Dedicated to classics and hits.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Young Prisms, Melted Toys & Heavy Hawaii TONIGHT @ TIN CAN ALEHOUSE


Great poster- can't share it, though. Wah wahhhhh.

       Tonight at the Tin Can Ale House its Young Prims, Melted Toys & those bros in Heavy Hawaii.  I wanted to say a few things about these bands... Young Prisms just put out a record on Kanine- their debut LP called Friends For Now.  Melted Toys... has 167 friends on Myspace. but I've been told that they are highly relevant.  And of course- Heavy Hawaii... snuck in some of those year end ten best albums lists- I know they scored the #8 slot in Peter Hoslin's end of the year list in San Diego City Beat- that was a tough list to crack...  Wavves- King of the Beach at #9?
       Yikes- Fearless Peter Hoslin is not about sales figures, or public recognition- he doesn't care about any of that b***s***: AND MORE POWER TO HIM!  I wish we had more people who WOULD TELL THE TRUTH about the SYSTEM.

    Also- for those of you who will be in Beijing, China this weekend- don't miss Dirty Beaches playing with a few other bands at N-22.  I've heard great things about the vibrant Beijing indie scene- and I know some Chinese bands are going to be attending SXSW- so let's roll out the red carpet for our future over-lords, shall we?

  Also- Monday night features the big debut of new hot local band Plateaus they are playing on Monday night at Soda Bar with Weekend and Mrs Magician- looks like they have a vinyl record out- I should get one of those...  I like Mrs Magician not having the show on their Myspace.  Watch out for that Plateaus band, they are getting an early jump on the San Diego Music Awards coveted "Best New Band" designation.  Career maker, that.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Book Review: Music & Society Since 1815

Music & Society: Since 1815
by Henry Raynor
p.  1975
Crescendo Publishing

  This is volume 2/2.  Volume 2 covers the time from 1815 to "the present" which for this author seems to be sometime in the mid 1950s.  After 1815 the social history of music begins to take on it's present shape.  You get the story of Liszt: A very modern seeming pop star of the mid 19th century.  Raynor discusses the commercialization of Opera in terms that prefigure the rise of popular culture.  An interesting chapter discusses the rise of the symphony orchestra concert as a manifestation of industrial society.

  However, in my mind the most intriguing chapter was Raynor's first chapter- on the impact that the decline of court patronage had on composers in the mid-19th century.  To my mind, it that situation bears parallels to the contemporary situation where digital culture has destroyed traditional forms of artist revenue without providing replacement.  In the early 19th century, it was a situation where royal patronage was dissapearing but the mass market had not yet appeared.  It was tough sledding for a few decades, and helped give rise to the idea of the unrecognized tortured genius artist tha has been regerttably with us ever since.  For the record, the first guy to pull that routine.. Schubert.  Schubert.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Social History of Music From the Middle Ages to Beethoven

A Social History of Music From the Middle Ages to Beethoven
by Henry Raynor
p. 1972
Crescendo Press

  It's funny to me that you would need to specifically modify a history of music with the word "social" to be allowed to write about this subject, but this book is from 1972.  No matter what type of music or time period is under discussion, all music exists as a social construction.  Music requires and Artist and an Audience, and if you are missing one of the two you don't have music.  Thus, any long term survey of the social history of music must address the changing relationships between Artists and Audiences over time.  In the time period surveyed in this volume (one of two), Raynor looks at three main developments:  Church music in the Middle Ages, the rise and spread of Opera after the Renaissance and the development of the Artistic composer of the late 18th and 19th century (Beethoven, for example.)

  Along the way, fascinating chapters on the early growth of music printing and publishing are interspersed with turgid technical descriptions of opera seria.  Ultimately though, the social history of music from the Middle Ages to Beethoven is limited by the lack of a large audience- it isn't until the very end of the book that anything approaching a "popular" audience begins to develop.  Indeed, perhaps the most crucial chapter in this volume is the one on the development of the Public Concert- for it was only after that point that an audience large enough to support an autonomous musician developed- prior to that a musician had to either be itinerant (traveling from place to place) or the house musicians of a noble man or independent city state.

