Monday, August 25, 2008

Rockin' in the New World

Damn, for some reason I'm sleeping like an hour later, leaving me almost no time to penetrate the overmental pneumatosphere and bring down a nugget of joy. Must be going through a transpersonal growth spurt or something.

I wanted to write about something that may seem like a deviation from the recent series of posts about Hitler, but I promise that it will eventually all come together over me. In fact, it goes to the very heart of the matter, even though you will no doubt wonder how and why.

The other evening while on the exercise bike, I was staring ahead at my beloved CD collection, and the thought occurred to me that there is a kind of infinite gap between the truly great musician, versus those who are occasionally able to produce something great. Unfortunately, I have to limit myself to forms of music with which I am most familiar, but the same thing no doubt applies to classical music. I imagine that there is a kind of discontinuous gap between a Bach or Mozart and the rest of the field.

In other words, if we consider musical excellence, any person with an adequate aesthetic sense can hear that it is on a continuum, with some people better than others. That's weird enough, but weirder still is the fact that there are certain geniuses who are "off the scale." It's not as if they are just "better" versions of the lesser talents.

A I said, let me stick with idioms with which I am familiar. An obvious case in point is the Beatles. Something unavoidably "mystical" happened to them between the time of their failed Decca audition and the time of their first Capitol album just a few months later. The Decca executive who failed to sign the Beatles was later widely ridiculed, but he was correct in his judgment. They weren't even mediocre. There was no spark, no magic, no sense whatsoever of what they were later to become. For those with ears to hear, there is literally an infinite gap between the Decca audition and the transcendent glory of Twist and Shout, recorded just a few months later for their first Capitol album.

The same pattern holds for Ray Charles. In fact, the moment he "invented" soul music is captured in the film Ray, and it is pretty close to the truth. Up to that point, he was a quite mediocre and derivative talent, no different from hundreds of other singers. But with I Got a Woman in 1955, he suddenly found his voice and style, and the rest is history. Once again, the body of work he recorded between 1955 and 1960 is so gloriously transcendent that it defies any simple, reductionistic explanation. It is so much better than anyone else, that there is once again that infinite gap, as well as the discontinuous leap between what he was and what he became.

Same thing with Aretha Franklin. She had been recording with Columbia Records since 1960, but was nothing special. She only "became" Aretha at a particular recording session in 1967, with I Never Loved a Man. Afterwards, for the subsequent eight years or so, she was so good it was frightening. During those years she consistently reached a level of perfection that can again only be called "transcendent." I say this because it is not as if, say, we are dealing with a scale that goes from one to ten, and she kept hitting "ten" with her recordings. Rather, the whole point is that she "broke through" the scale and entered some other kind of aesthetic space. Again, it's hard to describe, but any real music lover will understand what I'm talking about -- when an artist takes you into that higher space, which is luminous, expansive, free, and clear, like a wide open sky. (Sorry for the cliche, but that's how it feels to me; it's also a kind of "electrically charged" space.)

I could go on and on. Although Van Morrison made some competent R&B during his years with Them, no one was prepared for the leap he took with the appearance of Astral Weeks in 1968. Ever since then, he's been consistently operating out of that higher space. He is not just "better" than other artists, but in a different category altogether -- again, if you have ears to hear.

Or Sinatra. Although he produced a lot of nice music in the 1940s, no one could have predicted the depth of artistry he achieved with his string of classic Capitol albums in the 1950s. Again, he is not just "better" than the competition, but in an entirely different category. No amount of practice can get you there, because it seems that an element of "grace" is involved. For just as there is obviously spiritual grace, there is also aesthetic grace. And like the spiritual kind, it "blows where it will." Why Frank Sinatra? Why John Lennon? Why John Coltrane?

Part of the answer -- but only part -- is the level of dedication and the purity of intent. Whatever else you think about Sinatra, he was so artistically driven, that he would never allow anything to compromise his vision. Occasionally circumstances forced him to record some commercial pap to throw out into the market, and you can tell in an instant that he's not into it.

Or consider the Beatles. When they were finally signed by Capitol Records in 1962, George Martin wanted them to record a piece of crap called How Do You Do It, which he thought would be a sure-fire hit to launch the band. But the boys refused, insisting that they could write something better. First of all, this attitude was completely unheard of in pop music, which was "company driven," or "producer driven," not artist driven, especially "teen music." It never even occurred to anyone that what they were doing had anything to do with "art." Rather, they were just throwing out hamburgers for hungry teens.

Now, the Beatles had been toiling away for some five years up to that point. They had no money, no prospects, no real future. And yet, something inside already made them absolutely committed to their artistic vision, even before anyone would have called it art! Nevertheless, they put their foot down and insisted on recording their own music. Of note, their producer, George Martin, hadn't signed them on the basis of what he heard in their audition tape, which was again rather mediocre. Rather, in meeting them personally, he just felt that there was some x-factor, some kind of palpable charisma that he hoped to be able to capture and cultivate. Having read a number of biographies, I think what he experienced in meeting them was "the future." It was more than charisma, but a kind of evolutionary force.

And when I say "evolutionary force," what I mean is this. As I said, there are countless artists who are able to achieve a "nine" or "ten" with a song or two, or even in a whole career. But there are other artists who break through to a different dimension, almost like explorers who discover new lands that other people can later come along and populate. In the case of the Beatles, or Bob Dylan, they opened up an entirely new aesthetic space that had only existed in potential up to that time. It was very much as if there were a "ceiling" that was kept in place by convention, and the Beatles crashed through it. Once they did, many others followed, both for better and worse.

Yes, yes, I know what you're thinking. But you cannot blame the Beatles for what others did -- and continue to do -- with that space, any more than you can blame Jesus for the Inquisition or Marconi for Air America.

Now, what does all of this have to do with Adolf Hitler? First of all, let's look at how the founders of the great religions all discovered and opened up new evolutionary spaces for mankind to explore. Are there any spaces left, or is that it? In other words, are we in a situation analogous to the closing of the American frontier in the late 19th century? Or are there other dimension to be discovered and colonized? Is mankind being held back from fulfilling its potential by custom and convention?

to be continued....

Talent is like the marksman who hits a target others can't reach; genius is like the marksman who hits a target others can't see. --Schopenhauer

93 Comments:

Blogger River Cocytus said...

When the American Frontier closed to the West, it wasn't over: First they went up (industry, skyscrapers, the moon), and then they went in (the internet.)

