Turn your world upside down – Duchamp in Tokyo

It’s here!

Fans of dadaism, readymades, art, subversive thinking, and ceramics – rejoice!

Go see the urinal that turned the art world upside down. See it standing on your head, have a friend take a picture, and recreate art again.

Art is infinate. Art is saying no what has come before. Art is changing our minds. Art is in front of you when you least expect it.

In 1917, something happened. 100 years later, we’re still learning about what art is.

Read the website carefully and you’ll find a PDF of all of the works on loan from the Philidelphia Museum of Art to the Tokyo National Museum.

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Creativity and divergent thinking

If you don’t know a guy named Ken Robinson AND you’re a teacher, then you’ve got some work to do.

His basic thesis is something you might have thought yourself but haven’t been able to express as eloquently as he has on the topic. Basically, education globally is in a crisis because we’ve found ourselves in a giant pit of standardized testing and need to get back to teaching creativity. This can be done be teaching divergent thinking.

As the zen master says, asking the question that can be answered immediately means you’re asking the wrong question. Therefore, I’m not going to outline either eponymous idea. You’re on your own.

But now you’re thinking about it.

If anyone can find a 200-page PDF that helps teachers think about creativity in the classroom (I used to have it. Perhaps its Scandinavian in origin?) please, please get it to me. The Art teacher at school is interested in it, too.

Here’s the video that got me to post today.

Progressive Rock

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I’ve been living in Japan for twenty-one years now. That’s a long time to have been given to find out about Japanese music.

Except I haven’t.

I know the state of music globally isn’t what it used to be. There are a handful of superstars, but they garnish YouTube hits, not necessarily music sales. The only real profit comes from promoting concert tours.

But back to my point about Japanese music. It’s vapid, soulless, and generally annoying.

I understand there are outliers. But this post isn’t about the childishness of Japanese music. Because the opposite of it is progressive rock.

There is so much rhythmic complexity, lyrical imagination, and a musicianship that is stunning. The genre itself can be a tough nut to crack for non-music geeks. But there are a few accessible songs out there to get you started.

Do some research, listen around to the giants like old Genesis, Pink Floyd, and Rush. I guess if one were to open the door, please listen to Dark Side of the Moon. But don’t stop there, because The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, although very different in texture, is a must listen-to album for all time.

Yes, as well. Lots of Yes (it’s a band name).

 

Yamaha RX-V585 Network Amplifier Unboxing and Set-up

Hello music lovers,

After years of owning a gorgeous pair of Martin Logan electrostatic speakers, I finally decided to upgrade to a suitable amp. Audiophiles know that this journey is rarely finished, but for the time being, I think I’ll be quite satisfied for several years to come.

There is a dizzying number of amplifiers to choose from, not to mention that I live in Tokyo, where pretty much everything in the world is available. But I am not a millionaire, and my budget was extremely limited.

The great news is that in 2018, Yamaha has the answer.

I don’t have a lot of time, so I’ll keep it simple: I wanted the capability to access my 700GB of mp3, flac, and Apple Lossless music files and play them whenever I wanted to. Utilizing an my MacBook, my wifi network, and my iPhone SE, I could connect and play anything I wanted to with my Yamaha.

I pre-ordered it (a month in advance) online from a store called Yodobashi Camera. Sure enough, four weeks later, they sent me an email saying that is was on its way.

Four hours later, it was home.

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Just by reading the logos on the box, you can get a sense of the options and possibilities this amp offers.

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The image on the box.

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The most intriguing part of set-up was the YPAO (Yamaha Parametric Room Acoustic Optimizer) mic.

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I wish Yamaha could utilize a more eco-friendly packing system. Anything but styrofoam.

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Inside was a simple set-up guide, the manual, FM antenna, AM antenna, YPAO mic, warranty card, remote, and batteries.

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My wife was worried that the inside will get dusty. I share her concern. Not sure what people do about this. We’ve covered it with a sheet of paper for now.

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Many amps have a USB slot in front to insert a flash drive containing music files. Sorry, you can’t plug your external directly into the amp.

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Four HMDI inputs, room for surround speakers (XMas 2020?), digital audio in (although HDMI does that for you), also room for a sound bar (XMas 2018?).

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I’m finding that I use the ‘Direct’ button most often. Although the pride of Yamaha is their Digital Signal Processing (DSP) technology, I haven’t found the need to make my living room feel like a Viennese concert hall or a jazz club – yet.

I was anxious about how long connecting to my network would take. You need to view the TV menu for this.

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No sweat. I read Japanese, but still…

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Okay, so how many menus screens will this take, I thought.

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Then one more.

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Oh. That was fast! This is what I saw after entering the wifi password.

Using the AV Set-up Guide app, then the AV Controller and the MusicCast apps, I could either connect with my phone or with the amp remote to access ALL of my music.

Really, really happy with the entire process, especially because I knew I was one of the first people in the world to listen to this amp.

And the best part is: I could hear the difference.

You can also use Plex. But it’s all good news, because set-up is easy, and it’s free.

 

Snarky Puppy – again

Music listeners,

Just in case you’e been distracted by podcasts, I’m here to snap you back into music mode.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge fan of Radiolab and other groups that allow me to listen in on fascinating conversations that explore outlandish topics and come to some dizzying denouements.

But my headphones are too good to not put on some Snarky Puppy. Dammit! I did it again. I typed Skinny, but it is NOT that band. What you will be exposed to will be a group of hyper-talented music school grads and geeks that will know the funk out of you. The sound quality you make you stop cold on the street as you realize that it’s recorded live in front of an audience.

So go forth, dear listeners, plug in, turn it up, and get back to some head bobbing.

 

Jimmy Smith – Root Down

I haven’t seen live music for some time now and I’ve been feeling some withdrawal. Luckily, I loaded this onto my phone to listen to and have been bopping my head to it on the subway. Sometimes, you just want everyone to hear what you’re listening to because you have a feeling it’s going to lift up their day.

I’ve cued the video to start at Root Down, but the whole darn album sizzles with funk. The bass is crazy driving and the melodies are filled with joy. I can see the whirling Hammond. It’s like I’m in the audience every time I hear this album!