Tag Archives: advent 2009

Musical surprises #14: ‘Let it snow’ is not a Christmas song

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There is not a name for the precise mixture of rage and musical indigestion I feel when I have to put up with Sainsburys christmas music. When I was in Parma recently, I rejoiced when I realised that with the … Continue reading

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Musical surprises #13: The male variation in Sugar Plum was originally in C minor

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Tchaikovsky has a reputation for  bringing high production values to the composition of ballet scores  by conceiving them architecturally and symphonically. But in practice, he’s as likely to borrow, copy and paste from himself as much as anyone else, if … Continue reading

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Musical surprises #12: The ‘tango’ is a maxixe is a polka with a habañera rhythm

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The maxixe was a lower-class dance that caused outrage in upper and middle class society in late 19th century Brazil. Not only did partners hold each other by the buttocks, but – horror of horrors – white women danced with … Continue reading

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Musical surprises #11: Listen long enough, and words become a melody

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We often talk about a language being ‘musical’, or a speaker having ‘sing-song’ tones when they talk. But we mean this only in a vague sense: we don’t mean that people are literally singing when they speak, just that their … Continue reading

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Musical surprises #10: Le Corsaire doesn’t go like you think it does

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Here’s a nice Christmas ‘spot the difference’ quiz: listen to the music of the two clips below and see how many differences (apart from tempo) you can identify.  Corella’s is the original, Nureyev’s is Lanchbery’s re-orchestration – and is it … Continue reading

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Musical surprises #9: Hornpipes are in 3…

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Well, sometimes they are anyway.  For many people, especially dance teachers, ‘hornpipe’ is synonymous with 2/4 time. But there are also triple meter hornpipes, often notated in 3/2, particularly common in English baroque music, an example being Purcell’s Hole in … Continue reading

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