Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Christmas

I wish everyone and anyone reading this blog a happy Christmas and holiday time, and only the best for 2008. May all your dreams and hopes come to fruition this coming year, and may God bless you.

I'll post again in a couple of weeks, and I'll let you know if I got that train I wanted!!

Friday, December 14, 2007

I'm Published (again)

For those who are keeping count, my review has been published in the most recent issue of the journal Popular Music (Vol. 27, No. 1, January 2008), pages 183-184. It's a review of Nick Stevenson's book on David Bowie.

I do have a previous publication: “The Berlin Wall: Bowie, U2 and the ‘Urban Real.’” Culture of Cities: ...Under Construction. P. Moore & M. Risk, eds. Oakville, ON: Mosaic Press, 2001. pp. 92-94.

Hopefully this is only the beginning.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Minimal Melodic Movement (a.k.a. Morrissey's singing)

I was listening to "We'll Let You Know" (on Your Arsenal by Morrissey), as this song is the object of analysis in a chapter of my doctoral dissertation, which I am in the process of revising (the chapter only, not the dissertation - I did graduate). Another song that came to mind is "Mr. Brightside" by The Killers, a song where the melodic line seems to prolong the "presence" on a single pitch (whatever that pitch is - I should really take the cloth off of this m-audio keyboard I have here and figure that out). Now, while I don't think it would be a good idea for me to start talking about Schenkerian analysis here, I wonder if I could use some of the language that such analyses use in order to clarify the "one pitch" argument in "We'll Let You Know" (F#, in case you were wondering). Perhaps fortunately, for my own sanity, I don't have my Schenker textbooks here in Montreal. I suppose I will have to take a quick look at my books in Ottawa in order to get into it again.

One of my past professors at the University of Ottawa was big into Schenkerian analysis and popular music. While I don't wish to enter into a proper Schenkerian analysis (one reason being that I don't fully "get" Schenker, although I've taken classes both in undergrad and in grad school, both with renowned Schenker scholars), I think that using Schenker will help me to purge certain pitches from the melody line, leaving the "static" line that I am arguing exists. My melodic line, though not an Urlinie (my apologies to Schenkerian scholars for misuse/spelling), has at least the spirit of an overarching formal structure, just one that is "static." Harmony, though, shouldn't fit into the analysis at this point, something which is extremely important in Schenkerian analysis.

Again, just using the blog as a venting point. It seems that it forces me to think about these things. If anyone has any ideas, please feel free to post a comment. If you haven't heard the songs, they're easy enough to find.

Long time

So my last post was last week? I wish I could say that I accomplished a lot since then, since I didn't have the "time" to post. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Nevertheless, I will give you a rundown of what is on my plate at the moment and any other news that is going on in my life.

I just received the His Dark Materials books by Philip Pullman. I will begin reading them after Christmas, as I am presently reading A Cry of Stone by Michael D. O'Brien. O'Brien's books are usually not my fare (often historical fiction - or at least this one is, sort of) but I find him to be a really great author. I was introduced to him in the mid-1990s and I have enjoyed him ever since. I have bought many of his recent books without reading the older ones, so I'm catching up now.

In other news:

I wrote an article for a national religious magazine that I hope might be considered for publication.

I have yet to hear about my Canadian music chapter on Feist. I should hear by the end of January 2008.

I have a review of a book about David Bowie being published in the January 2008 issue of Popular Music.

I continue to rewrite one of my dissertation chapters for possible publication. The editor continues to provide me with feedback.

I am reviewing another book for Popular Music, this one on rock performance.

Next week, I need to start to think seriously about papers for IASPM Canada and Canadian University Music Society conferences in the late Spring (in Saint Catharines and Vancouver respectively). There is also a conference in Liverpool in 2009 which I might attend. These papers would involve Roland Barthes' The Pleasure of the Text and Feist. I would like to take some of Barthes' thoughts and try to apply them to a musical analysis of one of Feist's songs. Perhaps a hit like "1234" or "I Feel It All" might be fun. The theoretical implications of taking a Barthes prose (a self-contained thought/section from his book) and using it as a base for musical analysis are daunting.

I watched "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" with my wife a few days ago. It is a nice movie, and I think it is well done. Not sure why the magic in that movie is somehow considered good while magic in Harry Potter is decried by some Christians as bad. I think Potter as a character has some serious flaws, and perhaps some questionable morals (for instance, he often lies). But there's a witch in Narnia too, plus all kinds of magic and so forth. Perhaps there are no "good" magicians in Narnia - only the evil characters use it. Not sure about that - I would have to read my books again. As for Tolkien, well, don't get me started.

That's all for now.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

New Max Headroom Ads from Channel 4

Here is the first of many new Max Headroom ads from Channel 4 in the UK, regarding the switch to digital television. Yes, that is in fact Matt Frewer as Max. I just watched an episode of the original show from 1987 this morning, and I don't think I appreciate this new direction. But it is nice to see Max back in some form or another. Official DVD release please!!

Pullman and Anti-Christianity

I'm sure most people have heard about the recent controversy over the film, The Golden Compass, based on the novels by Philip Pullman. If you haven't heard, many Christian organizations, including The Catholic League and Focus on the Family, have suggested that the film is anti-Christian. Some have called for a boycott of the film by Christians.

So, my question is, what kind of film isn't anti-Christian? I'm sure we can name some films that contain no conflict with the Christian ethos, but the vast majority of media in general goes against it. Much television contains what might be deemed as questionable morality, as well as killing, lying, etc.

What I'm trying to say is that these grand proclamations against a film like The Golden Compass mean nothing if there aren't similar proclamations (with a similar amount of publicity) against most other cultural products in Western society.

By the way, I would like to see the movie, and I look forward to reading the books. The visual style of the movie is intriguing - the created world is very interesting.