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Pop Music Blogs

11 July 2020

Pop Music Blogs

Rock Music Blogs

11 July 2020

Rock Music Blogs
  • NICKELBACK's RYAN PEAKE Didn't Realize His Band Would Be So Polarizing
    NICKELBACK guitarist Ryan Peake says that he never expected his band's popularity to be so polarizing. Arguably the most disliked band in America, NICKELBACK has earned a type of hatred so potent it's hard to fathom what they did that was so terrible to the public consciousness. It's gotten to the point that people who enjoy NICKELBACK are denying their fandom and hiding their CDs like criminal contraband. Speaking to "Talk Is Jericho" about how he feels about the attention NICKELBACK has gotten because of this, Ryan said (hear audio below): "Everybody lives in their own miscrocosm. It's always worse for you, it seems. But everybody gets their degree of hate and degree of detractors and vitriol on the Internet. So you understand it more when you're in the eye of the hurricane and think of your own hurricane. You think you're the only one it's happening to sometimes… "I didn't realize we would be so polarizing," he admitted. "That's the one thing that's kind of shocking to me. I wasn't really hyper aware, in any sense, in the '70s when the disco polarization was really going on. That was the first time I'd heard of people [going] crazy about disco hate — people getting mad about some kind of music. I was just, like, 'Just don't listen to it.' You listen to what you like and you with what you like, and I don't get too wound up about it. So when that happens, I try to get inside their heads as to why people get so wound up about it. There's a choice — why do you get wound up about this thing? "I think people like to commiserate — they do. They love to just talk about what itches their ass, so to speak. 'Oh, you too.' 'Yeah.'" Four years ago, a student named Salli Anttonen at the University of Eastern Finland conducted a study to find out why there is so much hate directed towards NICKELBACK. Anttonen analyzed Finnish reviews of the band from 2000 through 2014 for her paper, which was titled "Hypocritical Bullshit Performed Through Gritted Teeth: Authenticity Discourses In Nickelback's Album Reviews In Finnish Media". Anttonen found that critiques of the band became harsher as they became more popular, noting: "It became a phenomenon where the journalists were using the same (reasons) to bash them, and almost making an art out of ridiculing them." Even though the study was based solely upon Finnish reviews of the band, the critics' animosity toward the group has been a global phenomenon. NICKELBACK frontman Chad Kroeger admitted a while back that the group has never been a critical favorite. "I think we actually used to pay a little bit of attention to that, and we just kind of accepted it's, like, nope, we are never going to be one of those bands, we are never going to be the critic's darlings, and we're okay with that," he said. "Even a lot of critics are kind of, like, 'We've done our best to try and get the word out there that as many people as possible should hate this band because we hate this band.' And they've just sort of gone, 'You know what? We can't do it. We cannot convince anybody else to hate this band as much as we do.'" Anttonen concluded: "NICKELBACK is too much of everything to be enough of something. They follow genre expectations too well, which is seen as empty imitation, but also not well enough, which is read as commercial tactics and as a lack of a stable and sincere identity." NICKELBACK has spent much of the last three years touring in support of its ninth album, "Feed The Machine", which was released in June 2017 via BMG.
  • THE PRETTY RECKLESS's TAYLOR MOMSEN On Singing 'Like A Stone' Days After CHRIS CORNELL's Death: 'I Could Barely Get Through It'
    THE PRETTY RECKLESS singer Taylor Momsen, who has repeatedly named SOUNDGARDEN as one of her favorite bands, spoke to "Offstage With DWP" about the influence of the iconic Seattle alternative rock act on her music career and her songwriting approach. She said (see video below): "Their level of artistry and songwriting and musicianship is so above what I can even comprehend. It's so intricate, it's so detailed, it's so good and it's so smart that it takes a minute to understand SOUNDGARDEN. They're catchy, and everyone's heart the hits, but when you really investigate SOUNDGARDEN and get into it, it's like a religion — it's so in-depth and it's just superior to so much music that's out there. "I've based my whole career and identity off of THE BEATLES and SOUNDGARDEN. They're two bands that I put next to each other, and I know that might sound crazy to some people. But they're so important. There's very few bands, I think, that needed to exist, and SOUNDGARDEN is one of those bands that there'd be a hole in the music world without their records." Momsen also reflected on how the deaths of SOUNDGARDEN frontman Chris Cornell and longtime producer Kato Khandwala affected the making of THE PRETTY RECKLESS's new LP, "Death By Rock And Roll". Just days after Cornell's passing, Momsen, whose band was the opening act for SOUNDGARDEN's spring 2017 run of dates, paid tribute to the legendary singer by performing a cover of AUDIOSLAVE's "Like A Stone" at the Rock On The Range festival in Columbus, Ohio. "That was a cover that we'd been doing for years, just because I love singing the song, but it certainly took on a different meaning at that show," Taylor recalled. "I could barely get through it. It was probably not my greatest moment. I was not in a very good place to be public, 'cause after that, I canceled all touring. I needed some time to clear my head, to process what had happened, or attempt to, so I went home after that. I couldn't get on stage and pretend that I was okay and that I was happy to be there. To put on a show and put on façade, I wasn't capable of doing that. So I left and went dark for a while to try to regroup. And then, unfortunately, as I started to put the pieces back together, I got the phone call that Kato, our producer, had passed in a motorcycle accident. So that kind of put the nail in the