Tuesday, July 31, 2007

You can lead a horse’s ass to Washington, but the truth?

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Senator Patrick Leahy has decided he is going to subpoena Karl Rove to testify under oath. Well, it’s about time. But according to Whitehouse Spokesperson Tony Snow, he has already offered himself up in such a way that “he would tell the truth” only under the condition that he not be sworn, documented and that he be free to hide one of his hands behind his back at all times with his fingers crossed.

Frankly, it will be nice to get Rove’s lies on official record, but if anyone thinks this is going to result in the unearthing of truth from his thin little lips, they have no idea who they are dealing with. Karl Rove is and has been the biggest “spinmeister” to have ever entered the District of Columbia; and that’s a high honor.

It has been the food from which he thrives. Lie ‘til you die, and even then have a lie placed on the tombstone and hire Tony Snow and Scooter Libby to write the obituary. He has been lying so long he has no idea what the truth is.

As he has been leading Bush’s political career since his days in Texas, it is his modus operandi. It has become his mantra that if you tell a lie often enough, people will eventually believe it. And when lies aren’t enough, break the law and tell secrets that end careers and put lives in danger, while endangering the well built apparatus by which the US had previously tracked nuclear proliferation to the Middle East. Who cares? It’s just another spy, just another country with nukes. Who cares if it is a felony punishable by death? And according to him, it’s not a secret if you are the second or third person to have told it. According to him, everybody already knew it, right?

In his days in Texas, he not only was a master of lies, but he completely automated the rumor mill. He perfected the art. Basically, it was his favorite way to win. Just think of the very thing that would make an opponent unpopular, and whisper it to everyone you know. It didn’t matter that Ann Richards wasn’t a lesbian. She rode a motorcycle. She had to be, according to Rove and his team. And Texans love homosexuals, right?

If anyone thinks Rove is worried about being forced to testify, they are clearly deluded. He couldn’t care less. If you think Gonzales said, “I don’t know”, “I can’t recall, or “I wasn’t in the loop,” were enough to make you roll our eyes, just wait. Rove will have your eyes sticking that way. You will become so familiar with eye-rolling that you will likely give yourself a frontal lobotomy from the friction.

Meanwhile, Bush, Cheney and Snow will simply complain that there has become a proliferation of politics where there once was none.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Bush & Brown-Fathers Know Best?

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"Our aim, like the United States is, step-by-step, to move control to the Iraqi authorities," Brown said, joining Bush at a news conference at this mountaintop presidential retreat at CAMP DAVID, Md.

All of this boils down to men who come running to "take control" when those they consider "children" fall down and scrape their knees. Sometimes, the best thing is for dad to stay at work and let the children grow up. Instead of this "step-by-step" approach, sometimes you just have to throw the kids in the deep end and stand prepared should they begin to drown, but let's not assume they will.

This statement by British Prime Minister Brown echoes a hundreds of years old patriarchal view by the US and England, as if they are still legitimately delegated the position of policemen for the world. We hear things like this and just nod our arrogant Anglo heads in the assumption that "someone's gotta do it... if not us who?" The answer is clear to all but us; the world community is made up of sovereign nations who don't need a daddy. The only time we need to intercede is when one nation breaks the sovereignty of another, and sometimes when our assistance is requested to quell internal strife. Even then, we must sometimes say, "No".

Iraq is perfectly willing to let us do their job for them, to take the heat as it were, literally 115F degrees, while they take vacations. Bush and Brown are perfectly willing to do it as it feeds their corporate masters of the military industrial complex. It's all about business for them, and we have to get it through our heads that this exercise of imperialism for business sake is an unacceptable justification for the loss of life. Yes, people die anyway, everywhere, but it is not always our job to augment their deaths with those of our soldiers.

There is no pride in dying for corporate profits when it has nothing to do with the defense of our nation. In fact, these same men, if posted properly within the US, could clearly enhance our defense against potential foreign action.

How many times must it be said that there are limited resources and anyone you put outside our country is no longer available to directly defend our nation? Meanwhile, their occupation feeds a resentment that actually decreases the quality of our security by creating an impetus for insurgencies.

It is time for we children to tell our daddies that we no longer believe they should run the family. They have put us in greater danger and have destroyed our reputation as keepers of the flame.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Political Roundup - Liars, Fires & Buyers

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This week, I am going to get to the point as it seems few are willing to among those either seeking or sitting in office in the executive branch.

1-Bush: Almost 100 Al Quaedas
2-Gonzales: Waiting for the "privilege" of being fired
3-Hillary and Obama: Friends or Foes
4-Mike Gravel - Who's buying our government?
1-Bush: Almost 100 Al Quaedas - How many times can you lie in one speech? And how many times can you harp on the same lie? There is no doubt that someone in the Bush political machine is still determined that Americans are going to believe the lie repeated often enough is going to be believed.In fact, total score Al Quaeda and bin Laden 118 times in 29 minutes.

It seems that Bush may have mentioned Al Quaeda as many times as there are members of the group operating within Iraq, all in a single speech. But more disturbing was the notion that he was consistently attaching Iraq to 9/11. Just when we thought this had been conceded when long ago, Bush finally admitted the Iraq war had "nothing to do with 9/11," he begins a a new phase. So, it seems his reasoning is that, though there were no Al Quaeda in Iraq at the time of the 9/11 incident; now that there are because he invited them, I guess; we must stay and fight them there to prevent them from coming here.

The problem with this is, if there are Al Quaeda there now because we have fed their recruitment efforts by continuing to fight in Iraq well after our welcome was exhausted, what makes him think that by staying there, we will decrease their numbers? And why does he continue to ignore the real experts within the Islamic circles who say the Sunni and Shia (i.e. Saudi Arabia and Iran) hate Al Quaeda even more than the US does?

According to Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone and Vali Nasr, author of Shia Revival, as soon as the US leaves, both sides are more than willing to eliminate Al Quaeda by any means, as they hate them even more than the US does. According to both authors (neither of which can get a date with Bush), the only reason they tolerate Al Quaeda presence now, is that they provide additional insurgence.

Bush would have us believe all the violence is a result inner turmoil, but Iraq's hate of Al Quaeda could very well bring them together after we leave. Yes, there would be a bloodbath, but one that leads toward a stable Iraq.

