Who walks in the classroom, cool and slow?

News and opinion of a musicological bent from all over:

Over at Sounds & Fury, A.C. Douglas, in his inimitable style (i.e., framed as some sort of righteous smackdown), waxes knowledgeably about dynamic markings in Wagner. This is part of a subject close to my heart, the difference between notated scores as representations of the music or as instruction manuals. Some composers (Schumann and Webern, for example) seem to construct their scores as paper versions of the end effect of the piece on the listener: you can read the score and imagine the sounds in your head without any translation. Wagner aimed for the latter: his markings are designed to take into account what he suspects the individual musicians are going to do naturally, and he either countermands it or tacitly allows it to happen. (This is one of the reasons I like to know as much about a composer’s personality as I do about his or her music before I perform it—you can get a sense of how they approach this sort of communication.)

The guys at Amusicology are back blogging now that the finals crunch has disspated, and it’s like coming across a network summer-replacement series that’s exponentially better than anything on the fall schedule. The latest fun: Ryan tracks down a persistent, suspiciously too-good-to-be-true anecdote about George Gershwin’s childhood, and in the process, points out the slippery nature of even what seem to be primary sources.

George Hunka, from a theatrical perspective, lays it on the line with regards to challenge and accessibility. As time goes on, I get the sense that the move towards audence-friendliness is in large part due to increased modern opportunities to be played for a fool—with the number of scams, hoaxes, and misinformation we run into every day, people are less inclined to give the avant-garde a chance if there’s any hint of a con about it. Personally, I learned to enjoy being a fool, because a) the payoff for risking being an audience-member patsy has been so high for me, and b) you go through three-quarters of your life as a fool anyway. (However, I do have my new shorthand for meaningless, artistically cynical provocation: “No soap; radio!”)

Phil Ford calls for lolmusicologists. I give this lol thing about eight more weeks—enjoy it while it lasts, meme-aficionados! I’ll play along, not least because “lolTaruskin” is the funniest-looking word I’ll type all week.


  1. A shiny dime to whoever pinpoints the moment this meme dies. The customary manner of meme death is an appearance on a Jay Leno monologue or some crappy sitcom. An extra dime to anyone who creates a meta statement on the death of the meme: “im in ur memez, co-optin ur lolz” with an image of Jay Leno. Or perhaps Matthew could write a Pavane for a Dead Meme.

  2. Actually, out here in New England, one of the more common fatal un-coolings is being used for a Comcast ad campaign. “im in ur TV, incresn ur channlz”, perhaps? (Although, from what I hear, “invisible service” would do just as well.)

  3. Matt, while I applaud the effort, I’m afraid if you don’t want the kids to snicker behind your back, that <>really<> needs to be “I can haz six volumes?”

  4. Darcy: Yeah, I know. (To my credit, I still speak lol better than I do German.) I’ll fix it when I get the chance….

Leave a Reply