Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Last Post of 2010: Christmas, and Report on This Blog

This may (or not) be the last posting for 2010, so I just thought I’d stick in a couple of random musical thoughts (I don’t think I need to call them “neuron firings” again; I’ve said that too many times…)

1. “Experimental” Christmas Music

I thought that I’d do a posting on this, but didn’t get any time to write it. Here, at any rate, are a couple of ideas. I mentioned the Messiaen “20 Aspects of the Baby Jesus” in a previous posting; this is indeed “different” from the standard piano playing of Christmas standards (i.e. in hotel lobbies during this season). I’d like to hear this instead, sometime! There also exists a “Little Suite for Christmas” by George Crumb, in the same vein, but darker and using a number of Crumb’s inside piano techniques (I’ll concede that Christmas music probably shouldn’t be dark). It has a rendition of the “Coventry Carol” in the middle, mostly monophonic and plucked.

Another one is the interlude, “For the Birth of Christ”, from the African Sanctus by David Fanshawe. Predating music with digital samples, this uses Fanshawe’s own recordings of traditional African music but is mostly a large “classical” work for chorus, piano, and rock band. Some of it sounds oddly dated now (like a 1960’s rock opera that never quite got going) but this interlude is worth listening to. Both relaxing and tense, the piano adds an atonal accompaniment to a love song from Sudan. In the original vinyl release, the love song was panned too far to one direction and the piano too far to the other, and they switched sides in the middle (an unnecessary and unnerving special effect); but that was fixed on the CD reissue.

Some “pop” oddities: There’s a full-orchestral Christmas tune by Japanese folk-rocker Reimy (on her self-titled first album; her barely-controlled childlike voice stands out in sharp, weird contrast to that grand accompaniment), and Bob Dylan did a Christmas CD. I checked out the latter from the library, asking the question: What happens when everybody’s favorite non-singer and arguably the last of the beatnik poets decides to take on Christmas carols? Answer: not much. It just sounds like anybody’s cantankerous but loveable great-granddad wheezing Christmas songs in a karaoke bar. Charming in its way, but definitely not classic Dylan. (Maybe he meant it to be ironic; but ironically, the irony is lost.)

Last, and probably least, there's my own piece "Angelconcert" on my CD "PianoSphere".

2. Report on this blog:

The most-read postings, in order: Concert Review, Eye Music (Sept. 19, 2010); Sound Installation Review: Steve Peters (Sept. 14, 2010); and CD Reviews: Boretz, Lierman, Improvised Music Festival (Oct. 30, 2010).

Least-read postings: Max’d Out Cartoons (Dec. 17, 2010), and the Free Downloads (Sept. 1, 2010). I don’t know what this means. I thought the cartoons were funny, and the free downloads are in fact free (also they don’t contain viruses, and you can delete them if you don’t like them). Probably something about the way internet traffic is being routed to (or away from) these postings…

There are also these weird spikes in activity: sometimes I find that suddenly 97 or 102 people in Malaysia or Latvia or Mozambique looked at my blog all within two minutes of each other. It’s happened roughly four times a month (six in September). What gives? It’s too quick for one person to discover it and then e-mail a link to all of his/her friends. Maybe it’s just a glitch in the Blogger software…? Or does this blog rotate onto a “next blog” list in some places periodically?

3. What's Up Next Year?

Obviously, there's the concert (May 21) of the complete "StormSound" Cycle. Also, I have a concert scheduled for Thursday, February 4, at the Good Shepherd Center, but I haven't completely planned it out yet. I'm working on a new piece for it, one of the old "SoundScrolls" series. And, I'd like to get those "New Music in the Library" concerts going again.

Well, that’s it. Signing off for now. If I don’t post anything else before next year, Merry Christmas to anyone who’s reading this, and Happy New Year.

(This posting is Christmas Day, 2010; 150 days until the first performance of the complete "StormSound" Cycle.)

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