Filed under: B.O.B.s, myCulture | Tags: 60 minutes, blues, country, foo fighters, grohl, jazz, new orleans, nirvana, preservation hall jazz band, punk rock, rock
Dave Grohl, an ex(?) punk rocker from the band Nirvana and now of his own band Foo Fighters, set out on a project of discovery and found the interconnectedness of many popular forms of music from blues and jazz to country and rock. He was tremendously affected by New Orleans where he connected with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and partook in a traditional Sunday jazz march through town. To me, it is interesting that a Punk Rocker discovers Jazz.
Watch the 60 Minutes story:
Be sure to watch all the associated videos.
C’mon folks! I wanted to follow-up on the Grohl story by watching the related videos. I understand the need for advertising revenue, but to play the same ad at the beginning and end of each clip and to have the final clip repeat over and over is foolish. I have watched the same ad well over a dozen times—and Viagra at that! In one of the videos, a mention is made that 60 Minutes is a “family show.” I would not have wanted my kids (when they were young) to have to watch a beautiful woman talk about erections. I don’t think this ad is even appropriate for the 60 Minutes program. I will never buy Viagra and I may never return to the 60 Minutes Overtime website videos again, since I might get assaulted by the repetition of the same ad as I did tonight. Get real! This is not advertising, it is a waste of time and resources, not to mention, I found it offensive.
Filed under: myNews
It is fall and the rain is falling, thus it is falling out.
As you can see, I did get a couple of things written here and even more, I started a new blog focused around my slow to materialize book about the Technojungle. Back before summer Roger McGuinn’s guitar caught my attention, so for months now I have had some Byrds tunes rattling around upstairs and, in particular, Roger’s half guitar and half banjo style playing of the Rickenbacker 12 string electric guitar. Make sure you read the whole story. Also check out The Technojungle Project (see sidebar).
Most of our summer was pretty regular with son Malcolm taking summer engineering courses. I guess the biggest news is that daughter Michelle managed to move out of Kelowna after working for a year upon graduating from the University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBCO). However, she did not stick around and after just over two weeks, we loaded her on a plane to move to Melbourne Australia for year.
We visited my sister and brother-in-law’s summer place in Gibsons, BC, a ferry ride away, where Patti discovered Kayaking. Now that they no longer reside at all nearby and spend winters in Palm Desert, we hardly ever see them. Patti’s mother passed away a year and a half ago and her brother and his family are all pretty busy with their own families. Nevertheless, we do seem to always be busy and going hither and tither including church and curling.
It has been very good weather, but now that the rain has set in, I am trying to get into some sort of routine for the winter. I continue to regularly make bread, pizza and pasta with fresh ground ancient grains, mostly spelt, ground into flour in our ViitaMix.
I have been a bit pokey about getting to a few tasks and projects, so hopefully I will get a bit more organized and accomplish these over the winter.
With it falling out, I am move toward falling in—falling into a fall routine.
In the olden days of the newspaper business, not so long ago, newspapers sold advertising and the reporters wrote to fill the spaces left over. Because it was difficult to determine the exact size of the hole the story would fill, writers were required to write so that the piece could be chopped at any point and still convey the most important points. Phototypesetting machines turned out long strips of paper called galleys. These paper strips were waxed and pasted-up on a large sheet of paper the size of the newspaper page with a grid printed on it. This grid sheet caused the galley of text to flow around the advertising. When the space was filled, the galley was chopped with a razor blade. Many readers actually read the entire paper in those days.
While advertising still drives the space for content, the way newspapers are read has somewhat changed, thanks to the Internet. Most people today are immersed in an overwhelming sea of various types of information from numerous sources. It is not humanly possible to keep up. E-mail alone can occupy a large portion of reading time. The result of this information overload is that we have become a society of scanners and skimmers. Worried that we might miss something important, we scan the newspaper, or any other information source, for what might be important. When we think we have found something, we skim it.
Scanning and skimming is not new; however it has become an essential skill. If we cultivate this skill, we can learn to spot important information, such as medically-related, and gain necessary time to be able to read it properly. An important aspect of life in the information age is the amount of noise. Noise is considered the not important information that vies for our attention. Remove it and what is left is considered the signal, or main message that is important to you.
