"As Ever, Milton"

Just reading a couple of tributes to serialist composer Milton Babbitt, who died two weeks ago.

The 2nd para talks about the many tributes...not that I'll google but do not be stunned to find as much talk about what an impenetrable theorist he was, one whose ideas can now be consigned to the dustbin of history, and the like.

There were many oddities about Milton if you choose to bring a certain set of preconceptions about the scene he was part of: a Princetonian scholar (easily translates as 'stuffy academic') whose best known piece is the v modern sounding synth piece Philomel but who grew up with jazz and knew its songbook (correct me, my memory on this stuff is faulty now). Indeed wrote a piece for jazz ensemble -- which isn't all that but is prophetic in my head of the deep links that jazz and classical composers would establish and that continue today.

Cruel history will probably add him as a footnote as the man who wrote a piece called 'who cares if you listen?'. It was originally titled 'the composer as specialist'. Not that I have read it but I may get round to it. Unlike the history as written by guys called 'Sebag-Montefiore'.

But I guess the point is (and this Sat am scribbling doesn't have much of one) that Milton presented the following: much of the classical I enjoy is easy to like: its 'fast', has peaks and troughs, its emotions are easy to read. Milton doesn't have that going for it. Its not so much "who cares if you listen" but "who cares to talk about it". Looks at the 'Music and Society' msg board that was closed down this week for lack of posts. It wasn't a Princetonian msg board by any means (actually covered the stuff I liked, and it has a history) but they were quite favourable to it.

Scary music which kills speech...yeah.

Don Van Vliet (aka Captain Beefheart) RIP

Really awful hearing about this in thrash like 'Late Review', using this to beat up the 'music scene' when not one person is interested anymore (and that includes Morley).

No Youtube videos. Laptop is shot but its just as well as now I can fill this post with some truths today.

More links for the week

After listening to the Nine Rivers cycle (so want to type up a few notes but no time, but will try to update this entry later) in yesterday's edition of Hear and Now I went on for more of my Sunday morning new music fix and I found a version of Finnissy's brill 'English country tunes' accompanied by a dancer.

Its from 1984 when people hadn't figured out how to film much yet.

Nine Rivers broadcast on Radio 3 last night was great - its available here if you scroll past Tom Service's babyish face to press the play button.

Jazz Advance (Free Jazz/Improvisational Music Blog)

Richard Oyama, a friend of my friends Nina and Kevin, has, along with a friend of his, just started a blog called Jazz Advance, intending to "cover Sixties avant-garde jazz and the evolution of improvisational music in the U.S. to the present." He'll be linking my old Voice piece on the Contortions soon, and I'll write him a short intro.


Among other things, they'll "investigate jazz influences upon rock musicians like the Byrds, Doors, Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia, Neil Young, Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth, and Wilco's Nels Cline. This blog will also discuss Miles Davis's electric music, which borrowed from James Brown and Sly & the Family Stone."

So far they've had posts on Threadgill, Zorn, Coleman, Oliver Lake, and Lester Bangs. ("Bangs throws down the gauntlet, saying most rock 'n' roll is 'garbage noise,' while 'great jazz is great art.' But 'garbage noise can also be great art,' citing the VU, Sex Pistols and Iggy Pop & the Stooges. No matter the musicianship, free jazz and punk meet at that intersection of 'brain-shredding intensity.'")
  • Current Music
    Miles Davis "Rated X"