Alison Kinney on blackface in opera

In the wake of the Met’s overdue announcement that they won’t be staging Verdi’s Otello in blackface, Alison Kinney on hyperallergic has an excellent run-down of the history of blackface in opera:

Opera’s blackface tradition spans two centuries, linking it with Bobby Deen, Al Jolson, minstrelsy—and the KKK, who, in their Reconstruction-era, pre-hood days, used to “black up” with burnt cork, then accuse Black people of having committed their own crimes.

“The Revolution of Steve Jobs”

The Guardian reports that there’ll be a new opera about Steve Jobs, by Mason Bates.

I know Jobs’ story is a little bit overexposed at the moment, but I for one think an operatic treatment could be pretty g—

The opera company describes Jobs as “an innovator who simplified communication with sleek devices, but who paradoxically learned that complex human relationships require more than one button to work.”

Never mind.

Stolen Stradivarius recovered after 35 years

Michael Cooper, having mixed metaphor pun fun in the New York Times:

It was a cold case for more than three decades—a cold violin case—but now it has been closed. A Stradivarius violin that disappeared without a trace after it was stolen in 1980 from the violin virtuoso Roman Totenberg has been found, and is being restored to his family, said one of his daughters, Nina Totenberg.

Nina Totenborg’s description of the recovery was pretty funny:

The appraiser looks at her and says, ‘Well, I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that this is a real Stradivarius. And the bad news is it was stolen, 35, 36 years ago from Roman Totenberg, and I have to report it right away.’

Great story—worth reading the whole article.

Robinson Meyer on iTunes’ design flaws

Robinson Meyer of the Atlantic has more to say about iTunes. After his earlier piece on the metadata mess, here he eviscerates the design rather thoroughly:

Focusing on that bar, here’s what sticks out to me: iTunes can’t decide how to address the user. The user’s MP3 library sits behind the menu title “My Music.” But Apple Music’s recommendation interface is accessed by clicking on “For You.”

Is the user “my” or “your”? Is iTunes an extension of the user or is it in conversation with them?

That’s just careless, and again uncharacteristic of Apple.

Music from Earth

NASA has released everything from the Golden Record, the record last seen exiting the solar system on board Voyager 1 with music, greetings, and sounds from Earth, to SoundCloud. Here’s just the music.

I loved Carl Sagan’s comment when they suggested putting Bach on the record: “that would just be showing off.” It opens with the second Brandenburg concerto, so Sagan must have relented—or decided it was worth showing off a little.

(Via NewMusicBox)

Why Apple Music is messing up tracks

Startling revelation from Kirk McElhearn: Apple Music isn’t using acoustic fingerprinting to figure out what your music is—it’s just believing whatever you tell it in metadata tags.

This is a very big problem with Apple Music. Since Apple already has the technology to match tracks using acoustic fingerprinting [in iTunes Match], they should be using this with Apple Music. Instead, it’s using scattershot matching, which results in lots of tracks showing up as being from different albums, from compilations, or totally different versions of songs.

I find it astonishing that a technology company as competent as Apple could launch a product this shoddy. That’s not even bad design: it’s bad technology. The only reason I can think that they might be doing this is so that the initial connection experience is fast—but what good is a fast first connection if the data is inaccurate?

Glenn Gould interviewed by Jonathan Cott

The Glenn Gould Foundation came across this terrific 1974 interview with Glenn Gould, from Rolling Stone of all places. It’s part one of a two-parter, but the magazine hasn’t made the second part available (yet?).

Gould didn’t so much give interviews as prepare monologues, complete with questions for his “interviewers”, but there’s some wonderful stuff in this.

A number of pianists have talked about their anxiety dreams in which they continually saw themselves walking out onstage naked or sitting down to find themselves unable to play, like Sparky and his Magic Piano, which refused to perform at the necessary time.

I only have one dream of that kind, which one would think would have abated the moment I stopped giving concerts, but it didn’t. I simply transferred it to other media, and I now have it in relation to recording sessions…and the dream always makes me aware of the fact that the repertoire that I think I’m doing is not the repertoire I’m really doing. Now in order to make that practical it’s never therefore a solo performance; it’s usually an orchestral recording, and I’ve had many variations on this dream.

Sounds like a nightmare.