coffin. Not to get super heavy here, but I fell down a hole into such depression, substance abuse and a hole of grief that I didn't know how to get out of. And it took a while. "To make a very long story short, it took music, rock and roll, to save my life again," she explained. "I know it sounds super cliché, but it's entirely true, 'cause I had nothing — I had given up on everything. I didn't know if I wanted to do this anymore, I just thought, 'What's the point?' And I turned to music, 'cause music, in my entire life, has been the one thing that's never let me down — it's always been my friend; it's always been my salvation. And listening to the records that I loved turned into me wanting to write — not even wanting to write, it just kind of became this outpour of writing without really… I didn't have to try to write this record; I kind of just poured it out. And then that led to figuring out how to record this album. So there was a lot of baby steps in trying to heal, but without music, I don't know how I would have made it through." "Death By Rock And Roll", the fourth studio album from THE PRETTY RECKLESS, will likely arrive in early 2021. The LP will be released via Fearless Records in the U.S. and Century Media Records in the rest of the world. Momsen recently confirmed in an interview that RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE guitarist Tom Morello guests on "Death By Rock And Roll". Morello appears on a track called "And So It Went". Morello joins previously announced guests Kim Thayil and Matt Cameron from SOUNDGARDEN. The song with Cameron and Thayil, called "Only Love Can Save Me Now", was recorded at Seattle's legendary London Bridge Studios, where seminal LPs like PEARL JAM's "Ten" and SOUNDGARDEN's "Louder Than Love" were laid down.
  • MACHINE HEAD's ROBB FLYNN On Coronavirus Pandemic: 'I Think This Thing's Gonna Go On For Two To Probably Four Years'
    This past Wednesday (July 8), MACHINE HEAD frontman Robb Flynn spoke to Primordial Radio about how he is dealing with the coronavirus crisis and what the touring circuit might look like post-pandemic. He said (see video below): "I've been saying this for months, and people don't really like my opinion of it, but I think this thing's gonna go on for two to probably four years, the pandemic. "I think when it first hit, we were all a little naïve about what exactly was happening. We rushed into kind of, 'Let's reschedule [our European tour].' And then so much changed — it's like the world flipped on its head in four weeks. Everything that you kind of knew was, like, 'Woah!' Every single venue we were gonna play is now permanently closed, at least for the foreseeable future. And yeah, this tour ain't gonna happen. "Look, nothing would make me happier than doing it," he continued. "I've been on tour since I was freakin' 18 years old. This is all I know. For it to come to a halt like this sucks. And I really do hope that — fingers crossed — [the novel coronavirus] goes away or we get a cure or something happens. But to me, that type of thinking, for my brain, doesn't work. "Being in a band has taught me that you have to take the harshest of harsh looks at everything in your life — good and bad — and constantly re-evaluate it and go, 'Is this gonna work? Is this not working? Can we do this? Can we not do this?' And then roll the dice and go, 'Yeah, I think this might work,' and just do it. That's what being in a band is. "After four weeks of so, kind of seeing where the world is, I was, like, 'Yeah, this is gonna last for years.' And even after it goes away, I think people are gonna be so shellshocked that they're not gonna wanna go out to shows. Venues are talking about reopening — even when they do reopen — at 25 percent capacity. That's 2500 people in a 10,000 seater. That's gonna suck. [Laughs] "So, how are promoters gonna make money? We've already had promoters ask us to take 50 percent reductions in our guarantee. That's a complete devastating financial loss for us that we can't bear. We can't afford to tour. It costs so much money." Flynn went on to say that he doesn't think most people realize just how much it costs to tour now. "It's freakin' insane," he said. "Most tours that we do operate at a loss. Almost all the tours that we do operate at a loss. And it's three other peripheral things that all revolve around the tour that kind of make it all work. And in my case, I just love playing. The whole 'Burn My Eyes' [25th-anniversary tour] that we just did, it lost money. I just didn't care. I was fine with losing money, because it was so worth it to celebrate this incredible milestone and this incredible moment with the guys that I wrote the music with, and with Vogg [Polish guitarist Wacław Kiełtyka] and [British drummer] Matt [Alston], the new guys, and it was this crazy three-hour show. It was worth it." According to Robb, he is in no rush to play shows before it is completely safe to do so. "I can wait till it fixes itself, whatever that 'fixing itself' is. MACHINE HEAD's worth a lot, and I'm not worried about it. When we come back, it's gonna be when we can have that kind of communal religious experience that is a MACHINE HEAD show. Five thousand people in a five-thousand seater screaming their lungs out, everybody's singing their fucking brains out and circle pitting and jumping and you're drinking — all the crazy stuff that happens. And until that can happen, I can wait. "People are, like, 'Oh, do you wanna do drive-in shows?' No. [Laughs] No. I can wait. I'll wait," he said. "It will correct itself. It will go back to normal. It will eventually be good again. There's probably gonna be things that are different. I don't know what those things are. "I've been doing this for 33 years, bro. I've seen so many freakin' changes come across the land — things become hot and phenomenons happen and phenomenons disappear. And we just keep on putting one foot in front of the other, and it eventually works out." On June 17, MACHINE HEAD released "Civil Unrest", a two-song digital single featuring A-side "Stop The Bleeding" and B-side "Bulletproof". This pair of fierce protest anthems were both written days after the back-to-back murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. "Stop The Bleeding" features a guest appearance from KILLSWITCH ENGAGE frontman Jesse Leach, with Flynn and Leach trading lyrical lines that spit anger and frustration at current events. MACHINE HEAD is donating a significant portion of the streaming proceeds from "Stop The Bleeding" to Grassroots Law Project, the organization representing George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