2-Gonzales: Waiting for the "privilege" of being fired - Is Gonzales aware of some complex legal standard of truth that has somehow evaded the entirety of the legal community throughout history? Does he actually have a law degree? And if so, how does that reflect on the Harvard class of 1982? He seems to forget one of the basics of law practice, that once it has been established that a witness is lying, we can't believe anything else he says. He passed that point long ago. It is clear he has it in his mind that he is untouchable as long as his boss, an even bigger liar, stands behind him with various executive privileges. Doesn't Gonzalez realize the Dems are simply letting him and Bush coast as they hold a spot for an apparent Democratic heir?

Meanwhile, Press Secretary Tony Snow accused the Democrats of "possibly committing treason". full transcript via CNN

Frankly, if it weren't for the very important work the AG's office needs to do to protect our nation, the Dems would love for him to stay and continue to soil the GOP reputation. I suspect the GOP wants him, Bush, Cheney and the whole embarrassing bunch, to voluntarily disappear, so they could have enough time to reestablish legitimacy.


3-Hillary and Obama: Friends or Foes - It is very confusing to see the two of them walk arm in arm to cast their symbolic votes on the Senate floor, often at the last minute; then to see them trying to find real differences while running for the Dem Nomination in such a way that they can still get the general voter to accept them. The posturing is entertaining but confusing.

This week, when asked in the CNN/You Tube Debate, "Would you meet diplomatically with these countries' leaders?" They took opposite positions, and later spun their positions to accommodate each other. Hillary has, in the past, suggested she would deal with those who oppose us in the international front, though she has never suggested she would do so in a summit of heads of state.


It was clear from Obama's answer that he would directly meet with them just as Reagan had done when he was in the Cold War. But the next day, he claimed he would not necessarily meet with them in such a way as to legitimize them; clearly back peddling and straddling the issue.

Also the next day, Hillary simply spun this situation as one that highlighted Obama's "inexperience and naivete", to which Obama called her "Bush and Cheney Lite" in her refusal to deal with despots. Overall, it seemed to work to her advantage as she could very well claim she would maintain an open dialog with these nations while she wouldn't necessarily meet with them personally. The name-calling didn't reflect well on Obama either, as it just didn't fit. She has clearly separated herself from Bush despite her original support of the Iraq War, as did most, based on Bush's lies.

4-Mike Gravel - Who's buying our government? You had best not ignore Mike Gravel. As usual, he's angry. In this case his focus is on who's been bought among Dem contenders. He says if you really want to know who a candidate is going to represent, just follow the money:


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Considerable Sounds: In Philadelphia, The Police Were Arresting

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By DC Music Editor Benjamin New

A wig store was robbed yesterday.

The Police are combing the area for clues....
The Police Show In Philadelphia

On Thursday July 19th , I joined 45, 000 other gleeful music fans at the Phillies' home field in South Philadelphia to welcome Andy Summers, Stewart Copeland and Gordon Sumner back to our neck of the woods. (Despite the predictions, it didn't rain.)

What makes the Police a distinctive band worthy of our consideration?

Let’s start with Sting’s songwriting. It’s good. It’s damn good. From a song craft perspective, a song like “Wrapped Around Your Finger” could be a template for designing an artful pop tune.

Sting Was On Top Of His Game

His lyrics are also often quite compelling. ( although as we all know he does have a penchant for the syllables “EEYOO”). I think he is at his best when probing the dingy acherontic corners of the human psyche using bright, irresistible melodies as a flashlight. (As in Synchronicity 2 or Every Breath You Take). There is also that innate ability to tap our collective consciousness. Don’t each of us have a “Message In A Bottle”? Sting is a marvelous vocalist and tight bassist.

I am hoping He will record some new material after the tour with Andy and Stewart as they really make his music take on a unique stylistic shape and property. The whole of The Police, like most charismatic influential bands, is greater than the sum of it's parts.

Relentless percussionist Copeland

Next there is the informed rhythmic sensibility of percussionist Stewart Copeland.

Blending Jazz, Rock, and copious amounts of Ska with classically conversant battery.

By the end of the first phrase of percussion, you know it’s him. His style is that distinctive. Stewart guests on Peter Gabriel’s “Red Rain“. Listen to the 2 bars of hi hat at the start of the song. You know immediately it is Mr. Copeland’s hi hat.

Stewart Copeland largely rejected his pop music past when the Police ceased touring in 1984 to pursue a career as a composer, authoring a prolific series of film scores, operas, and ballets. He and singer Stanard Ridgeway (Wall of Voodoo) earned a Golden Globe nomination for his score to Francis Ford Coppola's Rumble Fish (do you recall the excellent song “Don‘t Box Me In?). In 1985 he released The Rhythmatist, inspired by his musical pilgrimage to Africa.

His abilities as film scorer produced an ever-increasing number of projects including a pair of Oliver Stone features, Wall Street and Talk Radio, in addition to acclaimed projects like Ken Loach's Raining Stones, Four Days in September and West Beirut as well as many more mainstream Hollywood productions. Copeland's other work includes a stint with the pop-fusion trio Animal Logic as well as authoring the San Francisco Ballet's King Lear, the Cleveland Opera's Holy Blood and Crescent Moon, and Ballet Oklahoma's Prey. Born July 16, 1952 in Alexandria, Egypt, Copeland was the son of a CIA agent. He spent his formative years in the Middle East but attended college in California before settling in England in 1975 where he began playing drums with the progressive rock band Curved Air before forming the Police.

Stewart was featured at the Modern Drummer Festival in 2006.

Andy Summers Stretches Out
His playing is in his own words : "the best it has ever been"

Last but assuredly not least, The formidable guitar talents of Andy Summers. Andy pioneered a style that incorporated heavily chorused sound , syncopation and the use of delay as a rhythmic component. ( An inestimable influence on the Edge’s U2 approach and myriads of others).

His work with the Police is highly stylized with unorthodox chord voicing and the use of quartal harmony that would be more at home in McCoy Tyner’s jazz piano styling than a major Rock- Pop-Ska band. He began his recording career in the 1960s as the guitarist for Zoot Money's Big Roll Band playing regularly at the Flamingo, a Soho London club renowned for its wild all-nighters. Andy provided guitar for Dantalian's Chariot, Soft Machine, Eric Burdon and the New Animals, and spent much of the 1970s doing prolific session work for Neil Sedaka, Joan Armatrading, Kevin Ayers, Kevin Coyne, Tim Rose, and Jon Lord.

He was considered for Mick Taylor's replacement as lead guitarist for The Rolling Stones. (Ron Wood was chosen instead). Summers's guitar playing defined much of the Police sound. Summers' own songs for the Police, such as "Omegaman" and "Mother", Though not “hits“ were some of my favorites. (His instrumental "Behind My Camel" won the Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental in 1980). Summers' style is illustrious in its depth of sound. He was an early adopter of Roland guitar synthesizer technology. Yet in recent years, has favored a less effected sound. Andy’s diverse musical credits include many film scores:

1984 - 'Wild Life'

1985 - 'Band Of The Hand'
1986 - '2010'
1987 - 'Down & Out In Beverly Hills'
1988 - 'End of the Line'
1989 - 'Weekend At Bernie's'
1990 - 'Deceived'
1991 - 'Motorama'
1992 - 'Another You'
1993 - 'Mississippi Masala'

Andy’s recordings outside the Police are an absolute delight with bits of ambient and improvisatory work in the mix. These efforts resonate with the spirit of invention- embracing jazz, classical and world music. He reveals himself as an artist capable of transcending conventions, even the ones he himself created. Any self respecting guitarist must have a few of if not all of them in their collection. I recommend them all.

‘I Advance Masked’ and ‘Bewitched’ are 2 of my favorites. Both recordings are collaborations with Robert Fripp. Here is the Discography.

'I Advance Masked' (w/ Robert Fripp)
'Bewitched' (w/ Robert Fripp)
'Mysterious Barricades'
'The Golden Wire'
'Charming Snakes'
'World Gone Strange'
'Invisible Threads' (w/John Etheridge)
'The Last Dance Of Mr X'
'Retrospective - Best Of'
'Strings Of Desire' (w/Victor Biglione)
'Green Chimneys'
‘Peggy’s Blue Skylight’
“Earth & Sky”
“The X Tracks”

‘Splendid Brazil’ (w/Victor Biglione) Soon to be released
‘First You Build A Cloud’ (w Classical Guitarist Benjamin Verdery) Soon to be released

Peggy’s Blue Skylight is entirely populated by Charles Mingus tunes. While Green Chimneys is a collection of Theolonius Monk compositions. From the liner notes:
I was sixteen when I first heard Monk's music. It knocked me out, got under my skin. It was jazz but it was something else, African - magical- cubist - primitive - Monk's world. At the time I was listening hard to "Monk at the Town Hall" A friend loaned me his copy, I loved it and spent many hours hunched over a Dansette trying to get my teenage fingers around those tunes. Monk came to England, I had to see him play. It was six hours on a cold train to London. I wasn't disappointed, he played solo piano, sandwiched between Dizzy Gillespie and Roy Eldridge. Monk took the music to another place altogether. His playing hit me in the gut - it was the essence, the distillation of jazz and the American life. A black and white movie. I couldn't talk about it then, only sense it - feel it. I have always loved Monk and his music, he created his own universe, one that has not only stood the test of time, but also been a wonderful inspiration. Thanks Monk!

Andy appears on these recordings as well.

1971 - 'Love Is' (Eric Burdon & the Animals)
1983 - 'Eric Burdon And The Animals'
2004 – ‘Absolute Animals 1964-1968’ Compilation
1975 – Eberhard Schoener ‘Video Magic’
1976 – Eberhard Schoener ‘Flashback’’
1976 - David Bedford 'The Odyssey'
1976 - Tim Rose 'Tim Rose'
1976 – Jon Lord ‘Sarabande’
1987 - Sting '...Nothing Like The Sun'
1989 - Michael Schrieve 'Stiletto'
1991 – Toni Childs ‘House Of Hope’
1992 – Paolo Rustichelli ‘Capri’
1995 – The Pan African Orchestra’ Opus 1 (Producer)
1996 - Various Artists 'Twang!'
1998 - Various Artists 'Outlandos D'America'
1998 – Gregg Bissonette ‘Gregg Bissonette’
2000 – Various Artists’ As Long As You’re Living Yours: The Music Of Keith Jarrett
2001 – Manuel Barrueco – ‘Nylon & Steel’

John Etheridge, Vinnie Colaiuta, Robert Fripp, Herbie Hancock, Brian Auger, Eliane Elias, Tony Levin, Ginger Baker, Deborah Harry, Q-Tip, and Sting, among others appear on Andy‘s albums.

A mysterious hole has appeared in the Changing room.
The Police are looking into it.

The Band Played 3 Encores

By now it’s apparent that I appreciate and respect the talents of the members of this band.

So it was a thrill to see them work together once again. They did not disappoint. The show opened with the support band “Fiction Plane” who I heard for the first time and thought were very impressive. Fiction Plane lead singer Joe Sumner ( Yes, Sting’s son) sounds quite a bit like his dad. They performed songs from their new CD "Left Side of the Brain". I particularly enjoyed “ Everybody Lies” and “Two Sisters“. They were followed by the Scottish trio the Fratellis who were also an engaging opening act. It seems few in the open-air stadium had heard Costello Music, but songs like "Henrietta" and "Whistle for the Choir" were received quite well. Kudos to whoever it was that chose these bands to support the Police. Their music was really quite enjoyable and relative to the main act.

The concert began with a recording of Bob Marley singing “Get Up Stand Up” which incited the entire stadium to rise from their seats before a single note had actually been played . Then without a hemidemisemiquaver of delay the Stewart Copeland sounded a Gong and Andy Summers launched “Message In A Bottle”. The sound was clean and uncluttered if perhaps a tad bass heavy but with firm roots in Ska and Reggae this was perhaps not inappropriate.

I have read numerous reviews of various shows on the tour and reviewers seem to be obliged to comment on the liberties taken with arrangements of the songs. I am obliged to comment on their comments. If what the musicians were attempting to do was recreate their recordings from 28 years ago and failed, you’d have a point (but the hat covers it up). Instead what we have is a band that have grown as musicians willing to take a fresh look at their catalog and interpret the music in the moment. I’m no fan of excessive meaningless doodling around I assure you, but I really enjoyed the expanded takes on these songs that both proved they were far more than mere nostalgia and gave everyone a chance to shine.