Where to next, boys?

8/25/2008 08:59:00 AM  
Blogger lance said...

Very interesting. I am looking forward to this. I feel like as far transcendent music goes, that for me Johnny Cash is the one that broke through and really in numerous ways drug me along with him. I can say for a fact that he helped me to understand the power of Grace and what that means. Great stuff Bob!!

8/25/2008 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Johnny Cash is a particularly fine example, since he had so little of what can be categorized as "musical talent," and yet, it didn't matter. It was as if he had a very pure musical gift that far transcended his rudimentary know-how. In fact, more know-how would have probably only interfered with the gift!

8/25/2008 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Talent is like the marksman who hits a target others can't reach; genius is like the marksman who hits a target others can't see. --Schopenhauer "

It may be a bit off your musical track, but it'd be interesting to see where you fit Schopenhauer's friend Wagner, into the mix that Hitler would compose. Wagner always seemed to me sort of like someone who did manage to travel to the other side... but then was found not to have a green card, and got deported. Wrote some Great stuff... but... with a residue.

8/25/2008 09:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To answer your question: I think there are new spaces:

In music--yes, I think so. It cannot be predicted, but based on the fact that the breakthroughs keep happening indicates a long or even unlimited series.

In philosophy--yes, look to information technology/computing for the next "open space." We are tinkering with analogs to our own minds and we're going to gain unprecedented control over our inner space, once we find the keys to that kingdom, so to speak.

In spirituality--yes, inevitably some person is going to get so solid with God that he or she will be demonstrably a whole different kettle of fish.

In literature--well, maybe not. It is a dying art. But in blogging, perhaps, a new masterpiece will emerge.

And the list goes on.

8/25/2008 09:28:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

I might suggest that at least part of reason why some artists suddenly acquire a transcendental quality is simply due to a pitch change in the zeitgeist. Of course, the artists themselves have to be open to such and clearly, not all of 'em are. . . in any event, not only do they create with a new and different zeitgeist-powered zest, but we hear/see/read with a new zest, a new consciousness, really. Because without our ability to do so, the new transcendental stuff founders . . .

I think this would be particularly true of musical artists in the 50's, 60's when the zeitgeist winds really began to shift. The transcendent spearheaders, Dylan and the Beatles, well . . . it was a great era for melody, one expected to be stunnedamazedastounded almost on a weekly basis. Because of the brilliance of his lyrics, there's a tendency to forget what a great tunesmith Dylan was there for a while, an equal of the Beatles. That day is over - Dylan now comes up with serviceable tunes, but only just. McCartney, good grief. I suspect that even if these guys did come up with something on the order of their old brilliance, we'd not be able to hear it as such. It's simply not the time. It wouldn't carry in the ether.

The zeitgeist moved on, filmmakers, graphic artists, and now . . . bloggers?

One note - after a zeitgeist has passed and we catch our breath and assess, then we can gather what we have learned and look back with a new appreciation at, say, the melodic and lyrical brilliance of a Rogers and Hammerstein, the artistry of a Hitchcock, etc. We might not have the same nerve-ending sparkler experience, but in a way, the experience can be deeper, richer.

(and yes, *bloggers*)

8/25/2008 09:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

The dogs bark, but the zeitgeist moves on.

8/25/2008 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Will--

That's a very good point. One can later re-enter these relatively autonomous worlds, for example the world of Dixieland jazz, or my favorite period of modal jazz between '58 and '67. When I listen to that music, it has nothing to do with "nostalgia," since I never heard it at the time. Rather, it's like this whole musical world just waiting for us to enter.

I'll get more into that later, but I remember that by the mid-'70, there was already a radio station in LA that played only "'60s music." There was already a clear perception of a period that had come to an end, with clear borders. I mean, imagine today having a radio station that played music from the period between 1995 and 2005, not just today, but forty years from now. It's inconceivable. As I said, more later....

8/25/2008 09:50:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

>> . . . are there other dimension to be discovered and colonized?<<

To be discovered . . . . doubt it, not insofar as our earthly environs go. I think the great religious leaders opened all spaces in that regard.

Those spaces have hardly been "colonized", however. I mean, yea verily, humanity as a whole has yet to reach the 2nd Initiation.

Now - as far the galactic realm goes, and beyond: I tend to think that once we're through with here, there's an infinity of dimensions to be discovered and eventually colonized, spiritual growth being eternal and all . . . The universe, ie., space, is always expanding, I'm told, and will likely do so forever. Endless fun.

8/25/2008 10:04:00 AM  
Anonymous jwm said...

I am curious about the odd kind of flashbulb genius that makes up so much pop, or rock: the garage band stuff like Louie Louie, Wolly Bully or any number of surf music instrumentals. Why does everyone love The Lion Sleeps Tonight? Groups like Jefferson Airplane, or even Country Joe and the Fish, or Steppenwolf touched on it for maybe a song, or part of an album side and then settled back into mediocrity or worse. Or groups like Modern English, or Crowded House- you bought the album for the one song from the radio and find out that everything else on the disc is just boring. Yet that one song- the one that just does it for you. It seems like a lot of songwriters have one and only one song to give.

JWM

8/25/2008 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Will said "...particularly true of musical artists in the 50's, 60's when the zeitgeist winds really began to shift..."

Philosopher's since before Socrates and after have recognized the impact Music could have on societies, for good and ill - music seems to be the singing canary in the cOal mine. It is one of those things, seems to me, that are both revealed and revealing in that music, like poetry, somehow manages to fire up unseen connections, gives them a tangible form, and then under their influence, all of the philosophical, cultural and political implications burst forth.

Suddenly all of those who finally see the "target others can't see", begin firing away at it until even the poorest of marksmen, Ray for instance, begin to say "well, obviously, the target is clear as day"... which is about the time some other visionary catches a harmony lost on the rest, and begins to focus upon a target others are too busy not hearing or seeing, their attention again stuck upon the fixed targets on the demarcated range.

8/25/2008 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

JWM--

Absolutely. I am fascinated by the "one song" phenomenon, as documented in Rhino's excellent Nuggets series. So many kids emulated the Beatles in the 1960s, and with all that passion were able to come up with one great song, but that was it.

8/25/2008 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Those Nuggets are really "suburban folk music" that spontaneously emerged out of the cultivated lawns of the New Frontier.

