Archive for music

Workout Log 29 Nov 2012

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on November 29, 2012 by spinoza1111

20 minutes, first thing, before breakfast. 200 arm weight moves to The Thin Red Line (Journey to the Line). Then air-conducted (standing up and seated) Palestrina’s Kyrie from the Pope Marcellus Mass, and Gluck’s overture to Orfeo.

For I noticed that Messrs. Samson and Ajax, rot their boots, were not so much restraining the Incomprehensible Maestro when he arose to reveal the miracle of the Missa Papae Marcellae as helping that stubborn bastard up.

And oh what mystery our Maestro revealed. For Palestrina was confronted in his less raucous way than Josquin was confronted 200 years prior with the compositional problem of the ritorno, the return, to the Kyrie after the Christe. Josquin handles it magnificently with a reassertion of the driving “parody” tune that masses of his time were based upon, so the canaille would come to church and recognize their favorite tunes such as L’Homme Arme in the case of Josquin’s most famous Mass.

By the Renaissance of Palestrina, and the first chill in the air presaging a grim Protestant reformation that would destroy manifestations of music and art, parody masses and any repetition of popular tunes in church music was like to attract negative attention nonetheless Palestrina manages to honor Josquin in the way the Kyrie returns in his Pope Marcellus mass, and this our Incomprehensible Maestro revealed with a furious motion of his waking stick. He wanted one “just like Lully” but he’s not about to get one since Lully died miserably after piercing his foot with his stick.

Workout Log 19 Nov 2012

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on November 18, 2012 by spinoza1111

We find our reporter for the Zeitung Bug Post, Herr Von Rottweiler, writing thus:

“A steadfast examination in the company of Polizei (a new innovation of our illustrious Emperor for the enforcement, malgre lui, of virtue on the citizens) found Herr von Nilges conducting “une orchestra de Bricolage” open to all including some females, Germans, dwarves and blackamoors from America.”

“With Herr Nilges “conducting”, a series of noises was elicited as it were from a squeeze box and to my considerable amaze this series was recognizably, the An Die Freude of Ode to Joy from our Beethoven’s glorious Ninth.”

“For when I interrogated the American blackamoors, actually a well-spoken if swarthy crew of servants of students at Princeton being smuggled to our more refined German universities in advance of the colonial legislature which has resolved, sur la table in the unfranked VIEW ‘of inferior Europeam tribes, that no servant of color shall be allowed to attend on his master in any class lest said servant get ideas above his station.”

“While having no ‘truck’ nor whatsoever with the extreme views of the late Maxmilien Robespierre on human equality I do believe that discrimination in light of the end of the slave trade, and the illustrious if swarthy visages it has released on our shores, and the correspondent end of hope must be considered.”

That is (das ist): this morning’s workout first thing one hour consisting of my building upper body strength and improving circulation around the thrombosis, standing and sitting, air conducting Bach’s Concerto for two harpsichords and all but the last two movements of Beethoven’s Ninth. When I could I danced to use my heel and calf a pump, per the literature I have read on my health issue.

In addition, I consider my attempt to walk into town a separate workout, it was very hard and yet joyful. At around 11 AM I made it out the door in red sandals and sox. For it is written (well, in Wikipedia) that motion does help the sufferer from deep vein thrombosis as well as bed rest and elevation. I am using the latter now I must move.

But it was so hard to move. I barely made it to a place to sit next to a traditional commemorative gravesite before encountering another “Athenian” (Lear’s term for the wise fool embodied in Edgar), a sufferer from cancer my age.

And then on in the sun towards the next rest-point now alone but energized. So slow! I who ran so fast! For God is Great. And then up a hill to the realization that while this workout profited my soul I wasn’t going to make it into town as planned for shrooms at Cath’s. So instead I got some groceries at the shop on the hill including carcinogenic Japaneses cake bread cheese, tuna and a strange Japanese electrolyte drink, Pocari Sweat.

Nauseated with exhaustion nonetheless satisfied that I have done what I can to (1) recover from the veinous problem and (2) make it to Cancer followup day.

Cellist of Sarajevo

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on November 4, 2012 by spinoza1111

The burned the blinded the blasted and insane
Though reduced to Troglodytes did crawl away from pain
And attended they to music in a city that was broken
In the brief light of truce although the other side was jokin’.

The burned the blinded the blasted and insane
Well, they turned the other cheek they would not be Cain
Sacrificed by their own leaders to mobilize attention
They became invisible, a scandal, a thing you do not mention.

Variations on Non Nobis Domine for Grandchildren

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on September 9, 2012 by spinoza1111

Nicholas Poussin, Bacchus Entrusted


YouTube pulled Sandy Bull’s beautiful 1962 variations for banjo on Non Nobis Domine so on the occasion of the birth of my grand-daughters I have returned to improvising my little tunes on the piano. It also seems to help my illness in a spiritual way.

