This post is for the awesome students at Summer Music at Stanislaus 2017, some recordings for you to enjoy! (I'll add to this list tonight and/or tomorrow, so let me know if there's anything you'd like to hear.)
No, seriously: Alarm Will Sound has recorded an acoustic performance of the Beatles' (in)famous track "Revolution 9" (a peculiar example of musique concrète). And it is FANTASTIC. Like, really seriously the best thing I've heard in a while. It's kind of rehabilitating my opinion of the original track, actually.
Give it a listen:
Their new album is available for pre-order here. You should get it. AWS is one of my favorite musical ensembles of any kind. Their audacious and bold originality never fails to delight.
This week's pick is "Doin' It Right" by Daft Punk. I am not so disillusioned to think you haven't heard of Daft Punk. From "One More Time" to "Get Lucky", Daft Punk is the kind of group that it's hard to avoid, even if you wanted to. Most of their overwhelming popularity stems from their sense of mystery: the two Frenchmen wear robotic looking helmets to hide their faces, they rarely perform live, and they release music very sporadically. (They also collaborate with big names, past and present, and they have a merch line that would make any electro-hipster drool.)
Beyond all this, they make exceptionally great music. This is all well known--what you may not know are some of the other amazing tracks on their albums that did not become one of their beloved singles. "Doin' It Right" is one of the last tracks on their latest album, Random Access Memories, and is an incredible auditory experience:
Happy Monday everyone! I'm back again for my Pick of the Week!
This week I'm highlighting "AKA M80 the Wolf" by Portugal. The Man. This track is a throwback for a group that has gained most of its popularity fairly recently (recording since the early 2000's, the band released an album produced by Danger Mouse in 2012, which has understandably brought them much more attention). I first encountered their music before they were all big and famous (FIRST!), back in the days when they only had one album - Waiter: You Vultures!. They specialize in a what I like to call 'trippy-rock', music that sounds both familiar and foreign at the same time.
While their new music is definitely cool, it all just made me want to come back and listen to their early stuff, which brings me to "AKA M80 the Wolf". One of the main tracks from their first album, this is, simply put, a fantastic rock song. It evokes the sounds of bands like The Mars Volta, and features a steady groove with light, haunting, tenor male vocals, sweet keyboard parts, and a psychedelic guitar line. Their sound varies a lot from song to song, and they can get really crazy (see "Chicago"), but I enjoy how this song seems to age so well and how I find myself regularly drawn back to it. I also appreciate the odd yet beary entertaining music video. Enjoy!
The video below is a fun, fast-motion tour of the most popular songs in the United States each year, from 1900 to 2009. It's only eleven minutes, so obviously you only hear a snippet of each song, but it's really interesting to hear our national taste evolve (note that the list is most popular, not most important or influential--the methodology for arriving at each choice is quite detailed, though any choices prior to 1950 are at best educated guesses).
The list of top songs for each year is here if you'd like to follow along as you listen. It includes links for each entry, leading to further information about each artist's recording history and lists of the top 100 songs for each year. It's quite a trip:
Sometimes in all the sheen and polish of most popular music, it's easy to lose track of the craft and musicianship of the performers. Australian music publication FasterLouder had a post a while back spotlighting 20 really terrific vocal performances from famous recordings, and I had a great time listening through their choices. A few of my favorites are:
Eminem, "Lose Yourself" - Mathers' sense of pulse and flow are so strong, he doesn't even need a beat for this track to be compelling listening:
The Ronettes, "Baby, I Love You" - this one is great, especially the choruses, and it makes me resent Phil Spector's 'Wall of Sound,' because why would you cover up all that dazzling vocal work?
The Beach Boys, "Wouldn't It Be Nice" - because duh:
Back when I was first in grad school, studying conducting, we would sit around and nerd out to audio and video of different performances by various conductors. It's fun (if you're into that kind of thing), you learn a lot, and you really stimulate your own gestural imagination by analyzing exactly how really effective conductors are able to have the impact they can have. Our favorite at the time, and someone who remains a true titan in field of conducting, was Carlos Kleiber.
A virtuosic conductor, Kleiber married technical precision with a graceful, elastic expressiveness that--when paired with a finely detailed rehearsal process--allowed him to lead large ensembles in truly passionate, spontaneous performances. Video and audio recordings of his performances are few, but recordings of his rehearsals are even fewer. Below is video of Kleiber leading a rehearsal of Die Fledermaus overture, in 1970. The whole rehearsal is very entertaining and well worth watching, but the clip below starts a few minutes in so that I can point out a few specific things about his work.
