Saturday, April 28, 2007

Garry Moore and John Cage

These days a musician who wants to sell albums goes on television. And that happened in 1960 too, I guess. Thanks to WFMU's Beware of the Blog you can watch a video of John Cage performing live on national television game show called I've Got a Secret hosted by Garry Moore.

The performance has everything - an incredulous host, a union dispute, a change of plans, no panelists, an amused audience and a performance of Water Walk, with a last moment change to the radio parts. Nine minutes, twenty-two seconds. Enjoy this little avant-garde side show.

John Cage tells Garry Moore his secret
Garry Moore reacts to hearing how John Cage has changed the part for radios in his piece, Water Walk
Garry Moore tells audience that it's okay to laugh during John Cage's performance
John Cage,near the end of Water Walk on I've Got A Secret, turns a radio OFF

Click here for a list of previous Mixed Meters mentions of "John Cage"

I've Got a Secret Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Simpsons and Samuel Barber

Robert Gable is a blogger who I suspect stays up late - since his posts arrive in my reader very early in the morning. He has documented various appearances of the Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber. The tune, funereal, beautiful, morbid, elegant, depressing, easy to recognize and therefore very popular, has obviously become an established "musical icon" in our culture.

Last week Leslie and I caught a new Simpsons episode which we had taped. In it Bart and Marge play online video games while Lisa and Homer get involved in soccer. That is until Lisa watches a DVD (from Canal+) on soccer hooliganism.

Here are four captures from the short clip (inexpertly done directly from the TV into my pocket point 'n shoot) which are accompanied by the narration below.

And the music to accompany this Rambo-like action scene? Why it's the Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber, of course. I didn't actually fall out of my chair laughing. Came close.

NARRATOR: Last year in Brazil an onfield scuffle became so violent that locals say a statue of the virgin Mary came alive . . . and beat the holy snot out of everyone.

P.S. Someday I will explain my idea of "musical iconography" here on Mixed Meters - probably when I finally publish my midi-symphony Wagner and Schubert Have Intercourse, which makes use of the concept.

Hooliganism Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Here's a previous Mixed Meters post on the Simpsons.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Korean Seafood Pancake

In my last post I mentioned Korean Seafood Pancakes. Today I had an opportunity to take this picture of one. What are the odds? Three eighths of this one is waiting in our refrigerator to provide further enjoyment.

Korean Seafood Pancake
Seouljung BBQ, our purveyor of Korean Seafood Pancakes is in Arcadia, California - the city just east of Pasadena.

Seouljung Korean BBQ restaurant Arcadia California
Music? Raymond Scott looking like he doesn't care to have his picture takenToday's addition to my CD Collection is music from the fifties - Raymond Scott & The Secret Seven "The Unexpected" Leslie looked at the picture and said "He looks like an engineer." I said "He was." The Raymond Scott Quintet(te) recordings from the late 30s are among the most massively brilliant moments in the history of music. Bar none.

Video? Over-produced Music Video of the Quintette performing War Dance for Wooden Indians - with tap-dancing Indians at the end.

Pancake Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . .

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Los Angeles - New Music Backwater

I confess that my previous post wandered aimlessly. Eventually I touched on the history of new music in Los Angeles during my years. I also discussed who controls what music gets performed here (as if it matters). This post by Daniel Wolf and this post by Roger Bourland (to which I added a comment) tell the whole story better than I can.

Daniel appended this comment here at Mixed Meters:
Someone, someday, has to do the definitive Southern California new music history, with all the details, because that's where the music lives.
A few months ago I had a conversation with Carl Stone and Richard Amromin, both leading lights in the Independent Composers Association back then, on the subject of such a history. We were all for it - as long as someone else did the work.

Since then I've been reminded that a lot of equally invisible things were going on new-musically besides those I was aware of. There's a lot of material to be uncovered.
the Basses R Us truck in a Trader Joes parking lot
Such a book would be tremendously satisfying to the egos of anyone who gets mentioned. Here's the drill, the first time you open the book you turn immediately to the back index and check the number of mentions of your own name. I do this with Zappa books. You would too.

The big problem with such a book is that it would have no hook for snaring a readership. No earth-shakingly famous new music composer came out of the scene. No influential style evolved here. (Nor could it ever, but that's another rant.)

