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Welcome to my weblog!
The place where I will regularly post thoughts and comments on any aspect of music.
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(As you see, the blog is in DInglish - Dutch International English - but comments in Dutch, German, French, Spanish and Frisian are welcome.)

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Seaman Dan

Have you ever heard of Seaman Dan? I stumbled on him listening to a cd of Australian aboriginal music – the Rough Guide to Australian Aboriginal Music, to be exact. His song on this sample cd made me curious. It took me a bit of trouble to lay my hands on more of his music, as the guy is a big name in Australia but not really known anywhere else, I believe, but of course internet helps out eventually so now I listen to his cd’s on a daily basis.

What makes his music so charming? I cannot tell exactly but let me give it a try. It is very sweet music, very relaxed, very arranged (lots of horns), very sophisticated. The fact that a ukulele is strummed in at least every other song lifts my spirit, especially because in most of the other songs a mandolin is heard. There is drumming and multipart singing reminding you of Polynesia, hula & Hawaii, a melancholic mouth harp, occasional Malay lyrics as one would expect from a seaman from that region, and reggae – Seaman Dan’s grandfather came from Jamaica. A typical seafaring mish-mash. You get the idea?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"Our" Music

Students asked me the other day if I could not teach a class on Dutch music. They will soon leave for a week in Portugal, doing an international project with students from all over Europe. And they felt a bit ashamed that they could not answer questions about “Dutch music” – the general opinion seems to be that there is no such thing as “Dutch music”, and that whatever there is is not presentable in public (old-fashioned, or second-rank, or “bad”). The painful question arises:  are we allowed to sing “Het kleine café in de haven” as expression of our Dutchness?

I agreed to teach the class willingly. I think the question is great. “What is Dutch music”? It reads to me as an interesting subspecies of the generic “What the hell is going on here?”-question (see the first entry of this weblog). And, contrary to popular belief, there is a lot to teach about the subject. Funnily enough, when I was in Sarajevo teaching a guest lecture ethnomusicology last year I asked the students over there what they would like to be taught about – and their answer was “Dutch music”.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Perfect Day

The month of December was filled with snow and ice. January was rather soft and now, early February, spring is in the air.

Don’t worry, this blog will not continue describing singing blackbirds and budding crocuses. But when I biked through the city center the other day, I cannot deny that the sun and the mild temperature made me feel “springy”.  Adding to this feeling was the fact that the chimes from the Martini tower, the town’s main church tower, were playing Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day”.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Will Volendam win the Eurovision Song Contest 2011?

Volendam is a small fishing town bordering the former Zuiderzee (the current IJsselmeer). It is known to tourists because of the nice old village and the traditional Volendam costumes.  It became tragic world news in 2001 when one of its cafés burned down, killing 14 and wounding 180.  For many Dutch people it is known because their football team, clad in orange, has in 55 years of professional football suffered degradation from the premier league nine times and came back to the premier league just as many times – hence their team is also called “the back and forth”.

And it is widely known for its music. Since the invention of the “Palingsound” (“Eel sound” - Volendam was, and still is, a fisherman’s village) at the end of the 1960s, represented by The Cats, BZN and numerous other groups, Volendam is a household name in Dutch pop music. Up till today – news items, docusoaps and concert registrations of Volendam singers like Jan Smit and Nick & Simon are regular items on Dutch television. And now another Volendam group, The 3J’s (Jan, Jaap and Jaap), will represent the Netherlands at the Eurovision Song Contest.