Music

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  • #240236
    Wez
    Participant

    james19 – good call ‘What’s Going On’ is one of the greatest albums of all time. Do you know the work of Gil Scott Heron?. Checkout his album ‘Bridges’.

    #240288
    twc
    Participant

    Marriage of Figaro

    The Shawshank opera scene has been taken down, presumably for copyright reasons, and so I am replacing it here with another version that has been up for eleven years, and so is presumably legit.

    As you recall the voiceover goes as follows:

    I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. … I’d like to think they were singing about something so beautiful it can’t be expressed in words, and it makes your heart ache because of it.

    Readers may be astonished to learn that those “beautiful words”—far from being ethereally inexpressible—are downright duplicitously conniving.

    They are the schemings of two [slighted] women to humiliate a philandering husband, the Count, to force his reconciliation with his wife, the Countess, and to wring out of him approval for the marriage of his hot maid, Susanna, to his servant, Figaro.

    Mozart has deliberately written sexual entrapment music of such deceptively innocuous innocence that it might break the stoniest of hearts—proof, if any were needed, of Mozart’s subtle mastery of the musical theatre.

    The excerpt in which the women set up the honeypot is headed Canzonetta — Sull’aria.

    Act 3, Scene X

    The Countess and Susanna

    Countess
    Tell me! What did the Count say to you?

    Susanna
    …I felt his anger and frustration.

    Countess
    Great, that makes it so easy to trap him.
    Where did you two propose to meet?

    Susanna
    In the gardens.

    Countess
    Then let’s fix the spot.
    You’ll write to him.

    Susanna
    What me write to him? But, my lady!

    Countess
    Come on, you’ll write to him, and I’ll take the blame.
    [Susanna sits to write]

    Countess
    [dictating a coded rendezvous]
    Write to him “A little song upon the breeze…

    Canzonetta — Sull’aria

    Susanna
    [writing] “On the breeze…
    Countess
    What a gentle zephyr…
    Susanna
    Zephyr…
    Countess
    Will whisper this evening…
    Susanna
    Will whisper this evening…
    Countess
    Beneath the pine trees in the copse.
    Susanna
    Beneath the pine trees…?
    Countess
    Beneath the pine trees in the copse.
    Susanna
    Beneath the pines trees… in the copse…

    * * *

    Countess
    He’ll understand the rest.

    Susanna
    For sure he’ll understand the rest.

    Susanna
    [folds the letter] I’ve closed it; how shall I seal it?

    Countess
    [gives her a pin]
    Here… take this pin. That’ll be the seal.
    Now… write on the back, “Return this seal“.

    Susanna
    Ha, that’s far more unusual than a seal on a commission!

    Countess
    Quick, hide the letter–someone’s coming!
    [Susanna conceals the letter.]

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    #240341
    twc
    Participant

    Romance from the Gadfly

    Dmitri Shostakovich (1955)

    Shostakovich’s Romance was written for a 1955 Russian film based on an 1897 English novel The Gadfly by Ethel Voynich (née Boole—daughter of mathematician George Boole, the creator of Boolean algebraic logic).

    The Gadfly is a tragic romance about a cardinal’s bastard son who renounces Catholicism and devotes his life to radical journalism (pen name “gadfly”) and violent bourgeois revolution during the Italian unification known as the Risorgimento.

    Ethel Voynich garnered material for her hero’s youth from her sexual liaison with British secret agent Sidney George Reilly (Ace of Spies).

    Also, Fabian “socialist” George Bernard Shaw, obliged her by writing a theatrical adaptation of the Gadfly (1897) to pre-empt ‘hack’ stagings of it.

    The novel, and its romantic hero, struck a vital bourgeois-revolutionary nerve in the Soviet Union and Communist China.

    From the concert suite, arranged for, but not by, Shostakovich.

    A pastiche of (not necessarily representative) scenes from the 1955 film, with Shostakovich’s original score.

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    #240369
    twc
    Participant

    Andrea Chénier

    Opera by Umberto Giordano (1896)

    French poet and revolutionary, Andrea Chénier, is condemned by the Revolutionary Tribunal during the Reign of Terror. His prosecutor is a rival for the hand of his lover, Maddalena, who trades places with a condemned woman, to engineer her own guillotining alongside her only love Chénier.

