Tuesday, 27 March 2012

A - Z of Music - D

What's part French, part Japanese? Well, the French part is Claude-Achille Debussy, who can be described as the greatest French Impressionist composer. And you thought impressionism only applied to art, huh?
Debussy was a master of the tone poem, expressing thoughts and scenes by means of musical notes instead of brush strokes on canvas. Among his musical paintings, is 'Snowflakes Are Dancing', from his Children's Corner No.4 suite. If ever a descriptive piece of music existed, it is this.

And the Japanese? Well, classical music doesn't have to be played by a symphony orchestra, or string quartet et al. The undoubted master of the synthesiser is the Japanese, Isao Tomita. Internet clips don't really do his performances justice. I strongly recommend you buy one of his recordings, a decent hi-fi and a good set of headphones.
Now, turn the music up, and listen. See? It really does get right inside your head, and dances around!

And so to one of my all-time heroes - Bob Dylan, composer, poet, and.........Bob Dylan. To me he is the greatest poet of the 20th. Century, and, yes, he can't sing for toffee, but his music has a depth and authenticity that is unrivalled.
A lot of youngsters today dismiss his words as meaningless drivel, but, if you were young in the 60s, you knew instinctively what he was getting at, and understood his emotions and where he was coming from.
He's still making excellent recordings today, all be it a little more straightforward and easier to comprehend.

Sadly, I couldn't find a clip of him doing Desolation Row, only covers. That is my all-time favourite song of his, so here he is with a live performance of 'Tangled Up In Blue'

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Rudyard Kipling

RUDYARD KIPLING was born in Bombay on December 30th 1865, son of John Lockwood Kipling, an artist and teacher of architectural sculpture, and his wife Alice. His mother was one of the talented and beautiful Macdonald sisters, four of whom married remarkable men, Sir Edward Burne-Jones, Sir Edward Poynter, Alfred Baldwin, and John Lockwood Kipling himself.

He travelled extensively, but eventually settled at Batemans, near Burwash in Sussex. And I think this is why his poems speak to me so much. Although many of his books are based upon his early life in India, a lot of his poems speak of life as it was in Southern England, and, as such, I can identify with them. From his 'A Smuggler's Song', which I used to sing a setting of with the school choir:

If you wake at midnight, and hear a horse's feet,
Don't go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street.
Them that ask no questions isn't told a lie.
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!
Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark --
Brandy for the Parson,
'Baccy for the Clerk;
Laces for a lady, letters for a spy,
And watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!

Running round the woodlump if you chance to find
Little barrels, roped and tarred, all full of brandy-wine,
Don't you shout to come and look, nor use 'em for your play.
Put the brishwood back again -- and they'll be gone next day!

If you see the stable-door setting open wide;
If you see a tired horse lying down inside;
If your mother mends a coat cut about and tore;
If the lining's wet and warm -- don't you ask no more!

If you meet King George's men, dressed in blue and red,
You be carefull what you say, and mindful what is said.
If they call you "pretty maid," and chuck you 'neath the chin,
Don't you tell where no one is, nor yet where no one's been!

Knocks and footsteps round the house -- whistles after dark --
You've no call for running out till the house-dogs bark.
Trusty's here, and Pincher's here, and see how dumb they lie --
They don't fret to follow when the Gentlemen go by!

If you do as you've been told, 'likely there's a chance,
You'll be given a dainty doll, all the way from France,
With a cap of Valenciennes, and a velvet hood --
A present from the Gentlemen, along o' being good!
Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark --
Brandy for the Parson,
'Baccy for the Clerk;
Them that asks no questions isn't told a lie --
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!

Reminds me that I live in a part of Kent notorious for smuggling, and, indeed, had an ancester who was transported for smuggling, and another executed for murder during a smuggling adventure.

To the one I probably like best, 'The Way Through The Woods':

They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.

Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate.
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few)
You will hear the beat of a horse's feet,
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods. . . .
But there is no road through the woods.

When I was young, there was an old road leading to Lympne Castle and church, disused and unloved, except by the odd tractor from the Castle Farm, it was gradually returning to nature.
It has since been cleaned up and partially re-opened. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing, as I used to love the peace and tranquility of it.

Which reminds me, my son and the lovely Brooke are to be married in 3 weeks' time. Rene promised Brooke a fairytale wedding in an English castle - just what every American girl dreams of.
Well, they went off looking at castle venues, and eventually settling on Lympne (which actually isn't a castle, but a castellated palace, but that's another tale), not realising that it was where I grew up, and where I met my husband.

Small world, ain't it?

Monday, 19 March 2012

A - Z of Music - C

So, where shall we start today? How about Eric Coates? You've never heard of him? Oh right - you're a bit young then.

Eric Coates was a great composer of British Light Music, and many of his pieces were used as signature tunes on the Radio, and if, like me, you were a youngster in the 50s, you would be very familiar with Eric Coates and tunes like 'Knightsbridge' from his London Suites. He also composed the title music for 'The Dambusters', a march which is still a great favourite with military bands everywhere.

Here then is Knightbridge, from his London Suite No.3:

And so to our non-classical choice for this week. As I said, I grew up in the 50s, and had my teenage years in the 60s, as a consequent of which, I became very familiar with the Rock N Roll music of the time.

Someone who started rockin' in the 60s, and who still does today, is Cavan Grogan. Fronting 'Crazy Cavan & The Rhythm Rockers', he is still a force to be recognised whereever teddy boys and old-style rockers hang out.

