Curating The Week: Dancehall, Voice In Kanye West’s Music, Terry Riley’s “A Rainbow In Curved Air”

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• An article about the spread of dancehall music.

“Over the past year, however, dancehall has been dutty wining its way back into the worldwide consciousness. Diplo, long in debt to dancehall’s digital rhythms, brought them to an even wider audience as Major Lazer. Last year, Lazer’s track ‘Lean On’ became the most streamed single of all time, albeit one that’s since been given the dubious title of ‘tropical pop’. Then came Justin Bieber’s mega-hit ‘Sorry’, which teamed a skeletal dancehall beat with pure pop and was accompanied by dancehall moves in the dancing video. Never one to be left out, Drake openly drew on dancehall throughout Views From The Six. Dancehall talent Assassin, meanwhile, made his mark both on Kanye’s Yeezus and, more recently, Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly.”

• A video about voice in the music of Kanye West:

An article about Terry Riley’s A Rainbow in Curved Air.

“Another signal of A Rainbow in Curved Air’s lasting importance is the way in which Riley’s innovations as a performer-composer changed American classical music. The composer-led ensembles centered around Steve Reich and Philip Glass are hard to imagine without Riley’s example (as well as that of Young’s). In his autobiography, the composer John Adams—one of the most frequently performed American composers of the present-day—recalls first encountering the ‘congenial hippie spirit’ of Riley’s music. Along with the rest of the early-minimalist catalog, the simple fact of this aesthetic’s existence suggested to Adams that the pleasure principle had been invited back into the listening experience.'”

Resonant Thoughts: Arvo Pärt On Reduction

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“You can drown in the sewage water of our time’s creativity. The capability to select is important, and the urge for it. The reduction to a minimum, the ability to reduce fractions–that was the strength of all great composers” (114).

“Reduction certainly doesn’t mean simplification, but it is the way–at least in an ideal scenario–to the most intense concentration on the essence of things. In the compositional process I have always to find this nucleus first from which the work will eventually emerge” (116-117).

“The compositional task is to find the appropriate system for the gesture” (117).

The Cambridge Companion to Arvo Pärt (2012, Andrew Shenton, ed.)

Resonant Thoughts: Notes on Formalism in Dave Hickey’s “Pirates and Farmers”

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“In music we start with the parts and adduce the whole” (87).

“We try to isolate the critical frequencies, ask the right questions, and never gain knowledge or truth…So formalism doesn’t do answers because answers, would conclude the endless dance of inquiries that keeps the work alive” (88).

“So formalism begins with an instantaneous sense of alien, patterned complexity. We stand before a work of art with no hope of understanding it and no choice but to try. We reenact the primal cosmopolitan moment–the first time a human being stood face to face with a stranger from a strange place with a strange language, ‘sizing things up’ without a dictionary” (89).