8/25/2008 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

JWM said “Or groups like Modern English, or Crowded House- you bought the album for the one song from the radio and find out that everything else on the disc is just boring. Yet that one song- the one that just does it for you. It seems like a lot of songwriters have one and only one song to give.”

”I’ll stop the world and melt with you…”

Oh man, I used to tear that one up. And that was it for them… talented people who were illegal aliens in the nether regions, ICE caught them quick and tossed ‘em back across the border.

A question… these new dimensions, etc… always a Good idea? My guess is no. Because the zeitgeist is there and ready to be tapped and ignited, doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. Or rather, maybe there is an available Major and Minor scale available for the coming wave… either one is going to play into the overall score the Cohmposer has in mind… he allows improvisation & riffing… and some progressions play out to what seems to be disharmonic… until the next measure kicks in.

8/25/2008 10:33:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Hmmmm.... I was on a musical kick, too. My mileage varied.

8/25/2008 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Joan--

Very funny! But Joe Cocker is actually another fine example. There's such a gap between when he was toiling in obscurity as "Vance Arnold" with the Avengers and when be emerged as the real "Joe Cocker," that it's again uncanny. Somehow he was given the gift at the crossroads before that first album.

8/25/2008 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

JWM
"Or groups like Modern English, or Crowded House- you bought the album for the one song from the radio and find out that everything else on the disc is just boring."

Oh, no, not Crowded House!
:D

That's funny - the one song of theirs that usually gets played on the radio is one that, to me, is less interesting than the rest of their music.

Though I'm not surprised you feel that way. They seem to be another one of those groups that either really click or fall completely flat in the ear of the beholder. And in my experience, the ones for whom they fall flat vastly outnumber the ones for whom they really click.

Bob,
"When I listen to that music, it has nothing to do with "nostalgia," since I never heard it at the time. Rather, it's like this whole musical world just waiting for us to enter."

There's an awful lot of music discussed here that falls into that category for me. Not so much because it was before my time, but because I was never immersed in it, growing up (raised on a diet of 80s and 90s pop, with a bit of classic and the occasional "oldies" music thrown in; the mental equivalent of McDonald's. It's no wonder I never listened to the radio much). Lacking that personal history makes everything that much more interesting, though - I can get into the space without too many preconceived notions, and thus listen more honestly.

8/25/2008 10:55:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

I think zeitgeists provide a literal sort of *energy* that does indeed energize the artist's creativity and sharpens the audience's receptivity. This energy is, in the artist's case, the flame to the fuse.

Again, the artist has to have the fuse ready if the artist is to make the best of it.

8/25/2008 10:58:00 AM  
Anonymous jwm said...

So here come the links:
Creeque Alley sweet harmony

JWM

8/25/2008 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Julie:

Although most of the music I listen to is "old," I didn't discover any of it until I was all done growed up.

In this regard, I think it's analogous to someone saying that they enjoy 17th century classical. In my case, I especially enjoy Cosmic American Music from, say, 1925 to the present.

8/25/2008 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Although most of the music I listen to is "old," I didn't discover any of it until I was all done growed up.

Same here. I was just about 10 years too young. Just discovered Joe Cocker in the last year.

8/25/2008 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Joan:

You can clearly see and feel the power that flowed through Joe Cocker at that time. It's no act. Very similar to Keith Moon and Pete Townshend in the Who. They couldn't help themselves, as they surrendered to the force. It's no wonder they all turned to drink to try to cool the shakti. I know the feeling from when I was in a band. I'm sure Van does as well.

8/25/2008 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

This is why a spiritual practice requires discipline. If you unleash these forces without the discipline, the results can be quite destructive. And few people are less disciplined than rock musicians.

8/25/2008 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger Niggardly Phil said...

"given the gift at the crossroads": reference to O Brother?

Hot damn, son, I believe you did sell your soul to the devil!

8/25/2008 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

If you lack discipline, some 'medicine' might be necessary if you're going to be able to sleep on any regular basis... I've witnessed this effect on a small scale as a musician myself. It might even, I suppose, drive one to a state of manic depression.

8/25/2008 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

JWM - I don't think I've ever heard that song in its entirety before.

Mugwumps?

I wonder if they meant that in a Naked Lunch sense or in this sense? Going by the lyrics, I have to guess it's the first, which... ew.

But otherwise, I like that one.

8/25/2008 11:27:00 AM  
Anonymous jwm said...

A thought- In some ways pop music is a receptacle for memory- a storehouse for zeit (or would it be geist?). Often it's not that the song itself is particularly great, but we infuse the song with a kind of holographic recall of time and situation. Everyone has a private list.
Julie: Sorry for picking on Crowded House. I tried. What can I say? But that is one of the fascinating things about pop music. Sometimes I'll be stopped at a light, and I'll catch part of a tune on the car radio, and think, " Yargghh. I hated that damn song thirty years ago, and it still blows chunks." Yet someone in the next lane has the same tune cranked up loud, and they're just itchin' to get off the red light so they can go fast and turn it up ALL THE WAY.
Who do you love?

JWM

8/25/2008 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

An interesting element in all the music is that while it may be singular in approach, it never arrives there unattended by others.

It's not to say that Bach didn't hear his own music, but its transcendence only arrives to our ears in the entirety of its composition, each part being "bought into" by the whole orchestra.

The right backup singers, a great percussion section, a rhythm guitarist with a quirky swing. It's the wink and nod and grin and go scenario of spontaneous combustion that makes the music hot.

And then the solos air out each element for statement and appreciation, acknowledging the individual effort. It's nice, instructive, but less than the whole party that happens when everyone jumps back in on the downbeat.

Ain't a government that can duplicate it, or a scientistic that can explain it.

Or a tyranny that can defeat it.

Can Russia really go back, once the Red Army Chorus has sung, "Sweet Home Alabama"?

Rock on.

8/25/2008 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

"Cool the shakti"

Is that what I've done? Leading real worship for 27 years, to find in my last year of it, I had hit something, I don't know what it was, but it was attracting people to the music in a new way. Could've been the mad Bulgarian jazz keyboard player or the former Lynyrd Skynyrd backup guitarist or the airline pilot drummer all backing me up. It was smokin'.

I walked away from it. Been hiding out ever since. It's wrong, I know.

Okay. Done confessin'. Back to reading.

8/25/2008 11:41:00 AM  
Anonymous joseph said...

There are a few groups in a revitalized (thanks to the Cohen brothers and T.Bone Burnett) "old-time" genre, but is really a new acoustic sound, such as Gillian Welch and David Rawlings and Old Crow Medicine Show that may be of the same kind of musical genius. To see one of their live shows is quite an experience.

