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!

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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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