Saturday, 31 January 2015

Live music in Santander, January 2015

I flew to Santiago de Compostela on 3 January. Next day, I took a train to A Coruña. Next day, I went by coach to Oviedo. On those days, none of these cities had much to offer in terms of live music although I think I caught a glipmse of my friends The Blue Ribbon Healers busking on the street in A Coruña. (I did not have any time to stop: I was on a mission to discover a tapa place, and it was freezing outside.) In Oviedo, I saw a magnificent Cabalgata de Reyes Magos. I arrived to Santander on 6 January, after a five-hour scenic FEVE train ride. Well, at least the first half of it was scenic; then it was just plain dark.

Even here in Spain, January is the most depressing month of the year. What about rebajas, you may ask. Well. Anywhere else in the country you would expect to see the orgy of winter sales. In Santander, the sales go on but the shops look exactly the same or even less crowded as pre-sales, minus Christmas lights. They really should work harder if they want to sell anything to me. At least the sky is not totally dark when I catch my morning bus. And the music is there to make life more bearable.

I thought the list will be twice as long. But then, things happen. Two shows were, unfortunately, canceled; two concerts I wanted to go I couldn’t, and another couple of gigs I went could well have been skipped.

  • 7 January: Sitara Trío @ Rubicón, Calle del Sol 4
      Sergio Mier (guitar), Joansa Maravilla (oud, percussion) and Diego Gutiérrez (percussion): fusion of flamenco, jazz and Middle Eastern music. As an encore, there was an impromptu flamenco jam with a percussionist and a singer from the audience.
  • 10 January: Malas Calles @ Restaurante del Centro Gallego de Santander, Calle Peña Herbosa 6.
      60s and 70s style blues and rock. The Spanish-language songs did not impress me much but several standards, especially Mustang Sally, Johnny B. Goode, Peter Gunn theme and an unnamed harmonica blues got the audience going.
  • 11 January: La Noche Americana @ Rubicón
      Every second Sunday at Rubicón: classic American folk, blues and country music featuring Phil Grijuela and Iván Velasco.
  • 13 January: Jambalaya @ Canela Bar, Plaza de Cañadio
  • 21 January: Pez Mago @ Rubicón
      Pez Mago is a project of singer-songwriter Lucas Álvarez de Toledo, in its strip-down version consisting of Lucas himself (vocals and guitar) and Alexis Balanowsky (accordion).

  • 27 January: Ramón Toca @ Canela Bar
      An evening of canción de autor. I liked his songs but wish he did not spent so much time telling old jokes.
So long, January. I’m looking forward to Carnaval!

Sunday, 25 January 2015


by Robert Burns and Samuil Marshak
a song by
Alexander Gradsky

I don’t know how many English speakers ever heard or read this comic seduction tale, Wha Is That At My Bower​-​Door?, but its translation, Финдлей (Findlay), is probably one of the best-known and loved poems of the Bard in the Russian-speaking world. In a much smaller world of Russian speakers, which includes myself, the iambic trimeter of the even lines is easily adapted to form humorous utterances like писец, сказал монтёр, which I find indispensable in daily life. The structure of English (Scots) version is slightly different and, in my view, does not lend itself to such use. Also, Marshak’s verse has more diversity: the fourth line of every stanza is always different! Even though I know that the name pronounced as /ˈfɪnlɪ/, I really like the boldly “wrong” Russian pronunciation /fɪnˈdleɪ/.

Robert Burns
Wha Is That At My Bower-Door
Роберт Бёрнс, перевод С.Я. Маршака
“Wha is that at my bower door?”
“O wha is it but Findlay!”
“Then gae your gate, ye’se nae be here;”
“Indeed maun I!” quo’ Findlay;

“What mak ye, sae like a thief?”
“O come and see!” quo’ Findlay;
“Before the morn ye’ll work mischief;”
“Indeed will I!” quo’ Findlay.

“Gif I rise and let you in;”
“Let me in!” quo’ Findlay;
“Ye’ll keep me waukin wi’ your din;
“Indeed will I!” quo’ Findlay.

“In my bower if ye should stay;”
“Let me stay!” quo’ Findlay;
“I fear ye’ll bide till break o’ day;”
“Indeed will I!” quo’ Findlay.