First, watch this video, which starts at about 6:45, until around the 10:00 mark:
In that clip, Kleiber first seeks to change the way the violins play the melody by using poetic and detailed gesture, imagery, and descriptions of mood. Importantly, as he is verbally describing the way he wants the melody to be played, he is simultaneously expressing what he wants to hear gesturally, showing the kinds of movement he will shortly use when the orchestra plays the passage again. This makes an important and powerful connection to how he will conduct the passage when the orchestra is playing, what his movements mean more generally, and begins the process of teaching the players that not only will he will be asking for very specific things in his conducting but how he will be using his movements to ask for them. And he does all of this without being didactic or pedantic; indeed, he is charming and engaging in his humor and enthusiasm.
Happy Friday everyone! I'm excited to kick off my weekly post, Pick of the Week! I'll be sharing selections of music that will hopefully tickle your fancy, or at least provide you with some tasty food for thought. My first pick is "Nakamarra", by Hiatus Kaiyote. From their 2013 album Tawk Tamahawk, this track was nominated for a Grammy for Best R&B Performance that year, and it's been tweet-recommended by artists like Prince and Questlove (which is a pretty legit pair of endorsements).
The song itself is a soothing ray of sunshine that always seems to calm me, regardless of my mood. It has a gentle, comforting groove that invites you to sit back, relax, and enjoy its caress. Unlike most popular music, "Nakamarra" does nothing to hide its complex rhythmic movement and jazz harmonies. The song is a refreshing and welcome change from the standard sound palette that currently prevails in popular music.
I am continually fascinated by the lush and nearly endless variety of styles and idioms in popular music, which attract devoted, attentive listeners to greater and lesser degrees. While I stand by my assertion that "genre" is mostly a fiction invented by those seeking to better commodify music and identify and target demographic groups (as amply demonstrated, I think, in this podcast episode--short version, it's mostly a continuum and spectrum within broad stylistic practices), there are common aesthetic or other features to be found within even the most nit-picky sub-sub-sub-genre distinctions.
A really great user post on reddit recently hipped me to the sub-genre and culture of Shoegaze (sub- to alternative rock, so technically a sub-sub-genre of rock, I guess). It's hard to write about music well, and the author of this post vividly describes what traits make up the sound world of this kind of music, and provides an in-depth timeline of its evolution with listening examples, lists sub-sub-(sub-)genre practices with specific albums/artists that typify them, and for good measure adds links for further reading.
It's a great post and a wonderful demonstration of one of the things that I most love about the internet, and one of its most disruptive aspects: people sharing their passions and knowledge freely, simply so others may also enjoy what they have found valuable and rewarding.
Stephen Colbert has the best band of any late night talk show. But on top of the excellent work of Jon Batiste, Colbert has also been consistently bringing in some of the most interesting musicians around, and when it comes to rappers he's 3 for 3.
Chance the Rapper used his guest spot to debut a new song and pay tribute to his home town, Chicago, with DLow, the reigning king of Chicago's current dance style "Bop." The song contains references to fellow Chicago rappers Kanye, "I ain’t going to hell or to Hillman" and Chief Keef, "I just might share my next one with Keef/Got the industry in disbelief, they be asking for beef."
The performance is kinetic and shows Chance's abilities as a musician, dancer, and overall entertainer. I was obsessed with his debut mixtape Acid Rap, and his latest album with Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment is one of the most musically rich rap albums of the year.
From the Guardian, a great piece on the huge (and ongoing) influence of the German electronica band Kraftwerk. As we discussed in the recent podcast episode on the hugely pervasive influence of musical minimalism, Kraftwerk are an important band, but surprisingly many people aren't aware of their extensive influence.
The Guardian piece, and Kraftwerk's upcoming appearances at the Tate Modern, will help to increase recognition and enjoyment of their terrific music and legacy.
Well, B. B. King has died. All I can say is, thank you for a truly lifelong gift of music shared with the world joyously. Of all the fantastic performances I could feature, I think the best, and one of the most meaningful to King himself, is from his 1974 concert in Africa:
Somehow I stumbled on Funklet, this great site for teaching drum set by analyzing and playing along with the very best drummers, and also by rendering what they do as dynamic patterns. The patterns also allow you to select which aspects of each drum track you want to hear.
