5.13.2022 – die freude schöner

die freude schöner
götterfunken tochter
aus elysium

Random thoughts in the afternoon, and my first haiku in german, brought on by the presenter on the radio saying that he was giving listeners a minute to get ready and then to get settled as the next piece he was going to play was over one hour long.

Before he said what it was I knew what it would be.

On Friday evening, remember I listen to radio station from London so they are 5 hours ahead (this way, I like to say, I know that someone has made it through the next 5 hours) if a radio station is going to play a single piece of classical music over an hour long, it has to be the Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 by Beethoven.

According to one source, It was longer and more complex than any symphony to date and required a larger orchestra. But the most unique feature of “The Ninth” was that Beethoven included chorus and vocal soloists in the final movement. He was the first major composer to do this in a symphony.

According to Wikipedia, it was first performed in Vienna on 7 May 1824. The symphony is regarded by many critics and musicologists as Beethoven’s greatest work and one of the supreme achievements in the history of music. One of the best-known works in common practice music, it stands as one of the most frequently performed symphonies in the world.

I was a little kid when I started listening to classical music.

I am sure there was a lot of ‘look at me, I am so smart I listen to classical music’ and I am sure that Schroeder in the Charlie Brown comic strip also played a part.

But like many other things in my life, I can remember being around the age of 10 or 11 and on TV, my Mom was watching that new public TV station.

Understand this was back in the day when we got three TV channels in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I grew up and when public TV from Grand Valley State College went on air, it increased the amount of available TV 33%.

I sat down to watch with her and it was a documentary narrated by Leonard Bernstein about putting on a concert in Vienna featuring Beethoven’s 9th symphony.

It wasn’t the type of show my Mom usually watched but she kept it on and we both got drawn into the story and the music.

The documentary told three stories.

One was the performance itself.

One was the story behind the performance, the rehearsals, the technical aspects of preparing the hall, the technical aspects of getting the orchestra itself to Vienna.

One was Mr. Bernstein describing the life of times of one Ludwig van Beethoven.

The documentary wove the three stories together and ended with the performance of the 4th movement.

Something about the life of Mr. Beethoven and his struggles to express the sounds inside his head got into me.

I distinctly remember Mr. Bernstein describing how the members of’ the the chorus arrived early enough for ‘one more goulash and beer’ before the performance.

Growing up my house was filled with books.

I talk about that a lot.

But along with the books our house was also filled with music.

My Dad was into the HiFi era and bought a lot of records and a lot of record players.

Along one wall of our living room was a flat countertop cupboard and there were 5 or 6 stacks of LP’s.

My Dad also had his favorite shows and music that he listened to on the radio and he spent a lot time working with a reel to reel tape recorder that could record off the radio at a flip of the switch.

My brothers and sisters of course contributed a lot of music of the era but I can say it was easily one of the most eclectic collections of records music in West Michigan.

After seeing this show about Beethoven, I started looking through the record collection to find other classical music and once I found it, I would listen to it.

For the most part my brothers and sisters put up with it.

It became part of my schtick.

I read a lot.

I listened to classic music.

I weighed about 55 lbs and wore glasses.

I mean, what did anyone else expect.

But there were bonuses.

My brother Bob and his wife were living in Kalamazoo while he went to WMU.

They noticed that WMU had just completed the Miller Auditorium and to dedicate it, the college offered free tickets to a performance to Beethoven’s 9th symphony.

They got in touch with us up in Grand Rapids as they thought I would be interested.

My Dad made or maybe my brother Bobby made some calls and got tickets for all of us and one Sunday afternoon, we loaded up and my Dad, Mom and 7 or 8 of my brothers and sisters went to hear the show.

Now this is where history gets interesting as according to the internet Miller Auditorium opened on Jan. 12, 1968.

That would have made me 7.

Ah, well, precocious wasn’t I.

It was the first time I heard classical music live.

I could see it.

I could hear it.

And I could imagine it.

I have attended maybe 6 or 7 live performances of this symphony since then.

It is different every time.

It is the same every time.

A couple of years after that at Christmas I unwrapped a heavy flat box.

It was a present my Mom picked out for me.

It was a set of records of the all 9 Beethoven symphonies.

I kept those records for the next 50 years.

I am typing this as I listen to the radio so this could go on for a bit.

Another story that always comes to mind.

According to legend when Sony was developing the music CD, the President of Sony demanded that the size of a CD should be big enough to be able to hold a minimum of 88 minutes of music.

He felt that any music medium worth its salt should be able to contain the complete performance of the 9th Symphoney.

I know this story doesn’t hold up against most fact but as they say, when in doubt, print the legend.

That Mr. Beethoven, almost 200 years after his death, had such an impact on modern music was too perfect to not be true.

If it isn’t the way it happened, is the way it should have happened.

And with the that, the music is drawing to a close.

Nice way to end the day.

die freude schöner
götterfunken tochter
aus elysium

Joy, beautiful spark of Divinity
Daughter of Elysium,

4.10.2022 – do you want to hear

do you want to hear
some interesting music …
is called ‘symphony’

In the movie ‘Out of Africa’ which Wikipedia calls an American epic romantic drama film, there is a scene where Robert Redford sets up a spring-driven record player and when a bunch of baboons wonder over, Redford pulls a string and the record player plays the adagio of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A Major.

Redford’s character, Denys Finch Hatton, says, “Think of it: never a man-made sound… and then Mozart!”

Two things about this this morning.

One thing that didn’t come to mind until I pasted that quote into place.

I live along the Atlantic Coast and while it is much more quiet than Atlanta, with the traffic that there is on the streets and in the sky, I don’t go long without hearing a man made sound.

I think of Michael Palin’s British epic travel drama documentary, Himalayas.

There is a scene where Palin approaches a hut high in mountains (and I mean high) far far far away from the maddening crowd.

The setting is much like those cartoons of people who trek far into the mountains to ask the wise man for advice and no one, but NO ONE, is within a billion miles so the wise man lives in abject silence.

An old old man comes out of the hut and wants to sing a song for Palin.

Palin’s team starts recording and has to stop because of the man-made sound of a commercial airliner or maybe a Fed Ex transport delivering Amazon Prime Next Day to Nepal, that can be heard flying far overhead.

(A minute later the old man sings his song and then asks Michael Palin to sing something and Palin responds with the first song that pops into his head. 40 years after it was sung for the first time on TV, this old man of mountains got to hear Michael Palin sing, ‘I’m a lumberjack and I’m Okay.)

I am going to pay attention and see how long I can go with out hearing a man made song.

The other thing on my mind about movie scene is that, sure, it was a bit of an A-HA moment but we are taking about baboons out in Africa.

I was just reading this morning that in People’s Republic of China, since the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in 1966, Mozart’s and Beethoven’s music had both been banned.

A generation grew up without ever hearing ‘western’ classical music.

Western classical music was decadent, prurient, bourgeois and listened to by blood-sucking capitalists.

I don’t know about that but I was a kid back in 1960’s and I liked it and in all the notes about my bad behavior that I brought home from school, I never once was accused of being decadent, prurient, bourgeois or a blood-sucking capitalist.

That would have been one heck of a note to bring home!

Then in 1972, Richard Nixon went to China.

A year later Henry Kissinger learned from Chinese leaders that they would like to invite the Philadelphia Orchestra to China. Nixon rang its music director, the Hungarian-American conductor Eugene Ormandy, who immediately sensed history in the making: “That’s wonderful. You honour me, honour the orchestra,” he responded.

The article I was reading was a review of an upcoming documentary about the 2 week tour of China by Philadelphia Orchestra titled Beethoven in Beijing.

The reviewer writes:

In the autumn of 1973, Tan Dun, the Oscar-winning Chinese musician who would go on to compose the soundtrack for the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, then a teenager, was sent to a rural commune in Hunan province to plant rice. China was at the height of the Cultural Revolution. One day, Tan heard a sound from a loudspeaker in the field.

“Do you want to hear some interesting music? This is called ‘symphony’. The Philadelphia Orchestra is in China,” a friend said to Tan. It was the first time he had heard about a “symphony orchestra”, and it was striking. “I think it was something by Beethoven – the Sixth or the Fifth symphony.”

Until then, Tan had never known of Beethoven or Mozart, but he was deeply touched by the performance blasted from the loudspeaker. When he returned home, he told his grandmother that he would like to learn more about it.

I cannot imagine.

Readers of the this blog will recognize that I am in awe of the fact that through the World Wide Web there is not a piece of recorded music that is not available to anyone anywhere at anytime.

(I know I know, hyperbole)

And of music.

I think of Fran Lebowitz saying, “… whenever I hear it, I instantly become happier. This is true of almost nothing! That’s a very important thing to do for human beings. Music makes people happier, and it doesn’t harm them. Most things that make you feel better are harmful. It’s very unusual. It’s like a drug, that doesn’t kill you.

In some ways I wonder what it would be like to never have heard Beethoven in your life.

In some ways I am glad I that I don’t wonder.

And in other ways I am happy as there is always music I haven’t heard.

With that in mind I leave you with this.

I heard it on the radio the other day and spent the next two days tracking it down.

I bet if you listen to it you will instantly become happier.

It won’t harm you and it’s very unusual.

3.28.2022 – one small step for man

one small step for man
one giant leap for mankind
did step on the moon

What did Neil Armstrong say when he landed on the Moon?

I mean okay, after he said Houston …

What did he say when he first stepped on the Moon?

The writers at NASA crafted this great line that he memorized but when he said it there was a buzz of static and the world remembers that he said, “one small step for man …’ and then said, “one giant leap for mankind.”

The goofy thing is I was 9 and I distincly heard FOR MAN and wondered what the difference was between MAN and MANKIND.

But NASA issued the press release that said Mr. Armstrong said, “A MAN.”

Mr. Armstrong said he said, “A MAN”

As in “One small step for A man.”

Which works much better with “One giant leap for mankind.”

What is funnier is that the third man on the moon, Pete Conrad, the mission commander of Apollo 12, who was shorter than Mr. Armstrong, said, “That might have been one small step for Neil, BUT WHOOOEEEEE.”

I guess in a way it IS more important that Mr. Armstrong steps were out on to the moon.

And he was the first to do it and that isn’t going to change.

But I came across another Neil Armstrong footnote yesterday that I was not aware of and I read a lot of these ‘early days of NASA’ books.

Yesterday I went in pursuit of the song, Fly Me to the Moon.

The information I came across again and again referred to the the fact that NASA had adopted the tune as a sort of theme song for the entire space program.

I thought that was interesting but not worth mentioning.

Not worth mentioning until I went search for a you tube video of the song.

I said yesterday I found lots and lots of videos of different recordings of Fly Me to the Moon.

One of them was of Jazz Great Diana Krall.

Well gee whiz, a LOT of them were of Jazz Great Diana Krall.

But one had a very odd thumbnail graphic.

I would swear it showed, a piano and Ms. Krall set up … in a church??

I had to click on it and there it was.

At the memorial service for Neil Armstrong, Commander of Apollo 11 and first man to set foot on the moon, Diana Krall performed Fly Me to Moon.

And you know what?

That is just pretty darn cool any way you present it.

Entirely appropriate.

Such a very right thing to do.

So entirely unexpected.

Commander of Apollo 11 and first man to set foot on the moon and Diana Krall performed Fly Me to Moon at your funeral.

That’s a trifecta in any book.

ps – anyone making notes for when the time comes and my ashes are scattered in the out going tide, you can ask Diana Krall to come sing and she can choose the song.

3.27.2022 – fly me to the moon

fly me to the moon
let me play among the stars
fill my heart with song

There are worse songs to have stuck in your head for the last 48 hours.

There are a lot of worse songs to have stuck in your head.

This is the funny part though.

Many of them are this same song.

According to Wikipedia, Fly me to the Moon was recorded and released by any number of well known vocalists as the song In Other Words between its release in 1954 and 1960.

It wasn’t until 1960 when it was recorded by the wonderful Peggy Lee, that Ms. Lee convinced the song writer, Bart Howard to change the name to Fly me to the Moon.

It wasn’t until 1964 that Frank Sinatra recorded the song with Count Basie with a re-arrangement in 4/4 time in place of the original 3/4 time.

A factoid that I can repeat but is completely meaningless to me.

I am happy to report that it is not the voice of Mr. Sinatra that has been going through my brain the last couple of days.

I am not sure what the result on my psyche that might have.

Nothing against Mr. Sinatra or his voice or his talents.

He just not my cup of tea so to speak.

Also in one of those quod-hoc-propter-hoc mental sequences I have this Sinatra block that plays in mind whenever I meet up with Mr. Sinatra in my daily sojourn.

The mental sequence goes like this …

The Johnny Fontaine character in the movie, The Godfather is modeled on Frank Sinatra.

Fontaine sings at the opening wedding scene in the movie, The Godfather.

When Fontaine walks onto the wedding scene he is dressed in a white tux and black bowtie.

The first time my wife saw the movie, The Godfather, when Fontaine walks onto the wedding scene, she said, “I didn’t know Pee Wee Herman was in this movie.”

What do you think of when you watch The Godfather?

I think of Pee Wee Herman.

Somehow I think that story could make Francis Ford Coppola cry.

What do you think of when you hear Frank Sinatra sing?

I think of Pee Wee Herman being in The Godfather.

Somehow I think this thought would get me slugged by Mr. Sinatra.

He did slug Mario Puzo after the movie came out according to some sources.

What do I think when I see Pee Wee Herman?

I think of Don Corleone slapping him, saying, “You can act like a man!”

Goodness but its lonely being me some days.

So back to the song.

I was looking for a song on You Tube the other day.

Of late I have been listening to the music of Tatiana Eva-Marie & Avalon Jazz Band of late (go ahead, it will make your day) and one of the suggested songs by You Tube when I was searched French jazz singers, over there on the right hand margin of YouTubem was this video labeled, Emil Ernebro and Zandra – Fly Me To The Moon and I clicked on it.

It was a two people set up, vocalist and guitar with an stage empty of other musicians but filled with instruments.

The simple setting, like two bands members after a show singing for the pleasure of singing caught me attention.

In the book, The Caine Mutiny, Herman Wouk writes about hearing a young singer at an audition:

The girl seemed to be singing for the pleasure of friends, rather than for an urgently desired job. This was no great voice, nor even a professional one. It was just such singing as a bright girl who had a love of music and a pleasant voice could accomplish, and it had that peculiar charm denied great performers, the caroling freshness of song for its own sake.

These words got etched in my brain and now I am sucker for music videos like this on You Tube.

I remember when MTV was launched and videos were produced that made the singing of almost any song a matter of life, death and the success of the free world.

