Thursday, November 24, 2022

A grammar joke walks into a bar.

 

• An Oxford comma walks into a bar where it spends the evening watching the television, getting drunk, and smoking cigars.
• A dangling participle walks into a bar. Enjoying a cocktail and chatting with the bartender, the evening passes pleasantly.
• A bar was walked into by the passive voice.
• An oxymoron walked into a bar, and the silence was deafening.
• Two quotation marks walk into a “bar.”
• A malapropism walks into a bar, looking for all intensive purposes like a wolf in cheap clothing, muttering epitaphs and casting dispersions on his magnificent other, who takes him for granite.
• Hyperbole totally rips into this insane bar and absolutely destroys everything.
• A question mark walks into a bar?
• A non sequitur walks into a bar. In a strong wind, even turkeys can fly.
• Papyrus and Comic Sans walk into a bar. The bartender says, "Get out -- we don't serve your type."
• A mixed metaphor walks into a bar, seeing the handwriting on the wall but hoping to nip it in the bud.
• A comma splice walks into a bar, it has a drink and then leaves.
• Three intransitive verbs walk into a bar. They sit. They converse. They depart.
• A synonym strolls into a tavern.
• At the end of the day, a cliché walks into a bar -- fresh as a daisy, cute as a button, and sharp as a tack.
• A run-on sentence walks into a bar it starts flirting. With a cute little sentence fragment.
• Falling slowly, softly falling, the chiasmus collapses to the bar floor.
• A figure of speech literally walks into a bar and ends up getting figuratively hammered.
• An allusion walks into a bar, despite the fact that alcohol is its Achilles heel.
• The subjunctive would have walked into a bar, had it only known.
• A misplaced modifier walks into a bar owned a man with a glass eye named Ralph.
• The past, present, and future walked into a bar. It was tense.
• A dyslexic walks into a bra.
• A verb walks into a bar, sees a beautiful noun, and suggests they conjugate. The noun declines.
• A simile walks into a bar, as parched as a desert.
• A gerund and an infinitive walk into a bar, drinking to forget.
• A hyphenated word and a non-hyphenated word walk into a bar and the bartender nearly chokes on the irony.
 
Hah! Detailed explanations at
 
All the best.  GS

Saturday, June 20, 2020

We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when.


Singers, when can we meet again?

Short answer:  Nobody knows yet.  Click here to help fund the answer.

Long answer:
There is lots of news crossing my desk from choral and singing experts and not-so-experts about "safe singing distances" while we are amid the Covid-19 pandemic.  It's all guesses, everything from 3 feet to 24 feet to "wear masks" and "we can't wear masks" to "who cares" and "nothing is safe".  Some notable answers:

American Federation of Musicians Unions Returning to Work Safely Guidelines
  • Six feet/two meters between players in a room—limit number of musicians accordingly.
  • Twelve feet/3.6 meters between winds/brass, singers and other musicians if in the same room.

  • Don't sing together yet.  Sit tight"
Multnomah County keeps a webpage for small civic groups: https://multco.us/novel-coronavirus-covid-19/faith-based-and-community-groups-covid-19-guidance with the usual
  • Stay home if ill. Fever is a sure indicator of illness
  • Wear a mask in public
  • Do not touch your face
  • Maintain 6' social distancing 
  • Avoid crowds
  • Wash your hands often
and:
Oregon.gov talks about what's allowed for Multnomah County for "Phase One":
  • Local cultural, civic and faith gatherings are allowed...
    •  for up to 25 people 
    •  provided physical distancing can be in place.
  • Large gatherings and events are not possible until a reliable treatment or prevention is available. As a result, these are cancelled or significantly modified through at least September.
Since my groups and our audiences are "at risk" and often larger than 25, the rule is still "NOT YET" til we get real answers.  

Happily,  dozens national and international sports and musical organizations, including the Barbershop Harmony Society, National High Schools, and the American Choral Directors Association have commissioned a study to find out the actual answers.  You can read about it and even donate at https://www.nfhs.org/articles/unprecedented-international-coalition-led-by-performing-arts-organizations-to-commission-covid-19-study/

So, right now, what to do?   The most optimistic answer is "No singing together yet, until we find safe ways to do it."   We might know some ways soon, so cancelling meetings and concerts still a few weeks off is probably premature.   If a county isn't open for meetings and concerts, and preventative methods are still unknown, events can and should be cancelled, even "at the last minute".  We can and do replace the cancelled events with online meetings and choosing later dates. 