The next to last time I did so was on the piano in the student union at Stanford after running ten miles in 1981. The last time was in 1986 when I and the kids were staying at the home of a friend in Seattle, and she had a piano. I played for the kids and later discovered Peter (jungly Peter), who is now a musician, picking out tunes. He was good.

My music is based on modal and pentatonic scales. I incorporate mistakes so I don’t make mistakes, a dissonance merely suggests a new way to go.

I studied Johan Jacob Fux’s manual on fugueing and various books on harmony in high school when I was evading the bullshit they were trying to teach me by self-education in precisely only the things I was interested in.

Warning to young readers, don’t do that in today’s world and especially in Asia. I had a rich Daddy but odds are you won’t get away with this. Study and earn the grades in order to get some freedom to travel and learn in your 20s.

When I was a little kid Aunt Dot and Uncle George had a piano. I figured out simple scales and fifths and created a little improv. So my parents bought a piano in hopes I would be Mozart. But I was bored and creeped out by the music teacher and the insanely infantile exercises.

To me, music was all about the secret evening world that Adorno writes about, of the bourgeois lady preparing with perfumes and unguents to go to the opera. I wanted to wear a monkey suit and play Beethoven, music that my Dad liked, and I found myself stuck in a world of boring monophonic ditties and graded piano exercises.

A good piano teacher would have allowed me to create and shown me how to write music, and assigned simple things from Anna Magdalena and the Prelude #1 in C major from the Well-Tempered Clavier. But only the massively wealthy get tutors per se for their kids, for the rest of us, our skills have to be commensurable so we can be replaced, therefore musical proficiency is a matter of passing grade level books, especially here in China.

The key is to have, or to develop at a very early age, the facility to sight read straight to playing but of course I don’t have this. If I am motivated I can laboriously work out a prelude or two.

Parents: note that Mozart’s father was an accomplished musician in his own right, nearly the equal of the leading musicians of his time and place, Gluck and Haydn: Leopold Mozart’s compositions including his Toy Symphony are still played: but like Papa Haydn, Leopold had a family to support and so, like Haydn, wound up in a harsh feudal relationship with the Prince-Bishop (yuck!) of Salzburg even as Haydn had to kiss Esterhaz ass.

This means that Mozart grew up from babyhood in a home resounding with music being actually made. Few modern kids will have this privilege and for this reason, don’t buy a piano and lessons in hopes that your child will be “Mozart”. Glenn Gould was “Glenn Gould” because his Mom was a serious and professional church musician.

My Dad listened to music but with a curious lack of pleasure more as part of his life-long insistence in not being either a white American or, horrors, a black man: he was ethnically German (with the usual Middle Europe admix of genes from Poles, Mongols and the odd Ethiopian in the woodpile, like Beethoven). It seemed that my Dad had a horror of the whole greasy American scene as well he might but one needs to come to terms with Elvis: even Nixon did, Pop.

We heard recorded music, then, and occasionally my Mom would strum on the piano the one or two pieces she may have learned in the brief years of the 1920s when her own father could afford piano lessons. As it happened my musical career fizzled and my older brother, being less enchanted by mythos and family than I, bought himself an acoustic guitar with earnings from a real job and wound up playing the Byrds’ hits rather well.

By this time, of course, our motives were cherchez les femmes because then as now the girls were putty in your hands if you could play music. I kept up painfully learning a few Bach things and developing improvisations using practice rooms at “The Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University” and by 1973, when I had a piano of my own in my grotty flat in the “jungle” (the neighborhood of the Howard Street El and Cavalry Cemetery) I was doing proto-New Age things…which of course Michael Hedges and Liz Story did much better in the 1980s.

Queen Mary Hospital 10 August 2012

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on August 10, 2012 by spinoza1111

Anselm Kiefer, Der Ordnung der Engel: The Hierarchy of Angels

CT scan and a GI tract followup based on my June hospitalization for abdominal pain. The latter no problem since the hospitalization was caused by my being stupid about taking Ibuprofen. Received my PET scan images, not going to examine them since I don’t really know how to interpret them. Furthermore, they look like a bunch of cutlets of Me which is disturbingly culinary.

The eye-of-God Bone Scan early in this crisis and to an extent the expensive Pet scan, were rather frightening. Today had a little more sang-froid for I separate getting the interpreted results from the manufacture of the results. I did tell a small lie since I wanted to get this CT scan done: I said I’d had breakfast before six but it was more towards seven. If the doctor confuses kidney bean curry and brown bread with a new metastasis one shall have to be Calm and ask him if it might be Food. It is very important as an outpatient to follow all directions as much as possible, for the alternative is an expensive hospital stay when you’re a goofball, and cannot follow directions in writing. I’d done so, but not on the meal timing.

