Ian Sidden http://iansidden.com Sat, 21 Feb 2015 11:02:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 ☸ Asterix und Obelix Morning http://iansidden.com/2015/02/asterix-und-obelix-morning/ http://iansidden.com/2015/02/asterix-und-obelix-morning/#respond Sat, 21 Feb 2015 11:01:46 +0000 http://iansidden.com/?p=5342

New reading material for my German learning morning.

A photo posted by Ian Sidden (@iansidden) on

My colleagues keep mentioning Asterix und Obelix, so I figured this would be a good next step after Calvin und Hobbes.

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<![CDATA[Link: State and Metropolitan Area Arts Participation Tables | NEA]]> http://iansidden.com/2015/02/state-and-metropolitan-area-arts-participation-tables-nea/#respond Fri, 20 Feb 2015 20:31:19 +0000 http://iansidden.com/?p=5338

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.

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<![CDATA[Link: Can’t sing? Do it more often — ScienceDaily]]> http://iansidden.com/2015/02/cant-sing-do-it-more-often-sciencedaily/#respond Fri, 20 Feb 2015 15:53:14 +0000 http://iansidden.com/?p=5334

From Science Daily, reporting on research from Northwestern University:

The ability to sing on key may have more in common with the kind of practice that goes into playing an instrument than people realize, said lead researcher Steven Demorest, a professor of music education at Northwestern’s Bienen School of Music.

“No one expects a beginner on violin to sound good right away, it takes practice, but everyone is supposed to be able to sing,” Demorest said. “When people are unsuccessful they take it very personally, but we think if you sing more, you’ll get better.”

via Can’t sing? Do it more often — ScienceDaily.

Singing well requires practice. And don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re tone deaf. Just keep singing.

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<![CDATA[Link: The age-old art of musical page turning is under threat from the accursed iPad – The Independent]]> http://iansidden.com/2015/02/the-age-old-art-of-musical-page-turning-is-under-threat-from-the-accursed-ipad-the-independent/#respond Fri, 20 Feb 2015 13:07:03 +0000 http://iansidden.com/?p=5325

Simon Usborne writing for The Independent:

But about five years ago, Haywood caused a stir with a new approach. He reaches for an iPad and rests it against the stand. An app displays the same, scanned page of Chopin’s “Scherzi”, but I am now truly redundant as Haywood flicks his left foot on to a Bluetooth pedal to turn his own pages, wirelessly and silently.

At first, many concertgoers and reviewers were more interested in the device than the music, but now tablets are used more widely. Several similar set-ups have emerged, meanwhile, including apps that will listen to the music, turning pages automatically (the best time to turn, Haywood says, is a few notes short of the end of the page).

What does it mean for human page turners? Are they under threat? “I think maybe they are,” says Haywood, who says the ultimate solution would be a score that could be projected in front of his eyes, using a Google Glass-like device.

via The age-old art of musical page turning is under threat from the accursed iPad – Features – Classical – The Independent.

Maybe. On an infinite time horizon, musicians will probably use tablet computers or some other digital solution that simplify things and which may make page turners redundant. But I see this process taking a couple decades at least. As I’ve written, the current iPad suffers from some serious drawbacks for sheet music purposes even while it offers some tangible benefits. If you have perfect eyesight and the latest iPad, then things can go pretty smoothly. If you just need Bluetooth page turning, then great. But handwriting? That’s still missing unless you like deciphering illegible scribbles. There’s also the high cost of entry: an iPad isn’t cheap. And the first time your iPad or sheet music reading program crashes on you during a performance is when your trust in the system begins to break down (which happened to me once).

But who knows? New technology has a way of surprising us. The rumored iPad Pro might alleviate some of these issues. If interactions with the iPad suddenly became much more organic than they are currently, then this could become very popular very quickly.

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<![CDATA[Link: “A Tectonic Plate Shift”]]> http://iansidden.com/2015/02/a-tectonic-plate-shift/#respond Thu, 19 Feb 2015 22:19:16 +0000 http://iansidden.com/?p=5319

Nate Wooley writing for New Music Box:

After my first short trip to New York, I saw Ron. He was interested in my impressions and, at length, I told him various stories about which trumpet players I felt were “ripping off” material from others and which I thought were really original. His reply, after a long pause, produced such a radical swing in my thinking that I tend to visualize it, now, as a tectonic plate shift. He said:

None of that matters. In the grand scheme of things, we’re all just dots on dots on dots on dots on dots.

via Dotting Dots | NewMusicBox.

