Archive | March, 2014

Lost In Music … Transdisciplinary Speaking

21 Mar
Brad Mehldau
Brad Mehldau

After talking to a friend last night, I started thinking about Brad Meldhau – i’ll come to him in a bit. My friend is professionally involved with students of  ‘MA in Transdisciplinary Studies‘ or in the epistemological sense; the theory of knowledge from within the arts. It seems that a lot of classically trained musicians take the course – putting it simply; to further their research of experimentation, define and break out of the frames of their chosen passion and merge it with other disciplines and environments at an intellectual level. To cut a long conversation short, we meandered  to the subject of the definition of what makes a good musician and that’s when I started thinking about Mr. Mehldau.

He’s the one who composed that eerie Eyes Wide Shut soundtrack. He plays a weird kind of jazz – mixing his music as seamlessly as a sea’s hazy horizon merging with the sky. He throws it all his vast talent and musical knowledge together in cover versions like The Verves’ ‘Bittersweet Symphony‘, Nirvanas’ ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit‘,  Bill Monroe’s ‘Waltz for J.B.’ , Radioheads’ ‘Exit Music‘ and Massive Attacks ‘Teardrop‘, the list goes on. He perfectly demonstrates that music is flowing – not a rigid form that always has to be pigeon-holed. He’s educated in classical music, is a jazz pianist – but has eclectic influences. When you watch him in action he gets lost in what he’s doing like a classical composer serenading admirers at court, but instead of the 18th Century garb, Brad Mehldau dons a Grateful Dead T-shirt and tattoos.

Although you could argue that there isn’t a shimmer of relevance between the start of this post and the end of it. I like to think that this is also how transdisciplines can be connected; a honed free-fall of thought, connecting loosely to form something new or different.

Give it up for a man who can do all this with two hands and still find time drop a bit of the Les Dawson-esque into his tunes. Sorry to any jazz connoisseurs – I am but a heathen. Here he is giving a full nine yards  (55 minutes and 25 seconds) at the Vienne Festival.


International Women’s Day

8 Mar

One hundred and three years ago in 1911, the first International Women’s Day was recognised in European countries – Germany, Austria and Denmark among others. In 1975 the UN officially recognised its observance and today it is a national holiday in 27 countries.

This year, (2014) the official global theme is ‘Inspiring Change’. The importance of equality for all women is the focus of this years events – not purely as a fundamental human right (the Charter of the United Nations, signed in San Francisco in 1945, was the first international agreement) but also to enable progress. UN secretary General, Ban Ki-moon states; “The evidence is clear: equality for women means progress for all.”

“Countries with more gender equality have better economic growth.  Companies with more women leaders perform better.  Peace agreements that include women are more durable.  Parliaments
with more women enact more legislation on key social issues such as health, education, antidiscrimination and child support.”  Ban Ki-moon

Women in ‘The Industry’
In 1975 Helen Reddy’s number 1 hit song ‘I am Woman’ was claimed by the UN as their theme. But what’s going on for women in the music industry now?

British artist Charlotte Church delivered her infamous Peel Lecture in 2013 debating the status of women in a music industry which is male dominated, and the consequent perception we have on main-stream women artists. She does have a point about Rihanna’s and Miley’s positions as role models to the more impressionable – but although the numbers are few, there are role models – influent, strong women standing firmly on and behind the stage. Women musicians who, by the omnipresence of ‘hits and clicks’ as a means of success, are granted a certain autonomy to do it their way.

This is not to say that sexism and inequality don’t exist, a controversial case from Japan is a good example. The members of the Japanese girl group AKB48 are prohibited by contract of engaging in any romantic or sexual relations. When one of the members of AKB48, 20-year-old Minami Minegishi, shaved her head and made a tearful confession and apology for having a boyfriend on YouTube, it caused a stir. The troupe of 80 plus young women, are a part of a hit churning song and dance group who perform on a daily basis and work in shifts at the groups own theatre. They are patronised to appear virginal and ‘available’ to the male audience. Record producer and AKB48 creator Professor Yasushi Akimoto is behind the record sales of over US$200million.

Women in Radio
Back in Europe, we can listen to women between the hours of 7pm and 7am (on 7th – 8th March) on BBC Radio 1. The station will be hosting its tribute to International Women’s Day (IWD) which is a obviously a very good thing, but as Jane Martinson (The Guardian) puts it; “Were they not allowed out during the day?”

Statistics given by Sound Women and Creative Skillset show that:

  • 1 in 5 solo voices on the radio is female
  • That figure is 1 in 8 during peak-time breakfast and drive hours
  • In co-hosted show, you are nearly 10 times as likely to hear 2+ male presenters as you are to hear 2+ female presenters
  • Solo women are more likely to be on air at weekends than during the week.

Finishing off my rant with a musical tone I leave you with today’s playlist for International Women. Some of the links will have to be checked out directly over YouTube. Enjoy!

1. Beth Ditto: Open Heart Surgery

2. Gaby Moreno: Ave Que Emigra

3. Dessa: Fighting Fish

4. Courtney Barnett: Anonymous Club

5. Lilly Allen: Hard Out Here

6. Angel Olsen: Forgiven/Forgotten

7. Julia Weldon: You Never Know

8. Annie Lennox, Eurythmics: Sweet Dreams

9. Beyoncé: Run The World (Girls)

10. Helen Reddy: I Am Woman


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