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

(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!