Wordless Music Review from last night

I’ve been meaning to post about this concert I’m in…….But a lot of you are in it…..

Sunday I started rehearsals for the Wordless Music Series concert featuring music of Gavin Bryars, John Adams, and Johnny Greenwood, of Radiohead and more recently film scoring fame. Obviously, Greenwood is the name that’s going to attract some attention. Let me say first off, this is a BAD-ASS ensemble. You gotta love rehearsals where you run something once, say to yourselves, “Alright, that’s how that goes” and go home. Everyone is super prepared, and very chill. I can literally look around at any given moment and see my collagues playing, smiling and having a great time.

I don’t play in the Greenwood or the Adams, so I’m gonna talk about the Bryars, cuz it’s MY blog… and I’m kind of obsessed with the piece. The Sinking of the Titanic was premiered in 1972 on the same program as Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet, another slow meditative work of Bryars’ genius. Fittingly, it’s American premiere was conducted by John Adams, don’t know about the UK one from ’72, perhaps Bryars even. The piece centers around the story of the band that played on the ship’s deck until it sank. From various interviews with survivors, and minute by minute accounts from inside the ship’s communication center, it seems that the band played on so to speak. We have timegrids of the piece. Each group of musicians is given a stopwatch, and various pages of material to be played at specified intervals. The percussionists have a great deal to improvise, from the realistic sound of a breached hull and morse codes on a woodblock, to the more imaginative “sloppy landing of a plane in Zurich” and, my personal favorite, “a dog with a kitten in its jaws….”

There are two tapes containing samples of interviews with survivors, crowd noises, crickets, the hymn tune, and other random samples. Matt’s in charge of one of the tapes, and is also doing some fat horn looping. I’m real proud. He looks really hot in headphones. In a sense it’s quite free, but with some containment. Just the way I like it.

The glue holding it together is the hymn Autumn, which is played probably 20 something times in the 40 minute piece by variuous instrumental groupings, including myself. Here’s what Bryars said about Autumn:

This Episcopal hymn, then, becomes a basic element of the music and is subject to a variety of treatments. Bride did not hear the band stop playing and it would appear that the musicians continued to play even as the water enveloped them. My initial speculations centred, therefore, on what happens to music as it is played in water. On a purely physical level, of course, it simply stops, since the strings would fail to produce much of a sound (it was a string sextet that played at the end, since the two pianists with the band had no instruments available on the boat deck). On a poetic level, however, the music, once generated in water, would continue to reverberate for long periods of time in the more sound-efficient medium of water, and the music would descend with the ship to the ocean bed and remain there, repeating over and over until the ship returns to the surface and the sounds re-emerge. The rediscovery of the ship by Taurus International at 1:04 on September 1, 1985 renders this a possibility. This hymn tune forms a base over which other material is superimposed. This includes fragments of interviews with survivors, sequences of Morse signals played on woodblocks, other arrangements of the hymn, other possible tunes for the hymn on other instruments, references to the different bagpipe players on the ship (one Irish, one Scottish), miscellaneous sound effects relating to descriptions given by survivors of the sound of the iceberg’s impact, and so on.

And here’s the quote from the Village Voice:

Our program this evening, performed by the black-clad Wordless Music Orchestra, begins with Gavin Bryars’ The Sinking of the Titanic, which as you perhaps recall is very specifically about the sinking, not the crashing or the blowing up or what have you: It’s a long, slow, gorgeous underwater descent, the orchestra bathed in calmly pulsating aquamarine light, waves of lilting violin passages adorned with found-sound tapes of bells, banging pots & pans, crickets, chattering survivors (one breaks into “Nearer, My God, to Thee”), and, in the respectfully silent church, clicking camera shutters and groaning pews. Three ethereal vocalists occasionally rise above the gentle din. Fabulous. “That was 8,000 times better than Sigur Rós,” my associate proclaims. Yes.

I would be the ethereal voice on the right in the pic above.

Full review here And I’m kind of in that pic too….

My pussy’s packing, part two

Teeth opened this weekend. I posted the trailer and reviews from various film festivals back in November.

Yay for VAGINA DENTATA!!! My hope is that Teeth will be a new Carrie, but a bit more flattering for the feminsts. And speaking of Carrie , this weekend I watched another episode of Garth Merenghi’s DARKPLACE, which is HILARIOUS. (Full episode can be viewed here.) This particular episode centers around Liz, the female character chanelling her anger into telekenesis which she then unleashes onto her male colleagues, and then the entire hospital. If you have no exposure to this show, I HIGHLY recommend it. I haven’t really figured it out, but I’ve loved everything I’ve watched so far.

Also, since I posted last Monday on my own sensitivity to genital bashing, I’ve revisited my Freud paper I wrote at Yale. It’s good stuff, in fact probably my best writing. I’ve decided to post bits of it time and time again here if you’re interested on where my point of departure is on this subject.

I haven’t been posting much and I guess it’s partially because I’m getting used to this new job and also kind of struggling a bit in general. I’ve been feeling pulled in too many directions lately, and when that starts to happen I begin to feel off balanced, and then it’s just a hop skip and a jump to cray-crazyland..I’ve been living there all week.

Anyways, I found myself at a bar on Tuesday night engaged in conversation about the C word, and I talked at length about the depiction of female genatalia in art-form blah blah blah this paper I wrote, blah blah blah, and instead of being bored, or looking for the nearest exit, the guy I was talking too expressed an interest in reading it. So in some vague attempt to re-ground myself, I’m posting installments of my thesis under the heading “Beautiful- Evil”

Werd. Happy Monday.

Beautiful Evil- The First Installment

A young woman reclines in a suggestive pose, one elbow cradling a skull, while the other rests comfortably on the lid of a decorative but non-specific jar. The painter has depicted this young woman with fair creamy skin, breasts small but firm, and hips and limbs with supple muscle tone. Her gaze is modestly to the side, exposing a lean elegantly seductive neck. Resting on luxurious fabric that wraps around her arms and her hips, she lounges beneath the shade of a tree in a sumptuous garden while a stream murmurs in the distance. This feminine beauty could be the likeness of Venus or any other goddess, but a plaque placed above her head proclaims EVA PRIMA PANDORA, or EVE, THE FIRST PANDORA. Under this title her gaze takes on a slightly different affect. While not looking the viewer straight on, her coy sideways glance suggests a sexuality and sensuality of which she is unaware. The skull, while morbidly out of place, now seems a clear reference to our human mortality. Similarly, the presence of the jar carries more significance. This is no ordinary wine jar; it is meant to suggest the jar of Pandora, and the casual manner in which her hand rests on its lid is symbolic of Eve’s congenital curiosity, and of that curiosity’s consequences for mankind.

For centuries, Eve and Pandora have been placed alongside one another. Scholars have scrutinized the narratives of their creation and the motivation thereof, their legendary ‘dangerous beauty’, and their epistomophelia, or drive to curiosity. These two mythical women, who both lay claim to the title First Mother, were likewise both blamed for the downfall of humanity within moments of first meeting their beloveds’ eyes. Their seductive charms and illicit curiosity have profoundly impacted social attitudes towards women, just as their original disobedience has served as a blueprint for characterizing and vilifying Woman.

The female sexual organs have long been a subject of morbid fascination among Christian scholars. This is largely attributable to the early writings of Church fathers like Augustine, John of Chrysostom, Aquinas, Tertullian and Justin the Martyr, who, as part of the 4th century ascetic movement, which consisted of rejecting worldly pleasures, contributed much to the glorification of virginity. By praising virginity for its individual holiness, these powerful men were acting as both heirs and agents of the Roman Empire, which likewise promoted virginity as the primary vehicle for refusing carnal temptations. These scholars wielded their pens in slander against women as they continued to wage a cultural war between the flesh and the spirit. To reinforce the Church’s patriarchal morality, it was essential for the Church to link the origins of evil, sin and sex with the female gender and its reproductive role. If childbirth was the woman’s postlapsarian duty, and the pains associated with labor her curse, it was a logical step to extend the shameful darkness of her womb to the whole person, a concealing of the feminine in a secretive darkness like that imposed by veiling: “Veiling implies secrecy. Women’s bodies, and, by extension, female attributes, cannot be treated as fully public, something dangerous might happen, secrets be let out, if they were open to view….. The secrecy associated with female bodies is sexual and linked to the multiple associations between women and privacy.”1 Only in 1854, with the acceptance of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, did Christian theology revise its views on the sinfulness of childbearing itself, but many of these attitudes have nonetheless endured.

Beginning with Augustine, who was particularly entrenched in questions of the origin of sin, the fathers of the Church have viewed woman as the cause of the Fall. She is, by her nature, an evil seductress, the collaborator of Satan, and the ruin of the human race. The wrath released by Christian thinkers against Eve and all women can seem almost flattering, so embellished is their picture of a creature so supremely charming, so deadly, that man cannot resist her. Tertilliun declared with Latin spitefulness that echoed the early chronicler Tacitus: “Do you not realize, Eve, that it is you? The curse God pronounced on your sex weighs still on the world. Guilty, you must bear its hardships. You are the devil’s gateway, you desecrated the fatal tree, you first betrayed the law of God, you softened up with your cajoling words the man against who the devil could not prevail by force. The image of God, Adam, you broke him as if he were a plaything. You deserved death, and it was the Son of God who had to die!”2 Woman, thus held responsible not only for the Fall, but also for Christ’s suffering and sacrifice, is at once derided and yet seemingly empowered by her crucial role in shaping human existence.

[1] Jordanova, Ludmilla. Sexual Visions. London: Harvester Press, 1989.

[2] Tertullian, Disciplinary, Moral and Ascetical Works (New York, 1959), trans. Rudolf Arbessman, Sister Emily Joseph Daly, and Edwin A. Quain; quoted in France Quere- Jaulmes, ed., La Femme. Les Grands Textes des Peres de l’Eglise (Paris, 1968), p.138.

