Saturday, June 28, 2008

Friday, June 27, 2008

Thesis Time #2

I am sitting in Carson's Lounge, a relatively new cafe in Yarraville, and conveniently 5-minutes walk from my house. I've just re-read the first chapter of Rose Rosengard Subotnik's book Developing Variations, discussing different ways musicologists approach ideology. I read it for the first time yesterday afternoon, under the neon lights of the VCA library, and found my eyes glossing over and my brain complaining of the effort required to understand and take it in.

Part of what I am going to discuss in my thesis is the debate that took place among academics of early music in the 1980s and 1990s about the ideal of "authenticity" - the attempt to perform renaissance and baroque music in a "historically correct" fashion, honouring the supposed intentions of the composer.

It struck me today as I read Subotnik, how similar her description of the "Anglo-American" school of musicological thought (she defines two schools of thought: Continental and Anglo-American) is to the early music movement, especially its manifestation in the 1980s and 1990s. The Anglo-Americans, in Subotnik's definition, are empiricists who view a piece of music as an autonomous artwork. They are concerned with the pursuit of provable truth and try to correct what they perceive as "ideological distortion" by focussing on physical and scientific details, and consciously avoiding anything that could be perceived as ideological or subjective.

The early music movement also held empirical evidence in the highest of esteem (and still does to a large extent). Proof gathered in historical sources of the "correct" way to perform has been the basis of the way we have played early music. Instruments have been painstakingly copied from original drawings, and the search for Bach's own tuning system provided some academic excitement a few years ago.

More and more I am discovering the connections between the manifestation of this empiricism in the early music movement and the wider intellectual and cultural context. At the moment I don't have any startling conclusions to make, but clearly the phenomenon that is the early music movement did not happen in isolation or come from nowhere.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

It's Thesis Time!

Humming the tune of Flight of the Conchords Business Time I settled down with my laptop and some not-so-light-reading this morning. Yes, this year I have to finish my masters thesis! I have been making it more stressful for myself than I really need to for the past few months, so I am trying a new tactic - spending time sitting with it and meandering through some reading, thinking some thoughts, writing those thoughts down... but not trying to make it perfect the first time.

So this morning it was a cup of coffee, writing down my thoughts about The Dowland Project's album Care-Charming Sleep, and reading over Richard Taruskin's The Limits of Authenticity.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday afternoon quote

"... Robert Hughes talking about artists: they're among the most resilient creatures on earth. If you had a nuclear war, out of the wreckage would stagger the artists, planning an exhibition."

Architect Jeremy Edmiston, in an article in the weekend paper.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Friday round-up #4

This week I've especially enjoyed...

Looking at photos of bubble-blowers in NYC, re-creations of iconic photos using lego, and a tattoo that pays homage to John Cage.

Being inspired by Anjali to look further into buying a scooter. I've booked in for my motorcycle learner's permit - very exciting!

Reminding myself that I am actually very fortunate and wealthy when compared with the entire world's population, thanks to the wonderful Global Rich List.

Reading J.D.'s brilliant critique of the scam that is The Secret, and Chris's observations about creativity and artistry.

That's all for now. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A bogan musical comedy?!

Coming soon to SBS... Bogan Pride. According to The Age, each episode of this Melbourne-based comedy series will end with a musical number, which I have to say, has a lot of comic potential!

With a lead character named Jenny Cragg, and set in the fictional suburb of Boonelg, I'm going to have to keep an eye out for this show when it screens in October. It could be absolute gold, or completely terrible...

For those interstate and foreign types who are confused by the word 'bogan', check out this and this. The bogan is a much-maligned stereotype of Melbourne suburbia, but secretly I think we all have a little bit of bogan in us. Come on, bogan bingo sounds like so much fun!!

Image courtesy of The Age

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday round-up #3

... and it's actually Friday! Wonders will never cease.

The lovely Brent has written an ode to procrastination, which I can certainly identify with!

My friend and collaborator Amanda has posted a couple of songs we're working on together at our fledgling myspace page.

