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And you might check my other blog, Evert Listens to Dylan, if you would be interested what listening to the complete recordings of Bob Dylan does with (or to, or for) me.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

On Teaching in the Wireless Age, or: Dutch Folkmetal Exists and is Called Heidevolk

I was guest teacher in a neighbouring conservatoire last week. Three lectures of about three hours on `world music' for a bunch of about hundred music education and music therapy students. Just simple, old-fashioned, frontal lecturing - of course with invitations to students to participate, to make themselves heard, but still: my story. I tend to think that in these days, where self-directed learning, working groups, thinking in competencies have become mainstream it is not so bad that occasionally students are confronted with an old-fashioned teacher who thinks that he has something to tell them. An exercise in patience and in humbleness for them, as it were.

And I love talking to - and with - groups.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Yes, Alan Lomax Was Also In Spain - But Who's the Dutchie?

I am reading the biography of Alan Lomax, the American folk-song collector, scholar, ethnomusicologist, radio-man, singer, social activist and what-not. Fascinating literature. He died only ten years ago - and in his early years he was among the first to record blues in the south, Leadbelly being "his" best-known discovery. Speaking of a lengthy life.

Lomax spent several years after the second world war in Europe. He stayed in England for quite some time, doing fieldwork recordings in Ireland, Scotland, France, Italy and Spain. His biography mentions he also undertook several trips to the Netherlands and Belgium, looking for musicologists who could help him in compiling recordings of Dutch and Belgian folklore for a series of records he was producing.

His travel to Spain is an interesting episode (his recordings lead eventually to Miles Davis' "Sketches from Spain"-record). Going just after WWII to Franco-led Spain was hard, specifically if you had no money whatsoever, but eventually Alan Lomax díd go - as the driver of the Romanian ethnomusicologist Constantine Brailoiu who had to speak at a conference in Palma de Mallorca. Along with Lomax and Brailoiu went "a young Dutchman who specialized in Javanese gamelan music". I instantly thought: "That must have been Jaap Kunst", but then realised that Kunst (the inventor of the term "ethnomusicology", one of the founding fathers of my discipline, and someone sadly neglected in the Netherlands, this to the astonishment of the rest of the world) was not a "young Dutchman" any more, being born in 1891.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Lovely Day 2 (Lou Reed revisited)

I wrote earlier about the chimes of Groningen's main church playing Lou Reed's 'Perfect Day' on a sunny afternoon in february. Of course that was a lie. The chimes were not playing, the chime-player was.

I met him this week by coincidence. I had to teach a guest lesson to pupils of my old secondary school, and their music teacher happened to be the chime player of Groningen's chimes (and of many other chimes across the region). He decsribed himself - as being involved with huge sets of huge bronze bells - as the only real heavy metal fan of the school, and admitted he had played `Perfect Day' when hearing that Lou Reed would be in town accompanying his wife Laurie Anderson for a concert. I went to that concert, which I really liked; Lou Reed happened to sit on a chair right behind me, a nice discovery when you turn around for the first time just to check who's also there and look into Lou Reed's grin; he also sang a song, and the culmination point was a small solo played by Anderson on her violin which left the hall silenced - a solo which was solemnly described afterwards by one of the main music connoisseurs of the town as infantile and artistically worthless, one more reason for me to turn away from any form of music connoisseurship whatsoever.

But back to the chime player. He said that not only I had heard `Perfect Day' chimed all over town, but that within a couple of minutes Lou Reed's management was on the phone, and an hour or so later Reed was in the tower and spend some hours having the chimes explained and demonstrated to him.

Sometimes people wonder if chimes still have a reason for existence in our age. I think they have a-reason; it is called Lou.