intellectual vanities… about close to everything

Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Brothers Grimm

leave a comment »

Brothers GrimmSaw it tonight – a new version of the brother Grimm’s fantasy world or just crap? Terry Gilliam’s answer to this question costs dearly: 80 Mio. $ for the story of two fake “ghostbusters”, together with their “futuristic” special gear, have to face a real curse one day. Wilhelm (Matt Damon) und Jacob (Heath Ledger) stumble rather colourless through a baroque pseudo-middle age full of amiable details. There is a faint smell of Monty Python upon it, as has been often noticed.

Gilliam uses more a warehouse of motives from his earlier works, as Jabberwocky (1977) or Time Bandits (1981), than really originally rendering a fairy tale world. Spooky perspectives, bizarre torture instruments – that look like a disney land version of Piranesi’s Carceri – and rarely any real comical elements make a luke warm bore, instead of a creative movie.

Brothers GrimmDevilish stepmother cliché from Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937 with Rapunzel (Monica Bellucci), centers a plot grippy like mashed potatoes. Intertextuality, the kafkaesque, whatever might help cloth this miserable skeleton of a story, is consequently amiss.

Brothers GrimmStale as the story, is the acting too. Matt Damon has nothing to render, and does not even try. Heath Ledger has a bit more cute figure (Jake) to interpret, but is clearly not facing any challenge with it. Peter Stormare, known from Fargo (1996), is the bearer, not of light, but at least of humour as an excentric torture specialist of ancient italian provenance. Mediocre blockbuster with technical perfectionism.

Brothers Grimm (The Brothers Grimm); Czechia/ USA 2005; 118 minutes, Director: Terry Gilliam; Writer: Ehren Kruger; Producers: Daniel Bobker, Charles Roven; Starring: Matt Damon, Heath Ledger, Peter Stormare, Lena Headey, Jonathan Pryce
Start: 6.10.2005

Advertisements

Written by huehueteotl

September 7, 2007 at 9:10 pm

Posted in Movies/Books, Music

Magdalena Kozena – Ah mio cor (Händel-Arien)

with 2 comments

kozena_haendel.jpg

Erscheinungstermin: 17.8.2007

Another Diva prey to the seemingly irresistible temptation to sing Castrato-Arias out of her register. Fascinating recital with (perhaps a bit too) much impetus, dramatic coloraturas and annyoing respiration technique. Beyond this M. Kozena sparkles with all possibilites of carefully executed ornaments and subtle colours.

The Venice Baroque Orchestra, conducted by Andrea Marcón,is ways more convincing, although daring in the reading of Haendel’s scores. Soloist and orchestra work together at best probably in the first aria of the selection: Alcina’s Ah mio cor. The rest is at best what it probably was meant to be: peculiar, even very much so.

Written by huehueteotl

August 29, 2007 at 7:00 pm

Posted in HIV, Music

Orhan Pamuk: Rot ist mein Name.

leave a comment »

Fischer Tb., 2003, 556 Seiten, €9,90, ISBN-3596156602, http://www.fischerverlage.de

The novel My Name is Red, by Turkish author Orhan Pamuk, to my mind focuses on two ways of seeing as its frame of reference. Beyond its qualities as a detective or love story, unfolding during the reign of Ottoman Sultan Murat III in nine snowy winter days of 1591 – which I personally find rather moderate – it highlights issues of representation in a comparative context. Pamuk’s characters confront each other on ways of seeing in sixteenth-century Istanbul, by then the capital of the Ottoman Empire. The visual narratives of Ottoman miniature painting are elaborated in comparison with the contemporary Renaissance art, unfolding the differences in the depiction of faces in particular.

 My Name is Red, instead of being very captivating for the identity of a murderer, it is ways more fascinating for the reason of murder, which is none other than the multidimensional confrontation between icon and image, tradition and innovation, idealism and realism in fine arts. In this sense, the story is also a contemporary tale, dealing with the concepts of representation and resemblance, iconoclasm and fundamentalism in the context of ‘East and West’.

