July 27th, 2017
liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
posted by [personal profile] liv at 03:46pm on 27/07/2017 under ,
A song that you would sing as a duet on karaoke. I don't do karaoke, and I don't do duets, so this is a bit of a non-starter for me.

No, let me explain, because I'm having fun answering this meme in way too much detail. I think karaoke is an absolutely excellent idea in theory. It's really great to encourage people to sing just for fun and not worry about skill level. And it's really great to use technology to play the backing music and display the lyrics so that someone can just get up and sing the melody with little preparation.

The problem is that for me personally, karaoke means packaging up 30 plus years of abject humiliation over not being able to sing in tune, and asking me to enjoy that in public. I find it hard anyway to make myself sing in front of other people; I do it, because I absolutely do believe that music belongs to everybody (not just people who are "musical"), and shared music is a great way for people to connect. Singing in front of an audience who are paying attention to me, or even worse, in a competition, however light-hearted, is too terrifying.

Duets are possibly extra impossible, because singing in unison with someone else is already hard for me. Especially if they have a lower range; I can't really hear octaves, so I find it very difficult to join in with someone singing in the bass clef range. Singing in harmony is really really hard, because not only do I have to sing the correct notes which I always find difficult to remember, I also have to match the note which is very imperfectly in my head while being distracted by my partner singing a different note that my actual ears can hear. I can sometimes do multi-part harmony if there are several people singing each section, so I can listen to someone else who is singing the same line as me. And I'm fine with parts in music in general when I don't have to worry about pitch. But a sung duet is really tricky.

And really, I can think of very few duets that I know at all, for whatever reason, even to listen to. Let's call the whole thing off might work, because (at least in this superlatively great version with Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong) it's mostly alternating verses or lines between the two singers rather than harmony. But hypothetically, if I were to find the courage to sing karaoke, I probably wouldn't start with something really amazingly great; somehow I'd feel less bad about murdering some ephemeral extruded pop product than attempting an actually good song.

I will admit, though, that my brother and I have been known to sing Always by Bon Jovi, as a sort of duet, sometimes in public and definitely not caring that neither of us can really sing. Partly because we always liked the dubious rhyme of:
I'll be there til the stars don't shine
Til the heavens burst, and the words don't rhyme
And partly because Bon Jovi can't really sing either, he just projected a persona calculated to appeal to teenaged girls in the 90s. So I probably wouldn't sing it actually in karaoke, and I probably wouldn't sing it with anyone other than my brother, but it seems slightly less impossible than any other options, so I think it seems in the spirit of the meme.

video embed )
location: Keele University, Staffordshire, England
Mood:: 'embarrassed' embarrassed
Music:: Steeleye Span: Go from my window
July 26th, 2017
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
posted by [personal profile] liv at 10:39am on 26/07/2017 under ,
Let's get the political complaining off the top of my journal, and talk about One of your favourite classical songs.

Because I always end up picking Fauré's Requiem every time I answer a meme about music, I'll stick to a strict definition of 'song' and go with Les roses d'Ispahan instead:

video (singing over animation of the score) )

The story behind this is that I fell in love with Fauré when I heard the school choir singing the Requiem when I was 12, and the singing teacher saw me falling in love and decided to try to teach me to sing, even though I notoriously couldn't hold a tune. And we talked a lot about singing Christian sacred music, but she also pointed out that Fauré wrote plenty of secular stuff, so I could learn that. Alongside lots of simpler things more appropriate for a beginning singer. And I loved all the repertoire I learned, but Les roses d'Ispahan best. Spending absolutely months trying to learn songs that were too hard for me gave me an appreciation that just listening to them never would.

Or, if I'm going with a strict definition of Classical, to get even further away from always going on about Fauré... most of the music I like is either Baroque or Romantic really, but I'm not against the entire Classical period. So let's go with Schubert, whom I always reliably like. I'm choosing the song Heidenröslein for the tune, even though I'm not wholly enamoured of the lyrics. I mean, it's Goethe, but it's also about the poet destroying his lover to punish her for rejecting him. Also because I discovered recently that there's a Rammstein song alluding to it, so I'm using the meme as an excuse to tell you about that.

video embed, containing religious violence )
location: Keele University, Staffordshire, England
Mood:: 'cheerful' cheerful
July 25th, 2017
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
posted by [personal profile] liv at 05:25pm on 25/07/2017 under
I feel completely out of step with most of my friends politically. UK politics, very gloomy )
location: Keele University, Staffordshire, England
Music:: Spin Doctors: Two princes
Mood:: 'despairing' despairing
July 24th, 2017
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
posted by [personal profile] liv at 03:31pm on 24/07/2017 under ,
A song that is a cover by another artist. I think this has to be Tori Amos' cover of I don't like Mondays, originally by the Boomtown Rats.

