Posts Tagged ‘music’

music shall untune the sky

November 22, 2009

November 22nd – happy St. Cecilia’s day, honoring the patron saint of music, and musicians!

In old England, the occasion used to represent such a grand feast day that composers like Handel and Purcell were commissioned to write special festive “Odes” to the patron saint. Benjamin Britten carried the tradition into the modern era with his Hymn to St. Cecilia, a work whose motivation was both altruistic AND personal, since November 22nd is also his own birthday.

For today’s observance? I recommend celebrating by listening to some of your very favorite tunes. All of them, in fact.

Here’s the poem that Handel used, not once – but twice – for musical tributes to St. Cecilia:

A Song for St. Cecilia’s Day, 1687
by John Dryden

From harmony, from heavenly harmony,
This universal frame began:
When nature underneath a heap
Of jarring atoms lay,
And could not heave her head,
The tuneful voice was heard from high,
‘Arise, ye more than dead!’
Then cold, and hot, and moist, and dry,
In order to their stations leap,
And Music’s power obey.
From harmony, from heavenly harmony,
This universal frame began:
From harmony to harmony
Through all the compass of the notes it ran,
The diapason closing full in Man.

What passion cannot Music raise and quell?
When Jubal struck the chorded shell,
His listening brethren stood around,
And, wondering, on their faces fell
To worship that celestial sound:
Less than a God they thought there could not dwell
Within the hollow of that shell,
That spoke so sweetly, and so well.
What passion cannot Music raise and quell?

The trumpet’s loud clangour
Excites us to arms,
With shrill notes of anger,
And mortal alarms.
The double double double beat
Of the thundering drum
Cries Hark! the foes come;
Charge, charge, ’tis too late to retreat!

The soft complaining flute,
In dying notes, discovers
The woes of hopeless lovers,
Whose dirge is whisper’d by the warbling lute.

Sharp violins proclaim
Their jealous pangs and desperation,
Fury, frantic indignation,
Depth of pains, and height of passion,
For the fair, disdainful dame.

But O, what art can teach,
What human voice can reach,
The sacred organ’s praise?
Notes inspiring holy love,
Notes that wing their heavenly ways
To mend the choirs above.

Orpheus could lead the savage race;
And trees unrooted left their place,
Sequacious of the lyre;
But bright Cecilia rais’d the wonder higher:
When to her organ vocal breath was given,
An angel heard, and straight appear’d
Mistaking Earth for Heaven.

As from the power of sacred lays
The spheres began to move,
And sung the great Creator’s praise
To all the Blest above;
So when the last and dreadful hour
This crumbling pageant shall devour,
The trumpet shall be heard on high,
The dead shall live, the living die,
And Music shall untune the sky!

got art and music?

November 13, 2009

I pass by this sign every morning on the way to work. It makes me happy.

Art and Music Center at the Guitar School of Vermont (on the Fort Ethan Allen campus, Colchester)

the music room

February 14, 2009

It’s Sunday – I love Sundays. It’s usually the day I save for listening to all of the new music I picked up over the last week, and getting a few ideas together for my weekly World of Music show on the Radiator.

I lose whole days this way. Though I know ‘lose’ is the wrong way to say that. Occasionally along the way I’ve had the rare pleasure to meet other kindred spirits who have the patience and interest to spend hours listening – really listening – to music and talking about the finer points of everything from the influence of Indian music on Coltrane when he was writing A Love Supreme, to the uncanny similarities between Tuvan throat singing and Russian Orthodox liturgical music. (Coincidence? Look at a map – you decide.)

So I know you’re out there. And maybe, like me, you’ve been looking for a place to connect with other music heads who can’t get enough. I set up this blog as a place share music playlists, thoughts about new recordings, and music in general. Think of this like the guy you knew in college whose dorm room was packed with albums, CDs, cassettes – and an iTunes library in the thousands…the place where you went to cut an afternoon of classes and get turned on to something cool you’d never have thought to pick up on your own. I knew that guy, and then I have to admit – I became that guy (…gal, but still).

My interests focus most on jazz, classical, and world music. Sometimes blues, sometimes poetry. It’s all related. Surprisingly so.

Time to get busy listening.

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