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Eastertide 2017

29 May 2004
Troy (2004) - terrible score therein

James Horner has committed considerable musical offense in Troy.

James, Dmitri Shostakovich is angry. Angry at having to roll over in his grave. And Ralph Vaughan Williams isn't too happy either.

Horner's extremely uninteresting score commandeers genuine melodic material from the last movement of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 in D minor and re-employs it as cinematic banality. Less obvious is Horner's painful allusion to Vaughan Williams's Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis for Double String Orchestra

What musical shoplifting did you detect, in this film or others?

 
27 May 2004
News - Sindens in the, weeds

The annual losses are in the range of $3.4 billion to $4.4 billion which is about 0.5 per cent of Australia's gross domestic product . . . a very small investment in biocontrol could pay very big economic dividends."

-Jack Sinden

Jack Sinden is an economist at the University of New England. But don't be deceived: this is not your mother's New England. This is the New England of Australia. More precisely, it is in New South Wales. This begs the question, what was wrong with the old South Wales?

Full story: Weeds threaten to choke the economy and Farmers bear brunt of weeds cost

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26 May 2004
Twelve - Ocean's

Ocean's Twelve movie posterGood news: there's a sequel to Ocean's Eleven. And what a clever title!

Even better news: Eddie Izzard is in the cast!

Best news: Eddie Izzard plays the organ!

Isn't life swell great?

Tangent: The spell checker wants to replace Eastertide with Asteroids. We are checking on the theology of this . . .

Tangent:Cellular, Modular, Interactive-odular Banana Phone

 
22 May 2004
discord - descant

David Ashley White, a composer touching his chin"That sounds awful!" was one alto's response to the 8 bar descant I composed for Sunday after Ascension. There was a good bit of grumbling from the rest of the section as well.

My descant was composed for David Ashley White's tune "Palmer Church" (Hymn 327 in the Hymnal 1982)

Given that the hymn is eight verses long, this descant will be part of the textural contrasts employed during its singing Sunday morning. I also felt that it would be an appropriate gesture during Eastertide, especially the Sunday after the Ascension. My descant employs one word: "Alleluia!"

David Ashley White (b. 1944) is a Houston composer whom I met for the first time in Lübeck, Germany. As a native Houstonian, and an acquaintance of David Ashley White, I didn't hesitate to write descant to his tune.

After the complaints, however, I thought a bit more about what I had done.

My descant begins after the first bar of the tune, and echoes it in contrary motion. So there is a bit of a surprise factor, but this really isn't so unusual or innovative. In the first few bars, I think I am successful in my desire to begin a "Texan trope" of White's melody.

I can see objections arising in my prolongation of the B in bar 4 which begins a series of calculated dissonances in bar 5. Bar 5 contains dissonances of a second with the tune on beats 1, 3 and 4. Beats 3 and 4 contain a stepwise voice exchange between C and D.

The remaining notes are consonant, except the penultimate E which forms a (rather pleasing) eleventh and a "tonic anticipation" for the final E-minor chord (which I was tempted to Picardy, but didn't).

Jean Sibelius, a composer touching his headSo what's wrong with this? It's a little dissonant I guess. In retrospect, and in an attempt to assist the team of musicologists who monitor my every note, I will admit that this descant is heavily influenced by Jean Sibelius (1865-1959). I have been listening to a lot of Sibelius Symphonies lately (particularly in conjunction with year-end festivities) and I think I accidentally absorbed some of his techniques.

In listening to Sibelius, its hard to hear the seams; he blends everything together. Rather than admit that Ashley White's tune has a "middle," I try to obscure the midpoint with the held B. The stepwise voice exchange is something that Sibelius often employs in his symphonic writing where he has different timbres at his disposal.

These techniques emerged in my writing not only because of the "Finnish Factor" but also because of the phrasing and subject matter of the text.

Alpha-Omega, unto whom shall bow
all nations at the doom, is with us now.

-Bangor Antiphoner, ca. 690; tr. John Mason Neale (1818-1866), verse 8.

There is no line-end comma in this verse. That funky B helps tie the tune together where other verses (except 6) would pause.

The inbreaking of God's presence is highlighted with my "Alleluia!" but it is an Alleluia of fear. God is the first and the last; the risen and ascended Christ who will bring all things to completion at a "doom" of his design.

Is this too much to think about 8 bars of music? Does all my rambling make my descant any less "awful?" Or, rather, does it make it more awe-full? I don't know, but I am willing to listen, learn, and to make changes. Feel free to listen to the score, print it, and try it yourself. (Drop me a line if you do.)

The descant is dedicated to one of my choristers who, not surprisingly, was particularly taken with the tune name.

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19 May 2004
Gmail - musically desirous for

I have grown weary of searching for an adequate candidate on whom to bestow the privileges of a Gmail account. I am, however, intrigued by the possibility of using this opportunity to commission a piece of music.

Works for organ or those that could serve a liturgical function have special priority. Your work would of course be featured here, should you wish.

Interested? Send me a brief proposal.

The deadline for submissions is 29 May 2004. has been extended indefinitely! I have more accounts to offer. This is a guaranteed way to get Gmail while supplies last!

