beatrice_otter: Eowyn holding a sword (Eowyn)
I'm listening to the 1200 years of women composers playlist on Spotify (it's 78 hours long with lots of really great music, give it a shot).  I think my favorite composers are Alice Mary Smith (1839-1884) and Amy Beach (1867-1944).  But anyway, as I'm listening to Smith's Symphony in C Minor, I notice several fragments of phrases that sound a lot like the Hobbit themes from The Lord of the Rings.  Not an entire melodic line, but a few bars of a phrase that then weave into something different, and then a few minutes later there's another one.  Howard Shore obviously knows Smith's work, even if I've never heard of her before.  (Why, I don't know, because her work is delightful.)
beatrice_otter: WWII soldier holding a mug with the caption "How about a nice cup of RESEARCH?" (Research)
I have been carefully curating my playlists since the early 2000s when I went off to college.  All music I owned was ripped to a series of laptops and put into playlists based on my own personal preferences, which were then loaded onto an mp3 player.  Some of these playlists are fairly short; some are thousands of songs long.  When I play them, I want a shuffle that is truly random, where I have the same chance of hearing everything on the playlist.  It wouldn't be ON the playlist, and I wouldn't be playing THAT playlist, if I didn't want to hear it!  I don't want the algorithm trying to figure out what I want, because it always goes "she's listened to these twenty songs in the last week, so obviously they are her favorites and she should hear them again."

When I listen to music on my phone, here's what happens.  Say I want to listen to my musical theater playlist.  The phone says, "aha! she listened to Hamilton yesterday, so when she puts on the Musical Theater playlist, she doesn't want to listen to all of it, she mostly wants to listen to Hamilton!" and cycles through the Hamilton songs with the occasional other show tune thrown in.  Which, no.  If I wanted to listen to ONLY Hamilton, I would be listening to the Hamilton playlist.  I would not be listening to the musical theater playlist!  So instead of putting the phone on shuffle and just driving down the road bopping along to my favorite show tunes, I have to worry about skipping through the stuff I just listened to yesterday.

Alas, I have not been able to find a music player app for android that doesn't do this.  And since my old MP3 player isn't really functional anymore, and I don't want to buy a new device for something my phone can do quite well, I'm frustrated.  I know that I am an old fuddy-duddy, and most people don't manually curate their own playlists anymore, just let the app do it for them, but I do--I've got twenty years of music exactly how I want it, and it's super simple to keep in order as I add music to it.  There has to be an app somewhere that will do what I want, where "shuffle"="random shuffle through the playlist" and not "let me try to read your mind and horribly fuck it up."

beatrice_otter: WWII soldier holding a mug with the caption "How about a nice cup of RESEARCH?" (Research)
I love Hamilton, but there's one thing that annoyed me: the repeated statement that, after the Reynolds pamphlet, Hamilton was "never goin' be President now."

Because, as Hamilton points out A LOT, Hamilton was an immigrant. And immigrants can't be President! You have to be a natural-born citizen!* It says so right in the constitution!

But then I decided to double-check, and there was a curlicue I didn't know about (because it hasn't applied in 200 years). Clause Five of Article Two reads:
No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
And there it goes. Hamilton was an immigrant, but he was a citizen of the United States when the Constitution was adopted, so he would indeed have been eligible to be president if he hadn't been such an idiot.

*Which is why the "birther" idiots kept trying to "prove" that Obama's birth certificate was fake, and he was born in Kenya instead of Hawaii, and thus not a US Citizen--which is stupid because even if it were true, Obama would still be a natural-born citizen because his mother was a citizen.

beatrice_otter: Les Mis stage show singing "One Day More" (One Day More)
I love Hamilton the musical, yo.  It's great.  The music is good, the words are incredible, I absolutely adore it.

But the thing is, I know enough about history to be able to see what they're doing.  And the way they tell the story, Hamilton absolutely comes off like he is what we would today call a progressive or a liberal.  They don't actually say that, but with the multiracial cast and an emphasis on him coming up from the bottom of the heap (except not quite the bottom, because he was still an educated able-bodied white guy, you know) it's implied.  And they make a big deal about Hamilton being opposed to slavery and Jefferson the slaveowner and all of that.

