Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Unique chord, or uniqueish?

I've played a lot of chords over the past 50 years, but there's one I only recall playing in one particular song.

I'd love to be told it is also found in other songs, but I don't remember it occurring, so far.

Thirteenths are among my most favourite chords, but while they are not ubiquitous, you do encounter them with some degree of regularity.

But where else does the great chord at the beginning of the second bar of The Sound of Music also occur?
[clears throat] The hills are alive with the sound of
mu -sic.

That chord on the mu is one weird chord. You play an E major first inversion chord with your right hand, and a low F with your left. It sounds amazing.

Any takers?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Our Century

The 6 CD soundtrack to the Australian TV Nine Network's Our Century series has some great treasures, including the voice of Nellie Melba, cricket legend Don Bradman tickling the ivories, the original Aeroplane Jelly song, and the novelty song Is E an Aussie Lizzie, is E.

It also includes the Louie "D" Fly and Brylcream ads, Frank Ifield singing I Remember You, The Atlantics playing Bombora, and Lucky Starr singing I've Been Everywhere.

I also enjoyed Billy Thorpe's version of Poison Ivy. I'm a sucker for silly lyrics and what could be sillier than the lines
Measles make you bumpy
And mumps'll make you lumpy
And chicken pox'll make you jump and twitch
A common cold'll fool ya
And whooping cough can cool ya
But poison ivy, Lord'll make you itch!!

You're gonna need an ocean of calamine lotion
You'll be scratchin' like a hound
The minute you start to mess around.

Ray Brown's 20 Miles reminds me of a night at a noisy roller skating rink. In my mind it was at Swansea, Lake Macquarie, but I think my memory is wrong, because I've never heard of a Swansea skating rink.

I was interested to see that the Decimal Currency Jingle that we all remember, those of us who were around to welcome in
The fourteenth of February, 1966
was not recorded in Australia. Tsk, tsk.

There are some other great tracks from the Sixties and Seventies, including The Easybeats' Friday On My Mind, Eric Jupp's Skippy, Flying Circus' Hayride, Yesterday's Hero, sung by John Paul Young, Sherbet's Howzat, Glenn Shorrock's terrific versino of Bobby Darin's Dream Lover,Joe Dolce's Shaddup You Face, and Split Enz's interesting I Got You.

I lvoe the liner notes for Up There Cazaly, which tell us it was
dedicated to maybe the most famous of all cricket players to grace the immoral [sic] Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Unfortunately the set does not seem to be currently available, but would be worth a hunt in a second-hand store.

Song To Raymonda

You can't beat Youtube!
I haven't heard this one in at least 30 years. It was on the radio in the year I left school. [No peeking now!]

What a great old song! Not an Aussie comp, but an Aussie band, at least.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Eres Tu [Touch the Wind]

I had a Narromine flashback today. The song Eres Tu [Touch the Wind] came into my mind and I enjoyed playing it on the piano, while waiting for a student.

It's a great song, I think.

Still singing it Judith?

Cantatas for the season

I'm attempting to learn more about Bach's cantatas through listening to the ones for the relevant part of the church year. At the moment I am listening to Advent and Christmas cantatas and am thoroughly enjoying John Eliot Gardiner's Pilgrimage CD no 15, which contains cantatas which were performed in New York in 2000.

The texts are wonderful and the music has great variety and is performed superbly, as always.

Graham Abbott's Keys to Music program on Bach's cantatas which was broadcast last Saturday is also beautiful and enlightening.

If you are quick, you may be able to listen to it at Keys to Music

Friday, December 11, 2009

Attempting to acquaint myself with Bach's cantatas

I love Bach's cantatas, though I can only recognise a small number by name. In 2001, I bought a copy of the Teldec Bach 2000 set, and, like many, found that the cantatas were less than satisfactory. The worst bit is the number of times the boy sopranos are out of tune. About 6 of the 60 CDs are actually painful, and it was good to be able to listen to all of Bach's works.

The booklets are very helpful, and it is interesting to be able to listen to all of Bach's extant works. My set cost me $1500 for 153, which sounds cheap at $10 per CD, but now there is a Dutch set of Bach's compositions that costs about $300. It does not include any printed information, but you can get this from a CD-ROM or online, I think.

But I am collecting Eliot Gardiner's wonderful Bach Pilgrimage set which is greatly superior to the Harnoncourt Teldec set.

I've discovered the excellent Bach cantatas website, linked to above, has enough information to answer almost any question I could ask about the sacred cantatas.

And Christoph Wolff's book gives you details of the three year cycle that Bach composed, most of which is extant. So you can go through the church year, listening to the relevant cantatas for each day or week or part of the Christian calendar.

I listened to BWV 61 today, as the first step on my journey.

You know what they say: the greatest journey begins with ...
a trip to the bathroom.

Been there, done that, got the Leipzig t shirt

I'm listening to BWV 61 Nunn komm der Heiden Heiland [Come now, Saviour of the Gentiles] and reading about Bach's cantatas in Christoph Wolf's Johann Sebastian Bach: the learned musician, which I bought to use in preparing for appearing on ABC TV's Einstein Factor in 2007, and am chuckling over this, which sounds like it was written last week, as least in some places:

The Leipzig city council sent a memorandum in 1730 which said:
"In the churches of this town ... new hymns hitherto not customary, shall not be used in public divine services."

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Free Christmas present

Jingle bells! Jingle Bells!
The National Library of Australia has generously provided New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians online for all subscribers to use free of charge. It costs about $400 per year to subscribe to this standard music dictionary, though some are able to use it through their universities.

There are plenty of great music resources you can use instantly at
National Library of Australia
but if you want to use Grove [which would cost you $7000 to buy in hard copy] you need to apply at the site for a library card. I've already applied for mine! [Although a friend generously gave me the 29 volume set, you can't beat electronic access.]

David McKay