Interesting article from Music Think Tank
By Keith Andrew
Recently I was reading some material on the controversial yet highly influential experimental composer John Cage –most widely known for his ‘piece’ 4’33” which if you are not familiar with, is 4’33” of silence. A bold statement indeed.
Now, don’t get me wrong- I respect John Cage. In fact I respect most anyone who is willing to explore and push the boundaries of any convention- musical, artistic, philosophical or otherwise. I may think they are wrong; I may think they are foolish or perhaps even dangerous, but I still can find something to respect in their willingness to reach for or beyond something where most are not willing to reach. From these pioneers of exploration we can usually find something of value in their endeavors even if the mission turns up nothing or ends in complete failure and disaster. There is usually some insight to be gained from another’s missteps -however well intentioned they may have been.
Woody Allen said that if you are not making mistakes you are not making progress. So let us indeed be willing to make a mistake as we refuse to play it safe while reaching for something we have not yet seen or achieved.
That being said, and after all due respect being given, on the subject of music, sound and purpose, I could not disagree with John Cage more and I think he is very mistaken. (To read more, click here).
Another thoughtful, insightful article by Hypebot Associate Editor Kyle Bylin on whether an overload of musical choice has actually diminished the agency (and real choice) of music consumers. This time posted on Music Think Tank (now managed by Hypebot). Read and ponder:
By Kyle Bylin
At first glance, it appears as though the benefits of a culture abundant with music outweigh the drawbacks tenfold—a rich culture has the potential to whet a fan’s appetite for even more, and may further encourage them to become, themselves, creators of culture. More choice is always a good thing, even if in the end, it adds to the frustration and confusion faced by individual fans. But is that true? So far, we have only investigated choice overload in culture through the narrow lens of a record store and have yet to explore the digital sphere. While there are many reasons to believe that the web has created a “paradise of music” for fans, as we’ll soon see, that may not necessarily be the case. It is worth noting that many of the paradoxes of choice overload that I elaborated on in my previous essay were found to be most prevalent in the material domain. And, while psychologist Barry Schwartz suspected that the paradoxes we experience in culture are quite different, he asserted that the end result might be the same. That, much like in the material domain, a culture plentiful with music has the potential to lessen the amount of satisfaction that fans get from their choices and increasingly causes them to opt out of the process all together. In a paper titled Can There Ever Be Too Many Flowers Blooming, Swartz outlines three of the paradoxical effects of choice overload in the cultural domain.
First, when fans are overloaded with cultural alternatives, Schwartz says they will, “Opt for the same old thing as a way to avoid facing unlimited options.” Similar to the reaction that a consumer has to abundance in the material domain, fans will opt for the same old music for a number of reasons. For starters, many fans, out of comfort, may not deviate too far from their favorites. That way, they are free from the disappointment they might experience in listening to music that is dissimilar from their established taste. So too, fans tend to have a deep memory of being burned. When purchasing music, they are more prone to remember all the times that the music did not work out as opposed to the times that it did. Also, fans will stick with what they know because there is instant gratification in that music; it never ceases to fit their mood or remind them of when they were growing up. Lastly, fans opt for the familiar because they are genre loyal and often have rigid tastes. In music, this paradox can be readily observed every day. Most passive fans are not interested in the new music, unless it is propped up by (to read more, click here….)
“If I could get some bubbles, I’d be forever indebted,” singer Craig Lyons tells the packed house at his Monday night gig. The crowd promptly complies, filling the room with bubbles while Lyons plays his tune “Under Water.”
Two nights earlier, the audience made it snow as he strummed the chords to his song “Winter.” Strangely enough, the Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter has come to expect this type of supernatural behavior at his shows, which take place several times a week in Second Life, the virtual online world that allows users to interact with one another as avatars.
Despite declining media coverage after a few years of overexposure, Second Life lives on, and within its virtual borders a music scene has been thriving, with independent artists such as Lyons leading the charge. These artists are earning livings, promoting their music and supporting causes they believe in by performing in this virtual space, which has approximately 1 million users each month.
A fascinating article from Laura Ferreiro in the L.A. Times – Second Life’s thriving music scene — brought my attention to something I knew existed, Second Life (a virtual community where you can create a second life as an avatar) but had dismissed as trivial and as pitiful a way to spend your time as Dungeons and Dragons and other role-playing games that I thought had run their course and disappeared. They haven’t and Second Life seems like role-playing with balls (and all the other virtual viscera an avatar needs).
What I had no idea about was the music scene in Second Life. A few major acts have performed there, including Ben Folds and Suzanne Vega, but what is more astounding is that artists, such as singer-songwriter Craig Lyons have begun a career there that has taken them into non-avatar-driven virtual spaces and even non-virtual space. Fascinating!
Sculptor Louise Bourgeois, an amazing, iconoclastic artist died on May 30, 2010. As the New York Times obitiuary states “the French-born American artist who gained fame only late in a long career, when her psychologically charged abstract sculptures, drawings and prints had a galvanizing effect on younger artists, particularly women.” Artist Richard Wentworth, of the Royal College of Art, relates that:
“She connected the intensely private act of being an artist with the intensely public act of developing a worldwide audience. To have worked constantly for so long and so publicly – is in a field of its own. There are very few female artists who make it to later life and it’s very tough to be a woman artist or sculptor.” Conceptual artist Jenny Holzer said she “orbited Bourgeois” and that “my artist friends and I are crying today”. French President Nicolas Sarkozy also paid tribute to Bourgeois, calling her “a very great artist” who “never stopped creating and renewing herself in her art”. (BBC)
In his column GompArts, Will Gomertz of the BBC, adds some thoughts on Bourgeois and her legacy and links to an insightful article he wrote for the Guardian in 2008 on first encountering her work. Gompertz wrote about how, ”the rage, fear and frustration in Louise Bourgeois’ autobiographical art shocked me into understanding what it must be like to be a woman.”
All the Femme Maison (literally house woman/housewife) paintings share the same idea. In each one, a woman has a house covering her head, below which her naked body protrudes. She thinks she is safe and secure in her domestic prison, because that is all she can see around her. She has no idea that she is flashing her genitals to all and sundry, more vulnerable than ever. It’s the stuff of nightmares where you are publicly exposed and shamed. These paintings succinctly sum up the struggle of every woman and their destiny to live with the responsibilities and constrictions of trying to maintain the balance of wife, mother and housekeeper while trying to retain a semblance of individuality in such sapping domestic circumstances. The simplicity of the paintings adds to the sense of entrapment; there wasn’t the time for anything more studied or crafted. Guardian