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December 2008
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February 2009

Child labor

Does it really come as a surprise that an industry whose leaders think this is a good idea is having a rough time?

Topps, the candy and collectibles company that Mr. Eisner bought in 2007, has signed the Clique Girlz as commercial spokeswomen for Baby Bottle Pop, one of the Top 10 nonchocolate candy brands. The candy has two parts, a nipple-shaped lollipop top and a bottle-shaped container filled with fruit-flavored powder. Consumers are meant to lick the top and dip it into the powder.

That's pretty revolting on a couple of levels, but don't you worry, it gets better.

Prepubescent children, media executives say, are among the few remaining reliable buyers of music. Last year, 10- to 14-year-olds spent about $1.2 billion on CDs and song downloads, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

Let's end with a bang!

“The teen market used to look down on blatant marketing partnerships like this,” said Matt Britton, a managing partner at Mr. Youth, a New York marketing firm. “Now, because the music industry is in such bad shape, overt efforts to manufacture buzz are expected. But it still has to ring true.”

It doesn't.

Fair use

A little-discussed issue with huge implications - Fair Use.  Can copyrighted material be used for educational or nonprofit purposes?  In many instances the answer appears to be yes.

From the US Copyright Act:

[T]he fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—
(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Radical new L.A. Phil strategic plan - be awesome

It's a good time to be a music lover in L.A.

In a released statement, Adams said he is "thrilled" to be a part of Dudamel's plans for the orchestra's future. "Over the past 25 years, the Philharmonic has consistently demonstrated how a major American symphony orchestra can integrate the music of our own time in all aspects of its life. That enthusiasm for the new is part of this unique orchestra's DNA."

And the L.A. Phil waves at orchestras in Philly, Cleveland, and New York as it roars past with the top down. Isn't it time we retire the term Big 5?

Geometrical music theory

Fascinating stuff from Science Daily.

Three music professors -- Clifton Callender at Florida State University, Ian Quinn at Yale University and Dmitri Tymoczko at Princeton University -- have devised a new way of analyzing and categorizing music that takes advantage of the deep, complex mathematics they see enmeshed in its very fabric.

The practical applications of this discovery are pretty exciting.  

"You could create new kinds of musical instruments or new kinds of toys," Tymoczko said. "You could create new kinds of visualization tools -- imagine going to a classical music concert where the music was being translated visually. We could change the way we educate musicians. There are lots of practical consequences that could follow from these ideas.  But to me," he added, "the most satisfying aspect of this research is that we can now see that there is a logical structure linking many, many different musical concepts. To some extent, we can represent the history of music as a long process of exploring different symmetries and different geometries."

Pythagoras would be impressed, but probably not surprised.

In honor of today's inauguration of President Barack Obama

Some inspiring--and unfortunately still unrealized--vision from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war, “This way of settling differences is not just.”  This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love.  A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values.  There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war.  There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.

The Magical Magic Flute

Bruno Walter said that in The Magic Flute "we may come close to Mozart himself and perceive his first personal avowal, if not indeed the only one that allows us fully to look into the depth of his heart."

If you happen to live in Northern California you can see Townsend Opera Players' outstanding production of Mozart's last opera, with sets and costumes by the amazing Corey Strauss, conducted by yours truly.

Performance dates here.
Ticket info here.

The collective musical experience

An interesting perspective from Daniel Hall at The Economist.

Our cultural consumption exists on a spectrum from "individual" to "collective". Technology has shifted the balance for both books and music. Digital distrbitution and the iPod have made music consumption much more individualistic, while the internet and global branding have made book consumption increasingly collective.

Certainly large performing arts organizations - symphony orchestras and opera companies - have realized that music consumption is becoming more individualistic. But at the same time I feel that many arts administrators fail to realize that the collective element is still a major part of the concert-going experience.

Happy New Year!

Happy new year, and more posts coming soon (along with a couple of new podcasts), promise!  In the meantime, I just wanted to say that the London Symphony Orchestra logo is one of my favorite logos of any kind, anywhere.  Not only are the initials rendered beautifully in a single, flowing line, but you get the abstract conductor graphic if you ignore the letter shapes.  Well done: