Thursday, August 30, 2012

Predicting the Future of Recorded Music

Physical sales will still be around for a while, maybe for another 20 or 25 years — until the people who are now in their 50s reach their 70s. There are kids out there, 20 to 25 years old, who have never bought a CD. We will release fewer and fewer recordings physically as time goes by, and more and more just digitally.
Klaus Heymann's prediction spells a certain doom to me. The problem is that he is not simply a person with insight, or a person who can spot trends. He is now the leader of the pack, and the person in the driver's seat (and he has been for the last quarter of a century). He is giving us his 25-year plan which I am certain will become everybody's 25-year plan.

Read this article and see what you think.

Monday, August 27, 2012

I Won't Dance, Don't Ask Me: A Ramble

When you consider the complexity of the step patterns in Mr. Issac's Pastorall, the idea of dancing at all becomes daunting. But people of the upper class used to learn these dance steps (or dances that were less complicated) as a matter of course. They would employ a dancing master, and they would practice their steps. When they learned their steps, they could appear in public and do the very same dances they learned with people they did not really know (or people they knew, or distant relatives they might some day be romantically involved with). It was a way of relating that didn't involve conversation, but that did require manners and a certain amount of discipline.

There were also dances--combinations of steps and arm movements--practices by people not of the upper classes. Perhaps there wouldn't be a dancing master, or matches made with cousins, but there would be codified steps that everyone knew, and they would be danced to music that enhanced the patterns of the dances.

Using a stepping pattern you knew, and dancing with a partner you didn't know must have been quite interesting. Dancing with partner you knew, but with new music written for those familiar steps (that you both knew), sounds like a wonderful poly-sensual experience. Movement and music.

I grew up in the progressive 1960s and 1970s, and though I did go to the usual array of Bar and Bat Mitzvah parties in Junior High School, I never learned the usual array of dances that my parents' generation knew. Come to think of it, my parents never danced, so they didn't know the array of dances that other people's parents seemed to know.

There were children of those times who donned white gloves and took dancing lessons (I have heard stories from friends), but my generation, particularly in the progressive village of Newton Highlands, Massachusetts, let it all hang out. Dancing became less about moving your feet in pre-ordained patterns, many of which explored the wonderful things that can happen when you combine the meter of three with that fact that human beings have two feet. In my youth, it was more about moving your head, hair, hips, and arms to an unvarying rhythmic pattern, and in the case of the "slow dance," swaying to and fro in an improvised pattern, and ignoring your feet as much as possible. I suppose that slow dancing was about listening to the words of the song, and allowing your body to move to them in tandem with your partner.

Perhaps the dancing of my youth was kind of like free swim, as contrasted with laps or water ballet (synchronized swimming) that previous generations associated with social dancing.

I figured that everyone knew how to dance: all you have to do is wiggle to the music and make stuff up. You could mirror what your partner did, or you could even dance by yourself. You could also confound your partner by twirling at odd times, thus adding a bit of surprise to the dance. I used to laugh at the Arthur Murray ads, like this one:

Now I think it might be fun to really learn the popular dances of the 1920s and 1930s.

I was a child of the time, and a pretty good improviser in my youth. Once, sometime in the 1970s, there was a group of jazz musicians playing on the street in Harvard Square, and Brother Blue and I were among the people standing and listening. He grabbed my hand (it was perfectly safe because everyone in Cambridge knew Brother Blue through his story telling) and encouraged me to dance with him. (He said I was a great dancer, but he might have said that to all the girls.)

