Vilar + KLF = True

Just discovered a stunning parallel to the also stunning Esther Vilar quote in my text about SEO/MEO, the match coming from an old favorite now being re-read.

Here is the Vilar quote again.

“Take a man like Samuel Beckett. For twenty years he has produced a
series of Godot replicas – and surely not for pleasure. After all, he is an intelligent man. He avoids risk the way an alcoholic avoids a cure. Yet if only he could free himself from his conditioned behavior, he would probably do something quite different. Perhaps he might design planes – the reliable construction of his plays hints at a scientific talent – or grow rare plants. He might even, perhaps, just once, write a comedy. Surely so much success is bound to drive away the depths of despair. It might even turn out to he a success with the public. But no, the risk is too great for a carefully manipulated man. Better go on writing plays about the absurdity of the vital instinct – then, at least, he can be certain of praise.

Actually it is two quotes.

“Once a particular field of work has brought a man success and financial security, it is rare for him to test his abilities in another sphere, attempting to satisfy his curiosity. His supply of praise may be dangerously reduced. Like Miro with his dots-and-lines technique, Johann Strauss with his waltzes, and Tennessee Williams with his plays about psychotic women, he will stick firmly to his successful technique. The risk of attempting to be the measure of his own success is too great for him to take.” (Both quotes from “The manipulated man”)

The parallel might be surprising. It comes form the fantastic “Manual” by KLF. A very very important book that I will return to.

The KLF quote is not about playwrights but musical artists / acts. The insight is basically the same, the tone possible even more acerbic than Vilar´s

“Once or twice a decade an act will burst through with a Number One that hits a national nerve and the public’s appetite for the sound and packaging will not be satisfied with the one record. The formula will be untampered with and the success will be repeated a second, a third and sometimes even a fourth time. The prison is then complete; either the artist will be destroyed in their attempt to prove to the world that there are other facets to their creativity or they succumb willingly and spend the rest of their lives as a traveling freak show, peddling a nostalgia for those now far off, carefree days. These are the lucky few. Most never have the chance of a repeat performance and slide ungracefully into years of unpaid tax, desperately delaying all attempts to come to terms with the only rational thing to do – get a nine to five job.”

“The prison is then complete…” Ah, great minds think alike sometimes. KLF, however, do not only write about men building their prisons, as Vilar does.

PS: I hate giving advice here but if you are a reader — not just a browser or spammer — I suggest that you read these quotes carefully. They are worth it.

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The breathing of bar pianists

One of my favorite hangouts has a bar pianist. Unfortunately, because even when these pianists are good (and some of the magyar ones are great), they disturb the air waves, the silence.

This particular pianist has the bad habit of not breathing. I mean that between one song and the next there is almost no pause. He has the interesting opportunity to make both music and silence golden, so to say; this is one thing that a good bar or cafe musician can do.

But to do this, one has to breathe. In and out, music and silence, silence and music. That way both the break after a few songs, and the new song after a short break, feel refreshing and welcome.

Playing 8-10 songs in a row without a break, well, that only makes the silence feel refreshing.

PS: I played piano myself for some years at Vetekatten in Stockholm so I know about breathing exercises.

Impromptu med dopp
Moment musical with latte

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Vinegary quote

I am a musician. Rather proud of that, at times. I do feel that we musicians are somehow, in some respects, special. Not necessarily Jedis — but the risk of our falling into the clutches of the Dark Side is small.

Well, aint´everybody in love with their own kinsfolk?

Therefore it is sobering and refreshing (like a glass of water thrown in one´s face) to read these words, from a musician no less.

One is so often misled into thinking that because a man or a woman has embarked on a career like music, that is sufficiently far removed from the avocations of the multitude, he will for that reason be a person of rather more than ordinary interest, of rather more than ordinary force of character, individuality of outlook and independence of judgment. Vain delusion! In most cases, except for the fact that he is a musician he might be anybody, with anybody’s ideas about anything, as avid and uncritical a mopper-up of press dope as the generality; and to sum up, with no qualities of mind or personality that make any time passed in his neighbourhood, let alone in his company, anything other than spiritually and morally profitless, a waste, null and void. (Kaikhosru Sorabji)

So where do we go from here? Maybe in the direction of defiance. Let´s make Sorabji wrong and never mop up press dope (whatever that means).

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This song with Andrea Bocelli is… how was it we used to say? Spinning on my turntable? Well, nowadays it´s the CD that is spinning, or the invisible bytes in the MP3-player. Anyway, this is  what I am listening to this moment.

Two things: how nice to liken someone you prize or love to a poppy. As the Andrea, I will have much more to say about what I´ve learned from him.