Gretchen at the Happiness Project has thought up 8 ways to make you happier in the next hour.

Leonie dreamt about having a hole in the heart.

Sean pondered about life in a patch of mustard and wild turnips.

And JD reminds us that it doesn't always pay to keep up with information.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sisters and Art

My two sisters were in Melbourne over the long weekend, visiting from Launceston and Sydney. I spent Monday afternoon with them (G and I) and my mum, and V (I’s boyfriend). My mum loves a country drive so we all piled in her little green Citroen and drove out to Healesville to visit the TarraWarra Museum of Art. I always find it fascinating how three usually perfectly mature women in their twenties can revert to their childhood roles within seconds of being in each other’s company. I, being the eldest, am apparently bossy and decisive; G, the middle sister, is diplomatic and indecisive; while I, the youngest, is brazen and opinionated. I felt like I was 8 years old again, sitting in the back seat of a car with my two sisters, laughing at our parents and remembering the games we used to play together. (Just realised that reads slightly strangely – “I” referring both to me and my sister. I’m sure you’re smart enough to work it out.)

The art gallery at TarraWarra is really impressive. The building is made of sandstone-coloured concrete blocks and sits in the landscape like a castle – a monolith of simple lines and timeless proportions. There are no obvious entrances visible from the outside; the entrance is between two overlapping walls that create a corridor leading to the central courtyard between the café and the gallery. Walking through this corridor of concrete my footsteps were amplified by the hard surfaces so that my entrance seemed quite an occasion.

Greeted by three Brett Whiteley paintings inside the foyer of the gallery, I knew I was going to enjoy the experience. Since I first studied his work at high school I have loved Whiteley’s sinuous curves, simple lines and expressive compositions. The blue that he used in his Sydney harbour paintings has to be one of the most incredible colours in existence – standing in front of these paintings I want to dive into that blue.

In the main rooms of the gallery are paintings by Arthur Boyd, John Perceval (one of his Williamstown series), Rick Amor, Howard Arkley, Jeffrey Smart and others which I can’t remember just now.

The featured exhibition, an installation by Kate Rohde, was disappointing. Billed as “blending the lavishness of the Baroque and Rococo period with her interests in Natural History” with “curlicue designed hedges, elaborate dioramic vitrines and haunting paper mâché sculptures” to me it came across as kitsch, underdeveloped and not particularly engaging. I was expecting something more impressive, more finely crafted. The “curlicue designed hedges” were tall paper mache walls painted green, with flecks of white where the paint had come off, and the sculptures seemed unfinished. Maybe it’s just not my cup of tea.

I did really like John Neeson’s installation “Available Light”. He has set up mirrors which reflect the light and the views out the window, and then paints what he sees in the mirror – a kind of visual record of the changing light and sky over time. I like the idea of the process of making art being something that can be exhibited and enjoyed as art as much as the finished product.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Friday round-up #2

Some things I've enjoyed around the net this week... and yes, I know it's actually Saturday, but I'm less late than I was last week :P

My dear friend Sam has started blogging - go Sam!! Sam and I bonded when we performed together in a freezing cold church in Daylesford back in 2005, and have been friends ever since. He moved to London last year and sends me enticing emails with details of all the fabulous concerts he's attending - trying to convince me to move, too. Maybe next year...

Thanks to galadarling I have discovered Songza - this will prove to be very handy for me I think. Now I can share my music finds with the world! Current faves include L'Arpeggiata and Anouar Brahem.

There are some great photographs around - check out the Sartorialist's shoemaker and Stil in Berlin's fantastic tiled walls as backgrounds for Henri and Antje.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Late as usual - last week's links

So I wanted to start a regular "Friday round-up" post - but somehow didn't quite manage it last week. Lots of things I want to do, so little time!

Here's a couple of links I enjoyed last week... stay tuned to see if I can get it out on time this week...

Dutch bicycle action - I am loving Brent's photos.

Four Foolproof Ways to Create Unimaginable Wealth In This World - I came across Robert Bruce's poetry this week and it is definitely worth a read!