August 19, 2013

Alternative Music

Do you ever just get tired of listening to music? I do. But I also listen to a lot of music. I just love to listen to things though. So, sometimes when I get really burt out on music I look for alternatives to the types of music I normally listen to. I recently revisited Wendy Carlos' Sonic Seasoning (it can be rather nice on a long plane ride). And the sound that's occupying my ears these days is the Eurovision contest. Here's Spain's offering in 1979:

August 9, 2013

Armen Ra

Somehow Armen has slipped through the cracks for me. How is it that I'm just now discovering him? I guess Theremin players don't really interest me in and of themselves. I've always loved Clara Rockmore, but it wasn't just her playing, which was incredible, she also had a cinematic, otherworldly quality to her. I bought a theremin from Big Briar (Bob Moog's company in the 90's) when I was about fifteen years old and it came with a VHS tape of Clara playing at a dinner party (if you look for videos of Clara, these are the first you'll probably find). I watched it all the time. 

Armen Ra is one of the top Theremin players in the world right now, he's performed at The United Nations, Wiener Konzerthaus Mozartsaal Vienna, Lincoln Center and the Disney Concert Hall in LA. I always thought when Clara Rockmore played the theremin it sort of sounded like a violin (which she had played from a young age). When I heard Armen's playing I instantly said "Wow, it sounds like a woman's voice!". And sure enough in interviews he says that he's most inspired by sopranos and tries to make his theremin sound as as mellow and non-buzzy as he can. And like Clara he's also pretty other-worldly as well --almost like a Klaus Nomi type character. He actually looks like he could have been related to Clara Rockmore! Don't you think? There's a documentary in the works about Armen and I am so excited to see it!

August 7, 2013

The Littl' Bits

A recent comment from Joachim got me thinking about my favorite tv shows from when I was a kid. I liked all sorts of stuff but I think shows about little people (who usually lived in the forest) where at the top of my list; David the Gnome, The Little Troll Prince, and The Littl' Bits!

August 3, 2013

Tomorrowland at Twilight

I've spent many evenings in Tomorrowland. Watching the sun go down and the crowds empty out as they go off to find a place to watch the parade. Now when I'm there it's like driving past an old house one used to live in. I know it's ridiculous to feel like that about a public place, especially one that thousands of people walk through every day, but I do. I feel like we had a special connection, me and Tomorrowland, like I understood her on a deeper level than most people who came through just looking for a cheap thrill. I loved it just as it was; I didn't see the need for constant updates in order to stay relevant (because of course that is a losing battle!). But the fact of the matter is that Tomorrowland is part of a larger kingdom that does what it must to survive. So now whenever I see an attraction updated, or worse: removed, it's like seeing your old house painted some color that you never imagined it being, or burned to the ground. Why do we grow so attached to things and places? It's inevitable that they'll change… or we'll change and they'll stay the same. And that is why it's much better to be attached to people, at least that way there is the possibility of growing together. 

I suppose you're probably wondering when I'll talk about synthesizers again, since that is the theme of this blog. Well, I don't know. I guess I can tell you what's going on right now. We're playing a music festival tonight in Spain and my ProMars started having crazy tuning issues just before I left home, so I brought my SH-1 instead. The implications are that I won't have my preset sounds to work with, so I'll be doing everything on the fly. I'm kind of excited to do it. I've been practicing a good deal. There is a little switch on the SH-1 that let's you select between two different envelope generators to effect the VCA. I never cared about this feature until now... I'm very grateful for it. 

August 1, 2013

A Renewed Admiration for George MacDonald

I've read a few of Macdonald's fantasy books, and did enjoy them somewhat. The language of his time is a little harder for me to connect with than the simple langue C.S. Lewis uses, esp. in his books for children. Speaking of Lewis (as I usually do), it would be fair to say now that because Lewis was so informed by Macdonald's theology, he even said in his introduction to MacDonald's Anthology: "I know hardly any other writer who seems to be closer, or more continually close, to the Spirit of Christ Himself!", that in turn I also have a renewed admiration for Lewis. But of course I already knew a great deal about Lewisian theology, and my admiration for him was already full so I expected no less! ...But now I know of the source, which is George MacDonald.

I should begin by saying that I'm completely and utterly repelled by Calvinism. I always have been, but more so the older I get. I have plenty of friends and acquaintances who are Calvinists and it doesn't diminish my love or respect for them, I simply do not agree.

One Calvinists figure I particularly disagree with is Jonathan Edwards. His sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God says it all:

"The Wicked must not think, simply because they are not physically in Hell, that God (in Whose hand the Wicked now reside) is not - at this very moment - as angry with them as He is with those miserable creatures He is now tormenting in hell, and who - at this very moment - do feel and bear the fierceness of His wrath."

While, I do believe that Heaven or Hell has already begun on Earth for those who choose them, I certainly don't believe that God is tormenting anyone in Hell. I might also mention that Edwards didn't think very highly of Quakers (as made evident in his Distinguishing Marks). So, MacDonald wrote in an Unspoken Sermon on Justice:

"From all copies of Jonathan Edwards’s portrait of God, however faded by time, however softened by the use of less glaring pigments, I turn with loathing. Not such a God is He concerning whom was the message John heard from Jesus, that He is light, and in Him is no darkness at all."

And there you have it. I fully agree and I also turn with loathing from Jonathan Edwards’s portrait of God, though I don't believe we were ever pointed towards it to begin with.