The Ben New Files

Author Ben NewMusic Essays Reviews & Critiques

Independant's Day
The concept of the "record album" originated from the fact that 78 RPM Phonograph disc recordings
were kept together in a book that resembled a photo album.
The first collection of records to be called an "album" was Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite,
released in April 1909 as a four-disc set by Odeon Records.
( It retailed for 16 shillings which would be US $120,
 88 Euros, 1,320 Mexican Pesos, or 14,251 Japanese Yen in today’s currency.)
The recording artists became dependent on companies with capital
because it was too expensive for an artist to produce and distribute an album themselves.
Before the advent of the phonograph in the late 19th century,
the music industry was dominated by the publishers of sheet music.
With the start of the 20th century the importance of recorded sound grew in the business, 
and at about the end of the first World War, records supplanted sheet music.
 Thus, the modern music industry began it’s line of descent.

Music That Matters
( Or...Molecular Mysticism and The Music of the Spheres))
The musician integrates into the social fabric, but is not of it.
Art simply does not exist unassailed by social forces and the material world. Prrformance photo
One must turn inward in a process that is both personal and universal, emerging in the end outwardly via art.
Music requires that it's performer be completely centered,
concurrently maintaining a delicate balance between self and selfless.
These concepts are not mutually exclusive.
There are direct parallels between the story of the Zen Archer and the musician.
One must know, exactly who and where one is in the cosmogony,
 have accumulated a vast array of cognitive content, and honed a variety of techniques and resources.
Yet the creation of art then requires abandonment of all of this to the moment.
 The finest musicians serve the music.
The essential musician becomes the music.
 This is, perhaps, the largest struggle for the aspiring artist.

Strange Days Indeed 
Ignis Aurum Probat (Fire Tests Gold),  plus a conversation with John Lennon, post mortum.
John Lennon was a man of sharp wit, piercing intelligence, boundless creativity, and strong spirit. 
Despite his unprecedented celebrity he always remained “one of us”.
 I won’t attempt to address the paradigm shift the Beatles brought with them to the Limelight.
Suffice it to say it was not small.
Yet you could sum up their entire body of work by simply saying the underlying theme of it all was “Love.”
Lennon "used" his celebrity to further the cause of peace in the world.

21st Century Schizoid Men 
In the last 100 years, ideological changes and technical advances have affected not only the way that music is enjoyed but also the way that it is composed. The one generalization we can make is that these composers have all explored new and uncharted territory in terms of tone and structure, often abandoning -- challenging -- or combining the preconceived notions about the nature of music itself.

Igor's Boogie
What made Stravinsky's Le Sacre Du Printemps (The Rite of Spring) so different from everything else?
The Rite of Spring is often referred to as a modernist work
but one could indeed argue that it was a return to primitivism.
Much like Pablo Picasso ’s work in the visual arts.
Whichever way you might see this piece, there can be no argument
that it was and continues to be nothing short of revolutionary.

The Good The Bad And The Dodecophonic
If the Impressionists poked holes in the fabric of tonality,  then the Serialists stabbed it with Bowie knives.
Welcome to the 20th Century!
To view the musical world of Charles Ives, neither the telescope nor the microscope is helpful,
 but a kaleidoscope would serve one well.
 His music reveals an underlying complexity in a reality that is chaotic and disconnected.
We typically ignore this dissonant reality by sticking to the well-worn paths,
whether they are well-worn musical conventions or well-worn ways of thinking.
 Like the disembodied voice in the film "Field of Dreams",  Ives challenges us to "Go the distance".
I know what your thinking, dear reader:
"Well Benjamin, one does not have to be an astute learned student of musicology
to understand Ives’ music represents a fragmentary and chaotic reality.
 That's basically modernism in a nutshell."
And you are right. However, allow me to elaborate further.
Unlike modernists who reflect but lament the breakdown of sense and order,
Ives relishes every drop of chaos;
 he does the high dive right into the primordial pool and does a few laps.
Then he emerges jubilantly and asks only for a towel.
Think of “The Fourth of July.” Think of “Putnam’s Camp.”

