A few weeks ago I mentioned the lurid record jackets that American record companies deployed to promote standard repertory back in the sixties and seventies. Steve Swartz has scanned for me a startling example from the old Soviet label Melodiya. It really speaks for itself, doesn't it? Mr. Swartz, by the way is known to music critics as the ace promotion man at Boosey & Hawkes. He studied composition with none other than Morton Feldman. He is also, I was surprised to find, the expressive lead singer of a jazz-folk fusion band called Songs from a Random House, which combines soprano and baritone ukeleles with viola, string bass, and drums. Their new record is called gListen, and it's a bright, quirky, tuneful work.
In other e-mail news, Nico Muhly has made a striking theoretical breakthrough in the understanding of a significant contemporary work. At the risk of boring readers with musicological arcana, I will reprint his essay in its entirety:
MILKSHAKE by Kelis
Finger Cymbal Scheme
1. The 4-bar phrases exist in two formats, here called A and B.
2. The 4-bar phrases alternate between A and B regardless of how they fall on the scheme of verse/chorus.
3. There is a 1 bar introduction.
PHRASE A: Finger Cymbal hit on 4th beat of 2nd bar.
PHRASE B: Finger Cymbal hit on 4th beat of 3rd bar.
We look forward to an expanded version of this analysis in the pages of Perspectives of New Music.