Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Dagsens auga sloknar ut" - Elias Blix

Find more artists like Torhild Ostad at Myspace Music

Lots of background at Salmebloggen til Leif Haugen - in Norwegian, but w/ a really nice picture of the harbor in Bergen

Saturday, August 27, 2011

"Pride of the Springfield Road" - sheet music w/ note on drones and modal harmony

Catchy song from Belfast that I learned from Jim Rainey of the Irish traditional band Craobh Rua (pron. "crave roo-uh") at Common Ground on the Hill. Rainey said Springfield Road is a working-class Catholic neighborhood once dominated by the textile mills, now gone overseas of course; Protestants had a lock on the shipbuilding industry, and Catholics were relegated to working in the mills. This background is reflected in "The Pride of the Springfield Road," but it's a lovely little song about a young couple who hope to get married and work in the mills. Very nice YouTube clip here of Rainey fronting Craobh Rua.

Apparently "The Pride of the Springfield Road" is performed in B dorian in Ireland. At least the sheet music and chord sheet have it so (written as B minor with the 6th - a G - sharped). Music at:
  • Sheet music - PDF file of a lead sheet in B dorian on a German website (so H = B natural in the chords above the notes)!
  • Lyrics and chords - chord progression over the lyrics with a little background below (in English notation so B = B this time) on an Andy Irvine fan site.
The fansite has a link to a very brief, tinny sounding clip of Irvine singing it. It may be the quality of the recording, but I like Craobh Rua's better.

Although the song is sometimes given as traditional, and it's apparently been around Belfast for quite a while, it's usually credited to Andy Irvine of Planxty and the Patrick Street trad supergroup.

Tangent on modes, drones and Irish trad music: Irvine's website has a detailed first-person bio. A couple of extracts follow. One from the early to mid-60s, when he was mostly busking in Dublin and learning traditional music:
But at that time I loved the really old "classic" ballads. Songs like Sir Patrick Spens, The Douglas Tragedy and Edward. Other publications that made a deep impression were Bert Lloyd’s "Penguin Book of English Folk Songs" with lovely modal tunes.

I used to sing them in O’Donoghue’s [pub] in the very early morning in the Men’s toilet, smelling of disinfectant. There was something wrong with the cistern and a drone emanated from somewhere all the years I frequented the place. Singing against a drone is something I love to this day.

I had begun to try to accompany myself on the mandolin some years before and my style was simple. I more or less played along with the tune adding the odd harmony note and half chord as I had learned from records of Old Timey American musicians accompanying themselves on the fiddle. Johnny Moynihan had taught me to tune down the top string of the mandolin—GDAD instead of GDAE which gave echoes of 5-string banjo playing with the top D usually a constant note.
Also Irvine's reason for naming his first duo Sweeney's Men (formed w/ Joe Dolan in Galway in 60s): "... we decided to name ourselves after the pagan king, Suibhne, who was cursed for throwing a pushy cleric’s bell in the lake. We found it quite easy to identify with Sweeney against the power of the clergy in 1960’s Ireland."<

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sinikka Langeland on Bach, drones and 'my mother's Mixmaster'

Min første organist var mammas miksmaster. - Sinikka Langeland

A new way of thinking about Bach in in Norwegian folk-jazz artist Sinikka Langeland's liner notes to her CD Kyriekoral: Norwegian Folk Hymns And Bach Chorales, with Langeland on vocals and Kåre Nordstoga on the organ in Trondheim's Nidaros cathedral. (Click on links to discography and "Kyriekoral," a word that Langeland coined from the Kyrie Eleison [Lord have mercy upon us] and the Norwegian word for a type of Lutheran hymn called a chorale.)

I've been playing a melody-and-drone instrument for 25 years, and I've been listening to organ music since I was a little boy growing up with my father's E. Power Biggs LPs playing in the background, but I never thought of the organ as a dronal instrument.