With what a lot of these bands went through as portrayed in some of these videos, to sing their songs, it was a wonder anyone would every want to get into music.

Then there are those clips, those recordings of the singing of a bright girl who have a love of music and a pleasant voice with that peculiar charm denied great performers, the caroling freshness of song for its own sake.

Intrigued by the image with the song, I clicked on it.

And I was captivated by the singing of a bright girl with a love of music and a pleasant voice with that peculiar charm denied great performers, the caroling freshness of Fly Me to Moon for its own sake.

My intrigue and interest was rewarded by having the song playing in my brain for the last 48 hours.

Comes this morning when I starting typing in the words of the song because with everything going on in this world, that is what was on my mind because I can’t stop the music.

I start typing the lyrics and the rest of this post just spilled out of my brain through my fingers onto the keyboard.

I think that was evident.

So this post came together and all I needed was a link to the video in question.

Could I find it?

Nope.

When I searched, Fly Me to the Moon, Could I find anything else but Mr. Sinatra and the like as entries in You Tube.

Nope.

100s and 100s of links but not the one I wanted.

I was close to the point that maybe I didn’t really hear this song.

It was stuck in head, maybe I made it up in my head.

Replaying last Friday morning over in my brain, I came up with the scrap of information that in the video caption, was the mention that the guitar player in the video was ‘Sweeden’s [sic] premire guitarist’.

With this other piece of information on which hang my search, Fly me to Me Moon Sweden Jazz Great, I am happy to report, I found the video.

For your start to this week, and for no other reason, here is the singing of a bright girl with a love of music and a pleasant voice with that peculiar charm denied great performers, the caroling freshness of Fly Me to Moon for its own sake.

I can only imagine what it be like to write such a song.

I can only imagine what it would like sing such a song.

To sing with with a love of music and a pleasant voice with that peculiar charm denied great performers, the caroling freshness of song for its own sake.

But I can click on it a listen to with the best of them.

And that is good enough for me on a Sunday Morning.

There are worse songs to have stuck in your head.

The lyrics are fun, too.

Fly me to the moon
And let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like
On Jupiter and Mars
In other words hold my hand
In other words darling kiss me Fill my life with song
And let me sing forevermore
You are all I hope for
All I worship and adore
In other words please be true
In other words I love you
In other words I love you

Fill my heart with song
And let me sing forevermore
You are all i hope for
All I worship and adore
In other words please be true
In other words I love u

3.22.2022 – sulking, suffering

sulking, suffering
optional but pain – pain is
unavoidable

Adapted from the line, “Going around in a sulk will get you nowhere. Pain is unavoidable, but suffering is optional.” in the book, A Long Petal of the Sea, by Isabel Allende.

Ms. Allende, according to Wikipedia, has been called the world’s most widely read Spanish-language author.

Who am I to argue with that.

And I read her stuff in english?

It does make me want to learn to read Spanish to see if its different.

The point in the book where Ms. Allende writes this line, one of the main characters is adjusting to the changes in his life since turning 60.

I should be able to relate somewhat and maybe even to the pain he might be feeling or experiencing.

Then I think about his life as recounted in the book.

He fought in the Spanish Civil War on the losing side in the late 1930s.

He was a refuge after the war in France.

He lost his father and brother and maybe his mother (she returns later) in the war.

Surviving being a refuge, he makes a life in Chile until the right wing take over again destroys everything in his life and he ends up a political prisoner in the 1970s.

Rescued he works to make a life in Venezuela and to adjust being 60.

I guess I wouldn’t have much to relate to in the way of pain and suffering after all.

Ms. Allende then writes, “Entropy is the natural law of the universe, everything tends toward disorder, to break down, to disperse. People get lost, feelings fade, and forgetfulness slips into lives like mist. It takes heroic willpower just to keep everything in place.

And I really had to puzzle over this.

I really need to learn Spanish because this made little sense to me though it seemed so simple, so basic.

What was I missing?

It hit me that back in college one of roommates was always talking about entropy.

He was studying geological engineering (he went to invent a bomb for the Air Force that will go through 100s of feet of rock before it explodes) and to him, and because of him, I thought of entropy as a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system’s thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work.

And I just couldn’t see where Ms. Allende was going.

Was this lost on translation?

I thought of copying the passage into the Google translator and then translate that back into English to see what happens.

But that seemed like a lot of work.

Was there another use of the word, Entropy?

Into the google we go and glad I did as there is another meaning.

In this situation, I am sure Ms. Allende meant Entropy to mean “a lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder”

That works.

That works nicely.

The lack of order or predictability; the gradual decline into disorder, is the natural law of the universe, everything tends toward disorder, to break down, to disperse.

People get lost, feelings fade, and forgetfulness slips into lives like mist.

It takes heroic willpower just to keep everything in place.

On the other hand, the radio was playing Beethoven’s 1st Piano Concerto as I typed this out.

When it finished, the program presenter commented, with an honest enthusiasm in his voice, “As fresh as it was the day it was written!”

