What are you listening to/watching?

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Tanni
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Re: What are you listening to/watching?

Post by Tanni »

Listening to Relaxing Foggy Forest (Virtual Drive) / Rain Storm and Thunder Sounds. Unlike other rain videos, this one shows actual movement through the forest. Wonderful! I wish I were there, right in this weather.
My neurochemistry has fucked my impulse control, now I'm diagnosed OOD = oppositional opinion disorder, one of the most deadly diseases in totalitarian states, but can be cured in the free world.

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Re: What are you listening to/watching?

Post by Tanni »

In a consent-driven world, 5G DO NOT CONSENT.
My neurochemistry has fucked my impulse control, now I'm diagnosed OOD = oppositional opinion disorder, one of the most deadly diseases in totalitarian states, but can be cured in the free world.

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Re: What are you listening to/watching?

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Ser
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Re: What are you listening to/watching?

Post by Ser »

Classics nerds are the most adorable. The guy in the middle answering a lot of the questions for Team B is a very active user on a certain Latin web forum.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjJasX0TNnc

Back when this guy joined the forum, we didn't believe he was just 14 years old, because he was so good at Latin already... (Nothing exactly surprising in general terms, but nowadays almost no one starts learning Latin when they're 9 years old or so.)
hīc sunt linguificēs. hēr bēoþ tungemakeras.

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KaiTheHomoSapien
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Re: What are you listening to/watching?

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

Ser wrote:
07 Mar 2020 19:56
Classics nerds are the most adorable. The guy in the middle answering a lot of the questions for Team B is a very active user on a certain Latin web forum.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjJasX0TNnc

Back when this guy joined the forum, we didn't believe he was just 14 years old, because he was so good at Latin already... (Nothing exactly surprising in general terms, but nowadays almost no one starts learning Latin when they're 9 years old or so.)
Neat! Reminds me of my participation in the NJCL.

I went to a school that started teaching Latin in 6th grade (age 11), but that is admittedly rare. My high school taught Latin but is now considering phasing it out because so few students are electing to study it. [:(]

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Re: What are you listening to/watching?

Post by kiwikami »

I'm in a chorus that's singing Tureja Liepa, and now I've just been listening to a ton of sutartinės. I love polyphony so much.
Edit: Substituted a string instrument for a French interjection.

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Re: What are you listening to/watching?

Post by Salmoneus »

One of the few good things about the pandemic is that the Met's making an opera a day available for free on their website. So currently I'm watching La Traviata. I'd forgotten just how good it was! Some operas have one or two songs that are notable, but La Trav is packed with good tunes (and, of course, plenty of drama!)

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Re: What are you listening to/watching?

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

Salmoneus wrote:
20 Mar 2020 23:53
One of the few good things about the pandemic is that the Met's making an opera a day available for free on their website. So currently I'm watching La Traviata. I'd forgotten just how good it was! Some operas have one or two songs that are notable, but La Trav is packed with good tunes (and, of course, plenty of drama!)
Thanks for reminding me of that--I was going to watch that, along with a symphony concert from the Philadelphia Orchestra.

(La Traviata is great; never seen it, but I do have it on vinyl!)

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Re: What are you listening to/watching?

Post by Dormouse559 »

The Paris Opera has a similar thing going, but it's geo-blocked. [}:(]

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Re: What are you listening to/watching?

Post by Salmoneus »

Hmm, small problem arising from that Verdi: I'm now addicted to "Di Provenza il mar"...

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Re: What are you listening to/watching?

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Salmoneus wrote:
22 Mar 2020 03:05
Hmm, small problem arising from that Verdi: I'm now addicted to "Di Provenza il mar"...
I can't get enough of "Parigi, o cara" (It's also just so sad).

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Re: What are you listening to/watching?

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Fast Color [:)] [tick]

I need a "not bad" smiley. The writing felt a bit awkward at times, in need of refinement and focus. But I'm here for quiet, down-to-earth sci-fi centered on black women. It has an intriguing concept, and apparently there's an Amazon series in the works, so maybe the ideas and their expression will get more time to gel.

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Re: What are you listening to/watching?

Post by Salmoneus »

KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
22 Mar 2020 17:58
Salmoneus wrote:
22 Mar 2020 03:05
Hmm, small problem arising from that Verdi: I'm now addicted to "Di Provenza il mar"...
I can't get enough of "Parigi, o cara" (It's also just so sad).
Now you've got me humming it.

I think the difference for me, though, is that that cantabile melody in Parigi o cara is much shorter than the one in Di provenza il mar, so it doesn't have time to burn into my ears the way the latter does.


