Earworms 19 May 2014

Only five worms this week? That’s ‘cos mine is rather long, in honour of my 100th ‘Spill post.
As a reminder, an earworm is a tune that you can’t get out of your head, but it could also be something that you just want to share. Please send YOUR worms along to earworm@tincanland.com: (.mp3 is the preferred format but I can convert .wma and .m4a files). Thank you!

Abigail Washburn – Bring Me My Queen – tincanman: Banjoist-singer-songwriter and sinophile Washburn lets Chinese folk wander among her American compositions. That’s a guzheng, she’s snuck in there. (I had tickets to see Washburn and hubby Bela Fleck in May but couldn’t go. 😦 )

Megson – Follow It On – tfd: such a sad, sad song and Deb Hanna’s beautiful voice (sobs) to boot. I’ve just acquired Megson’s new(ish) live album and this is on it; like it even better than the studio version.

Orchestra Baobab – Boulmamine – beltway: A great record from Senegalese legends Orchestra Baobab, one of their classic recordings from the early 80s where their sound is firmly rooted in West African pop but with just enough of a hint of their early fascination with Cuban rhythm. This is an earworm for dancing to!

Kaïsa – To Ndje – goneforeign: I have only two cuts by this lady who’s from Cameroon, both on compilations, the first, “O Si Keka” was well received as an earworm some time back, here’s the other.

Thomas Tallis – Peter Phillips & the Tallis Scholars – Spem in Alium – AliM: Or Spem in AliM? This beautiful motet was written in 1570, for 40 voices, starting with just one voice. Wikipedia gives the history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spem_in_alium, but Chris might be able to explain how/why it is so amazing.

23 thoughts on “Earworms 19 May 2014

  1. Chris might be able to explain how/why it is so amazing
    Unlikely. Wiki explains its construction, the rest is all in your mind.

  2. Hey, Thomas Tallis was playing in that scene in Shades of Grey when they…I mean, I’ve heard that it was playing in that scene …

    You returning that copy you borrowed from me any time soon, @DsD?

  3. I like these a lot, and they somehow fit well together. Similar musical undercurrents seem to be at work across time and space.

    Happy 100, Ali! And Many Happy Reworms!

  4. Yeah, I agree, great set but there’s just this one thing. There’s no rules about how long earworms are so if there’s long earworms, let’s hear ’em, plus there’s no rules about how many make a list, right? So maybe if the urge takes you, you just keep adding ’em ’til you think it’s right? Thanks for the ton, keep ’em coming.

  5. An absolutely stellar selection this week, well done to all concerned.

    Spem in Allium is simply, in my view, the single greatest piece of music ever written for unaccompanied voices (I think I called it that when I successfully got it zedded for RR Acapela Songs) and if I had to write a list of 10 pieces of music that everyone should hear before they die, then this would definitely be on it. Not sure if it really helps to go into any great technical explanations of what makes it so special – it perhaps helps to know that it is undoubtedly the crowning glory of what you would call Polyphonic choral writing – think where choral music began with single melody lines (plainchant) and compare to this where you have 40 seperate voices with their own melodic lines, and it just builds and builds with the voices doing “call and answer” to each other, in ever more complex ways until you are just left floating in a mesmerising milieu of beautiful sounds and textures – this is choral writing on a grand symphonic scale.

    One of my favourite ever experiences in an art gallery came in Sheffield Gallery about 10 years ago when I saw a piece called 40 Part Motet by Janet Cardiff – basically it was a large room with 40 speakers positioned in a circle with each of the 40 parts coming out of each speaker so you could wander around the room hearing all the different parts and how they interplayed, or just concentrate on a single one – I must have gone to see it 5 or 6 times, spending several hours each time – I urge you to see it if you can!

    The Abigail Washburn track is just glorious, a tear jerking vocal performance and I love the timbre of the instrumentation, just unusual enough to be really ear catching but not enough to distract. The Megson track had a similar effect but for different reasons – exquisite harmonies and such a sad melody – utterly lovely.
    The Kaïsa track was rather lovely too – the slightly upbeat (maybe slightly 80s ish production was just perfect for it).

    Great programming this week too – there seemed to be a fine balance between melancholy and elation in all of the pieces which just seemed to make them work together – a triumph for such a special occassion!

    • The Janet Cardiff motet sounds fascinating. I did an arts foundation course years ago and one of the “blocks” consisted of picking out different parts in a piece of classical music; it’s really difficult and made me realize what a lazy listener I am, as I tend to hear things as a whole without appreciating the individual instruments or harmonies.

    • LG: Is the Sheffield gallery the one attached to the main library, if so I spent half of my childhood in there. Every week when I went to the library I’d pop in and stare at the pictures.

      • Hi GF, no, it was in the (relatively) new Millennium Galleries just across the road from the library Gallery (its attached to the rather splendid Winter Gardens, one of the best things to be built in the city in the last 20 odd years)

      • Beltway, thanks for the clarification, with the advent of Google Earth’s street views I’ve spent hours cruising my old stomping grounds, I was impressed with the Winter Gardens and I’m amazed at how much the city has changed since I left, much of it is unrecognisable.

  6. Ali, thanks for a delightful set of earworms and congrats on your unstinting efforts to keep us all entertained each week.

    To the ‘worms’: tinny’s musical selections never cease to please me so thumbs up for Abigail.

    The next track from Megson flows smoothly from the first and is equally enjoyable; is that a flute or some other woodwind instrument?

    I’m not a fan of songs that aren’t in my native language but Maki’s previous posts on Spanish indie music opened my ears to the cadence and rhythm without needing to understand the meaning of the words and both of the next two tracks carry you along, I particularly enjoyed Kaïsa’s delightful voice.

    My thanks to lgconnolly’s post, which added a little more to my appreciation of the choral track, a fitting end to five brilliant worms.


  7. All five are new to me, I think. Nothing there I didn’t like a lot, but even with that high a bar set, one of them is head & shoulders above the rest: the Megson. Gobsmackingly beautiful. Outstanding!

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