Easter 2024

31 May 2007
Vivaldi, Antonio (1678-1741) - relation to recreational vehicles

It wasn't too long ago that I was on the road, lost in thoughts of the Italian baroque, and I saw a sign that read "RV Park".

"How peculiar," I mused to myself.

"A Vivaldi recreational area."

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30 May 2007
organ - focus on the wrong

And now the latest installment in the ongoing battles between pious clergy and dirty, hippie-liberal musicians: St. Joseph's Catholic Church in New Franken, Wisconsin has removed their organist for selling sex toys.

This story has been picked up by the Associated Press.

Linette Servais, had been serving St. Joseph's as organist and choir director for 35 years (since she was 15 years old?). She was not salaried, and it sounds like she volunteered her services. Linette also "says she started selling sex toys after treatment for a tumor left her experiencing sexual dysfunction". She feels that the sex toy business is her "ministry".

Sounds like wrongful termination to me. Though, I must wonder how much of a "ministry" musicmuzak-making can ever be in the Roman Catholic church.

(via Boing Boing

And of course, leave it to CBS News to come up with Musician Canned For Focus On Wrong Organ

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28 May 2007
Trestle - Tulip

Greene County Viaduct (a.k.a. the "Tulip Trestle"), Greene County, Indiana
The Tulip Trestle is 180 feet high and 2,295 long. It is the longest in the United States and the third longest in the world.

21 May 2007
Finzi, Gerald (1901-1956) - God Is Gone Up

One gets the sense that Finzi knew exactly what he wanted with the opening to this powerful anthem. Looking toward the end of the introduction, the organist encounters triadic triplets in contrary motion: a move one might expect to find in the coronation music of William Walton -- a triumphant shout indeed! This device, while powerful in its own right, also holds sway over the entire fanfare and helps dictate a tempo that is more majestic than virtuosic.

But Finzi's detailed articulation markings (ever present in the work of British composers, it seems) demand some very particular things from the outset of the work.

In the first bar, the half note is dotted; in the second the half note is undotted with a rest following. This is a key distinction, yet many organists will gloss over it by adding a Gleasonized rest in the first bar.

For guidance, the organist need only look to the choral entrance: "God is gone up". The dotted half note "God" elides with the eights "is gone".

Sung, it might be rendered "Gah . . diz gaw | nup"

Note repetition conventions be damned. I would vote for a fuller realization of Finzi's first note.

The tenuto markings on in the third bar do seem to benefit from a bit more separation.

And while, we are on the topic, the melodic contour of the fanfare is a bit remeniscent of the popular "Star Wars" theme, but eveyone knows the real "Star Wars" contender in Anglican church music is Dyson in D.

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18 May 2007
rap - rainforest

As we were traveling this afternoon, herself started to spontaneously sing this educational gem from the mid-90s.

Ahhh! All the Beauty
The Rainforest The Tropical Rain Forest

Welcome to the Jungle It’s so exciting
Exotic Mysterious We are inviting
You on an adventure So pay attention, please
Pythons Macaws All the other Species
Mammals Insects Birds Bees
Live under the shelter of 100-foot trees
Where living things vary from Jaguars to Ants
Home to more than ½ the world’s animals and plants
Trees are high, they don’t let in light
The dark in the jungle makes you think it’s always night
Little sunshine Under the trees
Average Temperature is 75 degrees
The breeze is quite wonderful; you’ll see what it’s about
It’s Fun, it’s thrilling, come check it out

Ahhh! All the Beauty
The Rainforest The Tropical Rain Forest

Quite stunning, really, that more than a decade later she remembers good sections of the World Wildlife Fund's "Rainforest Rap".


14 May 2007
crack - Messiah organist on

We've all heard it, the audio file dubbed "Messiah Organist on Crack", but unless you're an organist, you might have wondered how this could have happened.

I would postulate that the famous excerpt is a result of inadvertent transposer use.

Unless I miss my guess, the organist in question is performing on some incarnation of a pipeless (digital) organ. (If those really are pipes, they sound pretty nasty.) Many pipeless organs, like synthesizers, are equiped with transposers -- for you see, not being concerned with what pipes can play what notes, they can freely move the playable range of the instrument up and down willy-nilly.

There are two distinct designs for organ transposers. The most common is an inauspicious knob off to the side of the console that turns to the right to transpose up and to the left to transpose down -- usually about six in each direction (this just about covers all the keys). The other design, which is much less common, employs the transposer as a series of separate buttons underneath one of the keyboards.

A majority of all organ consoles, however, are equiped with buttons that look just like these: pistons. Each piston stores a specific, settable combination of stops. When the piston is pressed, those stops are drawn as if by magic!

So, the problem in this system of transposer buttons is that they can easily be confused with piston buttons. I believe that's what's happening here. Toward the end of the piece, the organist would want to add more sound; he would do this by selecting a piston.

Here's a possible rundown on the scenario:

The performance ends up sounding a little strange, but I would be lying if I said it couldn't have happened to me.

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09 May 2007
Messiaen, Olivier - quoted by Björk

I was listening to the beginning of NPR's recording of Björk in concert at United Palace in New York city, when I was surprised by something that sounded an awful lot like organ music by Olivier Messiaen.

It is Messiaen.

Björk's song "Cover Me" quotes "Les Bergers" from La Nativité du Seigneur.

Of course, it's played on a silly synthesized generic 8' 4' 2' organ sound.

If you have the NPR audio file, try listening about 2:38 in to the track.

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Buxtehude, Dieterich (1637-1707) - dead for 300 years

It's official. As of just a little while ago, Dieterich Buxtehude has been dead for 300 years.


04 May 2007
customary - wedding

A number of churches choose to publish their wedding customary online:

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