8/25/2008 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Bob,
"Although most of the music I listen to is "old," I didn't discover any of it until I was all done growed up."

I'm curious, then - what did you listen to growing up?

JWM - no worries about the Crowded House; I just thought it was funny :)

Thorogood is one of those I find amusing, in a warped way. Good for those nights when you really need a drink.

8/25/2008 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Julie:

I listened to the Mystic Church of the AM radio. Others who were there at the time will know what I mean.

8/25/2008 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

As in one of these?

8/25/2008 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

a muse lit the fuse
some rode rockets but others
choked on a sandwich

8/25/2008 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

Just the four of us with God sitting in the middle.

8/25/2008 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Julie:

Not exactly. More like this.

8/25/2008 12:31:00 PM  
Anonymous a fan said...

Can not not mention Dylan or Cohen here. Same thing with these two...there's a kind of mediocrity involved with what they do, yet they do indeed transcend and exist in a league of their own.

Great post today.

8/25/2008 12:40:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Thorogood is one of those I find amusing, in a warped way. Good for those nights when you really need a drink.


OOOH, I believe I can relate. Also, too, and besides that, it depends to a great extent, on the company you keep. Me?
I drink alone

JWM

8/25/2008 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Ah. Makes sense. The lyrics, that is.

But I hafta say, the audio sample from that song on Amazon bears a strong resemblance to... um... Shatner's style.

(*ducks and covers*)

8/25/2008 12:42:00 PM  
Anonymous dusty said...

Wagner is like the Led Zeppelin of Classical music: the force and talent are obviously there, the musical lucidity and ability to capture the subtle music of the spheres are present, but there just seems to be something missing in all. There's something about Led Zeppelin that repels a part of me, as if they were analogous a piper that promises a release and freedom of a "new" space, but who have interspersed within their intentions a hostile particle of non-understanding about the space which they inhabit.

But how can they at the same time be hostile within a 'deeper space' and it still be qualified by us (or me) as an actual deeper space?

There's always a danger, I believe, with elements that emerge out of O, especially if they're of archetypal-genetic depth, since those are the ones that are likely to lead the collectivity to their doom. I really like Bion's distinction between alpha and beta elements, the first being a general primary process--the part of our minds that follow a symmetrical logic via Mark Blanco--and the latter what I might call an "imaginary" category within the alpha element itself that is distinguished by the circumstance and consequences of a 'boundary condition' in relation with O.

The consequences implied by B-space is that where O impinges on the organism there occurs a kind of mind-warp in space and time, and beside the good things like !? and whatnot, there is always the possibility, or temptation even, that we ourselves reject the "new" space out right, and profanely regress to the "old space." The reasons for this are Legion, literally.

When I think of Wagner or Zeppelin, I can't help but get the vision of the 'twisted muse'. This is a psychopomp who is beautiful and intelligent, and mystical and good in appearance, but who for the righteous in eye have a sort of twisted background appearance that underlies the form that we see. When we transpose this background hostility--a hostility that is ultimately the rejection and subsequent aversion to the tropistic eschatonic pull of the O-mega point, i.e, Christ--into a form via our imagination, and then paste this form over the existing image that we have been shown, there the figure is seen in light of the emergent crisis that they truly are.

So one can inhabit a new emergent space (b-space) yet not be of it; and therefore not really be of a "higher space," but of a potentially lower one, since our own growth upward (emergent space yet to be integrated into a healthy a-space) brings with it the possibility of casting an ever larger shadow of Hate (H).

Hitler was to the German people at the time a perfectly embodied 'twisted muse', or to be more precise, he was the physical instantiation of the collective non-local muses that whispered into the ears of common German folk years and years before. This goes well with the doctrine that the fall is spiritual in origin instead of an attribute or the "lower." We are at once mortal and spiritual beings, and being so we have the choice whether or not side with the angels of heaven or those with skeleton wings who are in hell. The pagan impulse is at root a spiritual rebellion against heaven.

(BTW, parallel to Bob, I was just thinking this past Fri and Sat about what it exactly meant to be "enlightened," since the word has lost meaning for me, and seems to be overly saturated with the new age non-sense. What came to mind is this: we are enlightened to the degree that we are free of wickedness. This implies integration of horizontal and vertical, since the lack of qualifies as darkness and shadow. It doesn't just mean eternity and ground since there is an eternal hellfire where spiritual beings go. I'm pretty sure of it.)

The fall of the magazine "what is enlightenment" along with the whole integral movement is evidence of this. Ironically, they are changing the name of the mag to "Enlighten next." They seem to be convinced that they have God.)

8/25/2008 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

Main muse.

My dad was a radio op in WWII and afterwards kept his shortwave and ham radios wired up in a closet in the basement. I spent countless hours warming up the tubes and spinning the big bakelite dials to pick up late night broadcasts from God knows where. Good memories.

What's Justin doing now?

8/25/2008 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Julie--

That's not actually Van on the clip, but some poet who co-wrote the lyrics.

8/25/2008 12:50:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Ok, somecoon just had to do it.

8/25/2008 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Regarding Wagner, I again don't deeply understand classical, so I can't really comment. I did, however, stay in a Holiday Inn, and I also read this book called The Tristan Chord, which explained what Wagner was up to and also gave me the name for my son.

Wagner was deeply influenced by Schopenhauer, and what he was attempting to do was nothing less than capture O in the form of music, or to set the Noumenon, or ultimate reality, to music. Magee seems to feel that Wagner was not only the greatest musical genius who ever lived, but the greatest genius, period. Again, I can't comment. Is he really better than the Yellow Balloon?

8/25/2008 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

:D
I thought his voice sounded different. I was thinking that "By Van Morrison" meant "performed by Van Morrison. But of course, in the music world that's often not the case.

Whew.

8/25/2008 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Ximeze, I can't help asking: Am I the only one freaked out by Joe's pants in that clip? There's a fashion trend I hope never comes back...

8/25/2008 01:00:00 PM  
Blogger Aloysius said...

The final frontier is the revelation of the Holy Ghost. He reveals the mysteries to individuals not to gurus, teachers or prophets (as such). All such can do his help the individual find his way to this personal revelation. One cannot receive the revelation and turn around and tell it without devaluing it.