    All highly melodramatic (and similar to Puccini’s greater opera Tosca of 1900).

    * * *
    Here is Jonas Kaufmann in the title role — Vienna State Opera.

    At a palace ball, on the eve of the Revolution, the aristocratic Maddalena goads poet Andrea Chénier into improvising a verse, whereupon he slowly transforms the lyrics into an attack on the First Estate (the clergy) for its depredations against the poor.

    Philadelphia — (1993)

    In the movie Philadelphia, a lawyer Andy (Tom Hanks), diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, is represented by a black colleague Joe (Denzel Washington) in a legal battle over his discriminatory dismissal from work.

    In hospital, the ailing Andy listens to Maria Callas singing Maddalena’s aria “La Mamma Morte” (They killed my Mother) from Andrea Chénier.

    As he experiences the music Andy involuntarily relays to a skeptical Joe the hold that it has over him, and the emotional charge he gets from Maddalena’s affirmation-of-life midst tragedy.

    In the opera, Maddalena is seeking a sympathetic hearing from Revolutionary Tribunal prosecutor Gérade, but she doesn’t stand a chance against dictatorial authority. (Even Puccini’s Tosca fails to out-manoeuvre the arch-manipulator Scarpia.)

    Maddalena pleads…

    The mob murdered my mother, burnt our family home, my maid voluntarily prostituted herself for my sake, I’m to blame, … but I know that love will conquer all.

    All this is [beyond] music to Andy’s ears.

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    #240439
    twc
    Participant

    I received the following email from Danny in Chicago.

      Socialist song to raise your spirits
      (well, okay, it’s a teeny bit depressing)

      Thanks for your hard work spreading the socialist case to fellow primates stuck in their ways.

      I used to be an SPGBer and WSPUSer for many years once upon a time, and why I no longer am is a long and terribly boring story, so don’t ask.

      But I never forgot the case nor thought it anything less than a worthwhile goal.

      Anyway, when you want to put your feet up with a cup of tea, maybe you’d like to listen to my latest song which is itself socialist-ish?

      All the very best to you comrade.

      Danny, Chicago

      You’ll find the song here:

      https://puppeteer.bandcamp.com/track/trickle-down-crumbs

      (Yes, it’s free.)
      (It’s mixed for speakers indeed, but seems to me so much clearer and better on headphones, nudge nudge wink wink.)


    Danny composes under the name puppeteer.

    He is an accomplished musician and equally skilled video artist—a writer of searching “songs of love and earth”.

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    #240619
    twc
    Participant

    Two French Baroque Composers

    1. Jean-Philippe Rameau

    Jean-Philippe Rameau, a contemporary of Bach and Handel, enters the consciousness of socialists through Denis Diderot’s satire Rameau’s Nephew.

    Marx, in sending a copy of Rameau’s Nephew to Engels, reminded him “This unique masterpiece will give you fresh pleasure again.”

    Engels, in Socialism, Utopian and Scientific, famously wrote

      “Outside philosophy in the restricted sense, the French nevertheless produced masterpieces of dialectic. We need only call to mind Diderot’s Rameau’s Nephew and Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality.”

    Diderot was the courageous editor (with d’Alembert) of the enlightenment Encyclopédie and he was Marx’s favourite prose writer.

    Danse des Sauvages
    Les Indes Galantes (1736)

    The Amazonian girl Zima chooses the hand of the defeated Indian Adario over those of the victorious European colonists—a jealous Spaniard and a French fop.

    The Indians and the colonists then make ceremonial peace, extolling the simple joys of nature—a sentiment pointedly directed at the Europeans.

    Rameau and his librettist are playing out a trope that has not yet flowered into the politically-charged rallying cry that it was to become for the revolutionary bourgeoisie, despite embryonic glimmerings of Rousseau’s noble savage and critique of feudal social relations.

    Rondeau, ‘Forêts paisibles’ — Peaceful forests

      Chorus of the Savages
      [In our] peaceful forests, we are no longer victims of vain desires.
      Here we enjoy everything that Fortune can favour us with.

      Zima, Adario
      [This forest] sanctuary, shuts out [European] “Greatness”.
      Here we are impregnable to all such vain attractions!
      Oh Heaven, you created [the forests] for innocence and peace…
      How could we be happier—why hanker after anything else?

    Peace-Pipe Ceremony

    The concert performance (above) is played at a frenetic a pace for dancers to keep up with.

    Here, from a comfortably paced stage performance, we see the South American “Indes” through French colonial eyes, as thoroughly North-American but with 18th century French military drumming.

    * * *

    2. Jean-Jacques Rousseau

    Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a generation younger than Rameau, was a musician and writer on music. D’Alembert commissioned him to write the entries on music in the Encyclopédie after Rameau turned Diderot down.

    Rousseau’s beef with Rameau came to a head in the 1750s Querelle des Bouffons (battle of the comedians)—a pamphlet war pitting the new Italian opera buffa, championed by Rousseau, among others, against traditional French lyric tragedy, associated with Rameau.

    Rousseau’s practical argument was a short Italian-style pastoral opera Le Devin du village about a simple peasant love-breakup, reconciled by a mediating “soothsayer”, in which he put

      nothing with kings, crowns, gods or fate; nothing that’s Greek.

    Its favour with the opera-going public eventually shifted aesthetic tastes.

    Le Devin du Village — The Village Soothsayer
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1752)

    Even if subsequent trends eclipsed Rameau’s musical form, that baroque master (like his contemporary J. S. Bach) has stayed the course.

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    #240646
    Bijou Drains
    Participant

    The brilliant “Poor Old Ireland” released by Lindisfarne and writtenby the late great Alan Hull in 1972, is one of the few songs produced through the troubles that gives a perspective that Socialists could concur (The Town That I Loved so Well, is probably another one)

    Lyric are:

    Poor old Ireland, poor old universe,
    Wonder who comes off the worse.
    Poor old people mistreating misbelieving,
    I think you’ve been cast by a curse.
    But I don’t want you to die, I can see all the lies
    There’s nothing there that’s new.
    But there’s still no need to make blind children bleed,
    Even if what you say is true.

    And meanwhile in the aisles of the churches with style,
    They’re singing their songs to the Lord.
    And the preacher’s carping that for failure on earth,
    Heaven will be your reward.

    Poor old Ireland tortured by past and
    Tarnished by future’s curse
    Poor old Ireland, poor old planet,
    Poor old universe.

    Oh Ireland your people mean more than the idols
    You seek to set upon earth
    And the day that you see that’s the day, that all of your
    Sadness and sickness will die.

    For the enemy you seek to destroy is not the
    One who’s causing the pain
    He’s disguised himself well with his book and his bell but
    Evil is still his name.

    Poor old Ireland tortured by past and
    Tarnished by future’s curse
    Poor old Ireland, poor old universe
    Wonder who comes off the worse.

    #240662
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    Just a thank you to TWC for his posts on music with his explanations.

    They have been highly instructive and illuminating.

    #240748
    paula.mcewan
    Moderator


    Singalong if you like

    #240806
    twc
    Participant

    Le Bourgeois gentilhomme (1670)

    Prose and verse by Molière
    Music by Jean-Baptiste Lully

    Jean-Baptist Lully (musician and dancer) wrote theatrical music for some of Molière’s best-known comedies that still hold the stage today.

    Molière and Lully precede later composers Rameau, Bach and Handel by a whole lifetime, dying before any of the latter were born.

    The Molière-Lully “comédie-ballet” Le Bourgeois gentilhomme is a satire on mid-17th century social climbing—a perennial goal in all class society. As such it is referenced by Marx and Engels.

    The would-be gentleman, Monsieur Jourdain, is prime fodder for a scam. His social vanity leads him by the nose through a bogus course of “education” into the ranks of the nobility.

    Here is a short trailer for a French production that seeks the original earthiness of team Molière-Lully.

    In it we glimpse the progress of Monsieur Jourdain, his wife’s horror at it, and raw comedic episodes of his duping.


    Here follows a suite of Lully’s music for Le Bourgeois gentilhomme.

    The famous “ennobling” ceremony—a burlesque performed by pseudo-Turks chanting “pidgin” French—starts at timestamp 7:46.