Amapola, my pretty little poppy.

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Fifteen year old unkissed Mexican girl

What do I care whether the legend´s true or not? I am not Wikipedia, thank God.

As I am sure Oscar Wilde would say, never destroy a great story with facts. And anyway, it might be true.

So this is what the fifteen year old unkissed Mexican girl Consuelo produced: one of the most beautiful popular melodies around.

Kyss mig långsamt….

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“Jeu” (synthesizer piece)

Synthesizer… The word evokes very different pictures in different minds. I have several synthesizer-crazy friends but I also know folks who have a very cold attitude towards it. For them a synthesizer is something plastic, un-organic, artificial, not a “real” instrument. I could certainly respect that if they added that for them a car is not a real means of transportation, compared with horse and carriage. But they almost never say that.

If I, a self-styled “vanguard nostalgian”, can accept that we live in an electronic world, maybe music listeners in general can accept that too? Besides, a synthesizer is not an instrument.

— What?

A violin is an instrument, or a piano or a xylophone. We know how these instruments sound. But we don´t know how a synthesizer sounds.

— Why?

Because it can sound like a violin or piano or xylophone (or saxophone), plus hundreds of other traditional instruments. It can imitate them (called imitative synthesis), but it can also sound totally different from them. In other words, the synth is a chameleon. Or, in a way, an orchestra.

This is not an instrument.
This is not an instrument.

For me personally the synth is connected to a perhaps banal association; outer space. Leaving earth, moving among the stars, novas and galaxies. Outer space is connected with inner space, so the synth moves both outward and inward.

But I admit that it is too often used as the Poor Man´s Pseudo-Orchestra, or just as an awful string-machine.

Anyway, I have fooled around A LOT with the synthesizer, have written entire compositions (even an opera) around its “orchestra”.

What follows here is a small bagatelle that I wrote for a competition by synth manufacturer Roland. I didn´t win anything. I suppose the fact that my piece was done entirely on a Prophet [competitor brand] didn´t help.

When I listen to it now, some 30 years later, I hear — besides the obvious playfulness of it — one of the main “themes” or obsessions of my life (especially in the middle section): the desire for a weightless existence. Ah, to soar like a bird!

CREDITS: one synth (Prophet 600), two hands (no sequencer), multitrack recorder. Engineer: Dagge Lundqvist of Trettioåriga kriget, Adolphson & Falk etc. fame.

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Balthazar Rediviva

I love the Professor Balthazar series. Wonderful music, crazy adventures, tales that speak to children (I guess) as well as the children in adults. (How was it Liberace said? The difference between the men and the boys is the price of their toys.)

Balthazar is the Inventor, distant relative to Gyro Gearloose (Oppfinnarjocke) in Donald Duck. It says something (a lot, I´m afraid) about the cold, humorless world of Wikipedia to call him (Gyro) an “an anthropomorphic chicken”.

I think the Balthazar series is over, but here´s a new invention worthy of the Great Professor.

And here´s the Professor himself, in a wonderfully Taoistic adventure (Swedish text). Mission: creating holes!

(Original Croatian version.)

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Soul food

What is the point of classical music?

One “point” is to nourish our soul, the still, ethereal part of ourselves. This, more aggressive and pushy music cannot do. What is still cannot feed on restlessness and ants in my pants-nervousness. Even less on violence and intrusion.

Of course, not only classical music has stillness and Yin, but generally it has much more of it than other genres. It inspires us to turn inward and leave Outernity. Just look at this dream which haunts you still…

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Why pluriverse?

People tell me that my double CD “Life´s a beach, and then you swim” is torn between styles, alternatively very varied.

I called it my musical “pluriverse”.

Life´s a beach

As to being varied, I find this quote in “Parallel universes” by Emily Baumbach.

“In your normal waking state, you´re only using about 1 % of the potential of you Essence. The other 99 % of your Essence is hanging out, drumming its fingers, waiting for something interesting to happen.”

Drumming fingers indeed. Let´s say I tried to use at least 2 % of my musical potential. This is also a force behind having so many domains, doing so many different things. Le mot juste is heterogeneous.

Instead of goal-oriented profiling, with all the boring specialization that goes along with that, doing something interesting.

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Celebrity death

Prince has passed away. He was not a hero of mine, far too much Narcissus and childish (young soul) play on sex, and when the movie Purple Rain came, I was angry; he had sold out.

David Bowie passed away recently too. I respected him much more as artist and musician. In contrast to Prince he had managed to paint himself into an interesting corner where people always expect you to renew — yourself, your music, most everything. While Prince could “do his thing”, Bowie was somehow expected not to have “a thing”.