    Live chat with Robb Flynn of Machine Head Live chat with Robb Flynn of Machine Head Help to Save Our Venues at - Posted by Primordial Radio on Wednesday, July 8, 2020
  • SKID ROW Is Still Writing Material For Next Studio Album
    On Friday (July 10), SKID ROW bassist Rachel Bolan spoke to Groove Entertainment, LLC's "Live Music Happy Hour" about the progress of the recording sessions for the final chapter of SKID ROW's "United World Rebellion" trilogy. The disc is being tracked at a Nashville, Tennessee studio with producer Michael Wagener, who also helmed the group's 1989 self-titled debut and 1991's "Slave To The Grind". SKID ROW's new LP will mark its first release with South African-born, British-based vocalist ZP Theart (DRAGONFORCE, TANK, I AM I), who joined the band in 2016 following the departure of Tony Harnell (TNT, STARBREAKER). Bolan said (see video below): "We've been working on it for a while with Michael Wagener; he's producing it. We recorded a bunch of songs, and then the world went crazy. We have a bunch of stuff. And we're still writing, because we're, like, 'There's no rush to put a record out now. Let's keep writing stuff.' We're our own worst critics, so it's just, like, 'Ah, we liked this song yesterday. We don't like it today.' So we're just gonna keep writing and take our time, as we usually do." SKID ROW's new album, which will be made available through Australia's Golden Robot Records, will feature collaborations with several outside songwriters, including Corey Taylor (SLIPKNOT, STONE SOUR) and Lzzy Hale and Joe Hottinger of HALESTORM, a group that covered the title track of "Slave To The Grind" on its "ReAniMate: The CoVeRs eP" in 2011. SKID ROW also worked with songwriter-for-hire Marti Frederiksen, who has previously collaborated with AEROSMITH, DEF LEPPARD, Jonny Lang and Sheryl Crow. Unlike 2014's "Rise Of The Damnation Army - United World Rebellion: Chapter Two" and 2013's "United World Rebellion: Chapter One", SKID ROW's forthcoming release will be a full-length record. SKID ROW's "The Big Rock Summer Tour", also featuring RATT, CINDERELLA's Tom Keifer and SLAUGHTER, has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic that is sweeping the globe. Photo by: Chuck Arland
    Live with Rachel Bolan from Skidrow and Ryan Spencer Cook - guitarist for Gene Simmons and Ace Frehley! Welcome to Live Music Happy Hour with Rachel Bolan from Skidrow and Ryan Spencer Cook - guitarist for Gene Simmons and Ace Frehley! Posted by Groove Entertainment on Friday, July 10, 2020
  • POISON's RIKKI ROCKETT Relaunches DEVIL CITY ANGELS With New Single And Video, 'Testify'
    DEVIL CITY ANGELS, the band featuring drummer Rikki Rockett (POISON) and vocalist Brandon Gibbs, has released a new single, "Testify". The official music video for the track can be seen below. DEVIL CITY ANGELS was originally formed by Rockett, Gibbs, guitarist Tracii Guns (L.A GUNS) and bassist Eric Brittingham (CINDERELLA). The band released its self-titled debut album in September 2015. Following the recording of "Devil City Angels", Brittingham decided not to continue with the project and his spot was taken by Rudy Sarzo (QUIET RIOT, OZZY OSBOURNE, WHITESNAKE). Around a year later, Rockett, Gibbs and Brittingham joined forces with guitarist Joel Kosche (ex-COLLECTIVE SOUL) to form the LORDS OF DEVIL CITY. Within a few months, Rockett, Gibbs and Brittingham relaunched DEVIL CITY ANGELS, only for Eric to exit the project in the summer of 2017 and be replaced by Topher Nelson. "Five or six years ago, I started a band with Tracii Guns called DEVIL CITY ANGELS," Rockett said. "We added a singer named Brandon Gibbs, and Eric Brittingham who had been a long-time friend. We made a record, we did a small tour. We started to get some pretty good traction. We had some problems with management, we brought Rudy Sarzo in for a short time; then I got sick. "We all had to do what we had to do," he continued. "Tracii went back to L.A. GUNS, Eric is with Bret [Michaels], Rudy's doing a bunch of his stuff. That left Brandon and I. After I got better, we got Joel Kosche from COLLECTIVE SOUL. We put together this song, recorded it virtually. Topher Nolan played bass on it. We grabbed the club for a couple of hours and did a video; we just never released the song. With all this lockdown, we couldn't think of a better time to put it out. We hope you love it as much as we loved doing it." A little over year ago, Gibbs and Rockett were embroiled in a public war of words after Gibbs indicated he was no longer involved with DEVIL CITY ANGELS due to the fact that the band was "inactive." Rikki responded that DEVIL CITY ANGELS "went inactive" because he was diagnosed with cancer and suggested possibly moving on without Brandon. This prompted Gibbs to fire back that he had "never seen someone complain about money, perception and 1st class tickets" as much as Rockett allegedly did, "to the point where it gets in the way of doing anything." The two appear to have since resolved their differences. Back in 2015, Rockett told Sleaze Roxx about Gibbs: "The thing about Brandon is that he's a young guy but he sounds like he's from the '70s. That's what is so appealing for guys like us. That's the reason that I really wanted Brandon involved with us. Brandon doesn't have any baggage, which is good and he has a lot of experience. He's got a great pedigree." More than five years ago, Rockett and Gibbs joined forces with Rikki's POISON bandmates Bobby Dall (bass) and C.C. DeVille (guitar) to play several shows as THE SPECIAL GUESTS in what was widely perceived as a not-so-subtle message to POISON singer Bret Michaels that they weren't willing to remain completely inactive while he pursued a solo career.

