Thursday, 28 February 2013

Формула любви

a film by Mark Zakharov

Although Формула любви (1984) did not quite reach the level of Zakharov’s 1978 masterpiece Обыкновенное чудо, it is a great work nonetheless. Gennady Gladkov composed the score for both pictures, but it was the latter film that spawned an unexpected hit.

Mare bella donna,
E’ un bel canzone,
Sai, che ti amo, sempre amo.
Donna bella mare,
Credere, cantare,
Dammi il momento,
Che mi piace più!
Uno, uno, uno, un momento,
Uno, uno, uno sentimento,
Uno, uno, uno complimento
E sacramento, sacramento, sacramento...

Un momento performed by Jacob (Aleksandr Abdulov) and Margadon (Semyon Farada); words, music and actual singing by Gladkov. According to Russian Wikipedia, the text of the song (just like any text) still had to be approved by the censors and therefore was promptly translated from pseudo-Italian to Russian.

Friday, 22 February 2013

De redonda a garrapatea

First published 19 February 2013 @ sólo algunas palabras

I’ve been starting (never finishing) to learn music a few times, in three different languages. Seeing that it’s an endless process, I thought I may want to write something down before forgetting how, er, those things are called. Or, at least, starting to write things down.

Today, I just want to look at these: ♩ or ♪ or ♫ or suchlike. They are often called “notes”, which is not strictly correct. On its own, any such symbol represents only a note value. The symbols themselves are what is called in French figures de note; I don’t know whether there is a good English equivalent. To represent actual notes, figures de note should be placed on a staff which has a clef on it. (Not today.)

Let’s have a look at the “note” anatomy first. At the very least, it has a note head, which usually (but not always) has an oval shape. All notes shorter than semibreve also have a stem. Finally, all notes shorter than crotchet have one or more flags. When several eighth (or shorter) notes appear next to each other, they may be connected with a beam (or beams).

English French Italian Russian Spanish
flag (hook, tail) crochet coda флажок corchete
stem hampe (queue) gambo штиль plica
note head tête de note testa головка cabeza

Now that we know the note parts, we can learn the note values. As you can see from the table below, both American English and Russian use rather boring terminology. Anyone who knows how to divide by two can master it in a minute. British English uses much more intriguing words. Take “crotchet”: it sounds very much like French croche. But croche is an Old French word meaning a “hook” (crochet in modern French), something that croche (♪) has but crotchet (♩) lacks. Then there is a quaver and its fractions: semiquaver, demisemiquaver, hemidemisemiquaver and even quasihemidemisemiquaver. Whereas in French system, the names for these just reflect the number of flags: double croche, triple croche and so on.

So far, my favourite system is the Spanish one. The names are short and easy to remember: redonda (round), blanca (white), negra (black), corchea (has a corchete, i.e. hook) and semicorchea (half of corchea). Except maybe for garrapatea (from garrapatear “to scribble”, “to doodle”), although the chances to encounter one are slim. Somewhat confusingly, Spanish fusa (1/32), which is derived from Italian word fusa (“purr”), is four times longer than Italian fusa (1/128).

Naming the rests in British English, Italian and Spanish is easy. You only have to add the words “rest”, “pausa di” or “silencio de”, respectively. In American English and Russian, replace “note” with “rest” (“нота” with “пауза”). French, however, came up with an amazing system where the rest names have nothing to do with the corresponding note names. For instance, seizième de soupir is rather unlike quadruple croche.

