Lesson Plan

A few topics on the table for this week’s JosephZooom session:

The recent auction of a truly iconic guitar, Les Paul #1, built and “modded” by the man himself, Les Paul. Not the first electric guitar, but the first one that EVERYONE wanted to play. (I’m a Telecaster guy, finding the LP a bit too heavy for comfort.) Spoiler Alert: I thought this guitar would sell for well over $1 million. I was wrong.

WIRED Magazine reveals a new extended musical composition by an artist known as BT, being offered as a non-fungible token (NFT) via blockchain. (Truly, I did not know any of that lingo one year ago, and I’m not sure I want to fully understand it now, but it is something that is happening in the world.) Anyway, BT has released GENESIS.JSON, a piece of software that contains 24 hours of original music and visual art. It features 15,000 individually sequenced audio and video clips that he created from scratch.

CHARLES IVES (October 20, 1874 – May 19, 1954)

We may steer then to a discussion of “extended technique,” which finds composers pushing the limits of instruments to dramatic effect. In reviewing this list I was grateful to recognise most — but not all — of them, mostly having been exposed to their work by various rock and pop artists. Everyone from Bowie to Zappa has cited the influence of innovators like Stravinsky, Cage, Berlioz, Ives, and Schoenberg.

In northern Thailand, the traditional music is call molam. The primary instruments are bamboo wind pipes and phin guitar, but the vocalists are most celebrated for their command of various lam styles. This article remembers the work of the late National Artist Bunpheng Faiphiuchai, the “queen of molam,” who by the year 1955 had recorded more vinyl albums than any woman in the genre. When in Rome, as they say. I love exploring Thai music. Sadly, there is no exposure for it in the West.

Should be an interesting “class” on Charles Ives’ birthday!

Published by billpaige

Interested parties are first directed to my memoir, “Everything I Know I Learned From Rock Stars” (Eckhartz Press). While I have taken music therapy classes and read extensively about music’s effect on the brain, I am NOT professionally trained -- just a music lover who recognizes that everyone benefits from music. Giving that gift to special needs youth is highly rewarding, but again, my process is intuitive, not academic. I draw largely on personal experience. I’ve spent most of my 67 years observing a wide world of music, from working as a music critic professionally for 20 years, and holding positions in music companies in the 1970s and 1990s. Since 1990, however, I have focused on learning more about music and improving as a singer, guitarist, and performer, both solo and in ensemble settings.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: