From technique to artistry: The theory of music in ‘Whiplash’

Tropes of ‘music theory’ are as oft trotted out as are their counterparts in the department of ‘practice makes perfect’. But in the philosophy of Mozart’s time, Immanuel Kant already bridged these polar opposites of musical weather reports: the faculty of judgement, specifically concerned with aesthetic concepts of beauty and the sublime, bridged between abstract … Continue reading From technique to artistry: The theory of music in ‘Whiplash’

Drake just released an alright album? Well, um, no …

Drake releases too many albums that are too long. Or maybe he is just an artist seeing what works. I mean, maybe. Let’s see. The album cover to Donda by Ye, a cover which is much preferable to Drake’s recent choice in artwork across his albums in the 2020s. Her Loss opens with Drake declaring, … Continue reading Drake just released an alright album? Well, um, no …

Jennie is the Kanye of Blackpink

First published on 18 October 2022. Blackpink’s announced leader is often said to be Jennie, who like overlooked member Jisoo is older than the younger prominent members Rosé and Lisa. Jennie also has a new song, played at the Seoul debut of the world tour for Blackpink’s second LP, Born Pink. And it got me … Continue reading Jennie is the Kanye of Blackpink

Rihanna’s Anti and the Lost Technical Artistry of the 2010s

The 2000s laid the technical foundations for a new musical moment in human history. The 2010s opened with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West, hosting rising stars Nicki Minaj and Rihanna as well as old greats like Jay-Z and indie act Bon Iver. This marked an artistic culmination of modern music akin to … Continue reading Rihanna’s Anti and the Lost Technical Artistry of the 2010s

Kant do charisma: Why Anthony Fantano is wrong about Kanye West

I have for more times than I can recall drawn a distinction between two pillars of modern music: 1. Technique, and 2. Art. Technique relates to instrumental skill and general musical nous. Think musical theory but also the practical application of this theory. What space, then, does this leave for art? Art relates to a … Continue reading Kant do charisma: Why Anthony Fantano is wrong about Kanye West

Calvin Harris’s ‘Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2’: A voyage into the future

Charlie Puth and Calvin Harris and Shenseea’s ‘Obsessed’ is remarkable, because three things are happening simultaneously: 1. Charlie Puth is doing his classic jazz-inflected vocal production magic, 2. Calvin Harris is employing his distinctive discopop sonic skills that dominated the 2010s club scene, and 3. Shenseea is rapping well — sulkily, smoothly, and skilfully. Calvin … Continue reading Calvin Harris’s ‘Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2’: A voyage into the future

Kanye West, Michael Jackson, and the beginnings of balance

I again turn to the two foundations of modern music: technique, and artistry. Technique is more easily recognisable, and art has a moral dimension that is more subjectively contestable. Technique bears the semblance of objectivity, and therefore is often prised above the more obscure form of art. But art is the end towards which the … Continue reading Kanye West, Michael Jackson, and the beginnings of balance

The evolution of music and the importance of balance

Music, as I’ve recently argued on this blog, swings from one extreme to another. On the one hand, there are the technicians, who think music can be learned through meticulous practice. The chief virtue of technicians is the demand for perfection. On the other hand, there are the artists, who think music comes from innate … Continue reading The evolution of music and the importance of balance