Category Archives: music

Smile, though your heart is aching

I thought I actually learned something from watching American Idol last night, but it wasn’t the whole story.

The song Smile was performed on Idol last & it was announced that it was written by Charlie Chaplin which I was not aware of…

To be clear, the score was written by Chaplin in 1936 for his film Modern Times. He did not write the lyrics. The lyrics weren’t written until 1954 by John Turner & Geoffrey Parsons.

Since then it has covered by many artists including Barbara Streisand, Tony Bennett, Michael Jackson,  & even Robert Downey Jr.


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Blow it Out Your…(04/05)

Learned a new word today:

embouchure |ämboō sh oŏr|
noun
1 Music the way in which a player applies the mouth to the mouthpiece of a brass or wind instrument.
• the mouthpiece of a flute or a similar instrument.
2 archaic the mouth of a river or valley.

ORIGIN mid 18th cent.: French, from s’emboucher ‘discharge itself by the mouth,’ from emboucher ‘put in or to the mouth,’ from em- ‘into’ + bouche ‘mouth.’

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Mellow Yellow (04/03)

Do they call this Mellow Yellow?

Do they call this Mellow Yellow?

From a 1967 article in TIME:

Current smokes include almost anything from the supermarket spice and herb shelves plus dried hydrangea leaves, chlorine-soaked lettuce, and green peppers (aged until rotten, then used as a bulbous cigarette filter). But far and away the biggest new fad is tripping on banana peels.

Delicious Legality. The kick is known to hippies as “electrical bananas” or “mellow yellow.”* Banana-heads scrape the white fibers from the inside of the peels, boil the scrapings into a paste, which is then baked. The dark brown ash that results is smoked in hand-rolled cigarette “joints” or in pipes, tastes vaguely like a burning compost heap.

Most people who have tried mellow yellow do not try it again. The reason is simple: lots of work for little, if any, high. But banana-heads find the craze appealing, largely because of its delicious legality.

But do bananas really work? The best that chemists can suggest is that bananas contain serotonin, a neurochemical that is closely related to such potent mind-benders as psilocybin and dimethyl tryptamine, and which just might, under combustion, trigger genuine physiological effects. It is far more likely that any high produced by bananas is imaginary, another indication that, given a receptive state of mind, it is possible to turn on with practically anything—or virtually nothing.

* From British Folk-Rock Singer Donovan’s Mellow Yellow: “Electrical banana is gonna be a sudden craze. Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase. They call it mellow yellow (quite rightly) . . .” Donovan insists that his song has no hidden meaning, but seekers found one anyway.

read entire article here.

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Signed, Sealed, Delivered (03/28)

What is a One Penny Black?

Even though my brother got this answer wrong while playing trivia, he shared the correct answer with me.

THE FIRST STAMP

It was the first stamp!

Unfortunately, for my brother and his team the answer was not black licorice.

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Earworms (03/25)

No, I am not talking about the horrible scene in Star Trek: Wrath of Kahn. If you don’t know the scene I am talking about, consider yourself lucky.

I am talking about the term used to describe when you get a song stuck in your head.

Many people are set off by the theme music of a film or television show or advertisement. This is not coincidental, for such music is designed, in the terms of the music industry, to “hook” the listener, to be “catchy or “sticky” – to bore its, like an earwig, into the ear or mind; hence the term “earworms” -though one might be inclined to call them “brainworms” instead.

from Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia, p 45

Now the next time you get a song stuck in your head you can imagine it as a worm. You can thank me later.

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Like Father, Like Son (03/24)

Joakim Noah, of the Chicago Bulls, is not the only athlete in the family.

noahx1

His father, Yannick Noah, was a professional tennis player and won the French Open in 1983.

ten_g_yannick_195I am not sure if Joakim has the same musical aspirations, but Yannick is also a pop-soul singer. Who says you have  to the same thing your entire life?

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A Musician’s Brain (03/20)

brains1

In Part II, chapter 7 of Oliver Sacks book, Musicophilia he states that:

Anatomists today would be hard put to identify the brain of a visual artist, a writer, or a mathematician–but they could recognize the brain of a professional musician without a moment’s hesitation.

p.100

You may be asking yourself how on earth is that possible?

Using MRI morphometry, Gottfried Schlaug at Harvard and his colleagues made careful compariaons of the sizes of various prain structures. In 1995, they published a paper showing that the corpus callosum, the commissure that connects the two hemispheres of the brain, is enlarged in professional musicians and the auditory cortex has an asymetric enlargement in musicians with absolute pitch.  Schlaug et al. went on to show increased volumes in gray matter in motor, auditory, and visuospatial areas of the cortex as well as the cerebellem.

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