time to change the way we view music and the arts

Can we control loose ends?

Lately it seems as if small pieces of intriguing, humorous or straight up educational headlines have been flooding the news.
So I’m unofficially calling this most recent trend and resulting spill over into my blog the “collage series,” as I’ve been touching upon several different seemingly unrelated stories from post to post now.

Starting with a small bit of continuity though, I was talking some about Spiderman: Turn off the Dark a couple of posts back (see here if you want to get caught up) and I see its managed to make headlines in a different section of the New York Times this week. The unavoidable bottom line which is the business section! A few curious individuals combined the writer’s “two great loves: theater and economics.” (Not my particular pair of choice, but to each their own.) and delved into the mathematics of how long it would take the “yet to fully launch” show to recover its initial investment costs, which I stated to be at the record 65 million.

The article is here for your theater fans who want to analyze the entire process, which combines dismantling average ticket sales, loss and gains, profit margins…all that fun stuff. (Seriously, I’m not completely mocking economics, it is rather interesting to see the full breakdown)

New York Times: Spider Man Economics

However, for those of you that love to jump to the juicy punch line, here’s the daunting timespan SpiderMan has coming.

******SPOILER!!! AHHHH!!!!******** hahaha.

The Verdict: Again, the total upfront cost of the show was $65 million. At the weekly profit rate above, it will take ($65,000,000) / ($313,489.80 a week) = 207.3 weeks = about 4 years before the show even begins to make up its initial investment.

…scary isn’t it? I’m wondering if the producers took the “comic-book-purist, potential-audience-member factor” into account. Ideally I would love to see the comic book engaged become fascinated and ultimately hooked on theater. Spiderman is all about a sense of justice and inner moral conflict and personal responsibility. (Let’s not forget Uncle Ben’s famous line to Peter Parker, “With great power comes great responsibility.”) Face fact though, anyone that’s into Spiderman is into the action and taking down the villains. Gritty fight scenes and intense explosions abound. So, will this investing for some of that authenticity end up giving back to the theater team and opening up a new segment of comic-con patrons? Check back in 2014….

Now I’d like to take a moment to add on to a theme I mentioned in my most recent post about the Sing-Off. I meant what I said about not intending to review every installment of the show. However, Ben Folds made a somewhat crude but truthful comment/positive critique last night that fits well with the core drive behind this blog, which is pointing out examples of artistic style integration, appreciation and understanding in the face of seemingly uncommon ground.

One of the remaining groups, Committed, which I mentioned is a gospel a cappella group out of Alabama, performed a medley of hits by long standing Urban/R&B artist, Usher, as part of the “Perform hits by Music’s Superstars” theme from last night.
Aside from what I’ve already addressed with this show’s integration powered popularity, Ben Folds summed up his observation of the stylistic adjustment, assimilation and expansion this group has done and the relaxed open mindedness they’ve maintained that brought them to this point where they are shining as such a strong sounding group -and did it in a perfectly blunt way. The commentary I speak of is about 5:27 in on the video below. (In my opinion, they are REALLY solid.)

Folds has such a way with words, doesn’t he? (insert sarcastic laugh here) As did the rest of the judges too. This is a rather clear example of a smooth growth in musicians’ genre horizons, absent of any pretentious facade that one might fear could accompany a group so rooted in a religious style. While it might be slightly awkward to point out at first, I think the judging commentary says what probably a lot of viewers are thinking at home, which is that “see, it didn’t hurt them or their sound to get outside of the Praise Music Box. Other styles aren’t so bad, are they?” The group stays true to their beliefs, which is all fine and good, but maybe when they go back to Alabama, their Sunday repertoire will take on all new arrangements and covers.

My last piece of food for thought jumps from the roaringly popular to the “silently stunning.” Even though I have Sandow’s blog off to the right as a link, his latest post begs direct reference. If you haven’t heard of/heard John Cage and his famous “4’33,” watch the video below. If it still confuses you, read the first comment quoted below from viewers which gives a nice succinct explanation behind Cage’s line of thinking. (in addition, a commentator explains some of it before the “performance” at the beginning of the video.)

“Actually, for anyone that cares to know the reason John Cage wrote this, it was because he had come to the realization that silence cannot exsist. He had gone into a soundproofed room, expecting to find complete silence but found that he could even hear the blood rushing through his veins. It’s written so you can hear the sounds underneath when everything is supposed to be “silent”.

Now with this background freshly introduced to you, take a look at the main point to Sandow’s latest post:

Cage Against the Machine
“Support is building like a tidal wave,” says the Daily Telegraph in Britain, about a wonderful, unlikely, but conceivably successful project — to push a recording of John Cage’s 4’33” (his famous silent piece) to the top of the British pop chart.”

how does this make you feel? As a person who wants to give any kind of music a chance at least once and finds new ideas exciting, I want to say “right on!” Really though, it’s not easy for me to do. I mean, essentially, Cage’s intention is for everyone who attends a performance of 4’33 to experience it in their own way and essentially every performance of 4’33 is different because new noises do and don’t occur each time. It’s never the same. It’s not like playing a score whose notes never change. Sure, there are live discrepancies with other performances that don’t occur consecutively but try and work with me here. If a piece, which is supposed to be “freshly experienced,” is captured on a recorded medium, that’s hardly experiencing it in the moment, as each individual performance prompts by default. So even further, how can that possibly gain popularity enough to top the British music charts? I haven’t the slightest. hey, let the public have at it though, right? There’s really no harm in it. (except if maybe Cage is rolling over in his grave)

It kind of reminds me of this exhibit I “experienced” at the Tate Modern at the beginning of this year. It’s called “How it is” by Miroslaw Balka and it involves the idea of venturing into the unknown. (I don’t want to spoil it should you ever find the exhibit) but basically, after you’ve seen the exhibit once and taken note of how it made you feel, you can’t ever get that same feeling back again, even if you don’t see the exhibit again for a long time. That’s the similarity I find with 4’33. You can only experience it in the way you first experienced it one time.

…I guess there was more continuity in this post than I anticipated. Scratch my thing about collages. Somehow stuff came together. Just lucky I guess!

Leave a Reply

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS