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Miscellaneous Musings

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Miscellaneous Musings

I'm about to give another presentation of my music in a few weeks and we were rehearsing some pieces for it yesterday. Traditionally I suppose you would call this a "lecture-recital" but that sounds so hopelessly dull! In any case we are going to play a couple of my transcriptions for violin and guitar (Rameau and Couperin) as a prelude to playing a recent piece I wrote as a homage to Notre Dame based on a piece by Couperin. I suppose it is all about the resonance that music history has for us, or can have. Then we are going to play one of my Four Pieces for violin and guitar and I am going to end by playing a synthesized version of a movement from my new string quartet.

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I see that 18 year old Billie Eilish has won all the big awards at the Grammys. I tried listening to three of her songs and didn't get past the one-minute mark on any of them. Foggy, listless bass lines, dreary monotone vocals and I don't even want to try and suss out the lyrics. Young people seem to be in a really bad space these days.



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A lot of the criticism of the humanities programs at university these days revolves around two claims: that these "studies" programs, which seem to be always asking "questions about race, gender and social justice" are really very undemanding: all you have to do is learn the vocabulary and regurgitate it on command. And second, that graduating in these programs will make you largely unemployable. When it comes to things like music, dance and theatre, however, the first of these critiques is false. You can turn art history into social justice propaganda, but if there is no discipline in the practice of fine art, it becomes evident to the onlooker. At least you could argue that. In music and dance it is ever more stark. Yes, the "new" musicology has certainly had its way with dead, white, European composers. But they still rule the concert halls. And no amount of "wokeness" will improve your playing of Bach. Only disciplined practicing will do that. Isn't the same true of dance? But yes, making a living in the fine arts is likely harder than ever.

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Ok, let's have some music. How about a little François Couperin? This is "Le Rossignol-en-amour" from the Quatorzième Ordre for harpsichord played by Denis Bonenfant.




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