Friday FunPost: Great Music Genres Video and A Clever Book on Music

It’s been quite a few weeks since a true Friday FunPost. Lent is over, I’m not on break and I found something quite appropriate for this feature.

Spend a few minutes (less than 6 actually), enjoying this creative and educational medley by a young band from Europe:

Not only am I impressed by the precision in cutting from one genre to the next, the costumes are pretty awesome. And I learned about a few genres which haven’t (yet?) caught on in the U.S.

I’ve been thinking about musical genres lately as I discovered a really clever book which seeks to explode the whole concept. The thesis in Every Song Ever: Twenty Ways to Listen in an Age of Musical Plenty by Ben Ratliff invites the reader to move beyond genres which are based more on commercial categorization rather than structural similarities from piece to piece.

In a new era where most any listener can easily access almost any song ever recorded, Ratliff proposes a new methodology for creating digital playlists. He presents and discusses twenty playlists with themes related to the underlying elements of the music rather than its often arbitrary “type.” Some of these themes are “Slowness,” “Virtuosity” and “Density.”

I’ve only read the first chapter on “repetition” entitled “Let Me Concentrate!” After defining this concept, the author analyzes a diverse set of musical pieces which illustrate it in a wide variety of ways. I really like how he uses thought-provoking metaphors which stretch my understanding and subsequent appreciation of works with which I was unfamiliar.

For example, he uses a piece called “Four Organs” composed and performed by Steve Reich in 1970. On page 20, Ratliff writes:

This aspect of “Four Organs” – its “repetition” – is like playing a peekaboo game with a child. You’re going to do it over and over: that’s the repetition. But you’ve got to keep changing the way you do it, otherwise he’ll expect it and will not be surprised. And at some point in the game – it doesn’t take very long to get there – you and the child understand each other; you know each other’s reaction time, range of facial expressions, sense of humor, degree of patience.

After reading this description, I found the piece within my Apple Music subscription. I listened to it for a couple of minutes before I decided the repetition annoyed and bothered me, so I turned it off. While I won’t likely listen to the piece again, I am grateful to have been directed toward it as an example of an important element of musical form.

And I’m particularly grateful that Ratliff mentions the featured pieces twice in each chapter – in the text and in a handy list (in order of mention) from which a digital playlist can quickly be created. I look forward to more reading and listening and learning via this book.

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Web Link Clearance – Best of 2015 Lists

On this first day of the second month of 2016 I offer you a chance to celebrate: National Girls and Women in Sports Day; Change Your Password Day; Car Insurance Day; G.I. Joe Day; and Decorating with Candy Day by enjoying this list of “Best of 2015 Lists”

Why, you may ask, am I sharing these a month and a day after the start of 2016? A simple answer: these links were in my queue for posting by year’s end – and it never happened. Rather than just delete them and move on, I thought there is still value in looking back to find quality books, music, apps, etc from last year. Hence, this “web link clearance” today.

Besides: Do you write 2016 every time you put down the date or do you still sometimes write 2015 by mistake?

The Only 9 Apps Released in 2015 We’re Still Actually Using

50 Best Albums of 2015

Longreads Best Stories of 2015

Apple Names the Best iOS Apps of 2015

10 Most Popular Podcasts of 2015  (“How to Listen to Podcasts”)

Top Illustrated Science Books of 2015

The Best Novels of 2015

Overdrive’s Best Books of 2015 [This is the excellent online portal for ebooks and audiobooks that both of our local library systems use)

NY Times 10 Best Books of 2015

 

 

Thanksgiving Reading?

Back in the day when the best way to watch movies at home was to schlep to the video store, I worked in one of those now nearly extinct stores. The busiest days of the year for rentals were the day before Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. Apparently, turkey and a movie (as you fall asleep on the couch) was a special, annual treat.

Now, with so many ways to stream movies, TV and more entertainment whenever and wherever you want, I wonder if turkey then a watching a movie from your love seat is still part of many people’s plans. Might the ubiquitous RedBox machines see lines and shortages today?

