What I’ve been reading

1. David Edgerton, Britain’s War Machine: Weapons, Resources, and Experts in the Second World War.  This would appear to be a new angle on WWII, arguing that Britain circa 1940 was not the lame duck — either economically or technologically — that it is often made out to be.  Readable, persuasive to this non-expert, and it does help explain why the Nazis didn’t just take them over.

2. Robert F. Moss, Barbecue: The History of an American Institution.  This is in fact the first serious history of barbecue, as a historian might write it, and it is a good one.

3. E.A. Wrigley, Energy and the Industrial Revolution.  This is both one of the best books on the history of energy and one of the best books on the Industrial Revolution, definitely recommended to anyone who reads in economic history.

4. Simon Reynolds, Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction to its Own Past.  Imagine TGS applied to musical aesthetics, excerpt: “Pitchfork writer Eric Harvey recently observed that the 2000s may be destined to be “the first decade of pop music…remembered by history for its musical technology rather than the actual music itself.”  Napster Soulseek Limewrire Gnutella iPod YouTube Last.fm Pandora MySpace Spotify…these super-brands took the place of super-bands…It’s glaringly obvious that all the astounding, time-space rearranging developments in the dissemination, storing and accessing of audio data have not spawned a single new form of music.”

Comments

What is your favorite barbecue joint in the Northern Virginia area? I like Rocklands a lot, which is right across Washington Blvd. from you guys. Have you ever been there? More broadly, I've always been a big fan of Pierce's down in southern Virginia.

I find Willards BBQ in Chantilly (off Willard Ave off VA28) to be quite acceptable.

"It’s glaringly obvious that all the astounding, time-space rearranging developments in the dissemination, storing and accessing of audio data have not spawned a single new form of music.”

I'd generally agree, but it's notable to me that these developments have made it much easier for me to find or listen to already existing forms of music that I couldn't easily get before. Even something as basic as satellite radio has made it easier for someone who wants to listen to new bluegrass, or outlaw country, or classic country, or 40s big band music, or jam bands, or other existing genres to find radio stations aimed at their niche desires. It hasn't spawned new forms of music, but it has allowed people to try existing forms that didn't have widespread availability before, especially on the radio.

I was thinking the exact same thing. Sat Rad in particular is great for experiencing new genres. If you already have an iPod full of gigs of music and all you are interested in are the genres you already know, then Sat Rad isn't for you (playlists are too short).

There IS a new genre: songs that use AutoTune. You know, started with Cher's "Life after Love", devolved to that "Friday" song...

For me the "wow" moment was Pandora. The way it predicted songs and how often I ended up liking them was uncanny. It was as if Pandora had wormed into my unconscious mind.

I'm not sure there aren't new forms of music developing. People are coming out with amazing mashups that would have been technically difficult to pull off ten years ago, and impossible to pull off live. Girl Talk is one of my faves.

An artist that predated Girl Talk and took things to crazy aural heights would be KID 606, peaking around 10 years ago. It wasn't as polished as Girl Talk, however, more punky and noisy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eILJjViKJpQ

When I heard Girl Talk I was like, "Eh."

Probably the new forms of music distribution technology are themselves the reason for the lack of new forms of popular music.

The wide spectrum of music that is available through new distribution channels prevents any new form from gaining wide popularity.

At the same time, the listeners most interested in innovation are drawn away from conventional formats like radio, making those outlets even less creative than ever.

I find it hard to take the last item seriously, except maybe for the sort of music that white people in the US listen to. Essentially everywhere else has most assuredly seen new musical forms - and even the US has, if you count Moombahton for the US (Dave Nada did invent it in DC after all.)

Just off the top of my head, in the 2000's, you have the whole post-UK Garage family explosion - Dubstep, grime, UK Funky, the sort of nodding-to-pop post-Dubstep stuff a la Jamie Woon, James Blake, et al.; you have the Africa-Diaspora-European Techno artist confluence that results in new Kuduro, Coupe Decale and its Parisian variant Logobi, South African House (which is like Dutch house and sped up Kwaito beats with rapping in Xhosa and Zulu over top); Even Dutch House, come to think of it, is really just Bubbling slowed down and tech-house'd out, kind of an Amsterdam equivalent of Texas trill chopped and screwed; And don't front on the whole 3Ball MTY scene.

ALL of these things are legitmately pop music, just not to, like I said, white folks in the US. Just because WE'VE dropped the ball on cultural output doesn't mean other people aren't picking up the slack.

Although, I suppose the whole catch-up growth story does make sense in aesthetics, I suppose - its much easier for a teenager in Accra to use a cracked version of Ableton to make new electronic music than it is to make something like Ableton.

