Two Ends of the Dial

Friday, January 28, 2011

It's a drag when one's bursting at the seams to write on a topic, but the time and place are completely wrong. Multiply that by at least five and you may understand where I'm sitting. I'm nearing crucial stages on three major projects, and I've gotten a mixture of very good and potentially very bad news -- which will affect how I proceed with the projects. I may or may not write any more about any of this here, but these things are tugging at my mind enough that today's writing goal has become very simple: Throw up a quick post on something I like and get down to some crucial thinking about these other matters!

So, here we go, with a blues song that makes me laugh every time I hear it, "I Ain't Drunk," by Albert Collins.

And, just for a change of pace, I occasionally enjoy listening to Gregorian chant, although I am an atheist.

My first CD of Gregorian chant came to be somewhat by chance. I received it due to a Yankee swap at a Christmas party of an Objectivist Club years ago. I was inclined to trade at first, but someone talked me into at least giving the music a ... chance (sorry!). I found it enjoyable and relaxing, and the music ended up on my iPod, where I rediscovered it this week.

-- CAV


Lynne said...

You can't rule out religious music, you'll miss out on some of the most inspirational, majestic, and beautiful pieces of music ever made.

That said, I will admit to actually liking an album that was one big mystical yogic drone. Rather than inspirational, it was rather hypnotizing.

Gus Van Horn said...

Quite true, and that's what I learned from that gift.

Also, love the new profile image!

Gus Van Horn said...

Odd. My profile image seems to have disappeared. I'll have to fix that when I get a chance.

Lynne said...

If you like the picture, you may enjoy the video even more! (It's just the same picture with an explanation of how we spend our weekends in parallel play.)

Snedcat said...

Gregorian chant is okay, but I prefer polyphonic church music. Gregorian chant is monophonic, meaning there's only one voice line; interestingly, chant developed as a musical stylization of the pitch of the voice when reading the liturgy. Gregorian chant was codified by the 13th century, and the practice spread of adding other vocal lines to make the music more beautiful--also more complex, which led some of the innovations to be condemned at times by the Church.

For example, Ars nova was the style of polyphonic music common in northern France and the Low Countries during much of the 14th century, and it was rather scandalous to many leading churchmen:

"Controversial in the Roman Catholic Church, the music was starkly rejected by Pope John XXII, but embraced by Pope Clement VI. The monophonic chant, already harmonized with simple organum, was becoming altered, fragmented, and hidden beneath secular tunes. The lyrics of love poems might be sung above sacred texts, or the sacred text might be placed within a familiar secular melody. It was not merely polyphony that offended the medieval ears, but the notion of secular music merging with the sacred and making its way into the liturgy."

However, music from the area from the following period, usually called Franco-Flemish polyphony, is the full flowering of that style and my favorite. Probably the most famous piece is Josquin des Prez's Deploration on the Death of Ockeghem of 1497, and it's interesting more generally because of its fusion of Christianity and classical antiquity. Ockeghem was probably the greatest composer from the 2nd generation of the Franco-Flemish school, and Josquin was certainly his greatest student; the poem that he set, "Nymphs of the forests" by Jean Molinet (given below the screen at the Youtube link), is largely pagan in content, while the music is based on the Requiem aeternum. It's an excellent example of the culture of the Renaissance in northern Europe.

Anonymous said...

Who was it that said the only thing he envied religion for was the music?

c. andrew

Gus Van Horn said...


I KNEW I'd seen that somewhere before. Thanks for reminding me.


Thanks for sharing with us your erudition. I'm enjoying the music from the link as I post this.


I don't know, but I'd throw in some of the art, as well as giving the angels their due, so to speak, and crediting religion with making an attempt at answering philosophical questions.


Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, for variety you might enjoy this song of Josquin's as well, "The Cricket." It's quite famous too.

Gus Van Horn said...

I'll take a listen after my flight today. Thanks!