Archive for the ‘music’ Category


OK, I tend to avoid reading the stats for this blog, but my curiousity gets the better of me every so often.  Mostly because I am curious as to what people read when they come here.  It’s usually not what I consider my better posts, but what the heck?

In this case, I had a funny surprise in that the BBC (which sends me a fair mount of traffic) did it with my post: You can save your money.  That post is about the Production of Anna Nicole Smith the Opera which was presented at the Royal Opera House.  You can save your money since the opera was broadcast by the BBC. Note the referrer,

That is the BBC’s site for the broadcast.  You need to blow up the picture to see the Buzz about this programme–Discussion on Blogs (on right) has a link to You can save your money.

The amusing bit is that the post only netted 4 views with the top three views being:
Home page 30
Was Anne of Cleves really a dog? 20
Michael Portillo, Bradshaw’s Guide, and Great British Railway Journeys 9

I never fail to be amazed by what people choose to read!

Rereading the You can save your money post, my guess is that my making a comment that the BBC gives you value for your licence fee was what did the trick.  After all, you can see a sold out Covent Garden Opera for less than one ticket would cost if you pay your licence fee!

Guitar lessons with Pierre Bensusan

at a mere 300 bucks a pop (I’m assuming US$)!

The rest of us poor souls will have to make do with his music book.

Posted 31/03/2011 by lacithedog in Art, arts, Guitar, music, Pierre Bensusan

Salsa Celtica!

I love Salsa Celtica, mainly because they have the only version of Auld Lang Syne that I can tolerate. Yeah, I realise that’s blasphemy to say for the most part that you can’t tolerate that Hogmanay standard, but…

I should add that one of the best Hogmanays I ever celebrated was in a Hispanic household! Dancing to salsa music in my kilt!

Anyway, it seems that the US may have a changing demographic where there will be more Hispanics than white folk.

Live with it! Especially since it produces interesting music.

You can save your money!

A while back, I had a previous post about Anna Nicole The Opera, which is an opera based on the life of the American Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith performed at the Royal Opera House. The same person who was involved with Jerry Springer the Opera had a part in creating this. While it does have all the motifs of the opera, tragedy, sex, money, and so on, it seems too modern for my taste. As I said to someone off line: 20th Century (and in this case, 21st Century) opera seems to be lots of discordant music.

Anyway, the BBC has broadcast this work on BBC 4 and it’s available on iPlayer for the time being (Available until 1:09AM Tue, 5 Apr 2011). Here’s the BBC’s write up:

The television premiere of the hit opera based on the life of the young American Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith, who was thrust into the global media spotlight when she married an octogenarian billionaire, became a reality TV star and, after a drug overdose, died tragically early.

Composer Mark-Anthony Turnage and librettist Richard Thomas have created a darkly comic work for the Royal Opera which satirises celebrity and consumer culture. Eva-Maria Westbroek sings the challenging and complex title role, and the two central men in her life, her billionaire husband and her lawyer, are sung by Alan Oke and Gerald Finley. Musical director Antonio Pappano conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House.

I’m not sure I would want to pay Covent Garden prices to see this, but it will defintely be worth the TV Licence fees on the BBC!

Thank you, Auntie! yer darn tootin’ I added it to my iPlayer playlist!

Also, the BBC has something on Opera’s Fallen Women which ties into the above. Here’s the Beeb’s write up:

Bizet’s Carmen, Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, Verdi’s Violetta – some of the most famous and powerful roles in opera and they are all, in different ways, fallen women.

And now there’s a newcomer to their ranks – Anna Nicole. The Royal Opera’s new smash hit is an operatic version of the life of former Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith. Antonio Pappano, music director of the Royal Opera House and conductor of Anna Nicole, delves into the world of opera’s fallen women and discovers how for centuries composers and librettists have used female characters in opera to explore and challenge society’s attitudes and prejudices.