  For most of the time period covered in this book, the audience literally summoned the musicians into existence- initially through the church and monarchs, and later through independent cities and princes.  Only with the development of the Public Concert and the development of music publishing could the Artist attain the heights of public prominence that we now take for granted.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pitchfork BNM's Dirty Beaches Sweet 17 track

Dirty Beaches Badlands LP is out 3/29 on Zoo Music

   It was fantastic to see Pitchfork name Dirty Beaches' Sweet 17 Best New Music on Friday.  Sweet 17 is featured on his forthcoming LP, Badlands, which is being released on the San Diego based record label run by Brandon Welchez of Crocodiles and Dee Dee of the Dum Dum Girls.

    When an Artist gets Best New Music for a track, rather then an album, two possible scenarios suggest themselves.  An album review that also gets Best New Music, confirming the earlier selection.  An album review, that does not get Best New Music.  Obviously, it's in the Artists best interest to obtain the Best New Music designation for the album, but that is entirely outside the control of the Artist.

    There are also secondary effects, the successful harnessing of which require ancillary personnel.  For example, the services of a public relations professional are especially crucial AFTER such a designation occurs.  Additionally, the so-designated artist can expect an increase of attention from entities like: booking agents, record labels and management.  It should be noted, that every opportunity has two potential results, an artist can choose wisely or poorly, and those decisions will shape the future ability of an artist to compete in the market place.

   A significant time interval in this regard is the period between a track becoming Best New Music and the review of the resulting album.  An artist who receives a Best New Music for the album is in a superior bargaining position with any interested entity, whereas a failure to achieve that puts the Artist in an inferior position.  The Artist can also use that time interval to perform live in different markets and reap the rewards (or penalties) of those live performances.  The main thing with a wind fall is to recognize it as something which may not repeat itself due to your hard work: that's the definition of a wind fall, economically speaking.

    Ultimately, the Best New Music designation is what economists would term a windfall gain.  I can't actually find a good definition od this term in the way I want to use it, but I would define it as, "An external stimulus to the level of interest in a specific artist."  Such stimulus' are unrelated to rational economic or artistic activity.  Thus, their occurrence should be accepted but not glorified.  Glorifying a windfall gain is like erecting a temple to yourself because you won 100 million in the lottery: kind of gross.

   Above all, an Artist facing an increased level of attention needs to realize that audiences crave novelty either from the same Artist or a new/different Artist and that every time you do something, it impacts the way the prospective audience perceives you.

Gesamtkunstwerk: The Total Art of Opera and Cinema

Beggars Opera

    "Gesamtkunstwerk" is a German term coined in the 19th century.  It roughly means "total art."  It's actually a term that extends back in time to the development of Italian Opera, particularly in Venice, where commercial opera originated.  It refers to the idea that "modern" Opera represents a combination of all of the Classical Arts.  I don't have the list handy, but we're talking: architecture, music, song, dance, plastic arts/sculpture, etc.  The productions were elaborate.  As Opera spread across Europe, this strong classical artistic pedigree was lessened by independent local traditions.  In Germany, musical ensembles and singers were independent entities.  England had a strong tradition of theater.  Thus, the original Operatic vision was transformed and weakened.

  The idea of Gesamtkunstwerk was popularized in the 19th century by Richard Wagner.  Quoth the Wikipedia, 'Wagner's own ring cycle represent the closest anyone has come to realizing these ideals."

  Gesamtkunstwerk was also an explicit inspiration to the Bauhaus movement in architecture, and you can also detect it in the Craftsman movement in the UK and the US.

  Events in the 20th century conspired to discredit "total"-isms in the eyes of all.  Wagners Gesamtkunstwerk took on a sinister tinge. No longer would Artists attempt to unify all arts in a single endeavor.  In fact, the entire idea of classical art was eclipsed by technological developments in the 19th and 20th centuries that created new fields of art.

  Specifically, Film created an entirely new category of art that could make the same kind of attempts at achieving Gestamtkunstwerk as Opera.  This comparison has been muted by the lack of common vocabulary to discuss the respective art forms: film scholars don't really write about opera, and opera buffs don't write about film.  That such a simple comparison could go largely unremarked upon (Specifically, that opera and film have similar relationships with their respective audiences in their attempt to combine art forms in a single project.)

  It should be observed that you can't argue that advancing technology makes the possibility of achieving such an impact in a Film is higher, but it is unclear whether Audiences actually want experience Gestamtkunstwerk at all.  Certainly, if you look at the films people pay to see, the tone is short of an all encompassing artistic experience.  From an asethetics perspective, I would argue that Gestamtkunstwerk is undesirable to most Audiences.

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