Eat Well, Stay Fit, Die Anyway 
More sound advice than advice about sounds.
Those who forget the pasta are condemned to reheat it. 
According to theoretical physics the universe will end if pasta and antipasto ever meet. 
As Warren Zevon said "enjoy every sandwich".
 I would say that all things are good in moderation, especially moderation.
Bon appétit.

Banned In The USA 
All art of value comes from deep within the individual mind and spirit of the artist.
It comes through the inner self, from that place where freedom is absolute.
It can only be judged on a personal basis.
This highly personal appraisal originates within that same zone of implicit and absolute freedom within each of us.
Granted, freedom of speech may have nuance. There is room for debate over the nuances.
But art is another matter. Who  dares to imagine themselves as gatekeeper?

Banned In The USA Pt 2 
Censors Are Folks That Know More Than They Think You Ought To...
A history essay.

Man From Utopia-Frank Zappa
Is this a real article or is it a Sears article about one of the most brilliant composers of the 20th century?

Byrne-ing Down The Housesleepwalk
You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack…
You may find yourself in another part of the world…
You may tell yourself, this is not my beautiful house…
this is not my beautiful wife.
A thank you, to David Byrne and the Talking Heads.
Thank you for making music that matters. Where were you the first time you heard these words? A song describing a disclosure, an epiphany, a crossroad, a reckoning or a revelation. Perhaps it was your college graduation, or you were traveling to some suspect destination with a questionable future, you may have been in an undeniable mid life crisis or on your first date.
But My God !  What have I done?   The Awakening!  

Anarchs Of The New Paradigm
The Theory Of Absolutely Everything
(or The Moon Is not There When No One Looks At It)

It appears that man's march towards the right of the chart, from Neanderthal to Modern, has produced some interesting paradigms that are real, observable and even predictable.
As human consciousness itself, expands,
so too, do the institutions and devices of man, expand in unison.
Clearly the Ptolemaic universe mirrors the theocentric
& monarchic structures of it's heyday.
Just as the Cartesian mechanical universe of Newton
mirrors the "age of reason" and it's emanations;
capitalism, communism, nationalism, democracy etc.
Whether the social implications of rationality are the underlying foundation of an era's view of the universe,
or the converse is true, is irrelevant.
They are aligned and adhered to each other in a great Celtic Knot.

Without Music, Life Would Be A MistakeReality Photo 2
Our musical traditions are a result of a variety of influences, including the formal systematization of previously improvised traditions; the growth of notation; the development of tuning systems; the musical interpretation of text; and innovations in form. Also the role of patronage; the assimilation of various cultures into the style and the growth of technology have influenced the outcome of the music of western civilization.

Tropical Hotdog Genius 
Don Van Vliet, or Captain Beefheart if you prefer,
 is perhaps the single greatest rock musician in all eternity,
 ( although Don would say " I 'm not a rock musician, I'm a soft person")
and certainly one of the most original and influential geniuses of the 20th century.

Changes- Music Is Many Things
Some of us change as a result of "seeing the light". Others change only when "feeling the heat".
 The music industry struggles to find a relevant model
that embraces the technological and economic realities of the last quarter century.

Standing On The Whale, Fishing For Minnows
Explorations in the theory which is known as quantum mechanics
has yielded spectacular successes and insights into the nature of the universe,
among which is describing properties of atomic structures.
The dreams that stuff is made of!
We can not be certain Bullwinkle is a moose,
in fact, merely making the inquiry
affects whether Bullwinkle is a moose or not.

Old Borrowsd & Blue
The Universe is expanding, eventually it will be a cold dark place.
 In time, there will be too much space between the elements of subatomic particles to exist as matter.
All matter will become energy, the universe will cease to exist.
Time is just a line between 2 notions...

