Current Reading

Blogs:

Greg Sandow has another episode posted in his online book-in-progress on the future of classical music. We’ll, he’s still dealing with the past, on modernism now. Understanding the past and present is key to developing ideas for the future, of course, and everything Greg writes is fascinating.

DePauw music education student Chris Simerman has started a blog, Music and Music Education. It’s a great opportunity to watch a really bright young man who is really in love with music and really dedicated to being a teacher develop his thinking and share his insights.

I often feel frustrated that more of my colleagues don’t share my view that many of our students are as, or, in some cases, more, bright and talented than we are, and that with fresh eyes and youthful energy unhampered by the failures, disappointments, and desire to repeat successes that creates the particular glass through which all adults peer, they have much from which we can learn. Of course, age brings experience and knowledge worth passing on and here’s one tidbit. Click on the third icon from the left in the toolbar at the top of the window for entering text on the “create post” page, Chris, and it will spellcheck your post.

Heavy-Reading Department:

I’m engrossed with Linda Goehr’s fascinating book The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works, and also digging into The Musical Work: Fact or Fiction, a compilation of symposium essays edited by Michael Talbot, inspired by Goehr’s thesis, that the idea of the fixed, inviolate musical work is a construct of Romantic thought. Her ideas, and the elaborations on, objections to, etc., them are having a great impact on my developing thought on the role of improvisation in the WECT (Western European Classical Tradtion–an acronym developed by Leo Treitler (from whom I almost took a course, named simply enough, “Rhythm,” in graduate school; I dropped it after one session because I couldn’t begin to follow what the graduate theory students were saying; they would expound, Treitler would gently explain that they were spouting bullshit [of course, he didn’t use that term], and say something I could understand; nevertheless, I figured I was either out of my league, or that it would be a frustrating exercise in academic blathering, or both).

Reading the Goehr and Talbot books is part of a long detour into works on musical philosophy and aesthetics which began when I first began skimming through Bruce Ellis Benson’s The Improvisation of Musical Dialogue, which was the first book to show me that the diminishment of improvisation (of actual notes) in the WECT was a result not just of an evolution in practice and increasing skill in notation, but even more a reflection of a profound shift in the understanding of music and of the roles of composer and performer. It’s now nearly nine months since Benson’s book sent me on an intellectual detour which brought the writing of my book on improvisation to a virtual halt. And what a fascinating, absorbing, and exciting journey it has been.

I Love Questia:

I’m reading The Musical Work: Fact or Fiction online, via Questia. I just love Questia. I can afford the twenty bucks or so a month it costs, and it makes it possible to read so many works immediately, and, when traveling, without dragging them around. I found the book through an Amazon search, saw it looked interesting and relevant, and in a few moments had the entire text available to me. The “Internets” are amazing.

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