January 24, 2015 archive
Jan 24 2015
Jan 24 2015
Rap had it’s origins in an African-American form of poetic competition called Dozens which consists of the exchange of elaborate rhymed insults
Play them fast.
I’ll tell you how many bull-dogs
Your mammy had.
She didn’t have one;
She didn’t have two;
She had nine damned dozens
And then she had you.
The first academic study was in 1939, but it’s certainly much older than that with some attributing it to Zulu combat traditions or various Nigerian and Ghanan “games”. Like Scrabble it can be played for sport or for blood (my Grandmother was a fierce Scrabble player and practically had tantrums when I hit her with words like rhythm or phlox, particularly when triple letter scores were involved). The loser is the one who can’t find a come back or gets angry.
Kind of like blogging.
Lest you think pre-combat boasting and call-outs a particularly African tradition, it was a common practice in many classical cultures to muster “armies” to face each other and engage in taunting and then send forth a champion (or several) for individual duels to decide the victory.
Successful empires like the Egyptians, Macedonians, and Romans were decidedly unsentimental about things like that and would generally just slaughter the lot of you where you stood no matter how hard you sang or witty you were, but the Bronze Age Greeks indulged- read the Iliad.
Anyway it certainly goes back much farther than 1939. In 1929 Speckled Red recorded a song called “The Dirty Dozen”-
I did like your poppa, but your poppa would not do.
I met your poppa on the corner the other day
I soon found out he was funny that way.
The early center was the South Bronx where the movement got a boost from equipment looted during the New York City Blackout of 1977 (kind of like capturing a Carillon or an Organ and using it to make music instead of cannons and cannon balls). I had thought for many years that Debbie Harry’s Rapture was simply another Elvis-type rip off but as it turns out she was simply an early adopter who happened to be white and female.
During the mid to late 80s the Los Angeles ‘Gangsta Rap’ scene emerged and by the early 90s it was the dominant movement in Hip Hop.
Now when we say ‘Gangsta’ we mean that many of these artists had affiliations with the Crips and the Bloods and boasted in their songs about street violence and drug use and dealing. Eric Wright (Eazy-E) founded the seminal ‘Gangsta’ label, Ruthless, probably out of crack income.
Just keeping it 100 folks.
Now as everyone on the right coast knows, if you can make it there you can make it anywhere (and in fact many of the most prominent West Coast artists were originally from New York or Philadelphia) and by 1991 we have the rumblings (when you’re a Jet you’re a Jet, from your first cigarette, to your last dying day) of discontent from those left behind in the person of the otherwise unremarkable Tim Dog in a song about Compton.
So anyway by 1994 the East Coast has seen a resurgence and the hot new labels are ‘Bad Boy’ (based in the South Bronx, run by A&R Records and ‘Puff Daddy’ Sean Combs and ‘Death Row’ (based in LA and run by Suge Knight). Their most prominent artists were Christopher Wallace (The Notorious B.I.G.) from Queens and Tupac Shakur a New York ex-pat.
Tupac accused Combs, Wallace, and Andre Harrell of participation in a robbery where Shakur was shot 5 times. They denied it. Knight took a dig at Combs and Wallace during an awards show and a friend was fatally shot. Knight bailed out Tupac from 5 counts of sexual abuse and he signed with Death Row.
In 1995 – 96 Tupac wrote numerous songs aimed at Combs and Wallace and in September of 96 he was killed in a drive by shooting in Las Vegas hours after beating up a Crip. Wallace was shot dead in another drive by in Los Angeles in early 1997. No one was charged in either murder though it was widely suspected tha Knight was involved in both.
And with the death of Sonny and Sollozo the great Rap War sputtered out.
But ek you say, what does this have to do with 19th Century Art Music?
I told you, these guys were Rock Stars. Back in the day when I was into QXR our Bando lingo for that was MozartBachandBrahms as in “Did you hear about (latest scandlously gyrating pop icon)?”, “No, I only listen to long haired music, MozartBachandBrahms.”
Now Mozart and Bach are easily justified (though listed in the wrong order) as being representative of the Classical and Barouque periods of Art Music. Brahms on the other hand, is no Beethoven nor even a Wagner.
He was, however a leader of the older and more conservative school of Romanticism that arose after Beethoven which focused more on Beethoven’s more traditional elements rather than his raw theatricality. Liszt and Wagner were all about the pyrotechnics.
So in the mid-1800s this petty and pointless feud broke out between musicians and composers who were overwhelming German called The War of the Romantics. It was hardly noticed by anyone else in the Art Music world because they were working out their own nationalistic, emotive, and programmatic aspirations.
Personally I find the music of Neudeutsche Schule earnest and overweening to the point of self-parody and am interested only in the ironic sense of its inherent contradictions and influence on broader historical movements (the rise of Fascism for instance). The Leipzig school is much easier and more restful if a bit boring and derivative. It’s not without its own sophisticated charm however.
