When will it come, this lovely Now!

A few personal notes on Bach’s Cantata BWV 82, Ich habe genug.

Recit. Mein Gott, wenn kommt das schöne: Nun! BWV 82

Mein Gott, wenn kommt das schöne: Nun! (Bach’s handwriting, https://www.bach-digital.de).

A daily dose of Das Wohltemperierte, during many years, has not quite cured me of a mild bachophobia. As much as I enjoy playing Bach, and less frequently, to listen to his music, it still leaves me with a feeling of discomfort.
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Het Belletje Des Vaderlands

(No English version)

“De belangrijkste bel van Nederland is de stemmingsbel van de Tweede Kamer. Met deze bel worden de leden van de Tweede Kamer opgeroepen om in plenaire zitting te stemmen …”

Zo meldt Kamerstuk 2017D29437 van 19 oktober 2017. Bij de NOS kunnen we horen hoe parlementariërs zich beklagen over die “schoolbel”. “Bloedirritant,” zegt Pechtold, haast sidderend van verontwaardiging.

Het heeft wel iets aandoenlijks: parlementariërs die als schoolkinderen naar de klas worden geroepen. Nu is het wel een erg lelijke bel, zo’n telefoon- of deurbel met geëlectrificeerde klepel. Ik kan me voorstellen dat je die vervangt door een mooie handgeluide klok. Of, veel beter nog, een door het Kamergebouw verspreid carillon, zodat alle klokken en kamers één muziekinstrument worden.
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Please Hold the Line (and Put Up with That Tune)

music box © Lodewijk MunsCircumstances have forced me to spend a lot of time making phone calls — and a lot of time staying on hold. It has given me a freakish and unsought for expertise in “on hold music”.

Complaints about this particular abuse are all over the internet. So I will swallow my frustration and just make note of a few things that struck me. First: how a very small number of tunes has a disproportionate share in the total repertoire.

One of the most frequent numbers is a famous-notorious piece called Opus Number One. Its synthesizer sound is very “eighties”, and it dates, indeed, from 1989. It is a strongly evocative piece — dingy office carpet, neon light and low suspended ceilings come to my mind.

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De Raad voor Cultuur, of: de Grote Nivellering?

English version

“Raad voor Cultuur: Meer geld naar dance en Nederlandse lied”, kopte de Volkskrant in haar bericht over het deze week verschenen sectoradvies muziek. “[…] de tijd lijkt voorbij dat het subsidiegeld vooral vloeit naar klassieke muziek en opera, moderne muziek en jazz”.

Dat klinkt (voor sommigen) bedreigend, en dat zie je aan de lezersreacties. Vooral die glunderende kop van Marianne Weber doet het bloed koken. Moet daar het geld naartoe?

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The Dutch Culture Council, or: The Great Levelling?

Nederlandse versie

More money for dance music and Dutch schlagers, says the Dutch Council for Culture. This was the headline with which the Volkskrant newspaper reported on the Council’s recent recommendations for government subsidies in the music sector. “[…] the times seem to be past when subsidy money mainly flowed to classical music and opera, modern music and jazz”. Continue reading

Musical Thoughts

On Josef Hofmann playing Chopin’s Concerto No. 2

It is not uncommon to speak of musical “ideas”. It has become very common, in fact, since a number German music writers in the early eighteenth century started speaking of musikalische Gedanken.

A musical idea is more or less what musicians and music analysts call a “theme”. One might think of a theme as a purely musical idea, a sound pattern. But Gedanke is more like thought, and “thought” suggest a thought process — typically, about something — rather than just sound patterns or shapes. Musical “thoughts” are what’s implied in musical “sentences”.  Continue reading

Ringtones and the Limits of Music

Having finally acquired a smartphone, I had to choose a ringtone. A trivial problem; but one that blew my thoughts into more philosophical directions.

Many people choose for this purpose some favourite piece of music. I find this hard to understand. Of all the music I know and enjoy, I can’t think of any piece I would want to cut down to a few seconds, degrade to a mere signal, to be controlled by any odd caller. Hey, pick up the phone!

For a ringtone is nothing but a signal; it’s not music. At least, I tended to think that there should be a basic difference between one thing and the other.
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