good music discourse

i didn’t see a thread for sharing articles or vids or podcasts or other things that talk about music in an interesting way, so figured i’d make one.

it’s also an excuse to mention my friend David’s newsletter Penny Fractions which is about music streaming/music labor issues. here’s the link to the latest one he did:

and also here’s a link to a classic from a few years ago about why Spotify is terrible for artists called “The Problem With Muzak” by Liz Pelly:


been poking at arnold schoenberg’s theory of harmony a little, fascinating stuff.

Someone who teaches musical composition is called a theory teacher; but if he has written a book on harmony, he is called a theorist. Yet a carpenter will never think of setting himself up as a theory teacher, although of course he, too, has to teach his apprentices the handicraft. He may very well be called a master carpenter, but this is more a designation of his proficiency than a title. Under no circumstances does he consider himself anything like a scholar, although he, too, undoubtedly understands his craft. If there is a distinction, it can only be that the technique of musical composition is ‘more theoretical’ than that of carpentry. This distinction is not easy to grasp. For if the carpenter knows how to join pieces of wood securely, this knowledge is based no less on fruitful observation and experience than is the knowledge of the music theorist who understands how to join chords effectively. And if the carpenter knows which types of wood are required by a particular job and selects accordingly, he is thus taking natural relationships and materials into account, iust as does the music theorist when, appraising the possibilities of themes, he recognizes how long a piece may be. on the other hand, whenever the carpenter introduces flutings to enliven a smooth surface, he exhibits bad taste equal to that of most artists, and almost as little imagination; even so his imagination and taste equal that of all music theorists. If, therefore, the carpenter’s teaching, just like that of the theory teacher, rests on observation, experience, reasoning and taste, on knowledge of natural laws and of the requirements of the material - is there then really any essential distinction?



btw Holly Herndon and her partner/collaborator Mat Dryhurst have recently launched a podcast about music. i guess the full episodes are on their patreon but if you’re like me and already support like 10 people on patreon you can google and find several partial episodes available for free

currently listening to the partial episode with the writer i linked above, Liz Pelly:

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