Today, instead of in-depth content, we find space-constricted print and click-driven eContent. As printing becomes more expensive and an environmental concern, more content is migrating to the Internet, combined with other media. Take a look around at online content. Much of it is spread among many pages. Advertising costs in print are based on the portion of a page consumed and the position in the publication. In the online world, advertisers pay for clicks. A page with shorter content costs the same as a long page of content. Splitting the content up can generate more clicks and thus more revenue for the publication. While a long page is harder to read, the extra click can mean the loss of the reader, if they decide they have read enough.
We are an attention-split society. This ball we call Earth is becoming like a giant brain with expanding networks of neurones. It overwhelms us with information as our attention span keep shrinking. Young people find they must do several things at once in a desperate attempt to keep up. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the millennial generation is spending 18 cumulative hours a day on media.
My kids gave up on E-mail years ago. We were told to use texting if we wanted to communicate with them. Text is an on-going short conversation that slips away. There is a sense among many youth that nothing is important or has value. Having to deal with an E-mail inbox that keeps filling up requires too much time.
What does all this mean for Christians? According to the Barna Group, a Christian research organization, ‘…while the Church is often accused of being several steps behind the culture at large, Barna’s research shows practicing Christians want to keep up with culture and trends just as much as anyone else…’ They continue with ‘…people want to be culturally informed, but they are becoming accustomed to skimming content.’ Yet in today’s 24-hour news cycle, “keeping up” can be hard work. The socialization of news has created an international, ongoing conversation that never sleeps.’
We need to become the editor for our lives. Armed with our virtual razor blade, we need to chop the galleys of endless text and other media that we don’t need to read—think noise. I admit that I have to develop my skills. Like any skill, it takes a concerted effort to develop. I encourage you to join me in focusing on skimming media carefully and then scanning contents for the message. Say no to noise and yes to the Message.
Editors Note: Is there something you want to say? Send in your Viewpoint (500 – 750 words) to email@example.com. Please note we cannot gaurantee publication of all the pieces we recieve.
September 2014 (2014-08-26)
Filed under: myCulture, myLifestyle | Tags: african, african-american, america, analog, anxious, authenticity, automobile, baptist, blues, bondages, chicago, chord, chords, classical, communications, compose, creative, dehumanizing, democratic, despair, digital, diverse, emotion, emotional, empathetic, enslaving, european, flappers, gangsters, god, gospel, happiness, harmony, humanity, identity, improvisation, innovative, inspirational, interpretation, intuitive, invent, jazz, jazz age, jazzers, jungle, liberty, lifestyle, maachines, magazines, marching, misery, mississippi, modern, movies, music, musician, new orleans, new york, oppression, peace, phonograph, piano, polymetric, polyrhythmic, prohibition, radio, ragtime, records, rhythm, riverboats, sacred, saxophone, self-expression, shake, slave, slaves, speakeasies, spiritual, spirituals, spontaneous, stress, stressful, survival, swing, syncopation, technobeast, technojungle, technology, telephone, tribal, trumpet, vibrato, victorian, weapon, west indies
What we can learn from the music
Are we following technology more than our humanity? In this age of unceasing change, we can easily fall into a trap of technological routines and over-programming of our lives. We become stressed and anxious about living in this dehumanizing jungle of technology. Can jazz music teach us anything about living; about survival in a technology dominated world where machines may one day out think humans?
A jazz approach to life could be a powerful weapon and solution in the technojungle because of its deep humanizing potential. The technobeasts can’t do jazz because jazz is analog, not readable by digital technology. It is a continuum of infinities that no digital technology can comprehend. The human spirit can.
Jazz is democratic, inclusive, creative, innovative, spontaneous, intuitive, inspirational, emotional, empathetic, diverse, spiritual. Among these, technology can’t flourish, however, humanity can.
Jazz meanings include, vigour, energy, effervescence of spirit, joy, pep, magnetism, verve, virility, encouragement and happiness. To jazz things up can mean to enliven, liven up, brighten up, make more interesting and exciting, add some colour to, ginger up, spice up, perk up and pep up. It can be enthusiastic or lively talk.
Originally, jazz music came from African and West Indies music containing tribal beats that became slave songs. These blended with some European styles and the musical styles of ragtime, black sacred music, marching-band music, rural blues, spirituals and gospel music mostly from the African-American baptist churches during the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Jazz music is polyrhythmic and polymetric. It has some structure, yet allows for improvised cross rhythms combined with a syncopation that anticipates the beat. To many enthusiasts, jazz must be able to swing.
