Obama listens to Bach, Coltrane, Dylan, and Stevie Wonder. McCain likes ABBA. We now know something about the musical inclinations of Sarah Palin, who, according to actuarial estimates, has a 14.2-15.1% chance of eventually becoming president if McCain wins. This video from the 1984 Miss Alaska Pageant reveals that her favorite artist is James Galway.
In the interests of equal time on the Alaskan musical front, I offer a link to Philip Munger's work Variations on a Theme on the Katrina Hexachord, which draws on the six-note dissonance that George W. Bush famously struck on a guitar the day the levees broke in New Orleans. There are, incidentally, several competing transcriptions of Bush's chord(s), depending on which photograph you look at and how you read the placement of his fingers. I still lean toward Paul Mitchinson's transcription, which produces the set of notes that the music theorist Allen Forte has named 6-Z49. This is the complex that governs the apocalyptic final bar of Strauss's Elektra, where a quick, brutal chord of E-flat minor collides with C major:
Throughout his career Strauss used this abrupt juxtaposition of tonalities (major and minor triads with roots separated by a minor third) as an emblem of death ; his inspiration was, no doubt, the passage in Wagner's Tristan that marks the hero's demise. Again, E-flat minor interrupts a spell of C, though at trembling low volume:
How uncannily sensitive of Bush to reach for this same doom-laden formation of notes on that dark day in 2005!
This being a music site, I wish to remain absolutely neutral on political matters, but for any interested NYC readers I pass along the information that Brad Mehldau, Chris Thile, and Wordless Music are holding a benefit concert for one of the presidential candidates at Le Poisson Rouge on October 10.
Recordings: Solti (Decca), Pappano/Domingo (EMI).