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Sunday surprise, musical edition

Sunday, October 6th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — two of my heroes, one old, one new today ]
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I had the privilege of seeing Shankar one time, I think it was at Occidental College — an evening with an undoubted genius:

Shankar‘s playing — in the above video, as he was that evening — a double violin, its twin necks allowing him to play drone as well as melody synchronously. Brilliant.

I suspect it was Ken Cowan who alerted me to Shankar and took me to that concert.

New to me today, thanks to Bill Benzon and Bryan Alexander, is Japanese jazz composer pianist Hiromi Uehara:

What friends I have! And what terrific creatives we have among us today!

Greeting & three musics for Sunday Surprise: Rouse, Ligeti, Teeth

Sunday, September 29th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — with a definition that places poetry and the drama as a subset of music ]
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L’shana tovah!

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Christopher Rouse just died. I knew nothing of him, but already I love his Gorgon:

May he rest in peace.

Ligeti, Mysteries Macabre with the astounding Patricia Kopatchinskaja:

Furiously at play!

Kopatchinskaja it is, I guess, who writes:

Temperature and ocean levels go up. Whole world regions dry out. Hundreds of millions will have to leave, migrate, millions will fight wars, no end being in sight. Can we go on listening as usual to Buxtehude, Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Bruch, Bruckner?

and at last Teeth — with the Ligeti from the late ’70s as context, the stunning Roomful Of Teeth plays Caroline Shaw‘s Pulitzer-winning Partita:

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Music, it would seem, is the chosen placement of sounds, random or chosen, from the field of all sounds, in some form or container within which they may bounce and reverberate.

Note that under this definition, the barnyard’s sounds may sound (Ligeti, children’s rhymes), as may silence..

the words of operas and masses..

Note too, that under this definition, plays and poetry are a subset of music, also.

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L’shana tovah!

Dancing in the rain, a second Sunday surprise

Sunday, July 14th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — one concept, two versions — one sacred and one secular, one amateur and one professional, one demotic and one elite ]
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The sacred takes the form of praise dancing:

Note: there’s some loud glossolalia and English interjections which sound as though they come from close to the camera, so you’re advised to set your volume at 50%, even though the sound is initially very faint.

One definition of praise dancing:

Praise dancing is a liturgical or spiritual dance that incorporates music and movement as a form of worship rather than as an expression of art or as entertainment. Praise dancers use their bodies to express the word and spirit of God.

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The secular, by contrast, is indeed both entertainment and an expression of art:

The contrast here is between the amateur (from the Latin, amare, one who acts out of sheer love) and the professional (effectively, one who has acquired significant specific skills and is financially rewarded accordingly) — the demotic and the elite

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Your comments are most welcome.

Well, since it’s Sunday, here’s a surprise

Monday, July 1st, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — bright and dancing Bach — a cantata to give you the fresh spirit of Il Gardellino, then the great Mass in B Minor in their brilliant version ]
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J.S. Bach: Cantata “Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal” BWV 146:

This recording fairly leaps out at you, it’s so crisp and dance-like! Brilliant!

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And then, enthused by that magnificent cantata, here’s the B Minor Mass in all its glory, with voices that have been hidden, unheard, in all the other renderings I’ve heard — and I love the Corboz, for instance — and those inner voices, clear as bells..

And if your Sunday evening is almost gone, bookmark this post and return to it when you have time — such a fine performance of one of the three or four greatest sacred choral works in the Western tradition!

Sunday surprise, what can happen to music

Monday, May 13th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — Aretha to rabbinic wisdom via N’Orleans — five versions of the one great song — with a Mother’s Day greeting to all Marthas and all Marys ]
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Consider this song as sung by the awesome Aretha Franklin:

Here’s the story of Mary and Martha, as John’s Gospel tells it [John 40: 38-42]:

Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

You might say that Martha is the mother of service, and Mary the mother of devotion: they are equally celebrated in the church, yet Mary has the better part.

Wonderful, then, to encounter the same song as played and sung by N’Orleans’ own Theresa Andersson:

That’s the extraordinary creative re-creation I was wanting to share with you.

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The Parting of the Waters [Exodus 14: 21-29]:

And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the Lord looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the Lord fighteth for them against the Egyptians.

And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen. And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.

And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them. But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

Wait: there’s a curious — and beautiful — counterpoint to this story in rabbinic lore:

The Talmud teaches us that on the night that the Egyptian army drowned in the Red Sea, the first true moment of freedom for the Jews fleeing Egypt, God refused to hear the angels sing their prayers, and said “my creations are drowning in the sea, and you will sing songs?”

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Appendix:

We could also take — if you have time to join me — another path through that song.

The Fisk Jubilee Singers:

Mary’s there, but no Martha. That’s the earliest recording of the song that survives.

Then there’s The Swan Silvertones:

Mary don’t you weep — Martha don’t have to moan — it’s been decided that Mary of the song — who might be the sister of Moses — is, or is also, Mary the sister of Martha..

And let’s close with Take-6:

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Sources:

  • Jerry Zolten, “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep”–The Swan Silvertones (1959)
  • Wikipedia, Mary Don’t You Weep
  • Art & Theology, “Oh Mary, Don’t You Weep”: Death, Resurrection, and the New Exodus

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