8/25/2008 01:06:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Dusty said "Wagner is like the Led Zeppelin of Classical music: the force and talent are obviously there, the musical lucidity and ability to capture the subtle music of the spheres are present, but there just seems to be something missing in all. There's something about Led Zeppelin that repels a part of me, as if they were analogous a piper that promises a release and freedom of a "new" space, but who have interspersed within their intentions a hostile particle of non-understanding about the space which they inhabit."

I agree with you on that. Not to encourage our 'Gates, merging man & computer Singularity' trolite, in programming there is something called an Interface, which exposes selected portions of a class to calling objects, which may be some or all of that classes abilities. Picture a large glass door sporting 8 venetian blinds. InterfaceA might come with all blinds in the full open position, InterfaceB with only 3 open, InterfaceC only 1 open, and even though C lets in light, it isn't enough to avoid tripping over obstacles on the floor, whereas B does, but isn't enough to illuminate the paintings upon the wall, and so on, whereas A is the only interface that lets you implement the glass door object while letting in all the light you could handle.

Back to my earlier comment,
"Because the zeitgeist is there and ready to be tapped and ignited, doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. Or rather, maybe there is an available Major and Minor scale available for the coming wave… either one is going to play into the overall score the Cohmposer has in mind… he allows improvisation & riffing… and some progressions play out to what seems to be disharmonic… "

Depending upon the health, the "Ten Commandments ethical impairment" Quotient of the zeitgeist, that determines the Interface implemented - a Change is coming, and we're gonna get the new GlassDoor object... but the amount of Light it'll let in, and whether or not it is in a Major or Minor key....

8/25/2008 01:21:00 PM  
Blogger Aloysius said...

Wagner pushed harmony to its utter limits. To go beyond is to make noise. No music that can be heard as music exceeds Wagner harmonically. (This includes blues, jazz etc.)

But Wagner was a horrible story teller, an anti-semite a propagator of the fuhrer principle a believer in the German volk. He was indeed a musical genius but Beethoven was the real iconoclast.

8/25/2008 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad said "Wagner was deeply influenced by Schopenhauer, and what he was attempting to do was nothing less than capture O in the form of music, or to set the Noumenon, or ultimate reality, to music. Magee seems to feel that Wagner was not only the greatest musical genius who ever lived, but the greatest genius, period. Again, I can't comment. "

Hmmm... The Tristan Chord... I haven't read that one, and I like Magee a lot (things to read and do list grows yet again), and I know many see Wagner in that way.

I do like Wagner a lot (wayyy more than I like zeppelin). I like Beethoven more. I like Mozart still more again. I don't know quite how to say it, but as much as I like Beethoven, and he was a clear next step in Classical movement from Mozart, there is something present in his music, something of the Romanticism movement, that somewhat disturbs.

Going back a comment again, picture Mozart as the full implementation of that stage of the Classical Music Glass Door, all the blinds are full open and the light is blazing in... but it's just One door. Beethoven ushers in the age of the Classical Music Glass Double Door. I have the feeling that were it not for the Rousseauian influence that fueled & unbalanced the Romantic movement, Beethoven might have been much more, but as it was, a couple of those blinds on One side of the doors remained closed, and only a few of the blinds on the second door were opened at all. Wagner built on that, maybe opening the top half of the blinds on both doors, but the shadows from the bottom half were starker and deeper because of it, and the obstacles that hid in them were perilous.

Maybe pushing a mixed metaphor too far, but... there ya go.

8/25/2008 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

aloysius--

Yes, my understanding is that Wagner attempted to sustain an unbelievable level of harmonic tension that only the most capacious and retentive musical minds can appreciate, before all is resolved in the noumenal Tristan Chord.

8/25/2008 01:46:00 PM  
Anonymous tanis said...

"Who Do You Love", written by Bo Diddley, contains a series of puns about a man hoodooing his lover. In hoodoo folk magic, God be the archetypal hoodoo doctor and Moses be "the finest hoodoo man in the world." Ho!
-----

"We are at once mortal and spiritual beings, and being so we have the choice whether or not [to] side with the angels of heaven or those with skeleton wings who are in hell." -Dusty

Yes! A critical truth; when confronted by the deep dibs of God upon our souls, we either obey or we rebel, affirm or deny, live or die. To imagine life without a sacred order is to conjure anti-human spirits. Bad Hoodoo!

-qp

8/25/2008 02:03:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

BTW, a sizable preview of The Tristan Chord is available online... looks fascinating.

(Trivia: my oldest boy's middle name is Tristan)

8/25/2008 02:13:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

and what Tanis/QP said.

8/25/2008 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger jp said...

Van says

"in programming there is something called an Interface, which exposes selected portions of a class to calling objects, which may be some or all of that classes abilities. Picture a large glass door sporting 8 venetian blinds. InterfaceA might come with all blinds in the full open position, InterfaceB with only 3 open, InterfaceC only 1 open, and even though C lets in light, it isn't enough to avoid tripping over obstacles on the floor, whereas B does, but isn't enough to illuminate the paintings upon the wall, and so on, whereas A is the only interface that lets you implement the glass door object while letting in all the light you could handle."

and

"Going back a comment again, picture Mozart as the full implementation of that stage of the Classical Music Glass Door, all the blinds are full open and the light is blazing in... but it's just One door. Beethoven ushers in the age of the Classical Music Glass Double Door. I have the feeling that were it not for the Rousseauian influence that fueled & unbalanced the Romantic movement, Beethoven might have been much more, but as it was, a couple of those blinds on One side of the doors remained closed, and only a few of the blinds on the second door were opened at all. Wagner built on that, maybe opening the top half of the blinds on both doors, but the shadows from the bottom half were starker and deeper because of it, and the obstacles that hid in them were perilous."

Well, that is a different way of looking at the world.

8/25/2008 02:53:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

QP, unsightly Blogger operations question: about the bloglist that shows their latest update (BTW, click the one under Ricky's "Atlas Shrugs: LONG ISLAND, NY: WMD, AN UNMANNED DRONE AND THE MUSLIM THAT BUILT IT"), my question is why does it show my last update as 2 weeks ago, when I put up a new post this weekend? Is there something on my site I've got to do or enable? Also, what is that list called, I'd like to switch my list to show the updates too.

8/25/2008 02:53:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

JP said "Well, that is a different way of looking at the world."

Heh... occupational hazard.

8/25/2008 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Maybe it's like the old story of the tailor who met the Pope:

"What was he like?"

