Here is a repository of the texts of my together with some readings of them.
The essays were broadcast by WXXI 91.5 Classical of Rochester, NY on Salmagundy each Saturday at 9:35am Eastern Time, from the beginning of time (1985) till May 2009 when Entropa (evil Goddess of Change-for-the-Worse-or-Possibly-the-Worst) troubled the minds of the WXXIites and they retired Simon and Salmagundy, and Rochester went into a terminal decline---for ever.
But I do continue on that brilliant bastion of all that's good and kultured, on WCLV's syndicated Weekend Radio on many (mainly NPRish) stations traditionally on the first and third weekends of the month, though your weekendage may vary, (these are archived for a couple of months).
|From time to time on these waves of the air I have visited the appalling and twisted world of the folksong: you can best think of these visits as an antidote to Ellen Koskoff's "What In the World Is Music?", I mean Ellen's a dear and her segment's delightful, but WITWIM (as we professionals call it) has always struck me as a bit too much like enabling a dangerous addiction.|
|As a codicil to the essay on our celebrations of St Godric the other week (and before we start let me say, in good eremitical flesh-mortifying fashion that I hope you all found your turnip as nicely raw as you could desire and as horribly stale) ... anyway I have to deal with a comment I received to the effect that St Godric wasn’t the most Famous English composer of the Twelfth Century, but that Richard I was. |
|Ahh! May the twentieth is fast approaching! Oh! The excitement is growing, and Oh! Godrices Eve will soon be here together with all those wonderful celebrations associated with that one-time pirate who made good and became a hermit and then topped it all by becoming without a doubt England’s greatest known composer of the twelfth century.|
|I’m sure that I made in this spot, in the past, the revolting admission that I have an unnatural attraction ...an attraction that is to folk song---and I don’t just mean, say, John Denver, or the artist who, had he been born 300 years ago, would no doubt have been known as Roberto di Zimmermanni1 ---No! No!! I mean thorough-going, honest-to-god, old-wavery-voiced, guy-with-a-hand-cupped-behind-his-ear-in-the-mistaken-belief-that-it-will-make-him-sing-in-tune Traditional folk music.|
|Not to be outdone by those damned German chappies who discovered a new Bach autograph, we have ourselves recently discovered a new broadside ballad fragment “The Cuckoo and the Child”.|
"Up in the sky!"
"It's a plainsong" "It's a pirate"
"It's a birdsong" "It's a monk"
Out of the dim and distant past he comes bringing freedom, justice and the Mediæval Way of Music!
"No! It's St Godric! ...
"Able to leap tall hermitages at a single bound, more powerful than a raging King Henry II, and faster than a speeding Knarr (a type of broad beamed boat of the early Middle Ages)!
"A stirring cry of 'Kirieleison, Oh Ar Me 'earties!' brings to the airwaves once again that famous pirate who made good ...and became a hermit"
Oh sorry! Hi!
Of course Dad didn't really know Mozart, and anyway I think that the lyrics to song should in truth be 'Lloyd George knew my Father' in homage to a great British Prime Minister, or just possibly since I believe he was considered something of a ladies' man, 'Lloyd George knew my Mother'... but that's a different story altogether, and a complete waste of time although it has at least got us started on the old Mozart quarter millennium bandwagon.
"Here we come a bovver boy among the leaves so green
"An' here we come wiv' aggro to kick you in the spleen.
"Lot's of ale unto us, you must give or we will cuss,
"An' we'll thump you and, slag you off with words that are obscene,
"An' we'll shout things that a-are quite obscene."
["Put the boot in, Trevor"]
|Way back, in the time of the Hundred Years Unpleasantness, when England and France had been at it marteau and tongs for as long as people could remember, a song was composed---or at least occurred. It was called “L’homme Armé”, and it was destined to have far-reaching repercussions down throughout all of musical history.|
The song itself is an odd little thing. When the words are they mean something like
‘The armed man’s the one to fear!
‘On every corner they are crying
‘“Come everyone, arm yourself in a Kevlar (registered
trade mark) Vest”
‘Yup, the armed man's the one to fear’,
and scholars have never been able to decide whether there is some deep, bitter anti-war protest buried in there, or if the song isn’t after all just a commercial for a bar called The Armed Man.
|During the very first week that it came out I bought an iPod Shuffle---the more expensive and cooler one gigabite version of course---and for weeks afterwards people would gaze in wonder at the coolness of it, and even stop me in the street to ask me about it (they did! they did! and more than once!!) in fact I had hit the peak of cool! But, Oh Dear! from here on in this essay my coolness quotient is going to be seen to suffer a steep decline, because...|