It's a very pretty story.  But the thing is, none of the founding fathers were anything close to what we today would consider a liberal or a progressive.  They weren't much like today's conservatives, either.  Things were very different.  But even outright abolitionists weren't out to free slaves because they believed in racial equality; nobody was advocating for anything like gender or sexual equality; and very few were arguing for economic equality.

Vox explains Cabinet Battle #1 and gives all the background to show you just how misleading the show is.  Because if nobody was arguing about racial, gender, disability, or sexual equality, there were a few people trying to make things at least a little more equal for poor white men.  Trying to reign in the power of speculators, bankers, and other rich people from profiting on the backs of the working class.  And in the debate that Cabinet Battle #1 depicts, the guy trying to protect poor whites from rapacious rich guys?  That was Jefferson.  Hamilton's plan got American business off to a good start and set the stage for the economic expansion of the 19th Century.  It also royally screwed a lot of poor people.

Hamilton was not the community activist working for his peeps and keeping it real.  He was the brilliant guy from the wrong side of the tracks who got a scholarship, got out, never looked back, and was happy to join the system with no qualms about enforcing and strengthening it. Because anybody who was smart like him could make it out the way he did, and if you weren't smart and dedicated enough, you deserved your lot in life.

I love the musical.  But it's a perfect example of how the way you tell the story--even if technically all the major details are accurate--can drastically change the meaning.

beatrice_otter: WWII soldier holding a mug with the caption "How about a nice cup of RESEARCH?" (Research)
I love this show, I really do, but there’s some hella problematic things in it. Here's one example.
Stephen Sondheim's musical Into the Woods deals more explicitly with the wolf in Red Riding Hood being a metaphor for predatory sexual exploitation than most modern versions, and Johnny Depp made it even more creeptastic in the recent Disney version.

Red and the Wolf )
image
image
She's pleasant enough when he first says hello, then he spends a song literally yanking her around to get her to pay attention to him, and telling her what she should be doing (that she doesn't want to do and is actively trying to get away from.) In the end, she smiles and says Okay! and picks some flowers that he showed her, at which point he stops hassling her. (And, of course, this shows why appeasing the creep is a dangerous course to take, because he uses her delay to go find her granny, eat her, and set up to eat Red Riding Hood too.)

Here's the video so you can watch the whole creeptastic scene:


So far, it's not problematic at all.  The wolf is a creep, and everyone knows it.  Yay!

Here's the problem.  Later on, when Red describes the whole thing to the Baker in “I Know Things Now,” she describes the wolf like this: “But he seemed so nice.”

I ask you, did the wolf seem “nice”? NO. He was not nice. He was, in fact, the creepiest creep to ever creep. And she knew it! She didn’t like his attention, she didn’t want his attention, she spends the entire song trying to get away from his attention! But a man is giving attention to a girl, she should be pleased, right? He's trying to give her things--flowers even--so she should appreciate it, right? The only way the wolf is "nice" is if you assume that any male attention to a female automatically is "nice" regardless of what kind of attention or whether she wants it or not.

But it's actually worse than that. Here's some context to that line:
"Mother said straight ahead
not to delay or be misled
I should have heeded her advice
but he seemed so nice.”

She tried to do the right thing. She did everything she possibly could to do what her mother told her and keep the wolf from misleading her. And now she’s blaming herself for the fact that he literally yanked her off the path.  And the show just kind of accepts this version, in which Red bears some of the blame for the wolf's "seduction" of her.  When, really, no, that's not what happened at all.

The whole song:




There’s actually some good and empowering stuff in the song, too, and I love it, but at the same time, eeeep!

If it actually reflected what had happened--if the wolf had been ambiguous and kinda nice, if Red had responded to him and chosen to go off the path with him, it would be a great song.  As it is, it's pretty failtastic.
beatrice_otter: Cover of Janelle Monae's Archandroid album (Janelle Monae)
For those of you who might not know, Janelle Monae is an awesomely talented Afrofuturist R&B singer whose first three albums tell the story of an android named Cindi Mayweather (played by Janelle). Cindi falls in love with a human and is thus to be hunted down and destroyed! But she eludes the hunters and goes on a journey through time and space, giving hope to her oppressed people. The songs are excellent, the story is great, the videos that go with it are awesome, if you're not already listening you should be. There are already some really good stories over at AO3, and the album arc has been nominated for [community profile] yuletide , so I am hopeful that there will be more coming soon.