"Oh, about a 38 regular."

8/25/2008 03:10:00 PM  
Anonymous dusty said...

All of my childhood I was told that in heaven before the fall, Satan was the angel of Music and orchestration. This point was used as an injunction against rock music and "feel good" music in general as I was growing up. As much as I hate some of the traditional wisdom, like paranoia for example, the forms that I was taught have helped me in ways that I never could have imagined.

Today, to be wary of the 'beautiful but wayward music' is the classic warning against confusing subtle currents of spirit with goodness. I have to say, the wisdom of my elders were right were right even though they consciously talked out of their heads, alot. Weird how all this good stuff can be put into people without their conscious understanding. People can't be converted like they used to.

I agree that Wagner was maybe the greatest visionary of the Classicist, seeing how that he literally heard music out of thin air and wrote it down.

If fact, of the two bands that I've heard while in lucid ecstatic dream states the only two have been Zeppelin and Wagner. These states are the kind where everything sparkles, but yet are still kaleidoscopic-like in relation to the relative absolute beyond. Whats more, the first time I saw the void, it was while staring at a Led Zeppelin song. It's as if the void turns itself inside out and beams creativity, while the music floats in utter nothingness. All of this qualifies as the "place where no one goes," and these places are where angels and devils live.

Here some words from "no quarter" lyrics, I guess my favorite Zeppelin song: Door, tonight, snow, and cold. Devil, dog, dream, and doom--Message. Must. Get. Through: "the place where no one goes."

Maybe Nomo can provide the scripture about the Satan-Music part.


(BTW, before I post, one more thing: I watched a documentary on Van Gogh yesterday, and I feel in his paintings alot of the same current that I feel in the music above. A common theme, I think, is the juxtaposition of heaven and earth, an at once infinite ecstatic inscape of wheat fields, soft and eternal, transpersonal, and another harsh, finite, imposing, and repressive. If anything unites the two, at least for me at the moment, it's wonder at them both.)

8/25/2008 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

Richard Tarnas's last book posits that planetary alignments correlate positively with predictable [if you know your planets' influences] trends in human history--the 1960s being a prime example of a worldwide gear-shift, an influx of revolutionary new energies and perspectives, from free love to civil rights to long hair for men to flanged fuzztones & backwards-tape effects...

[a Beatle-related musical heads-up: try and find Tony Sheridan's VAGABOND for a surprisingly great leftfield listen]
Note to 'van': Nietzsche was the pal of Richard W, not Artur. Wagner read DAS WELT... 4 times the year it came out, but was shy to meet him...

8/25/2008 03:30:00 PM  
Anonymous tanis said...

Van,
To answer your Blogger tech questions. I recommend:

1.) Go to Dashboard - choose Settings and check to see that you've selected "yes" to all the 'feeds'. If that doesn't correct the updating issue, maybe RobinStarfish can help.

2.) To add the new, auto updating Blog List widget to your sidebar - in Dashboard select Layout - then select 'add a gadget'. What you're looking for is at the top of the list -> the lost fountain of youth, I can't help you with :)

-qp

8/25/2008 03:43:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Julie,
Joe's pants freaked you out? They've got nothing on Percy's
(be sure to watch at least the first 60 seconds to get the full effect)

8/25/2008 03:59:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Dusty said "BTW, before I post, one more thing: I watched a documentary on Van Gogh yesterday, and I feel in his paintings alot of the same current that I feel in the music above. "

Despite everything I consciously believe to the contrary about the artistry of Art, I cannot walk by a Van Gogh painting without feeling a near high voltage and magnetic current drawing me from the eyes on down, to it. Baffles me completely. I'm wary of it, but can't get enough of his paintings, especially of the Cypress tree's and wheatfields.

Sometimes I suppose my inner Tailor puts down his measuring tape and just says "I'll be damned if I know what size that is , but damn! it looks good!"

;-)

8/25/2008 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Ximeze,

Oh, that's so wrong... and it looks so uncomfortable, too. If I had the requisite equipment, I think the fear of getting chafed or pinched would keep me from ever wearing anything like that. Not to mention the fact that it's usually completely unflattering.

But enough about that; I swear, some days I feel like a toddler wandering in here, thinking I can actually contribute to the conversation... somehow, the music stuff usually ends up waaay over my head. So I'm going to toddle off and go back to finger-painting and banging on stuff.

But before I do that, I'd just like to note that Ben could really use some of your prayers right now, Raccoons. I know he'd appreciate it.

8/25/2008 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

GE said "Note to 'van': Nietzsche was the pal of Richard W, not Artur. Wagner read DAS WELT... 4 times the year it came out, but was shy to meet him..."

I'd swear that they knew eachother... darned bio-hard drive, memories must be on the fritz.

However, ahem, using 'Pal' to describe Wagner & Nietzsche's relationship... that kind of tongue & cheek could result in a sprain or some other kind of injury!

8/25/2008 04:15:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Thanks QP!

8/25/2008 04:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Djadja said...

In all forms of creative endeavor a positive feedback runs between creator and creation. Creative geniuses are able to ride this energy longer and higher before falling off than the rest of us. Bob has written about riding the slack while he can. Creative geniuses live in the slack — at least for a while. What brief encounters I’ve had with the creative O are still the high points of my life. I can’t imagine swimming in it. But even the greatest creative genius will eventually fall off the beam, as McCartney did by the time he formed Wings. Einstein’s last great work was the General Theory in 1916. He wrote one more significant paper in 1917 and that was it.

I’m not a Wagner fan (and I generally love Classical music), so I don’t know how much of his personal dark side can be seen in his work. His lasting influence is the creation of the leitmotif, such as the Imperial theme in Star Wars). So when I think of someone who for a short while tapped into O but rode the vertical axis downward, I think of Jim Morrison. His early work with The Doors was brilliant but very dark. Alas, it was so much a part of the fabric of my youth, that it still holds an appeal for me. The musical Dark Side avoid it I must.

8/25/2008 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Cooncur about the Doors. They're another group, where if you listen to tapes of what they were doing just weeks before recording their first album, they are totally lame. I hate the cliche, but as with the other artists I mentioned, there was again the "quantum leap" represented by the Doors' first album. And once again, alcohol was a big factor in preventing them from ever achieving that level again.

And Phil -- the Crossroads reference is not to "O Brother." Rather, it's from an old blues story to the effect that Robert Johnson was so great because he sold his soul one night to the devil while out at the crossroads.

