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Posts Tagged ‘Beethoven

“I find C major to be the key of strength, but also the key of regret”*…

 

Riley in C

 

Composer Terry Riley wrote In C in 1964 for an open-ended ensemble: “a group of about 35 is desired if possible but smaller or larger groups will work.”  Often cited as the first minimalist composition (though earlier works from folks like John Cage and La Monte Young seem to have pretty strong claims), In C consists of 53 short, numbered musical phrases, lasting from half a beat to 32 beats; each phrase may be repeated an arbitrary number of times.  Remarkable things can result….

As one can see for oneself at Tero Parviainen‘s (@teropa) In C site:

Play your own unique version of Terry Riley’s “In C with the help of five automated bot performers.

Every bot plays the same sequence of 53 short musical patterns. Each bot will keep repeating the same pattern until you decide it should move on to the next.

Over time, different musical and visual combinations will emerge…

Give it a whirl.

* Bob Dylan

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As we celebrate the complexity that can arise from simplicity, we might recall that on this date in 1824 Beethoven’s Ninth (and final) Symphony, Chorale, premiered in Vienna, with “lyrics” by Frederich Schiller (part of his “Ode to Joy”); Beethoven’s chorus concludes:

Be embraced, ye millions!
This kiss for the whole world!
Brothers, beyond the star-canopy
Must a loving Father dwell.
Be embraced,
This kiss for the whole world!
Joy, beautiful spark of the gods,
Daughter of Elysium,
Joy, beautiful spark of the gods!

Facsimile of Beethoven’s manuscript for “The Ode to Joy”

 

Written by LW

May 7, 2020 at 1:01 am

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that”*…

 

light switch

 

The inventor of the light switch, John Henry Holmes, was a Quaker, member of a doctrine generally united by a fundamental belief in the ability of each person to access “the light within”. The light switch, of course, enables each person to access the light without, and has been doing so, solidly, since 1884.

At least until the emergence of the voice- or presence-activated smart home version of lights, brave solution to an unspecified problem. Unlike contemporary design patterns, Holmes’s switch is a simple design that has lasted for centuries. Still, entering an old house, we brush our fingertips over the wall in the gloom, tracing spatial memories, caressing plaster or brick or wood before your hand brushes against an early plastic, or even Bakelite. The switch itself still tends to be firm, the ever-so-slight sensation of rolling as it moves to form a circuit, one of the most pleasingly robust ‘actions’ that an industrial designer could imagine.

It means the resilient light switch, like the door handle, reveals the accumulated touch of all those gone before, a patina of presence. Juhani Pallasmaa said that the doorhandle is the handshake of the building; is the light switch the equivalent for the room? It is the most universal of everyday objects…

If we always replace touch with voice activation, or simply by our presence entering a room, we are barely thinking or understanding, placing things out of mind. While data about those interactions exist, it is elsewhere, perceptible only to the eyes of the algorithm. We lose another element of our physicality, leaving no mark, literally. No sense of patina develops, except in invisible lines of code, datapoints feeding imperceptible learning systems of unknown provenance. As is often the case with unthinking smart systems, it is a highly individualising interface, revealing no trace of others…

From dark living rooms to dark ecology– a meditation on the humble, but crucial light switch: “Let there be light switches.”

* Dr. Martin Luther King

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As we shine on, we might recall that on this date in 1824 Beethoven’s Ninth (and final) Symphony, Chorale, premiered in Vienna, with “lyrics” by Frederich Schiller (part of his “Ode to Joy”); Beethoven’s chorus concludes:

Be embraced, ye millions!
This kiss for the whole world!
Brothers, beyond the star-canopy
Must a loving Father dwell.
Be embraced,
This kiss for the whole world!
Joy, beautiful spark of the gods,
Daughter of Elysium,
Joy, beautiful spark of the gods!

Facsimile of Beethoven’s manuscript for “The Ode to Joy”

 

Written by LW

May 7, 2019 at 1:01 am

“Everything we do is Music”*…

 

It was… difficult to put a modern day figure on [the earnings of] the likes of Mozart, Beethoven and Wagner… for a few reasons. For a start, a lot of the musicians we took a look at were paid in long dead currencies such as thalers, ducats and florins – then there’s the fact that composers were also more likely to have made supplemental income from compositions and tutoring. Nevertheless, even with the usual caveats (there are admittedly a few problems with comparing 18th century incomes with 21st century incomes) we still thought you’d want to know if you’re out-earning the musical superstars of their day. So without further ado, why not take a look at the modern day salaries of famous composers…

Play the pay scales at “Do you Make More Money than Mozart?

[via Slipped Disc, thanks to friend MK]

* John Cage

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As we struggle to keep up with the Johanns, we might spare a thought for (the moderately-remunerated) Joseph Haydn; he died on this date in 1809.  An accomplished composer who was, effectively, the architect of the Classical style, Haydn wrote 106 symphonies, and was instrumental in the development of chamber music. His influence on later composers was immense: he mentored Mozart and taught Beethoven; his contributions to musical form have earned him the epithets “Father of the Symphony” and “Father of the String Quartet.”

Thomas Hardy‘s portrait of Haydn

source

 

Written by LW

May 31, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Reality leaves a lot to the imagination”*…

 

Donald D. Hoffman, a professor of cognitive science at the University of California, Irvine. Hoffman has spent the past three decades studying perception, artificial intelligence, evolutionary game theory and the brain, and his conclusion is a dramatic one: The world presented to us by our perceptions is nothing like reality. What’s more, he says, we have evolution itself to thank for this magnificent illusion, as it maximizes evolutionary fitness by driving truth to extinction…

The fantastic tale in full at “The Evolutionary Argument Against Reality.”

[Image above source]

* John Lennon

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As we question everything, we might recall that it was on this date in 1810 that Beethoven wrote Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor (WoO 59 and Bia 515) for solo piano– better known as “Für Elise” (click to hear).

Some scholars have suggested that “Elise” was Beethoven’s mistress; but others have suggested that the discoverer of the piece, Ludwig Nohl, may have have misunderstood the Master’s handwriting, and transcribed the title incorrectly, that the original work may have been named “Für Therese”–  Therese being Therese Malfatti von Rohrenbach zu Dezza, a friend and student of Beethoven’s to whom he proposed in 1810… though she turned him down to marry the Austrian nobleman and state official Wilhelm von Droßdik.  Today, Therese is forgotten; Elise, celebrated. In any case, it’s a beautiful piece…

The famous opening bars

source

 

Written by LW

April 27, 2016 at 1:01 am

“It’s easy to play any musical instrument: all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time”*…

 

Deirdre Loughridge and Thomas Patteson, curators of the Museum of Imaginary Musical Instruments, explore the wonderful history of made-up musical contraptions, including a piano comprised of yelping cats and Francis Bacon’s 17th-century vision of experimental sound manipulation: “Cat Pianos, Sound-Houses, and Other Imaginary Musical Instruments.”

* Johann Sebastian Bach

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As we tickle the ivories, we might spare a thought for Johann Nepomuk Maelzel; he died on this date in 1838.  Remembered these days as the inventor of the metronome, Maezel was well-known in his own time as an inventor and impresario.  He was especially well-known for his automatons– clock work trumpeters, chess players, miniature song birds, and the like that he exhibited widely.  In 1804 Maezel invented a kind of “player orchestra,” the panharmonicon, an automaton able to play the musical instruments of a military band, powered by bellows, and directed by revolving cylinders on which the notes were stored.  The “instrument” was admired across Europe, and earned its creator the post of imperial court-mechanician at Vienna, and the friendship of Beethoven (whom Maezel convinced to write Wellington’s Victory [Battle Symphony] Opus 91).

 source

 

Written by LW

July 21, 2015 at 1:01 am

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