Time for a Cat Video!

May 31, 2016 at 11:00 am

A full 15% of all web traffic is devoted to delivering digital cats to our cat-hungry world. Videos, pictures, memes, comics, whatever: we loves us our kitties.

Well, it’s about time I jumped on the wagon here and posted about cats! I would venture to say that less than .01% of Art Music is about cats, but I do know a few pieces. Some are obnoxiously silly, some are slightly bizarre, and then there’s this really cozy one from the Hermit Songs of Samuel Barber – a little song, sung by a monk to his furry study companion, Pangur.

Sooooooooooooooooooooooooo cuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuute!


Memorial Day

May 30, 2016 at 9:00 am

I am deeply humbled by the bravery of any person who willingly risks his or her life for the sake of others, and am thankful for the sacrifice that many made so that I may live as I do. It’s easy to forget this, living in the sheltered, safe world in which most of us live. Please take some time today to remember and give thanks for the lives lost fighting for our way of life.

Edward Elgar‘s “Nimrod” from his Enigma Variations – originally a statement of deep friendship by the composer. Its rich sweeping emotion has made it a perfect choice for remembering the lives of heroes. “Nimrod” was an ancient biblical hunter; Elgar’s friend was “Jaeger”, the German word for hunter – thus the coded title of this movement.


Music and Warfare

May 29, 2016 at 10:00 am

Nowadays we usually associate music-making with peace. In modern combat, listening to music is frowned upon and considered a distraction – but listening to music in this case might be more to steady the nerves. After all, orders can be given, instantaneously, from practically any commander to any soldier, anywhere, thanks to radio and digital communication.

This is a relatively modern phenomenon. Before radio, there were a very limited number of ways to communicate with troops over large distances, while the noise of battle raged: visuals like flags and of course, music!

Thanks to baseball and horseracing, you probably know the bugle call that means “charge!” If you’ve seen Barry Lyndon, the 4-measure piccolo melody might be burned into your memory. And of course, there’s the loud beat of marching drums. Now imagine it’s 1778, and you’re on the battlefield. In the distance you hear “Yankee Doodle” on the piccolo – you know who is on their way. Your commander is so far away you can’t hear his voice – but the drummer plays a drumroll, and so you prepare your rifle and aim; a loud rim shot, and you fire. The bugle signals a charge and the cavalry ride ahead. The piccolo in the distance changes its melody, and you know those Yanks are up to something.

Although the music in warfare might be more function than art, you can’t deny that there is often art in function. Here is a renaissance piece by Tielman Susato, inspired by battle, complete with bomb sounds (way before Tchaikovsky‘s 1812 Overture …)

This guy is so amazing I just had to feature him again.