And that's what we're doing, cancelling and altering our plans, one event and one rehearsal at a time.   That's the best we know right now.  I know we'll meet again some sunny day.
 
Yours, Gary Shannon
 
PS.  Vera Lynn, singer of We'll Meet Again, passed away June 18, 2020 at 103.  See BBC's obituary.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Why are you passionate...



This question in a Learnivore job application via ZipRecruiter stumped me for a while:
3.  Why are you passionate about this field?   
My gut answer is
  • Because I can't help it.  I've always been passionate about music and everything to do with it.  Playing instruments, freely singing, composing and arranging new harmonies and melodies, working with ensembles, staging and presentation, and connecting to composers and players and audiences thrill me.  I always am eager for more.  Even when I'd best be resting, sometimes I am awake all night and day enjoying and creating ways to make music.  I have no idea why I'm made this way."
As true as that is, it didn't satisfy the question WHY.  It seems obsessed,  emotional. and unreasonable.  I had to dig deeper to find why an intelligent, balanced, thoughtful man would foster this consuming obsession in himself.  What I sent more answers the question:  "Why should EVERYONE be passionate about this field?"

  • I'm passionate about music because it makes everybody involved better people. It's art, communication, teamwork, beauty, improvement, cooperation, learning, enjoyment, and even love, all in one experience.

Yes, that's true and I'm happy.  Is that a good answer for you?



Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Brahms' German Requiem expressions translated.

As done before, here are translations for

Brahms' German and Italian Expressions in English.

Ein Deutches: A German (Brahms would have gladly called it "Human" ref.)


Requiem: [from Latin requiem, "rest"] Service for the time of death.


#1
Ziemlich langsam:  quite slow

und mit Ausdruck: and with expression

legato:  smoothly
dim.: diminuendo  softening

espress.:  espressivo:  expressively  
dolce:  sweetly

#2
Langsam:  Slowly
marschmäßig:  March moderately

Etwas bewegter:  Somewhat moving

un poco sostenuto:  a little sustained.

Allegro non troppo:   moderately fast.

tranquillo:  tranquil

#3
Andante moderato:  moderately slow.

#4
Mäßig  bewegt:  Moderately animated (in tempo)

#5
Langsam:  Slowly.
m.v.:  (mezza voce: half voice) quiet, retrained

#6  
Andante:  Walking tempo.  Slow  
sotto voce:  whispered.  Literally "under the voice"
Vivace: lively tempo

Allegro:  happy tempo.

#7
Feierlich:  Solemnly.




Monday, March 25, 2019

O Susanna


 "Something so old no one knows it", 

quotes "Oxford American, a Magazine of the South" in 2012.  The article inspects recent recordings and the political, historical, and racial nuances of the old song.   I'm more practical as a musician:  I want to know "How does the song actually go so we can sing it as the author intended and the audience will like it?"  Well, they're right:  nobody quite knows how it goes.











Steven Foster wrote the words and tune in the late 1840's, but the sheet music publications of 1848 don't agree on the details of O Susanna's exact words or rhythms.  Two sheets claim "oldest publication" in 1948. New York's C. Hold Jr. publication displays "Christy Minstrels" and "G.N. Christy" prominently.  Baltimore's F.D. Benteen credits "The Ethiopian Serenaders" and "Wells" for singing and writing it.     Music Publisher W.C. Peters of Cincinnati had known and worked with Stephen Foster before.
Stephen Foster isn't credited on any of them, so none gets preference.  

Gosh, his manuscript would be priceless, but it's nowhere to be found yet. "Beautiful Dreamer" and "Old Black Joe", we've got the mss copied online, if you care to pay to peek at them.
 
