Tag Archives: Bach

1694. Mum’s not the word

Some time ago, 11 August 2017 to be exact,  I posted about how sometimes living in different countries with the same language we presume that every word and phrase means the same. Some found it interesting, so I’m going to dig up another handful. I’ve lived only in Quebec, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and New Zealand, so it’s not improbable that some words and phrases are also used in other places.

1. Quite
It took me thirty years to realize this, but when New Zealanders say “quite” we don’t quite mean the same as Americans. I realized this when I had an American friend visit and my sister invited us both to dinner. At the end of the meal my American friend thanked my sister and said the meal was “quite good”. My sister said to me later that he could at least have said the meal was nice.

As I understand now “quite good” in American means something is very good. In New Zealand, “quite good” means that really it could’ve been a lot better but I’m saying “quite good” to be polite. If something is “quite good” or “quite nice” then it’s struggling to be average.

2. Ta
“Ta” means “thank you” and is heard a lot more often than “thanks” or “thankyou”. It’s said like “tar” with a short A.

“Could you pass the sugar please.”
Henrietta passes the sugar.
“Ta.”

Speaking of sugar, I once said at table “Sugar please”, and the voluptuous blonde answered, “Is that a request or a term of endearment?”

Ta is not to be confused with “ta ta” which is a little kid’s way of saying goodbye.

“Say ta ta to grandma.”

3. Wop wops
Living in the wop wops means living beyond the black stump (as I think they say in Australia) or living in the boonies (as I think they say in America). I used to think that when Americans used “living in the boonies” they were saying “living in the bunnies” so naturally I took it to mean they were living a long long way out of town.

My Aunty Flo (hands up those who don’t have an Aunty Flo) was a raging extrovert and when she came to visit us from the city she would go on and on about how she was visiting the wop wops. As a little kid I was transfixed.

4. Bach
This word is pronounced “batch” – so it’s not the composer. I presume it comes from the phrase “Bachelor Pad”. A bach is a beach house (usually not very fancy) that a family (if they can afford it) lives in during weekends or holiday breaks. There is a difference between the term used in the North Island and what is used in the South Island (New Zealand is made up of two main islands). North Islanders call it a “bach” and South Islanders call it a “crib”. I have no idea what they call it anywhere else in the world, but if you know…

The only other trans-island difference in New Zealand English that I can think of is the word “couch” – that invasive grass that once you’ve got it in your garden it’s there to stay. North Islanders are inclined to call it “couch” and South Islanders are inclined to call it “twitch”. I have no idea what they call it anywhere else in the world, but if you know… Apparently both “couch” and “twitch” are variations of the Scottish word “quitch” for the wretched pest.

5. Jandals
Jandals are what Australians call “thongs” and some other countries call “flip flops”. I have not a great idea as to who calls what where. Jandals is short for Japanese sANDALS. Apart from Ernest Rutherford splitting the atom, Jandals are New Zealand’s sole contribution to Western Civilization. That and the automatic postal stamp vending machine – which has fast become obsolete because of email.

When I broke my ankle and had 4 pins screwed in, I was wearing jandals at the time. These days the foot is so deformed that I cannot fit into a shoe, but I do fit in when need be to a large pair of:

6. Gumboots
I think some other countries call them wellingtons, or galoshes – you’ll know what you call them from the picture. Galoshes for me are quite different; they are a rubber sheath that one pulls over the top of regular shoes when it’s rainy or muddy. So I’d be interested to know what you call both of these things in your country. When I was growing up on a dairy farm we lived in our gumboots. The back door would usually have a dozen or so pairs of gumboots of different heights and sizes all higgledy-piggledy so that mother would say nine times a day “Pick up those gumboots before someone trips on them.”

7. Dag
A dag is a bit of dried you-know-what hanging off the wool on a sheep’s bottom. When the sheep runs along the dags rattle. This gives rise to the common expression “Rattle your dags” which means “Get a hurry on”.

The other common use of the word dag is in such expressions as “What a dag!” or “She’s a dag”. It can refer to an amusing person or event. “She’s a dag!” would amount to the same as “What a character!” and “What a dag!” would amount to the same as “That’s very funny!”

8. Pack a sad
As far as I can see the expression “Pack a sad” is not universally used, but is common over here. If I’m wrong I’d be happy to be corrected. “Pack a sad” means “Throw a tantrum”.

And then the teacher packed a sad.
There’s no need to pack a sad just because I smashed up your car.

That’s enough for one day. Thanks for reading, and I hope you found the occasional thing a bit of a dag.

Music 338: C.P.E. Bach meets Schoenberg

In this piece of music I have taken the rhythm of a C.P.E. Bach (1714-1788) sonata movement, and applied the type of serial scale that Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) could have used. The result is… interesting! There are snippets of the Bach unchanged. The piece ends with the playing of the Schoenberg-like serial scale employed in the piece and C.P.E. Bach’s scale of C minor which he used.

Click here to download a copy of the piano music

Poem 22: I’m past the age of Mozart

22mozart

I’m past the age of Mozart when he died.
I’ve yet to write my stuff, although I’ve tried.
Forty one symphonies tucked deep in brain
Await the light of day to give me fame
And shoot Immortal Me afar and wide.

