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“Musy” is pk’s coinage for any collection on the arts in general: music, art, literature … A “monthly” is any scrapbook re-dated to the first of each month.
2015 03 02 I love BB King. I’ve long loved BB King. I also love Muddy Waters. I also love Albert Collins, Albert King. I love blues men I don’t know by name. But: the last decade or so I find something that should surprise no one: I love BB King a great deal less old and fat than I formerly did, when he was lean and mean. They make all the homages only once there’s little cause to pay homage.\
What the hell, I loved it anyway. I’m paused now to comment: BB explains to the camera that the “blues” aren’t necessarily sad. He illustrates with his own Got a sweet little angel, I love it when she spreads her wings. I’ve heard several blues musicians (and several blues historians) explain that. To me they’ve wasted a lot of breath: anyone who needs the blue apologized for has no right to hear the apology. But most of all, apology is inappropriate as well as unnecessary. The mistake is thinking that “blues” is descriptive of mood. Forget that, think this: blues is a musical genre. It’s a prescription for form, a recipe. It’s twelve bars (or some related number). It uses the blues “scale”: a pentatonic. The third is typically lowered: so too may be the fifth: and the seventh! “Notes” are routinely bent: ambiguous. (White musicology has traditionally scorned ambiguity.)
There’s a call and response: church-like, though the medium is emphatically not sacred but secular.
See? Never mind whether it’s happy or sad; it’s minor! It’s not well-tempered. And the seventh isn’t just flat: it’s extra flat: the piano can’t play it, but the voice can sing it. The guitar can play it. The actual blue note.
Forget emotion, it’s technical. Mood is one of the elements of the blues. The whole is a “sound”: a synergy.
2015 03 06 Still fuming. Ridiculous to care how BB King characterizes the blues; what we care about is how he plays the blues, how he sings it, times it. Quintessence.
BB King is a “genius” level practitioner of the blues: it does not follow that he must be a genius theorist.
2015 02 19
Umberto Boccioni, The City Rises
These days I use wikipedia as my home page: I wish I could kick yahoo where it hurts. Lo and behold, memories flood: there’s a thumbnail of Umberto Boccioni’s The City Rises, a painting I will never forget, one of the first paintings at MOMA to grab hold of my eye and not let go, 1953, age fifteen.
Recent posts have reported my admiration for the theme music for the Sopranos: Woke Up This Morning. The theme music runs, the theme images run. The intro is rudely interrupted with the violent chaotic sound of a phonography needle, remember them? mercilessly scratched against vinyl, a sacrilege, a blasphemy in my esthetic: like screaming “c-” in the face of a nun.
Recorded music was my life as a boy. Recorded music remained my life into middle age. My Mac is my life now, jazz, Bach on vinyl was my sacred awe then. Scratching the record with the needle was a barbarism. At the same time freedom was my religion, prohibitions were made to be broken. So: I argued with myself for the right of the hiphopers to scratch recordss as a form of percussion: at the same time I was revolted by any ritual that would burn the Chippendale. My own reaction was like having my groin kicked, or like someone shrinking from the deliberate scratching of a blackboard: deliberate torture. Do I believe in the right of a barbarian to torture? to smash masterpieces? to murder the biosphere? It doesn’t matter what I believe: the world tortures regardless. Now I rejoice in my belief that stupidity will self-destruct while it’s destroying whatever else.
The Old Testament has God objecting to “other gods”. The Jews smashed other people’s idols and commended the smashing. I believe in creation: though not of the universe (except insofar as we all create our own “world”). I believe in destruction too. I believe that nothing may be sacred for a species in the midst of committing suicide: a failure at sentience.
My grandfather had a windup victrola. I was fascinated. I was given a portable electric victrola, added an extension to the yard, drove the neighbors crazy: kids don’t care who they annoy with their loud this and that, me, me, me.
Most monthly posts get reverted to scrapbooks. I’ll make a single monthly, feeding a dozen scrapbooks.
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