“Here this night if ye remain” —
“I’ll remain!” quo’ Findlay:
“I dread ye’ll learn the gate again;”
“Indeed will I!” quo’ Findlay.

“What may pass within this bower” —
“Let it pass!” quo’ Findlay:
“Ye maun conceal till your last hour;”
“Indeed will I!” quo’ Findlay.
— Кто там стучится в поздний час?
“Конечно, я — Финдлей!”
— Ступай домой. Все спят у нас!
“Не все!” — сказал Финдлей.

— Как ты прийти ко мне посмел?
“Посмел!” — сказал Финдлей.
— Небось наделаешь ты дел...
“Могу!” - сказал Финдлей.

— Тебе калитку отвори...
“А ну!” — сказал Финдлей.
— Ты спать не дашь мне до зари!
“Не дам!” — сказал Финдлей.

— Попробуй в дом тебя впустить...
“Впусти!” — сказал Финдлей.
— Всю ночь ты можешь прогостить.
“Всю ночь!” — сказал Финдлей.

— С тобою ночь одну побудь...
“Побудь!” — сказал Финдлей.
— Ко мне опять найдешь ты путь.
“Найду!” — сказал Финдлей.

— О том, что буду я с тобой...
“Со мной!” — сказал Финдлей.
— Молчи до крышки гробовой!
“Идёт!” — сказал Финдлей.

Финдлей is one of five songs on Burns’ lyrics written by Alexander Gradsky in early 1970s. They first appeared on a LP Размышления Шута issued by Melodiya in 1987. In contrast to the hits В полях под снегом и дождём and Наш старый дом, the rest of these songs never became a regular part of his repertoire. Today, it sounds a bit dated, but please keep in mind that Финдлей was one of the first (probably the first) prog-rock compositions ever recorded in the USSR.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

An Introduction to Sociolinguistics

by Ronald Wardhaugh

On 22 December 2014, at an altitude of 35,000 feet, somewhere over the Atlantic, I finally got to the last page of this book. The reason it took me about six months — even longer than Understanding English Grammar, which I’d been struggling to finish back in Porvoo — is that I was reading it on Kindle while waiting for a bus, travelling on train or, as I just said, flying. Otherwise it was a fascinating, though not easy, reading. I found the chapters 3 (Pidgins and Creoles), 4 (Codes) and 13 (Gender) especially engaging.

I tried to do a bit of research on Tukano who, apparently, live in some sort of multilingual paradise, and have discovered that the whole “Culture” section in Wikipedia article has been lifted wholesale from Wardhaugh. Here’s the original:

The Tukano are a multilingual people because men must marry outside their language group; that is, no man may have a wife who speaks his language, for that kind of marriage relationship is not permitted and would be viewed as a kind of incest. Men choose the women they marry from various neighboring tribes who speak other languages. Furthermore, on marriage, women move into the men’s households or longhouses. Consequently, in any village several languages are used: the language of the men; the various languages spoken by women who originate from different neighboring tribes; and a widespread regional ‘trade’ language. Children are born into this multilingual environment: the child’s father speaks one language, the child’s mother another, and other women with whom the child has daily contact perhaps still others. However, everyone in the community is interested in language learning so most people can speak most of the languages. Multilingualism is taken for granted, and moving from one language to another in the course of a single conversation is very common. In fact, multilingualism is so usual that the Tukano are hardly conscious that they do speak different languages as they shift easily from one to another. They cannot readily tell an outsider how many languages they speak, and must be suitably prompted to enumerate which languages they speak and to describe how well they speak each one.
Multilingualism is a norm in this community. It results from the pattern of marriage and the living arrangements consequent to marriage. Communities are multilingual and no effort is made to suppress the variety of languages that are spoken. It is actually seen as a source of strength, for it enables the speakers of the various linguistic communities to maintain contact with one another and provides a source for suitable marriage partners for those who seek them. A man cannot marry one of his ‘sisters’, i.e., women whose mother tongue is the same as his. People are not ‘strangers’ to one another by reason of the fact that they cannot communicate when away from home. When men from one village visit another village, they are likely to find speakers of their native language. There will almost certainly be some women from the ‘home’ village who have married into the village being visited, possibly even a sister. The children of these women, too, will be fluent in their mothers’ tongue. Many others also will have learned some of it because it is considered proper to learn to use the languages of those who live with you.
Compare that with your typical British or American monolingual speaker’s attitude!