Hugh Masekela dies

[Taking a break from the CES 2018 show report. ]

Hugh Masekela dies. This is a GREAT rendition of Stimela from 2015 [this is a classic song played at many high-end audio shows and also found on one of the Burmester test CDs]. Wish we could say that we are closer to ending the struggle…

There is a train that comes from Namibia and Malawi
There is a train that comes from Zambia and Zimbabwe
There is a train that comes from Angola and Mozambique
From Lesotho, from Botswana, from Swaziland
From all the hinterlands of Southern and Central Africa.
This train carries young and old men who are conscripted to come and work on contract
In the Gold and Mineral mines of Johannesburg and the surrounding provinces and Metropolis
16 hours or more a day, for almost no pay.
Deeeeeeep, deeeeeep deeeeep, deeeeeep, deeeeeep, deeeep
Deeeep,deeep, deep, down in the belly of the earth
When they’re digging and drilling for that shiny mighty evasive stone.
Or when they dish their mish-mash-mush food
Into their iron plates
With their iron shovel.
Or when they sit in their stinky, filthy, funky, flee-ridden barracks and hostels
And they think about their loved ones they may never see again,
Because they might have been forcibly removed from where they last left them
Or winterly murdered in the herd of night
By raving and marauding gangs of no particular origin – so we are told!
They think about their land and their herds that were taken away from them,
With the gun and the canon,
With the collaborator and the dog
And the teargas and the poison.
With the Bomb and the gasoline,
And when they hear that chu-chu train –
Smoking and-a-pushing and-a-climbing
And-a-hustling and-a-crying and-a-moaning
And-a-toting and and-a-steaming and-a-crying
And-a-moaning and-a-pushing and-a-grumbling
And-a-moaning and-a-climbing and-a-crying
And-a-screaming and-a-squishing
They always cuss, and they curse the coal train,
The coal train that brought them to Johannesburg.

Music is THE Drug

We all know here that all music is drug-like, to a greater or lesser extent, but there is actually a technical paper where its effect has apparently has been scientifically measured.

TL;DR Now we just need a study that does this same test with four specific tests: with both consumer-grade and audiophile-grade equipment [readers of this blog know what we mean by that], as well as with audiophiles vs. non-audiophiles [do audiophiles get more than average levels of dopamine, and that is why we are audiophiles? Or are we just smarter, going for a safe, clean, harmless (albeit expensive) source of dopamine – kind of on the QT, everyone else thinking we are just ‘listening to music’ :-)].

And I would bet that casual listening produces less dopamine [but probably more than zero] than focused listening.

There was a paper published a few years ago in Nature, in 2011, that documented the response in self-chosen music lovers [they get ‘goosebumps’] which revealed rises in dopamine both in anticipation of enjoyable parts of their favorite music, as well as in response to hearing the favorite parts.

Anatomically distinct dopamine release during anticipation and experience of peak emotion to music

Wired has a nice article about these results [only the abstract is currently free, afaict]

“While [some] theories of music focused on the way a noise can refer to the real world of images and experiences (its “connotative” meaning), Meyer [musicologist Leonard Meyer, in his classic book Emotion and Meaning in Music (1956),]argued that the emotions we find in music come from the unfolding events of the music itself. This “embodied meaning” arises from the patterns the symphony invokes and then ignores, from the ambiguity it creates inside its own form. “For the human mind,” Meyer writes, “such states of doubt and confusion are abhorrent. When confronted with them, the mind attempts to resolve them into clarity and certainty.” And so we wait, expectantly, for the resolution…”

We have talked about the “connotative” meaning in some older posts, how music and its patterns anf fractal nature reflect back to us both nature as well the complicated forces and dynamics of our personal lives.

But anticipation, has sometimes been associated with PRaT, but overtime I, like probably many of you, have experienced [enjoyed!] many kinds of anticipations in music, not just the resolution [repeat] of a mathematical pattern [e.g. the Leonard Meyer idea. I would guess the whole idea of ‘refrain’ is another popular example], but anticipations caused by varying the timing of the beat slightly [jazz seems to do a lot with this], rises in frequency over several measures as we wait for the return to normalcy, or more blunt methods like the beginning of Dire Strait’s I Want My MTV. And no doubt many more.


[Love is also the drug – Roxy Music is right – but this blog is about music, so… :-)]

Neil Young – Live in Omemee, Ontario

Neil Young – Live in Omemee, Ontario.

Neil streamed live from his home town in Ontario [before he moved to Winnipeg] last night for an hour and a half

Very intimate. Played by himself in a small hall built by the same architect who built Massey Hall [where a somewhat recent live album was recorded]. He played mostly old standards with a few new songs, often politically relevant, thrown into the mix.

He played on a several acoustic guitars, two pianos, at least two harmonicas and an organ.

This is my favorite style of Neil Young concert. By far. Even though I love his electronic stuff and his, uh, more experimental stuff [and love that he does, in fact, experiment with different music genres]. But the intimate venue, with his ability to put so much emotion into his voice [and last night his instruments as well], with the emotional responses from the audience so readily audible, it is just such an honest and forthright and compassionate and human an experience. Hard to find these these days where the vibe is more, as he put it, “bringing out some old ideas – like marching criminals through the streets”.

We watched it streaming on Facebook. It was also shown live on a Canadian TV network.

He mentioned the live stream a few times. Neil seems to have a love hate relationship with technology. I remember him working many years ago with Sun Microsystems [now Oracle] to develop a fuel-less car [out of an old Chevy or something. Sorry, too lazy to look it up myself]. And of course more recently PONO [the technology of which is now branded as MQA… without, it appears to me, Neil’s okeedokee].

Anyway, at the end of the concert, he said something to the effect: “.. and these days, a lot of you were probably watching 12 other things at the same time. Keep on doing that. We still love you.”

Sonically, the sound was good. As good as these things ever get, I think, from listening to lots of YouTube music concerts over the years. The Facebook player kind of stopped working after about an hour, and we had to reload the page finally, missing the first half of Helpless. The bass on the at least one guitar didn’t decay as rapidly as one might expect, but this might have been the way that it really sounded.

And they sounded awesome. I was thinking that if I ever got another acoustic guitar, I wanted it sound like these. These, old, beat-up, obviously well-loved guitars. I do not think any of the soundboards [the area around the sound hole] had any color left on them, the finish and maybe even the veneer [if any] worn clear through. He spent sometime showing how a guitar from Steven Stills, who purportedly got it from a musician who got shot while playing a Neil Young song [kind of a wink at fake news], and showed how the front soundboard had a significant area of the wood replaced, where the bullet went in, and how he had finessed the place where it came out [if this was truly a bullet’s trajectory, my guess is that it would have missed the musician at the time]. Guitar sounded great by the way.

Similarly, he brought his very old pianos with him as well up here into the wilderness of Canada [and we complain about shipping speakers up there]. And an old tree stump that was given to him by the “First Nations” down in Nebraska many years ago when trying to bring attention to the problems caused when we try to run leaky oil pipelines long distances.

The concert was both a homecoming of sorts and an attempt to raise money for the school where his father went. It also helped publicize that the Neil Young Archives are now open [recommend logging in with Facebook or Google and NOT TYPING YOUR PASSWORD there – it is an unsecure page].

The songs of the new albums sounded great, can’t wait to add it to our collection [one of our largest].

Neil Young – always from the heart and still relevant after all these years.