Sunday, February 20, 2011

How Children Were Punished in the 60's

While this LP has been in my family for as long as I can remember (residing in my Grandmothers console stereo) before playing it recently I did not have any memory of its contents. After playing still doesn't ring a bell. Still, it's got a cool cover, with the three disembodied heads of happy children, what appear to be three organ pipes just standing around, and a book of music drawn by someone who once might have seen some actual sheet music but who otherwise doesn't know anything about music. Seriously, that first measure has 2.5 beats, the second has 5 beats (and a staccato half note), the third measure has four beats, the fourth has - well, I can't count the beats, because there are some random dots (a colon, maybe?) in there that wouldn't normally mean anything, and there's also a random floating sharp. I won't even get into the incorrect note drawings.

These are mostly very short retellings of the classic fairy tales with musical accompaniment (including what appear to be original mini-songs).

I kind of like the square dances bit, and I sincerely hope that Punchy The Clown was the theme song for a TV show (but I can't find anything on the intertubes to confirm or deny that hope).

Children's Hour of Songs and Stories - Bravo Theatre Players & Orchestra (International Award Series AKS-112)

The Story of Cinderella
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Robin Hood
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Alice in Wonderland

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum
Square Dances For Children
Punchy The Clown
Peter Pan

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Moon's The North Wind's Cooky

Until I picked this album out of a pile (based mostly on the artwork) I had never heard of Vachel Lindsay. Do yourself a favor and look him up, if for no other reason than being able to win the Jeopardy category "Poets Who Committed Suicide By Drinking Lysol." Wikipedia notes that he "is considered the father of modern singing poetry, as he referred to it, in which verses are meant to be sung or chanted," and that's what we have on this posthumous 1958 album. As Vachel died in 1931, you can expect somewhat less-than-perfect audio quality from the original recordings. Fortunately the words are included, though the album can certainly be appreciated by just letting the sound of the words wash over you. (As for the words themselves - The Congo, particularly, is still a controversial piece. I suggest some additional reading to get the full context. Consider the period in which it was recorded.)

Vachel Lindsay Reading The Congo, Chinese Nightingale, and Other Poems (Caedmon TC 1041)


The Congo
The Flower-Fed Buffaloes
The Mysterious Cat
General William Booth Enters Into Heaven
The Moon's The North Wind's Cooky
The Chinese Nightingale

From the rear cover:

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fa So La-La Means I Love You

Piccolo Spoleto 2010 saw its first-ever Sacred Harp singing at Gage Hall. Well-known singers from the eastern seaboard, the southern US, and overseas joined together with an overflow crowd to sing this traditional a capella music (see for details). This is not a rehearsed performance - a rotating cast of song leaders (volunteers from the singers) calls a song from the book and then leads it. Thus, every Sacred Harp singing is different.

I long-ago promised to post these tracks, but they went into hiding on a crashed hard-drive for a while.

This is music best experienced live (it's a surround-sound experience - maybe I'll remix them into quad someday), but these are pretty decent recordings.

Charleston Sacred Harp at Piccolo Spoleto 2010 session 01
Charleston Sacred Harp at Piccolo Spoleto 2010 session 02
Charleston Sacred Harp at Piccolo Spoleto 2010 session 03
Charleston Sacred Harp at Piccolo Spoleto 2010 session 04