Renowned for having the longest legs in rock n roll, Cavan not only puts down some solid vocals, but he and his sidekick Lyndon Needs composed a lot of the tunes they still play today.

Sadly, there's not much quality footage of him around on the web, but I did find this from 1979, and my favourite Cavan song:

And Cavan as he was in 2005, with 'Both Wheels Left The Ground':

Sorry about quality, but as I said, there's not a lot of quality out there. If you like to rock, and you've never seen him live, do try to. He's great

Don't take us for granted.............

I've just closed my Folksy shop, and am in the process of opening a new one on Etsy.

The reason? Well, Folksy decided to make some changes to the way they conduct business, without consulting their users or clients first. The changes in question have resulted in there being effectively no seller protection in place, even if you sell via PayPal, and send your parcels recorded delivery.

The only reson I found this out, was I had a spare 10 minutes, and was browsing the Folksy user forums - something I don't usually have time to do. There has not been a word from Folksy admin sent to us - and we pay them for using their service.

Now, I don't know about you, but I've always been of the mind that if a firm (or MP) doesn't deliver on your expectations, you vote with your feet.......... It seems more and more these days, companies take people for granted, and think they can ride roughshod over their clients and/or customers. A quick bit of prior communication would have been helpful, and, of course, for them to have got the conversion correct too.....or is that asking too much?

So, I'm gradually transferring all my stock over to my brand new Etsy shop, and the link down on the right has been changed accordingly. Not everything has been moved over yet, as some of the items I'm not too happy with the photography, so I want to refresh the images before posting them for sale again.

Meanwhile, pictures of all of my items are on Facebook, and if you want something, please, just put 'SOLD' under the picture, and send me a quick message.......

Etsy have been around a long time, and speaking to friends who use it as a marketing tool, they all seem to be very happy. The only drawback, is that it is huge, and primarily dominated by the American contigent. Ah well, I shall just have to work hard to get my stuff seen (and bought!)

Monday, 12 March 2012

A-Z of Music - B

OK, so this week's letter is B, and this week's composer is Bach. Now, how many Bachs would you like? The Grandaddy, Johann Sebastian, founded a whole dynasty of little Bachs who followed in his footsteps. Not literally, I hope, as JS Bach once walked 250 miles from Arnstadt to Lubeck, to hear Buxtehude play the organ!
Bach had 20 children, by two wives, but only 10 survived to adulthood. JC. JCF, and WF were all great composers in their own right, but their father was superlative.

There are over 1,000 known compositions by Johann Sebastian, amongst which are the tremendous Goldberg Variations.

Now, a lot of people find the playing of the late Glenn Gould a little eccentric, but I have always found his renditions of Bach thrilling. So here he, and JS are....

And for the non-classical B, who better than the master of differing identities, David Bowie. Words are not needed here, as, if you've never heard of Bowie, then you must be a time traveller from the distant past.

Here he is in his incarnation as Aladdin Sane:

Thursday, 8 March 2012


Have you found it yet?

Pinterest - an online pin-board for storing stuff that you find interesting. I did wonder at first if it would add any value to the way I use the internet, but I thought, well, give it a go and see.

So, I joined it and created a board or two, and suddenly I've found all sorts of uses for it. For instance, I've got one board where I store images that inspire me to make my unusual jewellery, and another to store images that will, no doubt, aid me with the design of my Art Deco dollshouse.

In fact, I can think of dozens of uses for it, and perhaps it will stop my home computer and my work room getting so cluttered with bits and pieces of this and that. (Well, it might, but I doubt it!)

Took me a while to work out how to add a Favicon for it to the sidebar, but I've done it now, so you can all have a snoop at what inspires me.............


scrub all the above.
It seemed like such a good idea at the time, but it seems that Pinterest users are leaving themselves open to a wide range of fraud and copyright infringement charges.
This will explain all.....


I've deleted my account on Pinterest, and I would ask all my friends to seriously consider doing the same

Monday, 5 March 2012

A-Z Of Music - A

So, as promised, here we go with the first instalment of an A to Z of music. As I explained, each week, I'll be highlighting one classical composer, and one non-classical music act.

Now, with one or two notable exceptions, I'm not a huge fan of modern classical music, but John Adams seems to me to offer more than just (sometimes) dissonant non-tunes. He's a marvel at telling a story, whether in one of his operas, or by means of a purely instrumental piece of music.

In 2001, he composed an opera, The Death Of Klinghoffer, based upon the hijacking of the ocean liner, the Achille Lauro. This is the Night Chorus

As I said though, it's not just his ability in opera to tell a story. He can also convey a multitude of emotions and visions with his instrumental tunes. This is his 'Short Ride In A Fast Machine', or as I prefer to call it, and as this clip has it, 'Short Ride ON A Fast Machine', as it's a piece I love to listen to when I'm out on one of the bikes.

OK, so you might not like it, but please give it a listen.

Next, the non-classical act for 'A'.

I toyed with all sorts of ideas, from Abba to the non-populist side of Adam And The Ants, but in the end, I settled for what I believe to be the greatest of all the British Rythm And Blues acts from the 60s. This then, is the Animals, from Geordieland, and the wonderful voice of Eric Burdon, and, of course, Alan Price on keyboards. (hmmm....think it's high time we had a 60s R&B revival). Sadly this is a side of 60s music that has been much overlooked. We get plenty of Rolling Stones, Beatles, Flower Power etc., but you very seldom hear music such as this, Long John Baldry, Yardbirds, John Mayall et al.