Never thought I’d welcome a weight gain but found at Queen Mary today that I’ve gained seven pounds. Old weight was 158 pounds or 71.7 kg two weeks ago. It’s 74.9 kg and 165 pounds today but I’m still underweight: IDEAL male weight for my height (6’2″) is 175 but AVERAGE in USA is 230 pounds (wow that’s some serious meat on de hoof, Jackson).

I think I was down a quart even before La Debacle (May’s diagnosis of prostate cancer) since I’d adopted a program of eating less after the Pret a Manger closed in the AIA building on Hysan Avenue as a result of the Panic of 2008. Then, after the bad news, continued exercise, somewhat increased out of sheer panic in itself, coupled with a bungled transition to vegetarianism, caused a dramatic weight loss, negative love handles, and serious but unhealthy Hotness as we have seen here ha ha.

Let’s just get it back up to normal by careful diet that will but emphasize the rabbit food and roughage but also contain some meat and dairy. I simply do not know how to eat a completely vegetarian diet.

I see a Dan Ryan’s Chicago Grill Snarfburger in my future with a side of fries slathered in mustard as a special treat and I’m buying. I don’t think I’m on my way to 230 pounds but in my day I weighed 205 which was, according to my very svelte Manhattan doctor, “borderline obese”. He put me in Jenny Craig in 1990 and it was kind of fun. I learned some good eating habits and dropped down to 185.

The message of Beethoven’s Heilige Dangkesang im Lydischen Tonart is that a disease is the new normal and the good days are better than the bad days are bad as long as you note then and say, as did Beethoven apparently, like Wayne Newton, Dangke Schon.

The swimming once again reducing pain while walking so in general was full of beans this afternoon, so many indeed that I was concerned whether I was manufacturing too much testosterone and thereby overwhelming the Bette Davis drug (Flutamide). Found a USB/MIDI interface at a computer store on Des Voeux which the sales clerk was unable to find so got them to reduce the price in Hong Kong style. I need a usb midi so as to be able to inflict my proto New Age improvisations from 1972 on this blog and its loyal if long suffering fans once I am up to speed.

It’s wonderful to have a piano in my flat even if this is one of those little Yamaha jobs.

As in German artist Anselm Kiefer’s meditations on his childhood circa 1945, a Jahr Null (year zero) creates the “normal”.

Workout Log 6 August 2012

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on August 6, 2012 by spinoza1111

First thing 20 minutes, dancing with weights:

1. 100 weight reps to Journey to the Line from Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack for Terence Malick’s Thin Red Line. Listen!

2. Freedance to Sweelinck Fantasia as performed by Glenn Gould. Listen!. Proto-running in this one, have to be very careful about impact. There are “fractal” rhythms within rhythms in this piece which Gould compares to Hindemith but which remind me of the slow movement of Beetboven’s Fourth Symphony (Listen!). I believe my landlord saw me dancing to the Sweelinck on my iPod, on the Lamma football pitch last Fall and decided I was weird.

3. Weight reps to Vangelis L’Enfant. Listen!

“Tell Me Nothin'”

The claustrophobic troopship of the Thin Red Line. “How was I to know when I joined this man’s army there was gonna be a fuckin’ war”. “Whaddya want me to tell ya. Da last time da landing was shot up da time before dat it was unopposed.” “Tell me nothing.”

We are in a fix. Only answer compassion? Buddy of mine had prostate twenty years ago no recurrence. The landing in the Thin Red Line was unopposed. Problem was that the Japanese had merely withdrawn inland and fortified a hill forcing C company to assault it.

In Which I Get a Piano

I was walking down Yung Shue Wan high street yesterday thinking of how I could transform anger into the gesture and the dance, having little left to lose, and I saw an ad, a quality practice piano from Yamaha for 1500 HKD so now it’s in my flat. I am practicing two improvisatory proto-New Age compositions I’d composed in 1972: “Sir Haubregon’s Variations on L’Homme Arme”, and “The Dream of the Red King in Alice”. I will post these compositions in a few days once I figure out how to interface the keyboard with my Mac (should be easy).

I will also start improvising new compositions for my dancing and may even create a video of my dances. How nice it is to be able to create original things and not have to worry about intellectual property even if my music is very limited.

Although it IS limited, I was struck in 1982, to hear its overall style performed in the soft moonlight much better by Michael Hedges of New Age piano fame, and, a few years later in Seattle, by Liz Story as here (Listen!), but, of course, my stuff was never as good as theirs.

A Young Violinist Practices

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on December 25, 2010 by spinoza1111

Edward G. Nilges, “A Young Violinist Practices Beethoven”, 25 Dec 2010, pencil, pen, fuser, conte red chalk and gimp modifications, each drawing of 3 A4 size