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Friday Miscellanea

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Friday Miscellanea


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Controversial study shows rats prefer jazz to classical music, when on drugs:
Rats prefer the sound of silence to Beethoven and Miles Davis – except when they are on drugs. Then, they prefer the jazz.
These are the results of a controversial 2011 study by Albany Medical College, in which scientists exposed 36 rats to ‘Für Elise’ by Beethoven and ‘Four’, a brassy jazz standard by Miles Davis. The rats overwhelmingly preferred Beethoven to Davis, but they liked silence best of all.
In the second part of the experiment, the rats were given cocaine and played Miles Davis over a period of a few days. After that, the rodents preferred the jazz even after the drug was out of their system.
The research, according to scientists, showed rats can be conditioned to like any music associated with their drug experience.
I can think of no safe comment to make about this.

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"Perhaps Schoenberg's work deserves a more superficial treatment than it has hitherto received." 
Richard Taruskin. The Danger of Music and Other Anti-Utopian Essays (Kindle Locations 4602-4603). Kindle Edition, quoting Allen Shawn.
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In this new pandemic world, singing is one of the more dangerous activities: Germany clamps down on SINGING over coronavirus fears.
German authorities are warning against singing and several states have banned it from church services over fears it spreads the coronavirus. 
The 'increased production of potentially infectious droplets' involved in singing means that choirs are facing a longer shutdown even as shops and restaurants re-open, the government says. 
Lothar Wieler, the head of Germany's RKI diseases institute, says the droplets can 'fly particularly far' when singing. 
In one case, at least 40 people were infected at a church service in Frankfurt where the congregation had been singing and not wearing masks.
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Sometimes you have to ask yourself: am I paranoid? Am I paranoid enough? Or is it all nonsense? The Victoria Symphony Orchestra in Canada is throwing in the towel for all of next season: SERIOUSLY BAD SIGN: ORCHESTRA RULES OUT PLAYING IN 20/21.
It is with sadness that today the Victoria Symphony is announcing the suspension of its programming for the 2020.21 Season.
While this is heartbreaking news, our highest priority is the health and welfare of the organization’s patrons, musicians, artists, staff and volunteers. The decision to suspend all performances is in compliance with the Province of British Columbia’s COVID-19 health regulations and Restart Plan. Performances will resume when it is deemed safe to do so by the Province and its top health officials.
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This has been happening for a while, but now it is like the last indignity: Copyright bots and classical musicians are fighting online. The bots are winning.
As covid-19 forces more and more classical musicians and organizations to shift operations to the Internet, they’re having to contend with an entirely different but equally faceless adversary: copyright bots. Or, more accurately, content identification algorithms dispatched across social media to scan content and detect illegal use of copyrighted recordings. You’ve encountered these bots in the wild if you’ve ever had a workout video or living room lip-sync blocked or muted for ambient inclusion or flagrant use of Britney or Bruce. But who owns Brahms?
These oft-overzealous algorithms are particularly fine-tuned for the job of sniffing out the sonic idiosyncrasies of pop music, having been trained on massive troves of “reference” audio files submitted by record companies and performing rights societies. But classical musicians are discovering en masse that the perceptivity of automated copyright systems falls critically short when it comes to classical music, which presents unique challenges both in terms of content and context. After all, classical music exists as a vast, endlessly revisited and repeated repertoire of public-domain works distinguishable only through nuanced variations in performance. Put simply, bots aren’t great listeners. 
Michael Sheppard, a Baltimore-based pianist, composer and teacher, was recently giving a Facebook Live performance of a Beethoven sonata (No. 3, Op. 2, in C) when Facebook blocked the stream, citing the detection of “2:28 of music owned by Naxos of America” — specifically a passage recorded by the French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, whom Sheppard is not.
The takedown led Sheppard into what he describes as “a byzantine web of ridiculousness” starting with Facebook’s dispute form: “Beethoven died in 1827,” he responded. “This music is very much in the public domain. Please unblock it.”
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The full addictive potential of classical YouTube needs to be experienced to be understood. And let’s be honest, there are only so many lockdown videos the human spirit can take. Which is why, on a sunny spring afternoon, in the prime of life and health, I find myself watching the late John Cage stroking bits of wire with a feather.
The haircuts suggest that we’re in the early 1980s, and a Ron Burgundy type is floating across the screen in a little box. ‘It’s been said that listening to John Cage’s music is like chewing sand,’ he explains, unhelpfully. It seems that we’ve also been watching a live performance by the German artist Joseph Beuys. And that we’re now going over to a firework display at the Pompidou Centre.
What? Why? No time to wonder, because you forgot to disable autoplay and YouTube, which sees your most secret desires, has already launched another distraction...
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 For our envoi today, first Four by Miles Davis:


And second, I was going to be very clever and put up a clip of the Victoria Symphony playing Schoenberg, but such does not exist. So here they are with the Symphony No. 8 by Beethoven:




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