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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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