From Jaron Lanier’s latest book – read more on Wired. Here he writes about musicians, who no longer earn money from recordings and have to rely on performing:
It is one thing to sing for your supper occasionally, but to have to do so for every meal forces you into a peasant’s dilemma: The peasant’s dilemma is that there’s no buffer. A musician who is sick or old, or who has a sick kid, cannot perform and cannot earn. A few musicians, a very tiny number indeed, will do well, but even the most successful real-time-only careers can fall apart suddenly because of a spate of bad luck. Real life cannot avoid those spates, so eventually almost everyone living a real-time economic life falls on hard times.
Without the listener there is no music. The listener completes the musical circuit, and, even though I am not a musician, I feel as if I am a form of musician when I listen and believe that, by hearing the piece, by responding to it with my thoughts of what it is and what it is doing – what it means – I am actually helping to finish it off. As the listener I am the final element in the making of the music. I have made the music useful. I have put it into context: the context of my own life, and my own perception of what music is, and why it exists.
- Paul Morley, Words and Music: a history of pop in the shape of a city
I do not think that music has to have a listener aside from the person or persons making the music, and I don’t believe that music has to be useful, but I like the above description of the listener completing a circle.
We could say the same about a reader who, by imagining the people and the landscapes described in a book, makes words come to life and thus completes the circle.
See also this, which I wrote about twenty years ago for Musician magazine.
I was scheduled to do five solo performances at the Rrazz starting today, through Sunday. Yet I am writing these words at home in Santa Fe. What happened?
The Rrazz called my agent on Monday and cancelled my performances. The club is currently closed due to a San Francisco noise ordinance. Here is a statement the club made in February, and which, as of today, is no longer linked from the homepage of the Rrazz website – maybe it will get updated later today:
At this time, through March 5, 2013 only, the SF Entertainment Commission has required us to pause our performances while we investigate a possible sound issue at our new home on Van Ness Avenue and rectify it as needed. Since RRAZZ has always been considerate of our performers, audiences and neighbors, we stand to right unjustness whether on a broad spectrum or a narrow one. Therefore, we feel obliged to postpone any performances through March 5 while we tend to the matter. We are so very sorry for your inconvenience.
This is a temporary situation through March 5, 2013 only.
I assume the club had to delay re-opening to finish noise-related renovations.
Apparently the new home of the Rrazz – they moved from the Nikko Hotel location to a new room at 1000 Van Ness at the beginning of the year – is next door to an AMC movie theater. That proximity creates a two-way sound problem: loud R&B or Rock & Roll acts at the club might disturb quiet movies in the cinema and action movies at the cinema could disturb softer performances, such as solo guitar concerts. It is not an easy problem to tackle and I hope the Rrazz will find a solution.
Believe me, I would have enjoyed a few days in March in San Francisco: the city culture, the coffee, great audiences and so on…
I will, however, perform in San Francisco later this year, with the band, at Yoshi’s in the Summer.
I don’t like the alarm metaphor used on mobile phones. That sound was useful when people had only one hard-wired telephone in their house and needed to be alerted to a call coming in. They might have had to hurry to the room the phone was in, in order not to miss the call. Then came the answering machine, which meant one could miss a call and deal with the caller at a later time, but the alarm sound remained.
Now many of us carry a mobile phone on our person most of the time. The phone no longer needs to sound a terrible alarm every single time a call comes in. A gentle announcement would suffice, I think. In fact, it would make quite a difference for a caller to be gently announced, rather than hearing a full alarm sounded. One can always check who called, unlike with the early telephones, and there is the built-in answering machine, too.
With that in mind I created a few ringtones you may download. Try them out, see whether the idea works for you.
These are iPhone ringtones. Download to your computer, add to your iTunes, hook up your phone and drag the files over to your iPhone. Maybe they’ll work with Android phones as well, but I have no idea.
Jon, Chris and I will play a couple of short sets at Ciudad de las Ideas in Puebla, Mexico, on November 8th. Here is a little more info about Ciudad de las Ideas.
