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Friday Miscellanea

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Friday Miscellanea

Along with the worst clickbait imaginable, YouTube also has some real gems. For example, in the 1970s a copy of the Goldberg Variations by Bach, his personal copy, was found to contain on the last sheet, fourteen canons on the bass line from the theme. Someone did a wonderful visual illustration of how they work.


I know you are wondering, "why fourteen?" The answer is simple: BACH.

B = 2, A = 1, C = 3 and H = 8. 2+1+3+8 = 14.

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A lot of people have been saying lately that reality has gotten so weird that satire is no longer possible. The folks at the Babylon Bee just say "hold my beer." Here, in response to Yale University's ending its art history survey course because of the problematic prevalence of white, straight males, is their response: Yale Med School To Stop Teaching Medicine Discovered By White Males.
NEW HAVEN, CT—Yale University has been under intense criticism after the recent decision to stop teaching “Introduction to Art History: Renaissance to the Present” because of its focus on Western art - mainly by white males.
Many people have called Yale out, saying they “didn’t go far enough” and that dropping a measly freshman art survey class was “wimpy” and “weak”.
In response, Yale has decided to take a stunning and brave stand against white males by striking all medicine discovered by white males from its med school curriculum. This has been lauded as a much-needed stand for diversity at Yale, especially by current med students who will now have much more time to deal with the stress of med school by watching Netflix.
"Yes, many people will get sick and die because of this, but it will be worth it for the woke points," one professor said. "We will now only teach medicine discovered by brave, oppressed, trans people of color."
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 Slipped Disc points us to the latest triumph of computer analysis of music: the most creative composer ever was, wait for it, Rachmaninoff!
Rachmaninoff was officially the most innovative of all the great composers, a computer has declared.
Scientists in South Korea have built an algorithm which they claim is capable of judging objectively the extent to which 19 of the best known composers brought the art form forward.
They developed a computer model which divided each of the musicians’ compositions into “codewords”, which were then used to compare hundreds of pieces of music both against the composers’ previous works and the wider cannon.
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You would never know it from the mainstream media, but there are actually classical categories in the Grammy Awards.
  • Best engineered album, classical – Riley: Sun Rings Leslie Ann Jones, engineer; John Kilgore, Judith Sherman & David Harrington, engineers/mixers; Robert C. Ludwig, mastering engineer (Kronos Quartet)
  • Producer of the year, classical – Blanton Alspaugh
  • Best orchestral performance – Norman: Sustain Gustavo Dudamel, conductor (Los Angeles Philharmonic)
  • Best opera recording – Picker: Fantastic Mr Fox Gil Rose, conductor; John Brancy, Andrew Craig Brown, Gabriel Preisser, Krista River & Edwin Vega; Gil Rose, producer (Boston Modern Orchestra Project; Boston Children’s Chorus)
  • Best choral performance – Duruflé: Complete Choral Works Robert Simpson, conductor (Ken Cowan; Houston Chamber Choir) Signum Classics
  • Best chamber music/small ensemble performance – Shaw: OrangeAttacca Quartet
  • Best classical instrumental solo – Marsalis: Violin Concerto; Fiddle Dance Suite Nicola Benedetti; Cristian Măcelaru, conductor (Philadelphia Orchestra)
  • Best classical solo vocal album – Songplay Joyce DiDonato; Chuck Israels, Jimmy Madison, Charlie Porter & Craig Terry, accompanists (Steve Barnett & Lautaro Greco)
  • Best classical compendium – The Poetry of Places Nadia Shpachenko; Marina A. Ledin & Victor Ledin, producers
  • Best contemporary classical composition – Higdon: Harp Concerto Jennifer Higdon, composer (Yolanda Kondonassis, Ward Stare & The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra)
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Here is an even more hilarious story about the use of computers in music: And the Grammy goes to… AI.
At CES 2020, Samsung introduced Neon, an AI-based companion that is being developed to be indistinguishable from a human companion. AI models are composing at a pretty high level right now. It won’t be long before most production music (background music, music for breaks in and out of segments, and other utility music) will be fully produced by AI. We’re only moments away from synthetic artists and superstars. We’re only a few months (maybe a year or two) away from completely artificial artists (not virtual, artificial — see Neon above).
The production music composed by AI will be suboptimal at first, but it will become better over time, and it will be adopted very, very quickly. Why? Economics will drive the decision-making.
Oh, "economics will drive the decision-making." Which is precisely why we have the drearily uncreative music we have today.

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The main reason I retired (cough*went on strike*cough) as a classical performer was unhappiness about the business of music. Here is a sobering account of just how bad it can be: Young Artists, Big Business.
Company X is a prestigious music apprenticeship festival for instrumentalists and singers. They take in about $15 million USD a year in revenue, own over $80 million dollars in assets, including real estate, investments, and cash on hand, and pay their CEO almost half a million dollars a year.  Nearly two thousand young musicians paid $60 each last year to apply for a handful of spots, with no guarantee of being heard in person. netting the company an estimated $118,000 in application fees. And they pay their newly-hired apprentice performers absolutely nothing.
Which “non-profit” Young Artist Program is this? If you are looking at applying for music training apprenticeships, it doesn’t matter. It could be almost any of them.
Read the whole thing for the depressing details.

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For our envoi today, here is the first section of Jennifer Higdon's new Harp Concerto. The other sections are also on YouTube. Blogger won't embed so just follow the link.



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