What does eternity sound like? 16th-century PROG!

Prog goes back at least to the sixteenth century. Here’s proof:

From “Can Synthesized Music Touch Eternity?“:

The scholastics, typically dated from St. Thomas Aquinas in the late Middle Ages, believed in the unity of all truth. Not that all truth was knowable, but it is potentially integratable. Whatever was true in one discipline had also to be true in every other discipline; one truth, stretching infinitely vertical but also horizontally to infinite applications. Similarly, whatever was true in the course of time in this world is a reflection of a truth that God ordained to be so outside of time.

The model went as follows. There is the forward march of time, which is the world you and I know, experience, report on, and it is defined by struggle, triumph over nature, and a sad ending that comes with mortality, dust to dust.  On the other side of life, there is new life in a complete world that lives outside of time, birth, and death. It is the transcendent realm, a kind of place where we can live at one with God and in full knowledge of all that is true. This was Heaven.

This model implies a certain well-known geography, which is metaphorical but aids in understanding. Time is what you experience in life. Heaven is ascendant and transcendent. It is a realm somewhere up there that is out of time. And of course there is also Purgatory (which exists within time but is only known after death) as well as Hell, the eternal foil to paradise.

The highest goal of life on earth – and this goes for art, liturgy, learning, technology, science, commerce – was to reach outside of time and touch (or see or feel) that heavenly realm. Doing so, it was believed, would inspire us toward better lives because it would fire the imagination toward the goal of all our mental and spiritual actions, to love God and others ever more perfectly. Also, it’s psychologically and spiritually awesome to gain a glimpse of God or even to touch the Presence.

Eternity to Taste and Hear

This sensibility is embodied in Eucharistic theology, in which the faithful are granted the privilege of literally consuming the body of Christ. It is a way for time to touch eternity in the most tangible possible way, literally draw on the transcendent as a source of life and salvation. The art created in light of this sensibility was structured to achieve this very Eucharistic effect, to create visuals and sound that permit us some slight hint of access to the eternal.

What does eternity sound like? This was the task of the 16th-century masters to discover. And this task – which is not so much didactic as experiential – inspired vast creativity all over England and the Continent. There was Victoria in Spain, Tallis in England, Josquin in France, Palestrina in Italy, Di Lasso in the Netherlands, Isaac in Germany, and literally thousands of other musicians who contributed to the task. And their legacies are remarkable. Their music can still today transport your mind to another realm, exactly as the Scholastic model suggests.

Forever Rush: Summertime Limelight

Because it never gets old…


R.I.P. Le Studio:

The Laurentian Mountains studio, where Rush recorded the video for “Tom Sawyer,” was destroyed by an early morning fire today. Provincial police received a call about the blaze around 5:30 a.m., but when firefighters got to the studio, it was too late. Investigators with the Sûreté du Québec are working to determine the cause of the fire.

Steven Wilson – Refuge (Lyric Video)

Steven Wilson’s new album is an amazing masterpiece. I give it my highest rating and I can’t stop listening to it! Now there is a new video out for one of the most moving songs on the disc.

Inspired by the plight of Syrian refugees, “Refuge” builds from the hushed beauty and pathos of the song section to an instrumental apex in which Paul Stacey’s guitar, Mark Feltham’s harmonica and Steven Wilson’s synth solo unite in epic glory, before dropping back down to a haunting aftermath. “Refuge” is a powerfully intense and cinematic highlight from the forthcoming album To the Bone.
Lyric video created by Lasse Hoile

Schooltree: “Day of the Rogue” from Heterotopia @schooltree

This video shows the world premiere live performance of the penultimate track from Schooltree’s superb rock opera Heterotopia. This happened on March 31, 2017 at the OBERON in Cambridge, MA.

The Heterotopia double album is now available at http://schooltree.bandcamp.com

Lainey Schooltree – vocals/keys
Tom Collins – drums
Peter Danilchuk – organ/synth
Ryan Schwartzel – bass
Sam Crawford – guitar

Video by Rob Schulbaum

Chilling Out: The Biological Pleasures of Exciting Music @LakeStreetDive

There’s an excellent discussion up online today (“The chills we get from listening to music are a biological reaction to surprise“) about how music can give us the “chills” (wherein we learn that, actually, the technical scientific term is “frisson”). The whole thing is great, but especially the example the author (Katherine Foley) uses to illustrate her discussion. The example comes from Lake Street Dive, also a perennial favorite over here at Progarchy amongst the editors. Here it is:

Take this version of “What I’m Doing Here,” a song by Lake Street Dive, sung by Rachael Price.

This blues piece was written by Price herself, who is a trained jazz singer. Right around 2:06, she sings at comparatively lower notes, followed by a crescendo where she hits an extremely high note before dropping back down immediately afterward. The quick turnaround between the high and low notes, combined with the build-up in between, is climactic, surprising, and resembles wailing in a way. And if all that weren’t enough, there’s a key change a few seconds later (around 2:50) that offers another unexpected treat for the ears.

It’s more than enough to give me chills, and sometimes a lump in the back of my throat. That said, this song resonated with me during an emotionally charged time in my life; those memories undoubtedly enhance my listening experience.

If you’re looking to learn more about the innovative excellence of Lake Street Dive, in addition to buying all their albums, you should read this extremely well written musicological piece on them: “Lake Street Dive: Searching for the Unexpected Chord” (H/T: Progarchy editor Carl E. Olson).

Loud and proud with Southern accents

From Lynyrd Skynryd to Diarrhea Planet! Great feature in the WSJ today on Southern Rock:

The South has long been a wellspring of American popular music, from New Orleans jazz and Memphis rock and roll to Atlanta rap. The latest rock revival shows how dramatically this region’s demographic and economic landscape is changing. In the past decade, the South has seen more growth in Hispanics, Asians and mixed-race Americans than any region, says William Frey, a Brookings Institution demographer. There’s also been an infusion of young people from New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and rural parts of the Midwest into Southern cities, drawn by a strong regional economy and lower living costs.