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BFRC

I am posting this as a benchmark, not because I think I'm playing very well yet.  The idea would be post a video every month for a ye...

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Autumn Leaves

I have this thing I'm doing on Autumn Leaves. I play a walking bass on the A section for every key, beginning each knew one at the final chord of the last.  So I go 2/5/1/4/7/3/6.  Then the 6 becomes the two of the next transposition.  I work on this every morning, starting at an arbitrary place. This is my summer project. I'm also improvising over "Bemsha Swing" every day.

What this should give me is a good ability to make walking bass lines, plus an intuitive knowledge of the circle of fifths / fourths. 2/5/1 progressions in major and minor in every key.  The next stage would be improvised right hand lines to go along with the walking bass.

***

I recently discovered something super obvious that I should have known long ago, and that made an immediate improvement in my improv. This is to make each phrase very purposeful and deliberate, confident sounding, with a clear beginning and end. If you try to do that, you might not be able to.  But if you aren't trying to do this, if you are fine playing tentative sounding things, things that you don't really mean to play, then it will be impossible to achieve that confident sound. Instead of asking whether the phrase is good or bad, ask whether it is what you truly meant to play.

A complex phrase that you don't really mean will sound random to the listener, like running up and down a scale simply because the scale is available for you. That's one thing that people who don't like jazz don't like.

The easiest way to achieve this is to play very simple phrases. You can increase length, speed, or complexity as you progress.




Monday, May 13, 2019

I decided to incorporate this in the first Lorca Lecture...

One misunderstanding that I have found on one or two occasions is the claim that I attempt to show how Americans have gotten Lorca wrong. In 2016, a scholar from the Netherlands wrote an article in which he used my book as a negative example of an old-fashioned paradigm, according to which the translation is always condemned to be a shadow of the original. Mayhew, according to this critic, even invokes the notion of a “real Lorca.” It is laudable to see translation as a creative act rather than a mere attempt to create an equivalence with the original. In fact, my entire study is devoted to this proposition! In a blanket prohibition of all negative critique of translation, however, Steenmeijer leaves himself no way of discerning between the creativity and mere incompetence. Truly engaging adaptations stand out against a backdrop of mediocrity, as might be expected in virtually any human endeavor. The celebration of the translator’s creativity, logically speaking, requires the same critical acumen used to evaluate a translation in the first instance. Without discernment, a seemingly sophisticated theory of translation simply provides carte blanchefor a variety of practices that might not even be comparable to one another.
Steenmeijer also objects to my use of insulting and tendentious words like apocryphalparody, and kitschin the title of my book. Yet surely only kitschfall into this category. Perhaps a Dutch scholar, writing in Spanish about a book written in English, is not attuned to the connotations that these words would have for my intended audience.. Among the adaptations of Lorca that interest me the most, after all, are the apocryphal ones, like Spicer’s, and the parodic ones, like Koch’s. As for kitsch, it is difficult to write intelligently about Lorca’s reception without some awareness of aesthetic degradation and of the prevalence of easily digested clichés. Lorquian kitsch is prevalent American reception, but is also present in Spain itself, and thus is not a byproduct of translation per se.   

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Mayhem

"La implacable crítica de Mayhem forma parte de un largo y pertinaz paradigma según el cual la traducción y, en particular, la traducción literaria es, por definición, una sombra del original o incluso una falsa versión de este."

This seems to be a false inference. For example, any criticism at all of a translation would seem to follow this paradigm, insofar as it finds that a translation is insufficient in any way. In reality, though, everyone recognizes that translations vary in their approaches, and that even "creative" approaches vary in their success.  

In reality the + [plus] model and the - [minus] model of translation both depend on an ability for the reader to scrutinize the original and the translation side by side. Of course it seems hipper to say that the translation is more than the original, not less, but is this always the case? Just enumerating the ways in which translations fail is quite dull, but that was never my project in the first place. I do find it interesting how they fail in predictable ways, or how these failures line up with predictable cultural oversimplifications. Only a few other people have read my book and concluded that my idea is that Americans have gotten Lorca wrong.    


 I am trying to think of a way I could have written the book without some recognition of Lorquian kitsch in the American reception? This element is one of the main themes running through this reception. 


I'm sure that he knows how to spell my name, since it appears correctly in other places in the text and in the bibliography. It is still a bit funny though, since mayhem is a word that means violent destruction and disorder, and can be found easily by flipping over the last letter of my name. 