    The Devil’s are back! Enjoy the new DCA video! We had a blast making it for you! Also, a very special shout out to our manager James Lucente for helping DCA shift gears and get our single out and @fredcoury for…

    — Brandon Gibbs (@BGibbsmusic) July 10, 2020
  • REPENTANCE Feat. STUCK MOJO, Ex-SOIL Members: 'God For A Day' Single Due Next Month
    REPENTANCE, the band featuring former SOIL and DIRGE WITHIN guitarist Shaun Glass and STUCK MOJO frontman Robby J. Fonts, will release a new digital single, "God For A Day", on August 7. A short preview clip is available below. "God For A Day" will arrive a little over a year after the release of REPENTANCE's last single, "Only The Damned Die Young". That track came on the heels of the 2018 song "Enter The Gallows". "Only The Damned Die Young" was recorded at Electrowerks Recording with Chuck Macack (BORN OF OSIRIS, OCEANO) engineering. The song was mixed and mastered by Chris Collier (PRONG, LAST IN LINE, FLOTSAM AND JETSAM) of CMC21 Productions. Founded in 2018, REPENTANCE's current lineup is rounded out by lead guitarist Markus Johansson, drummer Kanky Lora and bassist Mike Sylvester.
    God For A Day Digital Single August 7th - GOD FOR A DAY - Posted by Repentance on Tuesday, July 7, 2020
  • Mongolian Rock Band THE HU Releases Special Film 'The Hu: Road To The Gereg'
    Critically acclaimed Mongolian rock group THE HU has released a deluxe edition of "The Gereg" on July 10, available in CD, double vinyl and digital formats. This new version includes three tracks re-made with special featured artists, including Jacoby Shaddix (PAPA ROACH), Danny Case (FROM ASHES TO NEW) and Lzzy Hale (HALESTORM). Alongside the deluxe album THE HU has shared a special film, "The Hu: Road To The Gereg", looking back at the making of "The Gereg", features and accomplishments along the way, plus unseen behind-the-scenes footage from tour life, video sets and live performances. The special also includes narrative from the band and collaborators on their music, Mongolian culture and the evolution of THE HU's customized traditional instruments, symbolism and presentation. There are also three acoustic tracks on the deluxe release: "Shoog Shoog", "Yuve Yuve Yu" and "Shireg Shireg". The enchanting video for "Shireg Shireg" dropped on July 2, showing behind-the-scenes clips of THE HU in the studio, offering fans a real insight into their recording process and a closer look at their gorgeous traditional instruments. Last week, THE HU put on a televised charity concert, filmed in the White Rock Centre in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Through broadcast on Mongolian TV and their YouTube/Facebook pages, THE HU raised tens of thousands of dollars for the Mongolian COVID-19 relief. The concert was also the band's homecoming show after their sold-out world tour. THE HU was stuck in Australia for months when its world tour was cut short by the pandemic, but THE HU are a voice of courage, resilience and unity and they supported each other, even using their time in Australia to start working on their second album. Therefore, it was really important to them to give back, and have this concert to help those in Mongolia affected by the pandemic. THE HU stands for the Mongolian root word for human being, inspiring the band's original style of music that it calls "Hunnu Rock." The group pulls inspiration from the Hunnu, an ancient Mongolian empire better known as The Huns in western culture. Their music is deeply embedded with their ancient culture, even integrating old Mongolian war cries and poetry into their lyrics. The group was founded in 2016 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia by their producer Dashka, along with band members Gala, Jaya, Temka and Enkush. Together they create rock music with traditional Mongolian instrumentation such as the morin khuur (horsehead fiddle), tovshuur (Mongolian guitar), tumur khuur (jaw harp), guttural throat singing built around the pillars of heavy rock: distorted guitars, bombastic drums, and aggressive rhythms. All four members have earned Bachelor's or higher degrees in classical music and have gained several years of touring experience throughout Asia and the Pacific Rim.
  • Palaye Royale ‘The Bastards’ Out Now In Retail Stores

    THE BASTARDS, the highly anticipated third studio album from adrenaline-fueled, rock n’ roll circus and recent JUNO nominees,PALAYE ROYALE, is out on Sumerian Records and now available for purchase in retail stores near you. The album has been met with unanimous critical acclaim achieving perfect scores from most critics. The album can be found on all platforms by clicking here.