Analog Vs. Digital
The encoding of sound into digits has changed the media through which people experience music forever.
Proponents of analog sound have much in common with the Spartan’s suicidal last stand.
In the digital age the inevitable demise of analog technology is certain. Or is it?
Let’s have a look at the characteristics of both the analog and digital worlds
and see if we can make any qualitative decisions.
Analog sound is continuous.
Recordings made using analog circuitry have no missing information.
But digital recordings are like film
in the sense that “snapshots” of sounds are played back in a succession 
that “fools” the ear into hearing them as moving.
This is much like the way a film is a series of still frames fooling the eye into percieving motion.
The drawback is that audio information is missing in between the “frames”.
Analog as mentioned is far superior on this particular count. No missing information whatsoever.

A Sharp Image Of A Fuzzy Subject
Or alternatively,
Miss Pop Star, Can I Have Some Fries with that shake?
"The dignity of the artist lies in his duty of keeping awake the sense of wonder in the world. In this long vigil he often has to vary his methods of stimulation; but in this long vigil he is also himself striving against a continual tendency to sleep.” -Marc Chagall
But what happens if the artists are force fed sleeping pills and Prozac?

More Cowbell-Best Of 2009
Duly Consider Contemplates  what music impacted 2009.
End of year lists may be a journalistic requirement, but at least for me they are difficult to do with integrity.
I hope you enjoy this year's suggestions.

Top Secret No Longer A SecretThe Author- Ben New
All extraordinary music shares the common bond of extraordinary discipline. Whether we speak of the brilliance of a Mozart piano concerto, Paco de Lucía performing a perfectly executed flamenco rasguedo, the wondrous vocal inflections of Giuseppe Verdi’s operatic masterpieces, Coltrane’s “Giant Steps”, the glorious simplicity of a Randy Newman song, or the supernatural tone and phrasing of a Carlos Santana guitar line; a profound discipline is always involved. Have a look at the "Top Secret Drum Corps" from Basel, Switzerland.

Ten CC Draws From Diverse Influences - Redefined Pop Music
Ben Reviews Gongzilla's Philadelphia appearance at the World Cafe

Gongzilla Returns 
Ben Reviews Gongzilla's Philadelphia appearance at the World Cafe

Best Of Year - 2007
Duly Consider's Music Editor examines music that impacted 2007.
New Year's realistic resolution reccomendations-
This year, resolve to...

- Gain weight. At least 10 pounds.

- Exercise Less.

- Waste more time.

- Read Duly Consider more, especially Considerable Sounds.

- Watch more TV. You've been missing some good highly stimulating news and entertainment.

- Procrastinate more. Starting tomorrow.

- Spend more time at work.

- Buy (or download) the Mighty Parrot Band Cd.

- Take a vacation to someplace important: like, to see the largest ball of twine.

- Not jump off a cliff just because everyone else did.Reality Photo

- Eat out more.

- Not have eight children at once.

- Find a whole NEW rut to be in!

- Start being superstitious.

- Continue throwing objects at Bush and Cheney when they appear on television.

- Not bet against the Patriots.

- Speak in a monotone voice and use more monosyllabic words .

- Spend summer vacation in Cyberspace.

- Not eat cloned meat.

- Create loose ends.

- Get more toys.

- Get further in debt.

- Not believe politicians.

- Not drive a motorized vehicle across thin ice.Moon

- Avoid airplanes that spontaneously drop from the sky.

- Stay off the International Space Station.

- Not swim with piranhas or sharks.

- Associate with even worse business clients.

- Spread out priorities beyond my ability to keep track of them.

- Wait around for opportunity to knock.

- Focus on the faults of others.

- Stop bothering about any of my own faults or shortcomings.

- Never bother making New Year's resolutions again. 