Hasn't all pop music been created this way? In NYC in the '70s, disaffected white kids created punk while poor black kids created rap.

Right. The constraints of poverty necessitate creativity that is hard to re-create in more luxurious settings. (This is part of the reason why, say, Vampire Weekend sounds so flat compared to the African music it cribs from - it just sounds too nice, too polished, made on actual guitars bought from actual retailers, not homemade instruments and makeshift recording equipment.)

And often the work-arounds become a big part of the musical form - the big echoing reverb that defines dub reggae was largely an accident - the result of a tinkering Jamaican (King Tubby, maybe? I'm rusty on my reggae lore) trying to re-create Phil Specter-style wall of sound reverb, and getting something completely different - but awesome - and running with it.

And, as a Michigan native, I resent the implication that Punk was invented in New York. The MC5 was doing that stuff back in 1968.

The book is well written and worth reading. He does explicitly discount micro-genres like Moombahton. It isn't that he hasn't heard them. He just thinks they don't cross some threshold to be important enough. On the other hand he thinks Dubstep and grime have been hanging around much longer than they should without replacement. In his lifetime, he believes that punk, post-punk, hip hop and acid were sufficiently new and important to meet his criteria. It is kind of threading the needle. Easy enough to poke holes in; but I see what he means.

A new type of music would be a blog post about No TGS. A new music dissemination technology is an actual No TGS.

I've often wondered about the musical stagnation as well.

Post-rock, for all its flaws, might count as a genuinely new form.
Likewise with IDM. Aphex Twin and Autechre were definitely inventing a new musical language, despite the fact that there were precursors. This for example is not your mom's music, no matter who your mom is.

Also, for all the musical invention that was going on in, say, the 20's, there were plenty of precursors during the 10's or 00's. Most innovation is recombination of forms.

Part of the issue today may be that more people are simply aware of the whole universe of music, so that the recombinations that happen today are more easily anticipated and don't seem as revelatory. When you zoom out enough, the whole picture looks static?

Oh whoops I forgot that this is only about pop. Well, depending on where you go, some of this stuff is popular. Plus what John said about international forms.

1. New music is invented and popularized by young people, not old people. Old people have a Pavlovian response to the music they heard while having sex and taking drugs in the 1960s, and they just keep listening to the same songs over and over.

2. There are a lot fewer young people nowadays (demographics), and they don't buy music anyway. Would-be musicians need to eat.

3. Decades ago, new music used to be discovered on the radio. DJs chose what music to play, and often championed new songs and new bands. In the 1980s and 1990s the radio industry consolidated and playlists were dictated by corporate headquarters, and every radio station chased the same boomer demographic. This is not new to the 2000s, but the point is, the mechanism remains broken.

4. Distribution of music over the Internet (and books, for that matter) has produced an interesting effect: the long tail has benefited, but so has the top 40 (because popular things go viral faster). What has suffered considerably is the "midlist". There's a chasm between and Britney Spears that's very hard to cross.

5. Litigation culture and nanny state politics has had a negative effect on live music. Raves in particular became very hard to stage in America because organizers were held liable for drug use by audience members. Imagine this in the 1960s: rock and roll would have been strangled at birth.

2. There are 80 million "Echo boomers," so I'd say your economic answer holds more water than your demographic answer.

I think the Mash-up is an important new music form spawned in the 2000's. It just could never go mainstream because of the copyright police.

the mash-up is not a new form of music

it is made up of chunks of old and usually very familiar music

even the mode of assembly is not new, it's just a digitally-faciliated version of what Steinski & Mass Media were doing more laboriously in the early 80s (which is why Girl Talk's label Illegal Art reissued Steinski's music). Or what Fatboy Slim's Norman Cook did with one of his earlier outfits Beats International (#1 in the UK circa 1990 with a song that combined the top melody of SOS Band 'Just Be Good To Me' with the rhythm of Clash 'guns of Brixton'.

mash-up is so extensively precedented it beggars belief that people can tout this phenom as a New Music of the Noughties

people have been talking about the DJ-as-artist since the Seventies ferchrissakes! been complaining about the copyright police and celebrating the naughtiness of breaking da copyright law since sampling in the 80s!

as for all those micro-dance sounds (footwork in chicago), some of them are cool enough but they are a/ desperately marginal b/ nearly all of them slight extensions of what was started in the 90s...

How about the Youtube "songify/autotune" type tracks? You know, where they take some funny spoken clip and transform it into singing through auto-tune and set it to music with a funny video. I guess this has some precedent, but you could argue it's come into it's own as a genre.

