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BOOM'S DUNGEON
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On conversing with paradise (2008), for baritone and ensemble.  Evan Hughes (baritone), Orchestra of the League of Composers conducted by Louis Karchin.  June 7, 2010, Miller Theatre, Columbia University.

Matribute (2007) for piano solo, performed by Pierre-Laurent Aimard at the Fraser Performance Studio, WGBH Boston in May 2010.
6 months ago | |
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Arrested for Pretending (in Class) to Be a Professor January 26, 2015 Authorities last week arrested a man who entered a classroom at Louisiana College and tried to pass himself off as a professor.  A student who realized that the man was not the professor left the classroom and called the police. The man has been charged with criminal trespass and disorderly conduct.
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Neither the original incident report from Louisiana College nor the above item from Inside Higher Ed mentions the nature of the course which the impostor was planning to 'teach' on that day.  I wonder why... 

Well, here are a few possibilities indicating different general 'areas' of college studies (all come from real course offerings by American colleges and universities):

(a) Introduction to Thermodynamics of Fluids
(b) Ordinary Differential Equations
(c)  Sequence Analysis and Molecular Modeling in Biochemistry
(d)  Electrical Circuits, Signals, Networks, and Systems
(e)  Race, Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Pop Culture

If asked to bet on the impostor's choice of 'area' among those indicated by (a)-(e), what would your bet be?

7 months ago | |
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Generally I think of tonal art music written in the 21-st century as a musical equivalent of gerontophilia: a compositional intercourse with a terribly aged idiom whose offer of sagging themes, wrinkled harmonies, and arthritic rhythms still arouses some of today's composers. So it was to my immense surprise that the decidedly retrograde music of the Swedish composer Rolf Martinsson (b. 1956) turned out to be quite enjoyable.  To be sure, Martinsson does not make the idiom young and fresh again, but the music seems to project an aural shadow of long gone beauty and charm that is pleasantly nostalgic and occasionally poignant.

Martinsson's composition "A.S. in memoriam" is a highly chromatic homage to Schoenberg's "Transfigured Night".  Schoenberg's familiar 5-note motif is quoted right in the middle of this 15-min long piece for string orchestra.  Another composition, "Forlorn", is a short song cycle for soprano and string orchestra based on poems of Rabindranath Tagore.  The sound world of these songs is far more intimate than that of Zemlinsky's massive, operatic setting of Tagore's poetry in his "Lyric Symphony".
     Both compositions were recorded last Fall during concerts given by the Netherlands Radio Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Gordon Nicolic and Bas Wiegers respectively.  The soprano in "Forlon" is Lisette Bollen.

Finally, there is Martinsson's Flute Concerto which is so far the only concerto I know that wraps the flute part in a highly chromatic, richly upholstered, late romantic orchestral sound.  Not the last word in innovation and originality, but perhaps entertaining enough for those occasions when one has to take a break from the flute music of Elliott Carter and Bruno Maderna.  The soloist is Magnus Irving Bagge, with Mats Rondin conducting Malmo Symphony Orchestra.

7 months ago | |
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Somalian pirates kill four Americans

(The Telegraph, Feb. 22, 2011)

Taliban kill seven Afghan police

(Los Angeles Times, Dec. 21, 2014)

New Year rice cakes kill nine in Japan

(BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat, Jan. 5, 2014)
Homicidal rice cakes? Couldn't the imbeciles at BBC News have worded the headline in a saner way, e.g., "9 choke to death in Japan while eating New Year rice cakes"?  Oh well...


7 months ago | |
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Boy, 2, accidentally shoots and kills mom in Idaho Walmart

The Associated Press  Posted: Dec 30, 2014 3:29 PM ET

What a thrill it is to live in a world in which a fatal shooting by a 2-year-old is described by the media as accidental.  Could this act have been intentional?  A revenge for infrequent diaper changes and cheap baby formula?  A cold-blooded publicity stunt to secure a seven-figure book deal for the future memoir "The tot who fucked Jean Piaget and the entire field of Developmental Psychology"?

