Tod Machover, me, Marvin Minsky

Tod Machover, me, Marvin Minsky at the MIT Media Lab 2013

I’m truly excited to be flying to Boston next week to participate in an amazing MIT event, “Deconstructing Beethoven’s Improvisations,” based on Marvin Minsky’s legendary paper, Music, Mind, and Meaning , and his love of Beethoven’s improvisations. A whole bunch of the world renowned pianists, musicologists, and scientists are on the 12+ hour program.

Some of you may not know that I studied music intensely through my mid-20s. I had four years of music theory in high school, studied music at Berklee College of Music, Rutgers, and William Paterson College, plus arranging with the great Frank Foster, Chico Mendoza, Andy Jaffe, and John Stubblefield. I “get” improvisation as an avid jazz fan who once aspired to be a professional jazz musician (before my considerable lack of talent caught up with me)

That said, my knowledge of Beethoven is infinitesimal and my music analysis skills are quite rusty. I’m really looking forward to burning up some brain cells at this event.

I’m busy downloading the pre-homework for the event and will be doing some serious cramming of the following materials suggested by the event organizers.

SUGGESTIONS FROM OUR PRESENTERS

Jonathan Biss

  • Listen: Beethoven Fantasy, op. 77, Serkin Recording – YouTube
  • Listen: Beethoven Fantasy, op. 77, Schnabel Recording – YouTube

“The Serkin and Schnabel recordings are both excellent. Probably as close to Beethoven’s actual improvisations as anything we have on paper.”

Robert Levin

Marvin Minsky

  • Read: “Music, Mind, and Meaning” – website version
  • Watch: Marvin with Hockenberry for the Media Lab h2.0 conference, 5 min – view or download video
  • Listen: Marvin Minsky BBC Radio interview about Beethoven’s 9th, 20 min – listen to MP3
  • Listen: Marvin Minsky,Nursery Rhyme Suite, 1960’s, recently digitized from reel-to-reel collection – download MP3

Stephen Prutsman

Listen: Shadows, by Stephen Prutsman, 9 min – listen to MP3

Frederic Rzewski

Listen: Hammerklavier Sonata – YouTube

Jan Swafford

Read: Ludwig Rules: A Guide for Studying Beethoven, by Jan Swafford – PDF

SUGGESTIONS FROM OUR HOSTS

Tod Machover

Jonathan Berger

  • Read: Composing Your Thoughts web article
  • Read: Listener Correlation PDF
  • “All deeply influenced and inspired by Marvin”
  • Listen:Visitations website

Although I am not fully unpacked from a triumphant Constructing Modern Knowledge 2011 in July, I have been working hard over the past two months to assemble a collection of world-class guest speakers for the Fifth Anniversary Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute, July 9-12, 2012 in Manchester, NH.

As you know, Constructing Modern Knowledge is about action, but once a day, participants get to interact with brilliant thinkers whose work crackles with creativity, commitment and expertise. We’ve featured historians, astronomers, mathematicians, education reformers, MIT professors, early childhood experts and artists over the past four years, in addition to the best faculty in the world.

All of the guest speakers for CMK 2012 will be announced in a week or two, but our first confirmed guest speaker is so exciting that I can no longer keep him a surprise!

Extraordinary filmmaker Casey Neistat is coming to CMK 2012!

Casey Neistat is today’s premiere digital storyteller. He is an award-winning film producer, activist, artist and star of the HBO series, The Neistat Brothers, a show in which he and his brother shared “homemade” films about their lives. Watch an interview about their work here.

Casey Neistat was born and raised in Ledyard Connecticut, a farming town turned Foxwoods casino town.  His mother bought a VHS camera from Sears on credit in 1989 and was generous in letting the kids use it.  Casey moved to NYC in 2001 to make movies with his brother Van. The two worked together exclusively from 2001 through the production their self-titled HBO series ‘The Neistat Brothers‘ in 2008.  In 2011 Casey won an Independent Spirit Award for his work as producer on the film ‘Daddy Long Legs’. He currently lives and works in New York City

Casey uses consumer quality cameras, along with clever, remarkably simple and whimsical animation techniques to tell stories that are moving, funny or provoke action. He is a prolific moviemaker who can turn what others might perceive of as mundane everyday moments into great stories shared by tens of thousands, even millions, of viewers. That is why I invited him to be a guest speaker at Constructing Modern Knowledge!

The Neistat Brothers first gained notoriety when they produced iPod’s Dirty Secret, a 2003 viral video that shamed Apple into offering replacement batteries for the iPod. (read the press coverage) Casey’s recent video activisim turned his $50 ticket for riding his bike outside of the bike lane into a hilarious video in which he crashes into all sorts of obstacles found in lanes designated for cyclists. This short video not only warns users about Facebook’s questionable privacy practices, but teaches you how to protect yourself  in an entertaining and informative six minute film.

The Constructing Modern Knowledge web site will be updated over the coming weeks, but you can register today for CMK 2012 by clicking here. Register by December 1st for the insanely great super early-bird discount.


HBO promotional video for The Neistat Brothers


Casey Neistat of HBO’s Neistat Brothers talks technology and filmmaking.


A remarkably poignant story told in the simplest fashion


Everybody wants to be an action hero!


A public service announcement

A friend of mine just asked Facebook friends what they’re reading. Here is my current list if you don’t included the other thousand or so books awaiting my attention…

  1. Loris Malaguzzi and the Reggio Emilia Experience (a biography of one of the great educators of the 20th Century)
  2. The Quincy Jones Legacy Series: Q on Producing (a gorgeous book and DVD about the remarkable life and musical wisdom of Quincy Jones)
  3. Raising a School: Foundations for School Architecture (a spectacular book about all aspects of creating productive contexts for learning by a colleague of Seymour Papert, Dr. Rena Upitis)
  4. David Susskind: A Televised Life (a fine autobiography of one of my boyhood heroes)
  5. Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original (perhaps the most comprehensive jazz autobiography ever about one of the most complex musicians who ever lived)
  6. I Walked With Giants: The Autobiography of Jimmy Heath (I have been fortunate to spend some time with this amazing musician over the years.)
  7. Satiristas: Comedians, Contrarians, Raconteurs & Vulgarians (there is much to learn about learning and performance from comedians)
  8. The Improvising Mind: Cognition and Creativity in the Musical Moment (as soon as I can afford it – highly recommended by my friend, the great Brian Lynch)

I’m also revisiting more than a dozen books by the amazing Seymour Sarason and Seymour Papert‘s three books on learning and computing.