We have been discussing music history in the last couple articles and the observation could be made that most major movements in art and music are reactions to prevailing conventions. Generally speaking, there was an unwritten law that since 1980 that only heretics would play solos in rock or pop music. This was a reaction to the endless noodling that pervaded rock music in the 1970s’s.

The Police were very much a part of this movement away from solos and extemporization. Since then, improvisatory rock has all but disappeared and so have the players who are capable of lending any legitimacy to playing such music. Avoiding solos is no longer a reaction but has become a convention itself to be reacted to. I for one, always enjoy the shimmering, spiky, somewhat obtuse guitar work of Andy Summers and was thrilled to hear more of it. The band showed no sign of weakness in Philadelphia. They were energized, in a practiced, sharply professional fashion.

A nonstop, roughly 2 hour explosion of uplifting music, including 3 encores ensued.

The standouts for me were the expanded “Walking In Your Footsteps”, The new arrangement of “Wrapped Around Your Finger” (both of which featured Copeland’s remarkable use of sundry percussion and tympani) , Andy’s heroic jazz tinged spiked solo in "So Lonely," "Can't Stand Losing You," "Walking on the Moon," "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," “Synchronicity ll” … well to be honest I thoroughly enjoyed the entire evening. Songs were stretched and compressed, broken apart and put back together, without sacrificing the simple, melodic effectiveness of the original incarnation.

Criticisms? Only minor ones. A few spots where the melodies were out of Sting’s mature range he made no effort to sing the parts, letting the “only too happy to oblige” audience sing the parts instead which was actually fun. In his defense, the uppermost notes of his voice were the only thing lacking and as we grow older most people lose that extreme high register of their voice. ( Sting is 56, Stewart is 55, and Andy is 65 -though to see him leap off the drum riser you would not know it!)

I only noticed this a couple times. His powerful vocal performance generally was top notch and his formidable skills as an entertainer were on full display. His bass playing was full, rubbery, and spot on. Sting joked about the band's ancient origins, saying that its debut album, Outlandos d'Amour, came out in 1878. He also recalled playing the renown Philadelphia South Street club "Grendel's Lair" to an audience of 3. (A place that I too played around the same time. I'm pretty sure more than 3 people showed up, maybe 23, but 50 was a full house!) I would have liked to have heard “Mother,” and “Miss Gredenko” but I could have heard every tune they ever recorded. I suppose the show , and the article, must end sometime.

Check the remaining dates of the tour here. Should you go?

I don't see how you could be disappointed.

United States and Canada Tour
Date City Venue
May 27, 2007 Vancouver, BC, Canada General Motors Place
May 28, 2007 Vancouver. BC, Canada General Motors Place
May 30, 2007 Vancouver, BC, Canada General Motors Place
June 2, 2007 Edmonton, Alberta, Canada[10] Commonwealth Stadium[11]
June 6, 2007 Seattle, WA, United States KeyArena
June 7, 2007 Seattle, WA, United States KeyArena
June 9, 2007 Denver, CO, United States Pepsi Center
June 10, 2007 Denver, CO, United Staes Pepsi Center
June 13, 2007 Oakland, CA, United States[12] McAfee Coliseum
June 15, 2007 Las Vegas, NV, United States MGM Grand Garden Arena
June 16, 2007 Manchester TN, United States Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival
June 18, 2007 Phoenix, AZ, United States US Airways Center
June 20, 2007 Los Angeles, CA, United States Staples Center
June 21, 2007 Anaheim, CA, United States Honda Center
June 23, 2007 Los Angeles, CA, United States[12] Dodger Stadium
June 26, 2007 Dallas, TX, United States American Airlines Center
June 27, 2007 Dallas, TX, United States American Airlines Center
June 29, 2007 Houston, TX, United States Toyota Center
June 30, 2007 New Orleans, LA, United States New Orleans Arena
July 2, 2007 St. Louis, MO, United States Scottrade Center
July 3, 2007 St. Paul, MN, United States Xcel Energy Center
July 5, 2007 Chicago, IL, United States Wrigley Field
July 6, 2007 Chicago, IL, United States Wrigley Field
July 7, 2007 East Rutherford, NJ, United States Giants Stadium (Live Earth concert)
July 10, 2007 Miami Gardens, FL, United States Dolphin Stadium
July 11, 2007 Tampa, FL, United States St. Pete Times Forum
July 14, 2007 Louisville, KY, United States Churchill Downs
July 16, 2007 Cleveland, OH, United States Quicken Loans Arena
July 17, 2007 Auburn Hills, MI, United States Palace of Auburn Hills
July 19, 2007 Philadelphia, PA, United States Citizens Bank Park
July 20, 2007 Hershey, PA, United States Hersheypark Stadium
July 22, 2007 Toronto, ON, Canada Air Canada Centre
July 23, 2007 Toronto, ON, Canada Air Canada Centre
July 25, 2007 Montreal, QC, Canada Bell Centre
July 26, 2007 Montreal, QC, Canada Bell Centre
July 28, 2007 Boston, MA, United States Fenway Park
July 29, 2007 Boston, MA, United States Fenway Park
July 31, 2007 East Hartford, CT, United States Rentschler Field
August 1, 2007 New York City, NY, United States Madison Square Garden
August 3, 2007 New York City, NY, United States Madison Square Garden
August 4, 2007 Baltimore, MD, United States Pimlico Race Course
August 5, 2007 East Rutherford, NJ, United States[12] Giants Stadium
August 29, 2007 Stockholm, Sweden Globe Arena
August 30, 2007 Stockholm, Sweden Globe Arena
September 1, 2007 Aarhus, Denmark Vestereng
September 4, 2007 Birmingham, England National Indoor Arena
September 5, 2007 Birmingham, England National Indoor Arena
September 8, 2007 Twickenham, England Twickenham Stadium
September 9, 2007 Twickenham, England Twickenham Stadium
September 11, 2007 Hamburg, Germany HSH Nordbank Arena
September 13, 2007 Amsterdam, Netherlands Amsterdam ArenA
September 14, 2007 Amsterdam, Netherlands Amsterdam ArenA
September 16, 2007 Geneva, Switzerland Stade de Genève
September 19, 2007 Vienna, Austria Stadthalle
September 22, 2007 Munich, Germany Olympiastadion
September 25, 2007 Lisbon, Portugal Estádio Nacional
September 27, 2007 Barcelona, Spain Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys
September 29, 2007 Paris, France Stade de France
September 30, 2007 Paris, France Stade de France
October 02, 2007 Turin, Italy Stadio Delle Alpi
October 06, 2007 Dublin, Ireland Croke Park
October 08, 2007 Antwerp, Belgium Sportpaleis
October 09, 2007 Antwerp, Belgium Sportpaleis
October 10, 2007 Mannheim, Germany SAP Arena
October 13, 2007 Dusseldorf, Germany LTU Arena
October 15, 2007 Manchester, England MEN Arena
October 16, 2007 Manchester, England MEN Arena
October 19, 2007 Cardiff, Wales Millennium Stadium

