Miscellaneous Musical Meanderings (v. 8)

A weekly look at the world of music from a gospel perspective.

1. Pop Music Is Louder and More Boring Than Ever, According to Science

A team from the Spanish National Research Council has used a nifty tool called the Million Song Dataset to analyze the music and lyrics of popular songs from 1955 through 2010, and guess what? “We found evidence of a progressive homogenization of the musical discourse,” artificial intelligence specialist Joan Serra told Reuters.

2. Operatic divinity in New Jersey: Should Jesus and Mary sing coloratura?

But these and a few other pieces that have come my way of late suggested that new creative responses toward religious iconography are afoot on the larger landscape. Though the church has centuries of great artistic history, we were more likely to encounter the likes of Elijah or St. Paul in secular concert settings. Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary tended to stay in the church, and portrayed under strictly prescribed circumstances…

Of late, I’ve stumbled upon a live recording floating around the web of The Last Supper by that paragon of unrepentant British modernistic severity, Harrison Birtwistle, from the 2001 Glyndebourne Festival season. Birtwistle rarely fails to knock me sideways (in the best possible way), but this piece seems to be particularly courageous. Christ’s farewell dinner emerges, at least to my ears, as something of a rip in the fabric universe, such a fundamental sea change in human existence, one so abrupt and occurring at a single point in history, that the event seems far more traumatic than ecstatic…

What I like most about the 21st-century faith-based music I’ve encountered is how it embraces the idea that the divine is beyond comprehension, that’s it’s not a version of our world. And, if nothing else, the divine is a lot less cluttered. The artistic sea change that happened in Arvo Part’s music – paring down his music to essentials – also came with his a devotion to sacred texts…

3. Two stories about the use of the Nazi symbol by musicians and a lack of concern for their neighbor:

Madonna Defends Her Use of Nazi Symbol

Russian Baritone Leaves Bayreuth Over Nazi Tattoos

4. Computer Virus Might Be Blasting AC/DC In Iranian Nuclear Facility

 According to emails received by Mikko Hypponen, a Finnish computer virus hunter and lead researcher for computer security firm F-Secure, the facility has endured cyber attacks that have included the song “Thunderstruck” randomly blasting in the middle of the night, beyond scientists’ control.

5. Beatles Compilation Hits iTunes, Along With Love Letter From Dave Grohl

6. God and Country Music: The Politics of The Dixie Chicks & American Christianity

7. Don’t Even Try That Handwritten Manuscript Thing With Modern Musicians; Engraving’s Where It’s At

8. Q&A: Billy Joe Shaver on His Epic Career, Suicide Attempt and 2007 Waco Shooting Trial

And of course I do believe in God, and I’m a born-again Christian, and Jesus Christ is the one who made us all number two. And I believe that because my grandmother told me, and she wouldn’t lie to me…

I’d already seen Jesus actually, or a vision of him shaking his head saying, “How long you gonna do this?” It was pure white. I was really screwed up, man. I’d taken a bunch of stuff and done a bunch of stuff and come in my house about four in the morning and this vision was waiting on me, and then I got in my truck and drove out there to this place. At the top of that cliff was an altar, or something that looked like one, and I wound up with my back to the edge of the cliff and my elbows and everything on the altar, and my boots were off of my feet and they looked just like they were gold. It would take me forever to tell you what really happened, but I found myself asking God to forgive me for being such an idiot, and he helped me because he gave me that song.  I came down that path after all that stuff, slipped my boots and came down that path singing that first half of that song.

9. Critic’s Notebook: Golandsky Institute Helps Musicians Avoid Pain

10. Wagner machines

11. Another instance of musical maturity through sexuality:

JoJo’s New Album ‘Inspired’ By ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’

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