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Archive for the ‘Zora Neale Hurston’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: BRIDGET KIBBEY-Tiny Desk Concert #930 (January 8, 2020).

I love the harp.  Ever since I took a very brief class in grad school (like 4 weeks), where I learned exactly how to play one, I’ve wanted to buy one (that’s an expensive hobby).

Harps are usually thought of as celestial instruments, think “the stereotype of the genteel harp, plucked by angels.”

But the range on the harp is unreal–47 strings!  Such highs and lows.  And the things usually weigh a ton (not literally, or maybe literally).  When I saw Joanna Newsom, I was delighted to see her play a harp from relatively up close.

Now here is Bridget Kibbey.

Kibbey is crazy for the harp. She first heard one at a country church amid the Northwest Ohio cornfields where she grew up. Now she’s the go-to harpist for contemporary composers, some of whom who are writing pieces especially for her.

To be able to watch Kibbey play these pieces up close is breathtaking.  She starts with Bach (arr. Kibbey): “Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565.”  Yes, that one, the one we all know on the organ.  Well, hearing it on the harp is a whole new experience and watching her steamroll through as her fingers fly all over the place is wonderful.  You can marvel as she “offers tightly interwoven voices, like gears in a clock, with melodies and rhythms that sparkle.”

She says she transcribed the piece for the harp on a bet.  It gives her a chance to explore Baroque counterpoint and the drama of this piece.  And does she ever.

The second piece is by the “great living jazz artists Paquito D’Rivera” from Cuba.  He plays clarinet and saxophone and wrote “Bandoneon” (arr. Kibbey) for piano, which she transcribed for harp.   It is an Argentine tango and is really terrific.  I love how she keeps that bass line steady while the high notes fly around the harp.

Kibbey is really fun and boisterous and she’s very excited about her instrument.  It’s fun to hear her talk about what she’s going to be playing next.

The final piece is a “little ditty” she grew up singing in the cornfields of Ohio.  It’s Bach (arr. Kibbey): “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” from St. Matthew Passion.

I see that she has played Princeton a few times in the past.  I sure hope she comes back!

[READ: January 9, 2020] “The Country in the Woman”

This story was published this month in a collection of previously unpublished work.

I don’t believe I’ve read much by Hurston and I was a a little put off that this story is written in partial dialect.

Looka heah Cal’line, you oughta stop dis heah foolishness you got.

But I quickly got over that as I saw what she was doing with the story.

Caroline and her man, Mitchell, are from Florida but they have moved to New York City.  The New Yorkers all want Caroline to be more like a New Yorker but they know you can’t get rid of “the country in the woman.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKMOGWAI-No Education = No Future (Fuck the Curfew) (1998).

This is a 3 song EP. The opener “Xmas Stripes” is one of my favorite early Mogwai songs.  The opening melody is really great, with a cool interesting bass and a nice guitar over the top.  At about 3:30 the song grows from a silent track to a menacing, growing beast until the drums start and the song and the main riff begins.  By 5 minutes it’s all out rock noise.  By 6 minutes the song is scaled back for the violin solo.  The remaining 7 (!) minutes are a denouement for the song.  Even though I love the track, I mostly love the first 8 or 9 minutes.  The ending tends to drag a bit.

But for all of their noise, Mogwai’s early releases were really quieter instrumentals, meditative songs that were really quite pretty.  “Rollerball” is a beautiful, sad three-minute track.

The last song “Small Children in the Background” continues in this quieter vein.  At nearly 7 minutes, it allows for a noisy middle section.  This noisy section is indeed mostly noise.  And yet the pretty melody of the rest of the track is just as loud throughout the mix, making for a very cool and very brief explosion mid-song.

Not all EPs are essential, but this one is pretty fantastic.  And I have Lar to thank for getting it for me.

[READ: March 10, 2011] Changing My Mind

It’s funny to me when that when I get into an author, I seem to wind up not reading the books that people most talk about until much later.  Take Zadie Smith.  Her debut, White Teeth, is something of a touchstone for many readers.  I missed it when it came out, but I loved On Beauty and figured I’d go back and read it.  That was almost a year ago.  And in that time I have read lots of little things by her and now this collection of essays.

Regardless, this collection of essays is a wonderful look in to the nonfiction world of a writer whom I admire.  And it was quite a treat.  Zadie is an intellectual, and that comes across in all of these paces.  Whether it’s the subjects she’s writing about, the footnotes she uses or just the acknowledgment that she likes art films and not blockbusters, we know where she’s speaking from.  And, of course, I’m right there with her.  The funny thing about this book then is how few of the subjects I know.

The book is broken down into five sections: Reading, Being, Seeing, Feeling and Remembering.  The Reading section is basically book reviews.  The Being section is about her experiences.  The Seeing section is about films.  The Feeling section is about her father and the Remembering section is about David Foster Wallace. (more…)

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