December 17

Triangulation of Emotion and Emotional Competency in Listening

Unless you adopt a pure form of an association theory in music (under which the connection between emotions and music is merely one of repeated association), you understand that music expresses human emotion in such a way that is more or less universal, and that an exploration of music and its complexities will inevitably be […]

November 25

Transfiguration in Music

At first glance, this post might look like a gripe about a single critical comment in an otherwise exuberant review from the Harvard Crimson – an obsession with a minor blemish from a perfectionist.  I assure you that it is not, I swear it’s really not.  I wanted to make an observation about music as an […]

October 29

Introduction to Modern American Social Realism

Lately, I’ve been inserting the terms “social realism” and “modern American social realism” into commentary and interviews about my own music and the music of others.  So, I figured I would lay out what it is that I mean when I talk about modern American social realism. When I speak of social realism, I refer […]

October 18

Swan Song Theory

There was a songwriter who I have seen a number of times at open mic.  He’s moving to Colorado and so this is the last time I’ll probably hear him, barring some errant future trip to New York City in some distant year. Would you like to hear my theory about the Swan Song?  I […]

October 02

Chord Complexity in Songwriting

It is a fact that chord progressions in modern pop songwriting are far more basic than those used in either jazz or classical music.  This observation is usually met with upturned noses in songwriting circles – an odd irony, because how can you really turn your nose up at something that is more complex?  The response from […]

August 13

A Long Awaited Homecoming

I asked my parents to bring my violin along when they came to visit.  I’m keeping it and may use it for a music project – though I won’t use it unless I can give it the respect it deserves.  But this violin and I go way back. Many years ago, after winning a Midwest […]

July 01

What is American Music?

A number of years ago I had a friend inform me that Asian people had no musical history in America, and as such there was nothing particularly Asian about American music culture.  It was stated rather matter-of-factly to me, and actually, the sentiment is not uncommon. It gets bandied about in one form or another, either […]

January 24

Three Conceptions of Listening Local

People talk about the idea of “listening local”  quite a bit these days.  But there are a lot of different rationales for listening local, and not all rationales are necessarily very good.  Different rationales for listening local can also lead to different ways of approaching listening local as well, so teasing apart these rationales may […]

January 08

Thoughts on Nostalgia: A Video Premiere

To be honest, I still don’t really understand what nostalgia is.  I remember my first real experience with nostalgia was when I was about 8 or so, and my parents showed us pictures of us kids that they had saved in these large photo albums that we had collected.  (Is this meta-nostalgia that I’m feeling at […]

October 08

The Unity Theory of Phrasing

The classical music theory of phrasing is sort of like Kant’s theory of cognition.  It’s all about making a unity of a given manifold – in this case a manifold of notes instead of pure intuition. There is a difference between playing a series of four notes as a series of four notes, and playing […]