Saturday, January 24, 2009

You are terrified of being bored — so you turn on the television.

I ran across this article The End of Solitude and a few salient qoutes struck me.

You are terrified of being bored... It took me years to discover — and my nervous system will never fully adjust to this idea; I still have to fight against boredom, am permanently damaged in this respect — that having nothing to do doesn't have to be a bad thing. The alternative to boredom is what Whitman called idleness: a passive receptivity to the world.
 We lost the ability to be still, our capacity for idleness... capacity for solitude.

And losing solitude, what have [WE] lost? First, the propensity for introspection, that examination of the self that the Puritans, and the Romantics, and the modernists (and Socrates, for that matter) placed at the center of spiritual life — of wisdom, of conduct.
I'm as guilty as anyone of blogging, facebooking, obsessively monitoring my email and carrying my mobile into the shower. Perhaps however I'll spare a few more minutes a day and a few more hours a week for idle solitude. 

Friday, January 16, 2009

School closed= playtime

So the recent cold snap has caused Anton's school to close today due to a broken water main. So what to do but Arrrh! Be Pirates! who make origami animals! Arrh! That be a frog and that be a bird! Shivver me timbers, alright.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Swing: Experience, timing and knowledge

What is "swing" - that quality that makes music danceable?

Edward Willet discusses the question in his article "Why Jazz swings".  The "why" was a question studied by Swedish physicist and jazz pianist Anders Friberg.
Willet presents Friberg's research this way:

"The basic rhythmic unit in jazz is the quarter note. That’s usually what defines the "beat," what you tap your feet to. Melodies are superimposed over the beat, and are often made up of eighth notes, which, in classical music, are exactly one half as long as quarter notes. However, the jazz musician would play those notes alternately long and short, with the long note on the beat, and the short note off the beat...

Friburg found the ratio between the notes varied with the tempo. In slow pieces the long eighth notes were extremely long, and the short notes were clipped so short they were almost 16th notes. But at faster tempos the notes were practically even. Only at a medium-fast tempo of about 200 beats per minute did the drummers use the 2-to-1 ratio. (Of course, there were variations caused by the drummers’ styles and the group with whom they played, but the basic principle held true across the board.)...

Friburg found that, instead of synchronizing with each other on the beat, as classical musicians do, jazz musicians unconsciously synchronize on the off-beats, the short eighth notes of the swing pattern."- Edward Willet

Aside from providing an analysis that could suggest how to make electronic music more compelling, or to provide a yardstick as to why a given player or group's performance fails to excite it also suggests a case study for testing phenomenological methodologies. However, this technical analysis doesn't detract from the experience of hearing music 'swing'. Indeed, it confirms that the subjective experience is a legitimate epistemology based in aesthetic experience not mystical thus suggesting a pathology.

"If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country."
-E.M. Forster