    The Bastards Album Artwork

    THE BASTARDS – Track Listing

    1. Little Bastards
    2. Massacre, The New American Dream
    3. Anxiety
    4. Tonight Is The Night I Die
    5. Lonely
    6. Hang On To Yourself
    7. Fucking With My Head
    8. Nervous Breakdown
    9. Nightmares
    10. Masochist
    11. Doom (Empty)
    12. Black Sheep
    13. Stay
    14. Redeemer
    15. Lord Of Lies (Bonus track)

    THE BASTARDS had an incredibly successful first week when it released back in May, hitting #1 on both the Alternative Albums and Rock Albums Charts, #4 on Independent albums and #12 on the Top 200 Alternative Chart. Since its release, THE BASTARDS has hit 43 million total streams with 1 million monthly listeners on Spotify. World wide, the band has a total of 170 million streams with all albums combined.

    Musically, the album is an enormous step-up for the band. It is, in turn, dark, lush, angry, vulnerable, caustic and warm. From the grandiose Bond-theme-esque ‘Tonight Is The Night I Die‘, to the darkly jarring â€˜Anxiety‘, from the quietly heartbreaking refrain of â€˜Lonely’ and the massive fuzzed up, distorted guitars of â€˜Nightmares (Coming Down)‘, THE BASTARDS demonstrates just how far the band have expanded their writing and musical dexterity, rounding out their already accomplished arson with flourishes of electronics, metal beat-downs, drum n bass beats and haunting string arrangements. There are singles on the album, luminous highlights, but it’s also a piece of work that works beautifully when listened to as a whole.

    Lyrically, the album addresses a number of important issues, prevalent to today’s youth – struggles with mental health, the gun violence epidemic, substance use as a means to escape a difficult reality and parental abandonment all play a part in the album’s rich lyrical tapestry. Speaking on the band’s refreshingly honest and open approach to writing on the new album, Remington adds:

    “We need a little honesty and a little truth. The world is getting so tainted by everyone trying to be so fucking perfect and so goddamn PG and trying to walk this line of not trying to offend anyone. People need to be themselves, just for 20 minutes at least.”

    In short, THE BASTARDS is an album that demands your attention.The world needs PALAYE ROYALE right now and PALAYE ROYALE have delivered in spades.

    The post Palaye Royale ‘The Bastards’ Out Now In Retail Stores appeared first on Go Venue Magazine.

  • Theatrical Metal Act RAVEN BLACK Reveals Poignant New Video for “Hear Me Cry”

    Theatrical metal band RAVEN BLACK has revealed a poignant new video for the song “Hear Me Cry,” from their upcoming third album, The Key.

    Watch Raven Black’s “Hear Me Cry” video below:

    “‘Hear Me Cry’ is about the chaotic and deeply disturbing thoughts when I once attempted suicide,” Raven explains. “The inner battle of wanting to give up and yet wanting to fight and change your own life. The personal psychosis and finally calling out for help, which ultimately saved my life. This song hopefully inspires those who struggle with suicidal thoughts to speak up and seek help. Someone is always ready to help. Suicide is not the answer. You can change your life and you can survive.”

    A lyric video “Darkest Pit,” also from The Key, was recently released. Check it out below:

    The Key, produced by Ulrich Wild (Static-X, White Zombie, Deftones), is scheduled for release this year via WurmGroup. Prior to its cancellation due to COVID-19, RAVEN BLACK was slated to perform on the nearly two-month-long The In-Between Tour with In This Moment, Black Veil Brides and DED this spring.

    Together since 2012, Raven Black has created a soundtrack to their own Dark Metal Carnival, releasing the 2016 EP Seven Sins and the 2018 album 13. The band has toured extensively, perfecting a creepy live show that unifies the visual and aural aspects of Raven Black.

    The post Theatrical Metal Act RAVEN BLACK Reveals Poignant New Video for “Hear Me Cry” appeared first on Go Venue Magazine.

  • The Echelon Effect - End Transmission

Classical Music Blogs

11 July 2020

Classical Music Blogs
  • Raag Hamsadhwani Tarana - Akbar Ali (Pakistan)
    11 July 2020
  • 1:02 / 12:46 Bach - Six little preludes BWV 933-938 - Alard
    11 July 2020
  • This is a very well known piece that I can't remember the name of..I used a free piano app to play the melody that's stuck in my head. Can someone help?
    11 July 2020
  • Carl Friedrich Abel (1723-1787): Sonata I in C Major (ca.1771) (harpsichord)
    11 July 2020
  • The Solfeggio Tradition's "Glossary of Technical Terms" (Free PDF)
    11 July 2020

    Professor Nicholas Baragwanath has released an excerpt from his upcoming book "The Solfeggio Tradition: A Forgotten Art of Melody in the Long Eighteenth Century" (coming out in Oct 2020) which is the Glossary of Technical Terms.