As I said, Anna Nicole the Opera has all the elements of Opera. My trepidation is how sensational and weird would it be?

Anna Nicole the opera

I opened the paper to find this article about an opera about Anna Nicole Smith that described the work as “one of the strangest shows ever to reach the Royal Opera House”.

The libretto is by Richard Thomas, co-creator of Jerry Springer: The Opera

The Guardian’s review can be found here.

I’ll give it a pass.

The Man in the Dark Sedan

Thanks to Microdot at the Brain Police for bringing back this memory:

Hey, at least it’s not Stockhausen’s Hymnen.

But, while we’re at it: The Residents at Mount Rushmore:

Posted 16/11/2010 by lacithedog in music

Sandy Denny

While Sandy Denny is known as being one of the founders of the British Electro Traditional Music scene as a member of the Strawbs and Fairport Convention, most people are familiar of her from the duet with Robert Plant in Led Zeppelin’s Battle of Evermore, even if they don’t pay attention to her.

She died far too young. I remember a friend calling me to tell me that she died knowing I was a fan of hers.

What got me going on this is that her Biography, No More Sad Refrains: The Life of Sandy Denny, sells for around a hundred quid..if you can find a copy. every so often, one pops up on eBay, which it just did. Needless to say, I was outbid. A bookseller in Dorset also has a banged up ex-library copy for sale for £38.

I may be a fan, but not that much. Besides, her life was rather tragic.

Another musical hoax?

It seems that the string quartet that was attributed to Benjamin Franklin may just be that. I thought it was impressive that Franklin may have been a composer, but that may be just something hopeful.

Franklin is given credit for the work in what may be the earliest manuscript, one found in Paris, but it is not in his hand. So it is up to conjecture whether he wrote it.

While Franklin is known to have penned a drinking song in his youth, “there is no evidence that he learned to read music,” says Bruce Gustafson, a music professor at Franklin & Marshall College.

Similarly, Franklin frequented the Parisian salon of Mademoiselle Brillon, an accomplished amateur musician. Her soirees would have been the perfect opportunity for Franklin to show off such a quartet, performed by the dilettantes at these parties. However, “there is no mention of it that I have found in the abundant correspondence between Franklin and Mlle. Brillon,” says Gustafson, who has done several studies of the Parisian socialite.

I’m not sure what to say about this. My interest in the quartet was solely that it was attributed to Franklin. It isn’t that spectacular a piece, but it would be a neat little curiosity.

BTW, this work can be found on the Vox Box set The Early String Quartet in the U.S.A. by the Kohon Quartet

Posted 25/09/2010 by lacithedog in Chamber Music, Classical Music, music

Musical Hoax

I was curious as to what the whole work that contained Albinoni’s Adagio in G minor would be and decided to google the work. Amusingly enough, it turns out that this is a hoax.

Thomaso Albinoni (1671-1751) is a relatively obscure Venetian Baroque composer, who was most famous in his lifetime for his operas. In the 1950s, there emerged this “Adagio” as a hit among lovers of Baroque. It’s been used by ballet companies, by figure skaters, in movie scores (most notably Gallipoli, a 1981 film about a disastrous First World War campaign), and, with lyrics added, by a number of vocalists: e.g., Sarah Brightman.

There is a reason this work was unknown until the 1950s. It is actually a modern composition.

A collection of Albinoni’s manuscripts, including some unpublished musical scores, had been housed in the Saxon State Library in Dresden, Germany. This library was a victim of the bombing of Dresden in February 1945. Although many of its treasures were sent out of Dresden before the bombing, Albinoni’s manuscripts were not and were lost in the firestorm.

Remo Giazotto, an Italian musicologist, had catalogues some of the manuscripts and authored a biography of Albinoni. In 1958, Giazotto introduced this piece as a work by Albinoni, which he had “arranged” from fragments of an unpublished trio sonata found in Albinoni’s papers.

