Under the Sun

I’m currently compiling an Über-list of definitions for “music.”  Big task, right?  Meanwhile, ponder this observation from acoustic ecologist Bernie Krause’s wonderful book The Great Animal Orchestra. Unlike the Ba’Aka’s music, Western song hasn’t been inspired by the biophony for thousands of years.  Rather, like many of our art forms, our music is self-referential–we continuously draw […]

Not Like the Others

Musical genres don’t mean a thing today.  In a long lost era, they might have helped record labels and stores (remember those?) categorize music, but since Y2K they’ve simply closed peoples minds and ears more than opened them.  It’s not that I think music is above nomenclature–obviously philosophers don’t believe thought is beyond words–but music should define […]

Teary-Eyed Tunes

From the moment of conception, we begin compiling playlists for our funerals.  My grandmother’s is slated to be a multi-day lollapalooza. As you can probably guess, this post is about how sounds play to our emotions.  Think back to your most visceral art experiences–a spontaneous concert or a midnight showing.  Can you remember an instance […]

Classical Gas

Prosed-out thoughts on the Takács Quartet and Marc-André Hamelin‘s performance at LOC last Thursday… I love the ’90s… Takács blend, but not like pre- concert smoothie. Hamelin: no hair but substantive flair. Classical music is alive and dying. Not tonight, though. All good seats this house has, right back-row Yoda? Sometimes English syntax doesn’t do music justice, and music deserves justice. […]

The Beat of the Same Drum

The drum circle in Meridian Hill Park is an institution.  The weekly participants trace their lineage to the 1960s Civil Rights protests, an era when activist Stokely Carmichael dubbed the space Malcolm X Park which still serves as an unofficial moniker.  However, what struck me on my first visit was not a militant activism but rather […]

Digital Love

Photo by Elizabeth Young At almost eighty years old, composer Morton Subotnik shows no signs of toning it down. And his frenetic energy dominated the performance Friday at the Library of Congress which featured three commanding works, one a world premier. Subotnik’s list of awards and accolades is overwhelming: a Guggenheim Fellowship, the American Academy […]

Meu Brasil Brasileiro

Maria Bethania, João Gilberto, Caetano Veloso, and Gilberto Gil I’m currently on a Brazilian music kick; specifically the bossa and MPB of giants like Caetano, Jobim and both Gilbertos.  While devouring every syncopated beat within earshot, I realized Brazil has produced hella good guitarists.  In the spirit of my recent list of cellists, I thought, why […]