The numbers factor

Triskaidekaphobia. Paraskevidekatriaphobia. Could they be ancient Greek versions of that song from Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins, sounding even more atrocious than Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious? No. They’re terms signifying respectively a fear of the number 13 in general, and Friday the 13th in particular. Today’s blog post, falling on such a date, will try and unearth some musical Read More …

The sound of sirens

Mermaids, part woman, part fish. Sirens, part woman, part bird. Their natural environs, water. While mermaids swim with a gentler reputation, sirens are branded by their seductive powers, luring seafarers to their destruction on treacherous rocks. How are they represented in the recording catalogue? Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of The Little Mermaid, first published in Read More …

Bali hi!

I recently took a short break on the Indonesian island of Bali, a three-day cocktail not just of swimming, surfing and sunsets; colourful batik, engaging artwork and an ancient temple completed the mix. Ambling around the grounds of that temple, and above the respectful silence of the bevy of tourists, there floated a sound: gently Read More …

Lost in translation?

Music must be the leader among the arts when it comes to what one might call high-quality spin-offs. By that I mean many compositions exist not only in their original version, but also in what might be called…well, what does one call them? We have different words for our industry of remoulding originals—transcriptions, orchestrations, paraphrases, Read More …

1951

In 1951, Arnold Schoenberg died. And I was born. Which hardly constituted a fair exchange on the Muses’ creativity balance sheet. But the year itself has always intrigued me by its habit of popping up in history’s list of milestones, as it did recently, when I tuned into a BBC World documentary. It took as Read More …

Sounds disastrous

The ease of global communication nowadays brings home the frequency of natural disasters and their tragic consequences. The only positive offshoot of such terrible occurrences seems to lie in the artistic reflections that composers have made in trying to capture these events, born of the less comforting side of Mother Nature. Picking through the catalogue Read More …

Recreation

After a hard day’s work, there’s nothing like going into flop mode, a glass of something in one hand, the other gently rifling through ranks of CDs or scrolling through a digital cache of music, finding the escape hatch from office stress into down time. Pity, then, the poor composer who has been struggling all Read More …