The first piece for your consideration today was written by Brahms in response to a pointed request from the University of Breslau, which had awarded him an Honorary Doctorate, that some form of dedicated musical reciprocation was expected. So he wrote a compilation of collegiate drinking songs titled the Academic Festival Overture which he deliberately overscored and stylized as a musical pie in the face.
F#@k You Breslau. It remains a great hit among student musicians to this very day and is among his most performed works.
A companion piece from the same year is the Tragic Overture. It emphasizes the Romantic detachment from narrative and a complicated formalism and allusion to other composers, Beethoven in particular.
A German Requiem is considered his masterwork (it’s certainly the longest and most orchestrated) and is controversial only in the sense that it’s based on the Lutheran Bible, concentrates more on the comfort of the living than the pitiable condition of the dead, and contrasts with his disinterest in organized religion at all.
Obligatories, News and Blogs below.
Jan 24 2015
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.
January 24 is the 24th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 341 days remaining until the end of the year (342 in leap years).
On this day in 1848, A millwright named James Marshall discovers gold along the banks of Sutter’s Creek in California, forever changing the course of history in the American West.
The California Gold Rush began at Sutter’s Mill, near Coloma. On January 24, 1848 James W. Marshall, a foreman working for Sacramento pioneer John Sutter, found shiny metal in the tailrace of a lumber mill Marshall was building for Sutter on the American River. Marshall brought what he found to John Sutter, and the two privately tested the metal. After the tests showed that it was gold, Sutter expressed dismay: he wanted to keep the news quiet because he feared what would happen to his plans for an agricultural empire if there were a mass search for gold. However, rumors soon started to spread and were confirmed in March 1848 by San Francisco newspaper publisher and merchant Samuel Brannan. The most famous quote of the California Gold Rush was by Brannan; after he had hurriedly set up a store to sell gold prospecting supplies, Brannan strode through the streets of San Francisco, holding aloft a vial of gold, shouting “Gold! Gold! Gold from the American River!” With the news of gold, local residents in California were among the first to head for the goldfields.
At the time gold was discovered, California was part of the Mexican territory of Alta California, which was ceded to the U.S. after the end of the Mexican-American War with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on February 2, 1848.
On August 19, 1848, the New York Herald was the first major newspaper on the East Coast to report the discovery of gold. On December 5, 1848, President James Polk confirmed the discovery of gold in an address to Congress. Soon, waves of immigrants from around the world, later called the “forty-niners”, invaded the Gold Country of California or “Mother Lode”. As Sutter had feared, he was ruined; his workers left in search of gold, and squatters took over his land and stole his crops and cattle.
San Francisco had been a tiny settlement before the rush began. When residents learned about the discovery, it at first became a ghost town of abandoned ships and businesses whose owners joined the Gold Rush, but then boomed as merchants and new people arrived. The population of San Francisco exploded from perhaps 1,00 in 1848 to 25,000 full-time residents by 1850. The sudden massive influx into a remote area overwhelmed the infrastructure. Miners lived in tents, wood shanties, or deck cabins removed from abandoned ships. Wherever gold was discovered, hundreds of miners would collaborate to put up a camp and stake their claims. With names like Rough and Ready and Hangtown, each camp often had its own saloon and gambling house.
Jan 24 2015
Fancy a cuppa? We explore the UK’s unusual takes on Japanese green tea
In the UK, where I’m from, people get really passionate about tea. It’s the first thing you offer someone who is a visitor to your home, and remembering how someone likes their tea made is one way of showing that you care about them. We’re also fussy about the ritual behind making tea (you should see what happens in my house when someone puts the milk in first). In this way, we’re kinda like the Japanese.
In Japan, they drink green tea rather than black tea, but their attitude towards it matches ours. It’s both something for all-day long refreshment, and for special occasions. They’re also really into the ceremony behind it, with chadou, or tea ceremony, being a celebrated art in Japan.
Jan 24 2015
Welcome to the Health and Fitness News, a weekly diary which is cross-posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette. It is open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.
Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.
You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.
Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times
Whether big minestrones, noodle bowls with broth and vegetables, or less hearty soups like purées, all of this week’s potages make fine, easy winter meals and great vehicles for whatever vegetables you can get your hands on. I froze what we didn’t eat, and I am reassured knowing there are good soups on hand in the freezer.
~ Martha Rose Shulman ~
A light soup that is still incredibly satisfying.
A substantial minestrone, even without pasta.
A noodle bowl makes for a comforting, filling winter meal and is easily put together.
Winter squash with the essence of orange makes for a delicious soup.
A new twist on a Mexican classic makes a delicious dinner in a bowl.
Jan 24 2015
Each day I can watch him trudging home from wherever he has been. Fortunately it is downhill from the bus stop to where he lives. He never smiles, eyes focused on the ground a few feet in front of his pace.
The world so heavy that he can’t even look up.
Shoulders sagging under the weight of the last straw, and the last straw before that… and the one before that. A succession of so many minor beatings to the ego that he flinches reflexively at anything, everything, expecting the worst
Back bent from too many sorrows.
And you want him to rise up?