Post no. 200, in which I go to my old Kentucky home which isn’t home but is in some ways I guess I don’t really know anymore

It feels like I should write something profound just because this is apparently the 200th thing I’ve posted here. But I’m not going to. I’m just going to mention that I’m going to go see some great friends in Kentucky over the Labor Day weekend. Kentucky was where I went to college, where I met my former partner, where I grew close to one of my best friends, where I met my conducting teacher, and where I started saying “y’all” all the time. No small part of me still feels an attachment to the state – I went to college right as my family (minus my dad) moved to the Northwest and have been something of a nomad since – and there’s a certain kind of nostalgia I get when I go back. This time, it’s mixed with sadness at who I’m not going with, but I’m excited to get back to a place that feels more like home than home, if only for a weekend. Continue reading

Turn, Turn, Turn…to Beethoven 6

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes is the high point of the Bible, precisely because of shit like that quote. It’s not a religious text as much as it’s just a dude’s (and not just any dude, but the legendarily wise King Solomon, though that is the subject of some controversy) thoughts on the way the world is. There’s some God or G-d in there, but it’s only a part of the larger narrative. The verses excerpted above, from Chapter 3, are pretty well-known, especially because of that one song that you know. Why am I bringing this up? Continue reading

Bolero, Blurred Lines, and the never-ending genius of the tonic-dominant relationship

If Maurice Ravel were alive, a pop singer, and significantly douchier...

If Maurice Ravel were alive, American, a pop singer, and significantly douchier…

“Blurred Lines” is, depending on how you feel about that one Daft Punk song, the feel-good hit of the summer. Featuring the uncharismatic but presumably handsome Robin Thicke, the witty and mushmouthed T.I., and uber-producer Pharrell Williams (who is also in on that Daft Punk song, so add him to the list of people having a better summer than me), it’s invaded pop culture with its catchy hook, infectious drumbeat, and the fact that it has pretty glorious titties everywhere in its music video. The song’s success can be attributed to any number of things, not the least of which is the infamous chew-it-up-and-spit-it-out entertainment machine that momma bird’s us whatever they damn well please. But musically the reason it’s popular is incredibly simple. It relies on the easiest and oldest trick in the book to make your auditory pleasure sensors perk up: the tonic-dominant relationship. Continue reading

Music, religion, and me: Playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon with Jesus in the place of Kevin Bacon

It wasn’t that long ago that I wrote about the end of my long-term relationship and my plans to use music to get through the rough patches of loneliness and bitterness and whatever the hell else comes along. At that time, I was anticipating leaning on Mahler a lot due to the overwhelming universality of his music. And I have listened to a fair bit of Mahler in that time, but it’s been something from a bit of an unlikely source that has really held me captive during this time… Continue reading