trip to the shrink in the snow and new books from the library

 

It is cold and nasty here in Western Michigan. East and north of us many schools and even entire sections of the freeway are closed. I had my bi weekly therapist appointment today. I called and left him a message to say that I was still planning to come. I set out fifteen minutes early. The roads south of Holland on the way to Glen where Dr. Birky my therapist lives were pretty good. I didn’t go over 55 on the way down. There were white outs with blowing wind but as far as i could see the pavement was not icy.

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I had a good session with Birky. It does help to chew over stuff with a good listener.

I had emailed Mary at the office to ask her if she could do the program for this weekend’s recital. She ended up getting locked out of the office for half a day due to frozen locks. She emailed me back and said that she would be too busy to get to this for me. This is not a problem. I’m just trying to ask for help where I can get it. So now I have that little task to do tomorrow. It’s very easy.

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I had a good piano trio rehearsal yesterday. I limited it to 45 minutes so I could accompany Eileen and Edison on the monthly visit to the vet. We are working on a movement of Clara Schumann’s piano trio in G minor. She has based it on a motive that is identical to the beginning of the Lutheran chorale Aus tiefer not (the first five notes of this:)

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I have schedule the choir to sing a four part Bach chorale harmonization of this melody on March 24th. I proposed to the piano trio that they come to church that Sunday and we will play the Clara Schumann as a prelude. It would be cool. They are considering it.

Our rehearsal went well yesterday. We are digging deeper into Clara Schumann’s lovely piece.  Here’s an embed. If you just listen to the first little bit of the piece you can clearly hear the motive.

Eileen and I went to the library yesterday. I checked out some interesting stuff.

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Every once in a while I will attempt to read a Manga graphic novel. The Ghost in the Shell by Shirow Masamune looked interesting to me yesterday.  These books are set up to read from right to left sort of mimicking the Japanese layout. So far I’m enjoying this. There’s a blurb on my copy about it now being a major motion picture.

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It came out in 2017.

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In her January 24th NYT interview, Elizabeth McCracken mentioned that her favorite villain was the Stupid Wolf in the Clever Polly series. Eileen and I were both a bit intrigued and each of us interlibary loaned some of the books. They came in yesterday and I have read a couple of the stories. Eileen doesn’t like the “stupid” in “Stupid Wolf.” She noted that the books were originally written in the 50s and British. As she was looking over subsequent titles in the series she was satisfied to note that they dropped the “stupid” and made him the “Hungry Wolf.”

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I have been noticing collections of stories in other languages sitting on the new shelf at the library. Yesterday after glancing at some of the prose and satisfying myself that it didn’t look completely undoable I checked Short Stories in French by Olly Richards and Richard Simcott. I like the attitude of this series. The authors encourage high-beginner or low intermediate level French learners to dive in. There is an interesting section about “how to read.” Readers are encouraged to not look up words they don’t know at first but to keep reading for the sense of the story. Apparently when we learn a second language we are aprt to abandon some of our reading “microskills” (as the text calls them) like scanning and skimming and getting meaning from context. Instead when we are in an less  familiar language we tend to get very literal and not move on from a word we don’t recognize.  This is how I do Greek. But I like the idea of having texts designed as they are in this book to be read through quickly for sense and then double back and read again and then finally start to use the glossary.

I read the first story last night. Wow! I made it through and understand most of the meaning of the story (the goal). At the end of each of story is a synopsis for the reader to check his understanding. It is in FRENCH. How cool is that? I was able to use it to do this checking. This is fun for me.

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Chabon is an author I admire and read. This is a little book he has written about books. What’s not to like?

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Finally, the Moosewood people whose vegetarian cookbooks I have used for decades have published their 14th cookbook. Great recipes and some beautiful food porn.

NYTimes: They Really Don’t Make Music Like They Used To

Interesting take on how recording techniques have influenced the popularity of some music. One of the points they make is about contrast in dynamics in recordings. I remember a young rock and roller I worked with named John Adams saying that classical music would never make it if it continued to insist on using very soft passages occasionally. This confused me when he said it to me and still confuses me. Contrasts. Important artistic idea, right?

James Comey: Take down the Confederate statues now – The Washington Post

Yes. That James Comey. He riffs on black face and statues from his home state of Virginia.

jupe keeps relating to dead people

 

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“It is an age of exhaustive whoredom groping for its god.” James Joyce, Ulysses (Random House, 1946) p. 204

I ran across this sentence this morning randomly reading James Joyce. It felt like an apt description of our times now. “Exhaustive whoredom” particularly reminds me of the online  commodification of everything and the mad hate speech.

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I love when my reading becomes serendipitous.  The section that I was planning to read in The Black History of the White House turned to be about very early African American composers I had never heard of. Cool.

I immediately pulled out the old laptop and tried to find out more about Francis Johnson. The silly Groves Music Dictionary has him under “Frank Johnson,” but his biographers all refer to hims as “Francis Johnson.”

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Johnson lived from 1792 to 1844. Groves says he was an “American violinist, Kent-bugle player, bandmaster, and composer.” In another entry, Groves tells us that the “Kent bugle [was] One of several alternate names for the Keyed bugle , patented in 1810 . The first method book for keyed bugle was dedicated to the Duke of Kent, and early versions of the instrument were labeled “Royal Kent Bugle.”

I am interested how an African American managed to have the kind of prominent career Johnson seems to have had when slavery was thriving in the USA.  So far, the information I can get online only hints at what must have been huge obstacles.

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I have interlibrary loaned one book about him and have found a collection of his cotillons (cotilions) on IMSLP.

The word, “cotillon” or “cottillion” means “under -petticoat.” Groves says it’s a “…] Social dance of 18th-century French origin, popular in Europe and America throughout the 19th century . Its name was derived from the words of one of the earliest tunes to which it was danced (‘Ma commère, quand je danse/Mon cotillon va-t-il bien?’); the anglicized name of the dance later became the most common form. It was danced in squares, like the quadrille and country dances, involving geometric patterns and figures, and the tempo was similar to that of the Quadrille , a dance often described as a ‘cotillion’”

This looks like my kind of music. If you look closely, you can see dance instruction at the bottom of the page above.

Groves also says this about this dude: “A summary of Johnson’s musical achievements as America’s premier bandsman was such that he is easily labeled the Sousa of the period. His publications resulted in other black musicians finding music publishers. Johnson’s novelty was to turn a current melody into a danceable form. He often used tunes from current operas.”

A man who likes dance music. I relate.