American British French Italian Russian Spanish
note note note nota нота nota
whole note semibreve ronde semibreve целая нота redonda
half note minim blanche minima половинная нота blanca
quarter note crotchet noire semiminima четвертная нота negra
eighth note quaver croche croma восьмая нота corchea
sixteenth note semiquaver double croche semicroma шестнадцатая нота semicorchea
thirty-second note demisemiquaver triple croche biscroma тридцать вторая нота fusa
sixty-fourth note hemidemisemiquaver quadruple croche semibiscroma шестьдесят четвертая нота semifusa
hundred twenty-eighth note semihemidemisemiquaver or quasihemidemisemiquaver quintuple croche fusa, quintupla o fusilla сто двадцать восьмая нота garrapatea o cuartifusa
rest rest silence pausa пауза silencio
whole rest semibreve rest pause pausa di semibreve целая пауза silencio de redonda
half rest minim rest demi-pause pausa di minima половинная пауза silencio de blanca
quarter rest crotchet rest soupir pausa di semiminima четвертная пауза silencio de negra
eighth rest quaver rest demi-soupir pausa di croma восьмая пауза silencio de corchea
sixteenth rest semiquaver rest quart de soupir pausa di semicroma шестнадцатая пауза silencio de semicorchea
thirty-second rest demisemiquaver rest huitième de soupir pausa di biscroma тридцать вторая пауза silencio de fusa
sixty-fourth rest hemidemisemiquaver rest seizième de soupir pausa di semibiscroma шестьдесят четвертая пауза silencio de semifusa
hundred twenty-eighth rest semihemidemisemiquaver rest or quasihemidemisemiquaver rest trente-deuxième de soupir pausa di fusa сто двадцать восьмая нота silencio de garrapatea

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Not the Nine O’Clock News

produced by John Lloyd

Just watched with kids roughly a half of The Best of... DVD. Some of the sketches, and most of the musical numbers, did not age that well. “I don’t get it”, said Timur on more than one occasion. And why should he? But the others are still great. The Tory conference sketch is as relevant as it was back in 1979. I read in today’s Guardian our Right Honourable leader and Dennis David Cameron’s latest comments:

There are many parts of our current arrangements that simply don’t pass a simple commonsense test in terms of access to housing, access to the health service, and access to justice and other things, which should be the right of all British citizens but they are not the right of anyone who just chooses to come here.
I like curry. I do.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Steinbach Tenor Trombone STT-100S

by Musik Steinbach

When we stayed in London last Summer, I visited several music shops looking for a second-hand trombone. No such luck: I had a problem to find even a first-hand trombone. In Enfield, the shop assistant told me: “There’s no much demand for them... in this area”. True, I did not do my homework. Probably I could find an affordable second-hand instrument if I started to look a few months before the travel. But I never do that.

Back to Fuerteventura, which I already knew to be largely trombone-free, I ordered this horn via for €141. A bargain, even with postage and packing (another €23). Then, I was not exactly happy that our own Canarian post office charged me further 30 euros, but I had no choice. At least and at last, I got it.

Good thing that STT-100S comes in an ABS hard case. Which, by the way, arrived with a cracked corner, but nobody would tell me when did that happen. I was not going to send it back anyway. For the time being, I mended it with duct tape.

The trombone itself so far feels decent enough. I was about to write “decent student model” but realised that I only played one trombone before, and it also wasn’t a pro model. Made in GDR, of all places. Methinks that Steinbach has a slightly duller tone, or, if we are optimists, that the GDR horn had a brighter tone. On the other hand, mine is lighter and looks nicer. That’s important!

In case you are thinking of buying one: Steinbach does not have them any longer. Ausverkauft. Nicht lieferbar. When I was ordering mine, there were only two instruments left. They have a similar model, with very good reviews, but it is not silver-plated.

More trombone photos @ Shutterstock.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The Sunday Philosophy Club

by Alexander McCall Smith

You know what, in spite of the climate, I wouldn’t mind living in Edinburgh. Provided somebody gives me a house like Isabel Dalhousie’s. Or lets me live in one, free of charge. (Yes, dear reader, I mean somebody. Why not you?) I can edit an academic journal, part-time of course. Something like Annals of Chemical Nomenclature or The Scottish Bassist Review will do. It will be great, I promise. Now where were we? I just told you: in Edinburgh.

Isabel Dalhousie is also a detective, albeit an amateur one. She is not as brilliant as Mma Ramotswe, but she solves the mystery eventually, probably not quite in a way she you  I  would like it to be solved. The main problem of The Sunday Philosophy Club, however, is the lack of convincing characters. Which is a shame. Also, the eponymous enterprise is mentioned a few times but ‘is not exactly very active’, mainly because people have other things to do on Sundays.

Another of McCall Smith’s creations, The Really Terrible Orchestra, perhaps with the author himself somewhere in the woodwind section, makes brief but impressive appearance in Chapter 19. I thought this was the best part of the whole book.

