Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Political Rant, ct'd

Okay, in case you haven't seen this, please watch it and be horrified. Hopefully the Sarah-Palin-2008-effect hasn't completely habituated us to the outrageous ignorance of aspiring politicians forever, because everyone should be shocked and appalled.

There are, of course, several ways to interpret her remarks and how they reflect on her and the Tea Party movement in general. Maybe she's just an ignorant fool and her ascendency to a Republican Senate nomination is a fluke. Maybe she knows the Constitution decently well, and just got her numbers mixed up. Naturally I suspect that her problem, and the Tea Party's problems, with Constitutional interpretation, are far more substantial.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Guest Post: World's Worst Monopoly

It's not Microsoft in the 90s, Standard Oil in the 1890s, or the Dark Greens by Boardwalk and Park Place. It's Crown Street Towing. Sure it "competes" with several towing companies in the greater New Haven area, and with thousands across the country. Yet Crown St. has all of the worst elements of a true monopoly: a protected revenue model that's completely insulated from customer choice or recourse.

Monday, October 11, 2010

New facebook groups? Who cares!

Facebook is all the rage recently! What with the new movie (interesting commentary here and here), the New Yorker profile of Mark Zuckerberg, and my witty status updates, it's really all anyone can talk about. And then to top it all off, apparently there's some new feature being unveiled this week that's supposed to go a long way toward solving facebook's awkward privacy problem, (or the NEB--Not Everybody's Business--problem).

The feature is a new version of facebook groups, the difference from the old lame groups being that other people can tag you in groups, and you can control which of your information is shared with which groups. In other words, you could end up in groups with your high school friends, your college hall-mates, and your nerdy "set" club-mates and share information privately within each group, all without doing any work to assemble or join any of the groups because other people have already tagged you in them (ya know, the same people who already uploaded and tagged hundreds of photos of you since you don't even own a camera).

Though the new groups feature may seem ideal for restricting who sees that photo of you rolfing off the balcony, I predict it won't change people's facebook behavior much at all.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Gouldberg Variations?

When I first brought to my teacher the idea of playing GBV, he embraced the idea...with caution. His warning: beware of Gould! The piece is so closely identified with Glenn Gould that it's impossible to escape (ultimately unflattering) comparisons whenever one plays it. People who know the piece very well potentially hear everything you do, and everything you don't do, through the lens of Gould's own playing. What a terrifying thought.

There are four complete, as well as three excerpted GBV recordings Gould made (that I know of, at least). The complete versions: 1955 studio recording, 1959 Salzburg recital performance, the 1981 audio recording and the 1981 video (all on youtube--the video and the audio recording are composed mostly of different takes). Everyone's favorite Glenn Gould question: which is the best Goldberg recording??

Friday, October 1, 2010

goldberg variations, ct'd: cheating

So aside from the fact that I'm obviously really gung-ho about cheating in general at the piano, what does it have to do, specifically, with Goldberg Variations? As I talked about here and here, Goldberg Variations is unusual in that it was written specifically for a two-manual harpsichord. Indeed the piece is unusual, almost anomalous, for Bach's writing, in other respects: the multiple-of-three-minus-one numbered variations are virtuosic show-pieces with lots of hand-crossings. These hand-crossings often take the form of voice-crossings of the second type described here, and they present a unique challenge to the pianist playing on a single keyboard: when to respect Bach's part-writing, keeping a continuity of voicing with each voice in the "correct" hand, and when to "cheat" and switch voices to make the execution simpler? What makes GBV unusual is the added "visual element" of the performance. I am not referring to the mere spectacle of seeing someone play it, which is pretty awesome, but rather how the brain integrates visual information along with aural input in separating counterpoint into its different parts.

piano-playing and CHEATING

Cheating: it sullies the world of sport, ruins reputations, tears families apart, and can get you a lot of student loan money, but what does it have to do with playing the piano?

Well, a lot actually!