TimberBrit update

That’s me looking all skanky and busted…. for the mug-shot bottom right, I rubbed a chopped onion on my fingers, then proceeded to vigorously rub my eyes, and smeared my scarlet harlot lipstick… the effect worked, I think.

Here’s a link to our myspace page, including “Your Candy”, which is a “mixdown” of Toxic. Jacob Cooper stretched samples of Brit and JT’s songs, and then re-orchestrated them for live band. We imitated the inaccuracies of pitch and rhythm and superimposed a tragic text and voila…

Previously on Mellysblog

Remember back when Sesame Street didn’t Suck, Part Two

I’ve posted before on my love for Sesame Street……

Came across this video via Gawker today. Kinda scary, but this video is so fresh in my mind, I swear I could dictate the score, which is, incidentally, by Philip Glass…Watching it, I was completely transfixed… it was like I was five all over again.

Sometimes things don’t need to be summed up, or follow some logical sequence of learning, learning to appreciate something that is beautiful just because it is beautiful,even if it doesn’t make sense is HUGE. Andwhen better than at that young age, when “WHY?” is like, every other word out of the mouth…..

On Superbad-Some Clarification

Matt posted this video on his blog of a man and woman (couple?) debating the aesthetic value of the movie Superbad, which I thought kinda super-sucked…. Ok, actually, it wasn’t that bad. When I viewed it from the “American Pie” lens, it was a nice cute story told from the perspective of coming of age horny highschool boys….But, some things just irked me. I didn’t find the movie vulgar, or stupid, the language didn’t bother me, except one thing…..

What was it?

take a guess……

The drawings of the penises, peni? Nope, didn’t bug me, in general, I’m quite fond. Jokes about cum, asses, jobs of the hand, tits, facials, I laughed…Har-har.

I personally don’t think I’m easily offended, although others would disagree, however, utter these words near me, not even TO me, just near me, and I might hurt you

“Stop being such a pussy”

Does the word pussy bug me? Not.In.The.Slightest.Big fan at times. But not when it’s used to demonstrate a frailty in a man.

Melly’s mounting her soap box here, but there were MULTIPLE references to female genitalia hurled in dialogue in order to infer some sort of weakness. “Don’t be a pussy, stop being such a vag, way to bitch out’ are the ones I remember off the top of my head.

“But Melly”, you wine, “how many times have you called a guy a dick or a cock…” Yup. when I’m really pissed at you, and you ARE a guy, I’ll call you a dick, maybe, but probably not. In my entire life, maybe 3 times. If you really want to make my eyes turn back in my head and watch me foam at the mouth, just drop the c word casually in convo, and I’ll rip you a new one. It’s just something I feel, shall we say, passionate about.

I should also say that when my bf downs his 7th cosmo, I’ve been known to call him a pussy drinker, and that’s wrong. By labeling him as a pussy, I’m inferring that there’s something weak about my own pussy, and my sex in general….. and there’s not. There’s just not.

Dare I broach the subject of censorship?? Should those words have been avoided? No, they’re an unfortunate and accurate reflection of our language, and to censor the language would have made the movie weaker but I still don’t like it, and if you were sharing a drink with me at the bar and used one of those expressions, I just might call you out on it, and hope that you have a really good answer.

I’m anti certain words losing their significance and meaning because the general population is pulling them into the everyday lexicon. I am of the opinion that because I choose my words incredibly carefully, they automatically carry more weight. I also think that words have power, and that makes me part of the minority here, but they do. The line wouldn’t have been as effective if it read “stop being such a nosehair” or whatever…. and that’s because there’s power and significance in the labeling.

If I ever call you a c word, it’s because I think you’re Satan’s fucking concubine, and you should probably never speak to me again. Incidentally, I don’t think I’d ever use it, but if I did, it’d be kinda like hearing your grandma swear. There’s something to be said for reserving some words for those moments where you want to be at your most poignant, no?

ps, Prince Fucking Rocks….

Free to be You and Me

My parents were up tight Southern Baptists, so I didn’t watch this as a child, however, Free to be You and Me was given to me/Jack for his first Christmas, and I played it out……. Marlo Thomas, Alan Alda, Mel Brooks, Michael Jackson, Roberta Flack, Diana Ross, it’s awesome.

I haven’t been posting as much lately because of the new job. I had a great week, but it was pretty challenging getting started at DC Comics, and I totally need glasses. I had two pairs last year, one of which broke in half at the Death Proof premiere (and were held together by a green gummy bear) and the other I recently left in a hotel in Maryland. So the whole staring at a computer all day thing, and watching movies (three this week) kind of sucks.

Here’s Rosey Girer singing “It’s alright to Cry”, cuz sometimes it is, like those cries where you’re not even sad, but your body and mind are so wrecked your face just starts leaking…… or your eyes are falling out of their sockets because you need new glasses, but whatevs.

Fabulous groovy bass line- did I mention I’m learning how to play bass???
Best line from song- Sad and grumpy, down in the dumpy. Right on. So, Happy Saturday, we’re off to the park.