43 posts categorized "Music"

Shecada do sing

ShecadaPaulo's Shecada; and where are the nightcrawlers? / "they are very musical in their tastes, and have wings which are arranged slantwise, like the roof of a house" / circa spring 2013

Now, the cicadas are, almost without Exception, musical. But their song is produced exclusively by the male insects, who are provided for the purpose with a curious resonant, drum-like instrument. It consists of a cavity with a stretched membrane, whose vibration, controlled by muscles, sets up the familiar chirping or stridulating noise so well known to all who have lived in Italy. In warm sunshine these insect vocalists keep up a continuous concert of sweet sounds, intended no doubt to attract the females. Resonators in the body increase the volume of the note, and make it carry further; we had one cicada in our house in Jamaica which sang so loud that we always knew it as the prima donna. We were wrong in the gender, I admit: we ought rather to have said the first tenor; for the females have no song: a fact much commented upon by the malicious Greek poet— doubtless a married man, tied to a loquacious Athenian lady :—

Happy the cicadas' lives
Since they all have voiceless wives.

~ The Strand Magazine, Volume 18, 1899

The zigzag man

Twinkies_tonicBottles of Twinkie's Tonic, The Hot Sauce Cure-All / Dec. 2009

... Although the Missonis designed as a couple, Mr. Missoni, known as Tai, was the technician, plotting patterns that were inspired by Guatemalan, Aztec and Incan textiles or Abstract, Impressionist and Art Deco paintings. He designed on graph paper, mapping out shapes with startling combinations: primary colors that did battle with earth tones, and polka dots that chased whirling stripes through kaleidoscopic prisms. Mr. Missoni once wrote that he created a chromatic harmony by adding a third color to two clashing ones.

“Color?” he wrote. “What can I say? I like comparing color to music: Only seven notes and yet innumerable melodies have been composed with those seven notes. How many basic colors are there? I don’t remember exactly, seven perhaps, like the notes of the scale, but how many tones or shades does each color have? An infinite number, just as always endless are the hues and nuances composing a work of art.” (NYTimes story on the passing of 92-year-old designer Ottavio Missoni who was born in Dubrovnik)

Most poetical

Irishguitarplayer The guitar keeps the rhythm / Aug. 2008

“The Irish Folk Song, probably the most human, most varied, most poetical, and most imaginative in the world, is just being discovered—a richer collection of folk melodies does not belong to any country than to the Emerald Isle.”

~ from School music, Volumes 9-10, published by the Music Education Dept. of the National Education Association of the United States in 1908

They fall from the clouds

Firstgrowth Be like the rabbits and tiger lilies -- keep on moving / March 2010

“But who wrote these lovely songs?” asked Elizabeth. . . . 
Reinhardt said: “They are not made at all; they grow, they fall from the clouds, they fly over the country like gossamer, here and there, and are sung at a thousand places at once. We find our very own doings and sorrows in these songs. It seems as if we had all helped to make them.”

~ Theodore Storm in Immensee

Imagine all the people

Guitarhands Remembering December 8, 1980 and John / Dec. 2004

I was a senior in a college in New Jersey typing yet another sociology paper on my clunky old “portable” typewriter (yes, it did buckle into its own carrying case, but, because of its weight it was like carting around an anchor). It was late in the evening — a Monday, I think. The little black and white TV was on in the background. Suddenly newscasters broke into the broadcast to announce that John Lennon was dead. The moment is seared into my memory. The Beatles always seemed like a mythical group to me as I was too young to appreciate them in their heyday. Their music was funny, wise, harmonious, uplifting, thoughtful. That one of them who incessantly preached peace (and had such a wonderful sense of humor) could have died in such a violent manner just up the turnpike from my college didn't seem possible. It didn't seem fair. It just wasn't right.

I was thinking last night about how the world has changed in the past 30 years. There were no 24-hour cable news channels, no internet sites to check for details, no email or cell phone or text messaging to contact friends. You were left in your own surroundings with your own thoughts and feelings about what had happened. The girl who lived across the hall from me, Joanne (a smart, efficient biology major from a town in north Jersey that I'd never heard of), was visibly upset by the news. And the memory of her emotion has stuck with me much longer than the incessant recitation of facts and video feeds that we get on any of our media devices today.

Sadly, we seem to be no closer to the peace that John Lennon imagined. I find myself wishing he was here to lead “bed-ins” and peace rallys. To challenge the pundits with his wit. To be a guiding light. But maybe his example is for we who are here: what can each of us do every day to promote the cause of peace?

A fable

LightnessAll fables should have two parts: the intrigue and discovery. They may be divided into three types: the probable, the allegorical, and the marvelous (I like to think that this fable is marvelous ...) / Nov. 2010

For many years the soup pot was happy to make large quantities of spicy crab soup. It warmly simmered the onions, the celery, the potatoes, the tomatoes, the cabbage, lima beans, green beans, corn and peas, and the delicate crab meat. Then, one day, a musical wizard picked up the empty soup pot and hammered out a pleasing rhythm. Ka-thump-thump-thump. The wizard was inspired to compose a song for and about the soup pot, adding a heady mix of strings, melodica, shakers and bells to the pot's knell. It was a magical rhythm that moved mere mortals to sing and dance like the gods. The soup pot traveled with the musicans to a festival of spicy hot in a mythical place atop the endless mountain. The musicians sang in tribute to the soup pot while the soup pot called out the beat. Shakers shook. Uke strings twanged. Dancers danced. Flutes fluted. Bells jingled and jangled. The people were overcome with joy and called out. They clapped their feet. They stomped their hands. The soup pot sparkled and sang. Its metal glowed like a shooting star breaking through the august night. It had found its destiny. Days later the soup pot traveled back to the land of jersey and fell silent. No musical wizards made its metal sing or its heart go ka-thump-thump-thump. Months later it was pressed into service to make crab soup for a great feast. It simmered the onions, the celery, the potatoes, the tomatoes, the cabbage, lima beans, green beans, corn and peas, and lastly the delicate crab meat. Finally the cook turned the flame off beneath the pot so the soup would cool down. Hours later the pot was still too hot to touch. It burned with an intense desire. Fed by the soup spices and the memories of its music, the soup pot burned so hot it made the cooling cabinet melt. It burned so hot it turned the soup sour. It burned so hot the cook cried out in anguish, "but what shall we feed the dinner guests?"

The moral of the story is ... Have extra vegetables on hand to make another pot of soup because once the devil (dawg) has gotten into your soup pot you may not get him out. Or maybe: Once it has kept the beat the soup pot may no longer be able to regulate its heat? Or (more likely): Make sure your soup pot has cooled down completely before putting it in the refrigerator.

Porch music

Bluebluepick Summer nights made for porches / August 2010

This was the night of the porch music that swelled in the intense August heat, filled the expanse of the turquoise ceiling and wafted out over the expanse of black-eyed susans and lavender carrying with it tidings of good will.