Von fremden Ländern und Menschen

Spanning the globe, etc., etc.

Aniruddh Patel of the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego has found that your native language affects the way your hear music. Patel has been doing some of the most entertaining research into nationalistic tendencies in music as of late, coming up with a methodology that lets one correlate the patterns of a given language to the music of its corresponding country of origin. His work can be perused here, including the classic paper “Comparing the rhythm and melody of speech and music: The case of British English and French,” which is pretty much a Monty Python sketch waiting to happen. The one avenue Patel hasn’t yet pursued is a sort of reverse-engineering application of a given dialect to pre-existing music: what would the Enigma Variations sound like with an Australian accent? Die Meistersinger with a Yiddish accent? “Fair Harvard” with a Southie accent?

Speaking of nationalistic tendencies, Nepal has a new national anthem. (They needed something that conspicuously avoided mentioning the monarchy.) Now all they need is a tune. Compose it, and maybe you’ll get your own memorial plaza! Hey, it worked in China.

Opera Chic, an invaluable link to all operatic news out of Italy (you know, where they actually give a damn), notes an interview with Riccardo Chailly, in which the maestro promulgates the theory that Verdi packed Aida with musical codes based on the number three, seeing as how he was a secret Freemason. And of course, everyone knows the Freemasons run everything in tandem with the Illuminati, don’t they? No wonder Alagna’s getting cold feet.

Anybody lose a trumpet in Czechoslovakia?

Finally, if you’re one of those types who breaks away from the tour group to see how the natives really live, Oberlin College is offering a course in “Vocal Folk Traditions,” but I fear that the instructors need to be disabused of a few notions:

The two leaders said that both Georgian and shape note music was true music from the people: “It wasn’t as if some trained composer from a conservatory sat down and wrote this music,” said Book. “They’re all by normal people.”

Hate to burst your bubble, guys, but if somebody put those notes down on paper, then, by definition, they’re not normal. Sorry.

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