On An Overgrown Path: Think on these things

With those words of the Buddha from the Kalama Sutta and a photo from my travels on the the Manali to Leh highway in Jammu and Kashmir I leave you to spin again on the wheel of life. Take care but also take risks.

via On An Overgrown Path: Think on these things.

This read like a farewell blog post, and so far there hasn’t been another from On an Overgrown Path.

Although quoting that particular passage of the Buddha’s teachings seems a good way to close a blog, I hope it’s not the last we hear from its author. Overgrown Path is consistently one of the blogs I read that feels substantial. The ideas are provocative, and the intersection of western and eastern and middle-eastern values and traditions and art forms offers a fresh look at what art and life can be. There’s a kind of myopic focus that exists in any field, whether classical music or otherwise, and I appreciate On and Overgrown Path for breaking free of the nonsense and looking for real meaning, both via the questions it asks and the answers it suggests.

Nevertheless, if that is the final post, then I wish its author the best.

UPDATE: He’s still blogging. All is well.

Opera is for Everyone…Opera is Not for Everyone

Opera is not for everyone. That’s right. It’s not for everyone. I love it, lots of people love it (thank goodness or we wouldn’t have anyone to sing to) but it really isn’t for ‘all.’ Now, wait: I did NOT just say that opera is elitist, or exclusive, or too hard for the average joe or jane to understand…just that it’s not for EVERYONE. Some people just don’t like opera. Not for political reasons, not because they don’t have access to it, not because they feel excluded by it, but because they don’t actually like it. They have tried it, and it doesn’t do it for them.

via Voicing the unspeakable? Opera is NOT for everyone. | Scribblings of a Mad Soprano.

I’m conflicted about this. On the one hand, I’ve long believed that if we compare opera to the movies, then we’ll find that many people like some movies but aren’t “movie people”. Real film lovers are a unique breed, and most people who watch movies are not fans in that way. This could potentially be the case with most art forms. The people in the audience just need to enjoy themselves enough to come back again at some point, though the real fans will come to much more.

Practically speaking though, opera requires a certain amount of commitment just to get in the door. The ticket is more expensive (though probably cheaper than most people think). There are fewer times slots. And, yes, the language is often one the audience doesn’t speak in a musical style that is rarely fashionable. It’s a higher bar to entry than movies, especially as movies move closer to being internet products available on demand at home at any time.

State and Metropolitan Area Arts Participation Tables | NEA

State and Metropolitan Area Arts Participation Tables | NEA.

Lots of information here regarding artistic attendance and participation in regions within the United States. I think the big surprise is Colorado, which is just killing it with classical concert attendance at 20.8%, expressed here by Anne Midgette:

Lots to parse here.

The Photoshop of Sound – The New Yorker

Alex Ross, writing for the New Yorker about John and Helen Meyer and their Constellation sound system:

There is something philosophically disquieting about the Meyers’ work, as there is in any digital makeover of reality. Both at Oliveto and at SoundBox, the Constellation process never seemed obviously fake or too good to be true, and yet I had a sense of being ensconced in an audio cocoon. In the concert setting, I missed the thrum of floorboards under my feet—the full physical tingle of reverberation. Traditionalists will insist that there is no substitute for a first-class hall, and they will be right. They should bear in mind, though, that technology has been retouching the sound image for centuries; instrument design, concert-hall architecture, and listening habits inculcated by listening to recordings have all shaped what we hear and how we hear it.

via The Photoshop of Sound – The New Yorker.

I’ve had some experience with sound equipment, both in live amplification and recording settings, and this seems like science fiction to me. The first part of the story details how it can be used to modify the acoustics of a restaurant, to the point where the next table over sounds distant enough to – not only – not be a distraction but also maintain a lively atmosphere. Apparently, these are also appearing in concert halls around the world.

I’d say that I’d love to hear one, but it’s possible that I already have and not realized it.

Can’t See the Trees for the Forest at the 2015 Grammys

The Recording Academy clearly has a problem with how to acknowledge diversity. Tons of pundits are now claiming that Beck and Beyoncé’s albums are so different from each other and that to lump them together is not fair to either of them. But what about albums (all 2015 Grammy winners) that are even more different than either of those…

What would have happened if those albums were allowed to compete in the “Record of the Year” category? Would Kanye West have attempted to bum rush the show if Hilary Hahn or JLA got the nod? (That’s something that would have increased everyone’s awareness of those two extraordinary albums, and I say this as someone who is a huge fan of both Beck and Kanye.)

via Can’t See the Trees for the Forest at the 2015 Grammys | NewMusicBox.

I finally listened to John Luther Adams’ “Become Ocean” yesterday (the winner for Best Contemporary Classical Composition), and it’s extraordinary. Beck’s “Morning Phase” might still have won with more variety in the album of the year category (I do like Beck quite a bit). As it is, it does appear there’s a tacit disregard for anything truly outside of the popular music machine.