The Bog of Lost Scholars

January 9, 2010


Filed under: Music — castiron @ 4:42 pm

I was in musical ensembles throughout secondary school and college — marching and concert band, orchestra, choir. One of the most fun aspects of playing music in a big group was getting to know the inside of a piece. When I hear a piece on the radio or a recording, I notice the melody and the general melding of the sounds, but when I’m playing the same piece, I discover that nifty trombone melody or that cool rhythm in the lower strings that I wouldn’t otherwise notice.

Now that I have an MP3 player, I’m discovering that earphones give me some of the same effect, and not just with classical music: I never really noticed the bass lines for many favorite pop songs before; now I can hear and notice them, and realize why these folks are appreciated for being such good musicians.

It’s great to discover new aspects of songs I’ve known for 20+ years.

April 30, 2007

The Mikado

Filed under: Music — castiron @ 12:37 am

One big hole in my music education: I’m almost totally unfamiliar with Gilbert and Sullivan.

Yes, I’ve read summaries of the stories. Yes, I’ve heard “I’ve Got a Little List” and “A Modern Major General”. Yes, I’m quite familiar with Anna Russell’s “How to Write Your Own Gilbert and Sullivan Opera”. But I’ve never actually seen one performed.

So I watched the DVD of The Mikado starring Eric Idle as Ko-Ko.

First: For the love of $DEITY, people, put fricking subtitles on the fricking DVDs! Especially with anything that involves singing! It’s not just helpful for the deaf or hearing-impaired, though that’s sufficient reason right there; it’s also helpful for anyone who doesn’t speak English as their first language, or in cases where the actor isn’t enunciating clearly, or when the DVD watcher has a sleeping kid in the next room and would really rather not turn the volume up that loud.

In spite of not being able to make out the words, I still found the performance enjoyable. I understood enough to be able to catch the plot, wacky and twisted as it was; I liked the sets and costumes; while Eric Idle’s voice was outclassed, he’s certainly got the expressions and the comic timing to make up for it. I’m pretty sure that the lyrics were updated in a couple places, though given the aforementioned lack of subtitles it’s a little hard to tell.

Overall, it was a decent introduction; it was fun to watch and does make me a little more interested in seeing more G&S opera. (And my, Anna Russell wasn’t exaggerating, was she?)

March 21, 2007

Lion King: The Musical

Filed under: Music — castiron @ 8:16 am

My boyfriend’s sister very generously took us to see The Lion King. My thoughts:

If you like spectacle, gorgeous and amazing costumes, cool effects with puppetry, and nifty tricks with scenery, buy the cheap seats and bring binoculars.

If you like story accompanied by music, stay home and watch the original movie.

It wasn’t bad, mind you. The singing was quite good, and the puppetry was neat (though after about fifteen minutes, the neatness wore off). But the actor playing Scar was the only one whose words were easy to understand; I’m not sure if this was a factor of the sound system, the particular actor’s voice, or the other actors’ abilities to project while being miked. My boyfriend, who’s never seen the movie all the way through, had a lot of trouble figuring out what was going on in the first half.

As for the music, there were several songs that I liked, but the only ones I remember enough of to hum the tunes are the ones I already knew from the movie. Clearly they weren’t THAT great. (That said, I retain an irrational love of “They Live in You” and an irrational dislike of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?”.)

Overall, a good spectacle, but it feels hollow. On my personal scale of musicals, it falls much closer to Andrew Lloyd Weber than to Les Miserables or Into the Woods.

September 19, 2006

Talk like a Pirate Day

Filed under: Music — castiron @ 10:09 am

In honor of Talk like a Pirate Day, I plan to play lots of Jolly Rogers at work, but I probably should not sing lyrics from What Do You Do with a Drunken Sailor? Unexpurgated Sea Chanties.

(On that latter: I spent fifteen minutes browsing around trying to remember the title…before giving up and walking six feet across the room to the bookshelf where the book lives. Further evidence that I am not John Scalzi.)