Other musicologists who had worked with the Albinoni manuscripts before their loss were not so sure of this new find. Giazotto’s story then changed a little: he claimed that he had based the entire composition on nothing more than fragments of a bass line in an Albinoni manuscript, which he apparently attempted to pass off as having been sent to him for safekeeping when the library at Dresden dispersed many of its treasures. . .save that the Albinoni works had not been among those saved from the library’s destruction.

Anyway, I found it amusing that this piece was not really a baroque masterpiece, but a modern recreation. I don’t find that attributions to other composers (e.g Wassanaer’s Concerti Armonici that were attributed to Pergolesi or the String Quartet attributed to Haydn) detracts from the work. Good music is good music no matter the composer.

Posted 24/09/2010 by lacithedog in Baroque Music, Classical Music, music

I want this!

Well, the Brennan JB7 just came to my attention. It’s a “CD jukebox” in that it is a CD player with a hard drive. From their info:

* JB7 holds your entire CD collection on a hard disk to give you instant access to any of your music and play unbroken music for as long as you want.
* You can choose and play an album or track without getting out of your chair.
* You get to see what is playing from across a room.
* One button plays your entire music collection at random – another turns it off – its what you need when its late and you just want to unwind.

I have been messing about with other media players such as the Argosy and Iomega, but they are slow and not really meant for music. What I am looking for is an “mp3 player” with a huge hard drive. At this point, the best bet is a large USB drive and media monkey software on my computer. Media Monkey is the best music management program I have found for a large music collection.

Nice feature, the JB7 backs up to a USB hard drive. I assume it can also copy from one as well. The big problem is how my music has gotten screwed up over time (track numbering, genres, etc.) if I make the move. The genres are the real piss off as I hate it when the track is something like Beethoven’s fifth symphony and it gets tagged as blues!

A good feature is that the Brennan JB7 uses the Freedb CD database, one of the better music DBs out there.

Anyway, features are:

* Stores 1200/2500/5000 CDs on 80/160/320G (high compression typical CD)
* Stores 600/1200/2500 CDs on 80/160/320G (normal compression worst case CD)
* Total 60W RMS
* 32 key credit card remote
* 2.4 million album database – update on CD
* Text Search for Track or Album by remote control or front panel
* Segue – blends one track into the next
* 180 x 32 soft scrolling graphic vacuum fluorescent display
* Compact 4.8 x 16 x 22 cm
* 1.6kg steel and aluminium construction
* One touch startup – relax let JB7 pick the tracks
* One touch rip – transfer a CD track to MP3 player
* One touch record – convert vinyl to MP3s
* Loads CDs to hard disk at 12x – play music while loading
* Battery backed up clock with alarm
* MP3 encode at 128k, 192k or 320k – done automatically
* USB 2.0 Full Speed 12 Mbits / sec – compatible with USB Mass storage class devices formatted with FAT16 or FAT32 – USB memory sticks, Ipods, MP3 players, USB hard drives. Not MP4 players and Touch iPods.
* Rear connectors – loudspeakers, line in, line out, headphone, 24V DC
* Backup music and playlists to external USB hard disk for safe keeping
* 400MHz Blackfin processor with Dual MAC
* Find and play MP3s on MP3 players and USB drives as if they were internal
* Transfer MP3s to and from USB
* External laptop computer style 24V power supply / AC adaptor – included – works from 110V to 240V. Size 3cm x 6cm x 13cm. 3m overall lead length.
* Loudpeakers 22cm (H) x 14.5cm (W) x 18cm (D)

Price is a bit much at £339 to £409 (septics can go here for currency conversion).

OK, there may be some downsides, but I am waiting for a time when this type of device is much more common and at a better price point. Although, it does have some really nice features that pretty much outweigh any downsides I’ve read about.

You can read a couple of good reviews of it here and here.

Oh, yeah, and a plus for non-Euros, the JB7 runs on a switching external power supply, meaning it works anywhere in the world.

