My Inexorable Retreat From Technology
Saturday, January 21, 2017
The advance of technology is inexorable and few folks ever seem to
understand or even be aware on how it affects one’s actions and one’s thoughts.
The advent of the digital camera in which, after taking a raw
image, one can convert it into many ways, from high contrast to b+w or to some
crazy colour has at the same time taken away from the photographer a flexibility of approach, as an
example, to a portrait.
I prefer to use more than one camera. I might use a
digital camera, a large medium format and a 35mm Nikon FM-2 both with film. I
might and I have opted for two 35mm cameras, one loaded with b+w film and the
other with colour. And while my stock of Fuji Instant film lasts I can shoot
that with my Mamiya RB-67.
My friends think this is inefficient. I argue that the one
digital image with all its possible variations is still one and the same
picture. When I transfer from one camera to another, my portrait subject might
move and reconsider a pose. The changing of cameras also affects how I approach
my next shot. The result is a large variety of portraits.
Having a smart phone suddenly be made obsolete by a new
version or model makes most people trade in (better word is discard).
I have been faced with this new technology conundrum with
our brand new 2017 Chevrolet Cruze. Once we had purchased the car I was shocked
to find out that it had no CD player.
My friends have told me that I must modernize and accept the
changing technology. I have been instructed to “rip” my CDs and then convert
the files to MP3 and save them on to a flash drive.
Much has been written on how MP3 files compress sound by
taking stuff. Much has been written about the warmer sound of LP records.
Of the former statement I do not think my ears could
possibly tell the difference between an MP3 file played through a good sound
system and a CD through the same. Of the latter I believe since I am old enough to have seen my first
long play record in 1955, that many records had noise and scratches from day
one. I remember the spending of money to get a better cartridge, a better
turntable, a better record cleaning device, etc.
I believe that most who praise the sound of modern LPS are
younger people who believe what they read.
I am very happy with the sound of my many CDs in my home
sound system with a Denon CD player, NAD amplifier and the JBL Studio
Monitors. If I have to play a record for which I have no corresponding CD I use
my Sony linear tracking turntable with a Stanton cartridge.
Today I went to my local London Drugs and enquired, “How can
I play CDs in my new car that does not have a CD changer?”
A $40 portable Sylvania CD changer connected to my car’s
headphone port (it took 1 minute after I put two double As into the changer)
produced beautiful sound which I can modify for volume with two buttons behind
my steering wheel. It sounds superb but I am sure I could not tell the
difference from an MP3 file.
It feels good to be a throwback.
(they sell CDs!) I was told (by a friendly and knowledgeable staff) of two, heretofore unknown
to me, CDs from the Dave Brubeck Quartet project that began with Time Out.
I had the third one, Time Out in Outer Space
(and dedicated to John Glenn) as an LP that was beginning to show its age. I
now have the whole collection and lots of it is listening to something for the
first time even though it might be 50 years old.
Me gotta go - Locura & Tormenti
Friday, January 20, 2017
Louie Louie, oh no
Me gotta go
Aye-yi-yi-yi, I said
Louie Louie, oh baby
Me gotta go
I may have been premature here
about not caring if I died after
listening to Raquel Andueza and La Galanía (Pierre Pitzl – baroque guitar, Jesús
Fernández Baena theorbo) sing Jean Baptiste Lully’s Sé que me muero.
These are Henry
du Bailly’s (¿ -1637) Yo soy la locura,
Tarquinio Merula’s (1595-1665) Folle è
ben che si crede, Claudio Monteverdi’s (1567-1643) Si dolce è’l tormento , Folias
by G. Sanz/improvisation (ca. 1640-1710) and Canarios by Gaspar Sanz.
The concert is titled Locura & Tormenti (Madness &
Torments). I have no idea if anybody else in Vancouver shares my love
and obsession for follias. I have written about them here
The English word folly comes from the French word folie. But it is my RAE (the on-line
Dictionary of the Real Academia Española) that reveals far more:
Del fr. folie
1. f. Canto y baile popular
de las islas Canarias.
2. f. Música ligera,
generalmente de gusto popular.
3. f. desus. locura
4. f. pl. Baile portugués
de gran ruido, que se bailaba entre muchas personas.
5. f. pl. Tañido y mudanza
de un baile español, que solía bailar alguien solo con castañuelas.
Real Academia Española ©
Todos los derechos reservados
The above mentions that folía is also about locura or madness. I wonder if in the
repeated occurrences of the plague in Europe, people danced amongst those who
were dead or dying. And that first citation that mentions that a folía is or was a popular song and dance
in the Canary Islands might just hint of the content of that Gaspar Sanz work
The most famous follia is Arcangelo Corelli’s Violin Sonata in D minor, Op.5 No.12 'La
Folia'. I have a beautiful version with Monica Huggett on violin. But the
fact is that a folia, follia or in whatever other spelling you might choose always
has an underlying melody that repeats, enthrals and ultimately stays in your
head. I can state here unequivocally that these 17 and 18th century
follias are simply baroque proto-Louie Louies! Some years ago Ballet BC danced
to a Corelli variant of his La Folia by Francesco Geminiani.
My idea of the best way of spending a day at a concert
hall would be a day’s worth of all the follias that can be found. But that
would not end there as I have another obsession and, please note, that in today’s
program there is Caprice de Chacone
by one Francesco Corbetta (1615-1681).
A Chaconne (different spellings depending on the language)
is defined thusly by my Wikipedia:
A chaconne (/ʃəˈkɒn/; French: [ʃakɔn]; Spanish: chacona; Italian: ciaccona,
pronounced [tʃakˈkoːna]; earlier English: chacony is a type of musical
composition popular in the baroque era when it was much used as a vehicle for
variation on a repeated short harmonic progression, often involving a fairly
short repetitive bass-line (ground bass) which offered a compositional outline
for variation, decoration, figuration and melodic invention. In this it closely
resembles the passacaglia.
The ground bass, if there is one, may typically descend
stepwise from the tonic to the dominant pitch of the scale; the harmonies given
to the upper parts may emphasize the circle of fifths or a derivative pattern
I absolutely love chaconnes
as does my 14-year old
granddaughter who plays the violin. When we hear one we smile. Could the
ubiquitous chaconne be another Louie-Louie?
My friend Ray Nurse, a fine baritone, who plays the lute
and makes them answered me when I asked him if Paul Desmond’s Take Five was a
chaconne. His answer was a short, “Yes.”
And so Raquel Andueza and La Galanía are presenting us tonight with a program that
is all madness and (obsessive) torment. I could not ask for more.
In the last few days I have been thinking on how language affects how we think. Spanish like French have gender specific nouns. So el sexo is masculine. Any Argentine man knows that a car is la máquina so cars are women. In the opening line and title to the first song of the evening, Bailly's Yo soy la locura, madness is a woman who lures men into perdition.
But I must leave the last word to Andueza who wrote me (gently to correct typos and the misspeling of her surname) and mentioned tht the gender of the very long and large theorbo that Jesús Fernández Baena plays is la tiorba. Tht goes hand in hand with la guitarra. I just wonder what happened to el laúd, the Spanish lute.
The Turtle Shell Fan & La Galanía in Vancouver
Thursday, January 19, 2017
|Pierre Pitzl, Raquel Andueza & Jesús Fernández Baena|
The EMV concert with La Galanía, soprano Raquel Andueza, the barroque guitarist Pierre Pitzl and Jesús Fernández Baena on a the theorbo this past Friday, January 20 at Christ Church Cathedral was a revelation. At the same time it became a delicious romp of my past with memoris of places where Spanish (castellano in Argentina and español in Mexico) is spoken.
My maternal grandfather, a lawyer in Manila, was a member of the Real Academia Española. My grandmother always would tell me that I had to learn to speak and write Don Tirso's and Cervantes' language well. After having lived in Vancouver in 1975 I sometimes have a trouble keeping up with Spanish. But as we say in Spanish,"Me defiendo."
It was a special concert not only because one half of the program was in Spanish
but also because I could feel that mischievous take (diablesa or vivesa) in the words of the songs. My grandmother would have said that Anduezea sang with "sal" or salt.
|Don Tirso de Irureta Goyena|
The sound of the theorbo, especially in its lower registry is one of the most arresting sounds of any musical instrument. Perhaps a bass trombone might compete but certainly not (my humble opinion) a cello.
The usual problem with listening to the wonders of the theorbo (and I must add that baroque guitar) is that these instruments are usually drowned out by the violins of a baroque orchestra. So this trio delighted me with an intimate sound that made me feel like I was Charles the Fifth in my chambers..