But that was before I read this from Langeland:
My first organist was my mother’s Mixmaster. At the age of four I discovered how a sustained drone made me hum and sing almost involuntarily. Something similar happened when I started listening to Bach’s chorales: I was inspired to create my own melodic lines. This was my point of departure. I have never made any attempt to “compose my way into” the masterpieces; I have only wanted to play with, and improvise on, the old hymn melodies that are part of Bach’s complex structures. They sometimes emerge distinctly in the melodic lines, and sometimes so slowly that they are barely perceptible…in the pedal, high, low,
inverted, canons – in short, in every method Bach used to create his masterpieces. When I improvise within Bach’s music itself, I feel very close to him, while at the same time I gain a heightened awareness of my own folk song tradition, especially the religious folk songs of Andris Vang, Ragnar Vigdal, Ingebjørg Liestøl and Sondre Bratland, to name my most important sources of inspiration.
And - you know what? - she's right.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Gud Helligånd! o, kom - bios of Johannes Johansen, August Winding and Thomas Laub

At Heligeaandkirken. Hymn for noon service when we were in Copenhagen was Danske Salmebog 523 Min nåde er dig nok, a paraphrase of 2 Cor. 12:9 by Johannes Johansen (1983 and 1995). Mel.: Gud Helligånd! o kom

Gud Helligånd! o, kom
Mel.: August Winding 1861
Thomas Laub 1917

Johannes Johansen
Den Store Danske, Glydendal's open encyclopedia, has this: "Johannes Johansen, f. 1925, dansk præst og salmedigter; biskop over Helsingør Stift 1980-95. Han udgav sin første digtsamling, Thurø-Rim, i 1974 og sine første salmer i 1975; en omfattende samling foreligger i Min egen Salmebog (1996). Det har været Johansens bestræbelse at videreføre det bedste i dansk salmetradition, og han var 1900-t.s betydeligste danske salmedigter efter K.L. Aastrup." The Danske Salmebog bio counts 13 psalms and 2 translations.

August Winding
Not much on him ... what there is comes from liner notes of his recordings ... The Bach Cantatas website has this:
The Danish composer, August Winding, was the son of a clergyman who had a passion for collecting and arranging Danish folk songs. Naturally, August studied with his father. Soon, however, he was to move to greater things; he studied piano with Anton Ree who had known Chopin. This was followed by composition lessons with Carl Reinecke and theory with no less a person than Niels W. Gade, the father of Danish music.

In the first instance August Winding was a pianist. He made quite an impression both in Denmark and in concert halls and recital rooms throughout Europe. His specialities were the concerti of Mozart and Beethoven. He enjoyed playing in chamber ensembles as well as performing as a recitalist. From 1867 he taught at the conservatoire in Copenhagen.

As a composer, August Winding is unfairly remembered only for a few hymn tunes. However, he wrote much other music - including a symphony, Concerto for Piano & Orchestra in A minor, Op.16 (1869); Concert allegro for Piano & Orchestra in C minor, Op.29 (c1875); chamber works; songs; piano pieces.

Source: MusicWeb, from liner notes to the album Piano Concertos by August Winding and Emil Hartmann (Danacord)
Contributed [to the Bach site by its administrator] Aryeh Oron (August 2007)
This review, by blogger John Kersey of a recording of solo piano compositions, adds a couple of details:
August Winding was the son of a pastor, and received his first piano lessons from his parents. In 1847 he studied with Carl Reinecke and from 1848-51 with Anton Rée, also studying composition with Niels Gade. In 1856 he completed his studies in Leipzig and Prague, where he studied with Dreyschock. Returning to Denmark, he became well-known for appearances as a soloist, particularly in Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto. In 1864, he married Clara, daughter of J.P.E. Hartmann. From 1867 he taught at the Royal Conservatory, as well as privately. In 1872 he developed a nervous injury to his arm as a result of overwork which forced him to stop concertizing and devote his attention to composition. He resumed teaching at the Conservatory in 1881 and became a member of its board after the death of Gade in 1890. In 1888 he reappeared in public as a soloist and gave a limited number of concerts between then and his death, receiving the accolade of a state professorship and annuity in 1892.
Thomas Laub
Wikipedia's article "Music of Denmark" has this: "Thomas Laub (1852–1927), an organist, was devoted to reintroducing the old Protestant hymn tunes which had been forgotten or altered over the years. He published a number of important works including Kirkemelodier (Church Melodies) (1890), Udvalg af Salme-Melodier i Kirkestil (Selected Hymn Tunes in the Church Style) (1896 and 1902), Dansk Kirkesang (Danish Church Song) (1918) and Musik og Kirke (Music and Church) (1920). Laub also wrote folk song music and together with Carl Nielsen published En Snes danske Viser (A Set of Danish Folk Songs) (1917)." Pix (left) available on Creative Commons license via Wikipedia. But the main bio is a Wikipedia stub.

