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.
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.
The Phil Ochs song about the 1966 Florence, Italy floods (fifty straight days of rain breached the walls of the River Arno which runs through the city) set to BBC footage of cleaning up the aftermath, as people attempted to save some of the artwork stored in the lower levels of museums, churches and warehouses.
Thanks to YouTuber OnionFart (!) for the great job of putting this together.
Anita O’Day with a great version of a great song.
Oscar Peterson – piano
Herb Ellis – guitar
Ray Brown – double bass
John Poole – drums
Thanks to YouTuber jburidan
At this year’s Shakespeare’s Birthday Sonnet Slam, where all 154 sonnets are performed, because of no-shows, producer Melinda Hall unexpectedly pressed some of us into double duty bound; in addition to performing our pre-arranged sonnets (mine was Sonnet 27) we performed other sonnets as well, with fifteen minutes notice.
And that is how I became acquainted with Sonnet 126. Here’s what I saw when the paper was handed to me:
If this looks strange to you, you’re on the right track. It looks very different from all the other Shakespeare sonnets. As you probably know if you’re reading this, the Shakespearean sonnets are three quatrains of alternating rhyme, and then a final couplet to make fourteen lines. Now take a look at Sonnet 126—first of all it’s only twelve lines long—the last two lines seem to have been truncated—and what’s more the remaining lines are all couplets. It barely deserves to be called a sonnet. And, to my way of thinking, the content of it is more pessimistic than most of Shakespeare’s other sonnets.
Ever-reliable Wikipedia tells us that Sonnet 126 is the capstone to the group of sonnets known as the Fair Youth sonnets. As a group they speak of a young man of sexual power who, despite the ravages of time, will live on—either through his immortalization in the poet’s words, or through the siring of offspring. Sonnet 126 is the last of this group, but it appears to tell a somewhat different story: our Fair Youth might think, even as he gets older, that he is cheating Nature and Time in his pursuit of worldly pleasures, but it is all for naught. In the end, Time demands his due, despite Nature’s endowing the Youth with potency even in his later years—no, Nature must eventually render thee; that is, surrender him, as money paid in debt. Indeed, the end comes so suddenly, it can even come two lines too early. We have run out of Time.
It’s a bleaker outlook than many of the other sonnets. While Shakespeare never denies the inevitability of death in his writings, it is rare that he wags it so forcefully in the face of his sonnet subjects without some promise of remembrance. There’s a palpable jealousy there of the youth’s enduring power. There doesn’t seem to be a chance of redemption.
And yet, hidden within the last words is a double meaning that seems kinder. For the word render not only means “to surrender,” but also “to depict,” as in the rendering of a portrait. Nature may not only surrender him to Time, but will portray him. So once again, the Fair Youth has the opportunity of becoming immortal through his children or through Shakespeare’s rendering of him in his poems.
And so he has.