Friday, July 30, 2010

Self Discovery

Digressions, objections, delight in mockery, carefree mistrust are signs of health; everything unconditional belongs in pathology --Nietzsche, BGE

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Climb

Ovid, "Metamorphoses"

O righteous Themis, if the Pow'rs above
By pray'rs are bent to pity, and to love;
If humane miseries can move their mind;
If yet they can forgive, and yet be kind;
Tell how we may restore, by second birth,
Mankind, and people desolated Earth.
Then thus the gracious Goddess, nodding, said;
Depart, and with your vestments veil your head:
And stooping lowly down, with losen'd zones,
Throw each behind your backs, your mighty mother's bones.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The dilettante and the critic

A boy a pigeon once possess'd,
In gay and brilliant plumage dress'd;
He loved it well, and in boyish sport
Its food to take from his mouth he taught,
And in his pigeon he took such pride,
That his joy to others he needs must confide.

An aged fox near the place chanc'd to dwell,
Talkative, clever, and learned as well;
The boy his society used to prize,
Hearing with pleasure his wonders and lies.

"My friend the fox my pigeon must see
He ran, and stretch'd 'mongst the bushes lay he
"Look, fox, at my pigeon,
My pigeon so fair!
His equal I'm sure thou hast look'd upon ne'er!"

"Let's see!"--The boy gave it.--"'Tis really not bad;
And yet, it is far from complete, I must add.
The feathers, for, instance, how short! 'Tis absurd!"
So he set to work straightway to pluck the poor bird.

The boy screamed.--
"Thou must now stronger pinions supply,
Or else 'twill be ugly, unable to fly."--
Soon 'twas stripp'd--oh, the villain!--and torn all to pieces.
The boy was heart-broken,--and so my tale ceases.

He who sees in the boy shadow'd forth his own case,
Should be on his guard 'gainst the fox's whole race.

--JW Goethe

Monday, July 19, 2010

Also Sprach Zarathustra

A taste of the Strauss original...

Ixion, We Barely Knew Ye

by Jules-Elie Delaunay

Disaster Strikes!

'Twas on the third day of July
And twelve strong men were about to die
At the Tadley Treacle Mines
They were working fast without a care
When a tunnel collapsed and trapped them there
At the Tadley treacle mines
No noise was heard above the ground
When evening came they couldn't be found
At the Tadley Treacle Mines
They searched it here, they searched it there
But could not find them anywhere
At the Tadley Treacle Mines
Then one man came from underground
And told them everything he found
At the Tadley Treacle Mines
I saw a tunnel blocked with clay
But it was open yesterday
At the Tadley Treacle Mines
Then all the men went down the pit
And tried to clear the earth a bit
At the Tadley Treacle Mines
They dug all night, they dug all day
And finally cleared the earth away
At the Tadley Treacle Mines
They found twelve men a-lying there
Upon the ground so cold and bare
At the Tadley Treacle Mines
They carried them to the light
So all could see the ghastly sight
At the Tadley Treacle Mines
They buried them there that very day
And to this day their bodies lay
At the Tadley Treacle Mines
So gentlemen take heed I pray
And do not go to work today
At the Tadley Treacle Mines

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Danse Macabre

from Wikipedia:

Danse Macabre (first performed in 1875) is the name of opus 40 by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns.

The composition is based upon a poem by Henri Cazalis, on an old French superstition: Zig, zig, zig, Death in a cadence, Striking with his heel a tomb, Death at midnight plays a dance-tune, Zig, zig, zig, on his violin. The winter wind blows and the night is dark; Moans are heard in the linden trees. Through the gloom, white skeletons pass, Running and leaping in their shrouds. Zig, zig, zig, each one is frisking, The bones of the dancers are heard to crack— But hist! of a sudden they quit the round, They push forward, they fly; the cock has crowed.

According to the ancient superstition, "Death" appears at midnight every year on Halloween. Death has the power to call forth the dead from their graves to dance for him while he plays his fiddle (represented by a solo violin with its E-string tuned to an E-flat in an example of scordatura tuning). His skeletons dance for him until the first break of dawn, when they must return to their graves until the next year.

The piece opens with a harp playing a single note, D, twelve times to signify the clock striking midnight, accompanied by soft chords from the string section. This then leads to the eerie E flat and A chords (also known as a tritone or the "Devil's chord") played by a solo violin, representing death on his fiddle. After which the main theme is heard on a solo flute and is followed by a descending scale on the solo violin. The rest of the orchestra, particularly the lower instruments of the string section, then joins in on the descending scale. The main theme and the scale is then heard throughout the various sections of the orchestra until it breaks to the solo violin and the harp playing the scale. The piece becomes more energetic and climaxes at this point; the full orchestra playing with strong dynamics.Towards the end of the piece, there is another violin solo, now modulating, which is then joined by the rest of the orchestra. The final section, a pianissimo, represents the dawn breaking and the skeletons returning to their graves.

