Monday, January 29, 2007

Music Misc.

1) Obviously I dropped out of band way too early. Doesn't it keep you up at night, the fact that you've never heard "Crosseyed and Painless" played by a marching band? No longer (check youtube for clips).

2) A sensible, jargon-free, clear, concise, non-polemic from Sean O'Hagan about the effect of digitization on our relationship with music. I take issue with the idea that digitization removes music from context -- the contexts just change, and digital contexts are anything but information-poor. But I agree wholeheartedly that the change in context produced by digitization, one of space, time, interface, etc., may well squeeze out elements of emotional investment that shape our long-term relationship with music. By the way, I get the hypocrisy in praising an essay for its lack of jargon and then cramming a ton of jargon into my response. Also, Sean O'Hagan may be Irish.

3) Generally when people research music and the brain, they try to fit music into our structural understanding of neurocognition and behavioral science. They want to know what music can tell us about those fields, and thus about how our brains work. For a refreshing change, Daniel Levitin concerns himself with the opposite (in my view). He's interested in what our brains and behavior can tell us about the remarkable cultural phenomenon that is organized sound. The NYT gave him his due at the end of last month, and the article's been stewing in my head for a while. See Levitin Lab and Levitin's website for more.

4) It was a weekend of chock-full of culture. We saw Babel, a film so depressing that it's "upbeat" plot involves a deaf-mute recovering from her mother's suicide...which, yeah, you bet, she witnessed. We also saw Ladysmith Black Mambazo in concert. They are apparently back from Outer Space.

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