To play jazz one needs four components shared by many other styles of music. These components are: rhythm, melody, harmony and chords. The order doesn’t really matter. One might choose the melody first which usually comes with chords. Harmony is derived from the chords, however, many styles of jazz use versions of chords that provide a more jazz-like feel. The flavour of the music can be changed by the rhythm. To live a jazz lifestyle one must seek the important components in life and find the right rhythm to follow.
One of the key elements of Jazz is improvisation allowing for free expression and interpretation of the music. When playing jazz, musicians must listen carefully to each other and respect the feel and interpretation each player brings to the performance. The music can change at any time and what one player does can be of great influence to others. It is a very democratic process of life that includes equally all those involved.
Because jazz music is free expression and full of inspiration and emotion, notes may be changed slightly. Certain notes can be added to give a blue texture. Such notes are called blue notes. Some notes may have their tone bent thus creating a different kind of blue note.
There are a variety of ways to make special jazz sounds and some are unique to particular instruments. A piano, for example, can’t really do a vibrato or shake. A saxophone or trumpet can do the vibrato and shake, but can’t play more than one note at a time, so a chord can only be played one note at a time. This is how a melody can be re-composed on the spot following the chord structure of the music. We can each find our own instrument of life to play along with other people and re-compose our world.
While no two performances of any music are exactly the same, jazz performances can differ greatly. Solos are usually never played the same way more than once and all jazz musicians have their own style and sound. There have been many attempts to write down jazz music. Jazz that is written can capture some of the feeling and provide larger groups a structure so they can play together. A jazz band may use an arrangement. However, the arrangement usually allows for individual free self-expression through improvisation, inspiration—even touching the emotions and intuition of the players and the listeners. Many people think jazz music should never, or can’t be written. For them it is all about taking the barest of structure, perhaps only melody and chords, thus allowing the music to come from their spirit.
Jazz is an analog form of communication. Being analog, which unlike digital, is infinite, moving from one note to another can include every pitch in between those notes. Being analog makes music and jazz best suited to the human body and human spirit.
Jazz music has managed to find it’s way into nearly every corner of the human experience. Along the way, it gathered for itself a myriad of stories and perceptions. Many, like tarnished silverware, are dark and depressing. Yet as the definition above shows, jazz is quite the opposite. It is time to de-tarnish jazz and learn what it really is and to make it our life. It can deepen our humanity and free us from the technojungle that surrounds us.
While jazz music emerged in the late 1800s, the jazz lifestyle was born during the 1920s Jazz Age. It was a post war era that ushered in great technological innovation and cultural change to a world of industry and wealth. Until this era, most children would have a lifestyle similar to that of their parents. New innovations, such as the telephone, phonograph and records, movies, radio, popular magazines and the automobile allowed for a new culture to spread across the country. Young women adopted a rather crude lifestyle and called themselves Flappers. Toward the end of the 1920s though, women were becoming more poised, with correct speech and smarter attire, in other words more respectable.
Jazz music followed the Mississippi on riverboats from New Orleans up north to Chicago and then East to New York. It was adopted by young people from the African-American slaves of the South. The jazz movement captured the youth who were eager to break away from the stiff Victorian lives that seemed to have trapped their parents. It was a time full of excitement and spontaneity.
Jazz living got into trouble sometimes, leading its followers into drinking and riotous living during a time when the evils of drinking were being curtailed by prohibition. Jazzers were left to follow the music into private and secret night clubs, called speakeasies, run by gangsters.
Like a person of youth, the jazz lifestyle, inspired by the music, needed to do some growing up—to mature. Since jazz music has eventually gained world-wide respect as a unique art form, it is time to take a look at what the style of music can teach us about living in a world of anxiety and unrest where humanity can be buried by the demands of technology.
Jazz is a journey of intimate shared experiences, describing the world and telling stories from the perspective of, developing the authenticity and identity of, each participant. It strives to leave behind the world of stress and anxiety by transforming the moment with peace and harmony. Jazz is an adventure of impulsive spontaneity and self-expression with surprises at every turn. Jazzers compose, recompose and instantly invent and reinvent their life by changing their actions. As an inclusive approach to life, the jazz lifestyle can be lived anywhere by anyone.
Jazz music is about freedom and liberty from oppression allowing self-expression, usually lively, that can swing and lift the human spirit. Yet it adheres to certain structures and is true to its history and legacy. The music has gained respect and is considered the classical music of America. As a lifestyle, jazz living should be compatible with most belief systems and world views since it is a way of living and acting that has the goal of allowing people to be more human.