Laub collaborated with Carl Nielsen on the songbook used for Folk High Schools. See the discussion of Danish songs and hymns" on the Carl Nielsen Society website ... lots of information, summarized in this cutline: "Thomas Laub was one of Nielsen's collaborators on the Folk High School Melody Book and composed two volumes of Danish Songs together with Nielsen." And this:
Carl Nielsen was not religious in the conventional sense of the word. This did not prevent him from writing music for a number of hymns (Salmer og aandelige Sange, composed 1913-1915, published 1919). His friend the organist, composer and reformer of church music, Thomas Laub, had reproached him:

"A composer of hymns must be A Child of the House, by which I do not mean that he has a patent on faith - his faith can be weak, it can be wrong - but he must feel at home, that is to say he must have lived with congregational singing preferably from childhood, he must know it from its uses ...", he wrote to Nielsen.
But there's quite a bit more, including some pretty good atmospherics on Danish folk music.

Buskers - in the free city of Bremen and a story in today's Irish Times - mashed together with a really weak transition

Marktplatz in Bremen

A very informative, well written story on busking in The Irish Times today ... which gives me an opportunity to get some pix up from our trip to Europe ... especially Bremen, a lovely Hanseatic city we visited in northern Germany. Busking is thought of as a typically Irish thing, but it's international. And it was in evidence in Bremen.

In fact, musicians are part of what makes Bremen special.

Statue at left isn't a busker - it's the Town Musicians of Bremen (Stadtmusikanten) on the Market Square downtown. It's shiny in places because people like to rub the statue for good luck. (Sort of like Abraham Lincoln's nose!) It comes from a folktale collected by the Brothers Grimm. Says the summary in Wikipedia, "In the story a donkey, a dog, a cat, and a rooster, all past their prime years in life and usefulness on their respective farms, were soon to be discarded or mistreated by their masters. One by one they leave their homes and set out together. They decide to go to Bremen, known for its freedom, to live without owners and become musicians there." In a word or two, they live by their wits. And the story is delightful. I won't spoil it for you - the rest of their story is in Wikipedia. The city has sort of adopted the animals as mascots, and the statue by Bremen sculptor Gerhard Marcks shows the animals.

Bremen and its port city of Bremerhaven have long enjoyed their common status as a "free city" - i.e. a chartered city pretty much ruled by its burghers, or middle class, rather than the feudal nobility - and even today its formal name is the Freie Hansestadt Bremen (the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen). And the Grimm Brothers folk tale symbolizes that spirit of freedom ... and living by your wits.

At right are some real musicians of Bremen, busking on the other side of the Market Square from the statue.

Here's how Una Mullally begins her story in the Irish Times:
Some are good, some are bad, some are insufferable: you know it’s summertime when the buskers take over the streets. But what separates the talented from the talentless and how does a busker earn €7,000 in one day? ...

