Posts Tagged ‘music’
August 2, 2016 | by Anthony Madrid
You really can’t tell what a song is going to look like until you type it, and that fact itself is interesting to me. When you listen to a song, for instance, you don’t know whether its “stanzas” are in quatrains or tercets or what. The stanzas and line breaks you install when you type the lyrics simply were not there before you typed them. They were not in your head, and they were not really in the song either.
You discover all kinds of things. For example, I recently typed up the words to Cream’s “White Room” (1968). Before doing that, I didn’t know that the song does not rhyme. If someone had asked me if it rhymed, I would’ve had to sing it to find out. It somehow seems like it rhymes? But how is that possible.
I go around telling people that 99 percent of songs rhyme. Is that true? It might not be. Maybe songs all seem like they rhyme, but when you actually check … ? Read More »
July 20, 2016 | by Alison Kinney
On the Voyager Mission.
This summer, we’re introducing a series of new columnists. Up this week is Alison Kinney, whose column, Songs to the Moon, is a series on fandom and how the music, art, and artifacts of opera transform cultures and desires. — Ed.
If the inhabitants of other stars should spot the Voyager 1 interstellar probe zooming past—if they capture it and assemble its onboard audio player—and if they have ears to hear, they might puzzle over this message from the Queen of the Night (translated here from German):
The vengeance of hell boils in my heart,
Death and despair blaze around me!
Perhaps these German-speaking aliens will visit Earth to eradicate the threat posed by Mozart’s 1791 aria. Or maybe they’ll thrill to the prospect of subscribing to the Bavarian State Opera, only to discover that the soprano Edda Moser, who performed the recording they’d heard, had retired five billion years earlier, in 1999. Read More »
June 7, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
- Our editor Lorin Stein talks to Frederick Seidel about his poems, his persona, and the kind of seedy back-alley porn shops you just can’t find in London anymore: “I think it’s too bad, but unsurprising, that this myth of the beautifully outfitted, elegant, elegantly sinister, Baudelaire sort of fellow striding and sliding down the streets of New York has become a way of not talking about the poems. Some reviewers over the years have liked that figure, liked summoning him up. He doesn’t exist, and isn’t really in the poems. Baudelaire is a hero of mine. Baudelaire and how he did it is of great interest. But this persona does get in the way, I think … Personally, I enjoy someone saying to me: I very much enjoyed that poem, I was moved by that poem, that poem really surprised me. I like the simplicity of statements of that sort. I understand they do not a review make, however large their meaning may be, or however much they may contain.”
- Because even hell must have a sound track, there is music playing at Penn Station, and someone is responsible for managing the playlist. Bizarrely enough, that unenviable task falls to three women in a windowless office in Austin, Texas: “Amy Frishkey, one of the programmers, understands the otherness of picking the music that people hear between the train-boarding announcements … The puny-sounding speakers at Penn Station play a stream of classical pieces along with ‘easy instrumentals’ that sound like dentist-office arrangements, mostly contemporary piano and guitar solos—and, one afternoon last month as the evening rush was approaching, a Sinatra hit that seemed to have been arranged for French horn. The result is a Beethoven quartet one minute, something vaguely New Age the next … ‘It’s almost as if you’re trying to D.J. the world’s largest wedding reception,’ Danny Turner, Ms. Frishkey’s boss, said. But it is a reception without a bride or groom, and the 650,000 people who pass through Penn Station every day do not dance to the music.”
- In 1947, a small magazine asked Ralph Ellison if he’d want to do a photo essay on Harlem’s Lafargue Psychiatric Clinic, which had made a name for itself by standing against segregation. Ellison and the photographer Gordon Parks took the assignment, but the magazine soon folded—and so their work is only now coming to light. Vinson Cunningham writes: “In a conceptual note, outlining what he called the project’s ‘pictorial problem,’ Ellison wrote that Parks’s prints ‘must present scenes that are at once both document and symbol; both reality and (for the reader) psychologically disturbing “image.” ’ Parks’s ingenious solution to this ‘problem’—which, essentially, is a re-articulation of what we mean by photographic art—can be seen in an image of a shadow-shrouded man walking in an alley. Before him sit huge, indiscriminate mounds of rubble. Lines of white laundry hang far above his head, between tenement fire escapes. Light travels from the upper corner of the composition, softly through the drying clothes, then slantingly toward the camera’s eye, making the man little more than a silhouette while—somewhat paradoxically—throwing every detail of a nearby wall into sharp, sculpted relief.”
- Today is Prince’s birthday—the Minnesota governor has declared it Prince Day, and I’m wearing my Purple Rain T-shirt. “The Morning Papers,” a collection at Media Diversified, invites writers of color and Prince devotees to reflect on his legacy. Tanuja Desai Hidier, who was many moons ago an intern at the Review, remembers him in the poem “Zindagi bhar nahin bhoolegi woh Purple barsaat ki raat”: “Pulsing purple Om. / Love symbol. Id. / Strumming us home: / A compass. The Kid.” And in “Camille Ain’t Dead, Honey,” Gemma Weekes mulls on his death: “We remembered all his talk about the Spooky Electric. Some of us thought The Kid was irresponsible and that the Spooky Electric was a train he’d jumped on in the middle of the night, taking him off to some traitorous adventure elsewhere. He’d not read section 3, passage 33 of the Town Rules that stipulated he choose a successor before quitting city limits … A growing percentage theorized that The Spooky Electric was a It wanted his light. It wanted to stop his light from spreading, so The Kid was kidnapped, or scrubbed free of glitter and buried under a thousand layers of darkness.”