Even the Monday Evening Concerts (which had at least one book written about it) had the hook of Schoenberg and Stravinsky. To my knowledge Arnie and Igor were never labeled as "California Composers." All they did was live here. If the MEC ever had a hey-day it was because of them. Plenty of California musicians have shaken up the world, for example John Cage and Charles Mingus whose music shook me up personally. Would they have had such successful careers had they remained L.A. residents?

Claudio Abbado and Fleetwood Mac together again in a Best Buy CD rack
So I wonder, does new music really "live" in Los Angeles - or does it just manage to survive? Our vast metropolis never seemed conducive to a small, intense, creative forward-looking musical scene. It doesn't seem so now. I fear it never will.

SoCal is a nice place to live if you like dim sum or soba noodles or Korean seafood pancakes or tacos al carbon. We have lots of sun and lots of green plants. You'd like that. We also have lots of isolation from places where new music seems to actually matter to people. This is a huge boon to us. We can keep tabs via the Internet on all you other guys as you do important stuff.

a hip young cellist on a discarded McDonald's bag
Alex Ross, in his blog, today mentioned Princeton as a place where new music IS REALLY happening. He linked to a music theorist whose "groundbreaking theoretical explorations" have discovered voice leading. That's pretty funny. Voice leading was the single most important issue in my earliest studies of harmony. Could we take up a collection and send some hymnals to Princeton?

Ross has written a "big article" on Esa-Pekka Salonen in the current New Yorker. That's the magazine with the good cartoons. I'll try to get a copy. The last "big article" I remember reading in a New Yorker (a very long time ago) was about Nicolas Slonimsky, another "California composer".

Here's my ancient post about the Princeton Laptop Orchestra. - including links to my 30 second spot "The Laptop in Live Performance?" and to my failed graduate piece for clarinet and electronics "Voluntary Solitude."

Here's my ancient post about Nicolas (and Frank and Edgard).

Backwater Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

P.S. The pictures will be more interesting if you click on them so some of the words are readable.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Bunches of Bunnies - Bunches of Balloons - 3

David Raksin, the genial and gentlemanly master of ceremonies of New Music in Los Angeles for many years, once regaled me for about 20 minutes with stories of 1940's MGM staff-composer banter. Or was it 20th Century Fox staff-composer banter. It was pretty funny. (Here's a better bio.)

Basically he made it sound like a bad pun competition - but collective nouns could be used as weapons as well. You remember "a murder of crows", right? That's the best known example of a collective noun, there are lots more. Here's a list of animal collective nouns. Think of it as taxonomy for poets.

California Dreamin' - Balloons and PalmsDavid's funniest collective nouns did not describe groups of animals but groups of people. I wonder if that's where I heard the phrase "a waiting of ushers". I wish I remembered more. My memory you know.

I'd like to suggest that the proper name for a group of composers is an "asylum".

Marshmallow Bunny PeepsI'm moved to this comment by what Daniel Wolf wrote about an off-hand comment from Roger Bourland. (Like me, both of those bloggers have day jobs and are also composers.) Daniel even mentions the Independent Composers Association, the group I wasted so much of my own life on.

In Roger's rebuttal to Daniel he names names of the West Coast Music Mafia (actually, he just names the L.A. "family", but whatever.) Those are the people who, according to Roger, decide what gets heard here-abouts.

3 dirty, lonely pastel balloonsComposers (even failed composers like myself) have long memories and a sense of entitlement and don't mind carrying grudges for a long, long time. And of course we have that one sine qua non of being a composer - a BIG ego. (A little musical talent helps, of course, but it's not essential.)

I think these are plastic Bunny cookie cutters or somethingWhen confronted with such emotions I try to remind myself to concentrate on writing music. That's what makes someone a composer. Yeah, a little recognition would be nice. But it ain't gonna happen for most of us.

Balloon wrapping paperIn other news, I've finally started work on the fourth and final movement of my Midi-Symphony entitled "Wagner and Schubert Have Intercourse". Ask for it by name!

Ceramic chopstick-holder bunniesP.S. I would suggest that Daniel's list of L.A. composers' groups from back in the day should also include LAFMS and CRMO Maybe others too. My memory you know.

P.P.S. Click on the bunny or balloon pictures to see the larger versions.