A bare-chested dreadlocked man attempting to limbo underneath a blazing stick, an elderly harpist, two men in full native American garb playing panpipes to a backing CD, teenage boys mangling Damien Rice songs on a duo of barely tuned guitars, an artist rolling out a canvas of a remarkably detailed stained glass painting, a bored looking man constructing the likeness of a dog out of sand, a deft spray-painter making surrealist space-scapes with moons and pyramids, a lone opera singer, a trad group, a tightly honed raucous band, a drumming circle, a tuneless accordion-player, a classical trio. Summertime is when the buskers take over our streets, becoming moveable street furniture that annoy, amuse, distract and pleasure in equal measure.

So what makes a good busker, and what makes a rubbish one? Roger Quail is the label manager of Model Citizen and Rubyworks, founded by Niall Muckian who was promoting the primarily singer-songwriter night The Ruby Sessions in the early 2000s. The weekly gigs in Doyle’s pub in Dublin saw several former buskers such as Glen Hansard and Paddy Casey take the stage.

“A good busker is someone who can hold an audience and make them forget where they are, even if it’s only for five minutes,” Quail says. Rubyworks know all about good buskers.
And this vignette that reminds me of the buskers I heard on Grafton Street last year in Dublin:
SUCH IS IRELAND’S bustling busker scene that some people even temporarily move here to get a slice of the action. Kamila and Magda from Katowice in Poland will stay here for three weeks, playing their viola duets every morning on Henry Street in Dublin and every evening on Grafton Street, before returning to their studies in a music academy back home. “We started at 8am and we’ll play until 10pm,” Magda explains, midweek on Grafton Street.

They were here two years ago, “and it was better, definitely” in terms of earnings. These days, they can make anything from €40 to €100 each. They play a mixture of classical music and the occasional pop curveball, concentrating mainly on Bach and Mozart. While they like being their own bosses and choosing when to play, there are downfalls – “the weather” exclaims Kamilla.
And no transition at all for this one. On the motorways in Sweden, they have fast food resaurants called "Rasta."

So I decided it was the best chance I'll ever have to be a Rasta man.

Here's the picture.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bellman - Fredmans sånger n:o 5C - MIDI

Cool! Up tempo, and sounds like a harpsichord. Instrumental only, tho'.

Bellman - Fredmans sånger n:o 5C - MIDI file rendered by Kapten Kaos -

Friday, August 12, 2011

Tips for Longer-Lasting Laptop Batteries - link to Yahoo! feature


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Recondition your battery regularly. Most laptop manufacturers (except Apple) don't generally tell you about this, but a simple process known as reconditioning (or occasionally, recalibrating) can breathe new life into your laptop battery and add capacity back. To do that, turn off your screen saver and any other power management tools which put your PC to sleep. Fully charge the laptop, and then let it run all the way down — right until it powers down due to lack of juice. Then charge it back up again and restore your power management stuff. Do this every few months (such as three times a year).

Remove it when you're not using it. When you leave your laptop plugged in at your desk all day every day, the battery never gets a chance to discharge and recharge — which is critical to its long-term health. Thankfully, there's a simple solution: Remove the battery. As long as your laptop is connected to AC power, the battery isn't necessary; it'll run without it. Just remember to pop it back in before you take your laptop on the go.

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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

"Samson af hendelse Gasa besøgte"

Catchy tune on Kingoløg CD by jazz artist Kristian Blak of the Faroe Islands called "Samson af Hændelse Gasa Besøgte." The CD is a suite "based on traditional Kingo-hymns afrom the Faroe Islands," but this one doesn't sound like Kingo.

Maybe that's because it isn't.