This is a good story, and it’s one that a lot of musicians can probably relate to.

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<![CDATA[Link: The Photoshop of Sound – The New Yorker]]> http://iansidden.com/2015/02/photoshop-sound-new-yorker/#respond Mon, 16 Feb 2015 20:36:52 +0000 http://iansidden.com/?p=5310

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.

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<![CDATA[Link: Eric Whitacre on Reddit]]> http://iansidden.com/2015/02/eric-whitacre-reddit/#respond Sun, 15 Feb 2015 23:50:37 +0000 http://iansidden.com/?p=5307


Use the smallest amount of musical material possible. I wish I could tell myself that now. Make every single note be a reflection of a few simple ideas and throw everything else away. And don’t overthink it – if the piece wants to be simple and elegant then let it be.

via I am Eric Whitacre, composer, conductor, 5th member of Depeche Mode (application pending). AMA! : IAmA.

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☸ A Morning Ritual for German Learning http://iansidden.com/2015/02/morning-ritual-german-learning/ http://iansidden.com/2015/02/morning-ritual-german-learning/#comments Sun, 15 Feb 2015 12:32:02 +0000 http://iansidden.com/?p=5296 wpid5294-IMG_2271.jpg

This photo represents one of my better ideas. As part of my miracle morning, I’ve created this routine that allows me to do my German study right away. If you’re trying to learn a new language and want to systemize your study, then give this a shot.

Here are the basic steps:

  1. Journal in German. Right now I write one page by hand every morning. This was very hard when I began, but it’s become progressively easier, and I keep my computer nearby to clarify grammar or look up words when I get stuck. If a page is too much, then just write a few sentences.
  2. Save new words. If I look up a word, I write it down within a monthly note in Evernote beside the definition, and then I’ll highlight the word in orange.
  3. Read. In this case it’s Calvin und Hobbes. It’s lighthearted, and the vocab ranges from truly child-like (“Mami” “Vati”) to advanced. Again, any words I look up are written into Evernote, though I don’t highlight anything. If you’re not really ready to do serious reading in German, then you might consider studying a blog like German is Easy.
  4. Review. The next day, I can look at the highlighted words, and I have a list of words that I’ve looked up. When I journal, I can then try and use the words I learned the day before. I can also try to incorporate new words into what I say during the day.
  5. Listen to German podcasts. When I move on to my mobilization exercises, I’ll pop in my headphones and listen to a podcast in German. On weekdays, this is usually Langsam Gesprochene Nachrichten, though I subscribe to several others as well.

In total, this lasts about 40 minutes, and it happens after I’ve done my meditation.

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<![CDATA[Link: Can’t See the Trees for the Forest at the 2015 Grammys]]> http://iansidden.com/2015/02/cant-see-the-trees-for-the-forest-at-the-2015-grammys/#respond Sun, 15 Feb 2015 07:04:01 +0000 http://iansidden.com/?p=5291


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.

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<![CDATA[Link: Pair Up Shorter Contrasting Operas?]]> http://iansidden.com/2015/02/pair-up-shorter-contrasting-operas/#comments Sun, 15 Feb 2015 00:09:00 +0000 http://iansidden.com/?p=5288


I really don’t know why not.  There are lots of works that last around 45 minutes to 75 minutes that could be done in all sorts of intriguing combinations.  There are verismo classics and works by 19th century composers that would maybe help bring in the more conservative crowd…Maybe one could program a “crowd pleaser” with something more esoteric? Il Tabarro and The Lighthouse? Dido and Aeneas and Airline Icarus? Would this help expose some people to newer music who would never sign up for a full length opera by Birtwistle or Reimann? I find the idea intriguing.

via Shorter operas | operaramblings.

Me too. Doing Der Rosenkavalier right now, it is remarkable just how long it is, and I think of it as being one of the more “accessible” full-length operas. No matter how easy on the ears, 4 hours or thereabouts is a real commitment.

I’d love to do two shorter pieces in one evening with very stark musical contrast, and I would be curious how audiences found those new combinations.

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