08-29: Skyhooks : Ego Is Not A Dirty Word 1975 | Live at Festival Hall Melbourne 1975 - I'm Jimmy Reed 1958 - Louis Couperin / Christophe Rousset 2010 - Kazi Nazrul Islam / Nazrul Sangeet - Archie Campbell 1976

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1661 – Louis Couperin (French composer, harpsichordist, organist & gambist)
1664 – Edward Coleman  (English tenor & composer)
1738 – Georg Reutter the Elder (Austrian organist, theorbist & composer)
1821 – Horace Coignet (French composer, J.-J. Rouseau's Pygmalion)
1861 – Franz Joseph Glæser (Czech-born Danish composer)
1876 – Félicien-César David (French composer)
1928 – Jean Gabriel Prosper Marie (French composer)
1933 – Georgi Conus (Russian composer)
1935 – Charles Lee Williams (American hymn composer)
1940 – Arthur de Greef (Belgian pianist & composer)
1946 – Milan Harašta (Czech composer)
1947 – Lillian Blauvelt (American operatic lyric soprano)
1972 – Lale Andersen (German popular singer & songwriter)
1976 – Jimmy Reed (American blues singer, songwriter, guitarist & harmonic player)
1976 – Kazi Nazrul Islam (Bengali poet, musician, revolutionary & philosopher)
1982 – Lehman Engel (American composer & conductor for stage, television & film)
1987 – Archie Campbell (American country music comedian, Hee-Haw)
1996 – Tera de Marez Oyens (Dutch composer, pianist & church musician)
2001 – Graeme "Shirley" Strachan (Australian rock singer & songwriter, Skyhooks)
2004 – Hans Vonk (Dutch conductor & pianist)

Let's have a moment of silence for our dearly departed.

Tell you what... we can do better than that. Let's have a full 273 seconds of silence for our dearly departed. I'll wait...

August 29 marks the 59th anniversary of the world premiere by David Tudor, in Woodstock, New York, of John Cage's 4′33″ for any instrument. You've just participated in a recreation of it. You're a real avant-garde musician now. Was anybody there to listen to it? And in case you did not perform the work, at least listen to a brief excerpt of it. I don't normally post mp3s directly on the blog, but this one is too good not to miss: 


Okay, sure... it's easy to be tongue-in-cheek about it, but keep in mind what Cage said about that first performance:
They missed the point. There's no such thing as silence. What they thought was silence, because they didn't know how to listen, was full of accidental sounds. You could hear the wind stirring outside during the first movement. During the second, raindrops began pattering the roof, and during the third the people themselves made all kinds of interesting sounds as they talked or walked out.
It's a good thing to keep in mind around here, as we find ourselves constantly dipping into any and every genre of music imaginable (or at least attempting to - we are somewhat limited by what happens to be available out there at any given moment*). Whenever you hear some ignorant stick-in-the-mud proclaiming "That ain't music!" or "That's just a bunch of noise!" you'll know to tell 'em where to go! To http://yesterdayindeadmusicians.blogspot.com/ of course. Please do. I can really use more traffic, even if it's from ignorant sticks-in-the-mud.

On a related subject, you may notice that I've just added a very eclectic blogroll here. There are at current about 130 blogs on it, and I will probably add more. I have it set up so that it will display only the 25 most recently updated blogs, so the blogroll will be continually changing, and that's kinda how we like it. And by we I mean me. We, by which I mean I, can use the Royal We around here all we want, because around here, we are the king. And it's good to be the king. See you on the other side of that piece of art down there. Piece of art? You mean "the jump?" Yes, we mean the jump, but WE say that the jump is a piece of art. Because if we call it art, then it's art. Who are you to argue with us about it?

*UPDATE: It is with a beatific gladness that I announce my success at last in locating some raga performances of Nazrul Sangeet, the works of Kazi Nazrul Islam, the official National Poet of Bangladesh, the Sufi Rebel Poet, the fighter against fascism, the champion of the poor, and women's rights, and equality for all peoples...

Nazrul Sangeet

Louis Couperin, like his more famous nephew François Couperin le grand, is mainly known as a composer of fantastic keyboard music. He can also stake a claim to some innovations in that domain. He was one of the first composers to specify organ registrations, and he also developed a special kind of notation for unmeasured passages, which occur in particular in his keyboard préludes. An example of Louie's use of this is at the top right of our collage up there... you'll see at first the music is measured - that is, there are measures, and bar lines, and a regular metrical pattern, and durational values to the notes - and then it becomes unmeasured, with everything written in whole notes, and those slurs indicating notes that are to be sustained. What Louis Couperin was really striving for was a way to make composed make seem improvised and more spontaneous, by allowing the performer some license in the domain of rhythm, a chance to exercise one's own natural sense of musicality.

Unlike its Eastern counterparts, in which improvisation has always been the norm, Western classical music has, ever since the Middle Ages, gradually left less and less up to the performer. In Louis Couperin's day, it had really only been several decades since composers had started getting more specific about things like tempo, dynamics - even the exact instrumentation they wanted for a piece of music. In the Middle Ages, people used whatever instruments they happened to have on hand. By the time you reach the 20th century, very little is being left up to the performer's preferences or the whims of happenstance.

But then we got jazz. And we got the Early Music movement, in which performers started re-learning how to play composed music in that off-the-cuff manner of old (Couperin had merely been trying to write out the sorts of things performers were doing already, while giving them some boundaries in terms of which notes to play). And we also got Cage and his indeterminacy, his use of chance operations, his way of sometimes just letting things be, taking himself out of the picture as the composer and letting the music just happen. And then we didn't just get jazz, we got free jazz, and fusions between jazz and Eastern music. Now we've got computers that can not only realize the most minute details of a composition more accurately than any human can, but can also do our improvising for us... (Read more below)

Jimmy Reed was a great Chicago electric bluesman. He had a big influence on rockers like Elvis Presley and the Rolling Stones... (Read more below)

The Skyhooks, with frontman Graeme "Shirley" Strachan, were a glam-rock band from Australia. I'm not terribly familiar with them, but apparently they had a huge influence on rock 'n' roll in Australia in the 70s, one that was only surpassed after AC/DC came along. Shirley Strachan also had a solo career, worked as a radio and TV presenter, had a television series for kids in the early 80s, and then hosted one of those home-makeover shows during the 90s, in which his past skills as a carpenter came in handy. Strachan was killed 10 years ago while learning to fly a helicopter... (Read more below)

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