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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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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mark Twain on the Fremersberg

"There was a vast crowd in the public grounds that night to hear the band play the "Fremersberg." This piece tells one of the old legends of the region; how a great noble of the Middle Ages got lost in the mountains, and wandered about with his dogs in a violent storm, until at last the faint tones of a monastery bell, calling the monks to a midnight service, caught his ear, and he followed the direction the sounds came from and was saved. A beautiful air ran through the music, without ceasing, sometimes loud and strong, sometimes so soft that it could hardly be distinguished--but it was always there;

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

On Kaseko

Last week I wrote about the Bolivian Saya, and how I fell in love with it. The story was connected to the lesson I taught about indigenous Latin-American music . This week I will teach a lesson on EurAfrican Latin-American music – or is it AfrOpean?
We have quite a lot of all that going on in the Netherlands. Latin-American music is enormously popular here; salsa and comparable genres are danced and listened to by hordes, and the same counts for tango; and then reggae is not to be missed, including white Dutchies with rasta-hair hoping to return to Ethiopia some day (I am not making anything up here; nor am I judging this as foolishness or trying to get a cheap laugh out of it – I am just stating some facts).

Monday, September 19, 2011

On the Saya

I started teaching my course “Introduction non-western music” again. In nine lessons I skim the world map on music. I work form left to right, as long as you use a Europe-centered map at least – but just for fun I use an Australian-centered upside-down world map in my lessons, to make clear that Europe-centeredness is just a bias. So the next nine weeks or so I will in this blog follow the outline of my lessons and will write a little personal story about the musics I teach about that week. Today: Bolivia.
I went to Bolivia something like 15 years ago for about five weeks. Friends of mine were living there, so that gave me the opportunity and the pretext to go. I asked them how safe it was, their answer was “Safer than Oegstgeest on Sunday morning” (I don’t know the Dinglish equivalent of Oegstgeest – but think of Midsummer without the Murders).  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Bird Called i-Pod

I was biking to my work and passed two people on bikes cycling next to each other. To my surprise I heard the sound of an iPod’s ear-phone coming from one of them. I thought: “How impolite to cycle next to someone while listening to your own music on your earphones.”

Looking a little better I noticed neither of them actually was wearing headphones. Then I realized  the sound I heard was not from an i-Pod but from a small bird in the shrubbery alongside the road.

Modern times: recognizing a sound first as electronic and only then as natural…

Monday, September 12, 2011

On Meeting the Authentic Musician

One of the many dimensions of a concert is that you meet the musician as a person – or at least pretending that that is the case seems to me to be one of the many pillars of musicking in our society. For many listeners, including myself, imagining that they know the musician, that they understand him, is an important aspect of listening to someone. Of course, the beauty of his music, the power of his lyrics, his incredible technical skills, the fact that he produces more decibels than a Boeing take-off, his outrageous outfit and the fact that you like him because he organizes an event where you can show off muscles, wealth and good taste are also incredible important, but still, being touched by another person (“the other”, as some philosophers would maybe claim, but I am but a humble ethnomusicologist) through music is for many an important reason to listen to music at all (I will substantiate this claim at some point in the future, for now just believe me).

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Shanty choirs

I think I have mentioned choirs singing sea shanties already several times in this blog. I am fascinated by shanty choirs. Singing in one is hugely popular in the Netherlands today, and I would like to know why.
Several things come to mind. One of them is that, whereas village brass bands as well as church choirs are disappearing rapidly – the village where I live had two brass bands (as it goes in late-pillarized Dutch society: one Christian, one general) five years ago, and both of them have stopped existing by now – shanty choirs pop up everywhere. And not only at the sea- or lakeside; every village, also those with no shipping background whatsoever, seems to have at least one shanty choir nowadays. If we would have mountains, even the Dutch mountain villages would have them. As a spokesman told me: after Germany there is no country with so many shanty choirs as the Netherlands.