August 16, 2014 archive

On This Day In History August 16

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

August 16 is the 228th day of the year (229th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 137 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1896, Gold discovered in the Yukon.

While salmon fishing near the Klondike River in Canada’s Yukon Territory on this day in 1896, George Carmack reportedly spots nuggets of gold in a creek bed. His lucky discovery sparks the last great gold rush in the American West.

Hoping to cash in on reported gold strikes in Alaska, Carmack had traveled there from California in 1881. After running into a dead end, he headed north into the isolated Yukon Territory, just across the Canadian border. In 1896, another prospector, Robert Henderson, told Carmack of finding gold in a tributary of the Klondike River. Carmack headed to the region with two Native American companions, known as Skookum Jim and Tagish Charlie. On August 16, while camping near Rabbit Creek, Carmack reportedly spotted a nugget of gold jutting out from the creek bank. His two companions later agreed that Skookum Jim–Carmack’s brother-in-law–actually made the discovery.

The Breakfast Club (Renaissance Man)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgSo today the Wayback Machine takes you to the sunny days of the Renaissance (well, sunny in comparison to the Dark Ages or even late Medieval Period) commonly dated to 1400 – 1600 more or less.

Now among the signal advances musically during this time period is the development of recognizably ‘modern’ musical notation, though to contemporary eyes it’s bears about the same relationship to the scores you performed in Band, Orchestra, or Choir (heh, worked in a BÖC reference there) as a First Folio does to an Annotated Complete Works.  For one thing color was used to denote duration in a variety of contradictory schemes, more to the point previously solid heads were opened in the manner of the current whole and half note because of the replacement of vellum with paper which was instrumental in making the printing press so successful.

And you thought it was just for words.

Nope, the systematized notation of music and printing of same made the spread of musical ideas philosophy, science, and theology (the latter of which was pivotal in the political struggles of the period) much easier than previously possible.

But in 1410 – 20 when John Dunstaple was active during the early Renaissance it was still all just one big happy Catholic family though those pesky theological issues would raise their ugly head soon enough.

Early Renaissance music owed much to the sacred music of the Late Medieval where most works were commissioned directly by Cathedrals and Monasteries for performance during services and were rarely exclusively instrumental.  The lyrics taken from prayers (in Latin of course).  The institutions hired or trained their own composers who hardly ever traveled or changed positions and most instruction and direction was personal and transmitted by word of mouth.  As a result musical performance and culture was very insular and idiosyncratic. Because of it’s origins in the Medieval tradition to contemporary ears the music seems droning and repetitive, soporific is the word I’d use to describe it.

Dunstaple was certainly no exception for the most part musically though he is noted for his adoption of tri-tones, thirds, and sixths in harmony, but in other respects he was quite unusual.  That he was a lay person as opposed to a priest or monk we infer by the large number of wives that predeceased him.  His influence on European music was widespread, from his native England to the remotest eastern principalities of the Holy Roman Empire though it had a particular resonance with their Burgundian rivals.  He wrote secular and instrumental music as well as sacred.

The secret of his success?  The printing press and musical notation.  It’s possible we know much of his work, but all music of the period is at best loosely attributed and much authorship disputed by scholars between him and his contemporary Leonel Power, also English.

The musical output of medieval England was prodigious, yet almost all music manuscripts were destroyed during the English Reformation, particularly as a result of the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536-1540. As a result, most of Dunstaple’s work has had to be recovered from continental sources (predominantly those from northern Italy and the southern Alps).

He’s arguably the most influential English composer of all time, yet very few people today know about him.  About 50 works are definitively attributed to him with the first collection ever published in 1953, 500 years after his death, and those almost immediately subject to scholarly debate (academese for knockdown drag-out fighting).

Not disputed are a collection of 12 Motets of which 6 are easily discoverable on-line.

Quam pulcra es

Did I say soporific?  I’m sure I (yawn)…  Anyway, the other 5 as well as the Obligatories, News, and Blogs below.

Late Night Karaoke

Random Japan

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 A collection of 20 creative ‘sushi’ rolls that were invented outside of Japan

   Krista Rogers

Love it or hate it, every country has their own take on sushi. While some of the creations, such as the California roll, are fairly tame and are now accepted as part of a normal sushi menu, we’ve also seen some of the odder versions out there, such as Hong Kong’s ‘killer sushi’, Nutella sushi in France, and my personal favorite-the absolutely adorable but sadly inedible cat sushi!

The quintessential component of sushi is vinegared rice, so while these creations can’t technically be called sushi, they’ve definitely taken a stylistic cue from the rolled shape of makizushi. And we have to admit, some of those fillings do look tasty…


I suspect that some of my readers must be wondering by now why I haven’t responded with my thoughts on the recent outbreak in the transgender/TERF hostilities.

In case yoIu have been completely unaware of the issue, TERF stands for “trans exclusive radical feminists,” although I’ve always thought they were more reactionary than radical.  I should note that they don’t like the term, viewing it as an insult, even though it was invented by other feminists…feminists who wanted to distance themselves from the TERFs.

Although the hostility has been simmering for quite awhile, the most recent outbreak can be traced to the publishing of an article in The New Yorker by Michelle Goldberg, entitled What is a Woman?, which presented a very one-sided treatment of the dispute.

To quote a TERF, from the beginning of the rift in 1973:

I will not call a male “she”; thirty-two years of suffering in this androcentric society, and of surviving, have earned me the title “woman”; one walk down the street by a male transvestite, five minutes of his being hassled (which he may enjoy), and then he dares, he dares to think he understands our pain?  No, in our mothers’ names and in our own, we must not call him sister.

–Robin Morgan