Wednesday, May 21, 2008

landmark 361st post

Last night, the kittoises slept almost through the night. When I woke to the alarm (a cd player alarm; the Monkees, I swear to it), they were curled up on us, sweetly sleeping. As usual, Alexander immediately woke when he saw me moving, and as usual, Arthur was the first one downstairs in the kitchen to beg for breakfast. But they didn't wake me up, at 5, or 4:30, by jumping up and down on top of us wrestling and biting each other (and us). This morning is also the first morning in the past week when it was actually chilly (we've had record temperatures until yesterday).

From this I conclude: the kittens are heat-activated.

But that's not what I meant to write about. No, that would be

Doc Nagel's Top 100 Things

25. Notes sung in the "dog register." I just love 'em.

Last night we went to the Cow State Santa Claus Chamber Singers (a.k.a. Daniel Afonso's Elite Republican Guard) concert. These are the top-shelf choral singers on campus, and they never fail to impress. Last night they were a little bit impressiver than usual, particularly the altos. Altos tend to sound weaker in choral groups, in my experience, but this group are quite strong. My loveliest (a one-time soprano-trapped-in-an-alto's-section) suggested that it's hard to find traditional college-age students who are strong altos, because altos develop later as voices deepen.

In any case, a couple of the numbers featured extremely high notes from first sopranos, which is just about my favorite thing that ever happens in choral music. The more the sopranos have to reach, the more I like it. They weren't hitting Ds or anything, but there were definitely a few As, and I believe a B or two.

I don't know what it is, exactly. I feel those dog notes in my bones. Perhaps I'm a dog. Perhaps, as Afonso once suggested to me, I have a sadistic urge focused on sopranos. Well, so did Mozart, so neener-neener, sopranos!

24. Musical dissonances. I just love 'em.

There wasn't as much of this as there sometimes is, but there was a smattering in Eric Whitacre's "Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine," an uplifting (hah!) modern piece in which the choir evokes dreaming, flying, wind, and machines, and the siren call of the will to fly.

Dissonance may not be a word Whitacre, or anybody who knows anything about music, would accept as a description, but by it I mean a tonal tension that sounds like something weird has happened to the piano. I love those moments because I love the feeling of being on the verge, or about to be shoved off the cliff, or about to let go of the rope. I only love that feeling in music, art, literature, philosophy, and theater, and I don't just love it, I have to have it, or I don't feel like anything very important has happened.

Like the Bach piece they did last night. Bach, it struck me, is just like Leibniz. Music is a universal language, Bach's concertos and whatnot are generated by a Leibnizian calculating machine, and each piece in Bach's Werke is the perfect solution generated by the machine. Bach is just the mechanic. Contrast Mozart, who is just like Kant: everything perfectly rational, but also sublime and beautiful, and he swears up and down that's the same thing, and he can prove it, if you'd only sit down and listen, honestly, he's got the whole thing worked out, it's, you know... this!

Okay, seem to have wandered a bit. Last day of classes. Wooo!

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