The site is curated by Jack Stratton and features some really terrific selections, even if you are not a drummer and don't need to practice. The visualized, interactive pattern format allows you to hear some of the great drum tracks with some detail. Personal favorites include Stevie Wonder, ?uestlove, Clyde Stubblefield, and Bernard Purdie. I've especially enjoyed picking apart some of these drum set parts and then listening to the original full recordings they're from, to hear them in context. Makes for much more vivid listening.
A great animation showing expressive reaction to harmonic progressions in Mozart's "Lacrymosa," from the Requiem (K. 626). (N.B.: the animator of the video for some reason doesn't believe in lower case Roman numerals for minor chords--I know, right?--and also mis-identifies just a few harmonies, but it's nevertheless delightful to watch.)
Writing about music is hard. It is, as someone famously said, like dancing about architecture, or, as the New Republic published in 1918:
Strictly considered, writing about music is as illogical as singing about economics. All the other arts can be talked about in the terms of ordinary life and experience. A poem, a statue, a painting or a play is a representation of somebody or something, and can be measurably described (the purely aesthetic values aside) by describing what it represents.
If words could produce the effect that music does, if we could express what music allows us to express using text or speech or image instead, we probably would. Music is difficult and complex and abstract and temporal so you have to really pay attention and listen actively and lots of stuff that it's frankly easier to get people to do using words or images but those things can't do what music does, so we music instead despite those rather distinct properties.
A long-time musical hero of mine is SimonRattle, an extraordinary conductor, musician, communicator, and human being. A recent BBC documentary about his working life is now available on YouTube, and is quite enjoyable. If you have the time to spare, I think you'll find an hour listening to and watching Sir Simon work is time well spent. (A little bonus reading: Working with Simon Rattle has been the best music education of my life.)
Composer Jonathan Berger recently penned How Music Hijacks Our Perception of Time, a delightful examination of temporal perception in music, the ways that music can suspend and dilate a moment in time and make it seem to last forever, or compress time in a way that hurtles our consciousness along with it.
As Berger notes,
The human brain, we have learned, adjusts and recalibrates temporal perception. Our ability to encode and decode sequential information, to integrate and segregate simultaneous signals, is fundamental to human survival. It allows us to find our place in, and navigate, our physical world. But music also demonstrates that time perception is inherently subjective—and an integral part of our lives.
In the article, he deconstructs and examines several passages from Schubert's String Quartet in C Major to consider how, exactly, a master composer--that is, one who shapes a listener's conscious experience through the temporal manipulation of pressure waves--uses music to influence our perception of time, and what expressive effect that can have.
It's a terrific, thoughtful piece with some excellent examples. Please enjoy here.
As is much discussed on this site, one of the most interesting aspects of music and musical culture is that it is temporal and incorporeal; it is one of music's greatest and worst qualities. So much can be lost when sounds are passed from generation to generation, and only in the tiniest recent sliver of human history have we been able to capture those sounds and preserve them, in direct and (if desired) unmediated ways through sound recording.
Early in the history of recording technology, a few pioneers realized the technology's importance for documenting and preserving musical and aural culture. Foremost among these early musicologists is Alan Lomax (also a field collector, folklorist, archivist, filmmaker, scholar, etc.), who recognized not just the immense value of folk music but of recording it, and began traveling to do so in the early 1930s. His contributions to our cultural history and preservation are enormous.
Amazingly, his entire archive is available online, free of charge. It is huge and amazing, and features recordings of concerts, social gatherings, worship services, street criers, interviews, and more. I had a hard time choosing even just a few samples to incite your curiosity.
This NPR piece is a great place to begin acquainting yourself with this veritable trove of music and people and the many delightful ways we use sound expressively.
Vi Hart put together this absolutely fantastic 12-minute video explaining the fundamental physics of musical sound, and it's well worth your time (even if you're already a smarty-pants musician...scratch that, especially if you're a musician).
One of the questions I'm most often asked as a musician is, where do you find good new music to listen to? The tricky part of that question is, of course, the "good" part--it's easy to find new stuff, but who has time to sort through all the mediocre-to-bad stuff to find what's worthwhile?
Fortunately, some folks are consistently seeking in their listening, and they help the rest of us by acting as pre-screeners. You can find these year-end, best-of lists all over the place currently, but I wanted to share just two I found quite worthwhile.
