The Motivic Structure: Music Is Life

Years ago a friend of mine, an obsessive, Brahms-idolizing composition student, lent me a copy of his latest discovery. It was The Thematic Process in Music, a classic 1951 book by Austrian musicologist Rudoph Reti. The work’s thesis is simple: it’s all connected. “All the themes of one movement,” Reti writes, “In fact all its groups and parts—are … but variations of one identical thought.”

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Northern Zapatista

Two decades after the 1994 ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) gagged representatives of the United States are contemplating the passage of its offspring, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. At the time of writing, there is still a substantial possibility that Hillary Clinton will become the next President of the United States in 2016, securing the second Bush-Clinton transit of a catastrophic global trade deal. NAFTA was drafted under George H.W. Bush and ratified by Bill Clinton, and even if President Obama gets what he wants – which is to ratify the deal drafted under George W. Bush – it will be during the last days of his presidency, leaving, perhaps, Hillary Clinton to preside over the fallout and ashes. It might yet become her deal by proxy. Hillary is prevaricating over TPP because she knows that Bill fucked up, just as he did on the Defense of Marriage Act and the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

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With Pink City, Jennifer Castle Earns Her Place on the Roster of Great Canadian Songwriters

I’ve always bristled at the term “American.” When used from the perspective of the U.S., it engulfs all of North America (and cuts off Mexico, Central and South America). Viewing “American” music, one may not notice the number of Canadian artists who have contributed and influenced considerably the greater “American” music canon, especially in the recent century. Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, The Band and The McGarrigle Sisters are just a few examples, not to mention the stream of contemporary musicians/ bands, including Mary Margaret O’Hara, Arcade Fire, Chad VanGaalen, The Sadies, The New Pornographers, Constantines and recent entries such as Mac Demarco, The Barr Brothers and The Shilohs. There should be a place at this Canadian roundtable for Jennifer Castle.

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Comparing ISIS to al-Qaeda in Yemen and Somalia is a Massive Mistake

In last night’s speech Obama compared his strategy to defeat ISIS to US operations in Yemen and Somalia. “This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.” For once conservatives seemed relieved by Obama’s plan no matter the lack of details.

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If A Muslim Denounces Extremism in Islam, Does Anybody Hear?

Ever since the Twin Towers fell there has been a daft proclamation permeating from the media and pseudo-intellectuals like Sam Harris, Ringo of the “New Atheists,” that the Muslim world doesn’t speak out against extremist groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS when they commit atrocious acts in the name of Islam. This isn't just Fox News, though they're still the best at it. The implication is that the majority of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims are thus accepting of – or even in cahoots with – the most violent people who claim to speak on behalf of their faith.

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LA Protest in Support of Palestine Met with Pro-Israeli Backlash

Sunday, August 10th -- Hundreds of people gathered in front of the Federal Building in Los Angeles to protest Israel’s effort to reinforce its apartheid state through over a month of offense in Gaza. Hundreds of pro-Israel supporters and Zionists draped in Israeli flags also gathered on the other side of Wilshire Boulevard, forming a counter protest.

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