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The music of snakes and computing machines

Thursday, September 19th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — with enough joy here for all lovers of classical music, herpetology and the national pastime — but I’m stunned by one most curious herpetology-Bach crossover in particular — and more ]
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Here’s a fine DoubleQuote:

I gave you the snake first, in about as amusing a context as I could find: Now here’s the serpentine windings of a Bach melody, as tracked by musical-graphics maestro Stephen Malinowski::

The music is Bach’s Cantata 140 (Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme), performed by members of the Netherlands Bach Society (s part of their All of Bach project.

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I think of the vaulted arches of Hermann Hesse’shundred gated cathedral of mind as places where science / technology and the arts / humanities map closely to one another — my locus classicus being the analogy between van Gogh‘s night sky and von Karman‘s vortex street, with which by now you are likely all familiar..

Far more unexpected, yet incredibly rich, it seems to me, is this close correspondence between music and snake. Does this suggest any further explorations to anyone? Ali Minai, anything this suggests for AI? Anyone?

Ada Lovelace‘s vision of the applicability of the Jacquard loom’s punched cards to Charles Babbage‘s engine is another instance, at the apex of an arch, I think — and it’s interesting to note that Lady Lovelace speculated that Babbage‘s machine

might act upon other things besides number… the Engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent

Howzzat? as we cry out in cricket.

Well, since it’s Sunday, here’s a surprise

Monday, July 1st, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — bright and dancing Bach — a cantata to give you the fresh spirit of Il Gardellino, then the great Mass in B Minor in their brilliant version ]
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J.S. Bach: Cantata “Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal” BWV 146:

This recording fairly leaps out at you, it’s so crisp and dance-like! Brilliant!

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And then, enthused by that magnificent cantata, here’s the B Minor Mass in all its glory, with voices that have been hidden, unheard, in all the other renderings I’ve heard — and I love the Corboz, for instance — and those inner voices, clear as bells..

And if your Sunday evening is almost gone, bookmark this post and return to it when you have time — such a fine performance of one of the three or four greatest sacred choral works in the Western tradition!

Some chyrons &c as my chyrons series draws towards a close..

Wednesday, May 1st, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — this post has been lingering while I’ve been slowly adding elements, and with some Bach now firmly in place I think it’s past time to drop it into the slip-stream ]
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This one’s priceless in a Matrioshka, Through the Looking Glass kind of way:

Can the Actor Who Ruled Ukraine on TV Do It in Real Life?

File it under life imitates art?

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I’m tired of chasing chyrons. If I see stunners, I may bring them here, but I’ll be concentrating on other things.

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I was surprised to overhear the words “perfect sacrifice” in a baseball commentary my room-mate was attendinmg to, but apparently the phrase fits in the context of bunts – what those are, I still don’t know – as well as they do in the context of the Eucharistic liturgy, often considered, eg by Pope John Paul II , as a perfect sacrifice of praise..

What can I say? My ears perked up.

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Three levels of beauty for your illumination:

Lidia Ksiazkiewicz

Lidia Ksiazkiewicz at her instrument:

Lidia Ksiazkiewicz plays Bach’s Fantasia in G major, BWV 572, on the great organ of Laon cathedral in 2012:

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This one’s an almost ouroboros — Chris Matthews on Hardball:

The Democrats don’t know how to play hardball>>

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From the poets — Walt Whitman:

both in and out of the game, and watching

Life, the game, yes. And Shakespeare:

The southern wind
Doth play the trumpet to his purposes,
And by his hollow whistling in the leaves
Foretells a tempest and a blustering day.

Marvelous. Those unexpected words can break through the strands of conventional thought that spin their deadly shroud about us every day.

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“IT’S GOING TO BE A GUERRILLA WAR”: THE SANDERS LEFT OPENS FIRE ON BIDEN

Within a few hours of Joe Biden’s official presidential announcement, the Justice Democrats, the progressive group behind Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s rise to power, brought out the flamethrower.

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So as you see, this is the sort of amount that would have made the first quarter of a chyrons series post a couple of weeks ago, and today it’s all I’ve collected in a week or so. I’m really cutting back on this game, and will be concentrating on other areas..

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Let’s close here with this trio:

That’s the rough number.

That’s just this last week.

And here’s the exact figure, if there’s no margin of error, which seems unlikely..

I’m leaving some terrorism screen-grabs for a later post.

The Mercy, logic, the model digitized, the glass, the music survives

Sunday, April 21st, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — logic, the arts, and technology offer an Easter, resurrection corrective, philosophically speaking, to the ruin of the cathedral of Notre Dame ]
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For the terrible fire that consumed so much of Notre Dame de Paris this week, grief is great. Here, I wish to recall some of the ways in which the essence of the great cathedral has been saved.

Above, Piero della Francesca‘s Madonna della Misericordia. Our Lady of Mercy, for whom the cathedral was named, continues to shelter us all..

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Perhaps the most extraordinary, as well as the most abstract, form of Notre Dame to survive fire, war, and the French Revolutionary idea — to replace Mary with the goddess Reason enthroned in her place — is the logic embedded in the theology that accompanied its building and — lex orandi, lex credendi — the worship within it, for which purpose it was designed and built

The American philosopher CS Peirce was among the first to propose a kinship between Gothic architecture and the logic of the Paris schoolmen:

Art felt the spirit of a new age, and there could hardly be a greater change than from the highly ornate round-arched architecture of the twelfth century to the comparatively simple Gothic of the thirteenth. Indeed, if any one wishes to know what a scholastic commentary is like, and what the tone of thought in it is, he has only to contemplate a Gothic cathedral. The first quality of either is a religious devotion, truly heroic. One feels that the men who did these works did really believe in religion as we believe in nothing. We cannot easily understand how Thomas Aquinas can speculate so much on the nature of angels, and whether ten thousand of them could dance on a needle’s point. But it was simply because he held them for real. If they are real, why are they not more interesting than the bewildering varieties of insects which naturalists study; or why should the orbits of double stars attract more attention than spiritual intelligences?

Erwin Panofsky‘s work, Gothic Architecture and Scholasticism, is the central presentation of the parallels. Pierre Bourdieu, who translated Panofsky into French, characterizes the work:

The parallelism between the development of Gothic art and the development of scholastic thought in the period between about 1130–1140 and about 1270 cannot be brought out unless one “brackets off phenomenal appearances” and seeks the hidden analogies between the principles of logical organization of Scholasticism and the principles of construction of Gothic architecture. This methodological choice is dictated by the intention of establishing more than a vague “parallelism” or discontinuous, fragmentary “influences”. Renouncing the semblances of proof which satisfy intuitionists or the reassuring but reductive circumstantial proofs which delight positivists, Panofsky is led to identify the historical convergence which provides the object of his research with a hidden principle, a habitus or “habit-forming force”.

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Rachel Donadio, Witnessing the Fall of Notre-Dame for the Atlantic, depicts the ruin of the cathedral with incredulityn–

How could Notre-Dame be burning? How could Notre-Dame, which had survived for eight centuries—survived plague and wars of religion, survived the French Revolution, survived the Nazis—be falling? Notre-Dame, the heart of Paris, not only a Catholic site but the preeminent symbol of European cultural consciousness, the heart of France, the kilometer zero from which all its farthest villages are measured—how could this majestic structure collapse so fast

— Oh, ruin, from the Latin ruere, meaning to fall.. John Milton, Paradise Lost:

                                                          Hell saw
Heaven ruining from Heaven, and would have fled
Affrighted

Viollet-le-Duc‘s 19th century spire, in this archaic sense of the word, ruined.

Resurrection:

The competition is already afoot to rebuild it.

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Fortunately, a few years back the entire structure was mapped with ferocious accuracy by Vassar professor Andrew Tallon, using advanced laser photography to capture detail — wear and tear included, to an accuracy of a tenth of an inch:

Vassar College/AFP Photo / Andrew TALLON

Alexis Madrigal, in the Atlantic:

Now, with the building having sustained untold but very substantial damage, the data that Tallon and Blaer created could be an invaluable aid to whoever is charged with rebuilding the structure. Ochsendorf described the data as “essential for capturing [the structure] as built geometry.” (He added, however, that the cathedral, no matter what happens now, “is irreplaceable, of course.”)

Tallon and Blaer’s laser data consist of 1 billion data points, structured as “point clouds,” which software can render into images of the three-dimensional space. Stitch them together, inside and out, map the photographs onto the precise 3-D models, and you have a full digital re-creation of incredible detail and resolution.