The piece makes particular use of the xylophone in a particular theme to imitate the sounds of rattling bones. Saint-Saëns uses a similar motif in the Fossils part of his Carnival of the Animals.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Character is destiny. --Heraclitus

The formation of one's character ought to be everyone's chief aim. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Habits change into character. --Ovid

The character of instrumental music... lets the emotions radiate and shine in their own character without presuming to display them as real or imaginary representations. --Franz Liszt


Friday, July 9, 2010

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Of the harmonies I know nothing, but I want to have one warlike, to sound the note or accent which a brave man utters in the hour of danger and stern resolve, or when his cause is failing, and he is going to wounds or death or is overtaken by some other evil, and at every such crisis meets the blows of fortune with firm step and a determination to endure; and another to be used by him in times of peace and freedom of action, when there is no pressure of necessity, and he is seeking to persuade God by prayer, or man by instruction and admonition, or on the other hand, when he is expressing his willingness to yield to persuasion or entreaty or admonition, and which represents him when by prudent conduct he has attained his end, not carried away by his success, but acting moderately and wisely under the circumstances, and acquiescing in the event. These two harmonies I ask you to leave; the strain of necessity and the strain of freedom, the strain of the unfortunate and the strain of the fortunate, the strain of courage, and the strain of temperance; these, I say, leave.

And these, he replied, are the Dorian and Phrygian harmonies of which I was just now speaking.

Then, I said, if these and these only are to be used in our songs and melodies, we shall not want multiplicity of notes or a panharmonic scale?

I suppose not.

Then we shall not maintain the artificers of lyres with three corners and complex scales, or the makers of any other many-stringed curiously-harmonised instruments?

Certainly not.

But what do you say to flute-makers and flute-players? Would you admit them into our State when you reflect that in this composite use of harmony the flute is worse than all the stringed instruments put together; even the panharmonic music is only an imitation of the flute?

Clearly not.

There remain then only the lyre and the harp for use in the city, and the shepherds may have a pipe in the country.

That is surely the conclusion to be drawn from the argument.

The preferring of Apollo and his instruments to Marsyas and his instruments is not at all strange, I said.

Not at all, he replied.

And so, by the dog of Egypt, we have been unconsciously purging the State, which not long ago we termed luxurious.

And we have done wisely, he replied.

--Plato, "Republic"

"But this (island) stands like the backbone of an ass --Archilochus

Pan, the Greek god of shepherds and nature in Greek mythology, was a great musician who is known for his invention of the syrinx, or Greek pan flute. The sound of his pipes was so sweet that he grew proud, and believing himself greater than the chief musician of the gods, Apollo, the sun-god, he challenged Apollo to a musical duel. Apollo consented to the test, for he wished to punish Pan's vanity, while overlooking his own well-known arrogance. Pan and Apollo chose the mountain Tmolus to be the judge of the contest, since no one is so old and wise as the hills.

When Pan and Apollo came before Tmolus for the duel, their followers came with them, to hear, and one of those who came with Pan was a mortal named Midas. First Pan played; he blew on his reed pipes, and out came a tune so wild and yet so coaxing that the birds hopped from the trees to get near; the squirrels came running from their holes; and the very trees swayed as if they wanted to dance. The fauns laughed aloud for joy as the melody tickled their furry little ears, and Midas thought it was the sweetest music in the world.

Then Apollo rose, and in his hands he held his golden lyre. When he touched the strings of the lyre, such music stole upon the air as never god nor mortal heard before. The wild creatures of the wood crouched still as stone; the trees kept every leaf from rustling; earth and air were as silent as a dream. When Apollo stopped playing, it was like bidding farewell to one's father and mother.

When the spell of Apollo's music was broken, the hearers fell at Apollo's feet and proclaimed him the winner. All but Midas, who alone would not admit that the music was better than Pan's. "If thine ears are so dull, mortal," said Apollo, "they shall take the shape that best suits them." Apollo touched the ears of Midas, and they grew long, pointed, and furry. They were the ears of an ass!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Acta non Verba

I sinned and I won't deny it........

But since I sinned replying on my miserable thoughts,
I want to make amends .........

Ode to a Toad

Not enough! - It is not enough to prove something, one also has to seduce or elevate people to it. That is why the man of knowledge should learns how to speak his wisdom: and often in such a way that it sounds like folly."
Nietzsche, "Daybreak", s. 330

Monday, July 5, 2010

Nothing there is beyond hope, nothing that can be sworn impossible, nothing wonderful, since Zeus, father of the Olympians, made night from mid-day, hiding the light of the shining Sun, and sore fear came upon men.

Courtesy Flush

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I am an ass!

"View of Island of Paros: Fig sheds in foreground against the Sea"
Fig nibbler.....

Nobody's Fool

"I shall not cure anything by crying, or make it
worse by pursuing fun and games"