Barmy Blog Extra

From Rod (cheers)

What is the similarity between a drummer and a philosopher? They both perceive time as an abstract concept.

Two musicians are sitting in a car. Who’s driving? The policeman.

What is a relative minor? A country & western musicians’ girlfriend.
(There are of course, plenty more where those came from)


Mind You (two)

If defining ‘Classical’ is tricky what about making sense of contemporary art?

In Brighton yesterday I found a perfect aid. It’s a kid’s Reading Book called “We Go to the Gallery” in which John & Susan go with Mummy to see some very ‘now’ stuff. Here’s an example:


Mummy does not appear in this picture but there is a helpful guide bottom left to some new or ‘difficult’ words to read.


What do you mean?

by Classical Music, asks Mr Mook? I’ve been to Brighton today and spent the day thinking much about it.

First up, beyond this morning’s ‘posh frocks and bow ties’ i’m not going there – at least not in terms of telling you ‘the answer’.

I’m quite happy in one sense with the idea attributed to so many great musicians that there are only two kinds of music, Good and Bad, although again I’m not getting into a discussion about how you can be sure of such judgements – at least not in less than those 20,000 words (and bugger that!)

But, OK, what do I/we ‘mean’ by classical music

Well here are two ways of getting to an answer:

  1. Someone defines it and then checks everything against it to say whether that piece ‘fits’ or not. It’s an a priori definition (priori – prior – before the thing)
  2. Someone (me in this case) invites people to submit examples of the genre and then we decide whether we agree that they are (or are not) worthy examples of the genre. This is an a posteriori judgement (posterior – behind – after the event)

The problem with number one (a priori) is that Moses never came down the mountain with Tablets of Stone on which were written any definitions of any genre so the definition can’t exist before the things. genres are defined by humans in relation to the things which must therefore exist before the definition

The problem with number two is that it depends who gets a say. So far, Rod, Malc, Dave G, Mr Mook, Colin and I have posted thoughts/examples, and from those we can begin to extract some things that that group might consider ‘classical’ – but it’s a (welcome) self-selecting group of 60+ white English males who have certain tastes (incidentally LInda also emailed an example but didn’t post it). How far can we get then with a definition that others might dispute?

It helps sometimes to define genres by things they are not. So I’m going to suggest that classical music does not (usually?) consist of two-minute songs with three chords (1-4-5) a repeated catchy chorus, a brief middle-eight/bridge, a brief instrumental verse, sung and performed on guitars, drums and keyboards. That is more likely to be a ‘pop song’.

But if all music is either just good or bad, does that help? Is a Good pop song better than Bad classical music?

I’m very happy with all the nominations so far – send more – but maybe you can see why I don’t wish to get into definitions on this Blog – which is not to say I don’t want any replies or other thoughts. However, here are four other examples from my days teaching about genre theory in film studies, which might help (and also confuse?):

  1. Remember Lee Marvin singing ‘Wandering Star’ from Paint Your Wagon? Is that film a western or a musical? How do you know?
  2. Can you define a science fiction film. What does it consist of?
  3. If, for example, it consists of robots, space ships, outer space, and/or time travel what genre of film is Invasion of the Body Snatchers which has none of those things?
  4. In the years before Andy Murray there was a daft British film called Wimbledon in which a British tennis player won the singles title. Since that was an event in the future that was hard to imagine in the present, was it a Sci Fi film?


The Serious Stuff?

Every now and then over the years we hear from Dave Glass and it’s always a delight. We knew each other north of Fratton Bridge in the mid-60s but now he’s across the great water in the frozen north country

He asked in a Comment below “Have you really tried to get into classical music, Dave? Maybe some surprises there!”

I think that’s right but they’re odd ones perhaps. I grew up with some 19th century romantic stuff at home and over the years I’ve heard a fair chunk of all those top Germans and Italians without caring much for it. I tend to prefer the 20th Century. Here are some random examples – maybe you have some suggestions to add to my listening pleasure

Tomorrow night on BBC4 (7pm) there’s a programme about Arvo Part (and Robert Wilson) who I like very much

I recall being astonished – not just surprised – the first time I heard Steve Reich (‘Music for 18 Musicians’). I have loads of his stuff

Equally Lauridsen ‘O Magnum Mysterium’ (Stephen Layton)

Quite a lot of 20th C English stuff like Vaughan Williams and European turn-of-century guys like Delius

I’ve liked ‘Medieval’ choral music for some time – the Tallis Scholars, the Sixteen and stuff like that – beautiful

But it’s all a bit random/arbitrary.

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What I Might Think Of

as ‘Surprising’

I’m not yet sure how much I like this new album but the review here intrigued me, although my first listen to the album is not that surprising

VERY SORRY! First time posted this didn’t make sense because this link to a Review did not appear


However, I think this is surprising. I certainly don’t dislike it and maybe I like it a lot (movie and song)


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Nice Nostalgic Afternoon

Terri & Carole

I spent this afternoon in the company of Terri and Carol, checking out the AAA exhibition at the Guildhall. Some of you may remember them but in case not, the story is that they were Windsor girls who worked at the Shoreline, Bognor. It was there they met a certain Mr R Farr who married Carol and so they both moved to Portsmouth, where Carol opened the Apache boutique on the corner of Marmion Road and Terri worked there with her. They remember most fondly the Brave New World and the Isle of Wight Festivals and we spoke of Mr Mook (and Liz), Dave Morgan, Dave Arney, Mick Baxter, Mr L Tench (and Rosemary) and others. By the 1970 IOW Festival Mr & Mrs Farr were no longer together and Carol has spent many years down in Kent, while Terri returned to Windsor

A lovely day