Venice serves the pivot of the compass defining the scope of this presentation, joining Netherlandish painting and Ottoman miniature tradition at a common juncture. Both ways of seeing will be traced through the sixteenth century, from Hieronymus Bosch to Pieter Bruegel on the one hand and from Bihzad (the master of Persian miniature) to Nakkas Osman (the chief miniaturist of the Ottoman Palace during the second half of the second century) on the other.

Style in visual narration is treated in this novel as a reflection of seeing and imaging everything in its uniqueness and is contrasted with the tradition of Islamic book illumination where all objects appear to be cast into rigidly ruled iconografic molds, rendering the object possibly as in Allah’s own view (e.g. femaile beauty rendered invariably with chinese facial traits). Western concerns with individuality and the uniqueness of the point of view as revealed in one-point-perspective, suggests it is an indispensable aspect of style. In that sense, My Name is Red highlights portraiture in the visual arts as a reflection of character in visual narration; reflecting both the subject and the artist whose individuality is represented in the style of painting. For this, Pamuk’s novel, constructed as a symphony of many different voices, is well-suited in its form.

Written by huehueteotl

August 27, 2007 at 12:48 pm

Posted in Literature, Movies/Books, Music

Tagged with

Music Makes Brain Think

leave a comment »

Yet another of those endless fMRI studies, this time using brain images of people listening to short symphonies by an 18th-century composer, has gained insight into how the brain sorts out the chaotic world around it.


Still image from an animated clip of a subject’s fMRI illustrating how cognitive activity increases in anticipation of the transition points between movements. (Credit: Image courtesy of Stanford University Medical Center)

The research team showed that music engages the areas of the brain involved with paying attention, making predictions and updating the event in memory. Peak brain activity occurred during a short period of silence between musical movements – when seemingly nothing was happening.

Beyond understanding the process of listening to music, their work has far-reaching implications for how human brains sort out events in general.

The researchers caught glimpses of the brain in action using functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, which gives a dynamic image showing which parts of the brain are working during a given activity. The goal of the study was to look at how the brain sorts out events, but the research also revealed that musical techniques used by composers 200 years ago help the brain organize incoming information.

“In a concert setting, for example, different individuals listen to a piece of music with wandering attention, but at the transition point between movements, their attention is arrested,” said the paper’s senior author Vinod Menon, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and of neurosciences.

“I’m not sure if the baroque composers would have thought of it in this way, but certainly from a modern neuroscience perspective, our study shows that this is a moment when individual brains respond in a tightly synchronized manner,” Menon said.

The team used music to help study the brain’s attempt to make sense of the continual flow of information the real world generates, a process called event segmentation. The brain partitions information into meaningful chunks by extracting information about beginnings, endings and the boundaries between events.

“These transitions between musical movements offer an ideal setting to study the dynamically changing landscape of activity in the brain during this segmentation process,” said Devarajan Sridharan, a neurosciences graduate student trained in Indian percussion and first author of the article.

No previous study, to the researchers’ knowledge, has directly addressed the question of event segmentation in the act of hearing and, specifically, in music. To explore this area, the team chose pieces of music that contained several movements, which are self-contained sections that break a single work into segments. They chose eight symphonies by the English late-baroque period composer William Boyce (1711-79), because his music has a familiar style but is not widely recognized, and it contains several well-defined transitions between relatively short movements.

The study focused on movement transitions – when the music slows down, is punctuated by a brief silence and begins the next movement. These transitions span a few seconds and are obvious to even a non-musician – an aspect critical to their study, which was limited to participants with no formal music training.

The researchers attempted to mimic the everyday activity of listening to music, while their subjects were lying prone inside the large, noisy chamber of an MRI machine. Ten men and eight women entered the MRI scanner with noise-reducing headphones, with instructions to simply listen passively to the music.