More North American Dates

October 31, 2007 New York City, NY, United States Madison Square Garden
November 3, 2007 Atlantic City, NJ, United States Boardwalk Hall
November 8, 2007 Toronto, ON, Canada Air Canada Centre
November 11, 2007 Boston, MA, United States TD Banknorth Garden
November 17, 2007 Atlanta, GA, United States Philips Arena
November 24, 2007 Mexico City, Mexico Foro Sol

South American Dates

Date City Venue
December 1, 2007 Buenos Aires, Argentina River Plate Stadium
December 2, 2007 Buenos Aires, Argentina River Plate Stadium
December 8?, 2007 Santiago, Chile Estadio Nacional

New Zealand, Australia dates

Date City Venue
January 17, 2008 Wellington, New Zealand Westpac Stadium
January 19, 2008 Auckland, New Zealand Western Springs
January 22, 2008 Brisbane, Australia Suncorp Stadium
January 24, 2008 Sydney, Australia Telstra Stadium
January 26, 2008 Melbourne, Australia Melbourne Cricket Ground
January 28, 2008 Adelaide, Australia AAMI Stadium
February 1, 2008 Perth, Australia Members Equity Stadium

Every Breath You Take

This beautifully crafted pop song was written in 1 Hour according to Sting.

The memorable film noir video was produced and directed by Kevin Godley and Lol Creme.

As a reward for reading the entire article I give you the:

* I can't reach my license unless you hold my beer.
* Sorry, Officer. I didn't realize my radar detector wasn't plugged in.
* Aren't you that guy from the Village People?
* Hey, you must have been doin' at least 120 mph to keep up with me. Good job!
* I thought you had to be in relatively good physical condition to be a cop.
* I almost decided to be a cop, but I decided to finish high school instead.
* You're not gonna check the trunk, are you?
* Didn't I see you get your ass kicked on COPS?
* Is it true that people become cops because they're too dumb to work at McDonald's?
* I was just trying to keep up with traffic. Yes, I know there are no other cars around-that's how far ahead of me they are.
* No, I don't know how fast I was going. The little needle stops at 110 mph.
* Want to race to the station, Sparky?
* On the way to the station let's get a six pack.
* You'll never get those cuffs on me you clown!
* Come on write the damn ticket, the bars close in 20 minutes!
* Hey, wasn't your daughter a porn star?
* How long is this going to take? Your wife is expecting me.
* I know I was weaving, but I can't find the Bat Cave entrance!

But the number one thing that you shouldn’t say to the police is….

* Back off, Barney, I've got a piece.

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Duly Consider and Considerable Sounds are TM of this publication and are subject to liabilities thereof

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Considerable Sounds: The Good, The Bad, and the Dodecaphonic

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By DC Music Editor Benjamin New

Last Week, At a concert, our local orchestra decided to play Beethoven's 9th symphony.

However, this was an outdoor concert and it was quite hot, the players were working up quite a sweat, until some fans were brought in.

Unfortunately, the wind from these ventilators was causing the sheet music to blow
all over the place, so they had to tie them down to the music stands.

The din from the fans was so bad that the bassists decided it didn't matter if they downed a few drinks and got royally drunk.

Two of the bassists got so drunk that they passed out.

One of the violinists, in disgust, decided to go home but he slipped and fell.

It was the bottom of the 9th, the bassists were loaded, the score was tied with two men out, and the fans were roaring wild when one of the players slid home.

"Every great inspiration is but an experiment"
-Charles Ives

If the Impressionists poked holes in the fabric of tonality (see previous post) then the Serialists stabbed it with Bowie knives. Welcome to the 20th Century!

Meet Charles Ives, (October 20, 1874 – May 19, 1954), American composer, co-founder of the successful insurance firm Ives & Myrick, and an enigma to ponder. He was arguably the first true "20th century" composer. Fellow composer Arnold Schoenberg was not normally given to praising his contemporaries but said "There is a great Man living in this country – a composer. He has solved the problem of how to preserve one's self and to learn. He responds to negligence by contempt. He is not forced to accept praise or blame. His name is Ives."

Charles Ives's "Unanswered Question" of 1906 was the first piece of the 20th Century using spatial separation as a major element of the composition. He specified three groups of instruments to be placed around the concert hall. A solo trumpet, keeps asking the eternal question from center stage; increasingly irate and jabbering winds respond from the back of the hall; and the third, a soothing background of soft strings located back-stage represent the constant harmony of the universe.

This piece influenced many maverick composers, especially 90 year-old Henry Brant, who has composed over 100 spatial works and won the Pulitzer prize in 2002 for "Ice Field" based on this concept.

Duly Consider
this: Jan Swafford, American composer and author who teaches composition, theory, and musicology at the Boston Conservatory has asserted that "at heart, Ives is a religious composer". I can agree with him in a sense. But the Ives religion does not exist in any conventional sense, there is a vague spiritual consciousness perhaps. I believe he was mostly inspired by the transcendental writings of Emerson and Thoreau. He even built his own version of Thoreau's shelter in Walden Woods from which he could compose away from civilization.

