2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 34,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 13 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

More popular than God. Or football.*

Proper Discord

A number of people have written to me over the last two weeks, asking why** I’d wade into a ridiculous debate like “Is classical music dead/dying?”

It’s not complicated. It’s because the ideas they promote do real harm. These dumbass articles make my job harder, and for no good reason. Commissions don’t get sponsored. Recordings don’t get made. Events don’t get coverage. Broadcasts don’t happen. Organs don’t get mended. Concerts don’t get booked. Startups don’t get funded. Music doesn’t get made.

It might seem like talking in dramatic terms about the challenges facing our industry would be the way to get people to take them seriously. In truth, though, the people who need to take these issues seriously are already doing it. Proclaiming “the end is nigh” just makes it harder for us to get anything done.

It’s really that simple. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve pitched…

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“Classical music is dead! No, classical music is in great shape! You know what? I don’t want to play for either team in this game.”

Black & White
Black & White

Black & White

The title of this post is from a Facebook status on Anne Midgette’s wall (or timeline, or whatever FB is calling it these days). I responded with “Since it’s not a black an[d] white issue, you don’t have to play for either team. There’s always the middle ground grey area!”

False Dichotomy, Binary Fallacy, Black/White Fallacy, Bifurcation Fallacy, False Dilemma, Either/Or Fallacy–whichever of its many names we use it is one of the most pervasive biases in human reasoning. As you can see from my neat little graphic above, for any two options (that aren’t negations of each other) there are actually four outcomes. No matter how “opposite” they may seem to each other, you can only collapse to two outcomes if you have one option and its negation.

From the image it’s easy to see how the negation of both can simply be reached by having something that’s “red” which is neither white, nor black. The lower left corner is both white and black, which could be interpreted as grey, or as some logicians who deal with polyvalent logics interpret it, it could refer to the state of certain quantum mechanical properties such as the wave/particle duality or possibly Schroedinger’s Cat.

The state of Classical Music as a whole is somewhere in this grey area and only by highlighting some subset of it to create Straw Men parodies of the industry can you come to the conclusion that it’s perfectly healthy or rapidly approaching death.

I’ve dealt with this and other bias issues a couple of times in past blogpostsonce nearly three years ago–and don’t really want to re-visit it much here.  But sometimes I really do wish I’d followed through on my plans to go into Comparative Neurocognition when I took that break from music so many years ago…

“I’m gonna start my day at the Anatomy of Amanda F-ing Palmer. While I sometimes disagree with Ms. Palmer about things (crowd funding helps incumbent artists like myself but not necessarily unknown artists) there is no denying that she has set a bold example for how independent artists can operate in this day and age.”

The Trichordist

I am fortunate enough to attend SXSW this year as fan, artist and as a panelist.  So much good stuff to see.  But here are some highlights.

March 13th. 12:30pm I’m gonna start my day at the Anatomy of Amanda F-ing Palmer.  While I sometimes disagree with Ms. Palmer about things  (crowd funding helps incumbent artists like myself but not necessarily unknown artists)  there is no denying that she has set a bold example for how independent artists can operate in this day and age.  Before her Kickstarter success the conversation was about whether artists should be paid to record at all.  You know,  sell T-shirts and such.   Thanks to Ms. Palmer, the conversation is now about how artists should be paid to record.

March 13th  4:00 pm.   Camper Van Beethoven at the Brooklyn Vegan Party.


March 13th 7:00 pm  Camper Van Beethoven at the Make Your Mark…

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I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like had I gone into mathematics rather than music. Given that I’d practically quit playing the cello for close to eight years during a time I was seriously considering pursuing a field that can only be referred to as “Comparative Neurolinguistcs” and how much the understanding of cognitive biases informs my understanding of the economic and social issues I tend to blog about here I’m still surprised that I haven’t made the leap into the sciences rather than sticking to the arts. This post by Fire & Air probably reflects some of my frustration with artists and arts advocates!

Fire and Air

… and how many people are always shocked at how scientists are so well-rounded. This musing is of course occasioned by the Mars landing but has been ruminated upon by me before.

How many more Cliburn amateur competition winners with doctorates in chemistry do there have to be before we ditch the pocket-protector stereotype that the rest of the world seems to cling to? Even your humble blogger has a very, very hard science past. There’s the lately-ubiquitous Zoe Keating, ex-technologist who was able to blend her tech knowledge with music in a way that’s gotten her a ton of acclaim. Hell, even NASA’s skinny-Elvis EDL team lead engineer is a bass guitarist who previously aimed for a career in music. (Twenty bucks says that guy’s got ink.) Plus the various people I knew in grad school, lots of them. And NASA’s past crop of shuttle astronauts…

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