    From the movieTàr we learn that Jean-Baptiste Lully, when conducting, marked time by stamping the floor with his conductor’s stick, whose beat is “replicated” in this recording.

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    #240913
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    Another from Tom Lehrer

    #241116
    twc
    Participant

    Musical “Woke”

    “Woke” is no joke. According to Webster’s Dictionary, it is slang for being “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues, especially of racial and social injustice”.

    Deep down “woke” is a response to the inhuman conditions of capitalist social relations, and its classic treatment is Marx’s “On [Bruno Bauer’s] The Jewish Question” (1844).

    The Socialist Party’s position since its inception in 1904 is that there are no solutions to the inhuman conditions of capitalist social relations short of replacing them with socialism.

    TÁR

    The present thread has thrown up a medley of musical responses to innumerable inhuman conditions of class social relations.

    Here’s the “woke” scene from the movieTÁR. Our reference is a YouTuber’s commentary.

    TÁR, (Lydia Tár), conductor
    MAX, student

    MAX
    —— I’m not really into Bach.

    —— Honestly, as a BIPOC* pangender-person,
    —— I would say Bach’s misogynistic life
    —— makes it kind of impossible for me
    —— to take his music seriously.

    —— nowadays?
    —— White, male, cis composers?
    —— Just not my thing.

    TÁR (savages MAX’s “wokeness”)

    TÁR
    —— Where are you going?

    MAX (heads for the exit)
    —— You’re a fucking bitch!
    _________
    *black, indigenous, person of colour

    MAX was conducting by Anna Thorvaldsdóttir (2013).


    “Stay Woke”

    Music inspired by the first modern “woke” revolution — the Protestant Reformation. The text (Matthew 25) is a wake-up call for the second coming!

    Wachet Auf. (Sleepers Wake, 1731)
    Johann Sebastian Bach — Cantata BWV-140

    Sleepers Wake §4, BBC Proms

    Complete cantata, Netherlands Bach Society; §4 starts 15:19

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    #241174
    twc
    Participant
    Deborah Cheetham Fraillon
    For Max (of TÁR) — Your Ideal Composer?

    ———

    Max — You seek a composer who is BIPOC (black, indigenous, person of colour) and pangender.

    1. Composer
      ———
      Max — Here’s Deborah Cheetham Fraillon introducing her vast composition Eumeralla, a War Requiem for Peace, that is based on the Latin mass (à la Mozart) but directed at colonial wars of the clandestine variety — specifically, Eumeralla, South Western Victoria: https://www.shortblackopera.org.au/eumeralla.

      Deborah’s War Requiem is performed in the dialect of the Gunditjmara people, the traditional occupiers, for perhaps a thousand generations, of the land that armed colonists forcibly cleared them from.

      Their blood was spilt to make way for grazing sheep, with implications for the “Agnes Dei” lament of her War Requiem.


      ———

    2. BIPOC
      ———
      Max — Deborah is a Yorta Yorta woman from the stolen generation of children removed from their aboriginal parents.

      She is an educator and voice of Aboriginal Australians.


      ———

    3. LGBTQ
      ———
      Max — Deborah’s life partner is the conductor and ballet director, Nicolette Fraillon.

      Here is Deborah singing the soprano part of her Yarran Ngarnga Yinga “Acknowledgement of Country” at last week’s Sydney WorldPride Opening Concert.

    ———

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    #241234
    twc
    Participant

    Blooper. The War Requiem’s “Agnes Dei” should read “Agnus Dei” (lamb of God).

    I’ve not seen TÁR, but have read its screen play, partly for the “woke” musical confrontation scene.

    I named the post on it a Musical “Woke” with apologies to Mozart’s “Musical Joke” which revels in deliberate musical bloopers.

    In due course, Mozart’s bloopers migrated into the mainstream.

    I take this opportunity to restate my own stance on “woke”:


    “Woke” is no joke. It is a response to the inhuman conditions of capitalist social relations, and its classic treatment is Marx’s “On [Bruno Bauer’s] The Jewish Question” (1844).

    The Socialist Party’s position since its inception in 1904 is that there are no solutions to the inhuman conditions of capitalist social relations short of replacing them with socialism.


