Monthly Archives: May 2011


Is it neurotic of me, after spending an afternoon with some people I knew only sort of peripherally yesterday, to be worried when one of them posts a blog post today about people who always Think They Are Right? When I didn’t notice anything of that general dynamic happening in the conversations?

The fact that I didn’t notice it means one of three things: they gathered with other people yesterday and that’s when the triggering behavior occured…or the post had nothing whatsoever to do with anything that happened yesterday and she in fact even schedules her posts ahead of time like I do…or I was doing it myself, and didn’t realize, because that’s the nature of people who Alwasys Think They Are Right…

Yes, it’s probably neurotic.

But I’m still not going to comment on her blog today.

Who Reads Textbooks over Summer Vacation? Me.

I am really, really excited to have discovered Liz Garnett’s work. Her book Choral Conducting and the Construction of Meaning is something I’m dying to read–it’s too damn expensive to just buy, though, and at the moment the one copy in my university library is out. (I’ll wait till the quarter is over and try again. I have the advantage of being a Total Geek Who Can’t Even Wait Till School Starts to start reading textbooks…) If the synopses are to be believed, and there’s no reason they are not, she’s already doing work in the ethnography of choral conducting and power relationships in the rehearsal setting, which gives me hope that some of the earlier levels of the work I want to do for my thesis has already been done, and I can build on it–i.e., less broad stroke work I’ll need to do before getting to The Good Stuff, and an established scholar’s base of legitimacy to the research.

(She’s got a blog too–full of great info.)

Then there’s Janet Barrett…another choral person working very close to home in the area of qualitative research in the rehearsal setting. Finding scholars working in these kinds of areas lessens my fear that I won’t find support for my hoped-for thesis area…

The candy shop is just getting bigger and bigger.


Okay, guilty.  Very, very guilty.

The Case—Please Hear Me Out—Against the Em Dash

Modern prose doesn’t need any more interruptions—seriously.

Okay, this makes me squirm big time. I didn’t even know what the “em dash” was, but I know I use it the way I use the parmesan shaker at an Italian restaurant with really good bread and aromatic fruity olive oil at the table–generously and with abandon. (I’m occasionally redundant as well.) My use of parentheses and ellipsis…well, you can see for yourself.

Fact is, though, on a blog I like to write the way I think.  And I think in em dashes and ellipses. With a lot of parentheticals. It’s my damn blog, and I’ll write any damn way I like.

The other fact is that when I’m writing something “real”–an article or book or what-have-you–I do a first draft that’s as full of em dashes and the rest as anything else I write (dammit, now I’m all self-conscious about using it, even in my stream of consciousness!), and then I purge thickly. (I also purge of parenthetical comments and adverbs like “thickly.” And excessive quotation marks, another annoying habit.) Even in emails, I am conscious of the receiver and my relationship with him or her, and “voice” the note accordingly after the first spewing of mental thoughts onto the screen.

Yes, I guess em dashes are inefficient. But sometimes efficiency is a pain in the butt. I will keep my em dashes, thank you very much.

(Hmm…I’m even looking at this email, and wondering if there’s a semiotic study or something in this whole issue…when I’m being solid and emphatic, I use brief, even incomplete sentences with a lot of periods.  When I’m musing or rambling, out come the em dashes and ellipses…interesting.)

Mahler 2

I love finding conductor blogs…

And I love finding other conductors whose take on a piece I thought I absolutely was convinced should be done like this, suddenly makes me realize they found the Grail of that single moment in time…(and let’s face it, the finale of the Mahler 2 is the Holy Grail of all symphonic choral-orchestral literature, bar nothing.)

Kenneth Woods’ blog has his take on the work and on conductor Walter Weller. And he posts a YouTube of Weller conducting the finale of the work. Seriously, give it a listen…he needed about double the choristers he had, and the Spanish subtitles are horrific–just ignore them. I hate it when translators do dynamic equivalency, or their impression of it, for musical libretti. The imagery gets destroyed. (Even Woods’ blog does this, he translates “hor auf zu beben” as “Fear no more.” Nope, it means “cease your trembling.”  There’s a difference.) (I’m digressing again.)

But in general it’s a wonderful performance, and a really brilliant interpretation…