Call for Music Writers... Rock, Indie, Urban, Electronic, Americana, Metal, World and More

Variations on a Theme

Tuesday, July 1 2008

The Sounds of Now: Tristan Murail and Sounding Stasis

What happens to the ear when it receives musical sound? Do we hear "our" music as music and the rest as noise?


Thursday, May 1 2008

The Practicality of the Impossible: John Cage and the Freeman Etudes

John Cage replaces the comforting order of the cosmos with the recalcitrant, indecipherable organization of a part of the universe. Each sound, radically set off from the others, demands that we hear it in isolation.


Wednesday, February 20 2008

Every Good Boy Does Fine

Required to take a music class in high school I signed up for chorus, but the teacher offered me $50 to drop the class – and other ruminations about learning to play the piano.


Wednesday, January 16 2008

Restoring Intellectual Day

It rankles my sensibilities that great music is considered "timeless" and therefore Handel's music still "means" today whatever it was it meant in his own time.


Wednesday, December 5 2007

Schroeder’s Dilemma: The Christmas Carol, as Lucy Likes It

The Christmas carol is neither high art nor popular claptrap; it is neither austerely sacred nor tritely popular; it is both timeless and timely, traditional and modern.


Thursday, October 11 2007

The Bull of Phalaris, or the Ambiguity of Musical Violence

By working directly on the body, music as a whole has access to a form of violence that far outstrips the petty accusations foisted upon certain of its constituent parts, such as hard rock and rap.


Tuesday, August 7 2007

The Sounds of Now: Steve Reich and the Transmogrification of the Banal

As human beings, interpretive animals that attempt to navigate the world by coming to some sort of "understanding" of it, we are addicted to purpose.


Thursday, July 19 2007

The Profound Consolation: The Use of Bach’s Music in the Films of Ingmar Bergman (Part 4)

The music in Bergman's Saraband sets up numerous tensions that it never reconciles: listener and performer, individual and group, passive aestheticism and practical enactment. Music in Bergman's world offers hope, but it does not offer answers.


Thursday, June 7 2007

On Lexus, Hairapy, and the Scherzo from Beethoven’s Ninth (with a nod to Kubrick)

By making Beethoven's Ninth an image of our humanity, we have conditioned ourselves to filter out all of those elements in the music that make it a worthwhile (if troubling) listening experience.


Thursday, April 26 2007

Classical Radio Communities: Thoughts on Mediation

Classical music radio gives rise to a prophylactic form of community: we are somehow participating with other listeners without having to engage directly with those others. The music becomes a pretense for communal participation.


Thursday, March 22 2007

Why Don’t the Planets Speak?: An Inquiry Into Music and Language

Speech involves saying something individual in a rigid system of conformity. Music seems to attempt something similar -- or, more appropriately, people attempt something similar through music.


Monday, January 22 2007

The Sounds of Now, Part Three: Anthony Braxton and the Ethics of Improvisation

Jenkins's latest installment in a series of contemporary composer profiles discusses Anthony Braxton, who seems to have looked to music as a means not to erase or ignore cultural dissonance but rather to confront it directly.


Tuesday, January 2 2007

The Profound Consolation: The Use of Bach’s Music in the Films of Ingmar Bergman (Part 3)

What Vogler hears in Bach is both the acknowledgement of the eternal sameness of our lives and the spiritual longing for untainted pure being -- Bach attains transcendence only through the transmutation of human despair and eternal sameness.


Wednesday, November 15 2006

The Profound Consolation: The Use of Bach’s Music in the Films of Ingmar Bergman (Part 2)

In the second installment of an ongoing discussion of Bach and Bergman, Jenkins examines the communicative power of Bach's sarabande in Through a Glass Darkly.


Friday, October 13 2006

The Profound Consolation: The Use of Bach’s Music in the Films of Ingmar Bergman (Part 1)

In Bergman's films, Bach's music functions to give access to a rarified atmosphere of revelation and emotional depth; it reveals something previously inaccessible within a character.


Sunday, September 10 2006

An Overheard Conversation Concerning Musical Taste

'But who determines the criteria by which one determines if something is well formed?' A debate of taste rages in a small field outside Maryland.


Thursday, August 10 2006

The Sounds of Now, Part Two: Meredith Monk

For the second installment in an ongoing series profiling contemporary composers, Jenkins reports on Meredith Monk, whose compositions and performances integrate the personal aspects of the body in a manner wholly removed from the majority of current musical production.


Thursday, June 29 2006

Melodic Patriotism: A Look at Some Lesser-Known Pieces for the Fourth of July

In observance of Independence Day, Jenkins examines some overlooked classical manifestations of American patriotism that may be more appropriate than Tchaikovsky's US-adopted 1812 Overture.


Thursday, June 8 2006

The Devil’s Music: Franz Liszt’s Musical Representation of Mephistopheles

Liszt's Faust symphony offers a solution to the conundrum that faced so many Romantic and post-Romantic composers: how does one create a musical form that continually and progressively unfolds and yet manages to hold together, to be all 'of a piece'?


Thursday, May 18 2006

Judging a Bach By Its Cover

If people are no longer as interested in classical music as a cerebral escape from the banalities of the everyday, then certain producers of classical recordings are willing to embrace this cultural condition by selling Bach not as an alternative to popular image culture, but as a part of it.


Wednesday, April 19 2006

On the Necessity of Listening As Confrontation

How can you possibly know why you 'like' something you assume you like unless you confront that which you have dismissed? Jenkins discusses the importance of spending time with the music that immediately displeases us.


Wednesday, March 1 2006

The Sounds of Now: Brian Ferneyhough

In the first of a series of contemporary composer profiles, Jenkins discusses Brian Ferneyhough, whose complex scores force performers to confront the boundaries of the possible.


Tuesday, January 31 2006

Stop Playing with Your Ticket: An Investigation of Concert-going Practices

Feeling stifled by symphonic stodginess? Jenkins reviews concert-going practices of previous centuries and suggests ways to improve the concert experience in our own.


Tuesday, January 10 2006

Songs Without Words, or So They Say: A Meditation on Titles

Exactly how should the title of a wordless piece of music influence our experience of the music itself? Jenkins muses on how titles interact with the instrumental pieces they represent and, furthermore, on musical selections with no titles at all.


Thursday, December 15 2005

Out of Proportion: Understanding the Medieval Motet

There is a parallel heard in the complex, seemingly conflicted harmony of 13th century music to today's dissonant world. As we struggle to fold our differences into an orchestrated 'global' accord, we might do well to challenge ourselves to stop, and truly listen.


Tuesday, November 22 2005

A Historicist Manifesto: Why Classical Matters

Classical music, as a culturally archaic archetype of stodginess, has long been disassociated from a contemporary relevance. Can we make it meaningful again now that we've told Beethoven to roll over?


Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements
PopMatters' LUCY Giveaway! in PopMatters's Hangs on LockerDome

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.