The artcile Is There an Ecological Unconscious? in the January 31 2010 Sunday New York Times Magazine probes a deep psychological question, examining solastalgia and soliphilia along the way. Both are rooted in the Latin solacium (comfort), but one riffs on nostalgia (which connects to the Greek root –algia (pain or suffering)) and the other is more cogently connected to love and friendship (based on the Greek root philia). The article makes the case that global climate change is not measured merely by tenths of a °C or meters of sea-level rise or even parts-per-million concentrations of atmospheric CO2, but can also by the psychic disturbance of mountain-top removal and the disorders that arise from an increasingly inaccessible natural environment.
Wendell Berry has become one of my heroes. His writings and ideas are among the most penetrating I have encountered in any living author, and he has a wonderful and luminous presence. He was featured on the Diane Rehm show earlier this year, and that conversation was selected for re-broadcast on New Year’s Eve, a fitting editorial choice about what we Americans should be thinking about as we compost the years 2000-2009 and decide what seeds we will plant in the coming decade (with what little fertile soil is left).
As I was driving around town and thinking about the extraordinary costs going into both the construction of Manifold Recording (not to mention the equipment budget), I was struck by these comments (at 17:16 into the one hour program):
Useful criticism always begins with an appropriate standard. And consumerism—the flourishing of consumerism—is not an adequate standard, just as economic feasibility is not an adequate standard for human behavior.
What might this mean?
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.
Weathervane Music is a non-profit, community supported production company, making music and video to support and advance the careers of amazing independent musicians. Unlike traditional for-profit production or record companies, the vast majority of proceeds from the recordings of this music go straight to the artists, which Weathervane Music selects. I first heard about them when Brian McTear made this announcement in June, and I’ve been meaning to blog about it ever since:
Long time no speak! I’ve been really busy putting together a new non-profit organization called Weathervane Music. In a nutshell we’re experimenting with a new model for how to fund and promote the work of great independent musicians.
Our main focus to start is something we’re calling the Weathervane Music Project Series. It’s a curated music and music-related video series produced for the web in which selected artists come into the studio (at no cost to them, of course) and record a song. The whole thing is artfully captured in hi-definition video, providing great exposure for the artist, some interesting material for gear enthusiasts, and a general primer for Weathervane’s mission.
Now NPR‘s All Things Considered has beat me to it, six months later as part of The Decade in Music: ’00s. NPR’s extraordinary instinct of going beyond the death and destruction of virtually all the major recording studios in New York City (Recording Studios Face an Uncertain Future) paid off by looking at the dynamics of low-rent Philadelphia (where commercial studios are also struggling), and discovering the diamond-in-the-rough story of an environment providing free recording services to a handful of deserving artists. But the reporting could have gone much further…
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.
Like the old man in Bring Out Your Dead scene in Monty Python’s Holy Grail, rock and roll continues to protest that it’s not dead yet. But the number of ingrates willing to club it on the head, toss it on the cart, and wheel it out of town is mind-boggling. There are so many villains to this story, but I’m going to focus on those that appear in two story lines from last week.
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:
Thanks, all, for writing your comments, and thus contributing to this discussion.
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: