Tuesday, April 22, 2008



- Yes I can say Bolero. It has a rhythm that repeats over and over throughout the piece, but that is neither a theme nor a hook. The melodic material that the orchestra plays over the rhythmic ostinato is varied dramatically over the course of the piece.


- Sam, your coverage of the Pope isn't any better than corporate media's. Get this through your head: not everything the Pope says is infallible, it is only when he is speaking ex cathedra, which is not the case for the majority of his pronouncements.

And those of you who've gotten all self-righteously pissed-off and secular because of the sexual abuse scandals (or some other reason) would do well to consider the fact that the hierarchy is not equivalent to the church. There are several million Catholics out there who are just as upset by both the scandals and the Pope as you are - but many of us are also working feverishly to end torture, end the war, address poverty and homelessness, and speak truth to power. The progressive movement could be one hell of a lot stronger if the secular left would stop insulting the religious left and try to work together.

- Look again. Sam doesn't say anything that suggests he misunderstands the doctrine of infallibility. He is, rather, accusing the press of believing the Pope is infallible under all circumstances.

- The beauty part about admiration of the mediocre is that one doesn't have to know much about anything to admire it. In fact, knowledge can have a nasty tendency to get in the way of one's admiration. That's a major reason the mediocre has such a large and enthusiastic audience in this country of people who tend to know very little about much of anything, decent music emphatically included.


- Rev. Wright spoke many uncomfortable truths about the U.S.A. that challenge the popular mythology. It's the duty of the corporate media to uphold that mythology, explaining the overwhelming number of hit pieces on Wright. Exactly how many of those hit piece originate from the press releases of the opposition candidates, we will never know.


- Enough studies on the "poor troops," who volunteered to fight for the empire, and get paid for their murders in Iraq. What proportion of the empire's victims, the people of Iraq, are suffering from depression, PTSD, and bodily injury? They are the first victims that should be counted.


- Any idea as to how much propane is consumed while heating a chicken or turkey barn large enough to house 30,000 to 60,000 birds? Brood houses are even more demanding. Before young chicks sufficiently feather out, two to three weeks, they need to be maintained in an environment well above ninety degrees.

That translates to a lot of BTU's.

- Yet again, the media makes the straw-man argument against a sensible and sustainable diet. It certainly is interesting to see how much greenhouse gases are generated by a meat-heavy diet. But separating out final-delivery emissions from all others is unrealistic because if one makes a commitment to eat locally and in season, in most places that becomes a de facto commitment to organic food and a de-emphasis on meat.

Also: the comment that eating locally means "eating Jerusalem artichokes three months of the year" is utterly specious. I have eaten locally in such northern climes as Minnesota and Washington State, and winter crops include root vegetables and squashes that store well (onions, carrots, potatoes, turnips) as well as cold-frame greens like kale, spinach, broccoli, and even lettuce. Kale actually tastes better if it gets a little frost.

Can we please stop making unhelpful and confusing statements against sustainable eating and encouraging people to throw up their hands and going back to rainforest beef? Eat sustainably or live on a burning planet - your choice.


- Thank you. Finally someone is bringing up the issues that the Media has failed to addressed concerning McCain. Also, don't forget the 100 years in Iraq or 'the jobs are gone and aren't coming back' statements. Those are far more damning than anything Jeremiah Wright had to say.


- This makes me wonder in retrospect about how we were interrupted in school on an hourly basis by a bell. Does this suggest that education could be more effective if subjects were focused on intensely for a longer, uninterrupted period? - Ian


As someone who sells light bulbs for a living, I am less enthusiastic than most about compact fluorescent bulbs. This is due to the fact that the ones currently available contain significant amounts of mercury. If one of these bulbs should break inside of a person’s home, it could cause a challenging disposal situation. It is my belief that the technology should progress to a point at which the mercury levels are low or nonexistent before people changeover their entire homes. Another consideration is that as these bulbs burn out, they will most likely be thrown away as though they are normal rubbish and landfills will have incredibly high levels of mercury in their soil as a result. - Johnny 5


- When cable news is held up as an example of journalistic competency, we should all be troubled. - Lars


- He meant built and maintained by the public then handed over to private investors once it's profitable.

- The projections assume that there will still be a growing number of subscribers in two years. By the time 2010 rolls around, given the current economic/cost of living heading, people will be lucky to have the income to still commute and stave off starvation, let alone continue to subscribe to broadband....


- Structures do not care about anything other than the accumulation of wealth. If there is a proven means of profiting off of ecology protection, then there will be a move to do so. Otherwise, get out of the way, you are just an impediment to the 1% who have always controlled the majority of wealth...

- This is why neither Gore nor Nader will ever have a chance at the Presidency. Big business makes all the political donations and they are not willing to lose even one cent in profit in order to improve the world.


- The way the military is structured it is possible for the torturing administration to have kept this from Myers, but the excuse that Myers presents, "that he knew but didn't know" is nonsense.


At April 23, 2008 2:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The two eighteen bar sections that comprise the 'melody' of Ravel's Bolero constitute a thematic ostinato of which the two bar snare pattern is only a part. The combined thirty bars are repeated over and over for seventeen minutes (assuming one conducts using the recommended tempos of the composer).
There is no other variation of the theme until the final coda, some sixteen plus minutes on into the piece.
The 'dramatic variation' consists of changes dynamics and orchestration---revoicing the same 'melody' using different combinations of instrumentation.

At April 23, 2008 2:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the above should read 'the combined thirty six bars...'

At April 24, 2008 12:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is also worth noting that, although a popular success, Ravel's Bolero was not universally hailed with high regard from critics. There are even those who argue that the monotony of the piece was an early manifestation of the dementia that soon after compelled Ravel's early retirement from composition.
The point being musical tastes are subjective.
Appreciation is dependent upon many factors.
After many decades of devotion to the subject I have learned to recognize merit in all types and styles of music. That is not to say all appeal to my personal esthetic values. Nevertheless, I can acknowledge and respect the craft employed.

At April 25, 2008 2:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ravel's Bolero comes under psychiatric investigation

1 September 1997 - A British study, published in today's Psychiatric Bulletin, suggests that Ravel's Bolero, reputed to be the most often played composition in the repertoire, was the work of a pathological mind. Dr Eva Cybulska, the author of the study, claims that the famous melody repeated 18 times without change during the course of the piece demonstrates that the French composer was possibly succumbing to Alzheimer's disease. The Kent-based psychiatrist claims that perseveration, an obsession with repeating words and gestures, is one of the more notable symptoms of this pathology. In other words, the repetitive nature of the score's principal theme is symptomatic of the degenerative condition which began to trouble the French composer in 1927 at the age of 52. Was it really Alzheimer's disease or the budding tumor which later killed Ravel during brain surgery in 1937? We look forward to Dr Cybulska's diagnosis of the works of minimalist composers Philip Glass, Terry Reilly and Steve Reich.

At April 25, 2008 10:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always heard he had written it on a dare of sorts and was not very happy when it became his most popular work. Which brings us back to where this discussion started and a reasonable conclusion that the average person prefers monotonous repetition of simple elements to complex development of difficult elements, thereby explaining the trend away from melody and its variation in pop music.

At April 25, 2008 11:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, Bolero was an excellent example to bring up because it perfectly illustrates that greatness in a musical work can result from elements beyond some elaborate melodic invention.
Ravel is regarded as possibly the greatest orchestrator of music to have lived. His orchestration of Mussorgsky's Pictures From an Exposition as well as the Bolero secured that reputation.
So much so that many music school's have offered orchestration classes that have devoted entire semesters to study of the Bolero alone.
The seeming simplicity of the form belies a work of profound complexity and sophistication.
The point, therefore, may be that value and interest in a musical work can be derived musical elements other than melody.
Maybe it would have been better to have initially introduced as an example John Coltrane's A Love Supreme? But to the best of my knowledge Bo Derek never got famously laid in a movie with the chants of 'A Love Supreme' echoing in the background, so I figured nobody would know what the hell I was writing about.
And so it goes...


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