah, OK”. A “gorgeous” voice, some quiet melancholy, piano, etc. Predictible thus boring. And everybody LOVES her. It’s not the genre (I am very found of Vienna Teng), but the absolute no invention/no surprise. Harmonically poor. Lazy structures & production. “She is art”, I read on YouTube. MMmmmh she’s not.

On the right end of the cloche, Sophie lost me. Too dissonant, too fractured. I need more structure, even in a multi-layered complex harmonically track like this. Like in the proliferant Tim Exile‘s Family Galaxy

So what’s in the bell?

Esperanza Spalding, 12 Little Spells makes me focus : What’s happening here? Go to 1’40”, or just listen to the intro. It’s like Science put into folk or soul. Harmonically risky (exhausting), it’s all about to lose me, but as it’s constantly snakily keeping me back into pleasure (modulations). Typical : I maybe dislike, but I wanna go back to it, and I’ll finish poisoned and in love.

Oh OK I love gorgeous soul, a bit sophisticated like Blood Orange or The Internet “Hive Mind”. It’s not risky, it’s just well done. Ah, I found this : “…is making me wanting to wear some lingerie and just dance on front of a mirror” – I’m not a girl but I understand this well. The modulation (0’40”), the bass, the production…

I kept AAL, US Girls, Let’s Eat Grandma and Mistsi… All in the cloche, not too predictable, but far from avant-garde either.

I wanted to finish this article with the idea that “I seek complexity in music”, more than simplicity, but I think that’s wrong.

I do love Annie Clark’s St Vincent, which is complex pop, but my two loves are Blonde Redhead and Röyksopp, which are skilled musicians with gorgeous harmonies. Hmmm… complex chords and modulations? Mike Oldfield, where are you?

I do prefer Bartok and Stravinsky than Mozart, and I explored the oceans of complexity of Mahler, a lot, but the composers I love most are Puccini and Brahms. It’s less complicated than Boulez, but it’s harmonically gorgeous.

It makes me think again about that : why do people love music? Energy? Lyrics? Warmth? Being in love with the singer? Virtuosity? Remembrance?

If you had to choose your best albums of 2018, what would you seek? One genre only, or one structure (like : great lyrics, big energy, danceability), which you could find anywhere?

Tool :

Choose your field : movies, books, sports. What is your coordinate system? What does it become?

Thanks for reading!

Best Albums 2018?

I googled “Best Albums 2018” and clicked on ten pages, with 50 or 40 albums each time.

It’s a fast zapping exercise (I need 10 seconds to know I don’t like – my platitude and clichés detector is very accurate – what’s more horrible than lazy folk?).

Here’s what tickled my ears :

Kamasi Washington, a jazz music I could explore and love.

Skee Mask is a bit too much “abstract techno” for me, but I kept listening…

Blood Orange, a luxury soul sound, made me listen to the whole album.

The Internet got me “wait whatting” all along : great bass, production, slight dissonances… I’m client for neo-soul…

Against all Logic almost lost me, but each time something was happening in the music to keep me listening.

Let’s Eat Grandma, or Arctic Monkeys, U.S. Girls, Mitski – mmh, we’ll see.

Sometimes it’s too deconstructed (I heard this pain in jazz, rap, soul), but the boundaries are interesting. Like with Esperanza Spalding. Like in “12 Little Spells” : dangerous harmonies, quietly dancing with the vocal melody…

Spent time exploring : Mitski, Blood Orange, The Internet. You? What are you albums of 2018?

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Purposed Mistakes & Vague Intensitites : Chronicle 55

OOOOO

I found a great Facebook page, I had to ask them how to sign up, and then they asked me three questions before accepting. The first one was simple :

“Who are you?”.

I thought about it for a few seconds then I answered : “An haecceitist”

– which mean nothing, I agree, but I explained.

What is asked here? My job? My age? Who am I, really? Along the day, I’m

  • a dad
  • a mammal
  • a solitary man
  • a watcher
  • a photographer
  • a musician
  • an heterosexual
  • an ex
  • an internaut
  • a walker
  • a reader
  • a blogger
  • a hungry man
  • a reader
  • a quiet guy
  • a sleeper
  • a lover
  • a bookseller
  • a cook

…and many other things, right? Plugging to possibilities. See “Haecceity”

When one answers to the question “Who are you”, one lies. We are legion.

OOOOO

When I hear someone who has a job and makes plenty other things than what the job should be, I’m in alert mode. I don’t know why. There’s something wrong. The accident is near.

OOOOO

Dominique A is a French singer who has a trait I love : his chant sometimes gets out the harmony, which creates a tension before it “comes back” in proper harmony. Chords live their life, they do what they should do. The voice dances with and into it, but a single word can, at times, places itself out of what it should be. It’s like a smart and slightly irritating way of modulating…

I’m obsessed by that.

  1. My musical brain suffers a bit because it’s wrong, and at the same time wishes and craves to fix it – thus I often hum the “correct” note over the singer. I like this movement.
  2. My musical analysis flow stands up, listens carefully and wait, kind of desperately, the return of “harmony”, the… resolution of this.

It’s the last word of each verse’s first sentence here :

I’d like to think about this as a tool. How could I pattern it?

Take a classic form (a photo, a poem, an advertising, a recipe, a song, a painting). Add a… purposed mistake, which “annoys” the form and the frame, then resolve it.

It’s just an example of strangeization.

OOOOO

The pleasure in Proust is : he knew how to define everything.

OOOOO

It’s true. Some musics you listened too much become flat, no taste. Some months later, you take a CD (or you just find the folder on your Macintosh), and the weaving is magic again. This just happened to me with Röyksopp’s

OOOOO

The music we play / The music we listen to.

OOOOO

Were the Romans the Americans of Antiquity?

OOOOO

Charles Baudelaire :

Que les fins de journées d’automne sont pénétrantes ! Ah ! pénétrantes jusqu’à la douleur ! car il est de certaines sensations délicieuses dont le vague n’exclut pas l’intensité ; et il n’est pas de pointe plus acérée que celle de l’Infini.

How penetrating is the end of an autumn day! Ah, yes, penetrating enough to be painful even; for there are certain delicious sensations whose vagueness does not prevent them from being intense; and none more keen than the perception of the Infinite.

Have a nice day! Thanks for reading!

Trent_Parke_Jurien_Tree

Trente Parke

Prog Rock Ecstasies

Traumatized by Mike Oldfield as a teen, I since explored many musics (and I’ve sold records for 12 years). Today I can spend weeks listening to Mahler, then ECM, then icy electro like The Field, Math Rock or Indie musics.

Pushing a lever in music : The Field

I often come back to prog rock, Progressive Music, things like Genesis, Yes or Pink Floyd.

Wikipedia helps me :

“Progressive music is music that attempts to expand existing stylistic boundaries associated with specific genres of music”.

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

Yes there’s some Progressive Jazz – you can put that anywhere : intelligent techno, post punk or math rock, progressive house. And isn’t Stravinsky’s some progressive music?

OK : sophistication.

I always read that punk rock appeared “against” sophistication of Symphonic Rock, with often came with boring elements : endless keyboard solos, dumb mystical lyrics and so on. Simplicity came back with a hammer…

What if Pixies or Talking Heads were… progressive energy into punk energy?

So from time to time I plunge. An old Yes or Genesis album makes my day. Or some pearls from King Crimson.

OK. Listening to Stan Kenton now (progressive big band, hmmm?).

A good start : http://www.progarchives.com/

 

What would be progressive (…) (poetry, teaching, marketing, photography) – which doesn’t mean avant-garde… ?

Thanks for reading!

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Oldfield’s Amarok

To talk about Mike Oldfield‘s Amarok makes me feel I have to show a metal rock lover that Puccini’s Manon Lescaut is amazing. Therefore I try.

Oldfield is known for Tubular Bells (1973) and one hit (Moonlight Shadow – 1983).

His wiki talks about Virgin, Warner then Mercury years, but I see this career as a struggle between the Tubular Bells source (long complex and rich progressive instrumentals) and the… need to sell more albums.

His greatest albums are the first ones, with little good things in Discovery or Tubular Bells II & III. The whole pack, since, is absolutely bad (and it stays a mystery to me, harmonically, I mean). The good albums :

Tubular Bells (1973)
Hergest Ridge (1974)
Ommadawn (1975)
Incantations (1978)
Platinum (1979)
QE2 (1980)
Five Miles Out (1982)
Crises (1983)
The Killing Fields (1984)
Amarok (1990)

Amarok was the last album he had to do for Virgin, which he… made it a sabotage (it’s all explained in the wiki) :

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amarok_(Mike_Oldfield_album)

“a single sixty-minute track of continuous, uninterrupted but constantly changing music”

