Monday in Santa Fe

Yesterday I listened, again, to the wonderful album A State of Wonder, which contains both the 1955 and 1981 recordings of the Complete Goldberg Variations, performed by Glenn Gould. I really like the 1981 version. Glenn Gould stopped performing in 1964, at age 32, and until his death in 1982 he only performed for the microphone. He recorded 50 hours worth of music.

Of course, he could not do that nowadays, with so few willing to pay for recordings. What a shame, had he not been able to live outside the concert stage… working strictly on recordings. Surely it would be our loss, and I wonder how many great hours of music will we never hear, because making albums – and never touring – is no longer viable.

Lately every time I watch a short video on the web that utilizes somebody’s music, I also view the video without the music, and then I try to calculate how much of the atmosphere was actually contributed by the music. Most of the time the music is really important (((duh!!))), but the composer or performer are not getting one damn cent while the manufacturer of the camera was paid, a host of people involved were paid (((or were asked and agreed to work for free))) and of course Google makes their advertising money. Where is the outrage? Why have we all swallowed the internet-line that musicians should be grateful for the exposure they are getting from any video. I would love to know who first came up with that line. Wired magazine? It sure was a convenient meme to latch on to.

Amazing evening light:

Friday Music

Untitled new piece, called “New Arabic” on set list, to be recorded for the next LN album. Recorded live at the HoB in Houston on 2010-07-31.

You can download a 320kbps mp3 file here.

Please do not post or link these files anywhere. The song hasn’t been recorded/released yet. I don’t want to be paranoid about this, but I will search for embedded IDs of these files and if I find them in the wild I will shut down this Journal without further notice. I am not suggesting any one of you would do such a thing… and this notice is likely unnecessary, but…

The music started in April with this post:

Been working with an Arabic scale called Maqam Nakriz. The F is sharp and the B and E are flat: D, Eb, F#, G, A, Bb, C, D

Note the big three half-tone step between the Eb and the F#. Nice scale, very evocative. Here is the first music sketch using that scale, recorded at the dining table with my iPhone and the original Blue Mikey:

Friday Morning

Great sentences. Here is one neo bohemia noted, from Anathem:

August moonlight . music « neo bohemia
“…everyone heard music but only a few actually knew how to make it.”
– Anathem
Neal Stephenson

I enjoyed this sentence yesterday:

Socks were no longer quite so foreign in themselves, but the weight of these, wet, still amazed him.

It’s from Spook Country by William Gibson, which I am rereading, getting ready for the new Gibson novel “Zero History” next month.


In addition to a drinking water crises there will apparently also be a Helium crisis. It’s those damn party balloons!

Un-gifting or un-branding – very funny.

Movement on the education front. Not sure this L.A. Times study is the right thing though. It doesn’t measure a teachers overall ability, only how well s/he does in raising test scrores. I am not convinced that all this standardized testing is the way children learn best. I remember fondly those moments that were not at all related to testing, when a teacher would take 30 minutes or an hour to talk about something that was often quite unrelated to the subject of the class, but inspired us and made us see a different angle.

Terrible! We need a redesign of cities:

Marginal Revolution: Parking fact of the day
Several studies have found that cruising for curb parking generates about 30 percent of the traffic in central business districts.

Thursday in Santa Fe

Check out the size of this touchscreen:

Touchscreens go mainstream for Tokyo vending machines – Core77
It appears that vending machines of the touchscreen variety could be set to go mainstream in the gizmo-mad megalopolis of Tokyo, if the new machine of local vender aCure, installed today in Shinagawa Station, is anything to go by. Vending machines and touchscreens are coincidentally, perhaps, the two favourite things of the Japanese, so it was only a matter of time really.

The first thing that came to mind was, that would make a great editing tool for music.

David Byrne compares the Interbet to hot water and makes a point for metered data:

David Byrne’s Journal: 08.12.10: “Don’t wash the dishes, I’m going to take a shower!”
Does anyone remember the days when you’d yell out, “Don’t wash the dishes, I’m going to take a shower!”? (For those who don’t, it was because a typical residential hot water heater didn’t hold enough hot water to provide for both usages simultaneously.)

Here is my take on it:
Many years ago I suggested that all industrialized nations pay Brazil to leave the rain forrest alone. A rain forrest tax. The rain forrest is important for the whole planet and yet one can’t expect Brazil not to use these natural resources when every other country already cut down their forrests to develop…

Well, here a similar pay-solution is appropriate.

David Byrne writes:

More and more businesses are emerging based on an assumption that consumers will be able to upload and download limitless amounts of data for a fixed monthly cable fee to their heart’s content. It’s like charging a flat fee for water, and then one day some segment of the population decides they’re going to water their golf course-sized lawns and also add a pool. The reservoirs, the farms and local industry would dry up and shrivel instantly.

I suggest that businesses that are formed on the basis of consumers moving great amounts of data, should pay a fee to the internet provider. Every time a video call is made via Skype, a few cents would have to go to the ISP, every time a person streams a Netflix movie a few cents would go to the ISP. Sure, Skype would have to charge the consumer something and Netflix would raise prices, but probably not much.

Letter to a Young Musician – 7

Dear Friend,

How to produce a sound, draw a melody from the strings, is a constant question. You can hold a guitar comfortably, which may choke the sound a little, or you can hold it a little less comfortably and produce a finer tone. Somewhere in between those two extremes lies the perfect way to hold your instrument.

In Flamenco, when the guitar was mainly accompanying singers or dancers and when volume was an important concern in the days before amplification, people often balanced the bottom of the guitar on their right leg. The advantage of this position is that the guitar is loud and sings. Unfortunately the guitar isn’t very stable in this position and has to be held up by the left hand, which is not free to move about the neck.

In the last fifty years most guitarists favor this position: cross your right leg over your left leg. Rest the cut-out of the Flamenco guitar on your right thigh. Lean over so that your body is collapsing on the guitar to a degree. This will put your right hand in a good position to strum the strings and your left hand in a great position to play the neck.

Actually, I haven’t done that during concerts for a couple of years. I have been using a footstool, but while classical guitarists put their left foot on the stool and rest the guitar on their left thigh, I put my right foot on the stool and the guitar ends up in the same position as if I were to cross my right leg over my left leg.

The trick, then, lies is finding a balance between holding the guitar securely and thus enabling both of your hands to move freely, and holding the guitar lightly, so that the instrument isn’t choked and can sing. Similar to many relationships, isn’t it? Hold your lover tightly and set them free – at the same time. How do you do that? With care.

Don’t forget to practice.