I find it amusing that there is now an all-encompassing term for tandem dancing according to choreographed steps: Ballroom Dancing (even though it seems that most ballrooms are used for anything but "ballroom" dancing). Unfortunately tandem dancing has become more of a spectator sport (consider the dancing you see on the TV like "Dancing with the Stars") than an interactive pastime, or a way of enjoying music. Some people take ballroom dance lessons at a dance studio, or they take ballroom dancing as a college course, or they learn to waltz so that they can dance with a parent at a wedding, but it seems that many young people still think of dancing as something connected with recorded music that is intended to be played so loudly that it drowns out both conversation and thought, and has a "beat" so forceful that it makes you move mechanically. Combine that with an auto-tuned voice, strobing lights, "over the top" costuming, and very little movement of the feet, aside from the occasional stomp, or fitness move, and you get the usual "party" experience. Fancy footwork is left for the personally adept, and is most often done solo (rather than in tandem), for display purposes. Sometimes dances (I'm thinking of high school talent shows) are performed by several people at once who do not interact with one another. They usually dress alike, and stand in a line, facing an audience, which has been conditioned to cheer.

So now we both understand how daunting a task it is to find ways of getting young people to appreciate the all-important connection between music and dance in Europe in the 16th through the 18th centuries.

N.B. I should add that there are pockets of non-mainstream dance culture all over the place. We even have some here in downstate Illinois, including belly dancing and contra dancing, but they all have specialized and dedicated communities. Most of the students I teach have only been exposed to dance as mainstream youth culture: watching or participating in high school dance teams that perform at sporting event half-time shows and in talent shows, going to high school dances, going to parties, and watching television, music videos, and movies.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Paul O'Dette Plays Galliards by John Dowland

Here's a guaranteed hour and fifteen minutes of pure pleasure:

and here's a transcript of a conversation Paul O'Dette had with Bruce Duffie.

Friday, August 24, 2012


I laughed when I came across the word "mansplaining" earlier this morning. The kind of mansplaining that is going on in the media right now (in the world of politics) is deeply offensive to people of all genders. I was both amused and offended by it at first, but It quickly ceased to be funny. Here are a few examples excerpted from a set of definitions for mansplaining in the Urban Dictionary:
1. To explain in a patronizing manner, assuming total ignorance on the part of those listening. The mansplainer is often shocked and hurt when their mansplanation is not taken as absolute fact, criticized or even rejected altogether.

2. Despite claims of superior strength in avoiding over-emotional reactions, when a man encounters even one iota of criticism of men on the internet, he must then mansplain why women suck by comparison or must be radical feminists.

3. To explain something in an unnecessarily long winded way, so as to dominate the conversation, and to make statements that are not based on facts, assuming that people will believe and agree with him because he is male.

4. Delighting in condescending, inaccurate explanations delivered with rock solid confidence of rightness and that slimy certainty that of course he is right, because he is the man in this conversation.

5. A word typically used to imply that the previous speaker is overly condescending and/or has a different way of explaining because he happens to be a man and the other party a woman. Usually, this is based in an over- or misinterpretation based on prejudice about the alleged mainsplainers intentions or on an inability to take constructive feedback. Sometimes it is used as an attempt to unfairly discredit the speaker or his arguments without having to provide counter-arguments. Typically, the mansplainer is simultaneously implied to be sexist or misogynistic.
Yes. Mansplaining does have echoes in the world of music, particularly when it comes to the evaluation of newly-composed music or the relative importance of music written by women (either living or dead). I hear and read those echoes and utterances regularly. Of course not every musically-inclined or musically-informed man is a mansplainer, and, for that matter, not everyone who does it is a man, but the practice keeps rearing its ugly head, generation after generation.

Here's an article about mansplaining and the way Mormon men react to Mormon women who are pro ERA. It has an excellent comment section and a full array of links, including one to Rebecca Solnit's article on the subject in Mother Jones.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Commercials Invade Music Appreciation Classes!

To people who use YouTube videos to enhance their Music Appreciation classes, WATCH OUT!

I try to make it as easy as possible for students to listen to the music we talk about in class, and, until this semester, I found it easy use YouTube video links to recordings (many that I own) to help my students learn. Obviously our friends at YouTube have figured out that they have a captive and targeted audience in the more serious and studios type of college student, the one that uses the resources his or her teachers point to on line.