Friday, May 10, 2019

Mediocre (x)

It is one thing to say "Mayhew is wrong..."  Then I can just see why I am wrong (or not) and move on. What rankles me is the attribution of a mediocre argument, one I would never make, to me. In particular, the idea is that the American reception of Lorca gets him wrong, and that insufficient translations are an index of that. Of course I analyze translations and comment on specific ways they succeed to fall short. If you aren't able to do that, then you take away a set of analytical tools.

I thought I was very careful to say there's not a real Lorca that they are getting wrong. Instead, I talk about certain emphases, the selection of some texts rather than others, or the emphasis on one dimension rather than another. What emerges is not a deficient or mediocre Lorca, but something else.


A letter of complaint

Estimado profesor Steenmeijer:  

Espero que no lo moleste que le escriba. Para mí,  la lectura que ha hecho de Apocryphal Lorca, en un artículo reciente, es tan parcial que da una idea incompleta de mi aportación al estudio de la recepción americana del poeta granadino. Mi visión de las versiones lorquianas de Hughes, Blackburn, Spicer, Koch, O’Hara, Rothenberg y otros es más bien positiva, pese a mi crítica muy dura de Belitt. Seguramente el lector que lee el artículo sin haber hojeado mi libro saldría con una idea falsa de mis intenciones y de mis conclusiones, ya que deja fuera la otra mitad de mi trabajo: la celebración de la creatividad en la invención de nuevos “Lorcas.”  Las palabras apocryphalparodia no son especialmente negativas en inglés. De hecho, celebro las versiones apócrifas de Spicer, quien ha traducido poemas de Lorca que no existen en las obras completas. Mi lectura de Kenneth Koch también es bastante positiva, por su parodia “Some South American Poets.” Seguramente Ud. conoce las parodias de Koch de otros poetas, como William Carlos Williams; son realmente maravillosas. Incluso mi lectura de Selected Poemsde New Directions no resulta enteramente negativa. Seguramente la crítica al kitsch puede dar lugar a controversias. La celebración ingenua y antiintelectual del duende lorquiano merece una crítica, a mi juicio.  

Realmente lo que he intentado demostrar es la invención de otra figura, el Lorca apócrifo americano, que dista mucho de ser un poeta “mediocre,” y que arroja luz sobre Lorca mismo. Otra vez, espero no ofenderlo a Ud. con esta rectificación. Como no nos conocemos personalmente, no me siento enfadado sino simplemente perplejo ante una lectura “apócrifa” de mi libro. Por otra parte, su artículo es bastante interesante. Si yo no conociera a este profesor “Mayhem” tal vez estaría de acuerdo con Ud.  

Un cordial saludo,  



Thursday, May 9, 2019

A bad reading of me...

"Sin embargo, por diversa y multicultural que fuera la recepción del poeta granadino en los EE.UU, Mayhew no vacila en deplorar y reprobarla. Es más:según el estudioso norteamericano, este país no acertó a apreciar debidamente la obra de García lorca, como ya sugiere el título de su libro, que incluye pala-bras tendenciosas y estigmatizantes como “apócrifo”, “kitsch” y “parodia”. Para empezar, Mayhew juzga problemáticas las dos traducciones con las que García Lorca llegó a la fama en los EE.UU. La primera es Selected Poems, una antologíade la poesía de Lorca que desde su publicación en 1955 ya lleva vendidos másde 120.000 ejemplares. la otra es The Poet in New York, que incluye, aparte de una versión inglesa del poemario Poeta en Nueva York, una traducción de laconferencia “Juego y teoría del duende”. Mayhew rechaza los dos libros en su capacidad de traducción: el primero por no hacer justicia al tono y las metáforasdel original y el segundo porque el poeta que lo tradujo, ben belitt, habría cani-balizado el texto original en beneficio de su propio proyecto poético."

I don't see the words parody and apocryphal as negative in the least.  Did she miss my praise of Spicer and O'Hara?  

AL

Autumn Leaves in twelve minor keys will mean:

every minor chord
every major 7 chord
every dominant chord
every half diminished chord
every 2/5/1 in major
every 2/5/1 in minor
every tritone substitution

Twelve walking bass lines that use all 7 chords in every key. So far I am working on 3 keys: E minor, A minor, and Db minor. Learning those gives me 25% of all of this.

I like certain things about music for the same reason that I like sestinas. It's that formal, mathematical quality.