If this is today's new genre of music, then it proves the author's point, indeed.

This is all technically true, but something about that 2ManyDJs album right at the beginning of the decade felt like a gamechanger for music. It represented a breaking-down of a certain stylistic tribalism that had been in place for a very long time. By juxtaposing Iggy Pop with disco and hiphop, and doing it so stylishly, the short-lived mashup craze opened up dancefloors to people who wouldn't have been seen dead in a club throughout the nineties.

Okay, you've intrigued me. I just bought a copy for my Kindle.

"it does help explain why the Nazis didn’t just take them over.

The simple reason why "the Nazis didn’t just take them over" was that the Nazis had no way -- *utterly* no way -- to get across the English Channel at them. Other than that, the Nazis pretty much rolled right over them wherever they met, in the first stages of the war.

The reason why the Nazis had *utterly* no way to get across the water was that (1) it had never occurred to them they'd have to do so, they never expected to win in France like they did, and (2) Hitler didn't want to fight the British, he thought he'd be able to get them to sit out larger the war, so he hadn't thought about it either,

So when it came to improvising Operation Sealion in a few months, the idea was to push Rhine river barges with tug boats across the English Channel, with soldiers on the barges using their rifles to defend themselves against the assembled Royal Navy. One destroyer running back and forth between them could've swamped all those river barges without firing a shot. When the Germans tried a rehearsal in safe calm inland waters, a third of the barges slammed into each other, grounded or sank. But that *wasn't* the worst of it.

Sandhurst has war gamed Sealion multiple times removing the Royal Navy and RAF from the game, spotting the Germans the advantage of an unopposed crossing. Still the invasion is always crushed in a few days -- because the barges make one trip, one way. The Germans have no way to get any heavy equipment across the water, and no way to supply and support whatever resources they do get across. End. War is logistics.

The biggest problem the German military leaders had with Sealion was finding a way to blame the next guy over when telling Hitler it couldn't be done. But as he never really wanted to do it anyhow, that passed.

"the Nazis pretty much rolled right over them wherever they met"

The Germans never really tried to take on the Royal Navy. Interesting that the Japanese showed with the sinking of the Prince of Wales and Repulse that the Royal Navy was much more vulnerable than we generally appreciate.

They were not easy to sink when operating under normal conditions. The Germans did sink a lot of British vessels with air power (think Dunkirk for instance), and were able to curtail British activities in some areas, but it was not "easy" and they could not make enough of a dent to make an invasion plausible.

If you look at German naval plans, it is obvious that they were looking at antagonism (if not war) with the United States. However, the politcal course of events ran faster then the navy plans, so most of it was not adopted.

I think Jim's comments are a little too strong.

The Germans started with the best man-for-man army, and then got some stepped up light practise runs (Austria, Czechloslovakia, Poland) to make it really work. The Germans had a lot of problems just organizing a friendly march into Austria. In Poland they also had a lot of difficulties- although victory was never in doubt. The comparison is actually very close to the army that Napolean took up against Austria in 1805. He had trained them to a fever pitch for the invasion of England, and an army that was already the best, became one of the all time great armies.

Even with all that, early war German equipment was not particularly better then French-British equipement. In the few engagements that they went head to head with prepared French troops they did not do well. If you could make a larger overall point about the German tactical system, you could generalize that it started to fall apart when heavy weapon got to be too heavy (anti-armor in particular) got to be too heavy.

Making the British - German comparison one of "does Sealion work" begs an awful lot of questions. Obviously it the British navy disappears, and the Germans avoid their heavy naval losses in Norway, the best army in the world can beat an army that has lost all its equipment. Although the very tight quarters make it a much closer call, it probably beats them even if they replace all the lost equipement and troops.

But the British never had to beat the German invasion, and in total, was alway a very dangerous threat in almost every area except toe-to-toe ground fighting on the continent.

For those who find interesting animals' mental capabilities and processes, here's a very good book on a dog/ dogs: Merle's Door by Ted Kerasote. It's in paperback. The author describes his own dog, Merle, and interweaves Merle's and his experiences with information from recent research into how dogs work. One caution: Merle, being a dog, dies in the end, and that's pretty tough on readers who've come to know Merle and Ted.

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ed Kerasote tarafından Merle Kapı: ilginç hayvanların zihinsel yetenekleri ve süreçleri bulanlar için, burada bir köpek / köpekler çok iyi bir kitap. Bu ciltsiz bulunuyor. Yazar kendi köpek, Merle, interweaves Merle ve deneyimlerini köpekler nasıl çalışma içine son araştırmalardan elde edilen bilgi ile açıklamaktadır thanks you

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