Charles Ives built this composer's "shanty" on top of Pine Mountain in Ridgefield, Connecticut in 1903.

Was he inspired to conceive his "Universe" Symphony as he gazed over the distant ridges under stars?

Outside of early works like "The Celestial Country,” Ives' compositions raise far more questions than they answer. There is no unified rational view of the world in the music of Ives. His compositions are not easily grasped. Rather than simplifying our experience, Ives’ music portrays the world as fragmentary, disjointed, and ultimately incomplete. To view the musical world of Charles Ives, neither the telescope nor the microscope is helpful, but a kaleidoscope would serve one well. His music reveals an underlying complexity in a reality that is chaotic and disconnected. We typically ignore this dissonant reality by sticking to the well-worn paths, whether they are well-worn musical conventions or well-worn ways of thinking. Like the disembodied voice in the film "Field of Dreams", Ives challenges us to "Go the distance".

I know what your thinking, dear reader: "Well Benjamin, one does not have to be an astute learned student of musicology to understand Ives’ music represents a fragmentary and chaotic reality. That's basically modernism in a nutshell."

And you are right. However, allow me to elaborate further. Unlike modernists who reflect but lament the breakdown of sense and order, Ives relishes every drop of chaos; he does the high dive right into the primordial pool and does a few laps. Then he emerges jubilantly and asks only for a towel. Think of “The Fourth of July.” Think of “Putnam’s Camp.”

Ives in 1945. He even looks like a man who revels in chaos!

I was mistaken, you don't need a kaleidescope to view this world, this world is a kaleidoscope! Ives’s music acknowledges that our perceptions of the universe--and the realities that we construct from those perceptions--are in a constant state of transformation. From Ives’ point of view, creating a work of art and presenting it as complete is disingenuous. Ives spent most of his life attending mainstream Christian churches yet his music is never dogmatic or orthodox.
Nor is it tidy.

"The fabric of existence weaves itself whole. You cannot set art off in a corner and hope for it to have vitality, reality, and substance. There can be nothing exclusive about substantial art. It comes directly out of the heart of the experience of life and thinking about life and living life"
-Charles Ives, A Life With Music

"My music is not really modern, just badly played."
-Arnold Schoenberg

The historic encounter around 1911 between the composer Arnold Schöenberg and the painter Vassily Kandinsky occurred when the first wild revolts against traditional art, Dadaism and Futurism, had just manifested themselves. Without actually being a part of these movements, both Schoenberg and Kandinsky had already concluded that the material and the compositional methods they relied on in the past were exhausted and did not satisfy the development of their artistic ideas. Both artists had already submitted their modes of production to a critical analysis which resulted in Schöenberg's Theory of Harmony and Kandinsky's Concerning the Spiritual in Art, both published in 1911. They had already been putting their self-criticism into practice for some time. In Schöenberg's case this led to breaking with tonality; Kandinsky effected the transition to abstract painting.

The Red Look

Did Kandinsky influence the painting of Schöenberg?

After World War I Austrian born Arnold Schöenberg worked at evolving a means of order which would clarify and simplify his musical textures. This resulted in his "method of composition with twelve tones". In this system all twelve pitches of the octave are regarded as equal, and no one note or tonality is given the emphasis it occupied in classical harmony. He regarded it as the equivalent in music of Albert Einstein's discoveries in Physics. Schöenberg announced his theory with wry and ironic wit saying “I have made a discovery which will ensure the supremacy of German music for the next hundred years."

In the following years he produced a series of instrumental and orchestral works showing how his method could produce new music which did not copy the past. His crowning achievement was to be an opera - Moses und Aron, of which he wrote over two-thirds but was unable to complete, perhaps for psychological reasons. Most music scholars agree that although it is unfinished, it is his finest work.

The opera represents a response in dramatic form to the growing anti-Jewish movements in the German-speaking world after 1848 and a deeply personal expression of his own "Jewish identity" crisis. This crisis began with a personal encounter with anti-Semitic agitation at Mattsee during the summer of 1921, when he was forced to leave the resort because he was a Jew, although he actually had converted to Protestantism in 1898. It was a traumatic experience to which Schoenberg would often refer. "I have at last learned the lesson that has been forced upon me this year, and I shall never forget it. It is that I am not a German, not a European, indeed perhaps scarcely even a human being (at least, the Europeans prefer the worst of their race to me), but that I am a Jew."

’s music theory teacher, Gustav Mahler also tried to deflect the growing bigotry by converting to Catholicism, some years earlier. He said "I am thrice homeless: as a Bohemian among Austrians, as an Austrian among the Germans, and as a Jew throughout the entire world. I am an intruder everywhere, welcome nowhere.”

The Mattsee experience changed the course of Schoenberg's life and musical creativity. It led him to proclaim in Moses und Aron his strict monotheistic creed; and finally, upon his official return to Judaism in 1933, to embark for more than a decade on a relentless mission to save European Jews from the Nazis. The idea of the opera is the story of the Biblical Exodus set in modern times. It is both a political and personal statement. Ironically, the music ends at the point where Moses cries out his frustration at being unable to express himself. Some suggest that by this time Schoenberg had come to see himself as a kind of prophet as well.

Though remarkably he himself had little formal instruction in music, teaching was a major activity throughout his life. Among his many students the most noted were Alban Berg and Anton von Webern. He taught at the Prussian Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin from 1925 to 1933, when he fled the Nazis, emigrated to the United States, and taught for a year at the Malkin Conservatory, Boston. He then went to Hollywood and was professor of music at the Univ. of Southern California (1935–36) and the Univ. of California at Los Angeles (1936–44).
Schöenberg's music had polarized responses to it: his followers and students saw him as one of the most important figures in music, while many critics hated his work, on the whole.

The deteriorating relation between contemporary composers and the public led him to found the Society for Private Musical Performances in Vienna in 1918. His aim was grandiose but not egocentric; he sought to provide a forum in which modern musical compositions could be carefully prepared and rehearsed, and properly performed under conditions protected from the dictates of fashion and pressures of commerce. From its inception through 1921, when it ended because of economic reasons, the Society presented 353 performances to paid members, sometimes at the rate of one per week, and during the first year and a half, Schöenberg did not allow any of his own works to be performed .