While my family and I are planning on the special treat of going out to a movie tomorrow after dinner, I’m not looking forward to watching anything over the long weekend. Rather, I have some books ready to be read during these holidays I’m not grading or preparing for class.

If you’re like me, here’s some lists which may help guide your selections:

50 Super Smart Books for Everyone on Your List

We Read All 20 National Book Award Nominees for 2015 – Here’s What We Thought

Top 10 Books: The Girard Option of Interdisciplinary Influence

100 Novels All Kids Should Read Before Leaving High School

(Here’s the Top Ten from this list)

1 Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell (free eBook, Audiobook & study resources)

2 To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (free eBook)

3 Animal Farm, by George Orwell (free eBook)

4 Lord Of The Flies, by William Golding (Amazon)

5 Of Mice And Men, by John Steinbeck (Amazon)

6 The Harry Potter series, by J K Rowling (Amazon)

7 A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens (free eBook)

8 The Catcher In The Rye, by J D Salinger (Amazon)

9 Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens (free eBook)

10 Pride And Prejudice, by Jane Austen (free eBook)

OR: The 100 Best Novels Written in English

Here are the Best Books from 2015 So Far (in August)

Black Girls Matter: A YA Reading List

All the Most Thrilling Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Coming this Fall

You Must Read These Five Books Which Will Totally Transform Your Classroom

And if you read any of these books, will you be able to talk about it with colleagues via an on-line book club?

Regardless of what you read, will you choose it by its cover? If so, here’s some fascinating research on that very topic.

Or maybe you’d like to read this short story composed entirely of 5,000 “tag lines” from movies.

Would this be fiction or non? If the former, reading it can actually transform the functioning of your brain.

Maybe you’d like to read not an ebook on your tablet, but an interactive, digital book. Here’s 10 of the best of this emerging genre.

Or perhaps you’ll tell stories at the dinner table. Research shows that it makes kids voracious readers!

And after dinner, maybe watch a TED Talk or two:

10 of Our Favorite Literary TED Talks from 2015

Finally, perhaps the weather will be nice and you’ll take a walk, bring your smart phone and stream free audio books or listen to any of these 25 Outstanding Podcasts for Readers

 

 

#amcathalm – Twitter Hashtag for Learning About American Catholics

This isn’t a post to do self-promotion of the Twitter feed that I use for school related items. But, just in case you’re wondering, it’s @hartleyrkrelig .

No, it’s to invite you to follow a hashtag on which I post interesting info each day – #amcathalm . While I can’t claim credit for the source material – that belongs to Emily Stimpson and Brian Burch – I do add images and boil it down to all of the characters that fit.

Why, here’s the post for Sunday the 8th of November:

Amcathalm Image

Oh yeah, I HIGHLY recommend you purchase it either in print or ebook.

It’s the first thing I read each morning (after my prayer materials of course)!

Mon(Fun)day Noon #2 – Pop Sonnets

The Bard is hot these days! In the spirit of the Shakespearean Star Wars books comes an even funnier and more accessible tome: Pop Sonnets: Shakespearean Spins on Your Favorite Songs by Erik Didriksen.

This hilarious book contains more than one hundred pop songs re-written as Shakespearean sonnets. There’s a nice blend of classic and current songs sorted in to sections entitled: “Sonnets of Love” (songs include: “Brown-Eyed Girl,” “Super Bass,” “Roxanne,”); “Sonnets of Despair” (“Respect,” “Free Bird,” “Complicated”); “Songs of Time and Mortality” (“Royals,” “More Than a Feeling,” “Light My Fire”); “Rogues, Rascals, and Wanton Women” (“Material Girl,” “Party in the USA,” “Baby Got Back”); and “Ballads of Heroes” (“Piano Man,” “My Way,” “Thriller”).

Here’s a trio of my favorite ones. A way to have more fun with them – don’t look at the title at the bottom and instead see if you can guess the song:

Pop Sonnets - 2

Pop Sonnets - 3

Pop Sonnets - 4

Oh – if you click on this Google search you can find the sonnets above, plus many, many more!

