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Archive for the tag “music”

Friday Photo: No Last Call for these holiday tunes, Harrisburg

No Last Chance, Little Amps, Harrisburg, December 2013

No Last Chance, Little Amps, Harrisburg, December 2013

Hit-and-run holiday music by “No Last Call,” crowded into and outside of Little Amps, Harrisburg?

This season is best shared with surprise, generosity, and streetside tunes.

Friday Photo: Graffiti and musical rebellion, Metz, France

Metz, France 2008

Metz, France, 2008

Just days after a friend of mine visited Metz, France, and questioned why the French would ever deface their beautiful, ancient buildings with graffiti, I stumbled across this phrase, barely visible in the dark: “Beethoven is a revolutionary.”

While I didn’t answer my friend at the time, I should have told her that I love thought-provoking graffiti not only because of what is says but also how it says it and where. The combination between images and words, medium and method, never ceases to amaze me.

Here, I imagine some French teenager, in the classic image of rebellion, scampering off with a can of spray paint in the dark, only to paint a statement about classical music and Beethoven’s unorthodox take to it. Alan Woods summarizes: “After Beethoven (1770-1827), it was impossible to go back to the old days when music was regarded as a soporific for wealthy patrons who could doze through a symphony and then go home quietly to bed. After Beethoven, one no longer returned from a concert humming pleasant tunes. This is music that does not calm, but shocks and disturbs. it is music that makes you think and feel.”

In other words, even though Beethoven’s music is now considered standard in classical repertoire, his music in his time was emotional, nuanced, and breaking musical taboo.

Graffiti like this makes me rethink the purpose and the place of public thought. It makes me rethink my typical image of a graffiti artist. It also reminds me that change — even through music — is rarely appreciated until after it manages to happen.

Friday Photo: Choir directing and cultural translation

Graduation choir 2012

When I tell my students that I’m resigning, they often ask what I am doing next.  Higher education of any kind is not necessarily easy for them to imagine, and I’ve gotten a few vague questions about what I’m really going to be doing. Am I going to be reading stuff in another language?  Am I going to be translating?  The answer is yes, in part.  However, I can answer to them that I already have been translating and reading languages as I’ve taught in my mother tongue.  This kind of translation has not been from French into English but from life into life, comprehension into comprehension. Translation is my definition of teaching.

The first step to literary translation is to become very familiar with the source text that you are working from so that you can decipher the meaning of not just individual words but also of complex thoughts.  I took one translation class at Susquehanna University in 2007 and learned that translating is a very slow and tedious process, one that requires much more patience with the nuances of both languages than I’d thought.

Teaching is the same way.  When I was given the “bad kid” as a partner in math class to tutor in fifth grade, my mother gave me great advice: Teaching is going from the known to the unknown. With teaching, you also have to figure out where a person is, understand the source, before you can move him further.

Part of my duties as a high school teacher included working with the graduation choir to explain music to students who did not read notes, a task which required the use of words such as “faster” and “slower” or “higher” and “lower” to explain the complex language of pitch, rhythm, and meter.  We rehearsed for an hour twice a week and performed selections from 9 songs from complete memory by the end of May.  The choir can only sing in melody, and some of the boys could barely sing at all, but after the performance when the students rushed up to ask, “How did we do?” with shining eyes, my answer was always honest and positive — that they’d amazed me, because they had.  We had translated music, which is not easy, and they had translated the music to a live audience — even harder.

I’d like to think that working as a teacher, working with a choir, and translating are all one in the same — taking the time with person, an idea, a concept, a text, and simply moving it to something where the meaning is the same but broader. Bolder. New.

Local band Colebrook Road aims to ‘draw people’

Colebrook Road (left to right): Joe McAnuty of Harrisburg, fiddle and vocals; Marcus Weaver of Elizabethtown, banjo and vocals; Wade Yankey of Harrisburg, mandolin; Jesse Eisebise of Lower Swatara Twp., guitar; and Mike Vitale of Millersville, bass and vocals.

The name Colebrook Road is both a bluegrass band — and a place. As a band, it’s a five-member musical powerhouse based in Harrisburg who has written Pennsylvania-inspired songs like “Dry Ground Blues” and “Delta Skunk” and has performed in various venues, including many across the mid-state. As a street, Colebrook Road runs across Central Pennsylvania through Dauphin, Lebanon, and Lancaster counties, and represents many members’ childhood, connection to the land, and life philosophy. I spoke to the band Colebrook Road in October about their connection to community in an article recently published in The Patriot-News.

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