Category Archives: Music

Ten Stories of Beethoven’s Ninth

Adorno thought that Beethoven had gone too far with his Ninth Symphony, that he had made the work all too intelligible. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is woven into the fabric of life in Japan with the finale available as a karaoke … Continue reading

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A Musical Initiation

Only one band ever visited the small, remote East Asian country I called home for the first fourteen years of my life. Why Boney M chose to play in Brunei I’ve never been able to discover. That summer Ma Baker, … Continue reading

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Pale Notes on Friendship

Agamben: “Friendship is inscribed in the most intimate experience, the one that is most one’s own, the very sensation that one exists. But this also means that in the consent and consensus of friendship, the very identity of friends is … Continue reading

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Lately …

Lately I’ve listened to a lot of music, intensely, for two to three hours a day. My musical taste is shaped by the punk era, though by the time I discovered punk, it was all over. I’m a child of the … Continue reading

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Music is Feeling

Clerkly Peter Quince, inept playwright of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is (loosely) the narrator of Wallace Steven’s early poem Peter Quince at the Clavier. I enjoy the poem for its “music is feeling, then, not sound.” Music has expressive power, an ability … Continue reading

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Johnny Showbiz and Phoney Beatlemania

Perhaps a reader under 30 (if this blog has such a reader) can answer this question: are people still having those factional debates about bands? Once it was Rolling Stones or the Beatles? Then Queen or Status Quo? Then Clash … Continue reading

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Opening a Chain

A word can sometimes snag and spend you spinning through a chain of associations. Listening to The Mills Brothers’ recording of Cole Porter’s Miss Otis Regrets (recorded most memorably by Kirsty MacColl and The Pogues) led to The Mills Brothers’ … Continue reading

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Catholicism, Freedom and Patti Smith

I’m possibly the only person to perform a Roman Catholic for greater freedom. Brought up in south east Asia, my only religious encounters, before going to an English boarding school, were the local muezzin’s call to prayer. Religious attendance at … Continue reading

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Portrait of Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie

Tremendous photograph of Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie, from the Library of Congress’s flickr collection: Caption from Down Beat: An impressive photo of a truly impressive singer Ella Fitzgerald at the Downbeat, with Dizzy Gillespie making like a faun in … Continue reading

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Music by Miyake, Choreography by Bausch

The music of Jun Miyake and the choreography of Pina Bausch produces extraordinary art. Pina Bausch’s Two Cigarettes in the Dark and Full Moon are coming to Sadler’s Wells in February 2013. “Like reading Thomas Pynchon with your ears… Beside … Continue reading

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