The pile of masterpieces still denied,
Sit there because my mind is old and dried
And won’t produce the notes to light my name.
I’m past the age of Mozart when he died.

When I saw what Bach wrote I could’ve cried,
Each week he tossed out music in his stride.
Shakespeare snuffed it before his sixties came;
And Austen churned out books, yet lived as Jane.
Ah! Most creative artists that I’ve spied
All passed the age of Mozart when he died.

921. Retirement

921retirement

Cade had had a successful career as an historian. After he graduated he landed a wonderful job as a lecturer at a prestigious university. Over the years he had worked his way up to become a professor and head of the History Department.

And now he had retired. Oh! the accolades! There’s so much in life I have always wanted to do, said Professor Cade in his departing speech. So much that’s undone. How busy and fruitful retirement is destined to be.

Cade made a list of things he was going to do in his first year of retirement. There were so many masterpieces, for example, that he hadn’t read. Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island was a case in point! There were dozens of literary classics that he’d never had time for. And now he would. He would read, read, read.

And then there was the music of Johann Sebastian Bach’s four composing sons. I want to become a Bach expert, he declared, with the music of Wilhelm Friedemann, Carl Phillip Emmanuel, Johann Christoph Friedrich, and Johann Christian.

And Art. He would study famous paintings and one day, hopefully, travel to see the originals.

These days, of course, all this could be done on the computer. He wanted to start almost immediately. But first he’d just finish downloading a couple of computer games.

555. Three contemporary lectures

555scarlatti

(I’ve always wanted to reach the mark of 555 stories, because that’s how many sonatas Domenico Scarlatti composed! I know it’s a bit of a meaningless point to reach, but why not? To celebrate, here are three short (fictional) contemporary lectures on music and literature).

1. Contemporary lecture on Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach was married twice and had twenty children. It can be surmised from this that he had heterosexual leanings. This however should not detract from the enjoyment we might get from his music today.

Given his proclivity for heterosexual behaviour, it is little wonder that his large body of surviving works reeks of complacency. If comfort could be expressed in sound, Bach achieved it.

He also cared little about global warming, unlike Handel (oh no! that was himself what wrote it), his contemporary, who wrote a green number called Where Sheep May Safely Graze.

Part of Bach’s music is ruined by overt religiosity. His Mass in B minor, for example, reeks of religion. It must surely be regarded, if not politically correct, at least as distasteful. In fact, most of Bach is unteachable these days; not only are we rightfully not permitted to teach religion, but most students don’t have a clue what the words of Bach’s chorales and cantatas mean.

Then, if you take his book of keyboard music, Anna Magdalena Notebook, we find there are a number of pieces borrowed (“stolen” would be a better word) from other composers. The true authors are not even given credit. Plagiarism. This must surely confirm his heterosexuality, as most thieves in the world today are dyed-in-the-wool heterosexuals.

So if you intend to listen to Bach, or even try to perform his music, be prepared to be open-minded about his personal life. It is best to ignore the subversive religious and anti-gay agenda hidden so shamelessly in the counterpoint.

2. Contemporary lecture on King Lear

Shakespeare’s theatre sketch, King Lear, deals with the timeless theme of ageism. The way his two older daughters ruthlessly treat their father would have been unnecessary if he could have been legally euthanized. But, oh no! they had to get rid of him in a painfully cruel way rather than put him down quickly with an injection.

Of course there are other more important themes that Shakespeare omitted to mention. The issue of climate change is one example. If King Lear had taken greater care of the environment then there might not have been the dramatic storm he was seen to be running about in half naked. He brought it on himself, and Shakespeare omitted, point-blank, to point out the connection.

Also, once they’d ripped out Gloucester’s eyes, they could have donated them for body parts. They seemed to be perfectly good eyes, and someone with a similar blood type was possibly desperate for a cornea transplant. But, oh no! Shakespeare had to ignore that and have him also wander around in the Lear-inflicted storm. What a waste!

Then there’s the question of Cordelia. Such chauvinism! She is treated as a sex object of iconic beauty. Who is the real Cordelia? Not to mention that her part would’ve originally been played by an underage boy who was possibly paid less than the minimum wage. And where is Lear’s wife? Is she mentioned? She was no doubt viewed as no more than a baby-making machine.

There’s so much in the play that Shakespeare ignored. Where are the endangered whales for example? What about the trading of elephant tusks? Back then women didn’t get the vote. Is that mentioned? Did Lear have a woman in his retinue?

Next week we’ll deal with the anti-environmental bastards who chopped down an entire forest of trees in Birnam Wood.

3. Contemporary lecture on Tchaikovsky

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky was one of those fucking faggots you find everywhere in the music scene. At least you find them in the classical music scene, not in the rock band scene where they have no trouble getting a woman for the night.

You seen what Tchaikovsky done? He got all those guys in tights cavorting round in front of him. He would’ve loved that. Nutcracker is right. And Swan Lake. Poof.

Then in the 1812 Overture he has cannons firing everywhere. The nancy-boy is trying to disguise his leanings by pretending to be macho and firing guns.

So if you want my advice, don’t listen to the fudge packer. Give me a real man. Like Justin Bieber.