Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday Miscellanea

Here's something really fun to start off with. The question is "Lennon or McCartney?" and the answers come from 550 musicians, songwriters and actors collected over the last ten years:

Of course quite a few answered "Harrison" and at least one answered "Ringo". Now I want to do the same thing except the question is "Bach or Beethoven?" And your answer is? (And don't say "Mozart".)

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And on a more serious note, or several notes, this report from the Guardian purports to reveal a breakthrough in our knowledge of early polyphony:
Typically, polyphonic music is seen as having developed from a set of fixed rules and almost mechanical practice. This changes how we understand that development precisely because whoever wrote it was breaking those rules. It shows that music at this time was in a state of flux and development. The conventions were less rules to be followed than a starting point from which one might explore new compositional paths.
Well, no, actually. It is pretty well attested that polyphonic singing was around for a long, long, long time before methods were found to write it down. And it likely was not governed by "fixed rules and almost mechanical practice". Where did that come from? What is it with this fixation on rules and the breaking thereof?

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Somehow I missed the beginning of this: the Guardian is launching a new guide series, this time an Introduction to Opera. When I get a chance I will sample some of them and report back. In the meantime, have a look for yourself.

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Here's a nice little tune. Sting accompanies singer Rachel Tucker in a song from his musical The Last Ship, currently playing on Broadway. I've always rather liked Sting: I was a fan of The Police and quite liked his Dowland album. He's a pretty fair classical guitarist as well:

Mind you, a guitarist only needs to warm up their hands and, possibly, forearms. The rest is just posing. Plus, Bach is normally played while wearing a shirt.

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A short miscellanea today as I mostly ran across news items, like the New York Times slashing a lot of people from their cultural desks including music critic Allan Kozinn, author of an excellent book on the Beatles. Not too much of more musical interest. Let's end with some music. Here is some very early polyphony from the monastery of St. Martial. Nothing fixed and mechanical here:

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