Because all their experiments and measurements mean nothing if they don’t understand music theory and the history of musical styles.

… in summer on a pipe organ without air conditioning. It’s the end of Communion this morning, and I’m doing one of those intentionally uneventful, merely atmospheric moments, when I find that coupling two Stopped Diapasons together and playing up high makes a very appealing glass-harmonica-like sound. But, all of a sudden, I hit a B-natural for which one of the pipes was way out of tune. It sounds exactly as though the pipe is gargling. Mortified as I was, I just had to play that note one more time to make sure I’d heard aright. It’s kind of like the way you can’t resist touching your tongue to that loose tooth. You can hear this novel effect by clicking here.

Boulez in a Taxi

June 14, 2012

This is intelligent marketing.

Academic Flashback

June 13, 2012

When I hear adults exulting that they are “going back to school” to get another degree, I try to rejoice with them but am secretly trembling. I was a full-time university student for twelve straight years and the idea of examinations still lays me low. The other day I picked up a book and this fell out:

I’m lucky enough never to have fought in the wars that have characterized much of my lifetime. But I understand traumatic flashbacks.

The wonderful Kim Witman makes the connection.

The refusal to uphold a standard language is really a refusal to be universal. It is the promotion of parochialism at the expense of public engagement, and introversion over expanding one’s horizons. I want to speak the Queen’s English not because I want to be like the Queen, but because I want to get rid of her, and to make numerous other changes to the society we live in, and I recognise that the starting point to that is that we are able to understand each other and engage with each other. There is revolutionary potential in having everyone adhere to the same linguistic rules; there is only the dead end of division and parish-pump platitudes in the promotion of a linguistic free-for-all in which eevn spleling doens’t matetr. — The revolutionary potential of the Queen’s English

My own position falls into a middle ground that approximates the 18th-century freedom in matters of spelling, but an agreed-upon precision with regard to usage. The sort of individualized spelling of our literary ancestors did no harm; their attention to the subtleties of usage amounts to a heritage that we are foolish to squander. It has been a basis of more than our literature; it once was major part of our politics and, thus, a preserver of liberties.

As I tuned this morning, the rising sun shone through the jacks in a most immediate way:

Long one of the most important editors of music books in any language, Claire was a vice president at W. W. Norton & Company for many years, and initiated, inspired, and shepherded enormous numbers of books, many of them now legendary. She later remained active as one of the principals of Pendragon Press, founded by her and her husband, and fellow francophile, Barry S. Brook. After his death she continued the work with her brother, Robert Kessler. She was a refreshing fixture at all annual meetings of the American Musicological Society. A student of Nadia Boulanger, she was an excellent practical musician and published composer — as well as being a great hostess and welcome guest. I will always remember with gratitude both her and her husband for their interest in and kindness to me at times when they saw more promise in me than I detected in myself. Claire involved herself in many of my projects and saw that Pendragon Press published my recent book; Professor Brook (whom I never ventured to call Barry) directed me to people and ideas that have helped me lead a satisfying life in music. May they both rest in peace.