Afterwards we will return to Santa Fe right away to meet up with Mike Middleton (trumpet) on the 10th and perform as a quartet at the Lensic Performing Arts Center on the 11th. Performing at home is always special and I am looking forward to that concert!
My 2012 reading list, in no particular order. Could not put “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” down and finished it yesterday, a little after midnight.
√ – simply means that I read the book. The unread titles are at the ready, mostly in the form of hardcovers and paperbacks, some bought used but most bought at Collected Works, which is a fantastic bookstore in Santa Fe.
Spiegel und Maske (1970-1983) – Jorge Luis Borges √
Momo – Michael Ende √
The Offensive Traveler – V. S. Pritchett √
The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco √
Angelmaker – Nick Harkaway √
The Gone-Away World – Nick Harkaway √
Peter Høeg – Das Stille Mädchen √
A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway √
Alif the Unseen – G. Willow Wilson √
The Secret Race – Tyler Hamilton √
Gods Without Men – Hari Kunzru √
1Q84 – Haruki Murakami √
Buddha in Blue Jeans -Tai Sheridan √
Distrust that Particular Flavor – William Gibson √
Lying – Sam Harris √
Years of Red Dust – Qui Xiaolong √
Ratking – Michael Dibdin √
Vendetta – Michael Dibdin √
Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell √
Tribal Peoples – Stephen Corry √
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan √
Le Freak – Nile Rodgers √
How Music Works – David Byrne
Cabal – Michael Dibdin
Dead Lagoon – Michael Dibdin
Cosi Fan Tutti – Michael Dibdin
Some Remarks – Neal Stephenson
The Garden of Evening Mists – Tan Twan Eng
Ninja – 1,000 Years of the Shadow Warriors – John Man
The Quantum Universe – Brian Cox
On Dune, Ottmar Liebert and Luna Negra move away from the sleepy softness that marred 2010′s Petals on the Path. While Dune’s sound is carefully sculpted to reflect the arid Southwest landscape that is the band’s trademark, its compositions are complex, songlike, and adventurous while being thematically linked in abstract fashion.
Although Liebert’s guitars (acoustic and electric) are the focal point, there are a wide variety of textures and musical extensions employed by bassist/keyboardist Jon Gagan, accordionist Char Rothschild, and percussionist Robbie Rothschild. In addition, composer Andrew Gaskins employs a pair of sound designs on the brief “mood locators” at the beginning and end of the album.
This beautifully articulated meld of acoustic and electric instruments recalls moments from Liebert’s past recordings such as Opium, The Hours Between Night + Day, and The Scent of Light. Standouts here include the Moorish scale employed in “Horse,” a nuevo flamenco number that features a lovely dialogue between Liebert’s nylon-string and electric guitars and Char Rothschild’s swirling modal accordion.
“Shadow” shifts between a modern rhumba and a 6/8 beat. The effect is slightly funky when underscored by Gagan’s bassline. Check the breezy yet emotive languages of nuevo flamenco and contemporary jazz on “Sand (Apophenia).”
“On the Road to Shiraz,” begins with a lone Morricone-esque electric guitar before Robbie Rothschild’s handclaps jump into the center. Liebert’s nylon string answers with the melody as Char Rothschild hovers in the backdrop. But it’s the funky skittering of Gagan’s electric bass that finds a counter rhythm; it anchors the tune while simultaneously propelling it forward.
“Five Clouds Lenticular” begins as a keyboard drone before the acoustic guitar comes to the fore, playing a gorgeous 5/4 back and forth in dialogue with itself as Char Rothschild accents the changes. The interplay between the accordion and guitars on “Smoke (Rising in Spirals)” is extended by reverb and other ambient effects.
Dune is an example of cutting-edge nuevo flamenco; Liebert’s confidence in his lyrical vision is total, allowing him and Luna Negra to focus on attention to detail and adventure; consequently, they deliver in spades.