Ah, live performance

Monotonous Forest: Ah, live performance
Last night’s fascinating evening of music by Peter Eötvös at Zankel Hall had some unanticipated “extras,” beginning with a particularly startling cell phone going off right before Encore, a brief string quartet written for György Kurtág’s 80th birthday. The woman answered the call. As the musicians waited, the violist tried his best, grinning, “Anyone else?” By this time an usher was glaring at the offender, who apparently didn’t know how to turn off the device. After it beeped the third time, the exasperated staffer finally grabbed it, shook a finger at the woman and left, accompanied by more than a few bursts of applause.
(Via The Rest Is Noise)

And here is another version of the events.

Journalism (and Radio and the Music Biz)

Discussion Piece: Why We Need a National Endowment for Journalism
So what’s the problem? Industry insiders blame the Internet for all of newspapers’ woes. But it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Here’s my basic take on what really happened: As control of papers and other news sources were consolidated and corporatized over the last decade, decision making was wrested away from editors and publishers who actually know and care about journalism, and into the hands of businessmen and boards of directors who brought the wisdom of the business world to newspapers… and promptly ran them into the ground.
(Via Worldchanging)

That’s exactly what happened to radio and the music biz. Record companies used to be owned and run by people who loved music, but once these companies became very successful they were bought by large corporations. Musicians and producers (e.g. Arif Mardin at Atlantic) gave way to the suits – business graduates, attorneys and CEOs. Owners gave way to presidents and CEOs who catered to stockholders and for whom it was most important to get the biggest four-year pay-off.

Suddenly, making a cool recording which then became an album and sold a ton of copies turned into maximizing profits and controlling the market.

Once radio stations became giant corporate entities, the accountants took over. After your company spent 115 million dollars on buying a radio station, you had to make sure the debt could be serviced… You couldn’t possibly trust the music director’s taste. You had to be sure. So you ordered research to help the music selection process. You found a company who sent employees to the mall with a stack of forms and a few CDs of music. They would ask people in the mall to listen to 20-30 seconds of any given song and to rate it on a scale… Meanwhile the Program Director jumped out of the window, maybe because he saw that radio had nothing to do with music anymore.

Something awful happened when record companies, radio stations and then newspapers became too corporate. I am all for making a profit, but should one start one’s day focused on profit? Shouldn’t we create music, broadcast music and print news because that’s what gets us excited and worked up?

I find there is a void, a gaping hole that cannot be replaced. A void where good DJs once played a meaningful set of music, combining songs I knew with strange and unfamiliar tunes – instead of merely reading the names of songs and artists, put together in advance by a computer program, from a screen. A void where people in the music business helped artists in their struggle for expression and where journalists were free to pursue news-items that might not be popular…

Maybe the void will get filled again, once these giant corporations go up in smoke.

Fiat Gets 35% of Chrysler

Could you have imagined this a year, no six months ago? What interesting times we live in.

Fiat Gets 35% of Chrysler in Exchange for Small Cars
So the hedge fund that owns Chrysler has just sold 35% of Chrysler to Fiat. Not for a big fat check, but simply for access to Fiat’s small car platforms. Chrysler, apparently, sees this as a step on the path toward redemption.

I’d wondered why their extended-range EVs all looked so gigantic this year in Detroit…and now I know, it’s because Chrysler simply doesn’t have the ability to build small cars. Both Ford and GM at least were able to demonstrate that they could build smaller cars, but the shortsightedness of Chrysler is pretty stupefying.

At least Fiat has shown that they think Chrysler is somewhat viable, or else they wouldn’t be dealing with them at all. Let’s hope Chrysler finds a way out of their hole, and that Fiat’s small car platforms are a shining lite for them.
(Via EcoGeek.org)

Speed Merengue

Email received:

Hello, I came across your speed merengue version of ‘Barcelona Nights’ and was intrigued by this new form of merengue. I understand you coined the term. I have seen many people using it recently. Is it a new trend?

I write about music scenes for the Guardian and would like to write about this.

Do you plan to make any more speed merengue?

No, not exactly a new trend. The email is signed John McDonnell, who does appear to write for the Guardian. Barcelona Nights, the Speed-Merengue version was released on the Rumba Collection in 1997. (((click on the link and then the green triangle to hear the song)))

When I discovered this type of very fast Merengue in the Summer of 1996, while playing guitar on Nestor Torres’ album Burning Whispers in Miami, this trend was likely already a few years old. That type of fast Merengue has interesting similarities to Drum ‘n’ Bass… double-time drums + half-time bass.

Journalism

Clay Shirky pontificates
The collapse of daily print journalism will mean many things. For those of us old enough to still care about going out on a Sunday morning for our doorstop edition of The Times, it will mean the end of a certain kind of civilized ritual that has defined most of our adult lives. It will also mean the end of a certain kind of quasi-bohemian urban existence for the thousands of smart middle-class writers, journalists, and public intellectuals who have, until now, lived semi-charmed kinds of lives of the mind. And it will seriously damage the press’s ability to serve as a bulwark of democracy. Internet purists may maintain that the Web will throw up a new pro-am class of citizen journalists to fill the void, but for now, at least, there’s no online substitute for institutions that can marshal years of well-developed sourcing and reporting experience—not to mention the resources to, say, send journalists leapfrogging between Mumbai and Islamabad to decode the complexities of the India-Pakistan conflict.
(Via Beyond the Beyond)