This morning I was shocked to find various ads in front of a recording of Perotin (student-targeted ads: Justin Beiber singing "Happy Birthday," an ad for HP computers, and a PSA about not texting and driving). Since this type of thing seriously compromises the "flow" of class, I would suggest to anyone using YouTube in class to play segments of commercial recordings that people have put on YouTube (particularly of the Naxos variety), to load everything ahead of time and screen out (or click out, which you can only do after 5 seconds) the commercials, since the ads start playing right away.

Traveling in the EU with a Valuable Instrument

Slipped Disc has a very interesting discussion about the violinist who recently had her Guarnerius confiscated at customs in the Frankfurt airport (claiming that she owed value-added tax on it), and demanded she pay a huge fine in order to get it back.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Metaphor or Not?

This is not to say that the game is unfair (although sometimes it does feel like it), but the clever enemy design adds a significant flair to otherwise normal cannon fodder. Some enemies will automatically be associated with trouble, for example large enemy ships that explode once they’re destroyed. You will be hard pressed to find an area where you can destroy them without getting wiped out yourself, while fighting waves of enemies. Enemy design is definitely one of Symphony’s strong points.
I really can't tell.

Read this and see for yourself.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Learning Styles II: Musing on Memory and Memorizing

I have a very poor memory. When I was a child I found spelling to be very difficult (I still do). In order to spell a few problematic words I had to figure out rhythmic patterns, which I still remember.

FI-FI-ELD (Mrs. Fifield, my second grade teacher)
CO-CH-IT-UA-TE (the name of the street where I lived)

Using musical tools to remember non musical things (and rhythmic patterns are musical tools) is really helpful, particularly for the musically inclined, but I have always had a problem with using non-musical tools to remember things musical. The only thing that has ever worked for me (and this is not advice because I have a very poor musical memory) has been purely kinesthetic memory, sometimes called "muscle memory," and, to a lesser extent, visual memory.

My weaknesses with musical memory used to be a problem for me, but now that I understand my strengths, I don't fret about it. Here's why:

1. Every musical experience is a new one for me. I cannot replicate the "way" I play a phrase intentionally, nor would I want to. Each subsequent movement of a Bach Suite or a Sonata or Partitia is a new treat, even though I have gone through the cycle of playing one a day (I'm a violist, so I can play both sets) for years.

2. Because I'm not relying on memory when playing with other people, I can allow my mind to expand and hear more of a whole musical picture. With every individual musical experience I have, the whole can sound completely different. And it often does (thank goodness).

3. Now that I am a fully-fledged adult, I never find myself in a position where I must play without music in front of me, unless, of course, I'm improvising or playing by ear.

I can recall only a couple of times when I was called upon to play from memory. Julius Baker had us memorize his set of warm-up pieces: Bach Allegro from the C-major Sonata, the flute solo from A Midsummer Night's Dream, the flute solo from Carnival of the Animals, and some scale patterns from Taffanel and Gaubert. Memorizing those passages meant that I could play them any time without thinking about much of anything. I learned those things kinesthetically and mindlessly, and could still, if handed a flute, play them kinesthetically and mindlessly (though my muscles would probably hurt a bit afterwards).

I have since learned that context is everything. Understanding the context of something is far better than being able to do the thing independently of its context. I am very good, for example, at playing scales and arpeggios in every key on the violin and the viola because I practice them in every key. But when I am confronted with a scale, arpeggio, or double-stop passage in a piece of music, that passage has an entirely different meaning and purpose than it had in my Flesch, Sevick, or Dounis books. I have to practice it in its own context in order for it to "work."