While the world contemplates the plausibility of such alternatives, I'm sure the retards at AP, BBC, Reuters, and other news outlets are struggling right this very moment to come up with headlines for the first day of the new year.  I feel like being helpful on this New Year's Eve, so how about this one: 

Cheerleader at Bennington College accidentally fellates six members of the basketball team.
7 months ago | |
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To mark the 106th anniversary of Elliott Carter's birth (he was born on December 11, 1908), I have added three live recordings of his chamber music to this blog's slowly growing "audio museum" of Carter's works.
     Recorded on September 25, 2014 at the Muziekgebouw aan't IJ Amsterdam, the works span more than six decades of Carter's career, from the early Cello Sonata (1948), to the middle-period Duo for Violin and Piano (1973), to the very last work, Epigrams for Piano Trio (2012), completed less than three months before his death.
     The musicians are Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano), Valerie Aimard (cello), and Diego Tosi (violin).

8 months ago | |
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As someone who deeply admires the otherworldly, alien music of Helmut Lachenmann, I was jolted when I recently read an interview with the pianist Rolf Hind in which he said that Lachenmann's favorite composer is ... Ennio Morricone.  (Rolf Hind worked closely with Lachenmann on the composer's piano concerto Ausklang.)

Not that there is anything wrong with liking Ennio Morricone's music.  As far as film music goes, he has supplied some of the most memorable scores in the history of cinema.  Compared to such three-chord musical midgets as Hans Zimmer (or to the fucking retard who won an Oscar last year for using less then three chords in his brain-numbing score for the film Gravity), Morricone is certainly an artistic giant.

Still, I think the greatness of a film score, whether by Morricone, Korngold, or Hermann, is inseparable from its function as a component of the total aesthetic experience of watching a film.  Heard on its own - the way one listens to art music, such as a Mahler symphony or a Carter concerto - a film score immediately sinks under the weight of its severe limitations, imposed on the music by various pragmatic considerations having to do with its functional role in contributing to an overall non-musical aesthetic experience.

So, why on earth would a composer as revolutionary as Lachenmann listen to Morricone's film scores?  What kind of aesthetic rewards does Lachenmann's mind derive from Morricone's triadic harmonies, conventional rhythms, and mostly ordinary (if very skillful) orchestration?

I really can't think of a plausible explanation.  But then I don't know much about Lachenmann the man, so I may be unaware of some biographical reason for his elevation of Morricone to the status of a favorite composer (rather than favorite film composer).  Perhaps this kind of aesthetic weirdness is common among avant-garde composers?  The only other example that comes to mind is Milton Babbitt, who reportedly possessed encyclopaedic knowledge (and immense affection) for Tin Pan Alley songs of the 1920s and 1930s.

In any case, if you are not familiar with Lachenmann's strikingly original music - the music whose gestures, textures, and timbres are light years away from the music of other 20th century modernist composers, let alone from Morricone's film scores - you can acquaint yourself with this composer by listening to his composition Air, music for large orchestra with percussion solo (1968–69), conducted by Ingo Metzmacher and recorded live at the Concertgebouw on April 5, 1997.

9 months ago | |
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The two or three thousand dollars ... I am paid for commissions recompenses my work at the rate of about twenty-five cents an hour.
Elliott Carter, "The Orchestral Composer's Point of View", The Orchestral Composer's Point of View: Essays on Twentieth-Century Music by Those Who Wrote It, R.S. Hines, ed., University of Oklahoma Press, 1970.

The minimum wage in the U.S.A. as of February 1970: $1.45 an hour.
source: Minimum Wage and Maximum Hours Standards Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 1988 Report to the Congress under Section 4(d)(1) of the FLSA.

... to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
The Book of Proverbs 22:1


9 months ago | |
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A hatchet-wielding man who attacked two police officers in New York City before he was shot to death was likely “just an angry guy” ...  a police source told ABC News.


And I thought "just an angry guy" is an expression suitable as a tagline for a Robin Williams comedy...




10 months ago | |
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Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen
(Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.)
Ludwig Wittgenstein,  Logisch-philosophische Abhandlung (Tractatus Logico-Philosopicus)


Adding new posts to one's blog is like flossing, in that both activities make sense only if performed with some regularity.  Alas, a blogger cannot expect anything like regularity when it comes to having something worthwhile (interesting, meaningful) to say.  Which is why there are no genuinely Wittgensteinian bloggers.  As soon as they pop into existence, their blogs begin to fade into intervals of silence which stretch asymptotically to infinity, sort of like the ever slower ticking of a clock approaching the event horizon of a black hole.

Good thing I never took Wittgenstein's Tractatus seriously.  This, of course, doesn't make me special since neither did anyone else except for a few plodding souls who made up the so-called Vienna Circle in the late 1920s.  Still, as a blogger I thought it is time I certify my anti-Wittgensteinian stance by adding a post in which I have absolutely nothing worthwhile to say.
10 months ago | |
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