Anyway, both Bowie and Prince are dead, and now the vultures are gathering overhead (especially for Prince now). But it should be underhead.

The artist formerly living.
The artist formerly living.

When celebrities such as these pass away the press need not worry about not having anything to write about. Squeeze every last drop from the celebrity death, unearth all possible trivia, revel in (possibly correct) conspiration theories, etc.  In other words, leave no stone unturned, be it sensational or mundane.

As the Swedish saying goes: Den enes död, den andres bröd (One man’s loss is another man’s gain, or literally, The death of one is the bread of the other).

But not only mass media are tasteless. We the readers can be that too.

The mechanism seems a bit complex. First, we have to consider that there is something called “celebrity” in our modern world. This was not always the case. We had family, friends, perhaps enemies, and then people we knew about but probably never met. And never ever saw in TV interviews. We certainly did not own these strangers.

Of course there was gossip in the olden world, but it concerned people we knew, who lived close to us.

Very much changed with mass media. Total strangers, beautiful, fascinating strangers (perhaps not so beautiful up close, but we never got so close to them) somehow entered our lives, through the windows of newspapers, magazines, radio and television.

Not only did they come close, we established a relationship with them. We became their fans and stalkers. We joined fan clubs and soon the celebrities felt that they owed us. Certainly their freedom was circumscribed.

If you do this or that move, said their agent or promoter, the fans will be angry. Do not irritate them; they hate with the same fervour as they love. What you own you have a right to both love and hate, right?

Perhaps not.

And when the celebrity dies it almost feels like a family member has passed away. Which of course he wasn´t. Rather a weird kind of pseudostranger, pseudofriend, something that didn´t exist 1-200 years ago.

Another facet of the picture is sentimentality. Many of us are sentimental and our sentimentality is always looking for chances to manifest. The death of an idol or hero is an excellent opportunity. So we revel in tributes, write lists of our favorite Prince songs, post links and R.I.P.-s on Facebook, wallow in Prince trivia. It is almost as if we had a great time at a funeral party.

I ask myself is I am too stern and stingy here. Maybe, maybe not. Somebody said “Do not love your enemies, treat our friends a little better”. This is something worth pondering.

Are maybe these celebrities, these pseudostrangers / pseudofriends getting attention, love and interest that our friends better deserve, and need?

There´s an almost promiscuous gossipy quality about these tributes and eulogies.

But then, massmedia has never believed in minding our own friends, our own business. Quite the opposite. Just stick your nose into all kinds of things that do not concern your own life. It will make you more cultured and broadminded (ha!) — and us much richer (that I believe).

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Musical time travel

Auf flügeln des gesanges, on the wings of song — the picture of music as an aeroplane (or bird) is common. This can be especially fascinating when it comes to music of long dead cultures, like ancient Greece, where the flight is in time (not space).

One can take a musicological stand and ask  “Did it really sound like this?” or “What are the sources? Let´s compare.”.

Or one can, as I do, just press Play and let the sounds wash over us.

Partial, imperfect time travel is also time travel, perhaps even more interesting than the real thing.

Imagine if we had a functioning time-machine and could eaves-drop on Beethoven, Liszt or Chopin playing, or Jenny Lind singing. It could be a great experience, or a great disappointment. With fantasy there is no collision with reality; hence no disappointment.

So, fifty two minutes of Ancient Greece seen in a veiled mirror. Only inner turbulence, no seat belts required.

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Play on

If music be the food of love, quoth Shakespeare. Then what? And why “if”? Isn´t music already the food of love?

F loves G

Well, I foresee arguments.

Sure, F loves G, but only if G stands on her head (kinky). And G loves F in spite of his short stature….

His short stature? Who said F was he and G was she?!? Can´t you see those two, ahem, dots on F?

And so on. If music be the food of love and arguments, play on.


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Antikommersialismens obesjungna hjältar?

Som små barn får vi lära oss i skolan att alla yrken behövs. Men då talas det mest om sömmerskor, gatsopare och sockerbagare. Jag är helt säker på att ingen nämnde musikkritiker.

Jag började recensera relativt sent i livet. Till min förvåning var detta en synnerligen stimulerande, utmanande och mångfacetterad roll. Visst, jag har själv blivit slaktad av kritiker (som tonsättare), men sådana trauman får inte förvrida synen på en. Recensenter behövs. Menar jag numera.

Och här lägger jag ut texten om detta i senaste OPUS.

Dags för en staty snart OPUS67
Klicka för PDF: Dags för en staty snart OPUS67

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