Tori Amos was I think the first musician I really got intensely into, beyond just enjoying the sound of somebody's music. The single Cornflake girl was on the radio a lot in the mid 90s, and I quite liked it but didn't have any context. Then I met MK when we were both up for Oxford interview, and became instant friends. He put a lot of effort into supporting me through a somewhat bumpy transition from sheltered child to independent person, including dealing with a bereavement that hit me really hard when I was 19. He's also responsible for introducing me to digital socializing (email, instant messenger, Usenet to an extent, and the wonderful world of peer-to-peer file sharing). And he played lots of Tori songs for me when I was sitting in the dark crying about letting go of childhood naive optimism. I bought Little earthquakes on CD, and had access to a lot of Tori's oeuvre for all of the 90s via not entirely licit digital copies. Not only Tori Amos, there was a lot of alt stuff especially goth that I picked up from [personal profile] doseybat, but Tori Amos was pretty much the soundtrack of inventing myself as an adult.

I don't like Mondays was almost a novelty thing in a way, recorded with a bunch of much less successful covers, of things like Smells like teen spirit which really doesn't work for Amos' musical style, most of which were never commercially released. This one did make it to Strange little girls, the concept album of gender-bent cover songs, which I was never fully convinced by. I haven't been strongly into Tori Amos' music since 2000, not that I think it's bad but it isn't part of my psyche in the way that the 90s material is. But anyway, it's a remix of a song written in response to a school shooting in the late 70s. The original is meant to be ironic, but it comes across as so inappropriately jolly that it often gets played on the radio as a joke song, here's one to cheer you up from your Monday commuting blues... Tori Amos' cover is a total reworking, without any irony at all, just sadness about a teenaged girl turning a gun on her schoolmates.

So it kind of epitomizes why Tori Amos meant a lot to me at that time in my life; she wrote and performed beautiful songs (she's a classically trained musician) about serious subjects which she took seriously. But that seriousness isn't about glorying in the violence and ugliness, it's about challenging it. video embed, audio only )

As a bonus, have kd lang's cover of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. It's a song that gets covered way too often, nearly always as a kind of soppy lovesong that really fails to do justice to the extremely powerful original. So basically I hate Hallelujah covers, except this one. Again, it's very different from Cohen's original, but it's an emotionally serious interpretation in its own right which doesn't cheapen its source material.
Mood:: 'contemplative' contemplative
location: Pumbedita House, Cambridge, England
July 23rd, 2017
emperor: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] emperor at 04:50pm on 23/07/2017 under
I didn't really have enough time to get through the Hugo reading this year, but I did manage to read enough of the shortlisted novels that I voted for them. I voted thus:

  1. A Closed and Common Orbit; I read The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet shortly before the shortlist was announced (and really enjoyed it), which perhaps biased me in favour of this one. That did mean that I knew how one of the story arcs was going to finish, but it was still an engaging read, and I thought the way the author approached neurodiversity was gently but well done
  2. Ninefox Gambit; I would not normally go for military SF, and it did take me a while to get into this, but the author has created a fascinating world, and I really want to find out how the series progresses. Despite being the first in a series, this had a decent narrative arc of its own
  3. All the Birds in the Sky; I wanted to like this, but didn't in the end. The chapters were a bit abrupt, it sometimes felt like it was just being clever, and the magic felt a bit deus ex machina in places. I also found the (inevitable?) romance plot pretty weak. Also, the ending was a bit disappointing.
  4. Too Like the Lightning; I didn't like this at all. The narrator was infuriating, the style affected, the continued harping on about gender irksome, and it didn't even try to come to a natural close, it just stopped. I know there's a sequel, but really.


I didn't read Death's End, because I hated 3-Body Problem; I didn't read The Obelisk Gate because I didn't manage to get hold of a copy (the kindle voter packet only had an excerpt).
July 21st, 2017
liv: Detail of quirky animals including a sheep, from an illuminated border (marriage)
posted by [personal profile] liv at 01:24pm on 21/07/2017 under ,
Here we go, the middle of the list hits A song that you would love played at your wedding.

As you probably know, I'm already married, and I had my wedding five years ago. wedding reminiscences plus video )

I have no intention of having any more weddings to choose music for. I'm already married, as are all my partners. And maybe poly people aren't supposed to say this, but I really think I've found my people and hope not to end or change my current relationships. Friends who have looked into these things in more detail think it's not actually illegal to have weddings, in the sense of ceremonies indicating lifelong romantic commitment, to more than one partner, as long as you don't try to register the relationship as a marriage for legal purposes. But I am not really sure of the details and anyway at the moment we don't have any desire to be married to more people than our existing spouses, even if it is (or became) legally ok.

It is fair to say that I never intended to get married the first time either, so maybe I'm wrong. I suppose we've vaguely talked about the possibility that those of us who are EU citizens may need to marry those who are not for immigration reasons and safety, but I really really really hope it doesn't come to that and if we were in that situation there wouldn't be any singing and dancing, just whatever paperwork we needed for survival. And hypothetically my current relationships might come to an end and then I might find a new person who really wanted to get married to me. But then the song I would choose would depend so much on the person and the circumstances that I can't really speculate what it would be, and I don't really want to because it involves imagining the ends of relationships I really want to keep.

I'm not in general a fan of the wedding tradition of the First Dance to a romantic song. Partly because I'm not much of a dancer, and partly because I think there are better ways to do symbolic consummation. And then finding a song which is lyrically appropriate is surprisingly hard; a lot of songs in the style that's appropriate to slow-dance to are really breakup songs, or at best they're hugely monogamy-assuming and heteronormative. As [personal profile] elf pointed out in this meme, a lot of poly-friendly songs are about casual hey we're just doing this as long as we both like it relationships, which is kind of wrong for a wedding.

I think it was [personal profile] ghoti_mhic_uait who pointed out that the most inappropriate possible song for a wedding is She moves through the fair, since it mentions our wedding day but primarily as a euphemism for death. I am very fond of it, mind you. And I have attended a wedding where the big romantic moment Song was Hey, that's no way to say goodbye by Leonard Cohen, which is a gorgeous song but way depressing if you go past the opening lines:
I loved you in the morning, our kisses deep and warm,
Your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm,
Yes, many loved before us, I know that we are not new,
In city and in forest they smiled like me and you


I never daydreamed about my ideal wedding when I was single, so I never had a concept in my mind of what song I would love played. If I happened to be in a relationship where we had a song that was meaningful to us as a couple, then perhaps I'd choose that, but I can't help myself thinking about the detailed interpretation of the words. So, just out of interest, do any of you know any songs which are good for weddings, talking about serious relationships but not about possessiveness? Or songs that are good for non-religious communal singing?
location: Keele University, Staffordshire, England
Mood:: 'loved' loved
Music:: Edith Piaf: Hymne à l'amour
July 20th, 2017
emperor: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] emperor at 06:02pm on 20/07/2017 under , ,
Fans of the coffee stall on the Cambridge market (link to my previous post on opening hours) may be interested to know that he doesn't seem to be open on Thursdays any more - AFAICT he's now Mon-Wed, Fri, Sat.

Not entirely co-incidentally, my coffee supplies are now rather low :(
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
posted by [personal profile] liv at 04:32pm on 20/07/2017 under ,
I'm getting really behind the wave on this, aren't I? Still, there's more than one person still working through the list! Today is One of your favourite 70's songs. I'm not very good at knowing which songs come from which decade, and most of the music on my computer has really inaccurate metadata. But one song which I know is from the 70s, and which is definitely one of my favourites, is Go to Hell by Alice Cooper. I'm not sure if it's actually my favourite 70s song, but I really ought to have something by Alice Cooper in the meme.

I'm really very fond of Alice Cooper goes to Hell; it was my first encounter with the idea of a concept album. I especially love this opening track because it's a bit of (darkly) humorous intro, with the bathos of ridiculously specific examples of depravity:
You'd gift-wrap a leper and mail him to your aunt Jane
You'd even force feed a diabetic a candy cane


I often tell the story of how when I went to university I gained a certain amount of respect among the alternative crowd by explaining that Alice Cooper was in fact a ouijia board chosen stage name for a definitely male singer. Despite not looking like the sort of person who would know rock music trivia. But I love Alice Cooper for being so gloriously terrible, and occasionally coming out with works of sheer genius like Poison (not from the 70s) in among all the McGonagall stuff.

video embed (borderline NSFW) )
location: Keele University, Staffordshire, England
Music:: Beth Orton: State of grace
Mood:: 'amused' amused
July 18th, 2017
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
posted by [personal profile] liv at 11:49am on 18/07/2017 under
I didn't get very far through Hugo reading. I read all the short stories, and the three novels which were stand-alone or first in a series, skipping the ones that are sequels. I managed two of the six novellas, but didn't feel able to vote when I hadn't looked at the others. And I spent the last day before the voting deadline reading through the novelettes in order to be able to rank them. Plus, I happened to have seen enough of the films I felt I could reasonably vote on that category.

my opinions )

That's brief notes on my voting choices (well, I'm not great at brief)! I'm more than happy to discuss in more detail if anyone's interested, I just wanted to get this posted rather than being intimidated by it.
location: Pumbedita House, Cambridge, UK
Mood:: 'rushed' rushed
July 17th, 2017
liv: Detail of quirky animals including a sheep, from an illuminated border (marriage)
posted by [personal profile] liv at 10:25pm on 17/07/2017 under
So I went away for a few days, and also did lots and lots of reading, and now I'm blocked on posting to DW until I've caught up with talking about both those things. That's not sensible, so I'll try for a small postcard-type entry.

Most importantly, congratulations to [livejournal.com profile] illusive_shelle and her newly-minted husband! The wedding which formed the excuse for a small summer holiday for me and [personal profile] jack was absolutely perfect and amazing.

mostly diary )

I have lots of reading I want to talk about, partly because I've been trying to get through at least some of the Hugo material, and partly because of going on a short vacation, and partly because I had a horrendous 11 hour train journey at the start of not quite having time to post. I'll talk more about that hopefully soon, and go back to the music meme and so on. I am reading, as usual, just a bit behind with posting.
location: Norfolk, England
Mood:: 'loved' loved