Professor Tallon died less than six months ago, in November 2018, age 49. If you’re looking for another Easter parallel, Tallon may be metaphysically resurrected with the promised rebuilding of the cathedral he so loved and diligently studied.

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It appears that the great Rosace Nord (north rose window) survived the fire —

As Incunabula commented:

By far the greatest blessing – a miracle – is that the Rosace Nord has survived. The South and West windows were very extensively restored in the 18th and 19th century, but the North Rose Window has stood basically unchanged for 800 years, the glass is the 13th century original.

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To close with a blaze..

In January of this year, Olivier Latry, titular organist of Notre Dame, made what is very likely the final recordings of music on the cathedral’s great organ, for a recording which was released in March, just weeks before the terrible fire. The organ, as built by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll in the nineteenth century, houses some 8,000 pipes; it seems the fire has left it largely intact, though with damage to its electrical systems and wind-chest.

Olivier Latry plays Johann Sebastian Bach‘s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 on the Cavaillé-Coll organ of Notre-Dame de Paris::

Advertising series 01: Music

Thursday, April 11th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — trying to gauge the appropriateness of music in TV advertising, and getting the sense that music has a — frankly — higher purpose. And then? ]
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I’ve been trying to figure out, from the poetry plane, just what it is that music does or is, or where, and as I’m watching TV commercials, I’m struck each time classical music is used, and forced to consider the role that music plays — in the ads, in my life, and in our lives. Commercials, like haiku, are highly concentrated affairs, and I’ve been learning a lot.

In brief —

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I don’t terribly mind that you can jazz the greatest of composers IMO, in what feels more like a virtuoso exercise than music as such..

Flying Bach:Red Bull

And when the music is jazzy to begin with, no problem — fun, even ..

Rhapsody in Blue: United

Unh — and ditto, speeded up:

High speed Orchestra: Porsche

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But Ave Maria?

Ave Maria: Planters

I guess that’s arguably a Hail Mary overpass, and the Ave Maria only slips in very briefly while the peanut’s in flight, so I’ll let it slide by..

But then I must admit I do get a bit uneasy about the semi-sacred last movement of Beethoven’s Ninth being repeatedly associated with a somewhat silly sad for a line of sports-car, lovely though they are:

Ode to Joy: Alfa Romeo

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The Hallelujah Chorus comes from a sacred oratorio, Handel’s Messiah, to be sure, but Messiah has been drifting from the sacred towards the social for decades, maybe even a century… Boots, though?

Hallelujah: Boots and Shoes

That seems a bit off-kilter: ads are repetitive things, and the idea that millions of concert-goers may have a less than stellar shoe ad pop into their heads in the middle of Handel’s iconic work — not a great taste to leave in the metaphorical mouth, methinks.

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Compare this commercial using the Lacrimosa from Mozart’s Requiem

Mozart Requiem: DirecTV

— with this paragraph from the philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis:

Remember that philosophers almost always start by saying: “I want to see what being is, what reality is. Now, here is a table. What does this table show to me as characteristic of a real being?” No philosopher ever started by saying: “I want to see what being is, what reality is. Now, here is my memory of my dream of last night. What does this show to me as characteristic of a real being?” No philosopher ever starts by saying “Let Mozart’s Requiem be a paradigm of being, let us start from that.” Why could we not start by positing a dream, a poem, a symphony as paradigmatic of the fullness of being and by seeing in the physical world a deficient mode of being, instead of looking at things the other way round, instead of seeing in the imaginary — that is, human — mode of existence, a deficient or secondary mode of being?

DirecTV? You can count me out.

Kurt Vonnegut quite wonderfully explains:

I am enchanted by the Sermon on the Mount. Being merciful, it seems to me, is the only good idea we have received so far. Perhaps we will get another idea that good by and by-and then we will have two good ideas. What might that second good idea be? I don’t know. How could I know? I will make a wild guess that it will come from music somehow. I have often wondered what music is and why we love it so. It may be that music is that second good idea being born.

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Frankly, I don’t think commercials are up to the Castoriadis / Vonnegut standard.

But let me leave you with a puzzzlement, a koan — assuming you haven’t diverged too far from my perspective thus far. If the Mozart Requiem should be spared participation in TV advertising, what do you think of Bach — remember Bach? — being embedded in a grisly scene from Silence of the Lambs?

Hannibal Lecter plays Bach:

Masterpiece within a masterpiece? Okay?


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