I have come to the realization that practicing scales, arpeggios, and double stops by themselves is great for building strength and to a certain extent for improving intonation, but in a harmonic context that is different from the one set up in the scale book (where you "live" in a key for a while, or you modulate to it from an expected harmonic place), a scale or an arpeggio or a series of double stops can be an entirely new experience. Also, in order to keep music interesting for all involved, I believe that everything should feel like an entirely new experience (even if it isn't really). Sometimes that can really mess you up when you have to "produce" in a high-pressure situation while playing from memory.

In 1980 I participated in an international flute competition in Budapest. Everything had to be memorized, so, for the first time in my life I had to perform from memory. I was young and ambitious, and I prepared as well as possible. It was a wonderful experience to be in a new country, eat new food, hear an odd language, and meet new people. I happened to meet a harpsichordist who wanted to talk with me about new ways of thinking about Baroque music, as well as the ways of the West. From him I learned that some the Bach Flute Sonatas were really Italian in style (something they didn't teach us at Juilliard), and that there was a tradition of playing Italian music that was really nifty when "applied" to Bach. I also met an Italian flutist who played in what I could identify as truly Italian manner, and suddenly I found myself re-thinking everything I was doing with the E-major Sonata I was playing.

I'm not sure what it was that came out when it was my turn to play, but it clearly did not impress the judges as a well-thought-out performance. I didn't advance beyond the first round. Had I been playing from music, I probably would have had a chance to consider what I had learned by using visual cues, but since I was relying on rote memory (the only kind I knew), I didn't have ample time or brain space to "re-learn" something that ended up being a musical revelation to me. I still enjoy that revelation.

I applaud people who can play from memory and learn new things at the same time, and I am totally impressed with people (particularly pianists) who can play in such a way that they totally forget about the notes and even the instrument they are playing, and can still make each musical utterance a new experience. I have come to accept that I am not one of them, and will never be. I have also come to accept the fact that its just fine to contribute what I can to the world of music in the ways I can.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Different Learning Styles

Here are a some words of wisdom (from other people) to help start the school year off right.

What you learn fast, you forget fast. [attributed to Jascha Heifetz.]

If you learn something slowly, you forget it slowly. [attributed to Itzhak Perlman.]

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Power of Music

Kenneth Goodenough put this video in a comment on yesterday's post. It brought tears to my eyes, so I thought I'd liberate it from the comments and put it out front and center. Thank you for sending this, Kenneth.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Lemons for Sale

If You Have A Lemon, Make A Lemonade. That is what a great educator does. But the fool does the exact opposite. If he finds that life has handed him a lemon, he gives up and says: "I'm beaten. It is fate. I haven't got a chance." Then he proceeds to rail against the world and indulge in an orgy of self pity. But when the wise man is handed a lemon, he says: "What lesson can I learn from this misfortune? How can I improve my situation? How can I turn this lemon into a lemonade?

This comes from Dale Carnegie's How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, a book that I fear has run its course. Its wisdom, which actually used to inspire me, is not applicable in the shared set of private realities that have taken over the way we share news, information, and humor, and the way we do business. It certainly has no applicability in the current world of live (or even recorded) music of the "longhair" variety.

I used to be generally optimistic. I would always look on the positive side of every issue, and would try to consider changes that happened that were beyond my control as opportunities.

Opportunity has never really "knocked" for me. I have always had to do the "knocking." I have put tremendous effort into trying to make a life for myself in an area where very few people care about the things that I do, but as people leave the area (some move away and others die), I spend much of my energy simply partaking in activities for my own amusement, which sometimes pays off (if I'm lucky) in the act of amusing a handful of other people as well. But what I do no longer matters to most people, and it is clear that in my neck of the woods it never will.

The music classes for the upcoming semester (which begins next week) at the community college where I teach are seriously underpopulated. Teaching music appreciate classes used to be "lemonade," but I'm afraid that the young people who go to community college are not terribly interested in drinking the stuff I brew. (Remember that I identify myself mainly as a composer and secondarily as a string player. Teaching music appreciation as an underpaid adjunct instructor is the best I can do professionally in the area where I happen to live.)

