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May 20, 2011


Not re-tuning, but I have some ill-thought out questions/views/statements that could use fine-tuning:

(a) pre-conviction confinement in the United States is unconstitutional;

(b) modern SCOTUS jurisprudence under many (if not all) of the Amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights is seriously wrong;

(c) the extent to which small island nations drive tax policy around the world is astonishing, to the detriment of almost every other nation, and one might think easily remedied;

(d) the desire and ability of people in the United States to impose and pay for vengeance outweighs their willingness to pay for justice (this might not be unique to the US)

(e) should I worry that people on sports talk radio are referring to which president appointed what circuit court judge and using that as a proxy on how the judges would rule in a particular case;

(f) should I worry that sports talk radio hosts are talking about U.S. appellate courts;

(g) should I worry that I listen to sports talk radio (Okay, I know the answer to this one is yes);

(h) I find the finality principle in court case disturbing but don't know what a better one would be (see, e.g.) and

(i) baseball sucks.

(i) baseball sucks.

Hey, my kid plays baseball. You got somethin' against my kid?

Depends, what's his OBP?

Close to 100. It's coach pitch, where you don't strike out unless you go through a whole bucket of balls without hitting one. That and the kids don't make defensive plays very well at his age. Catching a fly ball is rare. Stopping a grounder, less so, but then there's the throw, which, even if it's on target, which it usually isn't, is likely to be dropped by the first baseman. The only likely scenario for not making it at least to first base is hitting the ball right to the first baseman, not too fast for him to field (or simply retrieve) it and not so slowly that you can outrun it (unintentional bunt).

forgot: (j) the adversarial system of justice does not produce better outcomes than other commonly used systems.

I fear to make real use of our>spinet it would be necessary to learn to tune it while playing. The general impression is that once one finishes tuning it one can start anew because the first string are already off-tune again. The playing mechanism also often jams because the jacks plucking the strings often remain in the upper position and don't fall down again becasue the string gets in the way.
But overhauling it is so damn expensive and it is used so infrequently anyway that we have until now shied away from investing the money.

Regarding (c), do you suppose that global warming will solve that problem for us? By the simple expedient of submerging the islands, and thus the nations which are causing the problem.

Or do you think the problem would just migrate?

Semi-related thought: could problems with conflicting claims in the South China Sea be resolved by some careful demolitions to turn the Spratley Islands into mere seamounts?

Thanks for this LJ, Brooks Williams is a great player and a hell of a nice guy.

Some of the most distinctive guitar-based popular music is based on weird (or at least alternate) tunings. Frex, a lot of Joni Mitchell's work, and pretty much everything Keith Richards ever played.

Steve Gadd's very very famous drum part to Paul Simon's "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" is weirdly hard to play until you realize that his left hand is on the high hat, and his right hand on the snare (the reverse of normal). Once you get that, the part is like rolling off a log.

Some of my favorite re-imaginings of popular tunes are by the great Brazilian tropicalia singer Caetano Veloso.

So: the Beatles' For No One and Eleanor Rigby, and Michael Jackson's Billie Jean (first young, then old).

The two takes of "Billie Jean" also bring out the different "tuning" that youth and age bring to the same material.

Also, the brief flute solo in "For No One" is amazingly out of tune, which is not at all uncommon in Brazilian music. A large part of bossa nova style, for example, is a slightly flat vocal, with no vibrato. Which raises questions about what different cultures think beauty looks and sounds like.

The Brazilian thing also partakes of the ineffable Portuguese sense of "saudade", a feeling of profound melancholy, loss, and nostalgia. People often describe fado music, for example, as "Portuguese blues", but IMO that is completely inaccurate, because blues is not melancholic. It can be angry, ironic, hilariously funny, happy, bitter, and resigned beyond despair, but it's never melancholic.

So, tunings upon tunings.

Now I want to go find William's Hendrix chord version of "I Will".

Not to belabor this, but another thing to notice is Veloso's "Eleanor Rigby" is the way the vocal line plays with the time, and with your sense of where the beat is.

The basic time pattern and rhythmic pulse of the piece is absolutely constant throughout, and is anchored by the bass or low drum note that consistently sounds on the 4th beat of the each measure in which it appears.

But Veloso changes where -- that is, on which beat or off-beat of the measure -- he begins his phrases in the verse as compared to the chorus. Most Western (read: white people) ears will follow the melodic phrasing and assume the beat has somehow changed.

It hasn't, Veloso is just playing with it, to make a contrast between the chorus and the verse.

This is common in music that derives from the African diaspora. It's a culture whose rhythmic sophistication is the equal of the harmonic language that derived from Western polyphony.

More tunings.

Steve Gadd's very very famous drum part to Paul Simon's "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" is weirdly hard to play until you realize that his left hand is on the high hat, and his right hand on the snare (the reverse of normal). Once you get that, the part is like rolling off a log.

Steve Gadd is one of my favorite drummers, russell. He does interesting things, and not necessarily in a blow-out-your-eardrums kind of way. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Aja would only have been a mildly odd piece without Gadd's captivating drumming; I really have a lot of appreciation that just when you expect him to do something loud and emphatic, he goes to hitting his two sticks together. That ability to do something unexpected and interesting, yet smack dab on rhythm puts him pretty much on top of the heap of excellent drummers. Not saying he's the best; just that I would go listen to anyone featuring him in a live performance over all but perhaps a half-dozen other drummers, whose names I'd have to think carefully about, and that I'd have to be equally careful not to rank in any kind of heirarchy.

