Tag Archives: music

RIP Cecil Taylor (1929 – 2018)

Cecil Taylor was an American pianist and poet. Classically trained, Taylor is generally acknowledged as having been one of the pioneers of free jazz. His music is characterized by an extremely energetic, physical approach, producing complex improvised sounds, frequently involving tone clusters and intricate polyrhythms. His piano technique has been likened to percussion, for example described as “eighty-eight tuned drums” (referring to the number of keys on a standard piano). He has also been described as “like Art Tatum with contemporary-classical leanings”.

His composition Indent (1973) is on Thurston Moore’s Top Ten Free Jazz Underground (1995).

RIP Jacques Higelin (1940 – 2018)

Jacques Higelin was a French pop singer who rose to prominence in the early 1970s. Early in his career, many of Higelin’s songs were effectively blacklisted from French radio because of his controversial left wing political beliefs, and his association with socialist groups.

His song “Pars” (1978) was covered by Grace Jones on her album Warm Leatherette.

RIP Marcus Belgrave (1936 – 2015)

Marcus Belgrave (1936 – 2015) was a jazz trumpet player from Detroit, born in Chester, Pennsylvania. He recorded with a variety of famous musicians, bandleaders, and record labels since the 1950s.

His “space jazz” composition “Space Odyssey”, originally released on Gemini II (1974) was included on the anthology Universal Sounds of America (1995) and was reprised on The Detroit Experiment (2003, above).

“Space Odyssey” is on the Caribou 1000 but I have not included it on the Jahsonic 1000.

I like hybrids, mixed media …

… I like paintings you can listen to, music for the deaf and drawings for the blind. I like playing with medium specificity.

I recently discovered High Note (1960, above), a Warner Bros. Looney Tunes animated short directed by Chuck Jones.

In this charming film, various musical notes set up the sheet music to get ready for a performance of The Blue Danube Waltz. However, a sole note is missing. It turns out the note (a red-faced “High Note”) is drunk upon staggering out of the sheet music to “Little Brown Jug“, and the irritated conductor chases after him to put him back in his place so the waltz can continue as planned. Eventually, the rogue note is put back into place, but when the performance starts again, it has disappeared again, along with the rest of the sheet music. The composer then discovers that all the notes have gone into the “Little Brown Jug” to get drunk.

This film entered my head as visual music, although it is less so than the music visualization of Fantasia (1940), of which Oskar Fischinger‘s interpretation of J. S. Bach‘s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor is online here.

See also: http://blog.jahsonic.com/listen-to-this-drawing/

Listen to this drawing

 

The Music of Gounod“, a Thought Form from Thought Forms, by Annie Besant & C.W. Leadbeater

The Music of Gounod” illustrates liminality, which in a previous post I called neither fish nor fowl, something inbetween.

At the same time it illustrates something non-existent, an impossible object, like music for the deaf or for people who are tone deaf. The aural experience has been synaesthetically translated in a visual experience.

Listen to this drawing, it seems to say.

I am reminded of the dictum by Walter Pater: “all art constantly aspires towards the condition of music.” And of medium specificity.

Ah … the ash heap of history, the memory hole … oblivion … silence

The sheet music you see above is one of these great moments in the history of art while no one was paying attention.

That is not quite true. People were paying attention but afterwards everyone forgot.

Ah, the ash heap of history, the memory holeoblivion.

But … What exactly are we looking at?

The first piece of silent music.

It’s called Funeral March for the Obsequies of a Deaf Man and was first exhibited in 1884 in Paris by a man called Alphonse Allais who lived from 1854 to 1905.

The sheet music was later published in the album Album primo-avrilesque, a collection of monochrome paintings on which I reported back in 2007[1].

World music classic #829

Milestones” by Miles Davis is the 829th entry in my top 1000 songs. There is no hierarchy in this top 1000 list. It’s like a giant mixtape you can put on shuffle.

829 songs (six years in the making; i.e. compiling) account for about fifty hours of music. When finished, the list will feature more than 58 hours of music. The average song length in my calculations is three minutes and a half.