In the analysis of the participants’ brain scans, the researchers focused on a 10-second window before and after the transition between movements. They identified two distinct neural networks involved in processing the movement transition, located in two separate areas of the brain. They found what they called a “striking” difference between activity levels in the right and left sides of the brain during the entire transition, with the right side significantly more active.

In this foundational study, the researchers conclude that dynamic changes seen in the fMRI scans reflect the brain’s evolving responses to different phases of a symphony. An event change – the movement transition signaled by the termination of one movement, a brief pause, followed by the initiation of a new movement – activates the first network, called the ventral fronto-temporal network. Then a second network, the dorsal fronto-parietal network, turns the spotlight of attention to the change and, upon the next event beginning, updates working memory.

“The study suggests one possible adaptive evolutionary purpose of music,” said Jonathan Berger, PhD, professor of music and a musician who is another co-author of the study. Music engages the brain over a period of time, he said, and the process of listening to music could be a way that the brain sharpens its ability to anticipate events and sustain attention.

According to the researchers, their findings expand on previous functional brain imaging studies of anticipation, which is at the heart of the musical experience. Even non-musicians are actively engaged, at least subconsciously, in tracking the ongoing development of a musical piece, and forming predictions about what will come next. Typically in music, when something will come next is known, because of the music’s underlying pulse or rhythm, but what will occur next is less known, they said.

Having a mismatch between what listeners expect to hear vs. what they actually hear – for example, if an unrelated chord follows an ongoing harmony – triggers similar ventral regions of the brain. Once activated, that region partitions the deviant chord as a different segment with distinct boundaries.

The results of the study “may put us closer to solving the cocktail party problem – how it is that we are able to follow one conversation in a crowded room of many conversations,” said one of the co-authors, Daniel Levitin, PhD, associate professor of psychology and music from McGill University, who has written a popular book called This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession.

These findings will be published in the Aug. 2 issue of Neuron.

Chris Chafe, PhD, the Duca Family Professor of Music at Stanford, also contributed to this work. This research was supported by grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the National Science Foundation, the Ben and A. Jess Shenson Fund, the National Institutes of Health and a Stanford graduate fellowship. The fMRI analysis was performed at the Stanford Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience Laboratory.

Neuron, Vol 55, 521-532, 02 August 2007

Neural Dynamics of Event Segmentation in Music: Converging Evidence for Dissociable Ventral and Dorsal Networks

Devarajan Sridharan,1,2, Daniel J. Levitin,4 Chris H. Chafe,5 Jonathan Berger,5 and Vinod Menon1,2,3,

1 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
2 Program in Neuroscience, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
3 Neuroscience Institute at Stanford, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
4 Departments of Psychology and Music Theory, School of Computer Science, and Program in Behavioural Neuroscience, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada
5 Department of Music and Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

Corresponding author
Devarajan Sridharan
dsridhar@stanford.edu

Corresponding author
Vinod Menon
menon@stanford.edu

Summary

The real world presents our sensory systems with a continuous stream of undifferentiated information. Segmentation of this stream at event boundaries is necessary for object identification and feature extraction. Here, we investigate the neural dynamics of event segmentation in entire musical symphonies under natural listening conditions. We isolated time-dependent sequences of brain responses in a 10 s window surrounding transitions between movements of symphonic works. A strikingly right-lateralized network of brain regions showed peak response during the movement transitions when, paradoxically, there was no physical stimulus. Model-dependent and model-free analysis techniques provided converging evidence for activity in two distinct functional networks at the movement transition: a ventral fronto-temporal network associated with detecting salient events, followed in time by a dorsal fronto-parietal network associated with maintaining attention and updating working memory. Our study provides direct experimental evidence for dissociable and causally linked ventral and dorsal networks during event segmentation of ecologically valid auditory stimuli.