But they'd almost certainly include Roy Wooten and Neal Peart (who in my opinion has gotten a lot better with age), and as I said, I'd have to think about the rest. There may even be a dozen.

Stewart Copeland did some really interesting-to-me-at-the-time things with the rhythm line in some Police songs as I vaguely recall, and so I'd want to go re-listen to those. It might not have been anything really new, but it was fairly new to popular music at the time. But in that as in all things musical, I might be wrong. I'm more of a gourmand than a student of music, and I tend to have a limited scope of things that I have listened to and that I enjoy, and so things almost certainly have escaped my notice.

Since this is an open thread, I'd like to mention that I'm in the first few dozen pages of Bill Bryson's At Home, and already I'm thinking that I have to read and own everything the guy has written, just as I want to read and own everything Simon Winchester has written. And Jared Diamond, for that matter.

There's a live version of this song (mislabeled) on Youtube with just Steve Gadd and Stanley Clarke that's captivating. If you value tastiness in drumming, I mean.

This, by the way, is one of my favorite songs of any kind, any genre, etc. Stanley Clarke's Journey to Love is just an extraordinary piece that features some really standout musicians. And some of the compositions, like this one, are beautiful to my ear at least.

Gadd is easily among the best drummers of his generation. He's best known for his pop session work, but he can, and does, play anything.

The number of tunes that would have been at best mildly odd, and more likely Just Another Pop Tune, without Gadd's contribution is a very long list, indeed.

Gadd's one of a handful of guys who can just play, literally, a simple time pattern for 15 or 20 minutes, solo, and make it compelling. His thing is all about relaxation, accuracy, understated power, and just the right amount of drama at just the right time (which could be not at all). His attention to detail and articulation is exquisite.

One of the really beautiful things about Gadd is that most of the stuff he plays is actually not that technically weird or difficult. A lot of his stuff is built up from very simple, accessible materials. As opposed to a guy like, frex, Dennis Chambers, or JoJo Mayer, who are technically just freakishly adept.

It's what Gadd does with the material, and the discipline and perfection of expression with which he plays, that make him the guy he is.

He's a deep MF and brilliant, brilliant drummer.

Gadd's at a level where there isn't really any point in talking about who's better or who's best. The cats who are his peers are all at a point where they do what they do, and they are who they are, and there really isn't a better or worse about it.

Copeland is an interesting guy because his dad was in the CIA and he grew up in the Middle East. So, he brought a young lifetime of listening to an entirely different rhythmic vocabulary and rhetoric to rock and pop drumming. The Police were one of the great examples of an ensemble of brilliant players who, together, were even greater than the sum of their parts. A "lightning strikes" thing.

Talking about drums is so much more fun than talking about politics.

Slart, for some newer Stewart Copeland material, which will also incorporate something from Suckdom, not to mention Phish, if you're into that at all, check out Oysterhead.

Thanks, hsh; I'd been meaning to check out Oysterhead (on the too-often-unheeded advice of my older brother).

I think I'd enjoy their pure-instrumental stuff more, based on a first listen; Les Claypool just doesn't do anything for me as a vocalist. I'd rather listen to Klark Kent do the singing.

Yeah, Les' vocals are more comedic than musical, except for when they're comedically musical. In any case, they're not going to appeal to everyone. For me, the wacky vocals are part of the sauce of Primus, but my Oysterhead opinions are largely unformed and based primarily on the reputations of the participants. I've only briefly checked out their stuff on line and haven't given any of it serious, long-term listening. The vocals might not integrate so well for all I know.

Regarding "I Will", I like the fact that McCartney sings the bass part a la Bobby McFerrin.

And, are those bongo drums, or further mouth noises?

Donovan helped Paul with the lyrics at Rickikesh, or however it's spelled, but those efforts were abandoned for the version we all know.

Best cover of the song I've heard: Maureen McGovern, of all people, with piano accompaniment on "Prairie Home Companion."

I'm not a good guitar player, by any means, but I love banging around with open chords on alternative tunings.

Somewhere in the archives, there's a version of bored me by myself in the bandmate's recording studio, playing and singing "I Will" --- guitar, singing the lead vocal and the bass part, and flicking my alternately slack and taut facial cheeks with my index fingers for the percussion part.

As I recall, I accidentally erased the guitar part, got frustrated, and then laid down a rough mix of "Why Don't We Do It In the Road", with the guitar part from the Anthology, a primitive piano part, an even more primitive drum part played on the, uh, actual drums, and a pretty good, according to peer opinion, rendition of Paul's vocals.

If we're lucky, that archive has been lost permanently and I'll get up the energy to do it over.

And since we are speaking of Beatles with an "a", my music buddy and I were just on the phone remembering what John Lennon called Peter, Paul, and Mary:

Pizza, Pooh, and Magpie

Booker T. and the MGs?

Bookatable and the Maitre'Ds

That'll be enough for the week.

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