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The Choral Contrarians
54 minutes | 2 days ago
The Guy in the Gorilla Suit
Richard and Eric take a look at a 2017 Australian research paper that correlates openness to experience and binocular rivalry. The researchers found some very interesting perceptual outcomes, including a connection to inattentional blindness (made famous by the 'Invisible Gorilla' experiment), but does anything found have anything to do with our musical practice (especially for conductors)? It is seen to be true that openness to experience, wonder, and awe are linked to perceptual awareness — how does this play out in teaching and the ensemble experience? Will we miss the guy in the gorilla suit?Antinori, A., Carter, O. L., & Smillie, L. D. (2017). Seeing it both ways: Openness to experience and binocular rivalry suppression. Journal of Research in Personality, 68, 15–22. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2017.03.005Goldhill, O. (2017, June 6). Being open-minded literally changes the way you see the world. Quartz. https://qz.com/997679/open-minded-people-have-a-different-visual-perception-of-reality/Smillie, L., & Smillie, L. (2017, August 15). Openness to Experience: The Gates of the Mind. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/openness-to-experience-the-gates-of-the-mind/
73 minutes | 9 days ago
Sacred Cow Tipping: Blend
Richard and Eric venture out to tip over a most beautiful sacred cow: choral blend. What are people actually talking about when they ask for "blend?" Though being slightly more ambiguous than conductors would like to admit, it remains a top priority for many. We all want the choirs we hear to sound good, but what could we all be missing if we focus on "blend" too much, or put it above other aspects of the music-making experience. Are there potential alternatives or perhaps different ways of getting at what "blend" is, perhaps even creating a more vibrant, unified musical experience? https://blog.chrisrowbury.com/2018/04/the-7-elements-of-vocal-blend-and-how.htmlhttp://www.markdavinobenza.com/2012/07/choral-blend-better-way-to-get-it-with.htmlhttps://www.classicalmpr.org/story/2015/07/27/weston-noble-the-legacy-of-an-american-choral-giant
70 minutes | 12 days ago
Anúna and Sean-nós (feat. Michael McGlynn)
Eric sits down to chat with one of Ireland's preeminent composers and musicians: Michael McGlynn. They speak about the early days of Anúna, what the group has grown into, and its global influence over the course of its illustrious 33 year history. They also spend some time speaking about how "Sean-nós" singing has directly, and indirectly, effected the model Anuna and Michael's own choral philosophy. What exactly is "Sean-nós"? Does integrating this concept into a choral paradigm challenge certain established norms believed by a good many choral conductors? Is there something beautiful and powerful that Anúna is tapping into that would be worth to dwell on and pursue?Pieces by Michael McGlynn (sung by Anúna) included:"Salve Rex Gloriae""Amhran na Gaoithe""Quis Quis""The Rising of the Sun"www.michaelmcglynn.comwww.anuna.ie
80 minutes | a month ago
Richard and Eric dig into listener emails to answer some questions and comments.The short-form topics and questions covered are 1) CPDL (Choral Public Domain Library) and attribution, 2) publishing houses and their domination of reading sessions, 3) DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts) recipients and their perceived preparedness in certain choral styles/eras, and 4) the choral world's general relationship with composers who are considered luminary or celebrity.Thanks for the emails, questions, encouragements, and comments. Please keep them coming!
58 minutes | a month ago
Richard and Eric discuss the moment and some psychological ramifications that have developed over the recent months, both individually and collectively within the choral arena. They land on a word not often used, but perhaps necessary for the times: "trudge."