Written by huehueteotl

August 6, 2007 at 9:00 am

Anmerkungen zu den Fugen

leave a comment »

Martin Stadtfeld

 

Bei der Form der Fuge verhält es sich im Gegensatz zur verbreiteten Meinung um die bis zur Neuzeit freieste Form der Komposition. Wohl gerade deswegen fordert sie wie keine zweite die Meisterschaft de Komponisten heraus. Einer Unzahl teils absurder Raffinessen wie Themenumkehrungen, -spiegelungen, -verlangsamungen, -verkürzungen (und dies alles womöglich noch kombiniert miteinander) steht die weitestgehend leere Vorgabe gegenüber.

 

Die Fuge lässt ihren Verfasser (oder sollte man sagen Bezwinger?) mit sich selbst allein, sie scheint zu fragen: „Wie viele Stimmen kannst Du in vollkommener Unabhängigkeit umeinander kreisen lassen?“ Oder: „Wie viele Leben kannst Du erschaffen?“

 

…ein Bach durchschritt diese freieste, diese einsamste Form so leichten Schrittes, dass es einen frösteln macht.

 

…Die Fuge jedoch ist die größte Kunstform, denn sie spielt allein in der Phantasie, ist lediglich abhängig von Geist und Vision, unabhängig von Vorgabe und Effekt.

 

Bachs Fugen sind ein Spiegel des Universums in ihrer scheinbar greifbaren Unendlichkeit, zufälligen Wohlgeordnetheit und unantastbaren Emotionalität. Ein zum Schluss verlangsamtes Thema der es-Moll-Fuge mag uns vorkommen wie ein Sternbild, um das der Staub des Universums kreist., wir erfahren eine Verbindung zum Göttlichen, eine Art von Spiritualität, die keiner näheren Beschreibung bedarf – die Wahl des Instruments ist hierbei unmaßgeblich, denn Instrumente sind von Menschen gemacht.

 

 

Written by huehueteotl

July 14, 2007 at 1:48 am

Irina Palm by Sam Gabarsky – a widow that can even wank with dignity

leave a comment »

After smaller parts in “Intimacy” and “Marie Antoinette”, Marianne Faithfull received twenty minutes of standing ovations after the premiere of “Irina Palm” during this year’s “Berlinale”. And duly so, as it is her breathtaking but retained acting that keeps this movie going.

60 years old Maggie needs money urgently. Her grandson is seriously ill in hospital, and the surgery that could save his life is way beyond what his parents can afford. She will have to come up with an idea soon if she is to give her son and daughter-in-law fresh hope. Desperate, Maggie finds herself responding to a temptingly lucrative job offer at a sex club. At “Sexy World”, the shy but sprightly widow meets the club’s charming manager, Miki (Miki Manojlovic), who bluntly introduces her to her tasks as a “hostess”. Her new colleague, Luisa, acquaints her friendly with the rules of the game and, before long, the conscientious Maggie becomes the much sought after and well-paid “Irina Palm”, rendering five minutes handjobs at a “glory hole”. Along with the cash, Maggie gains renewed self-confidence, realising that she’s not as old, unattractive and useless as she had believed herself to be. But then it transpires that Soho, where she renders her sexually hygienic services, is not a million miles away from the conservative suburb where Maggie lives, and her clandestine existence begins to raise the suspicions of both her son and her inquisitive neighbours alike, when Maggie comes up with the 6000 quid for her grandson’s treatment. But even when everything comes to light, Maggie refuses to let this get her down … But this emancipation is somewhat paradoxical: while her job is extremely other-directed, at the same time it teaches autonomy from dusty bourgeois conventions, where dignity (or the illusion of it) requires permanent struggle.

In the end, her son respects her decision, her grandson flies to Australia and Maggie lives with Miki happily in Soho.
End of story? Perhaps it is this surprisingly melodramatic happy end that should alarm the spectator about the movie’s subversiveness. What comes along as a comedy is in fact a bitter caricature of a miserable, relentless and bitter society, where all human relationships are rendered in terms of money and competition. This movie was made in UK, but it appears that it won’t take long before Germany or any other place of the globalised world could host it. It is real: a disease that is not covered by insurance can ruin one’s life in less than four months time.

