Curating The Week: BBC Radio Documentaries On Music, Alva Noë On Art, And An Article About The Pop Music Industry

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1. A fascinating series of BBC radio documentaries about all aspects of musical experience. Here is quote from the program “Playing With Patterns”:

“Our brain is responding to that tension between recognizing a pattern at work, but not a pattern that is so simple that we can predict what will happen next…In each piece [Bach] provides musical seeds and a mathematical rule for expanding these seeds…With all these mathematical algorithms at work, one could quite legitimately declare Bach the first coder.”

2. An article by philosopher Alva Noë about what art does. (Based on his new book Strange Tools: Art And Human Nature.)

“A work of art is a strange tool. It is an alien implement that affords us the opportunity to bring into view everything that was hidden in the background…Art is itself a research practice, a way of investigating the world and ourselves. Art displays us to ourselves, and in a way makes us anew, by disrupting our habitual activities of doing and making.”

3. An article about the songwriters driving the modern pop music industry. (Based on the new book by John Seabrook, The Song Machine.)

“The music is manufactured to fill not headphones and home stereo systems but malls and football stadiums. It is a synthetic, mechanical sound ‘more captivating than the virtuosity of the musicians.’ This is a metaphor, of course—there are no musicians anymore, at least not human ones. Every instrument is automated. Session musicians have gone extinct, and studio mixing boards remain only as retro, semi-ironic furniture.”

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