Tuesday, September 21, 2010

“to lead the mind away”

and there grows in the mind
a scent, it may be, of locust blossoms
whose perfume is itself a wind moving
                                                to lead the mind away

From Locust
From Locust
I love the locust tree
the sweet white locust
        How much?
        How much?
How much does it cost
to love the locust tree
        in bloom?
From Locust
From Locust
From Locust
A fortune bigger than Avery could muster
    So much
    So much
The shelving green
whose bright small leaves
     in June
lean among flowers
sweet and white
     at heavy cost

From Locust
From Locust
the locust tree in the morning breeze
    outside her window
            where one branch moves
            upward and about and
back and forth

quotations from William Carlos Williams—Patterson: “The Library”
From Locust
From Locust
From Locust
From Locust
From Locust
From Locust
From Locust
From Locust

More pictures of locusts photographed during the summer of 2010, uncropped,full-size, at Veery Books web photo album here: Locust

Sunday, June 27, 2010

He’s not talking about “Country Gardens.”

“To give way to human feelings, to overflow & swim in human feelings, is human enough, but the farthest north of humanness is, for me, to be a lightning conductor of such feelings in such a way that they are particularly fitted to fill niches in coming men’s minds & sit itchingly and inflamingly like small fishhooks in men’s consciousness throout changing customs and different rules for playing cricket.”—Percy Grainger, 10 November 1907, in a letter to his mother.
From Veery Books at picassaweb

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sonic Pastiche

Strolling back and forth in the shelter of what was left of a high wall, against which the gusts of sand hissed. A week later, Don Juan described the iron reinforcement material poking out of the wall and the unearthly music the powerful wind made in the tangle of wire, rods, and pipes above their heads. The assault of air and grains of sand on the iron was intermittent, at least for a while. For moments at a time it would gain in strength, then ebb a bit, then rise to a new crescendo, then weaken to a whistling, then to a mere fanning, whereupon it would set in again, more violently than ever, and so on, without ever dying away and ceasing altogether. The wind set up a constant reverberation in the iron fretwork sticking up into the storm, and whereas nothing but a howling, roaring, and pounding, thoroughly monotonous, would have been heard if the air currents remained steady, instead a veritable melody took shape, something that was steady in an essentially different way. And it was a harmonic melody. True, its measures were all different in length. And between the highest and lowest notes steps would have had to be added to the scales at the top and bottom. But the transitions between almost inaudibly high and barely audible low notes, and the alternation between the shortest and longest measures, between loud and soft, did not occur abruptly or suddenly, by chance or at random, but rather harmoniously, and in time blended with the melody—in a number of languages the word for “time” was the same as for “measure”—the instrumental accompaniment being provided by the vibrating wire, the half-loosened iron rods drumming against each other, and especially by the system of pipes, open to the storm, which served as the leaders of the melody, so to speak, while the wire and rods created the rhythm. Don Juan hummed and sang the music to me, his voice scratchy at the beginning, then increasingly powerful, as he rose from his storytelling chair and with arms outstretched stalked up and down Port-Royal garden, and I, who for so long have not been sure of anything, was sure that if he had performed this piece of music in public, it would have conquered the globe as hardly any piece of music could.

—from Don Juan: His Own Version: A Novel by Peter Handke, translated by Krishna Winston, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010.

It would be interesting, for me at least, to examine this text in the original language, but, nonetheless, the translation seems wonderfully apt. The strolling and hissing of the nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs, as they whistle and fan, hum and drum, pipe and open a musical scenario into being, all the while counterpointing the essential elements of the story being told throughout the novel, time, Don Juan, his story being told by himself, his own version, in the third person, but a dialog, this paragraph moving from the location of the story to the location of the storytelling, gradually revealing that the musical recounting, the measure of the soundscape, is being performed by Don Juan himself in a stalking performance that cannot help, with a systematic vibration, cannot help but to remind the reader, so long not sure of anything, of the lost manuscript of Diderot, translated by Goethe where a performance by the fake-real Rameau is described:

And then there he goes walking around, humming some tunes from l’Ile des Fous, Peintre amoureux de son Modèle, Maréchal-ferrant, and Plaideuse. From time to time he lifted his hand and eyes to the sky and cried out. “Isn’t that beautiful, by God? Isn’t it beautiful? How could anyone have a pair of ears on his head and even raise such a question?” He began to get worked up and to sing very softly. As he grew even more impassioned, he raised his voice, and then there followed gestures, facial grimaces, and bodily contortions. I say, “All right, there he is off his head, getting some new scene ready.” Then, in fact, he set off with a loud shout, “I am a poor wretch. . . . Monseigneur, Monseigneur, let me go. . . . O earth, take my gold. Keep my treasure safe. . . . My soul, my soul, my life, O earth! . . . There it is, my little friend. There’s my little friend! Aspettare e non venire . . . A Zerbina penserete . . . Sempre in contrasti con te si
sta . . .
” He crammed together and jumbled up together thirty songs—Italian, French, tragic, comic—in all sorts of different styles. Sometimes in a bass voice he went down all the way to hell, and sometimes he’d feign a falsetto and sing at the top of his voice, tearing into the high points of some songs, imitating the walk, deportment, gestures of the different singing characters, by turns furious, soft, imperious, sniggering. At one point, he’s a young girl crying—portraying all her mannerisms—at another point he’s a priest, he’s a king, he’s a tyrant—he threatens, commands, loses his temper. He’s a slave. He obeys. He calms down, he laments, he complains, he laughs—never straying from the tone, rhythm, or sense of the words or the character of the song.

All the men pushing wood had left their chess boards and gathered around him. The windows of the café were filled up on the outside by passers-by who’d been stopped by the sound. People gave out bursts of laughter strong enough to break open the ceiling. But he didn’t notice a thing. He continued, in the grip of some mental fit, of an enthusiasm so closely related to madness that it’s uncertain whether he’ll come out of it. It might be necessary to throw him into a cab and take him straight to the lunatic asylum. As he was singing snatches from Lamentations by Jomelli, he brought out the most beautiful parts of each piece with precision, truth, and an incredible warmth. That beautiful recitative in which the prophet describes the desolation of Jerusalem he bathed in a flood of tears which brought tears to everyone’s eyes. Everything was there—the delicacy of the song, the force of expression, the sorrow. He stressed those places where the composer had particularly demonstrated his great mastery. If he stopped the singing part, it was to take up the part of the instruments, which he left suddenly to return to the vocals, moving from one to the other in such a way as to maintain the connections and the overall unity, taking hold of our souls and keeping them suspended in the most unusual situation which I’ve ever experienced. Did I admire him? Oh yes, I admired him! Was I touched with pity? I was touched with pity. But a tinge of ridicule was mixed in with these feelings and spoiled them.

But you would’ve burst out laughing at the way in which he imitated the different instruments. With his cheeks swollen, all puffed out, and with harsh, dark sounds he delivered the horns and bassoons. For the oboes he produced a shrill nasal tone, and then accelerated his voice with an amazing speed for the stringed instruments, trying to find the best approximations for their sounds. He whistled for the piccolos, warbled for the flutes, shouting, singing, carrying on like a maniac, acting out, by himself, the male and female dancers and singers, an entire orchestra, the whole musical company, dividing himself into twenty different roles, running, stopping, looking like a man possessed, frothing at the mouth. It was stiflingly hot, and the sweat running down the wrinkles in his forehead and down the length of his cheeks mixed in with the powder in his hair came down in streaks and lined the top of his coat. What didn’t I see him do? He cried, he laughed, he sighed, he looked tender or calm or angry—a woman who was swooning in grief, an unhappy man left in total despair, a temple being built, birds calming down at sunset, waters either murmuring in a cool lonely place or descending in a torrent from the high mountains, a storm, a tempest, the cries of those who are going to die intermingled with the whistling winds, the bursts of thunder, the night, with its shadows—silent and dark—for sounds do depict even silence. 
—translation of Diderot’s Le Neveu de Rameau by Ian C. Johnston of Malaspina University-College, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada, available at Project Gutenberg Australia.

At the time in question, I was cooking only for myself, for the time being, in my country inn near the ruins of Port-Royal-des-Champs, which in the seventeenth century was France’s most famous cloister, as well as its most infamous. . . . In May I pretty much gave up gardening in favor of simply watching how the vegetables I had planted or sown either thrived or withered. (Handke, p. 1–2). 

No matter what the weather, rain or shine, it’s my habit every evening at about five o’clock to take a walk around the Palais Royal. I’m the one you see dreaming on the bench in Argenson’s Alley, always alone. I talk to myself about politics, love, taste, or philosophy. I let my spirit roam at will, allowing it to follow the first idea, wise or foolish, which presents itself, just as we see our dissolute young men on Foy’s Walk following in the footsteps of a prostitute with a smiling face, an inviting air, and a turned-up nose, then leaving her for another, going after all of them and sticking to none. For me, my thoughts are my prostitutes. (Diderot)

Pretty Blue Flowers

hydrangea blue n. : a pale purplish blue that is deeper and slightly redder than starlight blue and bluer and deeper than haze blue, moonstone blue, or Ontario violet (Merriam Webster Collegiate 11th edition).

Monday, June 7, 2010

Head to Head with Mr. Eighth Note

“Like most composers, Debussy was no ardent admirer of conductors. He thus saluted one of the day’s most famed, Felix Weingartner: ‘He . . . conducted [Beethoven’s] Pastoral Symphony with the care of a conscientious gardener. He tidied it so neatly as to produce the illusion of a meticulously finished landscape in which the gently undulating hills are made of plush at ten francs the yard and the foliage is crimped with curling-tongs.’ ”—Time, “Music: The Dilettante Hater,” May 31, 1948.

To honor Mr. Croche’s memory, Mr. Beez has composed a short fantasy for eight virtual pianos. Tools used were Python 2.6, Finale 2010b, Garritan Steinway Grand Piano, and Audacity 1.3.

Listen to Mr. Beez’s Homage à Monsieur Croche.

Detail of the autograph ms. of the Particelle from the Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune. See at Veery Books.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sheet Music from the 1910s

Most of this is from around 1919. All is available from Veery Books. More available but not yet listed here.
Tannenhill; Snyder. It Took Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen Years to Make a Girl Like You. New York: Waterson, Berlin & Snyder, 1919.
Russell, Ben; Johnson, Arnold; Coleman, Emile. The Only Girl. New York: Leo. Feist, 1923. Plate Number 5329-3.
Burtnett, Earl (music); Morrison, Dave (lyrics). When it’s Sunset in Sweden. San Francisco: Sherman, Clay & Co., 1919.
Daniels, Frank Tyler; Friedman, Leo. Return with the Springtime Acushla Machree. New York, Chicago: Park, Daniels & Friedman, 1915.
Glatt, Abe (music); Bard, Ben (words). Give Me the Right to Love You. New York: Harry Von Tilzer, 1917.
Carroll, Earl. So Long Letty, New York: M. Witmark & Sons, 1915.
Ball, Ernest R.; Dubin, Al. All the World Will Be Jealous of Me. New York: M. Witmark & Sons, 1917.
Munro, Bill; Lewis, Ted; Sterling, B. When My Baby Smiles at Me.: Ted Lewis in The Greenwich Village Follies, N.Y. New York: Harry Von Tilzer, 1920. Art by Barbelle.
Koellhoffer, B. A. Le Plaisir D’Apollo Polka & Two Step Irvington, N.J.: B. A. Koellhoffer. 1914. (Piano solo)
King, A. Robert; MacDonald, Ballard. Broken Blossoms. New York: Shapiro, Bernstein & Co., 1919.
Tilzer, Albert Von; Brown, Lew. Give Me the Moonlight, Give Me the Girl, and Leave the Rest To Me. New York: Broadway Music Corporation, 1917.
Kern, Jerome; Wodehouse, P. G.; Bolton, Guy. You Said Something (from Have a Heart). New York: T. B. Harms, 1916.
Goodwin, Joe; Brockman, James; Osborne, Nat. “When We Meet in the Sweet Bye & Bye.” New York: Parke, Daniels & Friedman, 1916. Art by Einson.
Friedman, Leo (music); Daniels, Frank Tyler (words). Sweetheart of Mine. New York: Parke, Daniels & Friedman, 1914. Mary Pickford’s official song, with her printed inscription.
Alstyne, Egbert van; Gillespie, Haven. Sweetie O’ Mine. Chicago: Van Alstyne and Curtis, 1920.
Straight, Charley; Sherwood, Ray. Hold Me in Your Heart. Williamsport, Penna: Vandersloot Music Pub. Co., 1920.
White, Willy (music); Turk, Roy, Jessel, George (lyric). Oh How I Laugh When I Think How I Cried About You. New York: Waterson, Berlin & Snyder, 1919.
Ager, Milton (music); Anderson, John Murray; Yellen, Jack (lyrics). What’s in a Name. New York: Leo Feist, 1920.
Meyer, Geo. W. (music); Caesar, Irving (lyric). I’m Always Falling in Love with the Other Fellow’s Girl. New York: Jerome H. Remick & Co., 1920.
Rose, Fred.; Little, George; Frost, Peter S. I’ll Be Your Regular Sweetie (But I Won’t Be Your Once in a While). New York: A. J. Stasny, 1920.
Gay, Byron. My Angel of the Flaming Cross. Sunset Publishing Corp, 1918. As sung by Madame Schumann-Heink for our boys of the Army and Navy.
Vontilzer, Albert (music); Brown, Lew (words). For Johnny and Me. New York: Broadway Music Corporation, 1919.
Von Weber. Invitation to the Dance. New York: Century Music Publishing Company, 231-235 West 40th Street, ND
Weill, Irving (music); Cunningham, Paul; Dubin, Al (lyrics). On the Shores of Tripoli. New York: M. Witmark & Sons, 1920.
Jacobs-Bond, Carrie. A Perfect Day Waltz. Chicago: Carrie Jacobs-Bond & Son, 1916.
Ruby, Harry; Leslie, Edgar. For the Two of Us. New York: Waterson, Berlin & Snyder, 1918.
Paull, E. T.; Braham, E. The Jolly Blacksmiths March-Twostep. New York: E. T. Paull, 243 West 42nd St., 1905.
Clarke, Grant (words); Gottler, Archie (music). I Hate to Lose You I’m So Used to You Now. New York: Waterson, Berlin & Snyder, 1918.
Paull, E. T. Paul Revere’s Ride March-Twostep. New York: E. T. Paull, 1905.