Some Pérotin

5 07 2018
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Pandit Pran Nath

20 04 2018

Finally, people are posting stuff on youtube regarding the master of Indian vocal music.





Some Golijov

13 04 2018

From The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind





In the Shadow of the Stars

20 07 2011

This was of course the film that won the Best Documentary Oscar in 1991, and it is a refreshing blast from the past compared to the too-cool-for-school style of the post-Michael Moore world. The film in a nutshell is the Chorus Line for opera singers, documenting the struggles, joys, and triumphs of those who sing in the chorus of the San Francisco Opera. While it is at times evident that they are afflicted by the green devil of envy and would of course prefer to sing the solos of the repertory that bring down the house, all the same, the people interviewed seemed well adjusted and thankful that they can make a living doing what they love.

What was most revealing to me was a rather whimsical scene of one such singer driving a commercial truck for his “day job”. He said that he learned both his love for opera and his truck driving from his father, who was evidently a great fan of classical music. Such an anecdote from the early 1990’s was a painful reminder concerning how far the working class has fallen in terms of a certain criterion of cultural literacy. In the past, it was perhaps not so unusual for a truck driver (probably unionized) to be an aficionado of the high arts, such as opera. This refutes the idea that the plebs must necessarily love what is plebian: what is so natural for a regular person to love Elvis compared to Verdi: working people crooned both at different times in history while doing their menial tasks? Or what makes Mozart less popular than Rick Ross other than the marketing? Doesn’t our economic system have to create cultural crap just to stay afloat? There is nothing natural about the demand for such cultural dreck: it is manufactured like everything else.





Götterdämmerung for piano

8 07 2011

Somehow, listening to this on the piano makes me feel less dirty listening to Wagner.





Lou Harrison’s gamelan

10 06 2011

With bonus video of Buddhist scripture sung in Esperanto:





On the arcana

6 06 2011

Or two posts in one

About a year ago, I took a personal field trip to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to investigate the phenomenon of the treaters, or traiteurs. The more I read or hear about these folk healers, the more I realize that people’s attitudes towards certain things “back in the day” were quite different from our own. For one thing, I cannot find many instances of people actually writing down the prayers used by the folk healers in their cures. These were supposed to be secret, and only to be passed down to a member of the opposite sex. (As I have found out, this passing to the opposite sex was also the case for Appalachian folk healing.) If a healer could not find someone willing to learn the prayers, he or she took them to the grave. My wife’s great-grandfather was a treater, and the prayers died with him.

Why they were so secretive about these prayers is an object of speculation among anthropologists. One researcher has stated that the secrecy comes from the time of slavery. A slave who had managed to bring the healing arts with him from Africa did not want to reveal this to his master, since this would mean that he would be pressed into practicing them, and if unsuccessful, blamed for their failure, or possibly worse, of killing with black magic. This was perhaps to the point that the arts would die with them if for some reason they could not be passed down to someone reliable. The key seems to be that the power to heal was not seen as something belonging to the treater. Unlike curanderos in Latin America, they were not perceived to have el don or a particular power to heal. The prayers were what was important, and they were communal property, in that a treater could never charge for his or her services.
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Palestrina’s Song of Songs

3 06 2011




Catholic history FAIL

24 05 2011

I was browsing around for more information about this CD of Gallican chant of the clerics of Auxerre Cathedral in the 18th century. From information I read about years ago on another website, this was the chant composed by exiled Jansenist clergy who wanted to preserve the pure chant traditions of the French Church against the Jesuits and other future ultramontanist forces.

I cannot confirm the information, other than this review from Gramophone from some years back.

However, I did manage to find a free track from this record at this site, as a soundtrack for, of all things, the Litany of the Sacred Heart. Now, all you novice church historians should know that the Jansenists despised the cult to the Sacred Heart, the much loved weapon of their mortal enemies, the Jesuits. Not sure if this person posted this out of irony, but I at least got the joke.





Some Philip Glass for your Friday

20 05 2011

An organ transcription of the end of the opera, Satyagraha.