 
18 May 2004
Lands - End of the

Lands' End Panda!In a popular book about punctuation I was thumbing through recently, the author mentioned that Lands' End refuses to recognize that there is anything wrong with their name. A quick trip to their website, however, revealed something different:

...a lot of people ask why the apostrophe in Lands' End is in the wrong place. There have been some silly explanations along the way, but the truth is, it was a mistake.

It was a typo in our first printed piece, and we couldn't afford to reprint and correct it.

In the years since, the misplaced apostrophe has continued to grace our name and our label. And while it has prompted some raised eyebrows among English teachers, it also sets us apart as a company whose continuing concern for what's best for the customer is unmistakably human.

Does correct punctuation excuse poor journalism and fact-checking? Time to take that book off of my Wish List.

Tangents:

  1. How weird is it that I found a picture of a Lands' End Panda?
  2. In looking for the appropriate panda picture, I came across a panda driving a car
  3. Seeing that image was hosted at Columbia caused me to be reminded of the Reading on a Dream: the Library Musical, perhaps my favorite song about a library ever.
  4. Sadly, no pandas are involved in the Library Musical. This is an oversight, and should be corrected.

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15 May 2004
vocabulary - Episcopal enlargement of

Vocabulary SheildScott says now that I am an Episcopalian I need to learn all of these words.

Am I supposed to find an amice in the aumbry? Or a cruet in a ciborium? Good thing it's Party Reading Period.

 
11 May 2004
Rosales - Manuel: the Disney Concert Hall Organ

Would you like ketchup with that facade?An article by Craig Whitney in today's New York Times discusses the "supersized packet of French fries" which is the Walt Disney Concert Hall organ in Los Angeles.

There were two parts of the article which struck me as odd.

Mr. Rosales . . . is president of Rosales Organ Builders Inc. of Los Angeles, highly regarded by many organists, and competitors.

Apparently these organists and "competitors" are overlooking the fact that Manuel Rosales never finished an instrument at the Indiana University School of Music. The organ was installed, but is not functional.

With a pipe of the 315' Grande Tierce stop sitting on its windchest saying "aahh" for him, Mr. Rosales pressed the soft metal of the lower lip of the mouth inward, making it narrower so that less air would pass through and it would be softer when it was played.

From what I can tell, the concert hall seems to be less than 100' tall, so to have one 315' pipe is quite extraordinary, let alone an entire rank of them! Perhaps the pipes are underground running the length of the hall? And images of said pipes being voiced are entertaining indeed. What would Rosales use, a sledgehammer? Do you know how expensive all that metal would be?

This unusually large stop is more intriguing than the controversial facade, and probably a good indication of why Rosales is in financial trouble.

Or maybe it's just an typo, but that's a far less interesting possibility.

 
10 May 2004
Chane - John Bryson

My first Sunday at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Lakewood, Ohio (a western suburb of Cleveland) was marked by ecclesiastical pomp and circumstance. The bishop of the Diocese of Washington, John Bryson Chane, was visiting.

John Chane, NPR reports, is probably the only drum-playing bishop around. He has his own blues band: the Chane Gang.

 
09 May 2004
apostle symbols - ratings of

Peter, AKA Simon, AKA Cephas never could decide on a name. Here, he decides on a chicken. He could have done worse.

Rating: B-

James (the greater): a purse on a coathanger. It's been a long time since I've seen a purse on a coathanger, but I guess James is suggesting that's a good place to put them. I'll agree.

Rating: B+

John was, of course, not a doctor so he gets a medical emblem. Tradition says that Luke was actually the physician. What's John trying to pull?

Rating: D

Philip gets the marshmallow cross conjuring up images of the campfire Jesus. "Hey, who's hoarding the all chocolate?" [silence, all turn and look at Judas]

Rating: A-

Bartholomew has some type of obscure produce. What is that thing, a rutabaga? I bet Bart had the most unappetizing s'mores ever.

Rating: C-

James the Less has, what, potatoes? You can do better than this, James. See me after class.

Rating: D-

Jude, what is that, a broccoli stem? Who got the apostles hooked on vegetables? (Maybe they said too many Vegetables and Responses?) I knew Jude shouldn't sit next to James.

Rating: F

Simon's is quirky. It seems like it should say, "don't forget to pack your fish."

Rating: B

Ah! A spear with potatoes for Matthias. Excellent. Looks like he's giving James the less a run for his money. The notion of conquering potatoes intrigues me, but doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Rating: B+

Paul's symbol looks something like Darth Vader. This is fitting because Yoda says:

Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering

while Paul, seemingly in dialogue with Yoda, writes:

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

-Paul's letter to the Romans 5:3

All of the apostle symbols on this page are mostly about suffering. Paul and Yoda help remind us that the Apostles who were feared, hated and made to suffer, counted these sufferings, not as a curse, but as something in which to "rejoice."

Rating A+

 
01 May 2004
sorting hat - Episcopal

Confirmation, 1520.  Notice that the bishop is wearing a sorting hat.

As I stood in line to be confirmed this morning, I couldn't help but think how the whole process would be more entertaining with a sorting hat. "Episcopalian!" the hat would shout from time to time, head after head. According to people smarter than me, magical tradition is often a parody of Christian liturgy (I read this in a footnote on page 3 of Steven Plank's The Way to Heavens Door).

sorting hatMaybe "sorting" was the original function of the bishop's mitre? Maybe not. Would it sort some people somewhere else?

The Episcopal hat welcomes you.

 

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