First is Q2 Music's 2014 New Music Countdown. Q2 (WQXR on the radio) teamed with NPR Classical to poll listeners on the 100 greatest composed concert works of the past 100 years. Many favorites are of course missing (only 100??) but this is a pretty darn good list, especially if you may be intrigued by more contemporary concert music but have no idea where to start.
Second is a question on the always-terrific AskMetafilter: Can you point me towards some 2014 'best-of' musical playlists? So many great answers, many linked to Spotify playlists, so your gratification can be appropriately immediate. These answers center around songs and popular musical styles, and it's terrific to have some help in finding what's good. (Especially when one considers Sturgeon's Law.)
One of the expected and desirable aspects of this early internet culture we're all living through is that people are able to find things they really love, and to follow them as deeply as they want. Which is pretty great. But one of the unexpected and undesirable effects has been that we can surround ourselves with only things we already love (or points-of-view we already agree with, and so forth). Which is not so great.
Especially when it comes to creative work, serendipity, the unexpected, and the unfamiliar can all lead people to fall in love with and find great meaning in works or styles or genres or etc. that they never would have selected to engage with themselves.
The Daily Music Break is a great place to find music you may have never looked for, but may love. As the site says,
Today, everyone has their own channel. Somebody who is nuts for big band jazz can choose to listen to nothing but Woody Herman and Count Basie. Classic rock fans can avoid everything but Cream and Hendrix. Madrigals your thing? No problem…
That’s fine. To each his or her own. But there is a price: Listening to what we know we like keeps us from hearing what we know nothing about. In art, the unknown always is a great thing.
Check it out, you might find something unexpected that you love!
Re: Matt's recent post about the repertoire of the Metropolitan Opera over the past century
For a while now, Matt and I have been talking about and exploring what a truly American opera company might look like, and what its repertoire might be. It's a fascinating question, and for me the answers are strongly influenced by examples like the Modernist populist composers, whose work was both substantial and accessible, subtly-crafted yet firmly populist in origin and/or appeal. Examples would include Aaron Copland, George Gershwin, Kurt Weill, or Leonard Bernstein. (Kyle Gann wrote a great post about a largely unknown but terrific American composer cut from this cloth, Marc Blitzstein, the only composer to study with both Boulanger and Schoenberg.)
The schism between American opera and popular culture was driven to a great degree by repertoire choices. But it was also driven by rejection or avoidance of, e.g., inventions and outcomes of industrialization, like technology or socio-political shifts in the early 20th century. Specific examples include something as prosaic as the microphone (which, ironically, made possible the very first ever radio broadcast everwhich was a performance of the Metropolitan Opera in 1910) or the massive cultural influence of pervasive electronic media, led by the radio (invading American homes since around 1920), and the democratization of culture it enabled.
1. Median year of composition of works performed in 1910: 1870.
2. Median year of composition of works performed in 2014: 1870. No change in 104 years.
3. In 1910, 50% of all operas performed at The Met had been composed within the past 25 years. As perspective, to match that today, half of current programming would be composed since 1989 (the actual portion today is less than 5%).
4. In 1910, 80% of all operas performed at The Met had been composed within the past 50 years. Today, that means that most of their repertoire would be composed since 1964 (the actual current portion is also less than 5%).
5. The Met has only ever produced a single opera by a female composer. It was in 1903.
If there was ever any doubt that opera as currently practiced is an inherently European art form that never evolved within American culture, check out the graph showing the percentage of American composers featured at The Met over the last 100 years. Or any of the other graphs, it's very sobering data, and our thanks to Suby Raman for putting it together.
It's not too hard to figure out why more people in the U.S. don't go to the opera.
From Radio New Zealand is These Hopeful Machines: "a six-part series in which James Gardner traces a personal path through the evolving world of electronic music – and meets some of the people who made it happen."
There is some great stuff in each episode, with lots and lots of music:
The East Bay based California Symphony just announced its 2014-2017 Young American Composer in Residence program, open to all American composers under 40. YACR is a pretty remarkable initiative that remains somewhat under the radar, especially given the the press that similar programs receive. Some of the notable features include multiple commissions, paid travel and copyist expenses, and recorded rehearsals of in-progress works.
The California Symphony, founded in 1986, has a well-established history of promoting young composers, something newly minted Music Director Donato Cabrera plans on continuing. "I certainly want to continue the tradition of performing works by living American composers," Cabrera said in a recent interview with San Francisco Classical Voice. "Aside from the California Symphony’s tradition of promoting composers who have become well-known — Chris Theofanidis, Mason Bates — there are many composers I went to school with who have gone on to major careers — Nico Muhly, for example. The California Symphony has a great openness to living composers, and I want to celebrate that."
