Throwback Thursday: “L’Elephant,” Camille Saint-Saëns


Elephants are the largest animal that can also manage to be completely adorable.  I once spent a very diverting 20 minutes watching a baby elephant play catch with its mother using a red ball the size of a washing machine.

Elephants are also deceptively intelligent animals despite their otherwise slow-moving, vaguely dopey appearance.  They remind me of certain humans I know, come to think of it.

In any event, Camille Saint-Saëns wrote a whole suite of pieces about different animals.  I have very happy memories of listening to this one as a little kid and giggling at the thought of watching elephants gracefully dancing to this melody.


Worldly Wednesday: “The International Rumor,” Hidrogenesse


Welp, this song makes no sense.  And not just because I don’t speak Spanish.  But I feel like this week needs some weird 80s-style music, so here you go.

Worldly Wednesday: “When I Grow Up,” Fever Ray


Oh, Fever Ray.  You’re so incredibly weird.  Is it because you’re Swedish?  Do I really care?  No, not really.  For other, darker songs, check out “Keep The Streets Empty For Me,” and “Seven.”

PS: Whoopsidaisie, I let the blog lie fallow for a week.  Sorry, Yankette Nation.

PPS: Hi, Karl.

Worldly Wednesday: “Election Song,” Johnny Hobo and the Freight Trains



There are a lot of people who woke up this morning with a hangover after watching the midterm results last night.  So, today is a good day for your friendly neighborhood anarchist punk bank, Johnny Hobo and the Freight Trains.  Fare forward, voyager.

I curse this world one second. Demand it buy me a sandwich in the next. Or else I’m bummin’ a cigarette. That will help me to forget how hungry I am. 

I can’t believe that bastard won this morning. It’s the kind of night for vodka and forties! And we’re mixing our drinks stiff tonight. Yeah, we’re mixing our drinks stiff tonight.

Today is the dawn of the draft. And tomorrow we’re shipped off to Iraq. Or else we’re cutting off a toe. Praying that we won’t have to go.

I can’t believe that bastard won this morning. It’s the kind of night for vodka and forties! Who’s ready for the war tonight? Who’s ready for the war tonight?

I’m running on caffeine. And nicotine and amphetamines. I hope more stimulants are on the way. Cause who doesn’t have a drug problem these days?

I can’t believe that bastard won this morning. It’s the kind of night for vodka and forties! And I’m sniffin’ those pills hard tonight! Yeah, I’m sniffin’ those pills hard tonight!

FRIEND WEEK! Salubrious Saturday: “Study #21 for Player Piano (“Canon X”),” Conlon Nancarrow. Submitted by Chris.


Yankette’s Reaction:

This piece is demented.  Absolutely, without question, demented.  And I love it.  It’s a great piece for the day after Halloween – it’s very spooky.  If I ever have an abode that I want to turn into a “haunted house” for neighborhood kids, this will be one thing I play on the hi-fi.  The left hand starts and you think, “Okay, a little a-tonal, but intriguing.”  And then the right hand kicks in and you think “what in the name of God is that.”  But you can’t stop listening!  All of a sudden the pace of the hands switches!  Why!  Why is it switching!  And then all you can do is cling to the octaves being played until that gets wiped out, and then…it stops.  …What.

Chris’s Justification:

Sometimes a piece of music is all about the idea behind its construction. This notion goes all the way back to the earliest notated music we know about, and the early repertory of vocal music is full of arcane structural devices not apparent to the listener. One example of this sort of thing is the canon – a piece of music based on the idea of strict imitation. In it’s simplest form, it’s a round: “Row, row, row your boat” is a canon. One voice sings the idea and it is repeated exactly by the second voice. But you could make that into a retrograde canon by doing the second voice in reverse: “boat your row, row, row.” Composers love ‘em: every third variation in Bach’s famous “Goldbergs” is a two-voice canon in which the second voice starts on progressively higher scale degrees.
So here is a canon in the hands of Conlon Nancarrow, the wildly eccentric composer for player piano. In this case, this canon for two voice is all about time. Both voices are based on the same 54-note melody, but at the start the treble voice plays that melody ten times faster than the bass. As the piece progresses the notes in the treble slow down while the notes in the bass speed up in exact proportion. The time values cross in the middle (the “X” of the title). The overall effect is astonishing. And it was all done by hand, using paper and pencil to plot out the formulae and a piano roll punching machine to manually create the roll.

So THAT'S what that was...

Termagant Tuesday: “Hawaii,” New York Ska Jazz Ensemble


Aloha, Tune Sharks!  Your intrepid blogger is in delightful Honolulu this week — for work.  (I know, right?)  What with the six hour time delay, I only now had a moment to send you a musical postcard.  I hope its weirdness will make up for my tardiness.