  • Yes, a bit like Puccini’s music (hundreds of little facets of music).
  • Disturbing or crazy events and noises (hits of orchestra, beer can opening, teeth brushing).
  • Complex and even sometimes difficult harmonies.
  • Gigantic crescendos, like the one in the middle, Ommadawnesque.
  • Fabulous harmonies, reverse sounds, and other chaotic pleasures.
  • Spoons, shoes, a vacuum cleaner, next to acoustic bass guitar, acoustic guitar, banjo, bass guitar, bass whistles, bouzouki, bell tree, bodhran, bowed guitar, cabasa, classical guitar, electric guitars, organs, Flamenco guitar, glockenspiel, high-string guitar, jaw harp, kalimba,mandolin, marimba, melodica, Northumbrian bagpipes, penny whistles, percussion, piano, psaltery, rototom, sitar guitar (a Coral electric sitar), spinet, timpani, tubular bells, twelve-string guitar, ukulele, violin, vocals, and wonga box.

 

So imagine a one hour record, made of 784 little pieces of great music, sewed with disturbing machines, almost impossible to listen – but if you do, you reach a pile of as many music orgasms as the number of fingers you have.

Yes it’s cousin to Royksopp. Harmonically, I mean. This is a science.

 

The pattern is :

“A great artist is about, in a crazy move driven by huge work, to build a BIG SICK MASTERPIECE that almost NO ONE can appreciate, except a handful of connoisseurs”.

 

Well, you can try the end, which is a triple monster crescendo. Go to 44:15, put your headphones on, and listen loud.

Tell me what you think in the comments.

Have a nice day!

 

 

Hello everyone
I suppose you think that nothing much is happening at the moment
Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha
Well, that’s what I want to talk to you all about; endings
Now, endings normally happen at the end
But as we all know, endings are just beginnings
You know, once these things really get started, it’s jolly hard to stop them again
However, as we have all come this far, I think, under the circumstances
The best solution is that we all just keep going
Let’s keep this going in sight, never an ending
Let’s remember that this world wants fresh beginnings
I feel here, in this country, and throughout the world,
we are crying out for beginnings, beginnings
We never want to hear this word “endings”
I know we all want to sit down
I know you want to take it easy
Of course we’re looking for the good
Of course we’re looking for the fresh start

 

 

Strangeization of Mainstream : Soldiers (ABBA song)

Eight and final studio album : The Visitors.

“Soldiers” is a strange song, a frightening one. A strange 6/4 drum beat, gorgeous and modulating synth strings (appreciate the fantastic out of tonality/back to it B -> Bm while “In the pale moonlight”), a haunting guitar, a splendid round bass line…

Well, it’s the best Abba album for me. A twilight. They knew it would be the last. It’s this fantastic braid of abba-istic gorgeousity AND risky or sad harmonies and lyrics. Sick songs…

The tool here is a recipe :

  1. Take a mainstream form : people expect something
  2. Add complexity or unexpected moods you never find normally in THAT form

 

It’s an old structure : do not add intensity, but complexity. Where will you do that?

Thanks for reading!

 

Let’s call this Strangeization of Mainstream…

A Matter of Levers

Sick Songs of Abba & Bee Gees

Fm Do I hear what I Cm think Im hearing
Fm Do I see the signs I Cm think I see
D Or is it just fantas E y  Fm
Is it true that the Cm7 beast is waking
Fm Stirring in his restless Cm7 sleep tonight
In the pale moon B light Bm
Fm In the grip of this c Cm7 old December
Fm You and I have reasonE to remember
Do I hear what I think I’m hearing
Do I see the signs I think I see
Or is this just a fantasy
Is it true that the beast is waking
Stirring in his restless sleep tonight
In the pale moonlight
In the grip of this cold December
You and I have reason to remember
Soldiers write the songs that soldiers sing
The songs that you and I don’t sing
They blow their horns and march along
They drum their drums and look so strong
You’d think that nothing in the world was wrong
Soldiers write the songs that soldiers sing
The songs that you and I won’t sing
Let’s not look the other way
Taking a chance
Cause if the bugler starts to play
We too must dance
What’s that sound, what’s that dreadful rumble
Won’t somebody tell me what I hear
In the distance, but drawing near
Is it only a storm approaching
All that thunder and the blinding light
In the winter night
In the grip of this cold December
You and I have reason to remember
Soldiers write the songs that soldiers sing
The songs that you and I don’t sing
They blow their horns and march along
They drum their drums and look so strong
You’d think that nothing in the world was wrong
Soldiers write the songs that soldiers sing
The songs that you and I won’t sing
Let’s not look the other way
Taking a chance
Cause if the bugler starts to play
We too must dance
Soldiers write the songs that soldiers sing
The songs that you and I won’t sing
Let’s not look the other way
Taking a chance
Cause if the bugler starts to play
We too must dance
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