Anna and I caught one of the best performances we’ve seen in years the other night by Tune-Yards.
My friend Andrew, who was at the show, said this afterwards: “I can’t decide whether hearing the president say ‘This is not class warfare, it’s math’ or the fact that this band could become popular makes me feel more optimistic about the possibilities of life in America.”
Classical music recordings are usually straightforward snapshots of live performances. Sometimes recordings are spliced together from multiple takes or overdubbed, but this practice is considered by classical musicians to be highly shameful. Glenn Gould had a very different attitude toward the studio. He loved working there, and viewed it as a more valuable creative outlet than the concert stage. At age thirty-one, he stopped performing live altogether to focus on recording and writing. He was outspokenly in favor of tape editing and other “artificial” studio techniques.
See also a post about the Dead and electronic music.
Whenever I play guitar, it comes out sounding a lot like Jerry Garcia. I can’t help it. From the ages of fifteen to twenty, my guitar-learning years, there was no musician I cared more about in the world than Jerry. Contrary to popular stereotype, I didn’t care about him because of drugs. I listened to the Dead for years before ever trying drugs of any kind. I just really liked the music.
We take clocks so much for granted that it’s easy to forget how radical and recent a development they are. It wasn’t so long ago that clocks had to be painstakingly assembled by hand one at a time. Accurate timekeeping on the order of fractions of a second is a heroic engineering undertaking if you’re trying to do it by mechanical means. Our great-grandparents would have been astounded at how cheap and ubiquitous timekeeping devices have become. In my apartment alone, I can get accurate time measurements from two computers, the cable box, two cell phones, a drum machine, a metronome, an ipod, a thermometer with a built in clock, and a digital camera. Probably the least reliable timekeeping device in here is our analog clock.
Before the explosion of cheap electronics, most people had no external way to keep time so accurately. Before the industrial revolution, there wasn’t much need to. The only reason you would have needed precise timekeeping was for music and dancing. Continue reading