September 20, 2008

Nine Times a Night

Nine Times a Night is a Renaissance poem about a widow who, being now economically independent, can choose a new husband for her own... pleasure. No-one is coerced, betrayed, murdered, or even dissatisfied at the end of the lyric, which makes it unusual in the works of Trad.

I don't know where the tune comes from, but here are lyrics and melody. Just now there's a YouTube version sung by Roberts and Barrand but scoring scenes cut from Pirates of the Caribbean movies; Trad. goes folk by way of Disney, commodious vicus.

It's also on a disc By the Tale of charming chanteys, vaudeville, bar songs, and ballads by a maritime duo Pilots of Tiger Bay, q.v.

So wrote clew.

April 03, 2005

Ten Basque Melodies, Jesús Guridi

20th century classical music, or even very late 19th. c. by training, informed by Basque nationalism and often based on Basque folk songs. The liner notes describe it as Romanticism with "touches of modernistic acerbity". I can hear a reasonable quantity of that, and the tunes are delightful and not overpadded by the orchestration. Unfortunately the total sounds just like really good movie music. Ths must be partly an accident of era, that the first big movies were scored in this period. However, Así cantan los chicos especially seems subsidiary to something, as though the 'plot' was driving the music rather than unfolding from it.

I often think this of famously programmatic(?) music, e.g. Vivaldi's Four Seasons. I should try not reading the liner notes, in case I'm warping my perception.

Wonderful tunes, though.

Naxos 8.557110

March 07, 2005

Sea Changes of the Toucan Pirates, Toucan Pirates

"Traditional Irish instrumentals with authentic pirate sound effects!"

It dawns on me slowly that the appeal of Pirates! ("Pirates: now more than ever", says my other half) is principally to the scarcely piratical. This recording should fit in.

The steel drum fits the music surprisingly well, being as forceful as a bodhran and more melodic. The other piratization only accidentally enthralled me, though; it's played very neatly and precisely, and at sensible breaks in the music everyone announces, "Arrr!", also neatly and precisely. It's not just unusually sober for pirate jokes, it's awfully sober for the extensive dance opus of Trad.

I was going to write that pirate music should have more swagger and snap, but the ear of my imagination insists that they actually went in for treacly sentimental songs with raunchy choruses.

Anyhow, as I say, I enjoy this, however tangentially; and I think I'd have liked it a whole lot before adolescence taught me what fun warping the tempo can be.

Dunno why a steel drum band comes across as careful, but I can't be the only person who liked it, as this is only the last of three Pirate Adventures they've recorded.

March 05, 2004


Magnatune the music-shareware house modestly declares, "We are not evil."

Try the Dufay Collective's La Estampida as a soundtrack for The Geste of Duke Jocelyn; for instance La Rotta, pure rhythm for measures and then a squeal of melody not totally unlike klezmer (if you aren't familiar with Early Music dance tones).

If you already like EM, you'll recognize a bunch of these tunes - I heard them on good old affordable Nonsuch when I was a wee, LP-hoarding squeaker. You will certainly have an opinion on the World Music/Academic Respectability divide. Dufay might be on the first hand of that false dichotomy, but I thought it was plausible enough, and by my tail and whiskers you can dance to it.

The classical offerings are mostly pre-1800. Maybe that's what the man of Magnatunes likes; maybe Sony avoids them; maybe it's hard to get an entire hundred-player orchestra to put their work up in this format. Lucky for me, though. Even paying more than they suggest for an album costs less than most do in stores.

February 08, 2004


Anonymous 4 last night were as pitch-perfect as usual¹, making a mockery of professional singers with electronic tuners. My ears ached slightly at the end, as though the music had been making the small bones resonate directly. (They must have destructive resonant frequencies, yes, the malleus, the incus, the stapes? Or is that a fiction I inherit from Gödel, Escher, Bach?)

Milton mocks rhyming verse so: rime being no necessary adjunct or true ornament of poem or good verse, in longer works especially, but the invention of a barbarous age - and I had lazily assumed that no verse in Latin rhymed, that rhyme was a barbarous² invention literally. But the thirteenth-century Latin conductus use a lot of rhyme:

Ave nobilis
comes utilis
in via
mentes erige
cursum dirige
per hec invia.

Milton specifically says Virgil's verse didn't rhyme, and I am left lazily wondering if any classical Greek or Roman verse did, and then whether there are any living languages whose speakers don't enjoy rhyme.

If you want a non-lazy answer, attend languagehat.

¹ I heard them once when one of them was clearly sick. Their technique was, if anything, more impressive without perfect production.

² Although that's "not speaking Greek" to the Greeks, and "not Greek or Roman" to the Romans. Can't think of a precise word; 'modern' is too loose.

October 23, 2003

In a garden so green, Anonymous

So in my armis two did I the lusty jo
And kissed her tymis mo then night hes hours.

One kiss per hour is a low frequency.

The Baltimore Consort. On the Banks of Helicon. Dorian, 1990.

October 15, 2003

Pur ti miro

The other catchy song from Saturday's concert by La Venexiana was Pur ti miro, as tender and twining a duet as one could like. I wasn't the only person afterwards hunting through recordings-for-sale for it; we didn't find one.

There are some MIDI or synthesized versions online. It's a popular wedding tune. Unfortunately, when not sung by wonderful (and so dashing) singers, the tune is more simplistic, less appealing, but not any less catchy. It went through my head for hours, like Pachelbel's thingy; beware!

If you do hear it at a wedding, keep a straight face, but allot points if it's a doubly second wedding. Monteverdi's opera L'incoronazione di Poppea recounts Poppaea's abandoning her lover, and Nero setting aside his wife and driving Seneca to suicide, so that they can marry. Eventually, of course, Nero probably killed Poppaea by kicking her downstairs while pregnant.

Opera World summarizes the whole, In Poppea's journey to the throne, Monteverdi and Busenello tell the tale of how lust and ambition conquer all that is just.

Claudette Colbert played Poppaea; not in this opera.

October 13, 2003

Boots and Saddles

"Butta la sella!" translated in a concert program as "Saddle the horses!"; but later "Tutti a cavallo!" is "To horse, one and all!" I am curious:

  • what's the most literal translation?
  • is that where the bugle call "Boots and Saddles" got its name?

After a bit of web searching:

Google's translation gives "the saddleback throws". Throw the saddle? "Butta" is "it throws", throw the saddles onto the horses? throw yourselves into the saddles? I've wondered about "boots" since I was a kid: shouldn't you already have your boots on?

The entire phrase "butta la sella" only appears on Google in the context of this particular (suggestively martial) madrigal; "Boots and Saddles" apparently doesn't ever mean, "put your boots on and saddle the horses", but "mount your horses", and may have been particularly a U.S. term.

Not debunked, but unlikely. Still, I wish I had a recording of that song; the melody was suggestive.