Renaissance Weekend speech texts

As we have in the past, our family participated in Renaissance Weekend in Charleston, South Carolina.  It is a wonderful opportunity to share ideas we’ve been developing and to learn from many, many people whose perspectives are truly global.  This year I was invited to share some remarks as part of the closing plenary, titled “If these were my final remarks”.  It is both a privilege to be giving the opportunity to have the last word, but it is also a challenge: of all the things that I could say, what should I say (and therefore what must I not say)?  To help me with my choice, I wrote down my two favorite themes, read them out, and decided, based on votes from a few trusted friends and my own instincts, which to deliver to the audience and which to share after-the-fact.  Here are the two texts.  Please feel free to comment on which text you prefer, or any other thoughts they elicit from you.

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The importance of art education

Last week the church I attend highlighted The Arena Culture, an editorial by David Brooks which considers a new book All Things Shining.  David Brooks writes:

For the past hundred years or so, we have lived in a secular age. That does not mean that people aren’t religious. It means there is no shared set of values we all absorb as preconscious assumptions. In our world, individuals have to find or create their own meaning.

This, Dreyfus and Kelly argue, has led to a pervasive sadness. Individuals are usually not capable of creating their own lives from the ground up. So modern life is marked by frequent feelings of indecision and anxiety. People often lack the foundations upon which to make the most important choices.

Brooks puts his finger on a very important subject—the relationships between truth, meaning, and reality—but when he wields his rhetorical hammer, it is his logical fingers, rather than the target, he manages to strike.  As a parent, as a church-goer, and as a board member of a Montessori school, I have been on my own little journey of self-discovery, and I have had a chance to re-evaluate many of the truths I thought I had settled the first time I made my way to self and adulthood. Continue reading “The importance of art education”

Jazz Music and Open Source Software

Who knew that Open Standards maven Andrew Updegrove was a jazz fan?  He riffs:

Jazz, of course, is open source all the way — it’s the ultimate freedom machine. Once you’ve grasped the melody line and basic chord structure of any song, you’re on your own, encouraged to take the author’s initial inspiration anywhere you wish. A jazz musician isn’t judged by the faithfulness of his rendition but by what he codes at the musical keys.

Even the legal underpinnings of jazz are different, at least in the trenches. No one who is really serious about jazz goes out and buys, say, an Oscar Peterson, Miles Davis or Mahavishnu John McLaughlin song book, setting down note for note what the great musician played. How could you? They played it different every time.

You can read more of this wonderful entry here.  Me?  I need to go practice more songs from The Real Book.

The Jazz Loft Project

On December 3rd I attended the Jazz Loft Project book and website launch event at the West End Wine Bar in Durham, NC.  WUNC’s Frank Stasio, always on top of local goings on, clued me in.  It was packed, despite the venue being situated by LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY signs from all approaches.  Where else would Jazz fans congregate, if not in some well-hidden bar that’s so small you’d need three of them just to hold all the people who came to hear the music?

Needless to say I bought the book, got it signed, and have since met people who are on their third reading of the text.  I’m trying to save it for Christmas!

I look forward to the time when, perhaps 40 years from now, The Miraverse has become the definitive archive for a new collection of music representing a meaningful continuum of talent and community.

Copyright v. Culture: Music Think Tank Followup

After posting Copyright v. Culture last month, Bruce Warila contacted me about re-publishing the article on his site, Music Think Tank.  I agreed to do so, and was pleasantly surprised to see 10 comments within a week.  That, and having made some more progress on The Glenn Gould Reader (edited by Tim Page), compelled me to write a followup to the article, which I reproduce here:

To the question “doesn’t culture primarily advance through people creating new works, as opposed to recycling old ones?” I would say the answer is beyond my ability to answer in a perfectly factual manner.  Since we’re talking about Gould, perhaps his perspective on the matter could be enlightening.  The article in question (from The Glenn Gould Reader, edited by Tim Page) is “Strauss and the Electronic Future”, and he writes:

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The Participant Listener

In the seminal essay The Prospects of Recording, Glenn Gould “explores the vast changes in musical ontology, phenomenology, production, and listening brought about by audio recording” (see Audio Culture, edited by Christoph Cox and Daniel Warner, pp 115-126).  The Glenn Gould archives have Part A of that essay online, but it is the paragraphs that immediately follow that have me most excited.  He says:

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