Thursday, February 23, 2012

Birthday Ode

Ah, finally.

Well after a frustrating wait for Blogger to actually let me post today it is time to celebrate the birth of George Frideric Handel born this day in 1685. George's father wanted him to be a lawyer so despite what I tell Banished Jr. it isn't always best to listen to your dad.

In London, historic houses have 'Blue plaques' that record their famous residents. In Brook Street there are 2 blue plaques right next door to one another. Handel lived at No.25 from 1723 until his death in 1759. At No.23 one  Mr. Jimi Hendrix resided from 1968 to 1969.  Important information? No. Fun? You bet!

To celebrate his birthday here is music he composed for the birthday of another, 
Queen Anne's Birthday Ode. 
Here the largo Eternal Source of Light Divine is sung by Alfred Deller and the Oriana Concert Choir. The wonderful trumpet is by Richard Rudolph.
I can never post too much Alfred Dellar.

The Birthday Ode for Queen Anne did double duty. It also celebrated the recent Treaty of Utrecht (1712). The treaty ended the  War of the Spanish Succession, brought a degree of peace to Europe ( it didnt last it never does) and served to deprive Captain Toby Shandy of his hobby-horse.

My Poor Uncle Toby.

You don't know Uncle Toby? The sweetest natured man in all of English literature? Then see my links across for The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman.

It seems this post covers three of my hobby horses in one bumper package, Handel, counter-tenors & Laurence Sterne. And the marvellous thing is, I only learned of the Odes 'Two for the price of one' origin in researching this post. So if noone else learned anything useful today then at least I did.

The smoking batteries. Uncle Toby and Trim make ingenious use of two hookahs in their hobby-horsical pursuit of realism. Illustration by George Cruickshank.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

This is now, that was then

It was cold, wet and windy today. If this area had real weather it would be snowing.

Yesterday though it was warm, warm and sunny enough to spot turtles basking on the edge of the pond until they spotted me at which point it was dive, dive dive!

It was honey bee warm around the rosemary, in the middle of February.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

On Uncooperative Birds...again

As much as I love the birds in the yard and round about they are the most cursedly uncooperative creatures. I had a couple of tiny Downy Woodpeckers (Picoides pubescens ) in the yard this morning on the feeders but would they for one moment come around to the same side of the feeder as me? And needless to say only a couple of minutes to get the shot before work while Banished Jr. ate his brekkie.
  It was like a cartoon cliche, me and the birds circling around the feeder, each always just out of sight of the other with me always just failing to get the picture.

 There have been Northern Flickers and Red Bellied Woodpeckers out there too these last few days. Its the sudden cold(ish) snap thats brought them to the garden I assume.

Thankfully I had more success with the Downys a couple of years ago as you can see below. 

The male

and the pair, female with her back to us, male on the far side. You can see just how small they are when you compare to the corn kernels and sunflower seeds in the feeder.

I have no idea why these two were so oddly helpful. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Long Ago and Far Away

Beloved Mrs.B bought me a 'walkman-style' doohickey for Valentines day that lets you play your dusty old cassette tapes and turn them into MP3s that you can actually use. I'd spotted it myself and was going to float the idea come B'day time. But she beat me to it and here it is.

So the first thing I did was turn my two Dagmar Krause Brecht/Weill/Eisler tapes into stuff I can put onto my i-Pod.

But the second thing I've done is start to turn the dog-earred cardboard box of performance tapes into something more too.

Like it says in the title, long ago and far away, there were 4 odd chaps who liked to make very strange noises with a variety of instruments and junk. Don't let any of the others tell you they aren't odd. I'm actually the most normal... BWHAHAHAHAHA

We were called Certain Ants.

Anyway, I've made a start and I'm testing Soundcloud as a place to share them. This one,

is a duo of myself and Dr John MacMillan. John is the very hairy chap behind me.

Not in the pictures are Chris Atton and Martin Hackett. It seems, examining these now outmoded artefacts, the cassettes not the 4 old farts, that all this took place about 20 years ago. I do believe that the UK based members have been gigging again recently. To quote an old postcard I made that invariably ended up as beer mats at gigs...

Certain Ants
Cacophonous electronic row transforms an improvised noise allowing new transcendent sounds. Creating each raucous twisted aria involves nasty atonality, novel twanged strings, complex electrical rigmarole, tiny activities involving nails, and numerous toggle switches. Cageian eccentricities reach, tottering, across improbable new abysses. Notional tunes shrink, cowering.  Ether reverberates. Twitterings assault. Impromptu notes avoid neatness. Total sound chews ears rendering them almost impossibly numb. Ant noise turns somersaults.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Watch the Byrd-ie

Another post from my i-Pod, as I'm still short of pictures. Too wet and dull most of the weekend to get out even for bird pictures.

So instead I bring you a Byrd song.

William Byrd (1539 or 1540 – 1623) is likely my second favourite English composer, after Purcell.

Unlike Purcell he lived to a ripe old age and he was hugely productive. Astonishingly and pleasingly much of this work has come down to us.

But from my i-Pod this morning comes, Tessa Bonner, The Rose Consort of Viols and Red Byrd

 Rejoice Unto The Lord. 

Elizabeth I reigned from 1558 and this is in celebration of her 28th year and so if my math is right it ought to date from 1586. 

Rejoice unto the lord with mirth, which us from foreign fears
Preserved hath in quiet state these eight and twenty years, Amen
The mercies of the lord our God pour’d down upon this land
Doth far surmount in quantity the number of the sand;
So that the people Israel did never feel or see
More certain tokens of God’s love in their delivery
Than we of England, whom the lord hath blessed these many years
Through his handmaid, Elizabeth, in peace from foreign fears;
Whereas the nations on each side with troubles are beset,
Devoid of peace and quietness, and live in terrors great.

Those were the days eh?