Thinking the way I was thinking about disorder and gradual decline, this statement made me think.

As fresh as it was as the day it was written.

Written by Beethoven when he was 24.

And we have had access to it since then.

A hedge against disorder.

A wall against decline.

It didn’t breakdown, disperse or get lost in the mist.

The heroic willpower of a 24 year kid keeping everything, well, somethings, in place for all us for centuries.

Pain is unavoidable.

Sulking and suffering are optional.

Just one more reason I am grateful God created music.

10.15.2021 – music will wake up

music will wake up
to know something greater
what’s on the surface

I have this quote and I am not sure who said it.

“Music will wake up your mind to know that there is something greater than what we see on the surface.”

The google has been no help tracking this down.

It was Fran Liebowitz, during an on-air discussion with Spike Lee on who was the greater artist, Duke Ellington or Michael Jordan, who said:

I really think that musicians, probably musicians and cooks, are responsible for the most pleasure in human life.

Motown music, which was very popular when I was a teenager — whenever I hear it, I instantly become happier.

This is true of almost nothing!

That’s a very important thing to do for human beings.

Music makes people happier, and it doesn’t harm them.

Most things that make you feel better are harmful.

It’s very unusual.

It’s like a drug, that doesn’t kill you.

One of the few redeeming aspects of the world wide web has to be the access it gives to music.

This is a theme I have pounded out often.

No King, Monarch, Emperor, Despot, Billionaire or otherwise-influencer has had the access to music we have.

Andrew Carnegie owned a castle in Scotland that had a Pipe Organ as big as the one in Carnegie Hall in New York.

Mr. Carnegie also kept an organist on his household staff full time with instructions to start playing at 7:30am as Mr. Carnegie’s own personal alarm clock.

I guess Mr. Carnegie had no problems sleeping despite what was going on during the Homestead Strike back in the US but I digress.

That’s what you needed if you wanted music in your morning back in the day.

With my iPhone, I don’t think there is a piece of recorded music that I cannot access anytime anywhere.

Stop and think about that.

It is beyond belief and the imagination.

No writer of fantasy or sci-fi ever never imagined such a gift to humanity.

And I embrace it.

I love to come across obscure references to music in my reading.

I really love it when I am reading on my iPad over my kindles and phone and older iPad.

I have too many devices with too many books.

Where I used to leave books all over, I now leave my devices all over.

I am getting in the bad habit of wanting to leave a current book open on a device so I grab another one to read other things much like I would leave open books all over the place.

Which calls to mind an old argument.

Aren’t bookmarks really placemarks?

They mark your place in the book.

A big sign that says, YOUR BOOK HERE, would be a bookmark.

Which brings to mind another thought.

Finding things like your book and searching for where you last left it.

Search is nothing new it just seems new due to the inability for anyone to find anything online.

But folks think its new for some reason and even came up with what they think are new ways to help online users find what they are looking for.

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is one of my latest worries.

It purports to be a field of technology that helps web designers design websites that are easier to find.

It is also so much snake oil.

The Google has announced that it pays no attention to SEO.

Sometimes I feel that I may be one of the few people in the world who read announcements made by the Google.

That’s not a problem as the Google is big, its doesn’t read its own annoucements either and the left hand and the right hand of google are never on the same keyboard.

Still most companies make a big deal about their website being up on SEO.

I try to explain to my bosses.

There are two hamburger stands side by side.

One place is on facebook and practices SEO.

The other makes, without argument, the best hamburger in the seven dials.

Then I ask, “Which place is busier?”

Without fail two things are said.

The first is, of course the best hamburgers in the seven dials is the busiest.

Then I am asked, “What are we doing for SEO?”

But there are folks making good money selling SEO so why should I worry.

I just think instead of SEO it should be labeled, Dr. Seachgood’s Patented Tech Tips to Improve Online Life and Feel Better.

Folks have never ever been able to find anything.

Columbus went looking for India and found America in the way.

Back in the day I worked for a couple of years at the Cascade Branch of the Kent District Library.

This was the old library that shared a buidling with the local fire department.

I am not saying it was small but that’s because there are words like tiny …. minute.

Still folks had trouble finding things in the library which is why Librarians were invented.

Simple, right?

That was pretty much the deal with books, libraries and librarians until someone couldn’t stand it anymore and library administration and administrators were invented to muck it all up.

The Cascade Library had a great collection of books on tape.

They were located on the shelves opposite the check out desk.

So close and yet so far, patrons had trouble finding the books on tape.

I decided to optimize the books on tape section for search.

I took one of those giant 4 by 3 foot pieces of red poster board and cut out rectangles on each corner to make a BIG T.

I then cut a point at the bottom of the vertical bar of the T.

I hung the BIG T over the shelves of books on tape and the point pointing right at the section.

The next time a patron asked where the books on tape were, I smiled, pointed over their shoulder and proudly said, “Right there, under the BIG T.”

The patron turned a looked for a moment.

Then looked back at me and said, “Where is this BIG T?”

BUT I DIGRESS.

