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9: WITNESS TO THE FALL

Neil Peart ECW Press ePub

WITNESS TO THE FALL

NOVEMBER 2012

IT WAS A CHILLY, RAINY DAY in mid-October, amid the radiant fall colors of Ontario’s Muskoka region, the lower belt of the boreal forest. Boreal means “northern,” as aurora borealis means northern lights, and true boreal forest stretches only across Canada, Scandinavia, and Russia. Other northerly regions offer spectacular displays in this season, like the brilliant yellow aspens and larches in the mountains of the West, or the more muted but still colorful palette down through the Appalachians, but nowhere else does the mix of tree species create this splendid autumn variety of yellow, gold, orange, and crimson.

To capture this image, your intrepid reporter had to park his motorcycle at the roadside and climb high through wet underbrush and slippery mud to the rocks in the foreground, the Canadian Shield, sculpted by glaciers and erosion. Standing above the rain-shiny road as it curved around Lake Windermere, I waved down to the waiting Brutus to ride through the shot a couple of times.

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16. The Harp

Jeffery KitePowell Indiana University Press ePub

HERBERT MYERS

The harp is yet another instrument that has not found its rightful place in modern performances of Renaissance music. Held in the highest esteem in the fifteenth century, the harp was a symbol of musical nobility and erudition. (Of course, its biblical association with King David cannot have hurt its reputation!) Entering the sixteenth century as a diatonic instrument, it was increasingly perceived as defective because of its inability to cope effectively with chromaticism. As the century progressed, methods were developed to render it completely chromatic; however, Praetorius in 1619 seems to have regarded the diatonic harp as still the most common type, and such simple instruments continued for some time to coexist with more developed forms.

The graceful shape of the Renaissance European harp is familiar to many from the paintings of the Flemish masters such as Jan van Eyck and Hans Memling, whose depictions of angel musicians have appeared on countless Christmas cards. This form of harp is often called “Gothic” by historians to distinguish it from the earlier, so-called “Romanesque” type. The three main elements (body, neck, and forepillar) of the latter were typically about equal in length, producing a fairly squat form. From early in the fifteenth century we see evidence of the elongation of the body and forepillar—presumably to accommodate longer bass strings—producing the taller, slimmer outline of the Gothic design. At the same time the forepillar (often quite outcurved on earlier harps) was somewhat straightened and was carried upwards beyond the joint with the neck, terminating in an ornamental, hornlike protrusion; an answering protrusion was often to be found farther back on the neck. Both forepillar and neck were often deeply fluted, evidently in order to reduce mass while retaining strength; the flutings also serve to emphasize the graceful curves. The body was both narrow and quite shallow, expanding rather minimally toward the bottom. The result of these modifications is (visually speaking) an extremely well-integrated design; the Gothic harp appears to the casual eye to have been made of a single piece of wood.

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4. Chopin Dreams: The Mazurka in C♯ Minor as Sinthome

Michael L. Klein Indiana University Press ePub

Life, as they say, plays with cards up its sleeve;

but when one snatches at them, they’ve disappeared,

and one grips something else,—or else nothing at all.

—Henrik Ibsen, Peer Gynt

The mazurka is a curious multiplicity. We soon learn that it is not one dance but three: the mazur, which takes its name from the Polish region of Mazovia but may have its origin in Kujawy; the oberek, which possibly takes its name from the Polish word obracać (to spin) but comes from the Mazowsze region; and the kujawiak from the Kujawy region. In addition, Jim Samson includes the powisłak and the światowska among the dances subsumed into the mazurka (1985: 110). Concerning the three main dances, the oberek is the fastest, the mazur is slower but still lively, while the kujawiak is the slowest and most expressive melodically. Turning quickly to Chopin, we can distinguish these three dances in the Mazurkas op. 68, nos. 2 and 3, which were published posthumously and, as juvenilia, presumably adhere more closely to Polish folk models than do his later mazurkas (Example 4.1). The middle section of op. 68, no. 3, with its drone (a Polish bagpipe) and lively Lydian melody (a high-pitched shepherds’ pipe), is an oberek. The opening section of the same mazurka, with its slower tempo and characteristic dotted rhythm on the first beat, is a mazur. The beginning of the Mazurka op. 68, no. 2, with its much slower tempo and expressive melody, is a kujawiak. In addition, the melody features a piquant augmented second in the first measure due to the raised fourth degree in the minor mode: another characteristic of some Polish folk music. This mazurka also includes a recurring trill, highlighting a notated accent on beat three; and again, there is the familiar dotted rhythm on the first beat, which drives to an agogic accent on beat two.

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Fourteen: Pressler at the TCU/Cliburn Piano Institute

William Brown Indiana University Press ePub

A Lecture Presented at Texas Christian University
Fort Worth, Texas
May 2005

Pressler is often asked to judge piano competitions, not the least of which is the Van Cliburn competition held in Fort Worth, Texas, every four years. He has judged the Van Cliburn several times and enjoys having the opportunity to address his audience of young players who are searching for the very nuances of performance and understanding of music that Pressler offers.

During his most recent visit to the Cliburn Piano Institute in May 2005, Pressler addressed an audience of music teachers and students, a forum in which he spoke about his training, his career, and his life-long love of music. He then took questions from the audience. The forum was recorded.

Tamás Ungar asked me to speak to you today. This is the year my Trio is going to be fifty years old, and I thought that would be a good thing to talk about because, in a way, it speaks about what my life is about, not just what the Trio’s about but what my life is about and what music in my life is about. All of you who are coming here to practice, to learn, to listen, to participate are coming for a number of reasons. The very first one—and I hope the most important one—is the love for music, that which brings you here and that which actually nourishes you and that has nourished me.

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11 - Space, Language, and Identity in the Palm Tree

Thomas A Hale Indiana University Press ePub

Aissata G. Sidikou

One of the common themes of African literature written in European languages is the emphasis on identity in works that appeared both before and during the national era. But too often one gets the impression that concerns about identity were solely the product of the contact between Africa and the West, especially during the last half-century. But listeners to the oral art of West Africa cannot miss the same issue, whether the performance is an epic about the creation of an empire or a song about raising children. What is distinctive about these performances, especially those by women, is the recurrence of the themes of space and language as contributors to the formation of identity. This observation prompts several questions: how do women portray these themes, what do they mean for both the artist and the audience, and how do their concerns relate to African literature in written form?

A short answer for the theme of space is that it can convey a sense of belonging to a specific community, a sentiment that appears in all forms of African literature, oral and written. But this site of unity can also serve as a source for a code of signs, verbal and non-verbal, that force women to comply with the dominant norms—again, no matter the medium. There is much more, however, to the complex roles of language and space in the creation of identity in women's songs. In the analysis below of an exemplary song, published in French by Couloubaly (1990) and in English in my book, Recreating Words, Reshaping Worlds: The Verbal Art of Women from Niger, Mali and Senegal (2001), I offer some preliminary answers to the questions raised above. Two factors contributed to the decision to choose this particular song: the economical and rather direct concern about identity, and the themes of space and language that one finds in the powerful lyrics.

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