Interesting Catholic Essays – Deeply Discounted Kindle eBook (for a limited time!)

Every day I get an email from BookBub listing (in categories I selected) free and discounted ebooks from major sources such as Amazon Kindle. Although I’ve occasionally discovered interesting titles, I usually skim it and then delete.

Today, one title and corresponding description caught my eye enough that I checked it out on Amazon. Then the reviews and description were intriguing enough that I purchased it for $1.99 and downloaded it. I’ve only skimmed it so far, but it excites me so much that I thought to post and share it here.

Not Less Than Everything: Catholic Writers on Heroes of Conscience From Joan of Arc to Oscar Romero, edited by Catherine Wolff. The summary reads:

In Not Less Than Everything, Catherine Wolff gathers the world’s best contemporary Catholic writers, including Alice McDermott, Tobias Wolff, and Ann Patchett, to share their thoughts on brave men and women such as Joan of Arc and Oscar Romero—heroes who’ve challenged the dogma while holding steadfastly to their faith.

In each of these thought-provoking essays, these greatly respected writers and thinkers engage personally with his or her favorite heretic, exploring the tensions that arise from conflicting demands of conscience and authority, of inspiration and orthodoxy, and from the challenge of living one’s faith in the real world.

US Catholic printed a favorable review. TLC Book Tours,  Read the Spirit and the Deseret News also have reviews.

The table of contents excites me and invites me to get off the computer and to start reading it. Some of the essays include (with the essay author):

  • Ignatius of Loyola (Tom Beaudoin)
  • Isaac Hecker (James Carroll)
  • Hildegard Von Bingen (Joan Chittister, O.S.B.)
  • Bartolome de las Casas (Robert Ellsberg)
  • Dorothy Day (Patrick Jordan)
  • Fr. Horace McKenna, S.J. (Alice McDermott)
  • Oscar Romero (Jim Shepard)
  • Gerald Manley Hopkins (Colm Toibin)
  • Franz Jagerstatter (Tobias Wolff)

If it interests you as much as me, check it out and purchase it soon as it’s impossible to predict how long it will stay at this deeply discounted price.

The American Nations Today

Aviary Photo_130667698570726523

 

Ever wonder why the U.S. is such a divided nation these days? According to Collin Woodard in his 2011 book American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North Americathe differences and rivalries go back to the founding of our nation.

The map above, taken from a article based upon the book, reflects the boundaries of these different cultures. Woodard qualifies these divisions:

“Before I describe the nations, I should underscore that my observations refer to the dominant culture, not the individual inhabitants, of each region. In every town, city, and state you’ll likely find a full range of political opinions and social preferences. Even in the reddest of red counties and bluest of blue ones, twenty to forty percent of voters cast ballots for the “wrong” team. It isn’t that residents of one or another nation all think the same, but rather that they are all embedded within a cultural framework of deep-seated preferences and attitudes—each of which a person may like or hate, but has to deal with nonetheless.”

Where is your county on this map?  Is it a county that borders another region or is it deeply within a cultural region?

My county (Franklin) in central Ohio borders Greater Appalachia to our south and west.  Woodard says this of our region:

“THE MIDLANDS. America’s great swing region was founded by English Quakers, who believed in humans’ inherent goodness and welcomed people of many nations and creeds to their utopian colonies like Pennsylvania on the shores of Delaware Bay. Pluralistic and organized around the middle class, the Midlands spawned the culture of Middle America and the Heartland, where ethnic and ideological purity have never been a priority, government has been seen as an unwelcome intrusion, and political opinion has been moderate. An ethnic mosaic from the start—it had a German, rather than British, majority at the time of the Revolution—it shares the Yankee belief that society should be organized to benefit ordinary people, though it rejects top-down government intervention.”

This makes a lot of sense to me as we are surely the premiere “swing region” for presidential elections.  I also find it interesting that “the three C’s” in Ohio are in different regions.  Cleveland is in a little corner of Yankeedom while Cincinnati is deeply in Greater Appalachia. Surely this is why state politics in Ohio is so interesting!