Building the World

April 22, 2019
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Earth (Day) Song

“Earth.” Image: NASA.gov.

Lil Dicky didn’t set out to make history, or even a song about the earth. At first, it was just an idea about animals with creatures voiced by a friends. But with friends like Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Wiz Khalifa, and Leonardo DiCaprio, a song for Earth Day was born. Honoring an occasion with music is not a new idea: the Suez Canal’s opening was celebrated with Verdi’s Aida. Philip Glass composed Itaipú to honor the hydroelectric facility that brings power to Brazil and Paraguay. Glass was inspired for the commission by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra to write a work based on the original Guaraní name for the river’s sound: “Singing Stone.” Paul Winter attended a lecture by Roger Payne at Rockefeller University, hearing recorded songs of whales; with then-governor of California Jerry Brown, Winter helped found “Whale Day” and began making music with the troubadours of the deep. Carl Sagan included cetic songs in the compendium of music sent into space. On this Earth Day, what will you do to honor, celebrate, and save the Earth? Give a listen: Earth.

Burd, David Andrew, aka Lil Dicky or LD, and friends. “Earth” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvuN_WvF1to

Glass, Philip. “Itaipú.” Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with thanks to William Keene. https://philipglass.com/compositions/itaipu/

Verdi, Giuseppe. “Aïda.” Hear the rendition by Luciano Pavarotti with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8rsOzPzYr8

Sagan, Carl. Murmurs of Earth. NY: Random House, 1978. https://books.google.com/books/about/Murmurs_of_Earth.html?id=oD90-PBNyr8C and, for your listening pleasure and inspiration: “Sounds of the Earth”: https://soundcloud.com/user-482195982/voyager-golden-record-sampler-1

Winter, Paul. http://www.paulwinter.com/paul-winter/musical-vision/, and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdv9QJPVPIY.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licen

March 20, 2019
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Welcome, Spring

“Barsana Holi Festival” by photographer Narender9. Image: wikimedia.

Color is associated with spring, perhaps nowhere more brilliantly than in India. In the land of the Taj Mahal, the iconic edifice famously inlaid with jewels like lapis lazuli and rubies, spring’s celebration of Holi invites people to bedeck each other with color and sometimes scented water. Dating to a 4th century poem, and featured in a 7th century play written by emperor Harsha, Holi is celebrated on the last full moon day of the Hindu lunisolar calendar month of Phalguna; in 2019, the holiday is 21-22 March. The holiday has spiritual roots: some relate it to the love of Krishna and Radha; others, to the story of Hiranyakashipu, Prahlada, and Holika, whence the holiday takes its name. Are you feeling spring in the air?  Wear, or exchange, a bit of color to welcome spring. The vernal equinox 2019 occurs in Boston on 20 March at 17:58:00.

Suri, Manveena. “Why India celebrates Holi: The legends behind the festival of color.” 19 March 2019. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/travel/articlel/holi-festival-india/index.html.

India Times. “Consent is important; even on Holi.” https://www.facebook.com/indiatimes/videos/622357941510873?sfns=vmo.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licen

February 16, 2018
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Do you sing in the shower?

Take the 2 Minute Shower Challenge. Image: “Animated waterdrops,” wikimedia.

Do you sing in the shower? Studies indicate 80% of us do. That quirk of human hum might help to save Cape Town, and maybe other places, too. South Africa’s famous city is suffering from three years of scant rainfall, coupled with rapid urban expansion. While solutions to the water crisis such as desalination of sea water, improved ground water collection, and other water engineering innovations are in development, residents have been asked to limit water use to 50 liters (13 gallons) per day. Cyrene, ancient Greek city-state, was founded in response to persistent drought on Thera (Santorini). Climate migrants fled the parched land to build a new city abundant of water and replete with potent silphium, a magic plant that appeared to foster science, arts, and even amatory expressions. Rome, when suffering a water crisis, built aqueducts to bring water to the city, enough for drinking, bathing, and water sculptures, honored by composer Resphigi in The Fountains of Rome. Music now inspires South Africa’s vision for honoring and saving water. “People like to sing in the shower,” observed Mariska Oosthuizen, head of brand at Sanlam, South African investment firm, that invited musical artists to create two-minute songs, free for download:

TWO-MINUTE SHOWER SONGS:

  • Kwesta, “Boom Shaka Laka
  • Mi Casa, “Nana
  • GoodLuck, “Taking It Easy
  • Fifi Cooper, “Power of Gold
  • Francois Van Coke, “Dit raak Beter
  • Jimmy Nevis, “Day Dream
  • Rouge, “Deja Vu
  • Desmond & the Tutus, “Teenagers
  • Youngster, “Wes Kaap
  • Springbok Nude Girls, “Bubblegum On My Boots

80% of residential water use happens in the bathroom. Showers use 10 liters (2.6 gallons) per minute.  Do you sing in the shower? Take the 2 Minute Shower Challenge and join the chorus in praise of water.

2minuteshowersongs.com

Kammies, Kieno  “MiCasa releases 2 minute shower song to save water.” 17 November 2017. KFMwww.kfm.co.za/articles/2017/11/17/musicians-step-in-to-entice-capetonians-into-saving-water.

Sanlam.”SA’s biggest artists are singing to save water. Are you?”  https://2minuteshowersongs.com.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

September 8, 2017
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21 billion kilometer record

 

“Sounds of Earth” Golden Record, launched in 1977, plays on. Take a listen. Image: nasa.gov.

