Music and Vision homepage

MV3 -- Gordon Rumson and Keith Bramich visit the world of music online

Music & Vision's monthly column -

Mats Wendt: Eddan: The Invincible Sword of the ElvSmith

Sometimes one finds magic. I did when I went to this site. Within a few seconds of the first sounds I knew I was in the world created by a real composer. Atmospheric but constructed with inner steel, Mats Wendt is clearly doing something special: music of mystery, enchantment and great beauty. Here is something extraordinary. I can't say I've listened to all 158 sections (which starts at number five because the first four are not complete yet) of this Norse cosmological 'suite' and without a menu for all of the sections I'm a little mystified at where it's going. The site itself is graphic intensive and not terribly intuitive (some menus are hidden behind the graphics, and there's little way to know which ones) but the music makes it worthwhile. Hats off...

Angela Lear: Concert Pianist

Chopin is at the core of the repertoire for the piano. His music, while almost exclusively for that instrument yet reaches to cosmic realms. He is one of the greatest masters of music. UK pianist Angela Lear has spent 30 years in a study of Chopin and the results of her endeavors are available on CD and at this web site, where thankfully, we can hear entire selections. Her performance of the famous Nocturne in E flat is fascinating for the embellishments (all authentic) that she adds. I listened to the Scherzo in C sharp minor with a knowing ear (as this used to be in my repertoire) and I can tell you she plays it very well. Steely octaves and glittering passage work, Angela Lear can clearly play the piano at a very high level. Keep an eye on Music & Vision because I plan to write about her latest CD. But in the meantime check out her site and listen to Chopin in the hands of an excellent pianist, musician and scholar.

Huygens-Fokker Foundation
Centre for Microtonal Music

The piano, that blessed instrument, has brought us music of the highest inspiration. It has also set a pattern before us of five black and seven white notes not to be argued with. Those are the pitches and that's what music is made of. Well, not really. There's a huge amount of music in the cracks, in between the notes of the piano, as anyone familiar with Arabic, East Indian or real Blues can tell you. But Western Art Music has not really thought about those cracks for at least 150 years. We listeners believe in Equal Temperament (a musical form of political equal representation and achieved at virtually the same time, interestingly enough).

This site is devoted to all the other myriads of musics that are not based on Equal Temperament. The site has sound and MIDI files so you can hear and get used to the alternatives. A quick scan will reveal just how many options there are. I was interested to discover that that quintessential American hobo Harry Partch has an English Society! Heavens, what are the ways of the world....?!!! The people who do this sort of thing are amazing. Their knowledge base is vast and their intellectual acumen prodigious. In all likelihood some were headbangers who failed lamentably at school. Too bad for the education system. These people are brilliant. The music is interesting, engaging and frequently very beautiful, in a non-Equal-Temperament sort of way.

The sites that have no names...Thankfully

I surf, I search, I listen. I follow links, I follow odd clues. I take chances. Sometimes I find music like Mats Wendt. Sometimes I find...something else. I will not now or ever name names or list sites. Don't ask me backchannel. I won't tell what horrors I have heard, what frightful music, what dreadful performances and insipid music making.

The web allows anyone to put up for the world to hear, anything at all. Some of the dross is immensely profitable (pornographic sites are virtually the only e-businesses that make money) and some are not. It's just dross. It is sad testimony to read of an MP3 site with $12.00 in earnings only to listen and be surprised that anyone paid that much.

After this all I can say is beware: do not put anything on the web unless you are sure that it is the best that you can do, drawn from the very fibers of your nerves and the marrow of your bones. Put all vanity aside and relentlessly pursue the ideal. You may catch it, you may not, but if you do not follow that fleeing goddess then oblivion awaits. I wish oblivion on no one. And I'm going to practice, practice and practice...

All best wishes to all for artistic success, Gordon Rumson


Copyright © 2 April 2001 Gordon Rumson, Calgary, Alberta, Canada


 << Music & Vision home                     Last month >>