Where the written versions differ, I can use original recordings, but not for O Susanna.  The first well-known recording, made in 1925 by vaudeville performer Arthur Fields, sounds familiar  with skipping rhythms and a bright bounce.   He doesn't sing the rhythms consistently, but he includes all four disaster-riddled verses with cheery delivery.   So it does serve as an early popular example of how at least one fellow sung it and sold a lot of copies, but decades after Stephens death in 1864 doesn't really tell us why the song was so popular in the first place

But this isn't 1848,  it's 2019.  So the question becomes, "How do people like to hear and sing it now".   To answer that, you do a survey of regular folks and what they recall of the song.   After interviewing a half-dozen folks, I learned this:

~ Almost everyone knows of "Oh, Susanna" and heard it in elementary school.
~ Almost everyone sings it in a lively tempo and snappy rhythmms

~ Everybody sings the words "Oh!, Susanna" on the notes fa fa la la, ...
~ Nobody has heard it sung fa fa fa la (as most early editions write it.)


~ Almost everyone fumbles the words.

~ Almost everyone remembers "banjo on my knee"
~ But are unsure if it's "a banjo" or "my banjo".   (It's "my" in the sheet music.)
~ A few mention the word isn't "going", it's "gwine" and important to keep.
~ Most know about "come from", "Lou'siana", and "Alabama"...
~ but not exactly where "I come from" or "I'm gwine to".

~ Early editions start "I come", but a few singers start with "Oh, I come..."

~ Most know about a verse about "It rained" "the weather".  Many can sing parts it.
~ Some know about a verse about a "dream the other night".  Few can sing parts of it.
~ Few heard of a verse about New Orleans, maybe.  None could sing any of it.
~ No one knows anything about a verse "riding a telegraph".


Those tell what's familiar and wanted in a sing-along:

I come from Alabama with my banjo on my knee. 
I'm gwine to Lou'siäna my true love for to see.
It rained all night the day I left, the weather it was dry,
The sun so hot I froze to death.  Suzanna, don't you cry.

Oh, Suzanna, Oh don't you cry for me.
I come from Alabama with my banjo on my knee.

I had a dream the other night when ev'ry thing was still.
I though I saw Suzänna a-comin' down the hill.
The buckwheat cake was in her mouth, a tear was in her eye.
I said "I'm comin' from the South.  Suzanna, don't you cry."

Oh, Suzanna, Oh don't you cry for me.
I come from Alabama with my banjo on my...
 And I bet, if  the singers stop right there, the audience will still sing:
                                                                          ... knee.










Monday, March 18, 2019

What singers are thinking.

 Claudia Freelander blogged in 2018.

While Thom King’s iconic cartoon, “What They Think About When They Sing,” has entertained our community for some thirty years, I am honored to have created the first publication to reprint it with his permission and offer him my heartfelt thanks for the clean copy.

Bass Fishing, Soprano ovation, Baritone technique, Mezzo the baritone, Tenor money.
What they think about when they sing.
  




















I admit to singing Tenor.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Flute advice.


I just enjoyed the honor of accompanying a talented teen in a flute contest.  Here is a summary of the judge's instant feedback, a nice lesson in itself:

Never breathe during a trill.   To prepare, find a place to breathe where you'll have plenty of air to do the notes leading up to and away from the trill, the alternating trill notes, the termination notes, and all the way to the end of the last note.
Trills match the tempo of the music around them, faster in fast tempos and slower in slow movements,
Nerves take the breath out of you.  Flute takes a lot of breath;  trills are especially inefficient.  In practice, give yourself more than enough breaths so you're ready for nerves in performance or competition, and still have plenty of breath.

Tune long notes, especially octave leaps, carefully.  Why do composers do that to us?   It easy for anyone to hear tuning issues when the note lasts a long time.

New skills, say you've just learned double-tonguing, won't be consistent.  Even so, don't give up on them, keep practicing, and use them.  If you don't use it, you lose it.

Exaggerate  dynamics.  You are doing them, but they should be more.  In a large hall, for an adjudicator who is far away, you'd need to shoot for far to much variation.   Practice doing far too much dynamic variation.   If you wonder if you're driving the audience crazy with your volume changes, it's probably just right.

Overall, it was a lovely performance.

I agreed.