Friday, April 27, 2007

The Great Orchestra in the Sky

RIP, Mstislav Rostropovich, brilliant cellist and conductor, tireless advocate of twentieth-century music. We'll miss you, Maestro.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Metal in the Ground Beef

Meatwad sure did rock out on his toy guitar in ATHFCMFFT (if you have to ask, never mind).

Factoid: his guitar (pictured above) is an off-brand product from China that was recalled in the US because kids could pick off the parts and swallow them. Careful, Meatwad!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

What Are All Those Lines and Spaces?

In music school, I had to learn to read in seven clefs. This allowed me to transpose at sight, i.e., to read and play a piece instantly in a different key from the one it was written in.

But I have just discovered , which sells legal downloads of sheet music. Once you buy a file, you can ask your computer to transpose the printed music for you, and even to play it aloud so you can learn it by ear.
So save your educational dollars, people: you don't need to learn to read music anymore. And the only clef we need is the one in Superman's chin.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Take That Back

At first I was pleased that Robbie Williams might hook back up with his re-formed first band, Take That. Old Robbie's just out of rehab, and his solo work isn't burning up the UK charts like it used to, so maybe this would give him some direction, thought I.

Then I listened to a few tracks by Take That, in both their '90s and 2007 incarnations. Trite, stupid, waste of time. Robbie can be schmaltzy and self-obsessed at his worst, but clever, moving, and gloriously raunchy at his best. He deserves a better gig.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Bowie does Bayreuth

He may have outgrown his Nazi obsession by the early 80's, but David Bowie still exhibited some pretty unsettling intimations of white supremacy, least subtly in the ultra-creepy "China Girl" video. Yet there's another Wagneresque streak in Bowie that is less discussed:

Wagner's theory of Gesamtkunstwerk, claiming that a person (read: a German) should be able to create and control every aspect of an artwork, seems alive and well in Bowie's approach to composing and performing, minus the Germanocentrism.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Telly Time Loop

The BBC revival of Doctor Who is now in its third season, and it's being handled brilliantly. [Logos from 1973 and 2005 are shown.] The single best decision made about the new series, however, was to keep the original theme music, written by Ron Granier in 1963. It's preserved with its wacky, out-of-date synth wobbles and all. Hurray for the BBC Drama Department! (And hurray for the American PBS stations that are now starting to run the series commercial-free.)

Monday, April 2, 2007

Musical Jools

Ya know what's wrong with America? If Jools Holland lived here, he would not get his own weekly TV show.

Later ... with Jools Holland, on the BBC, is the perfect music variety show, and Holland is the perfect host for three reasons:
1) He encourages young artists, and places them alongside long-time pros;
2) He believes that music is a participatory sport, and often augments a guest's performance with his considerable keyboard skills;
3) He always seems sincerely thrilled to be there.

Long life to Later, and to Jools!