Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Classic 100 top ten predictions

Here\'s by best guess as we reach the 50s:

Vaughan Williams - The Lark Ascending
Prokofiev - Peter and the Wolf
Elgar - Cello Concerto
Orff - Carmina Burana
Holst - The Planets
Gershwin - Rhapsody in Blue
Shostakovich - Symphony No.5
Sibelius - Finlandia
Barber - Adagio
Copland - Fanfare for the Common Man

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Firing the canon

I am not a huge enthusiast for perpetuating the classical music canon - or any other kind of canon, for that matter.  I had no interest at all in the ABC's original Classic 100, or the JJJ version that runs each year.  But I guess because my own research used to be about twentieth-century music, and how it communicates (or doesn't), and becuase I so much enjoy debating almost anything on Twitter, I got sucked in to following the most recent: ABC's Classic 100 Countdown of the Twentieth Century.  And as this exercise in musical democracy has unfolded, I have been disappointed and then annoyed by two things.

What disappointed me, of course, was the reams of mindless pap that got voted into the list.  Of course it did not surprise me in the least.  Nevertheless, it was a bit demoralizing to have to actually watch  Lloyd-Webber's Requiem following the music from Lord of the Rings as the sort of stuff that the Australian Classic-FM-listening community voted as the 100 best, favourite or most important pieces of that fascinating century.  I, like several, expressed my disappointment on Twitter.

And that leads to what annoyed me.  There was a backlash of commentators on Twitter decrying the "elitism".  Like this tweet from @bonfesse:
I was dismayed about the presence of purists in the #classic100 on @abcclassic but their "art music" only exists in their imaginations.
Or @cosmicdancer's observation (to be fair I think he or she was observing, not advocating):
Seriously people. It's a popularity contest, ahem, poll of favourites. What were you expecting? No real surprises so far #classic100
 Actually, people, you are completely wrong.  The whole point of this exercise is to establish a canon.  You might not agree with that aim - I think it's amusingly ludicrous - but logically, if you are running a "top 100" list, then by definition you are accepting the premise that some music is better than others.  I personally have a totally relativistic notion of musical taste, in which people are free to like what they like.  That's why I don't really agree with exercises like this.  But if you are going to have the canon-forming exercise, you have to accept value judgements.  If you are going to get irritated about purists, you are simply not understanding.

I'm perfectly happy for people to enjoy McDonalds more than a healthy home-cooked Jamie Oliver recipe.  I'm perfectly happy for people to enjoy Celebrity Apprentice more than Casablanca.  And I'm perfectly happy never to make a list of the top 100 meals, or top 100 bits of film and television.

But if you do want to go ahead with such projects, and you genuinely want to rank McDonalds higher than Oliver on the list of 100 best foods, then expect  people to call you an uninformed trogdolyte.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

ANU student pieces for radio

Here is a central comilation of all the music tracks for the UC/ANU reporting refugees project:

[Kimberley/Ewan Companion House story]
2 tracks of slow fairly desolate violin and clarinet music:

[Jane/Michelle Vietnamese refugee]
2 tracks of ambient piano music (Hannah):

[Elise/Natasha - child's perspective]
James - some ambient electro music:

[Linda/Clare refugee jobseekers]
Fast uneasy quartet music:

[Ting Walker UNHCR story]
Hannah provided music :-)

[Xiyue/Benhamin - Burmese student]
Leonard's piece:

[Mel/Brock - Sudanese refugee]
Using Jonathan's ambient music, plus an upbeat version:
and some more upbeat gamelan improvisation:

[Jaime/Jessica - refugee sexual health]
James and Nichaud:

[John/Courtney - refugee resettlement]
No extra music required

[Patrick/Alex football]
Zimbabwean football song:

[Dion/Gabrielle - Calvary]
Vorarit Treyanurak guitar solo 2:

[Grace/Joe - Steve Doszpot]
Edges - Stephanie Jones et al:

[Karen/Stephanie - Review Tribunal]
Hannah Murray live:

[Sarah/Grant - refugee student]
Hannah coming up with something

[Ashley/Lucy - yasameen]
Jonathan providing music:

[Sean/Michael - Cambodian chef]
String music:

[Ashley/Rach - JJJ style vox pops]
James Adler:

[Rachel/Olivia - Teclu]
 Vorarit Treyanurak guitar solo

[Thomas/Simon - Football]
JP to source - maybe something like:

[Amy/Kathleen - female sexual health]

[Jing/Ryan - refugee student]

[Huw/edwin - Sudanese refugee]
African drumming: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10160070/djembe.mp3

[Ambient sound files by Jonathan]
Anyone feel free to use:
Bells/ocean: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10160070/ocean-bells.mp3
Whales/thunder: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10160070/whales-thunder.mp3
Gamelan/whales: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10160070/gamelan-whales.mp3
Drifting music: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10160070/drifting.mp3

Djembe drumming: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10160070/djembe.mp3

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Gwen Harwood

Professor Eisenbart, asked to attend
a girls’ school speech night as an honoured guest
and give the prizes out, rudely declined;
but from indifference agreed, when pressed
with dry scholastic jokes, to change his mind,
to grace their humble platform, and to lend

distinction (of a kind not specified)
to the occasion. Academic dress
became him, as he knew. When he appeared
the girls whirred with an insect nervousness,
the Head in humbler black flapped round and steered
her guest, superb in silk and fur, with pride

to the best seat beneath half-hearted blooms
tortured to form the school’s elaborate crest.
Eisenbart scowled with violent distaste,
then recomposed his features to their best
advantage: deep in thought, with one hand placed
like Rodin’s Thinker. So he watched the room's

mosaic of young heads. Blonde, black, mouse-brown
they bent for their Headmistress’ opening prayer.
But underneath a light (no accident
of seating, he felt sure), with titian hair
one girl sat grinning at him, her hand bent
under her chin in mockery of his own.

Speeches were made and prizes given. He shook
indifferently a host of virgin hands.
“Music!” The girl with titian hair stood up,
hitched at a stocking, winked at near-by friends,
and stood before him to receive a cup
of silver chased with curious harps. He took

her hand, and felt its voltage fling his hold
from his calm age and power; suffered her strange
eyes, against reason dark, to take his stare
with her to the piano, there to swap
her casual schoolgirl’s for a master’s air.
He forged his rose-hot dream as Mozart told

the fullness of all passion or despair
summoned by arrogant hands. The music ended,
Eisenbart teased his gown while others clapped,
and peered into a trophy which suspended
his image upside down: a sage fool trapped
by music in a copper net of hair.