Music.

Access to music.

Stay on topic can’t you???

Gee whiz.

The other day I was reading happily along.

Got to stop again.

Ain’t that a great phrase?

Reading happily along.

Admit it.

You smiled.

I was reading happily along through a book titled, “The Cure for Anything Is Salt Water: How I Threw My Life Overboard and Found Happiness at Sea” by Mary South.

I admit that such a grandiose title with far reaching claims needs to be taken with a large handful of grains of salt but Ms. South relates her passage of self-discovery in a charming, gee I wish I could this but boy am I glad I not, way that lets you follow her passage without the usual cynicism that I find in myself when reading such books.

Either that or me now living by the sea has made my brain more open to accepting such claims and just enjoying such stories.

Along the way, Ms. Rose relates how at a stop in Point Pleasant, NJ, she found a restaurant about which she wrote:

It was an unpretentious place with a great menu and a homey atmosphere.

Best of all, there was a jazz duet playing-one guy on keyboards and one on guitar.

I asked them if they could play “Wave” and they looked thrilled that someone was actually listening.

She asked them if they could play “Wave.”

Really?

She asked for a song named “Wave?”

Sure, I once asked Nancy Faust, the renowned organist at Old Comiskey Park if she could play the Michigan Fight Sound.

Ms. Faust lit up with a smile and said, ‘The Victors? SURE!’

And she did.

Then she ruined the moment when she segued into that notre dame song.

But everyone knows the Victors.

Wave?

Really?

Ms. South writes, “I got “Wave” and then I got two or three other Brazilian classics without asking. Point Pleasant beach was saved. I’d even go back in a car, if I had to.”

I had to find out.

I clicked over to YouTube and entered Wave into the search bar.

I thought about it a bit and added, jazz classic.

And I got Antonio Carlos Jobim – Wave 1967 – YouTube.

And I clicked and I got:

I got instantly happy.

It was very unusal.

It was like a drug, that doesn’t kill you.

Turns out Wave us a bossanova classic

Besides the music, just saying, let alone typing, bossa nova, makes you laugh out loud.

According to wikipedia, Antonio Carlos Jobim “was a Brazilian composer, pianist, songwriter, arranger and singer. Considered one of the great exponents of Brazilian music, Jobim internationalized bossa nova and, with the help of important American artists, merged it with jazz in the 1960s to create a new sound with popular success. As such he is sometimes known as the “father of bossa nova

I have admit I am not up on bossa nova.

But its playing now as I type.

What a way to start my Friday.

Take that Mr. Carnegie

Antonio Carlos Jobim, thank you.

Mary South, thank you.

Whoever invented YouTube, thank you.

Music.

music will wake up

to know something greater

what’s on the surface

9.24.2021- so quiet and dark

so quiet and dark
star has flickered into dust
song has faded away

Down the rabbit hole again.

Listening to my favorite online radio station, a piece of music caught my ear and I was in time to access the play list.

I discovered I was listening to Schwanenlied or swan song written by Fanny Mendelssohn.

You read that right.

Fanny not Felix Mendelssohn.

Fanny is Felix’s little sister.

Into the google goes Fanny Mendelssohn.

The piece I had heard was a flute and harp version of a piece of music or lieder or simple song that according to wikipedia, Ms. Mendelssohn felt, as she wrote to her brother, “lieder suit me best.”

This version is hauntingly (love to use that word) arresting and somehow familiar.

Yet I never heard it before that I remember so how could it be familiar?

It also has words, sung in German of course but I have never had much luck listening to German lieder.

Silly but it may have to do with an episode of Cheers where Woody’s rich in-laws have a party where the entertainment is to be Kindertotenlieder … or Songs on the death of Children.

Just the look on Sam Malone’s face when the word Kindertotenlieder it is explained to him is worth the price of admission.

Anyway the words for Ms. Mendelsshon’s song were written by the German poet, Heinrich Heine.

I am not up on my German poetry but I defend myself saying, who is.

According to one critic, the text and music “resembles a lullaby. In its clear separation of melody and accompaniment it is akin to the style of many Songs Without Words, for piano solo, some composed by Hensel and some by Mendelssohn. Formally it is simple, like most Hensel settings, consisting of two strophes with the second slightly modified. That slight modification proves significant, however, for it fashions the climax of the song. (Historical Anthology of Music by Women, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (1805-1847) by MARCIA J. CITRON – 1987 by Indiana University Press)

I am not sure what to say about using the poetical words of Heinrich Heine for a song without words but I am uneducated in these matters.

The words are simple:

A star falls down
From its twinkling height,
It is the star of love
That I see falling there.
So much falls from the apple tree,
From the white leaves;
The teasing breezes come
And urge on their game.

The swan sings in the pond,
And paddles up and down,
And singing more and more gently,
He disappears into the depths of the river.
It is so quiet and dark,
Scattered is leaf and blossom,
The star has flickered into dust,
The swan song has faded away.

Now the odd part of todays trip.

