Friday Freestyle


• I’ve been enjoying Nadia Eghbal’s newsletter, and also Kyle Chayka’s newsletter. (Also: Chayka’s forthcoming book on minimalism.) 

• Thinking about music making as some kind of litmus, but not a test. 

• Tee shirt sighting: “Sorry for what I said at mile 20.”

• A second tee shirt sighting (shirt worn by a very large man walking slowly):
“Repeal entropy.”

An interview with chef Magnus Nilsson. “It’s a paradox of aptitude. You’re very good at something and very quickly you find yourself doing it less and less.”

• Walking home one night I was re-listening to the end section of Steve Reich’s Sextet and began thinking about cadences. As his pieces wind down, Reich typically removes notes from his chords and moves to increasingly higher registers to telegraph that the end is near. It occurred to me that what he’s doing is slowing down and stretching out a kind of cadence. Not the traditional V-I now we’re done! kind of cadence, but more tonally ambiguous and harmonically evaporating cadences that create the sense that the mallet groove-chugging pulsations could keep going forever. Then I wondered about whether Reich cared/cares about cadences per se, or whether it was the demands of the additive-subtractive, now you hear a note now you don’t process that he evolved over the years that shapes the endings of his pieces? Still walking home (I had only moved a block), I wondered about how it is that any piece of music ends. Speaking for myself when I’m working on something I enjoy listening to, I don’t want it to end—ever, basically—and this feeling of not wanting it to end becomes a puzzle to figure out. Maybe turning a 7-minute piece into an 11-minute piece is forever enough? Anyway, it’s sad when the music ends. Maybe this is why the fade out in popular music is often used in place of a cadence so the sounds just gradually…vanish…

• Why watching sports is educational: “Play more shots instead of trying to make perfect swings”  says golf commentator Paul Azinger. Noted.

• An article about chef Sean Brock. “If you ask any chef what they want their cuisine to be: simple, simple, simple. You hear simple so many times, well, simplicity is really hard. The trick is to take as little as possible and make something amazing out of it and that takes a lot of wisdom, a lot of craft, a lot of talent…I call it the complexity in simplicity.”

• The most practically useful music production advice on output recording I encountered this year, from the musician Mr. Bill in one of his YouTube tutorials:

“The concept is to take tools at your disposal and use them in ways that they’re not meant to be used, or in just very creative ways, and then record the output and figure out how to contextualize it for music later.”

• An awesome and simple to make recipe for zucchini bread from Smitten Kitchen.


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