68 minutes | 2 months ago
Do you constantly feel like an imposter, just waiting to be found out to be the fraud that you think you are? For their first episode of Season 3, Richard and Eric take a peek at the real-life phenomenon known as "imposter syndrome," as well as the five types of ways this is seen to manifest in individuals. During the covid-19 season, this particular psychological pattern may be more prevalent than ever. For those that struggle with this periodically, or habitually, they land on something to dwell on that may assist.They also welcome a very important new sponsor: The "Louis XV Cravat Facemask".Abrams, A. (2018, June 20). Yes, Impostor Syndrome Is Real. Here’s How to Deal With It. Time. https://time.com/5312483/how-to-deal-with-impostor-syndrome/Langford, J., & Clance, P. R. (1993). The imposter phenomenon: Recent research findings regarding dynamics, personality and family patterns and their implications for treatment. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 30(3), 495–501. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-322.214.171.1245
66 minutes | 4 months ago
We are (most certainly) Dwarves.
Richard and Eric take a dive into the concept of profession scalability articulated by essayist and scholar Nassim Taleb. After defining terms, they ask whether the current conductor/music-teacher profession model is changing rapidly into something very different. How has the 2020 pandemic (and the internet/technology intersection) perhaps shaped the future of the profession? Could we be in store for something unrecognizable, sooner than later? They finally realize they are (most certainly) dwarves.Taleb, N. N. (2014). Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder (Incerto) (Reprint ed.). Random House Trade Paperbacks.Taleb, N. N. (2010). The Black Swan: Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable: With a new section: “On Robustness and Fragility” (Incerto) (2nd ed.). Random House Trade Paperbacks.
73 minutes | 5 months ago
Richard and Eric essentially live out the Dunning-Kruger effect by talking about the Dunning-Kruger effect. They introduce the concept and land on an important question: To what degree do we recognize incompetence — not just in others, but in ourselves? Does it matter? This troubling phenomenon is seemingly (and unfortunately) a ubiquitous feature of the human psyche.Kruger, J., & Dunning, D. (1999). Unskilled and unaware of it: How difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77(6), 1121–1134. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.1991Dunning, D., Johnson, K., Ehrlinger, J., & Kruger, J. (2003). Why People Fail to Recognize Their Own Incompetence. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12(3), 83–87. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8721.01235https://www.verywellmind.com/an-overview-of-the-dunning-kruger-effect-4160740
77 minutes | 5 months ago
The Present Past of T.S. Eliot
Richard and Eric dive into the deep end of the pool in seeing how T.S. Eliot's "Tradition and the Individual Talent" may intersect with music. This surprisingly short essay (which is hailed as perhaps the best essay of the 20th Century) shows off Eliot's rare genius of getting to the bottom of things as eloquently and powerfully as possible. Beyond poetry, there is indeed quite a bit that is relevant to a number of other artist endeavors, including various aspects of music and music-making. This is an incredibly thought-provoking essay to think through for the discerning conductor, composer, or performer, especially amid our current conception of 'voice,' and our increasing obsession with relevance, self, and self-expression.Essay may be read here:https://www.poetryfoundation.org/articles/69400/tradition-and-the-individual-talentDettmar, K. (2019). A Hundred Years of T.S. Eliot's "Tradition and the Individual Talent". The New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/a-hundred-years-of-t-s-eliots-tradition-and-the-individual-talent
40 minutes | 6 months ago
Contrarian Short: Arvo Pärt. Feat. Timothy Tharaldson
Composer and Conductor, Timothy Tharaldson, joins Eric to speak about his unique, recent visit to the Arvo Pärt Centre in Laulasmaa, Estonia. They celebrate not only his experience, but Pärt as a composer and human being.Arvo Pärt Centre:https://www.arvopart.ee/en/Timothy Tharaldson:https://timothytharaldson.com/
85 minutes | 7 months ago
Collective Memory Decay
Richard and Eric look into a fascinating phenomenon: Collective Memory Decay. Owing much to the work of the Cesar A. Hidalgo and the Collective Learning group at the MIT Media Lab, this concept looks generally (and specifically) into the interaction between culture and memory. Can we learn something from the way pieces of information are shared and retained by large number of people. This study resulted in a truly fun and compelling data set entitled the "Pantheon Project: Historical Popularity Index" the guys excitedly explore. What can we learn about composers and musicians when they are seen side-by-side, regardless of genre or era?https://www.kaggle.com/mit/pantheon-projecthttp://nautil.us/issue/68/context/how-well-forget-john-lennon
77 minutes | 7 months ago
Shh... Audiate and Whatnot. Feat. Dr. Jeremiah Cawley
Eric is joined by friend of the cast Dr. Jeremiah Cawley to discuss what in the world musicians (students, teachers, and professionals) can do to continue growing during the silence of isolation. Many musicians are thrust into awkward living situations where traditional practice regimens are not feasible or even possible. What types of things can we do or practice instead to make a "musical deposit" towards the future when collaboration may begin again in earnest. Are there are things that could be done, whether in isolation or normal times?Some resources mentioned in podcast:- Edlund, L. (1963). MODUS NOVUS Larobok I Fritonal Melodilasning Lehrbuch in Freitonaler Melodielesung, Studies in Reading Atonal Melodies. AB Nordiska Musikforlaget/Edition Wilhelm Hansen Stockholm.- Hall, A. C. (2005). Studying rhythm. New Jersey: Pearson Education. - Hindemith, P. (n.d.). Elementary training for musicians. London: Schott & Co. Ltd . - Rogers, N., & Ottman, R. W. (2019). Music for sight singing. New York: Pearson.
68 minutes | 7 months ago
What do cyborg arms, Pampered Chef, truth, lies, and influential composers have in common? Nothing! Take a dive into some game time with Richard and Eric as they have fun (for once).
60 minutes | 8 months ago
Living in Zoom
Richard, who has been living in Zoom, must be rescued by Eric and brought back to the corporeal with the power of the *beep bop boop.* They discuss how the use of technology could continue to grow and be implemented by conductors and musicians after the initial wave of global pandemic. What could be some long term ramifications? Eric ends up uploading his mind to the interwebs.
51 minutes | 8 months ago
From the Bunker
Richard and Eric riff on what's going on from their isolated bunkers. What are a just couple ways that choral music could be effected by this pandemic? Be safe, be healthy, be well everyone!
33 minutes | 9 months ago
Inspired at Home
With Richard gone, Eric goes solo to give some inspiration for those who are staying home from the choral conventions taking place nationwide in the United States this week. He spends time with an excerpt from Howard Swan's "Conscience of a Profession," and looks at what we can do to stay present and inspiring for those we interact with on the home front.H. Swan. "Conscience of a Profession." Hinshaw Music. (June 1, 1987).
52 minutes | 9 months ago
Sacred Cow Tipping: Them Themes
Richard and Eric hobnob about the concept of 'theme' in music programming. Do themes play too prevalent of a role in the programming craft of a choral conductor? What's the purpose of a theme anyway, and what might it look like to have program without any theme? Perhaps a theme is inevitable, but its worth thinking about to keep things in context.
66 minutes | 10 months ago
Canon goes Boom!
Richard and Eric make their return after a short winter hiatus. They begin 2020 discussing the choral "canon" and some composers therein. What is it? What do we do with it or how do we engage with it? Does it matter whether we engage with it or not nowadays? Should we care that some "great" composers may find themselves generally forgotten?https://www.classicfm.com/discover-music/latest/most-underrated-composers/https://culture.pl/en/article/many-composers-have-been-erased-from-history-an-interview-with-marcin-swiatkiewicz
83 minutes | a year ago
What's the Point?
Richard and Eric respond to a small excerpt about Nora Ephron found in Greg McKeown's wonderful book: "Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less." Finding out "the point" of something is worth considering, and the two try to figure it out as it relates to the choral art and conducting. Perhaps an impossible task... They go so far as to ask what is the point of discovering the point? McKeown, G. (2014). Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. Ebury Publishing.
46 minutes | a year ago
Bring Your Tired...
Richard and Eric broach the subject and philosophy of being within the ensemble. How 'real' are we really willing to get with the people around us? When we enter a space, do we think it is important to 'leave everything at the door?' How do we navigate being tired or depressed? How do we encourage others who are dealing with that same tiredness? The guys land on some encouraging conclusions.
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