Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

LGBT stamp year

September 9, 2014

Issued on 7/31/14, this Canadian stamp featuring k.d. lang (in a series honoring Candian country-music artists — also Shania Twain, Tommy Hunter, Renee Martel, and Hank Snow):

(#1)

lang follows gay artist Tom of Finland (on Finnish stamps, covered here) and American gay political activist Harvey Milk (US stamp issued 5/22/14):

(#2)

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Cantus Arcticus

September 6, 2014

(Nothing much about language here. Music and birds instead.)

Caught in the middle of the night from WQXR, the NYC classical music station (I sleep to music), this musical oddity:

Cantus Arcticus, Op. 61, is an orchestral composition written by Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara in 1972. It is probably his best-known work.

Subtitled Concerto for Birds and Orchestra, it incorporates tape recordings of birdsong recorded near the Arctic Circle and on the bogs of Liminka in northern Finland.

The work is in three movements: The bog opens with a flute duet, after which the other woodwinds join in, followed by the birds. The second movement, Melancholy, features a slowed-down recording of the song of the shore lark. The final movement, Swans migrating, takes the form of a long crescendo for orchestra, with the sounds of whooper swans. At the end both birdsong and orchestra fade, as if into the distance.

Cantus Arcticus was commissioned by the University of Oulu for its first doctoral degree ceremony. (Wikipedia link)

I’m enchanted that a university (a university specializing in science and technology, in fact) would commission a musical composition to inaugurate its doctoral program. In this case, a substantial composition, and one especially crafted to fit the university’s location, way up in northern Finland.

Mashup

August 16, 2014

Today’s Zippy, on musical mashups:

 

The third panel veers into a Zippy favorite, Allen Ginsberg’s HOWL, in a parody version.

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The song sparrow

August 3, 2014

Today’s revisiting of Calvin and Hobbes:

The song sparrow segues into a bit of kidlore (beloved by campers and scout troops), and that gets Calvin thrown out of the house by his mother.

A lot of kidlore has no traceable history, but this one has an official story.

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Arne

June 20, 2014

WHRB (Harvard’s student radio station) came along with a piece of pleasant Baroque music (for organ and strings) that was entirely unfamiliar to me, so I looked up at the identifying tag in iTunes. Which told me it was by Arne. Not my friend Arne Adolfsen (with his Norwegian-derived disyllabic personal name), but Thomas Arne (with his British, but presumably ultimately Scandinavian-derived, monosyllabic family name). I had just heard one of his six Concerti for Organ and Strings, probably #2 in G major.

A fascinating but little-known figure, who suffered musically by being overshadowed by Handel and personally by being Catholic (so he was barred from the usual sources of patronage) and also a renowned lecher.

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Briefly noted: two-language pun pairs

June 3, 2014

On May 31st, Xopher Walker, listening to a live opera broadcast on WFMT, groused about the tedium of Wagner’s Parsifal. Ned Deily noted a different radio broadcast (BR Klassik) of the more pleasing Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio) by Mozart.  Extensive discussion of Parsifal and performances of it followed.

And then Michael Palmer produced this marvelous pair of puns on the name of the Mozart opera, one in German (playing on Ente ‘duck’ instead of the prefix ent- ‘separate, remove’), one in English (playing on duck instead of the Latinate root -duc- ‘lead’):

Die Enteführung aus dem Serail, aka the Abducktion from the Seraglio

(It’s all about the ducks.)

Applause for Palmer followed.

Palmer then wondered if there was an accepted term for this phenomenon – “puns in two languages that are translations of one another”. Not that I know of.

 

Piercing

May 23, 2014

(Not much about language.)

It starts with a postcard from Xopher Walker, a photograph by an artist I was unfamiliar with, Paul Blanca (for maximum confusion, there’s also a photographer Paul Branca, and Google really truly wants to tell me about Branca rather than Blanca): the 1985 “Selfportrait decoration”, a male torso shot, showing a line of chest hair and the model’s (Blanca’s) left nipple, and in between a safety pin piercing in his pectoral muscle and, below that, a white composite flower (like a small chrysanthemum flower) looking much like a boutonnière. I’ve added a caption of my own: “Piercing, man, piercing” (a little pun).

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Alan Fletcher

May 20, 2014

More from my back files: graphic designer Alan Fletcher, creator of images on postcards Max Vasilatos sent me in 2008 and 2009.

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An epicene protest

May 13, 2014

In a bizarre response to the winning of the Eurovision Song Contest by a bearded drag queen, Conchita Wurst singing “Rise Like a Phoenix” (reported in almost every media outlet), some Russian men have taken to shaving off their beards (if they had them). The position seems to be that Wurst’s beard so poisons beards as a symbol of masculinity that real men have no way to protest except by going beardless. (The idea here seems to some degree to be similar to the position that same-sex marriage diminishes and debases opposite-sex marriage — except that in the Wurst case, the threat comes from a single case: just one, though admittedly very visible, bearded man in a dress.)

The result is paradoxical.

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Musical talent decomposed

May 7, 2014

A cartoon from New Yorker artist Tom Cheney decomposing musical talent into an assortment of distinct abilities, much as style books decompose writing style:

The band has a lot of work to do.

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