That leaves the internet, I suppose: my "window to the world," where I feel I am being "marketed to" far too often.

I made the mistake of reactivating my Facebook account about a month ago, and have found the experience almost as unhealthy for me as I found it the first time. It is not for me. I just don't do superficial communication very well, and it pains me greatly to see friends from my past who don't seem to want to communicate with me directly. (Is it something I might have said? Or has it just been too long?)

I also don't do one-way communication very well, but I feel like the people who read this blog respond to what I write, even if they don't comment or send me e-mail messages. It is a safe space for me, and I hope it is for you as well.

Now that I have deactivated my Facebook account, and have done away with the problems that "window" caused for my state of mind, I think about what I could do for gainful employment if the "lemonade" of teaching music appreciation runs out.

For gainful employment I could "monetize" my blog. The very idea of this makes my stomach turn.

For gainful employment I could make my own publishing company and "market" my music to under-employed musicians who probably wouldn't buy what I would hypothetically have to sell, anyway. Even though I appreciate the honor or being offered commissions, writing music is not about making money for me. Its about making music. Still, when someone asks for something, what comes out is generally of higher quality than what comes out when I write for a hypothetical person.

For gainful employment I play string quartet weddings and orchestral concerts. They make me feel that there still may be a place for music in the grand scheme of things, but wedding season is pretty much over, and the orchestral season has not yet started.

Is it any wonder that I feel at loose ends?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Being a Lousy Student

I was a lousy student in high school. Sure, I was pretty good in the subjects that I cared about (history and music theory), but the subjects that didn't interest me remain a blur. I went to an excellent high school, and I got away with lousy studenthood because my teachers saw me as being on a path that had nothing to do with academics. I am particularly embarrassed about an English class I took my sophomore year (for us high school began in the tenth grade). We were supposed to have read Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and somehow I managed to pass the class without reading it at all. I can't remember what else I didn't read that year, but I know that I didn't fail the class.

What I do remember was that the teacher was also the German teacher, and I kind of wished I could take German, but after being such a lousy student in his English class, I didn't think it was a good idea. All I remember doing during English class was writing duets with my percussionist friend, who was also in the class. He would write a percussion part, and I would write a flute part, and then we would pass our completed half-duets to one another, and finish our little masterpieces (if the teacher thought that we were passing notes, he would actually have been correct). After class we would play them through. I can't remember if they were any good, but I imagine they must have been kind of similar to the Ingolf Dahl duet we spent much of the year practicing together.

Several years after graduating high school (a year early--how I managed to do that is still a mystery), I ran into that teacher (I'm not naming names) on the trolley in Boston (the "T" to all you youngsters and non-old-time-Bostonians), and told him that I graduated from Juilliard and could now speak German. He seemed unimpressed. My memory of him as a cold and detached person was unchanged, but perhaps his memory of me as a lousy student who only cared about music was also unchanged.

Perhaps I should give Tess of the d'Urbervilles a try.

Friday, August 10, 2012

. . . ain't you got no romance?

Don't you just love Larry's square violin (which he really plays)? Like many Fines, related or not related to me (Larry Fine is unfortunately not related to me), Larry has the fiddle gene.

Oh yes. Then there's the name of the woman they are serenading . . .

Curiouser and Curiouser

Perhaps the problem with curiosity is that every time we find out something new (perhaps I should drop the "we" and speak for myself), er, I find out something new, it throws a wrench into everything that I thought was so. Every chronology, whether personal or historical, is subject to interpretation, and a new twist or insight can alter the map significantly.

Take the Classical Period. There's a hell of a lot of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven to learn, study, play, and play again. A lifetime's worth, or perhaps three. I used to feel like I had a handle on the gist of the period, and I used to think I had a good narrative to give to my students to help them understand the music, the people who wrote it, and the times they lived in.