Instead, audiences at the Society's concerts heard difficult contemporary compositions by Scriabin, Debussy, Mahler, Webern, Berg, Reger, and other leading figures of early 20th-century music. Vienna saw the birth of serialism, psychoanalysis, and modern art all at once.

Schöenberg was a triskadekaphobe. He omitted an 'A' in Aaron's name so as to avoid having 13 letters in the title. We are fortunate the traditional division of the octave had twelve, not 13 tones or perhaps Schöenberg would not have graced us with this amazing music. Perhaps instead writing the theme for "Happy Birthday". Perhaps ironically he left the planet on Friday, July 13 in his 76th year, 7+6=13.

It is worth noting that Schöenberg was not the only composer (or even the first) to experiment with the systematic use of all twelve tones. Both the Russian composer Nikolai Roslavets and Schöenberg's fellow Austrian Josef Matthias Hauer developed their own twelve-tone systems quite independently at around the same time as Schöenberg, and Charles Ives experimented with twelve-tone techniques substantially earlier. However, Schöenberg's system was by far the most influential.

For a great listening and interactive experience (Best with headphones and high speed internet, dial up would be tough) check out The Unmixed Question. You can do your own spatial mix of Charles Ives "The Unanswered Question" with the San Francisco Orchestra, Michael Tilson Thomas conducting.

The piece was created using binaural 3D positioning software to move the musical parts around in an imaginary hall. Just to add a little chaos, we have added some incidental Ives music you can blend in; a practice he often did, in the Symphony #4 for instance with clashing bands and choruses. Wait for the music to load and press the Start icon. Clicking "Location" will send the part to another placement in the space once the previous part is finished playing. You can also control the relative volumes of each part or fade them out all together.

NOTE: This is a big file. It takes a while to load. Patience pays off. Don't be in a hurry for the sound to change right after the buttons are touched. Just keep your ears open and the changes will follow.

There are 16 parts of all different lengths (four parts possible at once.) Because they are different lengths the phrases will never line up the same way twice. This makes for a slowly evolving piece without an end.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Considerable Sounds: 20th Century Schizoid Men

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By DC Music Editor Benjamin New

“Modern music is as dangerous as narcotics”

Pietro Mascagni - Italian Composer (1863-1945)

We were discussing the different periods of musical development in western civilization last week and ended with the Romantic Era. This week let’s look at the music of the 20th century. Seems like a straightforward purpose and simple enough task. Yet the compositions of the last century are much harder to pin down and generalize than one might be inclined to believe. In the last 100 years, ideological changes and technical advances have affected not only the way that music is enjoyed but also the way that it is composed. The one generalization we can make is that these composers have all explored new and uncharted territory in terms of tone and structure, often abandoning -- challenging -- or combining the preconceived notions about the nature of music itself, which we discussed a bit in last weeks story.

Although I suggest it was a bloodless revolution, it’s casualties, like elephants shot by big game hunters, remain standing even to this day. This Revolution did not happen overnight . Events in the Romantic period led directly to the Jacobinic musical subversions of the next century. The latter part of the Romantic Period gave us Wagner, Mahler and Scriabin. Together, they pushed the tonal system into the red, pegged the needle, and exploded the gauge. The first responders to this emergency were Debussy, Schoenberg, and Stravinsky. I discovered quickly that there is simply too much diversity in this music to do any meaningful journalism within the constraints of a single article. In this week’s musical outing, we’ll be taking a closer look at Debussy and his contemporaries.

The Impressionist Movement

Recently an art thief in Paris nearly got away with stealing several paintings from the Louvre. But, after taking them off the walls and eluding the guards, he was captured only two blocks away when his van ran out of gas. When asked how he could mastermind such a theft and then make such a blunder, he replied: “I had no Monet to buy Degas to make the Van Gogh.”

Debussy (and Ravel) experimented with whole tone scales and became associated with the impressionist movement. (Throughout history, art and music have developed in parallel with each other.) Impressionism in art began in France near the end of the 19th century. impressionist painters did not seek to show reality in the classical sense of a picture-perfect image; instead, they emphasized light and color to give an overall "impression" of their subjects.

Claude Monet‘s “Impression: Sunrise"—The movement was named after this painting

In much the same way, musical impressionism aims to create descriptive impressions, not necessarily to draw clear pictures. The music is not designed to explicitly describe anything, but rather to create a mood or atmosphere. This is done through almost every aspect of music: melody, harmony, timbre, rhythm, and form. Melodies tend to be brief and repeated in different contexts to reflect different moods, notes are often drawn from scale systems other than the traditional major and minor. These would include pentatonic, whole-tone, or other somewhat exotic scales including chromaticism.

Asian music inspired Debussy more than the western traditions of the time. The use (or misuse, as critics of the time were known to say) of harmony was a key ingredient in the impressionist‘s bouillabaisse. For nearly the entire history of Western music, chords had been used to build and relieve tension using dissonance and consonance. Mozart’s
Sonata in A is a good example of traditional harmony. You can definitively hear the chord structure leading the music forward until it reaches resolution on the final note. Now listen to "L'îsle Joyeuse" ("The Island of Joy") by Claude Debussy. This is actually a musical interpretation of Jean-Antoine Watteauthe’s painting "The Embarkation for Cythera".

"The Embarkation for Cythera" by Jean-Antoine Watteau

Both the painting and the piece tell the story of a journey to the mythical island of Cythera the birthplace of Venus, an ideal place of love and beauty. (I wonder if Travelzoo or Expedia can get me there at a discount?) The opening trills suggest the excitement and anticipation of the travelers; a middle section depicts them floating over the water; their arrival is heralded by jubilant trumpeting; and their ecstatic joy in realizing their destination provides a climactic finish. (OK, time for a cigarette, how was it for you?) The chords in this piece sometimes serve no harmonic purpose in the traditional theoretical sense. But rather they convey the joyful mood and color of the piece. Sometimes the melody isn't very clear, but it is implied... we only get an impression of it.

Note: My art historian friends tell me today, the painting is believed to actually depict the departure from the island, and symbolizes the brevity of love. But that‘s not how Debussy saw it and since I can‘t email the only true authority on the subject…Watteau himself for an explanation, I leave the exegesis of the painting to you dear reader, to interpret for yourself.