I haven't tracked it down yet, and it may turn out to be by Kingo. When I Googled it, I found the title by a contemporary of Kingo's named Petter Dass, a parish priest in Nordland, in the north of Norway, who would have attended university in Copenhagen at the same time as Kingo and who wrote songs on the bible and Luther's catechism. This one is pretty racy ... the title means something like "Samson visited the fleshpots of Gaza." Was sung to the tune of another song, "Kommer I cimbriske helte." It's listed in a Swedish data base, the Song and Tune Catalogue of Svenskt visarkiv – The Centre for Swedish Folk Music and Jazz Research as "Kommer I cimbriske helte med ære" ... the Google translation calls it a "16. og 17. århundredes verldslige danske visesang ... 16th og 17th århundredes worldly wise Danish song" ... no other info

Dagbladet has the text and bio with links in its Kultur diktbasen (culture - poetry) data base. It goes on for quite some length. The first stanza is:
Petter Dass

Mel.: Kommer I Cimbriske Helte etc.

Samson af hendelse Gasa besøgte,
Fandt der en Hore til hvilken hand gaar,
Da de Gesiter fik høre det Rygte
Komme de sammen som Ulven om Faar,
Lader med Krigsfolcket Staden omringe,
Meente de hannem ret visselig finge.

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It's also available on the University of Oslo website at http://www.dokpro.uio.no/litteratur/dass/pd2.txt
[several further pages. Click here for info on the documentation Project of the University of Oslo.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Luther, sermon on the Passion [excerpt]

The following sermon is taken from volume II of, The Sermons of Martin Luther, published by Baker Book House (Grand Rapids, MI). It was originally published in 1906 in english by Lutherans In All Lands (Minneapolis, MN), in a series titled The Precious and Sacred Writings of Martin Luther, vol. 11. The original title of this sermon appears below (preached by Luther approx. 1519-1521). This e-text was scanned and edited by Shane Rosenthal; it is in the public domain and it may be copied and distributed without restriction. Original pagination from the Baker edition has been kept intact for purposes of reference.



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16. Sixteenthly. When your heart is thus established in Christ, and you are an enemy of sin, out of love and not out of fear of punishment, Christ's sufferings should also be an example for your whole life, and you should meditate on the same in a different way. For hitherto we have considered Christ's Passion as a sacrament that works in us and we suffer; now we consider it, that we also work, namely thus: if a day of sorrow or sickness weighs you down, think, how trifling that is, compared with the thorns and nails of Christ. If you must do or leave undone what is distasteful to you: think, how Christ was led hither and thither, bound and a captive. Does pride attack you: behold, how your Lord was mocked and disgraced with murderers. Do unchastity and lust thrust themselves against you: think, how bitter it was for Christ to have his tender flesh torn, pierced and beaten again and again. Do hatred and envy war against you, or do you seek vengeance: remember how Christ with many tears and cries prayed for you and all his enemies, who indeed had more reason to seek revenge. If trouble or whatever adversity of body or soul afflict you, strengthen your heart and say: Ah, why then should I not also suffer a little since my Lord sweat blood in the garden because of anxiety and grief? That would be a lazy, disgraceful servant who would wish to lie in his bed while his lord was compelled to battle with the pangs of death.

Another translation, with notes, at the LutheranMissiology.org website ... with this intro:

On Invocavit Sunday, March 13, 1519, Luther wrote his friend George Spalatin, “I am planning
a treatise dealing with the meditation of Christ’s passion. I do not know, however, whether I
shall have enough leisure to write it out. Yet I shall try hard.”1 In the same letter he cites the
reasons for this lack of leisure: activities directed toward the renewal of the university
curriculum, his work on the Lord’s Prayer,2 a commentary on Galatians, and particularly
pressing and irksome, his intense study of canon law in preparation for the upcoming Leipzig
Debate with John Eck, July 4 to 14. Nevertheless, it was a mere three weeks later, on April 5,
that Luther was able to send a printed copy of his work on the passion to Spalatin.3
By 1524, a total of twenty-four editions had been printed in Wittenberg, Basel, Augsburg,
Zurich, Erfurt, Munich, Nürnberg, and Strassburg. The number of editions testifies to the
widespread response aroused by this writing. A Latin edition, whose translator is unknown,
appeared at Wittenberg in 1521. As the sermon for Good Friday, this treatise was included in the
Church Postil of 1525, which Luther termed his “very best book.”