Artists Died For Their Art (In The 9th Century)

Analysis of art on stucco fragments painted in Iraq in th 9th Century shows they were laced with arsenic. “People died young until a couple of centuries ago, and I guess other illnesses were causing artists to die before they got poisoned to death by the materials they were using. What happened to their apprentices, who ground and prepared the pigments on a routine basis, I don’t know.”

Your Brain On Music

How about music controlled just by thinking about what it should sound like? “The brain operates in the same units sound waves are measured in — hertz. You’re getting raw data from the prefrontal cortex but feeding it through software — a little bit from the left hemisphere and a little bit from the right.”

If You Blog It, They Will Come

For two years, M dot Strange posted a YouTube video blog, detailing the progress of the movie he was making. When the film premiered at Sundance, “quite a few members of the audience left midmovie.” But this was hardly a measure of his fan base. “Kevin Donahue, vice president of content at YouTube, said M dot Strange has created an audience in part by talking to it.”

Meet The Author (Whether He Wants To Or Not)

“The relationship between writers and their readers has changed considerably over the past few years. You write a book because what you have to say is, at the very least, long-winded, and possibly even nuanced or subtle. It takes you months or years. But this is the information age; whoever you are, the digital camera will find you eventually. Right now, it is the turn of writers to be caught in the net.”

The Star Conductor & The Little Orchestra

Why did the talented Kent Nagano spend so long running the small Berkely Symphony? It goes against all the rules. “If nothing else, the joint history of Nagano and the Berkeley Symphony has demonstrated that not all of the laws by which the musical world does its business are carved in stone, that under the right circumstances, a collaboration that flies in the face of all the accepted wisdom can flourish and grow and last far beyond what anyone would have thought possible.”

Alarm Over Missouri Arts Funding

Missouri arts supporters are alwrmed at a proposal in the state legislature which would, “under certain circumstances, allow lawmakers access to almost $1 billion in funds reserved for, among other things, the arts. That includes about $28 million in the Missouri Cultural Trust, which was established in the 1990s as an endowment for the Missouri Arts Council.”

The Jazz Niche Gets Even Nichier?

Jazz is undergoing a profound change in its business model. “It may not be as huge as the shift from silent movies to talkies, but it’s a major turning point. What you’re seeing is the result of a shift in the way music is produced and consumed, and in the way people pay for it. With more major record labels cutting back, consolidating or eliminating their jazz divisions, the necessity of thinking small is greater than ever.”

The Song Icon And The Ballet Company

Singer Joni Mitchell is collaborating with Alberta Ballet to create a new dance. Attention to the project has been huge. “For the small-market ballet company, which produces only five shows a year, it’s been a bit overwhelming. For Mitchell, who will be inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame on Jan. 28, it’s even more daunting because it’s her big debut after years away from the public eye.”