Saturday, August 18, 2018

Is Aretha The Equal Of Michelangelo?

In the Washington Post of August 17, Chris Richards declared that the performance by Aretha Franklin of the title cut on her 1972 gospel-soul album, "Amazing Grace" "deserves to be compared to everything Michelangelo ever painted."  Now  I am not prepared to go that far, but  when I learned she had died, it was this particular song by her on that album (which I have in vinyl from when it first came out) that I wanted to hear and played prior to seeing this over-the-top remark by Richards.

Nevertheless, it is an incredible performance. She has been underappreciated for some time partly because she has been so widely imitated for so long. Her basic sound has become simply what most singers, especially female ones, do all the time, with even the cheesy pop Idol shows turning what has become a cliche into a joke.

So her great innovation was to introduce  into US pop music melisma, the making multiple notes out of a single syllable of text. This has become an overdone cliche.  But it was Aretha who moved this standard of gospel music with its African origins into pop music, with possibly only southern Indian Carnatic vocal music matching this tradition.

In any case, Aretha's 1972 version of  "Amazing Grace" is the ultimate expression of gospel Melisma, far beyond what anybody else has ever done, even if it does not quite match "everything Michelangelo painted."

Barkley Rosser 


john c. halasz said...

Melisma is widespread in global music, Arabic, Greek, flamenco, etc. It probably should be designated the majority position on the global "hit parade".

AXEC / E.K-H said...

The biggest scientific mistake of the last centuries, and it has much to do with academic economists
Comment on Simon Wren-Lewis on ‘The biggest economic policy mistake of the last decade, and it had nothing to do with academic economists’

Simon Wren-Lewis argues: “I think this lack of influence that academic economics can have is not understood by many. It often suits some heterodox economists to pretend otherwise. Economists can be influential, but only when politicians want to listen, or the media is prepared to confront them with academic knowledge.”

Economists have it always BOTH ways. Keynes famously argued: “Practical men who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.”

In economics, everything and the exact opposite has already been said sometime, somewhere, by somebody. Self-contradiction is NOT a disadvantage. Just the opposite. If some major economic event happens, there is always somebody who ‘saw it coming’ or ‘who got it right but, unfortunately, was ignored’. The discussion about austerity is NOT different.

Simon Wren-Lewis tells the story how he, Paul Krugman, Brad DeLong and others have successfully taken down the arguments for austerity: “As far as us Keynesians were concerned, the intellectual battles were won by the end of 2012 if not before.”

This gives us the Iron Rule of Political Economics: If economic shit happens then it was NEVER the fault of economists but of politicians who do not understand economics and always listen to the incompetent economists and ignore the competent economists.” The truth is just the opposite: “Late in life, moreover, he [Napoleon] claimed that he had always believed that if an empire were made of granite the ideas of economists, if listened to, would suffice to reduce it to dust.” (Viner)

This is why intelligent heads of state do not listen to economists but only employ them as useful idiots.

The point is this: “In order to tell the politicians and practitioners something about causes and best means, the economist needs the true theory or else he has not much more to offer than educated common sense or his personal opinion.” (Stigum)

Now, this is the current state of economics: the four main approaches ― Walrasianism, Keynesianism, Marxianism, Austrianism ― are mutually contradictory, axiomatically false, materially/formally inconsistent, and all got profit ― the pivotal concept of the subject matter ― wrong. With the pluralism of provably false theories, economists have not achieved anything of scientific value. They nonetheless hold up the claim to be scientists and experts.

The key to understanding economics is that there are TWO economixes: political and theoretical economics. Theoretical economics (= science) had been hijacked from the very beginning by the agenda pushers of political economics. Economics claims to be a science but is NOT. Economists claim to know how the economy works but do NOT. From this follows that economic policy guidance from Smith/Marx onward NEVER had sound scientific foundations. This applies also to the issue of austerity.#1, #2, #3

See part 2

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Part 2

Neither Simon Wren-Lewis nor Paul Krugman nor Brad DeLong nor the rest knows how the economy works yet all have very strong opinions what the politicians should do. Economists have entirely forgotten that agenda pushing is NOT AT ALL their business: “A scientific observer or reasoner, merely as such, is not an adviser for practice. His part is only to show that certain consequences follow from certain causes, and that to obtain certain ends, certain means are the most effectual. Whether the ends themselves are such as ought to be pursued, and if so, in what cases and to how great a length, it is no part of his business as a cultivator of science to decide, and science alone will never qualify him for the decision.” (J. S. Mill)

All the more so, because economists messed up science.#4 After 200+ years of political agenda pushing, economics is one of the most embarrassing failures in the history of modern science.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

#1 Austerity and the idiocy of political economists

#2 Austerity and the utter scientific ignorance of economists

#3 Austerity and the total disconnect between economic policy and science

#4 See cross-references Failed/Fake Scientists