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Working up to the 3,000th Post

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Working up to the 3,000th Post

I started this blog on Sunday, June 5, 2011 with this post: Welcome! At first it felt like a cross between an email to friends and a brief class in music. While early on I just talked about my own experiences and the experience of blogging, over time the blog evolved. For quite a while it became oriented towards education with posts on basic musical ideas like What is Counterpoint? I posted a lot about harmony like this one Harmony Revisited Part 3. My view on harmony and music theory generally is largely from a composer's perspective as a few years before I started this blog I launched myself into music composition in a serious way. I rather think most musicians should do a little composing as I argued in this post: Why You Should Compose.

For quite a few years I got involved in long series of posts on different repertoires and composers. For example, there was a long series on the Beethoven Piano Sonatas. Another on the Shostakovich String Quartets. Yet another on the Haydn String Quartets. A big reason for doing these was that, despite eight years in music school in which I earned two degrees (one a Bachelor in Performance with Distinction and the other a Concert Diploma) and did all the seminars for a Doctorate in Musicology, there was remarkably little time spent on the core repertoire. For example, while I recall spending time in one theory course on a Haydn string quartet, I don't recall spending any time on a Beethoven piano sonata! I did a seminar on Shostakovich symphonies, but we never discussed in any course his string quartets. I can't blame the universities too much--the truth is that you can't cover everything. But it is amazing how little of the repertoire you really know on graduation.

Tom Service at The Guardian newspaper did a couple of long series on the Symphony and 20th century composers so I answered that with my own series on the Concerto. While these were purporting to be educational for others (and I did receive an award as a music education blog, number 43 in the world as I recall) the real purpose was my own education. I always feel there are blanks to be filled in.

The fun thing about doing a blog is that there is plenty of room for whimsy so I have posts on official didgeridoo performance costs, catty micro-reviews (which I don't do any more) and a bunch of other posts on things like weird album covers. This blog has its satirical side.

Occasionally I would put up posts with clips from my career as a performer. Here is a very brief one of a wild little piece by Czech composer Štěpán Rak (b. 1945). There were lots of other ones of the basic Spanish guitar repertoire such as Asturias by Albéniz. If you follow those links, the clips may look greyed out as if they are no longer functional, but they work just fine when you click on them. I think it is because I uploaded them directly instead of through YouTube.

I recent years I have gotten more interested in things like aesthetics and the philosophy and sociology of music in posts like these: Introduction to Aesthetics and Aesthetics, part 2 and Aesthetics, part 3. Incidentally, some of these posts attracted a lot of great commentary.

Speaking of commentators, this would be a good place to mention that the most surprising thing about doing the blog has been, for me, the variety and quality of the comments I have gotten. There have been about ten thousand of them and apart from two or three offensive ones that I have deleted--yes, literally two or three--they have all been interesting contributions to the discussion. What I didn't expect was how much I stood to learn from my commentators. These have included some significant figures in the music world: composer Jennifer Higdon, professor Ethan Hein, jazz historian Theo Gioia and most recently musicologist Richard Taruskin.

I have also attempted series of posts on composers like Sofia Gubaidulina, Luigi Nono and Arnold Schoenberg, though apart from the latter, I never completed these series! As for Schoenberg, he is of such continuing importance that I just put up posts now and then with no idea that they will have a conclusion.

The one perennial series, for the last few years at least, has been my Friday Miscellanea. Though some months I post much less than others, I never miss putting up a hodge-podge of links on Fridays. Every one is different so here are some examples.

I have also occasionally posted some of my compositions. Here is an early work for guitar orchestra in moment form: Long Lines of Winter Light. A song from a set of twelve: Goe and Catch a Falling Starre. At that point I was trying to reinvent harmony. A piece for violin and piano just for fun: Chase.

After not doing any traveling for several years, recently I have spent some time in Europe each year, enjoying the art, the food and, of course the music. I spend a month in Madrid a couple of years ago. Here is a post about an opera I saw at the Teatro Real. And last summer I spent a couple of weeks in Salzburg at the festival. Sadly, due to the virus, it is not certain whether there will be a festival this year.

Well, that is a lot more than I planned on for this post, the 2990th! Let me end with something unusual. I was reading this morning that recluse Fiona Apple has a new album out titled "Fetch the Bolt Cutters" so I had a listen and actually got through five songs before I lost interest. Usually half a song is enough. But this music is quite original. There are places where I am reminded of John Lennon and there are faint traces of Bob Dylan, but musically it is quite fresh. Have a listen:

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