It’s a shiny gold record compiled by a team headed by Carl Sagan, honored with the NASA Apollo Achievement Award. And it’s also just set a record, as the farthest human-made object from earth. Sending our best in sound from Bach and Beethoven (String Quartet 13) to Solomon Islands’ Panpipes, from the haunting whistle of a train to the coo of a baby and the sound of a kiss, the record contains an homage to our planet. “Sounds of the Earth” also includes greetings in 55 languages including cetic (whale). “Sounds of the Earth” was launched in 1977, on two Voyager space probes. And now, along with space residents who may be receiving the message, you can hear it, too.

Pescovitz, David. “Voyager’s Golden Record still plays on.” 5 September 2017. CNN.com. http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/04/opinions/pescovitz-opinion/index.html

Sagan, Carl. ed. (1973). Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence (CETI). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-19106-7. LCCN 73013999. OCLC 700752.

Sagan, Carl. Murmurs of Earth. NY: Random House, 1978. https://books.google.com/books/about/Murmurs_of_Earth.html?id=oD90-PBNyr8C

For your listening pleasure and inspiration: “Sounds of the Earth”: https://soundcloud.com/user-482195982/voyager-golden-record-sampler-1

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

April 23, 2014
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Take Five

Dave Brubeck: Image courtesy of wikimedia.org.

“Take Five” is the best-selling jazz single in history; the song is written in quintuple time, hence the name of Paul Desmond’s jewel performed by The Dave Brubeck Quartet. Five is also a lucky number for Singapore: Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Taoist houses of worship have graced the city since the 1800’s. In Singapore, music of five languages syncopates the air: Chinese, English, Malay, and Tamil are official, but some say Mandarin might be the most heard. Multiculturalism may be encouraged by educational standards: English is taught as lingua franca but each student in primary and secondary school also certifies in another of Singapore’s official languages. Should North America follow a similar policy regarding: English, French, Nahuatl, Navajo, and Spanish?

For more on Dave Brubeck, whose landmark album Time Out was the result of an international exchange in Turkey, and to hear “Take Five,” please see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/arts-post/post/dave-brubeck-take-five-and-his-longtime-collaborator-credited-with-the-jazz-legends-biggest-hit/2012/12/05/6ae17f16-3f19-11e2-bca3-aadc9b7e29c5_blog.html

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

February 28, 2014
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Monuments, Memory, and Culture

Image courtesy of nih.gov.

Monument to love, built by 20,000 artisans using 43 different kinds of jewels, the Taj Mahal is Shah Jahan’s memorial to his beloved wife, Arjumand Banu Begam, also known as Mumtaz Mahal. The lovers met as teenagers and parted only when Mumtaz died on the battlefield (she traveled with him, no matter the circumstances) giving birth. Roman poet Horace wrote in his last ode, 3.30.1: Exegi monumentum aere perennius – “I have built a monument more lasting than bronze.” Poetry, music, libraries, laws, endowments, buildings, monuments, art – how should we honor, and remember? What is the role of memory in culture?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

April 30, 2013
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Singin’ in the Train

 

SFOT Red Train 4 by James Murray from Wikimedia Commons, at wikimedia.org.

Haunting whistle in the night, hypnotic rhythm of wheels on rail, panting acceleration of uphill runs breathed heavily by a 2860 engine, sigh of brakes — these were sounds quite new in the landscapes of the world until rather recently. The business of constructing rails was introduced in England in the seventeenth century. British mapmaker and engineer Captain John Montressor built the first American railway in Lewiston, New York in 1764. Nearly a century later, the Golden Spike was driven, completing the Transcontinental Railroad; it was now possible to traverse the country in 10 days instead of six months. The Transcontinental Railroad (1869), Canadian Pacific Railway (1885) and the Trans-Siberian Railway (1904) introduced soundscape to the landscape — the train whistle. Japan’s Shinkansen(1964) added a new note: each commuter station is announced by an electronic tune, composed to reflect the culture of the district. For a train soundscape, enjoy a listen (and look) via YouTube “Sound of Royal Hudson steam engine with O Canada horn ‘Good Times Express'” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQNQbuXjF2M). Finding music in the midst of urban sound, George Gershwin who included in “American in Paris” the blare of French taxi horns, might agree with Mozart: “Music is continuous, listening is intermittent.” As new trains, and cars, are developed, should musicians be on the team to create the ideal soundscape?

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

February 12, 2013
by zoequinn001
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Charles Ives’ “The New River”

London traffic, from The Guardian, at guardian.co.uk.

The American composer’s “The New River” is a song that in title might sound as if it were about England’s human-made waterway, but instead Ives talks about a different kind of river, one of noise. The song for voice and piano has these lyrics:

“Down the river comes a noise!

It is not the voice of rolling waters.

It’s only the sound of man,

phonographs and gasoline,

dancing halls and tambourine;

Killed is the blare of the hunting horn.

The River Gods are gone.

Fortunately, the New River in England continues to preserve its bucolic nature through walking paths designed to help the public admire the English countryside not too far from London. In fact, some would say that without the beauty of the walking paths and their healthy lifestyle, Britain could have been less attractive due to the river of noise. Consider London Monday morning traffic reports.

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

June 12, 2012
by zoequinn001
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Low Bridge!

Perhaps you sang it in music class in elementary school, but “Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal” is not a song about a pet mule. This song commemorates a time in the Erie Canal’s History when mule barges were a common way of moving products down the canal. Later, like in most of the United States, steam became the best way to perform this task.

 

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

April 3, 2012
by zoequinn001
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The Grand Canal Symphonic Suite

Composed for the Chinese government, Zhou Tian’s “The Grand Canal Symphonic Suite” is a 45-minute, 7-movement piece celebrating the oldest and longest canal in the world. In 2010 it was chosen to be the theme music for the Shanghai World Expo. Below is a clip from Tian’s work from that Expo.

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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