Janelle Monae is awesome, and her Metropolis Suites albums are great SF and wonderful music. So I made some icons! Credit is love.

Total Icon Count: 26

Teasers:

She's the Electric Lady, Metropolis' Most Wanted )

Please credit and spread the word about how awesome she is! And remember, she's been nominated for [community profile] yuletide !  Request and write!
beatrice_otter: Talia Winters asks, what am I, a mind-reader? (mindreader)
Now, I hadn't ever heard of Janelle Monae because the only time I am introduced to music made in the last thirty years or so is when somebody does a vid of it and I go, huh, that's interesting, I like that.  And then my tastes run more to Regina Spektor.  But still: given that she's weaving an epic SF story involving robots and time travel across multiple albums and videos, why isn't more of the SF/F world talking about her?  I depend on you guys to learn about cool stuff that's happening!  You are falling down on the job!

Is there, like, a basic fannish primer out there?  So I know what to look for and what to get?  Because while the style of music in general leaves me feeling meh, she's good at it, and the overarching story has me feeling intrigued.  (This may be a new Yuletide fandom for me.)

beatrice_otter: Ginger Rogers--Dancing! (Dancing!)
Apparently, each year, there are a series of classical concerts in London that are a Really Big Deal.  They are called the Proms, and the last one is, well, [personal profile] lanning says it best: "an inexplicable mix of classical music, firecrackers, horns and funny hats."

Two examples:



(I think it's funny that they didn't bother to synch up the outdoor crowd scenes, so their mouths don't go along with the words.  Also, that there are a few non-British flags being waved about in the crowd.  I think I recognized Norway and Germany.)

Also, in weird classical music news, for the first time ever on this planet, Klingon opera will be performed.

beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Micah 6:8)
Schola Cantorum will light up the wintry darkness with a choral setting for vespers in the season of Advent on Sunday, Dec. 2, at 7:30pm in the Chapel of the Abiding Presence at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. The festival choral setting for evening prayer includes a Magnificat by Schutz.

I sing in the Schola Cantorum, and will be having a small solo. Gettysburg is about 1.5 hours north of Baltimore/DC; if you're in the area, we'd love to have you.

Map of 61 Seminary Rdg Gettysburg, PA 17325-1742, US
beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (omg)
So, here's where I demonstrate my complete and utter geekdom:

Obi-Wan Kenobi and the Second Chapter of Genesis )

Translating the Bible into Goa'uld )

On a more serious note:
Service music at LTSG )

I'm thinking about writing a hymn-text for Advent. I just learned tonight at choir that the new hymnal will go back to the old familiar tune for "Hark a Thrilling Voice is Sounding." (The tune in the current hymnal is also old, but not the one most often associated with that text.) Anyway, the melody that we won't be using any more is a good one (which is rare for a green book alteration). It would be a shame to lose it completely. If I write new words for it they'll add it to the collection of hymns here at LTSG, which would be cool. And there aren't enough Advent hymns, so I've been toying with the idea of trying to write one for a while.

And I finally have a TV, which is also cool.
beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
This year, I am a member of the Willamette Master Chorus, the premier auditioned chorus of the Willamette Valley (in Oregon, USA). Our Spring concert is coming up, and it's going to be a lot of fun.  If you have never heard Arthur Honegger's oratorio "King David," and you like classical music, I highly  reccomend getting a cd of it to listen to.  It's a great piece, and I am having a blast singing it.  Here's the press release for the concert: 

The Willamette Master Chorus Presents
“King David, Soldier, Psalmist, Shepherd” 



The Stravinsky, well, it will be nice to say I've sung it.  Bragging rights, y'know, and it is a major work.  I can appreciate the artistic merit of the piece on an intellectual level, but I don't reallly enjoy it.  The Honegger rocks.  Oh, and the soloists listed in the press release?  Almost all of them are altos, even the ones singing soprano solos.  We've got a lot of displaced sopranos in the alto section, for some reason.  I happen to be one of them, though I didn't try out for a solo.  Solos are a bit more pressure than I care for.

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