I was curious as to chicken-egg time of the term Swan Song.

Was it possible that this simple piece by Fanny Mendelssohn was the source of the term swan song as the swan of song of someone’s career?

The Google will tell you that Swan Song has become a euphuism for the final act of someone’s career but it is vague as when this started being used.

I continued down the rabbit hole to read this.

Swan Song as described by the online Merriam-Webster says that: Swans don’t sing. They whistle or trumpet, or in the case of the swan most common in ponds, the mute swan, they only hiss and snort. But according to ancient legend, the swan does sing one beautiful song in its life – just before it dies.

The swan sings one beautiful song in its life – just before it dies.

The swan song.

I wanted to know the name of a piece of music.

Sometimes the world wide web can be a beautiful thing.

so quiet and dark
star has flickered into dust
song has faded away

5.28.2021 – With a graceful lilt

With a graceful lilt
Autochthonous, Number 4
by William Grant Still

A reoccurring theme in this blog is the access to music that anyone and everyone, has so long as they have access to the world wide web.

I am sure there was NEVER been a time in all of human history that such much music is available to so many people for so little effort.

You can search You Tube (Bach and Emperor) to watch a scene for a movie where Frederick the Great summons Johann Sebastian Bach to the palace to play something.

Well, I can bring up anyone from anywhere for any piece of music with a few taps of my fingers.

Boy howdy!

Almost beyond belief.

As my faithful readers know, I listen to Classic FM when I am working.

It is a Classical Music global radio station from London.

Being from London, it is four or five hours ahead of me so I know that somewhere in the world, someone has already made through the next four or five hours.

It also has the best traffic reports.

When the A1 to Cambridge was backed up all the way to the anti clockwise at Potter’s Bar due to a lorry overturned in the lay by, Atlanta traffic didn’t seem so bad.

It is an interesting radio station in that it uses the same software to determine playlists used by pop radio stations.

This is bad as that you did get to hear a lot of music a lot.

I mean it repeats favorites often.

Maybe I could do with a little less Elgar in my day.

But this is good as you avoid a lot of Mahler.

And it is good because when you hear something unfamiliar there is a chance you will hear it again.

So it happened today.

You see, some time back I caught a piece of music new to me.

While I could browse the online playlists for the stations, I think this was one of those moments when the presenter snuck a piece of music on air to see the reaction.

I could tell from the sound that the piece was American.

And I could tell from the sound that the piece was most like from the Big Band – Jazz era.

It was Aaron Copland-esque without being Aaron Copland.

It was Virgil Thomson-esque without being Virgil Thomson.

But I could not found what it was.

And it was played again today.

This time it WAS listed in the online playlist.

I wasn’t prepared for what I learned.

I had never, NEVER heard of the piece of music or the composer ever.

The piece was the 3rd Movement of the 4th Symphony of one William Grant Still.

The symphony is titled, Autochthonous which is defined as an adjective (of an inhabitant of a place) indigenous rather than descended from migrants or colonists.

The 3rd Movement is titled, ” With a graceful lilt.”

William Grant Still, according to Wikipedia, is known primarily for his first symphony, Afro-American Symphony (1930), which was, until 1950, the most widely performed symphony composed by an American. Also of note, Still was the first African-American to conduct a major American symphony orchestra, the first to have a symphony (which was, in fact, the first one he composed) performed by a leading orchestra, the first to have an opera performed by a major opera company, and the first to have an opera performed on national television.

Wikipedia continues, “Still arranged music for films. These included Pennies from Heaven (the 1936 film starring Bing Crosby and Madge Evans) and Lost Horizon (the 1937 film starring Ronald Colman, Jane Wyatt and Sam Jaffe). For Lost Horizon, he arranged the music of Dimitri Tiomkin. Still was also hired to arrange the music for the 1943 film Stormy Weather, but left the assignment because “Twentieth-Century Fox ‘degraded colored people.’

I typed William Grant Still into the google and am now introducing myself to the wonderful works that Mr. Still created for us.

I didn’t know his name until today.

But I will know his name and his work for the rest of my life.

I have to ask, how many more William Grant Still’s might be out there?

Sometimes the changes brought upon us by the information superhighway are for the better.

I’ll take the access to the music of William Grant Still any day.

That and the search for more like this.

2.14.2021 – came a melody

came a melody
in my heart, the sound of love
charles mingus’ bass

Music.

As one person said (and I wish I could find a citation as that always helps so the sake of this essay lets pretend I said this first) music will wake up your mind to know that there is something greater than what we see on the surface.

Fran Lebowitz, in an interview with Spike Lee on Music (arguing who was the greater artist, Duke Ellington or Michael Jordan) made the point that music makes you feel good – feel better – a drug without the down side – makes you happier and doesn’t harm.

I can’t argue.

For Valentine’s is there anything better to express feelings for someone in a way that there is more than what you see on the surface then through music?

For me it is easy to admit I have little to no musical ability or talent.

I am in awe or maybe just jealous of those with voice or instrumental ability.