The players, seated in the auditorium of St. George’s School for Girls, which patiently hosted the Really Terrible Orchestra, were tackling a score beyond their capabilities; Purcell had not intended this, and would probably not have recognised his composition. It was slightly familiar to Isabel — or passages of it were — but it seemed to her that different sections of the orchestra were playing quite different pieces, and in different times. The strings were particularly ragged, and sounded several tones flat, while the trombones, which should have been in six-eight time, like the rest of the orchestra, seemed to be playing in common time. She opened her eyes and looked at the trombonists, who were concentrating on their music with worried frowns; had they looked at the conductor they would have been set right, but the task of reading the notes was all they could manage. Isabel exchanged smiles with the person in the seat beside her; the audience was enjoying itself, as it always did at a Really Terrible Orchestra concert.
The Purcell came to an end, to the evident relief of the orchestra, with many of the members lowering their instruments and taking a deep breath, as runners do at the end of a race. There was muted laughter amongst the audience, and the rustle of paper as they consulted the programme. Mozart lay ahead, and, curiously, ‘Yellow Submarine’. There was no Stockhausen, Isabel noticed with relief, remembering, for a moment, and with sadness, that evening at the Usher Hall, which was why she was here, after all, listening to the Really Terrible Orchestra labouring its way through its programme before its bemused but loyal audience.
There was rapturous applause at the end of the concert, and the conductor, in his gold braid waistcoat, took several bows. Then audience and players went through to the atrium for the wine and sandwiches that the orchestra provided its listeners in return for attendance at the concert.
‘It’s the least we can do,’ explained the conductor in his concluding remarks. ‘You have been so tolerant.’
Isabel knew a number of the players and many of those in the audience, and she soon found herself in a group of friends hovering over a large plate of smoked salmon sandwiches.
‘I thought they were improving,’ said one, ‘but I’m not so sure after this evening. The Mozart . . .’
‘So that’s what it was.’

Monday, 4 February 2013

Иван Васильевич меняет профессию

a film by Leonid Gaidai

Yet again, watching this film, I can’t help thinking... it’s nothing short of a miracle that it was released at all in that time and place. As if the Thaw wasn’t long over. As if the sixties were still swinging. A play by Bulgakov? A song by Vysotsky? Impossible. Не может быть! (No, that would be the name of the next Gaidai’s movie, not even remotely as successful as Иван Васильевич. The era of slapstick comedy was coming to an end.) But here you are: a genuine Soviet blockbuster. Forty years later, still funny, still immensely popular.

The song Кап-кап-кап (Маруся) became a hit in its own right.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Diablos del Ritmo: The Colombian Melting Pot 1960—1985

compilation and concept by Samy Ben Redjeb

As a rule, I don’t buy compilation albums. But when I read the Analog Africa press release, a few weeks before Diablos del Ritmo became available, I knew I’ve got to get it. Listen to a few songs on the SoundCloud and you’ll know why.

The first CD is dedicated to Afrobeat, palenque sounds, champeta, lumbalú and Caribbean funk, while the second CD covers puya, porro, gaita, cumbiamba, chandé, mapalé and descarga. Many of the tracks were never available on CD before. The 60-page booklet — a hardback book, really — provides quite an illuminating reading.  I only wish the text was  an old-fashioned black-on-white  rather than, um, cyan-on-dark grey or yellow-on-dark grey, which is hard on the eyes.  I wonder whether Colombian music would ever be as rich and diverse as it is now if people involved in the process (aka Pirates of the Caribbean) paid any respect to such nonsense as copyright.

The sound systems on the Caribbean coast want exclusive, sole ownership to the music and, to make sure nobody would ever be able to recognize it, the original covers were thrown away and the label stickers were drawn over.
Also termed “el despeluque”, “la caída” is the precise moment when Kenyan, Congolese or Nigerian songs switch in rhythm and mood. <...> The “picoteros”, the DJs on the Colombian Caribbean coast, would only play “la caída”, which can last up to four minutes. Once the “break” is over, the picotero would check the reaction of the crowd and if they asked for more, he would just lift the needls and place it back to the beginning of “la caída” as often as the dancing (and drinking) clientele demanded.
To find out that somewhere in South America, African music from the 1970s, very much neglected in its country of origin, was being embraced by a young generation of Colombian music connoisseurs, was a revelation. <...> Here the music is shared, and the vinyl will get played until is completely worn out.