September 16, 2006

Ed Miller

Filed under: Music — castiron @ 11:04 am

For a late birthday present, my boyfriend took me to hear Ed Miller, a local folksinger. Miller is also a DJ on the local public radio station’s folk music show, and I’ve heard recordings of a couple of his songs, but this is the first time I’ve seen him live.

(Clearly I’ve watched Muppets from Space too many times. Every time I hear Miller on the radio, I can’t help thinking, “The cape! The cape for Ed!”)

It was a great show; the songs were enjoyable, and he’s excellent with between-song patter. The CDs were actually a little disappointing after the live show; they’re still good, just not as good. I definitely want to be on his mailing list for future performances.

July 16, 2006

Obscure CD

Filed under: Music — castiron @ 7:06 pm

I own a CD that isn’t in the Gracenotes database.

No, it’s not an obscure self-produced tiny band; it’s Blended, a CD by the Belgian woodwind quintet Arcane.

I’m now debating whether to add it or to just enjoy having a CD that isn’t in the database.

March 21, 2006

Some Live Music

Filed under: Music — castiron @ 7:03 pm

My boyfriend and I went to hear a fair amount of live music lately.

First, Brave Combo, early in February. We agreed afterwards that it wasn’t one of their best concerts; it’s also the first time we’ve heard them since one of their major members left, so they may still be resettling. Still, the music was fun, and they did a rousing rendition of the Bumblebee song.

A couple weeks later, we heard the Austin Lounge Lizards. It’s the first time I’ve seen them live since I was in college (i.e. fifteen years or so), but they’re still excellent. They sang a new song, Go Ahead and Die, plus plenty of old and new favorites.

In early March, we went country western dancing to the strains of Lucky Tomblin. CW isn’t my preferred musical genre, but the sound was quite good, and they seemed quite talented.

January 19, 2006

New CDs

Filed under: Music — castiron @ 8:26 pm

After a fairly long spell of not buying CDs, I picked up several during November and December.

Israeli Dance Favorites, Vol. 5. A teaching CD for traditional Israeli dance, sold by one of the teachers at Texas Camp. I rather like a lot of the songs, even if many sound like cheesy 70’s music (hey, could that be because they are cheesy 70’s music?).

Bukkene Bruse, Spel. Bought from the other Texas Camp teacher. I have a lot of these songs on my other BB CD, but these versions are mostly live, so there’s some subtle differences that are quite enjoyable.

Selim Sesler, The Road to Kesan: Turkish Rom music. Very interesting.

Pinewoods Band, South by Southeast: Lots of folk dance tunes. I love their version of “Joc de Leagane”, and their “Kalamantianos” is one of the loveliest tunes I’ve heard in ages.

Laco Tayfa: Turkish gypsy jazz fusion. Difficult for me to describe, but very enjoyable.

And after camp, there was Christmas presents.

Great Big Sea, The Hard and the Easy. A delightful collection of traditional songs from the Atlantic provinces. “Cod Liver Oil” is my favorite (pardon, favourite).

Old Blind Dogs, New Tricks. One of their older albums, and very enjoyable; I particularly like “The Bonnie Banks o’ Fordie”, in which a bandit discovers that he’s kidnapped his own sister.

Le Vent du Nord, Les Amants du Saint-Laurent. I’d bought Maudite Moisson! at the International Accordion Festival and greatly enjoyed it; this album’s just as good. (And reading the song lyrics is good practice for my French skills.)

December 22, 2005

New Year’s Resolution: Music

Filed under: Music — castiron @ 7:44 pm

I resolve that by the end of 2006, I will either move the piano to a room where it’s accessible and play it regularly, or I’ll get rid of the thing.

October 20, 2005

Canadian Music

Filed under: Music — castiron @ 7:03 pm

The two musical highlights of my weekend were hearing two Canadian groups.

First, Le Vent du Nord, at the International Accordion Festival. Wonderful French Canadian folk music and great energy. I bought their first album, Maudite Moisson!, and I’d eventually like to get Les amants du Saint-Laurent (broad hint to any relatives figuring out their Christmas lists *g*).

Second, the Canadian Brass. Technically excellent, and quite entertaining, especially the bits from the opera Carmen.

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