Bunny-Balloon-Composer Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

P.P.P.S. Before I could press "publish", Roger's list of names was removed from Daniel's blog. Ah, I fear for his personal safety because the West Coast Music Mafia probably knows where he works. The names on his list that I remember were Ernest, Dorrance, Betty, Esa-Pekka, Alan, Mark and John. There may have been others. My memory you know. And he made a reference to a review by (another, now deceased) Daniel which actually made me curious about how bad his Jackie O piece could possibly have been. I think that's the reference - it was a while ago. My memory.

P.P.P.P.S. Maybe someday I'll tell the story of how I broke into David Raksin's house and why Leslie and I associate that event with cheesecake.

P.P.P.P.P.S. If you're interested in the whole WCMMM (West Coast Music Mafia Meme) Roger Bourland did continue the thought in his post Updating Opinions.

Monday, April 16, 2007

3 Minute Climax - In A Pissy Mood

One of Mixed Meters two readers pointed out recently that we're close to defaulting on our contractual obligation to post cat pictures. So we interrupt the Balloons & Bunnies series for this: a sculpture of Garfield the cartoon cat which I found abandoned on a Pasadena street recently. Can you tell what it really is? (Answer below).
Garfield, the headshot

Garfield, the headboard - found on Allen Avenue in Pasadena CAWe've still got only 4 indoor cats. Here they are in order of seniority. OJ, the old man of the group, contemplates taking a nap.

OJ - Orange Jack - our cat in the kitchen window
Ivy contemplates what a nice set of whiskers she has.

Miss Ivy Turnstiles, the six-toed cat
This is Crackle, contemplating whether my camera is good to eat.

Crackle, now 10 months old, brother of Spackle
This is Spackle, contemplating whether she might be able to catch the birds outside.

Spackle, twin sister of Crackle - a lady never tells her age
This is McTee - the scrawny outdoor cat - contemplating being fed. Our backyard has become a very popular place for many neighborhood cats, all contemplating being feed. Also possums and skunks.

McTee - the Mackerel Tabby - our outside cat who likes to eat but isn't friendly

Now for a piece of music I wrote last month. The title was inspired by human emotions. Just try to tell me you've never had a pissy mood. But since this post is about cats, In a Pissy Mood is dedicated to our long-suffering upholstered furniture which lives underneath large sheets of plastic. We suspect Ivy of being responsible.

click here to hear In A Pissy Mood

Copyright (c) 2007 by David Ocker - 282 seconds

Listening tip: try to identify the Theme of Repeated Minor Annoyance.

Explanation of 30 second spots (check for an update to this in the comments)

Previous Mixed Meters Pictures of Our Cats - here or here or here or here

Pissy Cat Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Garfield sculpture is a headboard for a bed. Here's part of a bed spring that appeared at the same spot a few days earlier.

bedspring - presumably for the Garfield headboard

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bunches of Bunnies - Bunches of Balloons - 2

Don't worry. Just more Blog Filler that won't trouble your busy schedule. Or mine.

Balloons at night attached to a locked cage around an attractive nuisance (water pipes) at a local high school
A Choir of Chocolate Bunnies on sale at Vons
Want music? Here's an excellent free album by the Cartesian Reunion Memorial Orchestra, a group from back in the day when I was part of a different Los Angeles new music scene. Here's a Because They Are Dead post on the history of and sequels to the CRMO. (I'm amazed that I don't recognize a single name. It really was a different L.A. Or maybe my memory is worse than I thought. Yes, that must be it.)

Here's a photo of two more chocolate bunnies, sent to me by Deanna Hull, the pleasant and efficient factotum to a man whose publishing company name means "Empty Tea" in Chinese.

Two Chocolate Bunnies walk into a bar and one gets a lobotomy
Can't live without my deathless prose? Here's a Renewable Music post to which I added a comment that wouldn't die about why it's completely natural for Classical music to be dead

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Bunches of Bunnies - Bunches of Balloons - 1

Expect less words from Mixed Meters for a while. Expect more blog filler pictures like these. Expect the expected.

Fecund Potted Bunnies for sale somewhere, reminds me of Alice in Wonderland
Balloons and a Bus Stop - Colorado Blvd Pasadena CA
There's a solo bunny in the upper left of both pictures.

Exactly one year ago today you missed this Mixed Meters post in which a cool auto parts commercial worthy of the name Goldberg led David to wonder what started IT ALL. There's also a 79 second long 30-Second Spot you also missed. And that's all. So?

Missed Tags: . . . . . .