Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sing to the Lord a New Song (Chas. H. Gabriel, 1930)

A late-Sunday gem by Charles Hutchinson Gabriel, played by your blogger on his excellent Casio WK-3800--double-tracked, in fact, for a four-hand sound an octave apart.


Sing to the Lord a New Song (Gabriel, 1930)

Played by Lee Hartsfeld (times two) on his Casio WK-3800; recorded on Sonar X2 software.


R.I.P., Maria von Trapp

Maria, 99, was the last surviving member of the Trapp Family Singers, those folks so grossly fictionalized in The Sound of Muzak (1965).  They were art singers to be reckoned with--in this Youtube entry, they sing the gorgeous Bach choral, How Fair and Bright the Morning Star (an "extra music" staple of this church musician): Trapp Family, Bach

Forgot all about Richard Rodger's pappy score, didn't you?

In the movie, Maria's character was renamed Louisa, probably so she wouldn't be confused with her stepmother of the same given name (the person played by Julie Andrews).  Maybe Louisa was a carryover from the play--dunno.  Speaking of the 1965 movie, my foster parents saw it in the theater, but only for a few scenes.  Then they walked out.  Yes, they were that impressed.

Rest in peace, Maria.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Darwin Day

What do I think of the farce called Darwin's Day, which functions as yet another excuse for "freethinkers" to reduce one of our species' greatest geniuses to a celebrity mugshot?  Needless to say, not much.  But the important question is, what does Charles think of these kiddies and their behavior?

In a MY(P)WHAE exclusive, here he is to tell us.  By all means, pass along:

You read it here.


Saturday, February 08, 2014

Pete Seeger (1919-2014), a middlebrow troubadour from a lost popular era (and mindset)

Not so long ago, Pete Seeger's pop-folk music was recognized for what it was: a part of the pop music spectrum, if arguably more arty than, say, Burl Ives, another troubadour who had much success on the pop charts.  To be sure, Pete was part of the art-folk tradition of John Jacob Niles and Jeanie Ritchie, but he was also Tonight Show-friendly, so we have the issue of where, exactly, to place him in the pop spectrum.

The problem, of course, is that in today's post-rock pop environment, "pop" (a.k.a. "popular") is fightin' words.  Blasphemy, even.  After all, "pop" is Lawrence Welk, Guy Lombardo, Pat Boone, Perry Como, The New Christy Minstrels, Bubblegum, Frankie Avalon, Ray Conniff, Peter Duchin, Lenny Dee, Mitch Miller, and so on, and who would place Pete in that camp?  In fact, "pop" is pretty much anyone one doesn't happen to like, anyone one wishes to consign to non-artist status.  Shit, in short.  Pete wasn't that, by any means.  So, how can I possibly insult him by applying such a gruesome, dehumanizing, and damning label as "pop"?

Well, because back in Pete's heyday, "pop" still meant something closer to "folk."  "Folk" enjoyed a pop culture connotation of the people's music.  (In fact, around the 1920s and 1930s, "folk" often MEANT "pop," and vice-versa.  This is the correct reading of "pop," after all--vernacular, common, of the people.)

Yes, once upon a time, and not too long ago, "people's music" was everything from polkas to spirituals to fiddle tunes to Stephen Foster to The Old Rugged Cross to Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue to Broadway to Ellington to popular Tchaikovsky melodies.  Today, as noted before, "pop" means shit.  Biiiiiiiiiiiig worldview shift, no?  This creates a problem when trying to properly place the career and accomplishments of artists, like Pete, who were pop when "pop" meant (or, at least, was perceived to mean) something vastly different.

Pete, despite his art-folk roots, was an artist neither weird nor intellectually threatening to the middlebrow viewers of Johnny Carson--more personable, more real-guy, more down to earth than the (real or perceived) art-folk norm.  Someone you'd like to have over at your house to sing a 400-year-old ballad.  How many art-folk performers are Tonight Show- or invite-over-to-your-house-friendly?  I'm guessing not many.  Would someone like Pete have a place in today's pop music environment?  Would an artist like himself even make sense in that environment?  I'm guessing he wouldn't.  Certainly, not with the post-rock death of middlebrow.  And as a popular folk singer, Pete was Mr. Middlebrow.

Pete happens to have passed away in a pop era when "pop" denotes something only the squarest audience members (believers, Walmart shoppers, Barry Manilow fans, people from "flyover" states) would listen to.  In an era where "everyone" means a hip few, though the precise identity of that hip few depends on which hip few you ask.

Pete was one of our great popular artists.  And he lasted into an era that doesn't know "pop" from shit.  I imagine that much of the media praise upon the death of this great popularizer has come from writers to whom "popular" means something entirely un-Seeger.


Monday, February 03, 2014

Godzilla Suite (2010, Lee Hartsfeld)

Godzilla is back in town.  My eleven-part, 2010 tribute to the big green guy, plus two bonus Godzilla tracks.

You'll be hearing both live and step-recorded sounds--some from my Noteworthy Composer program, others from my long-gone Casio CTK-551.  Some tracks, like Godzilla Stomps Into Town, have been heavily altered with echo, time-stretching, multiple sampling, etc., so expect some odd sounds.  But how to musically depict the life, deeds, and many moods of Godzilla without the occasional weird stretch of sound?  Whatever I just typed.

Godzilla says, "REOOOAAAARRRRRRRRRRR!!!!" ("I'm Godzilla, and I approve this music.")

Click where appropriate....

GODZILLA SUITE (Lee Hartsfeld, 2010)

1. Godzilla Disco

2.  Godzilla Rhapsody
3.  Godzilla Stomps Into Town
4.  Not Pleased By the Response, Godzilla Leaves and Stomps Back
5.  Godzilla in Therapy
6.  Godzilla in Show Biz
7.  The Godzilla Parade
8.  Godzilla Mystery Hour
9.  Godzilla Disco (Complete)
10.  Digital Godzilla
11.  Godzilla Rhapsody, Part 2


12.  Stairway to Godzilla (Hartsfeld, 2006)  
13.  Godzilla Rag (Hartsfeld, 1993)

Lee Hartsfeld on Casio CTK-551, Noteworthy Composer.