There might have been a few folks who could not understand why so much of the repertoire on Friday had similar melodies. It would seem that La Galanía coincide with this blogger's love for follias and chaconnes of the 17th century. The concert was an eternity of chaconnes and follias , the equivalent, for me, of sitting to the right of the Lord!
Best of all was to share the shear pleasure that the trio threw at us with gentle smiles.They were having fun. I had that same pleasure in my personal dealings with them in the sachristy bathroom after the concert..
In that bathroom where I took my two shots you will see a lovely fan in one of the photographs. It was my great aunt's, Buenaverntura Gálvez Puig. When she died my grandmother inherited it. It was made of turtle shell and a Filipino cloth calle jusi made from Chinese silk. My great aunt's initials were with dimaonds and emeralds.
My mother inherited the fan but she was confronted by her sister who also wanted it. In the end my aunt kept the jewels and my mother the fan. My mother had a lovely relation with her aunt Buenaventura who would comb my mother's long hair. She would wince in pain. Buenaventura would tell her that in order to be a woman she had to learn to experience pain. In the end my aunt used the fan's jewels to finance her second divorce. In the scan of the fan on the upper right you might discern the little holes where the stones were.
|María de los Doloree Reyes de Irureta Goyena (my grandmother) y Buenaventura Gálvez Puig|
Gálvez Puig was a concert pianist in turn-of -the-20th-Century Manila. That a soprano and two talented musicians would have posed with her fan in a bathroom would have delighted her Latin mind.
Sé Que Me Muero de Amor - I Know I Am Dying of Love
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
|Raquel Andueza - Photograph Michal Novak|
Locura & Tormenti Presented by Early Music Vancouver - Raquel Andueza - Soprano and Spanish Baroque Ensemble La Galanía
Spanish and Italian Music from Around the Time of Cervantes
Friday January 20, 2017 | 7:30pm (Pre-concert talk 6:45pm)
Christ Church Cathedral
no exceda la categoría de anécdota en la historia de la música, resulta
interesante recordar esta pequeña pieza que el dramaturgo Jean Baptiste
Poquelin, a quien el teatro universal recuerda con el sobrenombre de Molière,
compuso dentro de la obra El burgués gentilhombre (Le Bourgeois gentilhomme)
cuya música está firmada por otro Jean-Baptiste (¿o deberíamos decir Giovanni
Battista dado su origen italiano?), de apellido Lully, uno de los máximos
exponentes de la música barroca y una de las cumbres de la composición francesa
de todos los tiempos.
de la canción Sé que muero de amor y su particularidad reside en que está
escrita en perfecto español dentro de un libreto en francés. Pero
además de lo curioso de la inserción del idioma castellano, que está
justificado en el libreto porque es una melodía interpretada por varios
españoles, resulta notable la belleza de la pieza en sí misma, erradicada del
contexto de la obra.
de un texto y de una música que conmueven por la belleza de la combinación de
los acordes con las palabras, como nos recordó Raquel Andueza rescatando el
tema en su disco de 2011 con La Galanía Yo soy la locura.
The above text in Spanish is from this site
. It is about a
curious fact that within Molière’s work
Le Bourgeois gentilhomme
music is signed by an Italian Giovani Battista Lulli
but better known as the Frenchman
Jean-Baptiste Lully there is a work written in perfect Spanish within a French libretto. The piece is called Sé Que Me
Muero de Amor or I Know that I Am
Dying of Love.
This lovely song will be performed by the
Basque soprano (o my!) Raquel Andueza and the Spanish Baroque ensemble La Galanía
this Friday at the Early Music Vancouver concert at Christ Church Cathedral. With her will be Pierre Pitzl on the baroque guitar and Jesús Fernández Baena on the theorbo. The theorbo is a very large (as in long) ancestor of the guitar and the baroque guitar is much smaller than a modern guitar. These two instruments will be just right to show off Andueza's voice while the theorbo without the competition of a large orchestra will demonstrate how beautiful this instrument is, particularly with its extened bass notes. The theorbo strange as it might seem is tiorba in Spanish. This means that there will be two women on stage. Make that three as it is la guitarra.
|Íñigo Balboa y Aguirre & Angélica de Alquézar|
It is the fifth work to be performed (16 in all). I am
sure that the whole program will be exquisite and more so for me as many of the
songs are in Spanish.
