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  • 2014 August 31: Labor Day

    August 31, 2014 10:30

    Composed in 1917, Satie's "Bureaucratic Sonatina" is a parody not just of civil servants (dreaming of vacations, promotions, etc.) but also of Clementi's Sonatina in C. Clementi was a contemporary of Mozart, and his sonatinas are standard staple for intermediate piano students (including your intrepid organist as a youngster) who have been laboring at them for a couple centuries now. Satie wrote a number of pieces which include narrations, and he said that the narrations are not supposed to be read out loud during performances. So, then, what? — everyone in the congregation gets a score? And we’re doing the narration in English instead of French! Sacré Bleu! (more )

  • 2014 August 23: Rinse and Repeat

    August 23, 2014 10:30

    The 'chaconne' (sha-KONE) is a musical form consisting of a repeating bass pattern, or alternatively a repeating chord sequence, with variations carrying on all the while. Some scholars have argued that a 'chaconne' is a repeating chord sequence while a 'passacaglia' has a repeating bass line, but it's too easy to find contrary examples (composers being a contrary bunch, after all). The form was rather popular in the 17th and 18th centuries, and dropped out of use for a while (although Beethoven's 32 "Diabelli variations" are arguably an example). Meanwhile I'm thinking the form is reincarnating in modern times in genres as varied as Taizé (sacred music built on a repeating choral phrase) and rap. Some may argue that humanity's history is an ever rising line from the swamps to the stars (I'm frequently not so sure), but I think the history of music is definitely more circular — ideas come into vogue, fall out of fashion, and then return from the underworld in new garb for another go. As the Preacher says in Ecclesiastes, "There is no new thing under heaven." (more )

  • 2014 August 17: The Virtues of Unreasonableness

    August 17, 2014 10:30

    In today's Gospel lesson we have the story from Matt.15 of the Canaanite woman who came to Jesus for healing for her daughter. Jesus replies (paraphrasing) "I was only sent to the house of Israel, it is not right to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." The woman replies: "Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master's table." (more )

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