Vernacular Appeal of Melodic Simplicity and Harmonic Redundancy

I know the classical blogosphere will be seriously mourning Rostropovich. However, I personally am finding some redemptive light at the end of the tunnel over at Prof. Heebie McJeebie’s Classical Pontifications. I nominate “Simpleton Pleasures” and “Jazz Improvisations” by Ariodney Hussington to be possibly the worst pieces of music ever written by anyone. But why, oh why, can I not stop listening to them???

A highlight (?) from Ms. Hussington’s interview:

McJeebie: Why is the piece called Jazz Improvisations if there’s no improvisation?

Hussington: There is improvisation, but it happens in the composer’s head, and, actually, it already happened. It was in the past.

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  1. jolene
    Posted April 27, 2007 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    i just saw you on the today show! congrats. ^^

  2. Sam
    Posted April 27, 2007 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    I really wanted to subtitle my forthcoming Philip Glass retrospective “The Vernacular Appeal of Melodic Simplicity and Harmonic Redundancy.” I guess in order to avoid charges of plagiarism I’ll have to go back to my original idea of “Good Music to Listen to Whilst Taking Drugs.”

  3. David
    Posted April 27, 2007 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    For Immediate Release:
    April 27, 2007

    98.7WFMT Pays Tribute to Cellist, Conductor Mstislav Rostropovich

    Listener Memories, Recordings and Rare Interviews Pre-empt Regular Music Schedule

    Chicago, IL — 98.7WFMT, Chicago’s Classical Experience, is paying tribute to Russian musician and human rights activist Mstislav Rostropovich who died this morning in Moscow. Today, Friday April 27, and tomorrow morning, Saturday April 28, the station is airing recordings from its archives of Rostropovich cello performances and conducting various orchestras around the world. In addition, the station is airing voicemails and reading emails from listeners recounting memories of the world-renowned musician, who visited Chicago many times during his lifetime. Rare interviews have also been posted on

    The special tribute pre-empts previously scheduled musical programming.

    “Today represents a major loss for the classical music world” said WFMT Program Director Peter Whorf, “and it’s only appropriate that we use our archives to pay tribute.” On his blog, Whorf posted a rare audio clip of composer Dmitri Shostakovich speaking of his friend Rostropovich as well as a recent interview producer Jon Tolansky conducted with him in 2002.

    One Internet listener remarked via email that “the great significance of Mstislav Rostropovich to the music world and the world in general is tremendous. As you played his recording of what he played at the [collapse of the] Berlin Wall, I was deeply touched. Your efforts all morning to honor this great person is just one more reason what we love your station.

    “Thanks so much for all you do daily to enrich our lives.”

    More information about 98.7WFMT and 98.7WFMT Streaming is available at

    About 98.7WFMT
    98.7WFMT, Chicago’s Classical Experience, provides the best and broadest selection of classical music and fine arts programming heard in the country. A broadcasting force for more than 55 years, the station’s appeal continues to widen. 98.7WFMT is currently serving the largest audience in its history.
    Holly H. Gilson
    98.7WFMT and the WFMT Radio Network
    (773) 509-5424

  4. rednepentha
    Posted April 27, 2007 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    the simple pleasures sounds like a march for children. the jazz piece is better.

    it was fun seeing you on the today show.

  5. Chris
    Posted April 28, 2007 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    Enjoyed hearing/seeing you at the bouncy little concert at the Met last night, so thanks.

  6. Lisa
    Posted April 28, 2007 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    wow. both pieces are atrocious. REALLY bad. Although, not the worst I’ve ever heard, or played for that matter…oy.

  7. laura
    Posted April 28, 2007 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    “So what you’re hearing is a sort-of simultaneous compilation of all kinds of different improvisations that the composer was able to transcribe quickly.”

    I’m confused. Isn’t that what we call composing? Not improvisation, which by definition is “a creation spoken or written or composed extemporaneously”.
    Anyone care to explain?

  8. Jeremy Denk
    Posted April 29, 2007 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Um, Laura, it’s a satire …

  9. laura
    Posted April 29, 2007 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    That one went right over my head.
    Thanks, Jeremy. The only excuse I have is that it was late…?

  10. Anonymous
    Posted May 2, 2007 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    Wonderful blog, Jeremy. This is hilarious! Brubeck and Kenton are two of my favorite ‘African American Jazz’ artists as well. Hussington’s got some taste.

  11. sakthi
    Posted May 11, 2007 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    HI Jeremy,Its nice to seen you on today show! Jazz is my favorite music ever,invariable of composers i’ll listen and enjoy the music which comes in tag of Jazz..
    European Breakdown Cover

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