Tag: music

The Secretary of State, the Instructor, and the Piano

 

The piano has been an important part of life for Condoleezza Rice and George Barth, her teacher. Although not as popular in today’s culture, for them classical music is challenging but worth the effort to understand the piano’s importance and beauty. As secretary of state, Rice would play the piano as a way of remembering where she came from and a way to refocus. In short, she said playing the piano made her a better secretary of state (although she also reveals that she likes to work out to Led Zeppelin).

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When I was in grade school in Seattle in the 1950s, everyone was expected to pick an instrument to learn, in the fourth grade.  I chose the violin.  I enjoyed playing in the school orchestras at the two elementary schools I attended (one before, one after our move from central Seattle to the north end). […]

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It’s one day before Advent, and here is a marvelous but underperformed Christmas Cantata.  Needing a great Children’s Choir, a fantastic Tenor soloist, a (pipe) organ and full orchestra, along with being relatively new (1954) makes it rare.  But for many musicians, it’s more fun and challenging than doing Handel’s Messiah again.  During college, I was introduced to many Ralph Vaughan Williams (RVW) works, including the Fantasia on a Theme […]

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I wasn’t one of the lucky few to snag a ticket when they first went on sale, but I was lucky enough to purchase one at the bargain price of £150 from a shady ticket re-sale outfit on Tottenham Road.  On the day of the concert, November 23, 2004, hopeful folks held signs outside of […]

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Most of this is something I posted on my blog a couple of years ago and I think rather fitting for Thanksgiving. It started when I came across an article First Things on the rock composer and performer, Warren Zevon.  First Things is a rather high brow religious magazine (mostly traditional Christian and to my […]

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When most Americans hear the name Pachelbel, they immediately think of one thing: cheap Mexican food. On the other hand, most people who know just about anything about music from before they were born will probably think of the Canon in D. I have a CD called Pachelbel’s Greatest Hit. It has eight tracks with […]

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While not naive enough to expect musicians to share any of my political convictions, I am occasionally still disappointed, like when John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants took it upon himself to organize a fundraising CD for MoveOn.org (that particular CD begat more and more disappointment reading the tracklist; I may yet buy it used […]

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Thanksgiving will soon be here. It’s a holiday that seems to lack a soundtrack, though. Now, maybe you think that’s a good thing, but if you have songs that remind you of Thanksgiving, or simply of giving thanks, please feel free to post them here. Here are a few to start with, from the sublime […]

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Earth encounters heaven. In the smelly barnyard, the filthy-yet-innocent beasts meet God. The mother is called blessed, whose viscera – whose guts – were worthy to bear the Christ child. The Christmas responsorial “O Magnum Mysterium” depicts a moment when the sheer carnality of biological life encounters the transcendent God: Preview Open

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Many musical groups beyond the classical genre focus on instrumental music. In rock music, there are artists like Joe Satriani and Yngwie Malmsteen who specialize in instrumentals. Some of those songs even manage to gain mainstream attention.  But this post is for instrumentals by bands and musicians who normally do something else. These songs often sound different than […]

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I never thought I would be a metalhead.  Wasn’t heavy metal a bunch of growling about the devil and Nazis?  I like being able to hear what the vocalist is singing about.  Then I heard a friend play some intense rock music, and asked what it was… Heavy metal is a genre that has almost […]

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Today is the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 2015. Ninety-seven years ago on the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of this date, the guns of World War I fell silent. World War I was not the bloodiest war of the twentieth century (World War II had it beat all hollow). It was […]

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Late last year Casey suggested Ricochet members read Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind this year, and post about it. This sounded good to me, but unfortunately my attempt to do so, and the fact that I am still in part one since starting it in March, seems to speak to the themes […]

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I’m a big believer in luck. Not just the “You make your own luck” stuff, but simple, dumb, unearned and unforeseen good fortune. I figured out that luck was real when I got my first disc jockey gig at 17. I had absolutely no business landing the job. My voice still crackled a bit (it […]

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I hope a little family promotion is in order on Ricochet. He has been my project for lo these many years. The title is actually the name of his band and a Facebook page. He is a guitarist playing blues and southern rock, mostly, and he has a northeastern tour starting tomorrow night in New […]

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There was a cabinet, in the family room of my childhood home, that housed all my father’s LPs.   Dad loves a good soundtrack, and that’s primarily what you’d find in there, if you flipped through the entire collection, which I often did, letting the various movie stills or artwork on the covers bring a musical […]

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Rediscovering the Gentle Genius of Elliott Smith

 

Sometimes YouTube is a wonder. One of my favorite features is the “Watch It Again” feature which recycles your old watched videos at you. I have a lot of music in mine, and a recent rediscovery is Elliott Smith, whose “Between the Bars” as as heartbreaking as it is beautiful, and in each case, well, that’s a lot.

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Purity is defined as the freedom from adulteration or contamination. There is political purity, religious purity, romantic purity, and the purity we see in children. And then there is something within each of us that is pure; hard to define other than acknowledging it as ‘transparent truth’ about ourselves. It’s a place where we cannot pretend, […]

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If not for “Sweet Home Alabama”, Alabama probably wouldn’t be a name recognized throughout the world. Lynyrd Skynyrd might be a high point of the genre, but Southern rock didn’t end in the ’70s. During the late 80s and early 90s, several bands from around the country fused Southern sounds with the hard rock, heavy […]

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