I have this fantasy that the great rock groups did the same thing -- sold their soul for artistic and material success, but paid for it with the death of one of the members. At the time of the deal, they didn't know who would be taken. The Beatles: John Lennon. Stones: Brian Jones. Pink Floyd: Syd Barrett. The Who: Keith Moon. Allman Brothers: Duane. Doors: Jim Morrison. Led Zepp: John Bonham. Beach Boys: Dennis Wilson. The list goes on & on....

8/25/2008 04:53:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

In short, maybe that man on a flaming pie was none other then Stan.

8/25/2008 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger LukeBlogWalker said...

Hmm..

Different dimensions and realities?

How about Tom Lehrer!

Rap is not another dimension or reality, it is thermal noise somewhere above zero Kelvin.

We now return you to DJ Spock.

-Luke

8/25/2008 06:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's an old spiritual that says, "Over my head, I hear music in the air..." Some people sort of plug into that and they sing from a different place. Example: Ombra Mai Fu, sung by Hvorostovsky:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0PcHEdSpnA
Or, same guy singing an a capella Russian folk song - crummy video, but just watch the guy - he is singing from some other place:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9EvtHkhTpg

There are other fine baritones. Why does this one dissolve people into tears?

For sopranos, likewise try Leontyne Price.

These performances I think come from
1. talent and
2. very hard work and
3. something else - some kind of gift.

8/25/2008 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad said " they didn't know who would be taken. The Beatles: John Lennon."

Or, since his demise came after The Beatles demise, Stuart Sutcliffe...

I know. Just finished correcting kids homework... in a picky mood

8/25/2008 06:14:00 PM  
Anonymous chander said...

Transcendance in music like Bob describes is a combination of discipline and no discipline.
Like I read in the Coonifesto. Growth of spirit (and therefore music) is like the growth of a muscle...an "abnormal demand" must be placed on the system for growth.
McCartney today has no discipline at all.

8/25/2008 06:28:00 PM  
Anonymous dusty said...

Van:

The same thing happens to me when listening to Fortuna, or looking at Gogh's sunflowers, wheat fields, cypresses, starry night, etc. In Van's letters he talks about painting as if it were analogous to a sexual climax of the mind: the paintings are just the beautiful mess leftover after the wave of epiphanies pass. I'm not trying to reduce them to sex or anything like that(they are not pornography), but the subtle mind does seem to still be under the law of "what goes up must come down," and so on. I try to see the false positive in duality, but it hasn't really came yet.

(there has to be a point where the two just drop, I guess. Or either the momentum of the synthetic element between the two becomes stronger than the two, releasing me above.)

I think " Wheat field with Crows " was the last painting Van Gogh did before he shot himself (stupidly I say). It's reveals his state really well: we have the sky contrasted with the earth (one split) on one hand, and a road running through the middle that seems to cut the earth in half, on the other (two splits). Furthermore, the road doesn't really go anywhere, does it? He could have made it run straight off into the sunset back to the origin of things, but nope. Next, there seems to be some disorientation via the crows: are they coming or going? They could be coming right at us, or maybe that's just the melancholia? Perhaps they're just passing by and will disappear into the sky?

...

What about this quote from the gospel of Thomas: "When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside...the above like the below...then you will enter the kingdom of God."

What strikes me about some of these artist was not that they didn't leave behind unrivaled beauty, but that they--and I could be wrong--did not enter the kingdom of God once and for all. They are not prophets or saints or sages. We are either spiritually transformed and have God, or not. I don't think there's an in-between; and that's an important element in art, I believe. What is art if not sacred? An ejaculation of the intellect? An orgy of color, patterns, and sensation?

I thought the spiritual is beyond pleasure/pain, or at least the two resolved into the 'one spiritual pleasure'.

8/25/2008 06:47:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

When I was in my twenties I decided all on my own (with some help fron Stanley Kubrick) that I would gain an appreciation for Classical music. I bought Beethoven's symphonies, some Mozart, and some Bach. At first it all pretty much sounded like elevator music. I had heard how great these pieces were supposed to be, even though when I played the records I couldn't hear why.
So I would put the records on at bedtime, put on the earphones, and let the music lull me to sleep.
The first breakthrough came with Beethoven's Sixth symphony. There was a listening to it that was like suddenly seeing the image in the stereogram (to beat that tired simile to death once more) The music came alive; I heard it in technicolor, I just plain heard all the melodies for the first time, even though I had been listening to the record for weeks.Then came the Fifth, the Seventh, and the first three movements of the Ninth. Then JS Bach stated lighting up. The first time I heard Mozart's Requiem I cried through both album sides. Same with Bach's B minor Mass.(4 sides :P)
And from somewhere deep in those bass lines, and high in the soloists, there would creep in to me a sneaky kind of almost guilty longing for the religion. This would annoy the hell out of my then rigorously atheistic. worldview, but I didn't let a little cognitive dissonance interfere with a good record.
The last pieces I took the time to crack were Beethoven's late quartets. It took a long long time to get them. It was worth the effort. I have gotten away from music as a significant part of my daily routine. I'll play some oldies on YouTube, or Napster, and occasionally throw on a CD, but that's about it.
As I said earlier It's easy to see how a work of great genius can touch us down to our deepest vertical planes. Somehow, I get as great a kick wondering how a little ditty like Out of Limits can come so close.

JWM

8/25/2008 06:53:00 PM  
Blogger Niggardly Phil said...

Heh, GB, that must be where they got it for the movie.

shows you how out of touch I am.

8/25/2008 07:01:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Music off the air, yes! That's it. When I was a child I had trouble remembering my favorite songs. So while other kids sang their favorite tunes, I made one up, or now that I think about it, I just started humming or singing and a tune came out.

You know, John Cage revolts me. He did what I consider to be kind of a form of musical idolatry - like people praying to the genie-God to get prosperity. He used the folds of paper to determine pitches and lengths.

Nonsense! Music works like this: Play a note on the piano. The overtone series will resonate with the music on the air, and as soon as you hear the pick up, start playing...

The Host Of The Air

O'DRISCOLL drove with a song
The wild duck and the drake
From the tall and the tufted reeds
Of the drear Hart Lake.

And he saw how the reeds grew dark
At the coming of night-tide,
And dreamed of the long dim hair
Of Bridget his bride.

He heard while he sang and dreamed
A piper piping away,
And never was piping so sad,
And never was piping so gay.

