Saturday, February 19, 2011

Good music

This weekend, I want to acknowledge one of my true, enduring loves.


I was brought up surrounded by it and have a natural appreciation for all sorts of genres. There are so many ways that music has enriched and healed and complemented my life - as with most people on this planet - that it's difficult to name all of them. But I thought I"d compile a list. So, dear reader, I give you...

Things you didn't know you were interested to learn about music and me:

•  Any rock music with piano in it has me riveted. Think Billy Joel (songs like Stiletto and Scenes From An Italian Restaurant fill me with sheer joy and I get lost in the solos) and Ben Folds Five.

•  One of my lasting memories of my father is his cheery morning disposition, coupled with ABC Classic radio playing in the background and my teenage self would find his loud "la-la-la's" as he sang along to everything both embarrassing and funny.

•  Mum and Dad met at a church choir. They were both excellent singers.

Image credit
•  I learned piano and recorder as a child. Recorder was my true love. I went from the smaller descant, which gets SUCH a bad rap because of the loud, nails-down-blackboard screeching sounds younger children make with them, but is actually a gorgeous instrument to play (when you're playing good music!). Then I progressed to the treble, a larger beautifully rich toned instrument and then had the privilege of playing both the tenor and the bass recorder, the granddaddy of recorders, which were my teacher's. The bass recorder is the biggest in this image (the descant is the smallest) and you use a funny brass mouthpiece to play it. I remember how huge it looked to me, as a kid, because the thing was so big it towered over my head while it rested on the floor.

•  I remember vividly the day Mum took me to a recorder maker to choose and purchase my very own treble recorder. There were all sorts of colours, each one unique and no two recorders alike. Each one had a slightly different tone to them. The recorder maker was passionate about recorders and I remember really connecting with him over his love for the instrument. I tried several and settled on the one that would be my constant companion for many years, for  I practiced for hours a day.

•  I dabbled with the flute but only lasted a term. I couldn't master it and expected to be perfect but it's a difficult instrument to play and has quite a different way of using the mouthpiece compared to what I was used to with the recorders.

•  Steve thinks I am a freak because of how I can pick out a tune on the piano without even trying.

•  Sight reading music (playing music you've never seen before) was my hat trick in exams - I think I have inherited this from my grandfather, who was a brilliant musician and had a photographic memory.

•  Music is in my blood. My cousins include an opera singer and a concert pianist turned conductor for the Philharmonic orchestra (oops... I can't remember which ones he's been in but I think the New York Philharmonic is one of them...). And my grandfather (Mum's dad) was a masterful and passionate piano and clarinet player - self taught, as I understand. Unfortunately, I never met him.

•  I was doing music exams at age 9. I got A's and a B. I did three exams in total over the course of three years and graduated to a point where my teacher advised my parents I ought to be studying at the Victorian Conservatorium of Music. Unfortunately, the timing coincided with my parents separating and then divorcing. And anyway, the college was in the city - far too far for a then 12 year-old to travel alone and impossible for my parents to do. I've always wondered how far I could have gone.

•  When I go to see a live orchestra, I cry with pure emotion at the beauty of the sound and cannot stop the bliss from bubbling over within me. Nothing else does it to me quite like a full orchestra.

•  It's not all classical. I love music as diverse as Stevie Wonder, Barbara Streisand, The Dooby Brothers, Steely Dan, The Carpenters and James Taylor... (I could go on) and all those 70's sounds, through the disco era, to the more rhythmic and largely computer-made sounds of Air and Phoenix (a French electronic outfit).  We love and play music from British rock bands like Deep Purple, Led Zepplin and Def Leppard. I think Django Reinhart was simply awesome and so talented.  And I thank my father for introducing me to, as well as countless classical composers, the true Ladies of Blues music such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, Lina Horne and so many others. It has been the foundation for me discovering some gorgeous modern day artists who have sublime voices - Stacey Kent, Madeleine Peyroux and Kylie Auldist to name a few of my favourites.

•  On a lazy weekend afternoon, you can find me cranking up the stereo to one of my favourite CD's, Ladies Sing The Blues.

•  I love to listen to jazz music when I cook.

•  I may well get Lolly beaten up at school. For a time there, recently, her favourite video clip was this. We have very retro tastes in this house and she is never allowed to watch those video hits shows.

•  We owned all sorts of strange records. One of my favourites was The Wombles. "Come Womble with your partners, young wombles were told, if you minueto allegretto you will live to be old." I'd love to get a copy of that now.

And just finally, I would like to acknowledge the exceptional Etta James who is gravely ill and suffering not only Alzheimer's (which was diagnosed in 2009) but now dementia and leukemia. This woman's voice is remarkable and one of my favourites. Not only that, I love her because she came right out and said she couldn't stand Beyoncé. That's just classic. Awesome. She is 72. She can do as she pleases.

Here she is doing her stuff in her inimitable way:

This post is part of Maxabella's weekend grateful. What are you grateful for today?

I'm also Rewinding at the Pink Fibro today.

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