Have you ever listened to Radio 3’s Discovering Music? One nice touch on the web page is the expression, “over a year left to listen.” Anyway, there is to be a recording made in Glasgow’s City Halls on at 18:15 on Wednesday 30 May. The title of the event is, The Second Viennese School: Introductory Talk.
What will the fate of classical music (and the arts in general) if Scotland becomes an independent nation? There is a short discussion on the topic at 1:30 of this edition of Radio 3’s Music Matters. I wouldn’t describe it as conclusive, but it does get the topic on air and shows that, already, there are some entrenched positions – including intended emigration in the event of independence.
What does the idea of key in music mean to you? Do you think keys have identifying colours? Ivan Hewett (Telegraph music critic) explores the business of keys in the first of a new series of Key Matters.Here, in episode 1 of 5, he concentrates on A major. There is also a short article about the programme here.
The story behind the song – interesting account of the late Gerry Rafferty’s massive 1978 hit, Baker Street. I met Hugh Burns (of the iconic guitar solo) a couple of times and he is every bit the gentleman he comes across as in this programme.
A piano piece by Brahms received its premier 158 years after its composition. Albumblatt (sheet from an album) was discovered by musicologist, Christopher Hogwood in Göttingen, Germany. It was tucked in the pages of a guest book which also contained signature fragments of other composers. Leaving a complete piece was exceptional. Like many composers, Brahms was a recycler and the theme also appears in his Horn Trio.
p.s. Christopher Hogwood came to the then Huddersfield Polytechnic to give a talk on early music when I was in First Year (1979/80). I’d been asked to wait outside the entrance to the hall to direct any visitors uncertain of where exactly to go. Along strolled a very relaxed man, casually dressed in the kind of rainbow jumpers which were all the rage at the time. He looked through the glass into the hall and said cheerfully, “not a bad crowd.” He then wandered off and, a few moments later, was introduced to us as Christopher Hogwood – a natural communicator and a fantastic player.
Topics covered include major/minor-happy/sad correlation; why some sounds fill us with horror; acoustics of concert halls; musical intervals and maths/ratios – including the tritone also known as Diabolus in Musica (The Devil in Music).
This particular episode touched on such topics as early years (stimulation – or lack thereof) and use of games in the classroom. What grabbed my attention the most, however, was when the conversation turned to praise and self-esteem. There was the suggestion that praising young people for being clever may not help them when they hit a wall as much as praising them for effort. *
You can hear the programme here (and there seems to be no suggestion of the usual removal date).
Does a life of active involvement in music bestow enhanced memory – more able to withstand the ravages of age? Nina Kraus of the Audio Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University in Illinois certainly believes so. Why not listen to a short conversation she had with Eddie Mair on Radio 4’s PM? Scroll forward to 27:50 of this?
A post of John Connell‘s some time ago about polymaths encouraged me to wonder if I regarded anyone in such a light. I immediately thought of pianist, conductor, composer, linguist, educator, broadcaster Leonard Bernstein. Imagine my surprise when I chanced upon his appearance in Radio 4’s biographical programme Great Lives. He’d been chosen as this week’s subject by Charles Hazlewood – in many ways a similar character – who, within a few moments, described Bernstein as a polymath!
If you are interested in connections between music and language, I can think of no better place to explore than Bernstein’s Norton Lectures.
I always felt that Martyn Lewis was unfairly pilloried in 1993 for opining that there should be more good news on the news. Is news meant to be a reflection of life, or merely a litany of human failing?
I caught an interesting story (in the car, as always) on Radio 4’s new technologies programme, Click On yesterday which typified, for me, the type of under-reported philanthropic instinct to which I suspect Lewis was referring. Chasing the idea today, I found the following video on YouTube which explains the story. You also get to see what must be a unique three-word sentence: Gateshead Granny Cloud:[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/IXxYgpQhsrU?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
The originator of the idea, Sugata Mitra, explains a little more fully here on TED:
Coping with the abstractions of music, when teaching, often relies on analogy to help pupils grasp otherwise elusive ideas. Consequently, you end up with a bank of ideas of all the things to which music seems comparable. However, this doesn’t often run the other way round – and, in my experience, people using music as an analogy for something else often don’t quite hit the spot.
Listening to Radio 4’s Open Book the other day, I caught an article about a new, unabridged audio book version of George Eliot‘s Middlemarch. At nearly 36 hours on 28 CDs, recording this 800-page novel is a gargantuan task. The reader, Juliet Stevenson, completed it in 12 days – a feat of which many musical recording artists would be extremely proud. She talks here about the many features involved – notably rhythm (of character and also of writer), inhabiting character, and coping with paragraph-long sentences – scroll forward to 19′ 20”
p.s. if this doesn’t seem like a big deal, why not try recording yourself reading a few paragraphs?