One of the things that sets this residency apart is that because of its extened length, composers and players have the opportunity to really get to know one another as they work together from season to season. At a recent rehearsal several orchestra members greeted and chatted with current composer in residence D. J. Sparr prior to reading through the first section of his new work Dreams of the Old Believers. Sparr is in the third and final year of his residency but his first encounter with YACR was back in 1997 when his college roommate Kevin Puts was in the program. “I saw what a great opportunity it was to be able to work with the orchestra in the reading sessions, where you really get a chance to fine-tune your craft and ideas so that in the future your works can go into intense rehearsals and come off with as much polish as possible."
I stole the title of this post from composer Jonathan Newman. It's the name of a swaggering barn-burner of a piece with a great, one-sentence program note.
If the system isn't working anymore, then do what Guy Fawkes tried and go anarchist: Blow it all up, and start again.
That title was the first thing that popped into my head when I read this opinion piece in the Star-Tribune. In it arts consultant Lawrence Perelman lays out a drastic and brilliant course of action for the Minnesota Orchestra musicians.
Follow Maestro Vänskä’s lead and resign from the Minnesota Orchestra Association. Immediately announce the creation of the Minnesota Symphony, a self-governing orchestra modeled on the Vienna Philharmonic. Find a charitable organization to give temporary use of its tax status (while you establish a new nonprofit) so you can receive donations from foundations and corporations and from your audience. Govern yourselves, and assign responsibilities to yourselves. Make history by setting an example for other orchestras to follow, and end the labor-management paradigm that leads to these kinds of disputes.
Now there's a thought. Maybe some of the orchestra's younger members took one of those entrepreneurship classes in conservatory that everyone's talking about now!
So Igor Stravinsky's inimitable The Rite of Spring was famously premiered to some discontent 100 years ago today. For me, like so many other musicians, it is a work that is absolutely seminal. In tribute and to facilitate more vivid listening, here it is animated in extraordinary fashion.
(And don't forget that other new music riot 100 years ago last March...probably more deserved, honestly. Expressionism can be some provocative stuff.)
The Living Frobius Octet - an unholy combination of the Living Earth Show, Mobius Trio, and Friction Quartet - capped off the Hot Air New Music Festival with a fantastic, beer-fueled show at the Hotel Utah Saloon, which has to be the tinest venue in the world to still have a balcony. The concert featured works by Adrian Knight, Brendon Randall-Myers, Aaron Jay Kernis, Danny Clay, and Nick Benavides.
SFCV: How do you program your season? You tend to pair warhorses with new works in interesting ways. Your April program features the Brahms Requiem and a 21st-century work, Within Her Arms, by British composer Anna Clyne.
Neale: Musically, the two are separated by 150 years. What they have in common is both works were written in response to the composer’s mother’s death. They have this DNA connection. Both deal with the notion of consolation in the face of grief. Anna Clyne’s piece was written around 2006. It’s for a small string ensemble, so it’s quite different from the Brahms, which is a massive piece for chorus and large orchestra. It’s low-key and understated.
At the beginning of each fall semester in my introductory conducting course, we spend some time exploring and discussing what the act of conducting is--what it's about, how that's accomplished--in a fundamental sense. This involves several components like critical/comparative listening, body awareness exercises, expressive movement improvisation, and watching video.
I use video examples to show how conducting can be a whole-body, expressive act in collaboration with an ensemble of musicians, and that really exciting music-making can be the result (and that this idea is a fairly recent evolution of the conductor's role, as historical footage we view clearly demonstrates).
Two of my favorite examples each year continue to be Carlos Kleiber and Simon Rattle. Both are conductors with tremendous energy and charisma, who use their whole bodies extremely vividly and acheive remarkable engagement with their ensembles.
Earlier this month 21 percussionists performed John Luther Adams' Inuksuit on the UC Berkeley campus, kicking off Ojai North at Cal Performances. The performance took place in the bucolic Faculty Grove, a beautiful open space surrounded by redwoods and magnificent coast live oaks.
The San Francisco Opera is mounting their first-ever production of Nixon in China this month and the Mercury News just published a great interview of Adam's by music critic Richard Scheinin. In it Adams talks a lot about Nixon and opera, working with Peter Sellars, and how he's been searching for a subject for a new opera for the past several years. It's a great read; here's a photo from the SF Opera dress rehearsal and an excerpt.
