Monday morning, Sarah pays tribute to Ella.
Thanks to YouTuber RoundMidnightTV
Why does one person enjoy listening to Mozart while another likes Taylor Swift and still another enjoys Kendrick Lamar? Nolan Gasser set out to uncover the roots of musical taste and ended up with a wide-ranging book about music, its origins, its structure, but above all else about Why You Like It.
Gasser, the author of Why You Like It: The Science and Culture of Musical Taste, talks with us about his Music Genome project for Pandora, and his explorations into the secrets of musical preferences.
You can hear part one of the interview I conducted, as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI 99.5 FM NYC, by clicking on the grey triangle above.
Part Two will be broadcast and posted here next week.
Ed Ferrar owned a jaguar; not the car, the animal. It’s an animal so wild and unpredictable it was rarely shown in the circus. Watch Ed as he brings out the big cat to meet Johnny Carson. You don’t often see Johnny lose his cool…
Thanks to YouTuber Gary Ferrar, Ed’s grandson, who has carried on his grandfather’s tradition in show biz as a magician and mentalist—but not as jaguar tamer.
So I was going to visit Yonkers yesterday for the first time, and what’s more, I would be entitled to buy a round-trip train ticket for the senior-citizen rate of only $11.50 from Grand Central Station. Really, besides Medicare and half-price Metrocard admission to the subways, that’s more or less the only good thing about getting old. (How do you know you’re getting old? When a pregnant woman seated on the crowded subway unsolicited jumps up to offer you her seat, and then when you say, “That’s all right,” she insists with “No, really, please, I’m getting off in ten more stops,” and gingerly vacates her seat for you. A few rounds of this and soon you get the picture.)
Anyway, when I got to the ticket booth in Grand Central, I asked the clerk for a round- trip ticket to Yonkers. I pulled out my $11.50, and he says, “That’ll be $17.50.”
“What? $17.50?” I replied. “I thought it was supposed to be $11.50 for senior citizens.”
“Well why didn’t you say so in the first place,” says the cranky clerk. “You just said you wanted a round trip ticket. You should have said you wanted a senior-citizen round trip ticket.”
“Well,” I replied heatedly, caught off guard, “I thought you could tell by looking at me.”
And just then I hear a voice behind me on the ticket line piping up:
“Yep, I sure could.”
Only in New York, kids, only in New York.
If you ever done any theater improv, you know that the art and craft of making things up on the spot is a tricky one to master. The imperative is always to deal with what is happening in your environment at that very moment—to accept what’s in front of you and then embellish and extend. It’s always tempting to speed ahead in your mind, rather than trust that if you just follow your way from moment to moment to moment, you’ll get to where you need to go.
It was with delight that I read the following about musical improvisation in Anita O’Day‘s autobiography High Times, Hard Times (a wonderful portrait of a giant of jazz song). The parallels to theater improv were immediately recognizable. I had never heard anyone talk about musical improvisation the way she does. In the following paragraph she writes about how she learned to improvise on a melody by being committed to staying in the moment, and using any cues in her environment she could at that fleeting instant to spur her imagination:
“I saved ‘Oh, Lady Be Good’ as an encore. At the point where the bridge comes to the second chorus, i needed an idea from somewhere. I saw a polka dot blouse. So I developed that chorus as a bagful of polka dots. To keep the version going, I searched for ideas. Where was I going to get my inspiration? I looked around the room and that gave me the idea of singing the structure of the room—long wall, short wall, long wall, short wall. That gave me the frame for the chorus. I turned to the band. Five men. So I put it into five rhythm. Anything that I could get an idea from, I put to work to fill out my time on the stand. I did it that way because technically I was not knowledgeable about music. I needed to get the thought behind the sound going, and I took it from wherever I could get it. In all, I did twelve choruses of “Oh, Lady, Be Good!” and when I finished the place exploded. People shouted, stampeded, applauded, whistled, stood on their chair and cheered. It was the response you dream about…”
Thought and action at the speed of sound. Just thrilling.
Monday morning, moon and monkeyshines as the family that stills together, trills together.
Josh Turner, Carson McKee, Reina del Cid, and Toni Lindgren with some pretty great banjo, guitar, and mandolin plucking.