an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me

The Sound That Fills the World

For the past couple of weeks, I've been focused on the music of John Luther Adams as I prepared for and edited together an interview presentation covering his work. Following Adams around New York City, chatting about all manner of musical topics, and observing a rehearsal for and the New York premiere of his massive percussion work, Inuksuit, offered some immensely compelling insights into his music, and the resulting profile, published this morning on NewMusicBox, hopefully captures that … [Read more...]


For years now, whenever my mother would lament my dismal church attendance record, I would point to my religious reading of Randy Cohen's The Ethicist column. Though there was no eternal salvation on offer, I always felt that its example was a weekly sermon that guided me towards moral honesty and perhaps kept me from impinging on the goodness of this world while I was on it. So it was with some audible shock that I opened the Times site this morning to see Cohen's simply headlined "Goodbye" … [Read more...]

The Art of the Switch

[via] This creative little clip, posted by the Royal Opera House in support of the premiere run of Mark-Anthony Turnage's opera Anna Nicole, plays up exactly the kind of trashy, can't-look-away vibe you expect from the subject matter, but also boasts much higher production values than I would have assumed I'd see in a piece of online opera marketing. Yet the real shocker to me is the bait and switch game being played (intentionally or not) on viewers. The fine print on YouTube notes: "Watch … [Read more...]

The Index: What To Read Next

After a long weekend of travel, the number of "unread items" I had racked up in my blog reader was inducing panic attacks every time I checked in to put a dent in the ominously ever-growing pile. In the end, there were really just a few items that I saved for a full read--and the only reason I have for why slogging through hundreds of posts is preferable to simply hitting "mark all as read" when I get behind and starting clean. In retrospect, however, I have to wonder: Did I really need to know … [Read more...]

Get Lost

Last fall I was captivated by the Google Chrome/HTML5 personalized movie making that was The Arcade Fire's video for their track "The Wilderness Downtown". Using a childhood street address and footage pulled from Google maps, the project draws on images from the viewer's own history and, if you're sensitive to such visual cues, taps in to a very intense personal nostalgia that suits the song perfectly. It was still in the experimental stage, but I was excited to see what new things in music … [Read more...]

Talk Radio, Musically Speaking

If I had any extra hours in the day, one of the things I've long fantasized about doing with them--and this is going to give you a frightening window into just how exciting a life I lead--is to host a Delilah-esque overnight show on Counterstream Radio. I could send out dedications to your sweetheart, empathize about orchestration issues, and we could have a good collective cry if a call for scores didn't result in a commission. To date, this idea remains in the "to be pursued once … [Read more...]

Ahoy! Two Tastes (That Taste Great Together)

Two of my loves in one go! A new piece of vocal chamber music about a crunchy snack food. Music by Brian Friedland. Libretto by "whoever wrote the description on the bag of Pirate's Booty, circa 2009." [via] … [Read more...]

What Is All This Scratching of Records?

Though I don't have a personal Milton Babbitt anecdote to relate to you (sadly, I never had the pleasure), I do have a favorite Babbitt quote. It's from our NewMusicBox interview with the composer, during which he turned the Q&A tables to ask Frank J. Oteri to explain sampling to him. "I don't even know what hip hop is, to be honest with you. Do you understand hip-hop?" he inquired, seeming genuinely perplexed and curious. "What is all this scratching of records?" For those of you out … [Read more...]

Words Are Hard (Take Care When You Throw Them)

They're still kicking around the "what benefits a new music review most" topic over on NewMusicBox, a subject that really deserves a constructive discussion and is to everyone's benefit if it ultimately results in better reviews being written and published. I'll admit here that the topic also makes me a bit nervous, however, because it reminds my of my own anxieties when it comes to balancing the needs of the insider and the general audience, the creator and the consumer, as well as the … [Read more...]

Take the A Train (HTML5 Edition)

Google engineer Alexander Chen + HTML5 + NYC subway scheduling equals sonic art using tension in the line. The video above is just a sampling of the sonic magic available live on the Conductor site ( which "turns the New York subway system into an interactive string instrument. Using the MTA's actual subway schedule, the piece begins in realtime by spawning trains which departed in the last minute, then continues accelerating through a 24 hour loop." But hey, no "holding the doors" … [Read more...]

an ArtsJournal blog