"I am trying to do 'something different' -- in a way reality -- what the imbeciles call 'impressionism' is a term which is as poorly used as possible, particularly by art critics." -Claude Debussy

The Great Watchmaker

Igor Stravinsky referred to Ravel as the "great Watchmaker". Ravel would labor over the intricacies of of small parts of his music before placing them in the larger finished work a bit like a watchmaker. Maurice Ravel was another acclaimed composer of this period. I’m sure we are all familiar with his “Bolero”. The worlds longest crescendo.

He wrote, "I am not one of the great composers. All the great have produced enormously. There is everything in their work - the best and the worst, but there is always quantity. But I have written relatively very little . . . and at that, I did it with a great deal of difficulty. I did my work slowly, drop by drop. I have torn all of it out of me by pieces. . . and now I cannot do any more, and it does not give me any pleasure."
Ravel wrote Bolero, while on holiday in his hometown of Ciboure France. Each year, his whole family would return to visit Ciboure for their annual vacation, and he had continued to visit even after his parents died. Bolero is built on two musical themes which are repeated eighteen times during the work. It is not an attempt at Spanish dance music (Although his mother was Basque), nor is it a bolero, or a folk dance at all. It is a slower tempo than a bolero dance. The piece is a combination of a polonaise, chaconne, and sarabande. Throughout the piece the rhythm of the snare drum beats relentlessly. People seem to either love or hate this piece. Many think it is repetitive and boring while others find it hypnotizing and fascinating. It is, in any event, the world's longest musical crescendo.

In fact, on Sept 1, 1997, a British study published in the French 'Psychiatric Bulletin' claims Ravel may have been in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease because of its repetitive melody. Dr. Eva Cybulska, who authored the study, suggests this possibility due to the fact that most people with this affliction suffer from an obsession with repeating words and gestures. For a really beautiful vocal rendition of Bolero, Check out Angelique Kidjo's "Djin Djin" Cd, reviewed a few weeks ago here.

Ravel was an interesting fellow, a confirmed atheist, and a great defender of liberal politics. Among Ravel's completed works, there is a notable complete absence of religious forms or references. His habitual inspiration came from nature, from fairy tales and folk songs, and from classical and oriental legends. Politically, he was totally opposed to all social inequality.

When Jean-Jacques Liabeuf was condemned to death for shooting two policemen in 1910, Ravel was among the most vocal to secure a reprieve. He was against the death penalty under all circumstances. He also said that Liabeuf had been the victim of a trumped-up charge simply because he was an anarchist. The blind fury which had led him to avenge his honor by shooting his accusers was understandable. After Liabeuf's execution, Ravel was so upset that he shut himself up in his home, refusing to see anyone for many days.

Ravel always spent Christmas Eve with the Clemenceau family, Paul and Georges.

Georges Clemenceau, left-wing politician and journalist, was prime minister 1906-1909 and again 1917-1920. When Ravel composed his “Trois Chansons” in 1917, he dedicated the third of the songs, Ronde, to Sophie Clemenceau, wife of George’s brother, Paul. The second song of the same group, Trois beaux oiseaux de paradis, was dedicated to Paul Painlevé, mathematician, pilot, and liberal politician who was twice prime minister of France (1917 and 1925).

In 1927 Ravel began to show signs of dementia, and suffered from muscle problems and aphasia. After a car crash in 1932, his symptoms worsened and he eventually lost all abilities to communicate. In 1937 he underwent an unsuccessful brain surgery to remove a brain tumor and died 9 days later, in Paris, at the age of sixty-two.
Impressionist composers such as Debussy, Ravel, and Satie took the first major steps into the 20th century.

Impressionism poked a hole in the fabric of tonality

From time to time I like to recommend recordings that I believe are outstanding. Virtuoso guitarist Steve Hackett (one of my personal favorites!) and his brother John(on flute), has recently recorded an entire CD of Eric Satie’s beautiful impressionist music.

I think it’s a “must have“. Just as Claude Debussy was inspired by Asian music, Satie found his inspiration in the simplicity of plainsong. Satie’s work had been sadly ignored until the last 30 years or so, perhaps another case of an artist being way ahead of their time. If your old enough, you may recall the excellent album 'Blood, Sweat & Tears' (released by Columbia in 1969) by the band of the same name. The opening piece on the record was "Variations on a Theme" which was actually adapted from Satie’s “3 Gymnopédies”. Satie preferred to write without bar lines or time signatures often in red ink. His scores are full of whimsical instructions for the performer such as "Light as an egg", "Here comes the lantern", "Open your head", "Muffle the sound", "With astonishment", "Work it out yourself", etc.

Yes he was very humorous at times and a bit eccentric, writing under his portrait,

"I have come into the world very young into an era very old."

Here are a few anecdotes about Satie's eccentricities:

In his one-room apartment Satie had two pianos. He placed one on top of the other, and had their pedals interconnected. Strange??? Actually, this was his technique to create a sort of early reverb technique. One piano being played, the other creating a harmonic resonance chamber for the other. If you hold the right pedal of a piano down, then sing into it, the strings will vibrate to the tones you are singing.

His room must have been pretty crowded, for it also contained his collection of over 100 umbrellas.

Satie would buy a dozen identical gray velvet suits at a time. He wore one till it no longer looked nice, then he threw it away and put on a new one. When he left the planet, 6 identical gray velvet suits remained… along with his 100 + umbrellas.

When Satie was criticized for writing music without form, he immediately composed "Trois Morceaux en forme de poire" (Three Pear-shaped Pieces. They are piano duets… in the form of a pear…. now that‘s humorous).

Satie's delightful eccentricity is apparent in “Vexations” a composition of 180 notes in length, directed to be repeated 840 times. It was recorded in 1963 in New York. It took a relay team of 10 pianists over eighteen hours to perform. For all you trivia fans, it is the longest single piece ever written.

It was the great avant garde composer John Cage who first suggested that Satie’s music was well suited to modern dance. Satie is now regarded as one of the best composers to use for contemporary choreography.

Note: You might recognize this simple and elegant tune as it has been used in variation and even lyricized by various artists.

"Smoke, my friend. Otherwise someone else will smoke in your place."
- Erik Satie

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