    "It gives an overview of the kind of tools and methods used to interpret 18th-century manuscripts."

    18th century Solfeggio is the original method of Solfeggio, not Fixed or Moveable Do.

    submitted by /u/nikhilhogan
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  • On Shostakovich and characterization
    11 July 2020

    It's no doubt that historical figures are often characterized once they are deemed a part of history. We often take some well-known traits and tend to exaggerate them, subconsciously forming our idea of the person based on what they were most famous for. For example, it's common to regard Henry VIII as a slovenly tyrant due to the way he quickly divorced or executed five of his six wives, or George Washington as humble, yet heroic, for founding the American presidency. This sort of characterization is common with political figures, but I would argue it's even more common with artists- we're all too familiar with the insane Van Gogh who cut off his ear, the fun-loving Mozart who wrote poop jokes just as often as he wrote symphonies, and the depressed Tchaikovsky who died under mysterious circumstances that some believe to have been suicide. I would argue that political figures' characterizations tend to fall more into categories of "hero" vs. "villain," despite the fact that much of what they did was a often complicated mix of morally controversial and politically-motivated decisions. However, with artists, I tend to see that much of the way we characterize them is far less black and white, as art is, of course, a field that often deals with displaying and expressing complicated emotions. That's why we think angry but passionate when it comes to Beethoven, and eccentric but genius when it comes to Da Vinci. Perceived aspects of an artist's personality are easier to interpret through their works than a politician's personality through their policies, which is where much of this difference comes from.

    That being said, Shostakovich is a unique figure. Although an artist himself, much of his art was affected by the political scene around him. To illustrate this, I'm currently taking a class on 20th century Russian history, and I sometimes use Shostakovich works as primary sources on a variety of subjects within the class, as they are so heavily steeped in the time period and location they were written in. If I want to talk about the cultural effects of Lenin's New Economic Policy in the 1920s, I can easily cite the Second Symphony as a product of that time. I can contrast the Fourth and Fifth Symphonies when it comes to Stalin's reversal of those policies, as well as the looming threat of the Great Purges. The impacts of wartime patriotism can easily be illustrated with the Seventh Symphony, and so on. To truly understand many of Shostakovich's works, it's important to at least have some context on the political and cultural histories they were written in. You need to know at least a little about the NEP to understand the Second, the Great Purges to understand the Fourth and Fifth, World War Two to understand the Seventh. While yes, historical context is good to know when it comes to many works of art, it's essential to at least be aware of when it comes to almost every major Shostakovich work.

    This puts Shostakovich in a weird position, somewhere between the "black-and-white" mentality we have when we tend to characterize politicians and the "primarily emotional" mentality we use to characterize artists. Facts, myths, interpretations, and theorizing all blend together to create two questions: One, "was Shostakovich a dissident, harbouring a deep hatred towards his own country and government, or a compliant puppet who willingly supported the regime?" Two, "was Shostakovich embittered, cutting, and cynical, or nervous, blustering, and incompetent?" Very few historical figures have such common and yet opposite characterizations of their lives and personalities, so I find this very curious- how can there be two very common and yet very different perceptions of the same person?

    The answer comes down to a single word: interpretation. As an avid researcher of Shostakovich's life and works, this word shows up in the sources I read again and again. It's a thorn in the side of anyone who's tried to research him, and it's attractive as it is problematic. Shostakovich was very secretive about what many of his works "meant," and much of what we know about him has been told through secondhand accounts from friends, coworkers, family, and acquaintances. When asked about interpretation, he was known to try to evade the question: in an article by the DSCH Journal, a publication devoted to his work, life, legacy, an interview with composer Krzysztof Meyer detailed a few anecdotes of his acquaintance with Shostakovich. Although Meyer recalls him as being very chatty and even cheerful at times, his distaste for revealing the interpretations of his pieces is made clear:

    "I wanted to learn a few things, to ask about various matters linked to his music, but my efforts to rekindle our talk resulted in failure. Shostakovich was on pins and needles, lighting one cigarette after the other, almost literally waving away my questions. For instance, I wanted very much to know why his early incidental music for Hamlet, written in 1932 for the Vakhtangov Theatre, was so grotesque and comic and without any correspondence to Shakespeare's drama. "Because such was the director's concept," he rapidly rejoined before I finished the sentence. When I mentioned that on Prague radio I'd heard his May Day symphony, at that time unknown and rarely performed, he almost pretended that he hadn't heard me. I became aware that he had not the slightest wish to discuss his music."

    Isaak Glikman, a close friend of Shostakovich's, also detailed his desire for privacy. In the foreword to his invaluable publication of Shostakovich's letters to him, Story of a Friendship, he recounts Shostakovich saying, "I certainly hope that when I'm dead, Irina Antonovna [referring to Shostakovich's third wife] isn't going to go around knocking on people's doors asking them to write their 'reminisces' of me!" And there is also conductor Kirill Kondrashin's statement on how Shostakovich supervised rehearsals of his own pieces (he did not conduct, but did attend rehearsals):

    "It is very rare for them [Shostakovich's comments] to be about tempos or the psychological aspect. Unlike other composers, Shostakovich evidently considers that his music could be interpreted in many different ways and he does not insist on one single interpretation. Perhaps, this too is a sign of his tact, his reluctance to foist upon the performers a different rendering of a piece they have already thought through and learned."