When will the US wise up?

Brenda Spencer opened fire with a rifle at the Grover Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego, California, killing two adults and injuring nine children. She later explained her actions with the statement, “I don’t like Mondays” back in 1979.

The Boomtown Rats were at a US radio station for an interview when the story of Brenda Spencer came over the news wire. As a loud mid ’70s rock band, the Boomtown Rats were (respectfully if not completely accurately) branded punks by the media. As the Sex Pistols and the Clash became the voice of young London punks, The Boomtown Rats carried the flag for the youth of Dublin. After their debut album saw respectable sales in 1978, they recorded “I Don’t Like Mondays,” their most successful and most enduring hit despite the fact that many US radio stations refused to play it.

I wonder why?

Since Brenda Spencer went “postal” there have been many shootings like this. School shootings like this happen all the time, but they are treated as local news, unless they are like Columbine or yesterday’s Virginia Tech shootings.

I mean 32 dead. Wow, that’s a new record.

I guess the next big school shooting is going to have to top that to become news.

There are other songs which pinpoint the real instrumentality which allows for this carnage: Guns. Cheryl Wheeler’s “If It Were Up To Me”, Wall of Voodoo’s “Shouldn’t have given him a gun for Christmas”, Captain Sensible’s “Yanks with Guns”, Robert Bobby “Guns across the USA”, The Beatles “Happiness is a Warm Gun”, Johnny Cash “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town”, Lynyrd Skynyrd “Saturday Night Special”, Harry Chapin “Sniper”, Indigo Girls “Don’t Give that Girl a Gun”, various versions of “The Devil’s Right Hand”, I Can Lick Any Son Of… “Dear Mr. Heston”, Ian Hunter “Gun Control”, Pearl Jam “Glorified G”, Robert Bobby “guns Across the USA”, any other suggestions out there?

Anyway, Cheryl Wheeler’s “If it were up to me” which ends with “If it were up to me, I’d take away the guns.” is also not played on the airwaves. The pro-gun crowd is too scared of it.

Why, let’s face it, more guns does not equal less crime. If it were the case, Philadelphia would be one of the safest places in the nation with the largest number of NRA life members and amount of concealed carry permits. Also, Virginia, they can just strap on a gun there, but this is the second time they have been victimised by maniacs with a gun on a large scale (anybody remember Lee Boyd Malvo and John Allen Muhammad?).

I mean those last two paralaysed the nation’s capital with only one gun. Shit, the East Coast!

Not bad.

It is the guns and I don’t hear many people talking about gun responsibilities!

Sorry, but 28 years is too long and too many bodies have piled up from guns. It’s costs this country too much to treat all the gunshot victims.

It’s time for guns to be put under strict regulation–after all Heller-McDonald says that’s Constitutionally OK.

The only thing stopping that happening is the gun lobby.

For a great piece on Brenda Spencer listen to ‘s piece from Day to Day, January 31, 2005:

Add on the following songs:
Stephen Sondheim: Gun Song, Bobby Bare Jr.: Gun Show, Railroad Jerk: Gun Problem, Kittens For Christian: Gun Country, D.R.I.: Gun Control , Guess Who: Guns, Guns, Guns, Junior Reid: Gun Court, Boy Wundah: Change (The Anti Gun Crime Song), 311: Guns (Are For Pussies), Gorillaz: Kids With Guns, Robert Bobby: Guns Across The U.S.A and Bigger Guns., UB40: Guns In The Ghetto, The Damned: Gun Fury, The Tannahill Weavers: At The End Of A Pointed Gun, Steely Dan: With A Gun, Buju Banton: Mr. Nine, Aerosmith: Janie’s Got A Gun, Billy Idol – Don’t Need A Gun, and Julie Brown: Homecoming Queen’s got a gun



Posted 17/04/2007 by lacithedog in boomtown rats, mass shootings, mondays, music