The Lamb Lies Down On Broad Street  
Review Of Genesis show in Philadelphia

Keller Williams, The Music Farm
Charleston, South Carolina is a truly great city
with character, history, and charm to amuse even the most jaded traveler.
 Excellent dinning spots, chic shopping, nearby beaches, and music.
Yes music.
Charleston's Music Farm is a fantastic place to hear music.
The Music Farm has been Charleston's venue for large-scale acts and memorable nights downtown.
 The room is very large, with lofty brick walls, a high trussed rounded wood ceiling,
and the house sound system is well designed .
Over the years, such acts as the Talking Heads, Widespread Panic,
De La Soul, David Cross, Ween, and many more have graced the stage.

Exquisite Album Art
A look at Hipgnosis, visionary feasts for the eye.

Motown & Randy Newman
What do Berry Gordon and Randy Newman have in common?

Praxis In The Volunteer State
Music itself suggests a veritable cornucopia of ideas,
 it seems placing words in it excludes many of those ideas in favor of focusing on the few.
This is neither positive nor negative; merely an observation.
Although we certainly hold vocal music and songwriting as an art form in high regards,
 instrumental music is seldom given the same degree of recognition in media at large today.
Visual artists at the start of the 20th century wanted their creations to emulate music
because at that time music was reasoned to be the purist art form.
The addition of language arguably removes some of the purity.

Retern To Return To Forever
Review Of The anticipated Reunion Show At The Mann Music Center.

Album PhotoThe Music Industry Is Dead - An Obituary
An examination of Peter Drucker's economic theories, the importance of partnership,
 and the gross error of imagining human resources are expendible in any business.

Give Peace A Chance - Remembering John Lennon
An homage to the man and his music.
 Largely comprised of comments sent in from readers.

The Djin Djin Tolls For Thee
I have a particular fondness for African Music.
With it’s upbeat emphasis on poly-rhythms and rich sonorities
it never fails to enrich and enliven even the most casual listener.
 The musical traditions of the many vibrant, enthralling,
yet divergent cultures across this great continent
appear to me to weave themselves into a resplendent tapestry of exuberance for life in the moment,
thirst for a brighter future, and respect for the heritage of the past.

Awakening The Intellect To Study Itself
Critical thinking is the ability to think for one's self. To use information reliably and responsibly to make decisions. Most people develop it at least to the degree they need to survive at the basic level...insuring they get the correct change from the cashier, or learning to stop at a red light. But unfortunately far too many develop the skills any further. There are many components to this process. Critical thinking must include critical inquiry. Intellectual curiosity. One must investigate problems, ask questions, pose new possible solutions, question authorities and traditional beliefs (after all if something is so, it remains so when investigated...if not, it was never so to begin with), and challenge any received dogmas and doctrines without prejudice.
What does it say about a culture where practicing scientific and critical thinking is discouraged?
 It would seem that certain societies will only tolerate a limited number of critical thinkers.
Why might that be?

A Happy New Year?
A history treatise. What is "New Year"?
 It is  a universally celebrated holiday.
That in itself is quite rare.
How did this particular day come to be the point we begin a new year?

Dancing About Architecture
In the beginning, Man created music.
We don’t know what it sounded like, there were no MP3 files, WAV files or CD audio.
There weren't even vinyl, cassettes, acetate disks, 8 tracks, or radio.
Our only glimpse of the early music is through random bits of surviving cave art.
Food, sex, musical instruments, and fire
appear in ancient cave drawings and petroglyphs around the world.
I suggest that these things were elemental to the lives of these people.
Admiring the work of someone in the distant past,
 I can not help but feel that electric tingle of connectivity with the art and the artist.
A bolt of lightning ensues from a dim and distant time.
An epiphany blooms from somewhere deep in the subconscious and blossoms in the consciousness.
(This is the first article I wrote for Duly Consider Magazine as Music Editor.)

Dispatch From The Voice Of Reason
A second installment on Critical Thinking.
It continues the general discussion from
"Awakening The Intellect To Study Itself".

This is not a comprehensive list of publications.

Guitar photo