Now Pleyel has entered my life, much the way Titz did: through string quartets they wrote during 1780s, and I find it difficult to look at music the way I did. It's as if an easy-to-see triangle has become a polyhedron, with sides that interact with one another in ways I will never understand.

(Some of those "sides" are named Boccherini, Dittersdorf, Stamitz, Gluck, Clementi, Vanhal, Titz, and Pleyel.)

Everyone knows the name of Pleyel. Heck. There is even a website for the piano company that Ignaz Pleyel opened in 1807. He was born the year after Mozart in a lower Austria (the town that is mentioned in the Wikipedia article seems no longer to exist), and seemed to be a middle child (he was the 24th of 38 children) of a school master and his very fertile and always-pregnant wife. 38 children. Imagine. If she started at 14, she would have had to have one child per year until the age of 52, and live to tell the tale. Now this is curious.

Anyway, Ignaz had excellent teachers (Vanhal and Haydn), and he got a good job in the French city of Strasbourg (the border city with the German name). In 1791 (the year that Mozart died, and a tough year for musicians in France--what, with the Revolution and all), Pleyel went to London. Haydn, Pleyel's old teacher, was in London, so Pleyel had some healthy competition. So did Haydn, for that matter. It certainly made musical life in London even more lively. Pleyel happened to return to Strasbourg during the Reign of Terror, and to escape being put in prison or being killed, he wrote music to celebrate the Republic. He became a French citizen, and moved to Paris to start a publishing business. He began by publishing a complete edition of Haydn's string quartets, and made his fortune by publishing music by Boccherini and Beethoven, among others.

This is all very impressive, but what I find most impressive is the quality of his "Prussian" String Quartets, which are available in the IMSLP. You need to follow some complicated directions to get the score to print out properly, but the parts are original, intact, and very readable, both visually and playing-wise.

Here are the first three, the second three, and the third group of three.

I hope you're curious.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Letters of Note

Let's help Shaun Usher out. He noticed that most of the letters on his excellent Letters of Note blog are written by men. I'm sure that people who read this blog could give him a few suggestions (and they don't need to be specific references to letters, and they don't need to be things that are already on line). I certainly plan to.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Being in the Right Place at the Right Time

I used to credit many of the major events in my life to having been in a certain place at a certain time, which turned out to have been the right time. I remember one particular night in Interlaken, Massachusetts (just down the road from Stockbridge, and during a Tanglewood summer). My flute teacher, Paul Fried (who was then a member of the Boston Symphony) played a recital; and during the recital the mosquitoes in the hall were having a feast on the audience and on the musicians. I particularly remember the heroic way Paul played the Allegro movement of the C-major Bach Sonata while a mosquito was feasting on the spot between his eyes and the bridge of his nose. I saw a hungry mosquito biting the arm of the woman sitting next to me. I slapped it. We became friends. A few years later she married my father.

Another one of Paul's students was at the concert, and during the intermission we got to talking about flutes. I had just put in an order for a Powell flute, and had been told that it would take four years before my instrument would be made. This woman just happened to have a Powell order that was coming due in a month or two, and during her waiting period she had bought a Haynes flute, and had no use for her Powell order. She turned her number over to me. That Powell number happened to be adjacent to the Powell number that my closest hometown friend (now, as then, the highly accomplished extremely beautiful Elizabeth Mann) had. We both thought this was pretty cool, though she did have to wait her four years (and I had only been playing for one or two years by the time I got my Powell).

Another lucky moment happened in Hong Kong at the home of Klaus Heymann (who would later found Naxos). It was some German-related cultural activity, and featured an Austrian percussionist giving some kind of a talk. My temporary work visa had run out (and my money had too), and I was hoping to find some kind of employment somehow. I thought that my German skills (which were quite good at the time, since I had been living in Austria) might help me, since my musical ones had run their course, and I thought I might meet somebody there.