But I can clearly state here that if I have a heart
attack after Sé Que Me Muero de Amor, I will die happy. I am not beautiful nor do I have red hair in common with Ms. Azueta but both of us have a Basque origin. ¡You see I am Jorge Alejandro Waterhouse-Hayward de Irureta Goyena!
Listen to Raquel Andueza sing Sé Que Me Muero de Amor
(and you can die!)
La Galanía with Raquel Andueza
Rodney Sharman on New Music for Old Instruments
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
|Rodney Sharman |
Guest Blog by Vancouver composer Rodney Sharman
Discovering the New:
My experience of early music
and new music is similar; both hold plenty of lesser known composers, real
Reggie Mobley and Alex
Weimann’s Early Music Vancouver recital co-produced with the Queer Arts Festival
was one of the best concerts I have ever attended, such insightful and exciting
performances of unusual repertoire, including marvellous music by 17th
Century (prolific) composer, Isabella Leonarda, original, banned words to Noel
Coward’s “Mad About the Boy” researched and restored. Reggie Mobley is not only
a wonderful singer, he’s of the most intelligent, astute, and politically savvy
performers I know. Alex Weimann played almost at least half of the concert from
short score, either as figured bass or lead sheets, in other words, his
sensitive and imaginative keyboard playing was improvised on both harpsichord
There is so much wonderful
music written for old instruments in the last hundred years. Many of the artists
responsible for the early music revival were commissioners of new work. I know
many great pieces for early instruments, and these concerts feature several of
them. I was delighted to have been asked by Matthew White to assemble these
concerts with co-curator Alex Weimann.
We started by programming
Peter Hannan’s “Trinkets of Little Value”, a favourite piece of Bramwell Tovey,
and “Golden”, a PBO commission and audience favourite by Jocelyn Morlock.
Jocelyn suggested a marvellous local soprano, Camille Hesketh, recently
returned to the Vancouver area after an active career in the Netherlands. I
have wanted Reggie Mobley to sing my music ever since I heard him in recital.
Jocelyn Morlock is a great admirer of Reggie’s artistry, too, and we both
adapted music for him for the PBO concert. (Neither of us has ever rewritten
music specifically for a singer before.)
|Alexander Weimann & Reginald Mobley|
New Music for Old Instruments:
Here is a wonderful
description of the relationship between early music and new music by Alex
It feels like something very natural to me, almost like something along
our usual lines. The so called Early Music repertoire holds plenty of lesser
known composers, real discoveries, lots of “new” pieces, and according to the
beautiful sentence “the past is a foreign country”, we are experienced with
performing music without the precedent of having heard them before; we often
are approaching the unfamiliar territory, and jumping into adventurous waters,
having to unearth what the composer might have had in mind, and trying to
comprehend and learn another musical language. Playing a contemporary piece has
the advantage that we are able to ask the composer if we don’t understand some
of what is written down, a luxury we can’t enjoy in Early Music.
Short of holding a séance,
there is no way of communicating with an early music composer except through
scores and secondary sources. At these concerts, composers Linda Catlin Smith,
André Ristic, Christopher Reiche, Jocelyn Morlock, Peter Hannan, Patrick
Giguére and myself will be in attendance.
|Jocelyn Morlock |
The orchestra concert Jan 28
ends with three popular songs and improvisations on old standards.The impetus
came from Alex Weimann’s transcendental arrangement of “Bein’ Green” for
countertenor Matthew White (our “boss”) and Baroque string orchestra. Alex’s
string writing is filled with rich inner parts and ornamentation, and has a
feeling of suspended time like Gregorian chant. I knew of Reggie Mobley’s dream
of singing old standards with Baroque orchestra, and asked him for his
favourites, from which Alex and I chose two songs. My choice was immediate, and
more than a little hedonistic, Cole Porter’s “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye”.
I thought this a beautiful
way to end the formal concert, and a nice segue to improvisations by Alex,
Reggie, and VSO Music Director Bramwell Tovey that will conclude the evening.
Bramwell is a wonderful jazz pianist. Reggie and Alex will perform old
standards including jazz improvisation. Expect the artistic bar to be high, and
the venue’s bar to be open.