    The final word is Marx’s — here paraphrased…

      This is how people fight out their comprehension—resolve their own bloopers—about the earth-shattering social process that’s inexorably sweeping them up.

    Humanity’s biggest blooper is not acting in concert to replace the Capitalist mode of private ownership of the world’s resources with their common ownership and democratic control by everyone of us.

    #241441
    twc
    Participant

    Anthems For and Against the French Revolution

    1. Ça Ira — It’ll be Fine (1790)
    Words: Ladré (street singer); Music: Bécourt

    This French revolutionary song takes its name from Benjamin Franklin’s former time in France to drum up support for the American revolution. No matter how badly things went, the wily Franklin assured the French that, in the long run, “ça ira— it’ll be fine!”

    There are many versions of Ça Ira. Here is a sans-culotte version from the film Royal Affairs in Versailles (1954).

    No-one matches the singing of Edith Piaf for seemingly effortless vibrato and effusive sincerity.

      Ah, ça ira, ça ira, ça ira

      Ah! It’ll be fine! It’ll be fine! It’ll be fine!
      String up the aristocrats by the lamp-post!
      Ah! It’ll be fine! It’ll be fine! It’ll be fine!
      Lynch the aristocrats!

      For 300 years they’ve promised us bread.
      For 300 years they partied and kept whores!
      For 300 years they’ve crushed us.
      We’ve had enough of their lies and promises!

      We aren’t going to starve!

      CHORUS — Ah, ça ira, ça ira, ça ira

      For 300 years they’ve made war
      To the sound of fife and drum
      While we do their dying in misery.
      This ain’t gonna last forever.

      For 300 years they took our men away
      And treated us like beasts of burden.
      This ain’t gonna last forever!

      CHORUS — Ah, ça ira, ça ira, ça ira

      Gentlemen, punishment awaits you!
      The people now assert themselves.
      You’ve taken your last pay, gentlemen.
      It’s now over, gentlemen kings!

      You can’t depend on us anymore.
      From now on we’ll make the Laws!

      CHORUS — Ah, ça ira, ça ira, ça ira


    2. Le Réveil du Peuple — The People’s Awakening (1795)
    Lyrics: Jean-Marie Souriguières; Music: Pierre Gaveaux

    Le Réveil du Peuple is an anti-Marseillaise song written during the [Thermidor] reaction to the Reign of Terror—roughly from the king’s guillotining in 1793 to Robespierre’s guillotining in 1794.

    Its message of never forget la Terreur rallied street gangs of “gilded youth” who meted out rough justice to remnant supporters of the revolution.

    The Le Réveil du Peuple starts at timestamp 2:20.

      The Alarm of the People

      French people, nation of brothers,
      Shudder in horror,
      At the revolutionaries unfurling their banners
      Of Carnage and Terror.

      French people, know that you are their victims
      Victims of assassins and brigands,
      Whose savage breath stinks,
      The land you live in!

      Let the revolutionaries perish.
      Those devouring cutthroats,
      Who harbour within their hearts
      Love of crime and tyranny!

      And you ghosts of all they innocently murdered,
      May you now rest in peace.
      For the day of vengeance is at hand,
      And it turns your executioners pale.

      Sovereign people, what are you waiting for?
      Make haste…
      Feed the revolutionaries to the monsters of the Ténare
      Who devour every last drinker of human blood.

      Wage war against those who make revolution!
      Hound them to the death;
      If you share the same horror as impels me
      The revolutionaries will never escape us alive.

      Reactionary representatives of our just nation.
      You are our humane legislators,
      Before whose august countenances
      Our revolutionary murderers tremble.

      Follow your legislative path to glory,
      Your names will be honoured by all humanity,
      Inscribed forever in the Temple of Remembrance,
      Deep inside the bosom of Immortality.

    The video includes portraits of major French revolutionaries as well as illustrations of Robespierre’s execution. Engels admired revolutionary Georges Danton, who regretted being guillotined before Robespierre got his comeuppance: “executioner, show the people my head. It is well worth seeing.”


    France was instrumental in revolutionary Washington defeating the English, but Washington repaid France by siding with England in its battle with revolutionary France.

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