BUT I can direct others to You Tube.

If it is music and it has been recorded sometime, somewhere, ever in history, you can listen to it on YouTube.

You can also find YouTube clips of a movie made on the Life of JS Bach.

There is a scene where the Emperor of Prussia Frederick the Great has Mr. Bach in for a grip and grin.

Much like the more famous scene in Amadeus where the Emperor Josef II of Austro-Hungary meeets Mozart and Mozart blows them away with his piano playing, Bach is offered up a short tune (written by Freddie the Great) and asked to improvise on it.

Those two Emperors could call in Bach and Mozart.

Who could do that?

Well.

I can.

I have access to music at my fingertips that any monarch or emperor or anyone in the past could only dream of.

With that in mind I offer up for Valentine’s this clip of Charles Mingus’ Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love” from the live album Sound of Love.

I was young and care free,
Not a song have found my soul,
Lost in blues jazz and rag time,
No sound had got to my muse…

I was searching for my melody,
Love blues that gets me ooh,

All alone, sad clown with a circus closed down,
Lost on my merry go round,

Came a melody in my heart,
So yearning…
Taught me to your music out of love,
From the song, for this life,
We all live infinite,
With our lover and beloved,
As one Ellington sound of love…

12.24.2020 – Ding dong merrily

Ding dong merrily
In heav’n the bells are ringing
Ding dong verily the sky

I discard the haiku I was writing and decided quoting Oscar Wilde on Christmas Eve was just not right.

I will use it next week when thinking retrospectively on the year.

That being said, the Christmas Carol (defined by Wikipedia as “a carol (a song or hymn) on the theme of Christmas, traditionally sung at Christmas itself or during the surrounding Christmas holiday season) Ding Dong! Merrily on high was just playing on the Radio.

Followers of this blog will remember that I listen to Classic FM, an online radio station from London (where its is five hours ahead of local time so I know that somewhere somehow someone has made through the next five hours), and at Christmas time they load up their playlist with Christmas Music.

I enjoy as they do not include the American Music of stars and almost stars singing the classics of Rockin’ Round the Christmas Tree or I’ll have a Blue Christmas.

I mean I gots nothing against these recordings, lest I am taken for a ‘high-brow’ Christmas music snob.

And of course as I start writing, Rudolph the Red Nosed is played on my radio station and it was requested by some 4 year old in Sussex and the presenters spend the next 5 minutes talking about their childhoods and Rudpolph.

Which of course calls to mind Frasier Crane’s outburst on the song in an episode of Cheers, when he says, “the story of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is one of the most unrealistic and therefore potentially damaging in all of children’s music. It gives them a horribly distorted view of reality. First the other reindeer tease and then ostracize him. And then when his abnormality proves of service, they use him. In fact, not only do Donner, Blitzen, et al, not love him and laugh out loud with glee, but they doubly despise the bulbous-nosed little wimp.”

Which is odd because I also cannot but remember Martin Crane’s efforts to sing “Oh Holy Night” whenever I hear that carol.

But what is really odd is that the carol in question, Ding dong merrily …, sticks in my brain because one night long ago I was flipping the channels on TV at Christmas time and landed NBC’s Holiday Special featuring the CAST OF FRASIER and then out came, Frasier and Niles and Martin and Roz and Daphne (though truth be told I wasn’t watching the show back then and didn’t know who these folks were) and they troop down this extravagant holiday stage and line up and raise their mics and break out in, Ding dong merrily

I thought how in the world did their agents talk them into this one?

I read somewhere that you can tell when a star needs money or is truly desperate or some marketer is striking while the iron is hot and a holiday album is produced.

Not only is their money to made but 95% of the songs are no longer under copywrite.

Even the Brady Bunch cut a Christmas album.

BUT I DIGRESS.

As I said, Ding Dong! Merrily on high was playing and I thought I would write a stinging post about such goofiness and DING DONG the Witch is Dead Merrily on High.

Once again down the rabbit hole that is the World Wide Web.

I put Ding Dong! Merrily on high into the google and found out, to my suprise, that it is based on a French tune from the 1500’s.

The lyrics came along in 1924 by an English composer George Ratcliffe Woodward (1848–1934), and the carol was first published in 1924 in his The Cambridge Carol-Book.

This is all from Wikipedia which also notes:

The song is particularly noted for the Latin refrain:

Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis!
[Glory! Hosanna in the highest!]

where the sung vowel sound “o” of “Gloria” is fluidly sustained through a lengthy rising and falling melismatic melodic sequence, extending the word to a 33 syllable long lyric.

I have to repeat that last line again.

The sung vowel sound “o” of “Gloria” is fluidly sustained through a lengthy rising and falling melismatic melodic sequence, extending the word to a 33 syllable long lyric.

Who knew?

Fluidly sustained through a lengthy rising and falling melismatic melodic sequence is quite a trick.

Extending the vowel sound “o” to a 33 syllable long lyric even more so.

It looks like this.

Christmas Carols are often like Christmas Packages.

Lots of surprises inside.