Jazz music insists that all participants listen and pay attention to each other and to the music, and the music brings life. It draws together in harmony the human body, mind and spirit to function as they were created. One will find that the influences on their life that dehumanize and bring stress and anxiety will become less important. A jazz life should help people to break away from the bondages of modern life and focus on the human experience and the things that God has given them.
Jazz music was born in the depths of human misery and despair. It was given to slave people with nothing and is here now to help us living in an enslaving world of technology. With a jazz lifestyle, we can protect ourselves from becoming absorbed by our machines; to keep technology from replacing humanity.
This exploration and discussion about a jazz influenced style of living needs to continue. I am not finished, this article is not complete and I welcome the input from readers.
“I sincerely believe that jazz is the folk music of the machine age.” — Paul Whiteman, popular 1920s orchestra leader dubbed ‘The King of Jazz’ due to his orchestra having so many famous jazz musicians playing orchestrated jazz.
“There was every reason why this music sprang into being about 1915. The acceleration of the pace of living in this country, the accumulation of social forces under pressure (and long before the war, too), mechanical inventions, methods of rapid communication, all had increased tremendously in the past 100 years— notably in the past quarter century. In this country especially the rhythm of machinery, the overrapid expansion of a great country endowed with tremendous natural energies and wealth have brought about a pace and scale of living unparalleled in history. Is it any wonder that the popular music of this land should reflect these modes of living? Every other art reflects them.” — Paul Whiteman
As long as there is democracy, there will be people wanting to play jazz because nothing else will ever so perfectly capture the democratic process in sound. Jazz means working things out musically with other people. You have to listen to other musicians and play with them even if you don’t agree with what they’re playing. It teaches you the very opposite of racism and anti-Semitism. It teaches you that the world is big enough to accommodate us all. — Wynton Marsalis
Filed under: myLifestyle, myNews, myTech | Tags: adobe illustrator, amplifier, angel, bronze, buttermilk, byrds, cad, cemetery, chiseled, composer, craftsmanship, de-boss, dehumanization, democratic, fingerpick, gerber plotter, guitar, headstone, humanizing, jazz, john coltrane, jvc, kern, laser printer, marantz, monument, monument maker, ornette coleman, quadraphonic, receiver, record, roger mcguinn, sandblast, sansui, stones, synergistic, technology, typesetting, typestyle, typography
Part One—The first visit
What can you think of that is made today and could last for hundreds of years? What sort of endeavour is there that combines and employs modern technology with ancient craftsmanship? From the stone age to the computer age, here is a look at how technology and craftsmanship work together in the monumental task of producing a headstone for a grave and how it can be a deeply humanizing experience.
Meet Dan Bellan. Dan is a Monument Maker. If you don’t know what that is, you are probably not alone. Most people these days don’t have much interaction with the person who makes the marker for a grave.
This is the story my wife and I visiting Dan the monument maker, the process of producing a marker for the grave of my wife’s parents and finding an amazing combination of technology and age old craftsmanship in a beautifully humanizing process.
My wife had arranged for the stone with the cemetery and we headed out early one Saturday morning to arrange for the inscription. Arriving in East Vancouver, notorious for drug infested areas along with various industries, shops and studios. We arrived at 8 am to meet Dan. We walked into the rustic studio and into the back where numerous stones were either in production or complete, ready to be shipped. A few were obviously being kept as examples and there were several photographs and work samples on the walls.
I, being a curious one, began to poke around and ask a few questions. Dan didn’t seem to mind and jumped effortlessly back and forth fulfilling my wife’s needs to get the design done and being quite pleased that somebody was not only curious about his work, but also had some reasonable questions. We quickly established some common interests and he seemed interested in my ideas that stem from my work toward the book I am writing about technological change and dehumanization. I could even say that we were building on each other’s ideas. This is not only creative, but synergistic.
The process of producing a marker for the ages begins by examining the roughly shaped stone, selecting a side for the text, then discussing things like whether to polish and taking some measurements. “Here, I can show you what it will look like and we dashed to the front office where there was a computer connected to a Gerber plotter. Working quickly, after some consultation about typestyle, Dan dove into a program I noticed, by peering over his shoulder, was called Composer. I asked if it was like Adobe Illustrator and he explained that it is a combination of something like Illustrator and CAD (computer aided design).