-----------

Anyway, that was the first time I've watched Eugene Onegin. At first, I was surprised and a bit disappointed: I'm a big Tchaikovsky fan, and his lushness and flair for indelible memories should make him a great opera compose, but Onegin actively veers away from that Verdiesque style; it has relatively few big tunes, and the tunes that there are tend just to be intros for much longer arias (hence, the two most famous tunes in it are the two dance scenes). And in particular it begins with quite a 'sophisticated' sort of music, blending four female voices together with only suggestions of a tune.

But by the end, I really liked it. It's a good demonstration of how opera can be more than just an excuse for some songs, but an effective dramatic narrative in its own right, with a number of fantastic moments - Lensky's regrets and the duel scene, the sudden juxtaposition of the killing with the polonaise, and that great final section. I'm not so sure on the first couple of scenes, to be honest, and some of the arias could be trimmed, but overall a good story, and told in a way that non-musical theatre - or a novel - can't do. I think maybe what an opera like Onegin can do is convey a powerful mood without having to convey detailed information the way a novel would have to in its verbal description, or straight theatre of film does in its emotive closeups - it can let characters be cold and distant without worrying that that would make them opaque to us, or it can even use its music to contradict its characters.

I was also really interested in it formally and thematically. It really felt like a stepping stone between something like La Trav (twenty years earlier) and the verismo works written twenty years later (although I don't imagine it was significant in any causal way, given Tchaikovsky's remoteness from the Italian music scene).

Thematically, the feminism of La Traviata is made much more explicit in Eugene Onegin (how reassuring - or perhaps disheatening - that so many of the great cultural achievements of a brutally misogynist era and culture are essentially criticisms of that culture from a female perspective). There's a lot of the same themes as La Traviata, but they've been stripped of their romanticism, made more tawdry and ordinary. Instead of a glamorous courtesan, the heroine/victim is an ordinary middle-class (by russian standards!) woman; instead of a headstrong and foolish but basically sincere arsehole boyfrind, it's a narcissistic, callous arsehole boyfriend. Instead of a paid relationship with a Baron, it's an arranged marriage with an old soldier. You can see the trend for grimy bourgeois life that eventually produces La Boheme. It isn't nihilistic, but it's cynical - that is, it's a disillusioned sort of romance. Encapsulated, I guess, in that ambivalent and unexpected final decision.

Indeed, in a way Onegin feels more modern than the verismo operas, which deck their stories in more arrestingly modern and dirty clothing, but generally challenge the assumptions of the genre less than Onegin does. For a start: verismo heroines are usually still murdered, or kill themselves, or die of tuberculosis. Their feminism - and their tragedy - rests on women being victims who deserve pity. Tchaikovsky's heroine, on the other hand - well yes, she is still in a sense a victim, and certainly she is to be pitied - but she's also a woman who, unlike most women in opera, ends by taking control (to some extent, at least in the moment) and deciding the course of her own life (even if it is within a constrictive cultural context that offers her few choices). And similarly, both the prostitution of La Traviata and the artistic world of La Bohème are - while tragic, and of course genuine in their reflection of real subcultures - nonetheless essentially escapist, for the audience in general and for women in particular (showing the freedom and danger that women could find by escaping from mainstream social expectations). Eugene Onegin, on the other hand, is an only-slightly-elevated exploration of situations that many of its audience members would actually have faced, and it centres around a woman who does not escape society (succesfully or tragically) but who has to find a way forward inside it, as the women in the audience were having to do (and I loved, incidentally, the conceit of starting the opera with the heroine's mother reminiscing about her own experiences - which could easily be a description of what happens to her daughter in turn; and likewise, I like the class implications of the way the nanny tries to share her own (more extreme!) story with the heroine, only to find that her privileged charge isn't really listening...)

Looking backward, though, I was struck by its similarities not to La Trav but, further back, to Don Giovanni. The two operas are almost like the same story in two very different genres. Mozart's opera takes place in a realm that is superficially realistic, but still essentially mythological, whereas Tchaikovsky's begins from a place of realism. Mozart's cold-hearted rogue is diabolical, whereas Tchaikovsky's is only apathetical; Giovanni's victim is a picture of pristine, powerless innocence, whereas Onegin's is only a little naive at first (a little cynical later), and her powerlessness comes not from a gulf in class (Onegin looks down on her family as rustic, but the difference in status is not really so geat) but simply from being a woman. The final confrontation in Mozart is supernatural; in Tchaikovsky, psychological. Mozart's version, in effect, explores real issues by casting them high contrast - a posterized image; Tchaikovsky's tries to take them head on.


