Recently viewed / listened (Jan 2013)


Derek Bailey. Improvisation – Its Nature and Practice in Music

– lots of good insight on improvisation in all different context (Indian music, Flamenco, New Music / Experimental Music / Baroque Music / Organ Improv / Jazz / Pop-rock), the problematic relationship between composer and performer, and why jazz becomes more and more conventional and lacks the creativity it once had. Does a score stimulates or limites a performer? Why some excellent musicians cannot improvise or don’t feel interested in improvisation at all? Why a totally “free” improvisation becomes more self-aware or predictable when it is repeatedly done? How John Zorn view his game pieces? If improvisation is part of baroque music and organ playing, how do we balance authenticity and creativity? Does recording inhibits creativity? Is mistake a mistake?

Cambridge Companion on Electronic Music

– I’m still reading the first few chapters. Inspiring approaches in the early electronic music / analogue music. Is electronic music a replacement of performers? Is it about composer having absolute freedom or control of details? Is it just about sound design? How about live “interactive” electronic music and improvisation? Is it just an installation (or a platform for action), a planned or random process, computer is a performer or composer?

The Wire Magazine – Rewind 2012 (Jan 2013)

– The wonderful thing about this magazine is, it puts indie-rock, jazz, electronic and contemporary classical music ALL in one magazine. It is the best magazine I’ve ever seen about the current “alternative” music scene as a whole, rather than singling-out one specific genre. Lots of useful links, reviews and informations and a review of the general trend: 1. while some mainstream big labels are declining, there are lots of small indie labels thriving, and lots of performers / composers now go on self-publishing. 2. Online sales is now stronger than CD sales. People depend on iTunes, Spotify/Pandora, Youtube, Soundcloud to get to know the musicians. So the production of an album becomes merely as a milestone for a band, or a way to promote rather than the product to sell. 3. new music is no longer just “academic” vs “popular” music. Lots of younger composers listen to all sorts of musics and they concern about accessibility – how to engage the audience, and the venue for new music no longer limits to concert hall. Lots of them engaged in jazz/rock/folk/electronic music too.

Theatre – the Search for Styles

– The book contains a lot of interviews of directors from different traditions (Kabuki, Noh, Sanskrit Drama, Peking Opera) who has given workshops at IASPA in United States. An interesting account of different genres from the perspective of modern european theatre.

Films / TV

Berberian Sound Studio

– a very good film about sound recording (including foleys, voice over and music) in the analogue era, and horror itself. How an Englishman felt uneasy with the Italian working environment but in a way he is becoming more and more like his counterpart. Wonderful sound.

Once Upon a Time in America

– this film contains almost everything in life, with a focus on relationships. An epic 3-hour long European edition with a flashback story telling that is not easy to understand in the first place, unlike typical Hollywood films. It’s more about immigrants’ life (Jews, and to a lesser extent, Chinese and Indonesian appeared in the film as well) but the theme is universal. Lots of heart breaking and memorable moments. One of the best films I’ve ever watched.

Sherlock (BBC)

– a very clever, cool, stylish and modern Sherlock Holmes. Remarkable Irene “the Woman”, and Moriarty “the Arch-enemy”. Dr. Watsons as a retired war veteran from Afghanistan is much more three-dimensional than in the original story. Chinese gangsters in the story suck, they look like pirates from the 19th century.

The Lost Gospels (BBC)

– about the history of the early church, and why some gospels are not included in the bible.


Some indie music publishing websites:

The Wire
Songlines Magazine (World Music)
Sight & Sound Magazine (BFI)

Some music I’ve been listening to:
A youtube playlist of long heavy metal / death metal pieces
Any music related to the history of electronic music

Leave a Comment