Having done typesetting during my days in the printing industry—an aspect of my background that helped Dan and I to connect—I have an affinity toward the delicateness of typography. I watched Dan quickly take full control over the composing, not letting the computer have so much as a single kern (space between characters). I saw a keen eye to detail employing a humanizing approach that I could clearly see was coming from years of setting type in stone. I realized that the very imperfections of stone dictate a need for a sensibility that no computer could produce. The computer typesetting had to be humanized. After all, it is to last for hundreds of years.
Now, I must explain that this was not a straight-forward process. We were jumping around looking through books, checking samples, trying ornaments and in the midst of it all, I noticed an old Marantz receiver/amplifier in the corner. “I like the warm sound,” Dan stated. “I remember that amp,” I replied and told him about my days as a jazz record collector, my JVC and our family’s Sansui quadraphonic amps, all from the same era.
Soon Dan had printed the text out on a laser printer and was cutting a rough, roundish shape around it. We headed to the stone and he taped it on for us to see. We all stood back to admire and critique. At first, there was an idea for a cross in the upper left corner of the stone. After perusing some books, my wife asked about an angel. “My mother liked angels,” she explained. Within moments, Dan had a very cute bronze angel that was just the right size. “There are lots of great grandchildren who will like this angel,” my wife said. Dan held it in place, experimenting with the angle a bit.
The face of the stone is going to get hand polished. The text that has been typeset on a computer and manipulated through the eye of a craftsman, will be cut into a rubber material with an adhesive back (called buttermilk, as I recall from years ago) by a computer driven Gerber plotter. The material will be placed on the stone and sandblasted. The rubber withstands the force of the blasting sand while the rock gives way leaving a de-bossed image of text. This same process is often used in making wooden signs that look hand carved. Around twenty-five years ago, I investigated setting up a sign business around a Gerber plotter.
If one would care to spend considerably more money, Dan can produce hand chiseled work. I told him that he needs an apprentice. He explained that nobody wants to do this sort of work. He has tried a few fellows, but their dedication to the craft was lacking. We talked quite a bit about things these days having a disposable nature to them—even music. Dan listens to FM radio stations of quality music on his Marantz.
Recently my journey into discovering ways to humanize our appropriation of technology into our lives has led me to investigating how jazz music might teach us about a more human approach to life. I explained that I felt the process we experienced around the design of the marker stone was very much a jazz-like experience. Dan got it right away. Nothing we did was in any particular order. We had been driven by inspiration and creativity. Everyone had participated. We had explored and invented, jumping from idea to idea, in a very democratic way bringing about a monumental statement of humanity for hundreds of years.
Part Two—The second visit
A jazz inspired lifestyle is not easy to find these days with people driven by their gadgets. It can be an inhumanly automated world we live in. Seeing life done another way is refreshing. Not necessarily a life devoid of technology; a life where technology is appropriated into other human activities.
It was another early Saturday morning visit to see the finished stone. It turned out just as Dan had described. I felt it looked cute. Small, but not so small it would get lost and not big, or too bold. We spent some time talking about how it would sit on the ground. We looked at a stone that could be a footing. We also talked about flowers. As usual, Dan had to field some of my questions of curiosity about his shop and processes.
We headed to the front office to do the paperwork. I noticed a guitar case siting on the table behind the plotter. “You play guitar?” I asked. “Yes,” he replied. “What do you like to play?” “I like to fingerpick a little jazz.” If you have been reading some of my other blog posts, you will understand what happened next. Yup, we diverged into conversations about jazz music, more about my ideas of a jazz lifestyle and my recent fixations on the music of Roger McGuinn and The Byrds (see my recent article).
Dan’s jazz interests lie in the more modern styles of jazz. Mine, of course in the 20s to 40s. I mentioned how often I find people influenced by John Coltrane, even Roger McGuinn. Moments later, he had Coltrane CDs in front of me.
I asked Dan about his style of guitar playing. He doesn’t play any particular style, he just likes to play. I mentioned that jazz usually just takes a melody, chords and a beat, however, Ornette Coleman worked on moving away from even those bare elements. Out popped a CD boxed set of Ornette Coleman. If we had more time it would have been a listening session and an exchange of ideas and musical interests.
I hope to see Dan again someday. We have much more to discuss. I see him as having some aspects of a jazz lifestyle. His work is unique and some of it may not get passed on unless he gets an apprentice. Living in a technological society and working to make crafted items for people who have suffered the loss of a loved one: this seems to me to be important work. Dan brings the stone age and the computer age together and touches it all with a jazz feel.