And then there's the decision not avoid a tight plot altogether. A lot of operas struggle to cohere narratively - it's hard to fit in too much explanation, as they're always running short of time - but Tchaikovsky chose not even to try: the opera was presented only as seven "lyrical scenes", moments extracted from the story. This frees him to concentrate on the essence of each moment, trusting us to fill in the gaps; and I think this actually works better than something like La Traviata, where the scenes still don't quite fit together (the sudden U-turn between the first and second acts!), but it's a bit more vexing because there's more of a feeling that they SHOULD fit together. Tchaikovsky's approach seems very modern, narratively speaking - and, strikingly, decades ahead of straight theatre (although I don't think it was that innovative per se for opera)

-------

As for the production, Hvorostovsky was clearly (musically and dramatically) born to play Onegin, but I also really liked Ramón Vargas as Lensky - not only did he find the music in the music, but he was really convincing in his acting. A big problem with opera is that the people with the right voice often can't project the right persona for the role (Fleming here was great musically, and well-suited for the final act, but never persuaded me she was a 16-year-old girl...), but I though Vargas really embodied his character - particularly tricky as Lensky is the character whose actions are hardest to explain (they're believable, that is, but they require the performer to convincingly escalate the situation very quickly).

The design was underwhelming. I loved the visual effect of the first act - a very minimalistic way to be absolutely Russian (a couple of pretend birch trees and a lot of dead leaves). I really liked the idea of the first ball - a big crowd of dances packed into a tiny space, both realistic and symbolic of the way society constricts its members, and with male and female singers/dancers taking turns to freeze as their partners soliloquyse/dance around them. But visually it was cluttered and unimpressive, particularly on such a large stage. Similarly, I understand why they made the polonaise focus intently on Onegin - the incongruous music and the time shift are very much about his psychological state - but I kind of wish they'd at least had dancers in the background. You're doing an opera by the greatest ballet composer ever, you've got two big society ball scenes, and one of them is cluttered and compressed, and you don't even bother having dancers for the second? You're not using your resources to their max, there!

I'm also a little eye-rolly about the prologue idea: sticking Onegin looking sad over the overture. I get that modern opera productions are terrified of not giving the audience something to look at for five minutes - and sure, I understand that this is a valuable opportunity to fit in a little story. But the idea of having the protagonist looking back over their life silently in the overture is just so EASY. [eg the Met's version of La Traviata did the same thing]. In this case, it also misses the point: Onegin has his name on the show, but this isn't his story. And giving us Onegin first undermines the great - and subversive, and mythological - idea of beginning with the two older women. Why not just put them up there for the overture - or a brief look back at THEIR lives? Failing that, if you need one of the protagonists to be there, make it Tatiana!

------------

....aaaaanyway. Just felt the need to expound a little bit...

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Re: What are you listening to/watching?

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Tant de choses by Zaho, an Algerian-Canadian singer. I like this song's refrain a lot because it's a fake-out. First, you hear this: /ja.tɑ̃.də.ʃoz | kɔ̃n.se.pa.dit/. That neatly breaks down as "Y a tant de choses qu'on n's'est pas dites" (There are so many things we haven't told each other).

Then you hear the next line: /tɑ̃.də.ʃoz | kɔ̃n.se.pa.diʁ/. At first, it sounds like a slightly reshuffled version of the first line. But then you hear the last consonant of the last word, and it's /ʁ/ instead of /t/. Suddenly, you have to re-evaluate the line, and the only interpretation becomes "(Y a) tant de choses qu'on n'sait pas dire" ([There are] so many things we don't know how to say).

So it sounds as if Zaho is repeating herself until the very end of the second line. Then a single phoneme completely alters the meaning at the last moment.

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Re: What are you listening to/watching?

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

Salmoneus wrote:
24 Mar 2020 01:43
Anyway, that was the first time I've watched Eugene Onegin. At first, I was surprised and a bit disappointed: I'm a big Tchaikovsky fan, and his lushness and flair for indelible memories should make him a great opera compose, but Onegin actively veers away from that Verdiesque style; it has relatively few big tunes, and the tunes that there are tend just to be intros for much longer arias (hence, the two most famous tunes in it are the two dance scenes). And in particular it begins with quite a 'sophisticated' sort of music, blending four female voices together with only suggestions of a tune.
Tchaikovsky's operas have always been a bit on the weaker side (Onegin being the strongest by far with none of the others being particularly memorable, though Queen of Spades has some merit) and I think even Tchaikovsky himself recognized that (I remember reading a quote from him that writing operas was almost a compulsion for him and he would continue doing so even if no one liked them).

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Re: What are you listening to/watching?

Post by Egerius »

Welp, too much Queen music.
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Re: What are you listening to/watching?

Post by qwed117 »

only just today figured out that Stevie Nicks is also the Fleetwood Mac person. So yeah Fleetwood Nicks
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Re: What are you listening to/watching?

Post by Salmoneus »

Some things nobody will be interested in!

------

FIRST: I just discovered this Benedictus by Mascagni - presumably taken from his Messa di Gloria, though I'm not certain.

It's nothing special, but it's a really nice piece, both the violin solo and the song. Makes me wish I knew... well, anything at all!... by Mascagni. However, outside of really hardcore music fans, classical music fans can be divided into those who know nothing at all by Mascagni, and those who know exactly one thing by Mascagni (Cavalleria Rusticana, the first of his fifteen operas, and one of the most important (and most performed) operas of all time). If this is from the mass, it was written two years before Cavalleria Rusticana. And goes to demonstrate how much great music was written (and often overlooked by history) by composers who were not considered to be among the greatest.

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SECOND: I just discovered In festo transfigurationis Domini nostri Jesu Christi. Wow!

OK, for context: early and middle Liszt is infamous for difficulty and complexity. His two big things are showmanship (he was history's greatest pianist, and one of history's most popular musical celebrities - the subject of the great "Lisztomania" mass hysteria of the 1840s) and sentiment, mostly of the goth kind - lots of hell, lots of death.

Later in life, however, his brooding feeling led him to an exploration of the musically 'forbidden', and he became a radical visionary, exploring intense chromaticism and discord, unusual rhythms and melodic structures, unfulfilled harmonic progressions, and beginning to investigate atonality - in other words, he prefigured much of the classical music of the 20th century. As part of this, he massively simplified his textures, yielding stark and barren tonescapes.

This piece is from that period, written in 1880, six years before he died. 1881 would see such iconic works as "Unstern! - sinistre - disastro", the 'csardas macabre", and the second 'mephisto waltz', and most famously 'Nuages gris'. So I was expecting something odd. But this!

To be clear, I don't think the music is extraordinary per se. But that's the thing. This piece would be very expected... an entire century later! Were this piece written by the composer of Spiegel im Spiegel, I guess I wouldn't be surprised (although the Liszt piece is still arguably more modern-sounding than the Part, as the Part is harmonicaly and rhythmically more familiar). But it wasn't. Part wrote that piece a full 98 years after Liszt wrote his. Liszt is prefiguring minimalism, and in particular 'sacred minimalism', a full century before it happened.

Instead, the piece was actually written by someone who'se usually more keen on writing stuff like this (which probably literally has more notes on the second page alone than in the whole of that little hymn - and that guy's playing it slowly!)... (although, to be fair, that has a couple of moments that would have been pretty radical for 1850 too... but hardly to the same extent)

And aside from it being musically so radical, it's also... pleasant? I was expecting Liszt to be pleasant!


----------



THIRD: Here's a 2008 article in the New Yorker, a brief introduction to the life and significance of J.S. Mill.



--------


FOURTH: the FIA have put up on youtube a complete replay of the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix.

I wouldn't normally suggest bothing to watch hours of F1 racing from decades ago. But if you're not familiar with the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix, it's... kind of wild. A lot of stuff happens.

I mean, there's no invasion by aliens or anything. But within the scope of "a car race", it's one of the more eventful ones there's been!

[for a start: I saw that race live when I was very young, and have remembered it ever since, which is not true of, I think, any other GP from more than 10 or 15 years ago]

EDIT: also, Murray Walker!

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Re: What are you listening to/watching?

Post by Clio »

Salmoneus wrote:
05 Apr 2020 00:25
THIRD: Here's a 2008 article in the New Yorker, a brief introduction to the life and significance of J.S. Mill.
That was a great read; thank you for sharing it. I have to admit I wasn't into the car racing or music, though, as you evidently expected.

A few things I've been listening to/watching/reading:

Oedipus Rex in Greek, with the Cambridge "Green & Gold" commentary
these scene readings of Greek drama from the Center for Hellenic Studies
this episode of the New Yorker's literature podcast about David Foster Wallace's 2007 short story "Good People"
Niûro nCora
Getic: longum Getico murmur in ore fuit
scratchpad

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Re: What are you listening to/watching?

Post by Salmoneus »

I haven't read any of them in Greek, but imo Oedipus Rex is the least interesting of the trilogy. The most interesting in Oedipus at Colonus, because its worldview, its entire purpose, is so alien...



The last couple of days, I've been playing/learning a lot of chess. www.chess.com/play/computer is a really easy, no-hassle, in-web-browser chess thingy allowing you to play against a computer, which you can set to a degree of difficulty. I know such things have existed a long time, and are better than this one... but this one is free, and just needs an address, rather than being an app to download. And there don't seem to be adverts. So... yeah, lots of trial and error trying to work out why I'm so bad at it...

[it's not perfect. The lower difficulty levels are kind of a frustrating combination of 'really great moves I don't understand' and 'blunders so obvious even I can see them', rather than a really naturalistic, humanoid level of ability. But for a casual passing interest, it's good enough...]

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