Everything is subdued to a system of utilisation, human existence is instrumentalized. Who has nothing to offer but his hands, will sell his hands for wanking, even the left one, if the right one does not work anymore due to penis-arm problems. Sex becomes entirely depersonalised and an extravagant factory job for an aproned masturbation ferry — human existence trapped in social structures, conventions and behavioural patterns prostituting all and everything while its protagonists feel nothing but sneering contempt for what they consider perverted whores.

This awsome ethical exporation leads astonishingly to a happy end, as strange as a movie miracle can be. But perhaps is even that final kind of kitsch a critical turning point of the movie demonstrating that self-determination by increased alienation is a contradiction in itself? The politically not correct and romantic tragicomedy turnes into a bitter and satirical diatribe about political and social structures that are forcibly installed allover the globalised world. “Deregulation”, “liberalisation”, “flexibility” and “self-determination” in this system liberalise capital flow reducing individuals to simple variables within a deregulated growth of economy, and leaving no room for real self-determined agency. In this line of thought the movie presents the bitter teaching for the socially deprived and the HartzIV-pack grannies: learn some wanking and help yourself!

Written by huehueteotl

July 5, 2007 at 9:03 am

Posted in Movies/Books, Music

Music And The Brain

with one comment

The long supposed connection between mind and music has been further demonstrated by an international collaboration of physicists led by Simone Bianco and Paolo Grigolini at the Center for Nonlinear Science at the University of North Texas. A statistical analysis reveals a remarkable similarity between the distributions produced by music compositions and brain activity.

Brain activity was monitored through an electroencephalograph (EEG), which records electrical signals on the surface of the brain. The musical compositions were analyzed based on the melody, harmony, rhythm, pitch, and timber among other factors.

Researchers mapped brain activity and the compositions by regions of similarity punctuated by jumps where a significant change occurred. The data illustrated the similarity between patterns of electrical signals in the brain and of musical compositions.

In addition, the team determined a complexity index for the compositions and brain function, a number to describe the intricacy of either the musical patterns or electrical signals. The complexity indices for both patterns were less than two. This suggests that both the brain and the composition are self-organized, but in the case of the composition, it probably reflects the self-organized mind of the composer. The interpretation of the complexity index remains a question for further research.

In future experiments, researchers will monitor the brain activity of participants who are listening to music. This study will assess whether the complexity of a participant’s brain activity is affected by the complexity of the composition. In addition, they will seek “fits” where the complexity of the music resembles the brain activity of the listener. If the physcists’ hypothesis is correct, the fit between a composition and your brain activity helps determine your musical preferences


Brain, Music and non-Poisson Renewal Processes

Authors: Simone Bianco, Massimiliano Ignaccolo, Mark S. Rider, Mary J. Ross, Phil Winsor, Paolo Grigolini

(Submitted on 19 Oct 2006 (v1), last revised 16 Mar 2007 (this version, v3))

Abstract: In this paper we show that both music composition and brain function, as revealed by the Electroencephalogram (EEG) analysis, are renewal non-Poisson processes living in the non-ergodic dominion. To reach this important conclusion we process the data with the minimum spanning tree method, so as to detect significant events, thereby building a sequence of times, which is the time series to analyze. Then we show that in both cases, EEG and music composition, these significant events are the signature of a non-Poisson renewal process. This conclusion is reached using a techniques of statistical analysis recently developed by our group, the Aging Experiment (AE). First, we find that in both cases the distances between two consecutive events are described by non-exponential histograms, thereby proving the non-Poisson nature of these processes. The corresponding survival probabilities $\Psi(t)$ are well fitted by stretched exponentials ($\Psi(t) \propto exp(-(\gamma t)^\alpha$), with $0.5

Written by huehueteotl

June 17, 2007 at 2:33 am

Posted in Arts, HIV, Music, Science