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Political Rites

For the past 80 years, I have started each day in the same manner,” Pablo Casals told his biographer when he was 93. “It is a sort of benediction to the house. I go to the piano, and I play two preludes and fugues of Bach.” Then, Casals would stretch his legs, admire the dew […]

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End Transmission

Early on in her debut essay collection, Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession, Alice Bolin gives us a definition of the Dead Girl genre: highlighted by the dark specter of a deceased female character—more often than not murdered—who is depicted with an alternating degree of mature sexualization and infantilizing naiveté that earns her […]

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Binky Listens

On a 2014 episode of the beloved Canadian-American kid’s show “Arthur,” everyone is getting into this really weird band—except for Binky. Known among his classmates for having refined musical taste and talent, Binky decides to listen to the band only after another character, Muffy, teasingly suggests that “it might be too sophisticated” for him. “Too […]

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Hearing Queerly

Sometimes we produced sounds that lasted over an hour. If it was a loud sound my ears would often not regain their normal hearing for several hours, and when my hearing slowly did come back it was almost as much a new experience as when I had first begun to hear the sound. These experiences […]

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Border Lament

For a second or two it could be a playground: Tiny voices cry. Then they keep crying, panting for air from the crying, their voices wavering from the exhaustion from the crying and the panting. “I don’t want them to stop my father,” a child says. “I don’t want them to deport him.” The response […]

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Indigo Moods

Depression and the Act of Listening By · Photography NASA / Space Telescope Science Institute · Date 6/7/2018 All music is mood music. There is party music, from Parliament to “Eine kleine Nachtmusik,” there is music, like Air Cushion Finish and Mompou, to induce waking dreams and soothe the savage breast, and there is music, […]

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Sound Is The Placebo

In Search of the Musical Occult By · Title Image The Temple of Music, Robert Fludd (1574–1637) · Date 5/24/2018 “It hasn’t got any FLAPS!” A man in a pinstriped suit shouts at a customer trying to sell him a limited edition John & Yoko box set. I am in a very niche shop of […]

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Platétudes

Musical activism reached its zenith in the wake of the political turbulence of the 1960s and ‘70s. From Bob Dylan’s “With God on Our Side” to Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come,” the cold war era was a time when people, even faced with the prospect of global annihilation, still believed in the power […]

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The Halls Are Alive

The Concert Hall in the 21st Century By · Photos NYPL (Public Domain) · Date 4/12/2018 So many facets of classical music culture are holdovers from the 19th century and at odds with 21st century society. To name just a few examples: the sacralization of classical music; the deification of its (male) composers; the snobbery […]