- In which Diana Hamilton embarks on a journey to define “fictional poetry”: “I realized I had never been writing about ‘postconceptual poetry’ at all, but about something I started to call ‘Fictional Poetry’—i.e., poetry that uses the style, plot, characterization, or forms of fiction … Key to this sense of the ‘fictional’ is a quality of aboutness that prevents overemphasis on form—and on the repetition of the forms that often characterizes the appearance of schools—and especially resists the belief that the shape a poem takes, rather than its ‘topic,’ is always the source of its politics / interestingness / literariness / purpose. Instead, the books I want to write about don’t mind being about things … A lot of contemporary poetry does not deal very directly with its ‘content’; or rather, it seems contentless. Most things that pass for poems today are list poems without knowing it: by trying to focus on the lyrical image’s mediation of reference, they become mere collections of images that pride themselves on their irrelevance.”
May 20, 2016 | by The Paris Review
In 1925, Alfred Stieglitz began a series of moody, diminutive photographs of cloud patterns (abstracted, they resembled curls and skeins of smoke); he called it Songs of the Sky, before later changing it to Equivalents. He showed the images to his friend, the composer Ernest Bloch, who, according to Stieglitz, declared it to be music. Partly in response to his friend’s photographs, Bloch composed “Poems of the Sea.” A show at Bruce Silverstein Gallery takes its name from Stieglitz’s series and presents five pairings of art and music, including Stieglitz/Bloch. The idea is to listen to a piece of music while looking at artworks that were inspired either by that composition, that composer, or by music more generally. Though it’s not always convincing, the idea of having two mediums respond and react to and provoke one another is intriguing. I love Frederick Sommer’s ink drawings of musical notation (they’re hieroglyphs and also stacked Futurist cityscapes), but his coupling with Chris Washburne is too on the nose. The obliqueness of Lisette Model’s photographs of people’s shadows resonates well with Arnold Schoenberg’s atonal Pierrot lunaire. My favorite, though, may be Aaron Siskind’s black-and-white photographs of male bodies tumbling through space set to a string-quartet arrangement of John Cage’s delicate, gorgeous Cheap Imitation: neither transcends its medium, but instead seems more acutely, more exquisitely itself. —Nicole Rudick
I spent some time this week on websafe2k16.com, an Internet project dedicated to cataloging memories of the early web. Built by three artists—Ben Sisto, Josephine Livingstone, and Joe Bernardi—the “literary/graphic” project asks writers to draw inspiration from one of the 216 web-safe color codes, such as the offending #66FF33 or the wistful #0099CC, writing personal recollections in 216 words. I scrolled through Web Safe’s rainbow grid, reading lyric memories about the conversant gargle of dial-up (Andrew Blevins, #CC6600), multiplayer computer games (Adrian Chen, #33CC00), LiveJournal (Anna Weiner, #003366), and other relics of the early web. Colors in the palette regularly inspire memories of braces and prom, group chats and forums. I wondered, reading about MySpace and MSN, what the colors of the early Internet trigger for me. Maybe Ask Jeeves, the first man in my life to whom I never could ask the right questions. Or Xanga, where I lurked on blogs written by my classmates. Or maybe Machu Picchu, an obscure nineties computer game I’ve lost nearly all memory of and haven’t ever found again. All that’s left is the name, and the bellow of nostalgia. —Caitlin Love Read More »
May 13, 2016 | by Sadie Stein
At a coffee shop, standing on line (because I’m a New Yorker, and for some reason that’s where we stand with lines—on them, never in them), I began to cry. This in itself was not so extraordinary—the mascara has not yet been invented that’s proof against my tears—but this jag happened to be music related. The José Gonzalez cover of “Heartbeats” had come on the sound system, and the time-machine jolt to 2006 was so sudden that my body didn’t know how to respond except with tears, although it wasn’t grief I felt. Read More »
May 13, 2016 | by Dave Tompkins
I have 294 records of showers of living things … there’s no accounting for the freaks of industry.
—Charles Fort, Book of the Damned
While My Guitar Gently Gets Bent at Pizza Hut
The florist sat drunk in the corner booth of a Pizza Hut in Myrtle Beach. “Erotic City” quietly grinded away on a jukebox over near the bathrooms. For the past three hours, I’d been feeding the florist cans of Coors Light while he drove his son and me across South Carolina. Purple Rain played the entire route. “Let’s Go Crazy” in Pageland, “The Beautiful Ones” in Ruby, “Computer Blues” through Cheraw, “Take Me with U” to Aynor.
That October of 1984, my friend’s listening habits skewed toward Pyromania. Mine: keytars, eyeliner dudes, and black radio—whatever Les Norman, “The Night-Time Master Blaster,” happened to be playing on WPEG. I remembered Leppard for their one-armed drummer arrested for spousal abuse. Meanwhile Prince played, like, twenty different instruments while having sex in the backseat of taxicabs, ducking the Antichrist, and shouting for gun control. Also: girlfriend on drums. What’s fair is fair. Read More »