    This desire for artistic privacy, combined with the harrowing times Shostakovich lived in, is the perfect storm for interpretation from scholars, musicologists, performers, artists, at least one Reddit armchair essayist, audiences, authors, and more. The Soviet Union was obviously not a place where such an artist could easily express himself, and the hidden motifs, quotations, and allusions in Shostakovich's work have mystified and befuddled us just as much as how we personally believe each piece "feels." While there is nothing wrong with interpreting what we believe a work to mean, it's important to note that our personal opinions on a piece are not facts, no matter how many facts they may be based upon. Nonetheless, when asked to describe Shostakovich as a person, many people often look to his pieces and how they "feel," as opposed to primary sources, such as letters. This has contributed to these two different aspects of characterization, which I will describe now.

    First, there is the characterization of Shostakovich as a bitter dissident. This idea of the composer is heavily based on the horrifying experiences he underwent- chiefly, the denunciations in 1936 and 1948. Furthermore, pieces such as the Fifth Symphony (1937) and Eighth Quartet (1960) evoke feelings of despair in many listeners- written during significant times; the Fifth was written during the Purge era, when we know that Shostakovich feared for his own life after the persecution of many of his associates and the denunciation of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk in 1936, and the Eighth Quartet was written after Shostakovich joined the Communist Party, which both Glikman and Maxim Shostakovich (the composer's son) have stated did not happen willingly (as did Lev Lebedinsky; although his accounts are often shady and contradictory, he was friends with Shostakovich for a period of time before they had a falling-out, making his accounts difficult sources to use). Furthermore, Solomon Volkov's heavily controversial Testimony, a book of Shostakovich's supposed memoirs published after his death, but now regarded by most scholars and people who knew Shostakovich to be at least partially true and at most a complete hoax, largely popularized this view, especially among Western audiences. Testimony depicts a disillusioned, austere, cynical Shostakovich, warped by his society into a gloomy and depressed figure. The book claims these to be Shostakovich's own words:

    "Looking back I see nothing but ruins, only mountains of corpses ...There were no particularly happy moments in my life, no great joys. It was grey and dull and it makes me sad to think about it. It saddens me to admit it, but it's the truth, the unhappy truth".

    However, this statement is heavily contradicted by a letter from Shostakovich himself to Glikman, from his later years:

    “My thoughts are full of past times never to return, and of people, friends, acquaintances, also gone forever. It is much better not to have the time to think of such things, then the memories do not trouble you. But my god, how amazing they are, these memories.”

    This quote already proves a far more complex narrative than the "bitter" characterization seems to portray. Here, we see that Shostakovich has indeed lived through a lot, and it has greatly impacted him. However, he doesn't just acknowledge the happier times in his life; he looks back on them fondly, although with wistfulness. He has certainly been changed by his experiences, but at the same time, much of his mischief, wit, and sarcasm from his younger years remained with him until the end. This is also evident in his letters- they are filled with jokes, innuendos, puns, literary allusions (he was very fond of Gogol and Chekhov), sarcasm, and more. Many of his double meanings and turns of phrase are often hard to detect, and I found myself relying heavily on translators' notes and context from Glikman in the appendices of Story of a Friendship while reading it. In a letter dating from 1967, after Shostakovich's health had begun to decline- he had broken both legs, and his right hand began experiencing pain due to a nerve condition, he wrote to Glikman:

    "Here is a general report. Target achieved so far: 75 percent (right leg broken, left leg broken, right hand defective. All I have to do now is wreck the left hand, and 100 percent of my extremities will be out of order.)"

    This quote, along with many others, proves that even after experiencing much of the worst life had to throw at him and with failing health (he would eventually die of lung cancer in 1975 at the age of 68), he still had a sense of sarcastic humour- something he would never lose, although at times, he faced extreme misery.

    But what of the "dissident" aspect of characterization? This is where things get much murkier. The question is so often "was he or wasn't he," but the truth, of course, is complicated. Shostakovich's life spanned many eras of Soviet history, and as a result, he witnessed many events that shaped who he was as a person. Having been born in 1906, he reached his twenties in the NEP era, when the Soviet economy was strong due to a balance between communism and a small capitalist sector (a direct transition to strict communism had resulted in a violent civil war after the Revolution, so Lenin revised his plan to be more gradual), and the artistic scene was largely experimental and avant-garde. Naturally, Shostakovich took a positive view of Lenin, and many of his personal morals mirrored NEP-era values. In fact, Shostakovich's support of Lenin even made him unpopular with younger Soviet dissidents in the 1960s and 70s, who saw this view as outdated and irrelevant. And we know that Shostakovich was extremely loyal to his homeland- he traveled some, but never defected from the USSR, and even enlisted to join the military in 1941 once Germany invaded. However, he was turned down, supposedly due to poor eyesight. Instead, he became a volunteer firefighter in order to help put out bombs during the Siege of Leningrad, though did not see much action- he reluctantly agreed to evacuate from the city in order to protect his family, and even then, continued to write the Seventh Symphony to help boost morale in Leningrad while away from home. To say that Shostakovich hated Russia and everything about it is a blatant lie.

