Thursday 31 March 2011

Weaving A Musical Web

Music is a focal point for my world and I enjoy making connections between the music I hear and its place in the greater scheme of things. Connections are basic to living; no man is an island and so forth. It's when the component parts of a system are connected and working in harmony with oneanother that the best results occur, whether you are talking about a team, a family, an organisation, a machine,  or an orchestra. You could even view the orchestra as a metaphor for any other type of system. Any one part working in isolation affects the whole adversely but if all the individual musicians and the different sections are connected and are communicating with one another, then all is well.  It's a complex feedback system like any other and can be analysed as such.

Saturday 26 March 2011

A Week Just Went By

I nobly try to get an hour minimum violin practice in every evening (except Saturdays, which are for listening and boozing).  Even if I'm tired after a day's work I can generally do this instead of flopping in front of the TV.  V. tired on Tuesday evening this week so was exceptionally surprised to find that my bowing technique had taken flight and improved by a significant leap, intonation for double stops, too. What's going on? "Learning" is an alchemical process of getting what you need to know not just into your brain but into your body and fingers as well. That leap from brain to body happens of its own accord. You can encourage it, but the end result seems to happen in its own time. That suggests to me that the learning continues unconsciously while conscious physical practice is only one element of the process.

Wednesday 23 March 2011


I recently added a review of George Crumb's "Voices From A Forgotten World" to the Newent Orchestra's website. I really didn't think I was going to like this music as it's based on old North American folk tunes. I have bad memories of  "Bringing In the Sheaves" and patriotic marching songs from early music-lesson school days. Those songs were the antithesis of everything that was new, young and controversial then in the music culture I grew up in. However, they are here presented along with percussion accompaniment that gives them an otherworldly flavour, echoes rather than statements. That was OK, surreal even. I've listened to a fair amount of George Crumb's music since being hooked by "Black Angels", his ode to the Vietnam War. There is a particular title in that called "Night of the Electric Insects" which is a piece of voodoo.

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Listen To This

These days, most of my reading is during some quality time travelling to and from work by bus. (Maybe the mobile library service could start taking paying passengers.) I've only read the introduction to Alex Ross's sequel to The Rest Is Noise but already I'm hooked. Makes me want to ponder on every sentence so I guess it's going to be a long and inspiring read. It's Ross's ability to talk about music as a whole while discussing particular genres, people and events that appeals. There is also, clearly, a feel here for rock and indie music as well as classical and contemporary which is a rarity and one that I'm searching for. There are online music samples to illustrate the text.  This weighty I-can-feel-a-Kindle-coming-on book is going to be an adventure.

Friday 11 March 2011

The Grim Reaper

In Greek mythology Kronos was the god of time and I remember a Marvel Comic character in the pantheon of Silver Surfer, Fantastic Four, Incredible Hulk, etc., a supervillain called The Grim Reaper, another name also, I believe, for the Devil and his Scythe. In Roman mythology, Kronos is renamed Saturn and, astrologically speaking, Saturn classically marked the boundaries of the known universe. Within his orbital boundary time rules - and devours - all. Beyond it were supernatural dimensions.

Now to last Saturday night, feet up on the sofa, glass of a really good wine in hand, opening the packet of a brand new CD by the Kronos Quartet.