And he saw young men and young girls
Who danced on a level place,
And Bridget his bride among them,
With a sad and a gay face.

The dancers crowded about him
And many a sweet thing said,
And a young man brought him red wine
And a young girl white bread.

But Bridget drew him by the sleeve
Away from the merry bands,
To old men playing at cards
With a twinkling of ancient hands.

The bread and the wine had a doom,
For these were the host of the air;
He sat and played in a dream
Of her long dim hair.

He played with the merry old men
And thought not of evil chance,
Until one bore Bridget his bride
Away from the merry dance.

He bore her away in his atms,
The handsomest young man there,
And his neck and his breast and his arms
Were drowned in her long dim hair.

O'Driscoll scattered the cards
And out of his dream awoke:
Old men and young men and young girls
Were gone like a drifting smoke;

But he heard high up in the air
A piper piping away,
And never was piping so sad,
And never was piping so gay.

-W.B Yeats

8/25/2008 07:03:00 PM  
Blogger QP said...

Just finished correcting kids homework...

Van & Van Gogh, manifestations of indwelling high Energy.

8/25/2008 07:09:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

JWM

I can actually appreciate Beethoven's late quartets, because they're so avant-garde they remind me of modern jazz.

8/25/2008 07:11:00 PM  
Blogger QP said...

Divinely high moments in my life now come during live performances of the High Priests of Soul. Last spring during Beethoven's Ninth I sent my spirit on stage, melded and pulsed with the harmonic Energy convergence. O Ode to Joy!

8/25/2008 07:25:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

JWM said "So I would put the records on at bedtime, put on the earphones, and let the music lull me to sleep.
The first breakthrough came with Beethoven's Sixth symphony."

I still remember, and I couldn't have been more than three or four, my parents took us to see Fantasia at the theater... and I remembered from that point on, vividly, Beethoven's Sixth... it wasn't the cartoon, it was the music Wham! Got me, and also Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain and Schubert's Ave Maria, though those were heavily tied to the cartoon images of the demon rising on the mountain, and then the dawn, etc. But for me, Music means Classical. Rock was music for dancing, celebrating, action, etc, but Music was always Classical.

My parents had an RCA recording of Toscanini conducting all of Beethoven's symphonies, and when I wanted to read or write, or sit and think, those were what I listened to... I think I must have a faint hint of something like synesthesia, because when listening to classical music I inwardly, faintly, 'see' the sounds, odd roiling landscapes of color like celtic designs I could wander through.

The Beatles and Rock were late comers to my ears, never really interested me until about 15 when my best friend and I started playing guitar. And then the shakti defense dance kicked in... and... well... another story.

8/25/2008 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

One of my favorite-est YouTubes ever. Paul Brady just sang the heck out of this song. At least with his early trad stuff, I thought he hit that space you mentioned, Bob. I'm not as fond of his pop stuff, but many are.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBGkhPx529g

8/25/2008 08:59:00 PM  
Blogger lance said...

I was just watching one of my favorite movies "Almost Famous". It really feels almost more real to me know that I am seeing it through the lenses of Bob's writings. So cool!!

8/25/2008 09:26:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

"Maybe Nomo can provide the scripture about the Satan-Music part." (Dusty)

I know of no scripture demonizing music, but music can accompany some remarkable dark prophesy. You might recognize this little "moldy oldie".

8/25/2008 09:50:00 PM  
Blogger LukeBlogWalker said...

Chill at Racoon Cabin

-Luke

8/25/2008 10:28:00 PM  
Anonymous butthead said...

"But he heard high up in the air
A piper piping away,
And never was piping so sad,
And never was piping so gay."

You said, "gay"...uh huh huh

8/25/2008 11:53:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

>>I can actually appreciate Beethoven's late quartets, because they're so avant-garde they remind me of modern jazz<<

I agree, I think there really is a modern jazz-like element about the late quartets, a cool, windy distance, the atmosphere of an alien planet. There is emotion there, but what kind of emotion, what kind of perspective is this? A lot of people have found the late quartets to be a bit disturbing. It's as if this marks the point where Beethoven has become something not entirely human, maybe trans-human, an uber-soul.

As has been said, the late quartets marked the last station of B's spiritual journey. First there was his "I am Divine Power!" phase, then came his struggle to accept God's will as he dealt with his increasing deafness and his loneliness. Then the 3rd phase, his utter resignation to the Divine will. His life seemed to illuminate an old Sufi outline of spiritual attainment:

(1) Lord, use me!

(2) Lord, use me, but don't break me.

(3) Lord, I don't care if you break me.

I think that's why we read a modern-like sense of alienation into the quartets. In the quartets there is a great loneliness, but it's not a keening, a lament, in fact, it's a kind of triumph. Obviously, modern jazz isn't coming from the same place. Jazz is urban music, it explores sensuality. In a way, jazz highlights the separation of spirit and body. Still, I have to wonder if ultimately the spiritual goal, so to speak, of modern jazz isn't basically the same as B's. albeit by different means - a becoming something other than conventionally human, something above and beyond what we think of as human emotion and desire.

8/26/2008 12:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man will exhaust new frontiers about the same time the last piece of possible music is written.

8/26/2008 05:17:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

I loved Beethoven as a child, because a music teacher at my elementary school encouraged my interest and gave me a record and a poster depicting the composer as wild-haired and stern-faced.

And anyway, what would church be without "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee?"

8/26/2008 06:30:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Today, I found an interesting scriptural connection. When you add the apocrypha, you have a... slightly different Bible.

8/26/2008 06:46:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Er, you can Use this link.

It is a thought about what scripture thinks about earthly 'Kings'.

8/26/2008 06:47:00 AM  
Blogger JOHN O'LEARY said...

Interesting blog. The Beatles reference caught my attention. One quibble: it was over a year between their Decca demo recording and their recording of "Twist & Shout" for their first album Please Please Me. In between those two markers were probably 300 gigs and a new drummer.

3/19/2014 07:12:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I don't think there would have been 300 gigs between January and early September of 1962, but your point is well taken. In the new biography, the author points out that even by the time of the Decca audition, the Beatles were by far the most experienced rock group there had ever been. An obvious point that I hadn't appreciated until then. It seems that they had already become something quite special, but it wasn't captured by Decca for a number of reasons, e.g., the long drive south, the nerves, the early morning studio date, and, of course, the lack of Ringo.

3/19/2014 08:25:00 AM  

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