    However, his view of Stalin was far less positive- while we don't get too many letters detailing a hatred of Stalin, we do know about Shostakovich's fear during the Purge era of 1936-38 - he was known to sleep fully dressed with a suitcase outside his apartment- the idea being that if he were to be arrested without warning by the NKVD (secret police) at night, his family would not have to see it happen.

    The most crucial piece of evidence of Shostakovich's attitude towards Stalin is a satirical cantata titled the "Antiformalist Rayok," the title being a reference to Mussorgsky's "Rayok," or "Paradise." This cantata, written sometime between 1948 and the 1960s, has three vocalists, each believed to represent a particular politician: The first as Stalin, the second as Zhdanov, the Minister of Culture, who was responsible for the Zhdanovshchina denunciation of many artists in 1948, and the third believed to be Shepilov, who replaced Zhdanov and was far less brutal, but nonetheless inexperienced in music. The character who most likely represents Stalin sings repetitive dialogue, asking and answering his own questions with circular logic. He even quotes a passage from "Suliko," known to be Stalin's favourite song. The Rayok also makes an obvious jab at Tikhon Khrennikov, a composer and ardent Party supporter who had denounced Shostakovich and many other composers. A line from the Rayok:

    "Glinka, Dzerzhinka, Tishinka, my pets,

    What a shitty lot of poems, quartets and fughettes…"

    "Tishinka" is a diminutive form of "Tikhon," and "Dzerzhinka" possibly refers to Ivan Dzerzhinsky, another Soviet Realist composer. ("Glinka" refers to Mikhail Glinka, a composer from an earlier era whose work Soviet composers were encouraged to imitate.) Shostakovich's daughter, Galina, said about the Antiformalist Rayok:

    "There is a work of his called ‘Rayok’, which clearly reflects what he thought about certain comrades...It was first performed only in the eighties. Not while he was still alive."

    Reading from multiple sources- letters, documents, biographies, websites, and more- a detailed picture of Shostakovich has emerged for me. The times he lived in were unimaginable, but at the end of the day, he was just a human being with multiple facets. He was generous, humble, intelligent, and witty, but also often anxious, impulsive, and a poor communicator. He loved going to soccer matches (Zenit Leningrad and Dynamo were his favourite teams, and he was known to keep a detailed notebook of scores and statistics relating to soccer). He was fond of telling tall tales and was known to do hilarious impressions of politicians he didn't like at parties, according to friends of his. When he was fired from a position playing the piano for silent movies as a young adult, Nina claimed it was because he was heard audibly laughing at the comedic bits:

    "Dmitri's direct spontaneity caused his downfall. An American comedy was being shown with huge success three times daily. Every time certain scenes flashed onto the screen, the piano was silent and the audience heard the piano player burst into laughter, enjoying the antics of the comedian. For this unseemly behaviour, the administration decided to part company from the youthful pianist."

    He was fiercely protective of his family, and was known to be a loving yet strict parent. He was incredibly loyal to those he had attached to- there is an anecdote when, in 1936, when many composers and officials were turning against him, he told his best friend, Ivan Sollertinsky, to denounce him as well, in order to save Sollertinsky's reputation, and possibly his life. When another friend, composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg, was arrested under false charges, Shostakovich and his first wife, Nina Vasilyevna, agreed to adopt Weinberg's daughter should anything happen to his wife (which never came to pass- Weinberg was released from prison after Stalin died).

    And yet he had his pitfalls- an affair in 1934 had led to a brief divorce with Nina, although the two of them worked it out and carried a stable and loving relationship until Nina's death in 1954, followed by an ill-matched impulse marriage with Margarita Kainova shortly after, as he couldn't stand to be alone. He was known to be painfully self-accusatory- in one event detailed by Glikman, when Shostakovich had gotten angry with Glikman for publishing an article under both of their names without his permission, he accused himself of being "hateful and evil," despite the fact that Glikman admitted to being the one in the wrong. Shostakovich also had unrealistically high standards for friendships, expecting them to be fair and perfect, with little to no arguing. Should a friendship suffer a severe conflict, he was known to cut ties with those he felt had offended him instead of talking things through.

    The more you read about Shostakovich, as with anyone, the harder it becomes to characterize him, because of course, he wasn't a character- he was a human being. While he was certainly no Solzhenitsyn, he was equally nobody's puppet. He did his best to support his family, his friends, and himself, and valued his creativity far too much to give it up, sometimes writing pieces that would potentially be condemned, only to hide them in desk drawers. Shy, yet cutting, terrified, yet unimaginably bold, he existed as a complicated and often contradictory paradox. His friend, satirist writer Mikhail Zoshchenko, probably summed it up best:

    "[Shostakovich] is... frail, fragile, withdrawn, an infinitely direct, pure child... [but he is also] hard, acid, extremely intelligent, strong perhaps, despotic and not altogether good-natured, although cerebrally good-natured."

    (edit: formatting)

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