I happened to meet Keith Anderson, who was the music critic for the South China Morning Post, and he happened to have a friend who happened to have a job teaching music in a school. This friend happened to go into labor prematurely, and the school needed a music teacher right away. I began teaching (even though I had never taught general music before) a day or two later. The money I made from filling in that maternity leave was enough for me to fly back to America.

Stuff like this used to happen to me regularly when I was a city dweller.

I am no longer a city dweller, and have now spent the bulk of my life as a small-midwestern-town dweller. This kind of thing never happens any more. When I visit New York, I feel the kind of energy I used to feel, but there is little in the way of the kind of surprise encounters I used to have.

Now what happens seems almost to be the reverse. I have accomplished everything through slogging it out the long way. Years of hard work have turned me into a string player and into a composer, and the only true serendipity I have experienced of late concerns putting together elements from the past. A good example is when I found out out that two of my closest older friends (Seymour Barab and Bernie Zaslav) played in a string quartet together more than 50 years ago (I am very proud to be the conduit that got them back in touch).

When Michael and I moved to our little town it was a very musically-friendly place. I found all things could be possible, and with time, they have, even though the town has changed a great deal, and many of the original musicians have left. Still, I am able to play regularly in a string quartet, a duo with a pianist (and sometimes a trio, adding one of the members of our quartet), a Medieval and Renaissance group, a couple of excellent professional orchestras in a neighboring city, and a summer string orchestra (a teaching orchestra, really) that has ended up (we just finished our seventh summer) being an extremely enriching experience for everyone involved.

Sometimes I miss the possibility of surprise opportunities happening at any given gathering of musicians, but I know that musical satisfaction and musical growth is something that comes from (figuratively, of course) planting stuff yourself, watching it grow, and then feeding it to people.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Marcia Van Dyke

Until I saw (last night) it for the first time since childhood (and the first time in color), I didn't realize that In The Good Old Summertime, the 1949 remake of Ernst Lubitsch's 1940 The Shop Around the Corner (both are based on a play about a perfume store written by Miklos Laszlo, which also seriously influenced Nora Ephron's 1998 You've Got Mail) was such a violin movie. Marcia Van Dyke, who plays a mean "Souvenir de Moscow" near the end of the movie, led a double life as Hollywood star and as a member of the San Francisco Symphony.

Louise Parkson, Marcia Van Dyke's character, is a violinist who is valued in the course of the film for her excellent playing rather than simply for her physical beauty.

You can read a brief article about her in the January 19, 1948 issue of Life

Musical Fun Dictating to the Mountain Lion

I spent a far larger chunk of time that I planned to updating my Mac to the new Mountain Lion operating system (four hours to get it on my computer--including waiting time--and another two hours installing it and getting updates for it). This morning I have been having some fun with the new dictation feature in Pages. I did what any musician would do: I spoke in various languages and with different accents, and then I played into it.

Here is what the program made of my instrumental croonings:

Who is who
Hello hello and hello
Are are are boo-boo boo-boo boo hello
Are you doing boo-boo or or and or add who
Or or or or woo hoo
Are are are are
On or or add
Are are are are are are are are
Hello Bobo www.and I'll

Are are are are are
Or add her or add her her mad mad mad
Are are are are are
Are are are are on ha ha

Are all all all her her
Are are are are are are
Woo hoo or or
Are are are are are are
Bird or or or or you

[The first stanza comes from sounds made on my viola, the second stanza is from the sopranino recorder, and the third comes from sounds I made on the alto recorder.]

I think I'll do something productive now.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Spoils of a Summer Night

Last night we had our 2012 Summer Strings concert in Charleston, Illinois, and below you will hear an arrangement I made of a couple of Hungarian Folk Songs that TOTALLY SURPRISED ME when I found them in an old anthology of Hungarian folk songs. Perhaps Brahms used the same anthology for some of his Hungarian Dances. Who knows?

The songs are "Csillag eleg ragyog az egen" (The Sky Glows a Thousand Stars), and "Csicseri borso" (Oh you my child).