Latest Teaching Company course was Understanding the Fundamentals of Music by Robert Greenberg.
I've done at least forty of these courses now, and this was definitely the one I've struggled most with. Found it very difficult to get to grips with the theory behind harmony and composition. I think there are several factors at work: I'm not very musical, and listening on the way to work left me without the diagrams, but it also seemed pretty hard. Greenberg advises that you listen to the course more than once: I did re-listen to a bit, but don't think I'm sufficiently motivated to go through the whole thing again.
I did get some benefit from it. It was interesting the way he demonstrated harmonies, dissonances, and tonics on the piano. They're not just making this stuff up: there really are all these degrees of pleasure and pain available just by combining notes. Greenberg is enthusiastic and there are lots of interesting little facts scattered throughout it, like piccolo player having to practice with earplugs.
However, I remain pretty baffled about the subtleties of pivot modulation, amen cadences, half-diminished sevenths and the like.
What I'm Watching
Saw the Clint Eastwood movie Gran Torino on DVD. A retired curmudgeon is first hostile, then helpful when an Asian family movies in next door.
Not bad: good to see the defiant Eastwood snarling to the last, especially when ordering the kids off his lawn.
Found it a bit of a jarring disconnect between different parts of the movie though. It starts off as a comedy, then gets serious, and has some fairly implausible action: makes it hard to suspend disbelief. Worth a look though.
"Where we're going, we don't need..." is a pretty familiar meme by now. But I only just found out it's from Event Horizon, even though I saw that movie.
News. Twitter/Facebook DOS attacks aimed at blogger over Georgia/Russia anniversary. (/.) ID cards cloned and altered in 12 minutes. Youth abandon social networking sites: I think this fad is just about peaking.
There's a serious popular misconception about the changes we'll make to confront global warming. Many people think that we'll cut back dramatically on oil fueled transportation, when in reality that's one of the polluting activities whose cost is least affected by a carbon price.
Let's consider what would happen if the price per ton of CO2 emissions shot to $100 tomorrow. This is much higher than we're likely to see in the near future, of course, but it's useful to understand what might happen a couple decades down the road. It translates into an increase in the price of electricity from coal of about 10.5 cents, enough to increase the whole cost of coal power to over 15 cents. At this point, many alternative sources of electricity become extremely competitive with coal, and indeed probably cheaper: solar thermal, nuclear, wind, combined-cycle gas, etc. The corresponding rise in the price of gasoline, on the other hand, is slightly less than a dollar. This is hardly insignificant, but it's smaller than the swings we've seen over the past few years, and not nearly enough to threaten the basic viability of car transportation.
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