Adams: You know, I conducted "Nixon" at the Met last year, and in many ways really became re-acquainted with it. And I just love the libretto. I love every moment in it. I can't believe there are still people who complain about it being arch or dense or incomprehensible. I think it's just fantastic. Alice caught the tone of the Chinese and the official Communist utterances. She caught the Middle-American tone of the U.S. politicians.
My review of the recent all-Harrison show at BAM/PFA is up at NewMusicBox, and there are some extra tidbits about the performance of a long-lost piano piece and Old Granddad, the gamelan used in the performance. Special thanks to pianist Sarah Cahill and Dr. Leta Miller of UCSC for their help.
It was a great concert and all of Lou's works were wonderfully performed, but the most amazing - AMAZING - thing for me was how unbelieveably fantastic the gamelan sounded. The recordings I've heard don't even come close to capturing the ravishing tone colors that Lou and Bill's handmade instruments produce. Perhaps it was the just intonation tuning combined with a particularly live space, but they had a depth and resonance that I have rarely experienced (think Vienna-Phil-strings special). If you have the oppurtunity to hear Old Granddad live I can't recommend enough that you do so. It will change your ears.
I've been listening to a lot of Lou Harrision this past week in preparation for the all-Harrision show in Berkeley tomorrow night at BAM/PFA, and have really enjoyed exploring La Koro Sutro and Varied Trio. (Bonus: I also discovered John Luther Adams' For Lou Harrison, which is fantastically beautiful - I call Bay Area dibs in 2017!)
My new article for NewMusicBox - Great Expectations: The Challenge of New Music in New Spaces - is up. Please feel free to share your thoughts and critiques because I think this is a really interesting discussion. I only wish more bookers had responded to interview requests so that I could have provided a more comprehensive picture of this issue from their perspective.
The Berkeley Symphony Orchestra announced its 2012-2013 season yesterday and it's both radical and traditional. It's rad in the sense that the four subscription concerts are pretty cool combinations of composers - Dylan Mattingly, Ligeti, Schumann, for example - and each one contains a world premiere commission. Traditional in that three of the four follow (but tweak) the overture-concerto-symphony format. Instead of standard openers, new works and Ives'The Unanswered Question (the anti-overture) kick things off. On the fourth concert, a new Stuckey song cycle is followed by Bruckner 4; the short/long formula you often see with hour+ long works.
I think these programs are really exciting, mainly because of the groups of composers, but also because of the daring concerti - mad props there. By using the traditional overture-concerto-symphony format Music Director Joana Carneiro seems to be hedging her bets, shrewdly creating a lot of buzz with commissions, but not tweaking the concert experience too much. Three out of the four concerts are anchored by 19th-century Germanic standard rep, after all, and the Rachmaninoff is hardly a risky choice either. It would be nice to see the new works be the big ones on the program. Even so, it's exciting stuff.
In Thomas Deneuville's review of the Brooklyn Phil's recent Brooklyn Village he asks "At which point does deserved pride turn into navel gazing?" I also have mixed feelings about this program. On one hand I think it's the kind of innovative, community-specific programming that every orchestra should engage in, but on the other it seems a bit too contrived, too twee - a program too self conscious in its all-encompassing coolness and eclecticism. It's a small quibble, though. On the whole I think Pierson is creating really innovative programs.
Unlike Deneuville, I am not concerned with the Brooklyn Phil becoming less global. I think very few ensembles can and should be global ones for the simple reason that national or global trends might not be best for audiences in your hometown. The Oakland East Bay Symphony's programming is a prime example of this. Like the Brooklyn Phil they are reaching out to the many cultural groups that live here, but on the other hand they're certainly not performing Kreayshawn transcriptions.
I read some interesting articles this week about musical entrepreneurship and wanted to share them. I don't think any of them are going to blow your mind, but they do contain good ideas and moreover seem to represent the profusion of creative thinking about funding and promotion occurring in much of the music biz.
Top 5 Signs Pop Music Looks Like Classical - Not every item on this list works, but it does point out how enterprising musicians are using small-scale patronage instead of large record contracts to fund albums. For 20 bucks anyone can be a Rasumovsky, sort of. I previously wrote about this here.
An interesting little survey--not so much for the subtle raising of pitch across the century (save for the period instrument ensembles), but for how differently two E-flat major chords can be balanced, shaped, punctuated, etc: