Sighisoara streetSome more tourism via Google maps.

John Lilly sings a clever yodeling song. Wish I could find a video of his "Man of Constant Sorrow" rendition, which moved me so much on Saturday night.

Becky Kimmons brings her characteristic intensity to Hazel Dickens's "Pretty Bird" in the melding of two West Virginia greats.

The Google Art Project has partnered with hundreds of art museums to present detailed photographs of artworks on line. If you click the link, it will choose a work for you at random. Move the mouse, and it will show you the name and location of the work, and let you navigate by collection, artist, and so forth.

Tres Riches HeuresThis page from the Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry can be seen in real life at the Château de Chantilly.

We're thinking about singing Sumer is icumen in for the Frick Park Alphabet Trail event, so I listened to a few renditions on YouTube. Of course there are some very good professional ones, but the sweetest might be this one overdubbed by two young girls.

Boccherini's take on the fandango. (Actually, my reading suggests that the fandango is not particularly Basque, but I couldn't resist the alliteration.) 

I never would have thought that harpsichord music could sound so wild and crazy.

I found this while looking for fandango, the impossible dance, as I thought of it after my one attempt at a workshop. How can you stay on your toes with your arms in the air for so long?!

I guess this is probably related, or maybe it is a kind of fandango. If you can read the Basque, write and tell me all about it!

(If it's not Basque, write and straighten me out!)

Il pleut sur les neiges eternelles

The artist Guy Laramee has created a group of works he calls Guan Yin in response to his mother's death and to the Japanese tsunami, which occurred around the same time. From his description:

Everything we know, everything we did, everything we think we are, everything and everyone we love, all this will be wiped out. We would like to think that something will remain, culture, knowledge, or call it “life” if you don’t want to call it God, but of this also, we have no certitude. “No certitude” seems to be the only one we have, but even this is a concept, and concepts are the first thing to go down the drain, aren’t they ?

This project is dedicated to the mysterious forces thanks to which we can traverse ordeals.  

koetsu scroll

Hon'ami Koetsu was a calligrapher, a potter, and many other things. It's still amazing to me to contemplate the fact that he lived at the same time as Shakespeare. If you click on the image of the scroll, it will take you to the Princeton University Art Museum site, where you can navigate the scroll and see translations of the poems.


The leisurely evolution of this Ngombi village music culminates at about five minutes in with a delightful finishing flourish, then starts all over again.

Great Mosque of DjenneThe photographer James Morris, with Suzanne Preston Blier, created the book Butabu: Adobe Architecture of West Africa. You can see some of the photographs and read an excerpt at this blog post at the Afritecture site. 



Corsican men needle each other in improvised rhyming song in this French documentary. Here's my best shot at translation from the French captions:

First singer: What you say is true -- here is a poet with us, but his engine won't start. In spite of our appeals, there aren't many improvisers.

Second singer: If the engine is cold I'll begin like the "Paghjella" with his beautiful voice, and if the engine won't start, we'll crank it.

First singer: We're hoping for a good answer, but tonight who knows? I see the people here are ignoring us, all these overgrown boys here are silent.

Third singer: Well, I see the fly has bitten you...

In the interview the singers explain that you can say things in song that you wouldn't in ordinary conversation, and usually there are no hurt feelings, but sometimes.... It's interesting to watch the interviewer drop in and out of the Corsican language. Finally he too breaks into song: "Once you start singing, I can't be silent, and I'd really like to try a few words standing here, for my first improvisation."

The Book of Tea coverThe Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzo, elegantly typeset by William Adams. What is "Teaism"?

It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.

The Book of Tea back cover?

Highlights of a lecture-demonstration on South Indian dancing.

tree on red skyI can't embed this lovely video of images accompanied by the sweet, deep voices of an Isicathamiya choir -- a style developed by the Zulu migrant workers of South Africa.  It's a bit strange to see this very urban music (if I understand rightly) set to peaceful countryside images, but I like it!

I've often wondered how Jon Rafman finds the striking images he posts from Google maps. I wandered around (for too long) and found some neat things, but nothing with as much impact as his. This isThailand beach scene a beach scene from Thailand.

Book of KellsThe Gallery of the Medieval Scriptorium has huge, stunningly gorgeous images from the Book of Kells and the Lindisfarne Gospels. Click on the images to get bigger versions. Be warned: it's extremely seductive, so set aside a chunk of time, put on your favorite recording of medieval music, and prepare to lose yourself.

Sistine Chapel

The Vatican has kindly supplied this interactive virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel. You can use the mouse or arrow keys and control keys to zoom in and out and fly around. Don't get seasick!

Fonthill castle

You can see many of Fonthill Castle's strange beauties on Flickr here.

This French group has been playing Balkan music beautifully since the 80s. As video, this is not the best, but musically I like Aksak in their soulful mood, as they are here. 

Harmony singing and dancing of the Batwa people.

There's something intensely delicious about the combination of nyckelharpa and fiddle. Here are Smörgåsklickarna playing a polska.


The brochures Emily Miller handed out in her Georgian singing class made me long to visit the Republic of Georgia. The writer known as "Sputnitsa" posted this serene image of Tbilisi in winter:

Last night on the Halliehurst porch I watched the astounding Nic Gareiss at length. Here he is, dancing to the fiddling of Bruce Molsky:

Here's Si Kahn singing his "Aragon Mill". It's a rare day at vocal week when I don't hear one of his lovely songs.

No one noticed photographer Vivian Maier, until someone found her boxes of thousands of wonderful photographs. She died before she could be tracked down. Somehow I think maybe she didn't mind.

We sure had fun singing this with Rhiannon and Mike (on guitar) in their "Opera for Everyone" workshop today! I admit it didn't sound like this. Our cadenzas were pretty darn sloppy.

We had a really good shape note sing today with about 20 singers and some spectators (wonder what they thought)!

Here's the trailer for the marvelous documentary on the shape note tradition and revival, Awake My Soul. It's available on Netflix, though I got it from my local public library. There's a wonderful companion CD, I Belong to This Band.


I'm not completely unmindful of the presence of astoundingly good old-time music here this week too!


A beautiful Bulgarian song performed by Emmy Miller, who's teaching here at vocal week this year, and other voices from the Starry Mountain Singers. Be sure to listen to the translation of the words.

I'm off to spend a week replenishing the creative springs in Elkins, West Virginia, at the Augusta Heritage Center's Vocal Week.

A wise old singer once asked me, "What's a wise old singer like you doing at Vocal Week?" Mostly, working and playing with people like this:

Tune in tomorrow to see if I keep my resolution to post something every day from Elkins!


A change of pace from yesterday!

The first crankie I saw and still my favorite.

These icy land- and sea-scapes by Olaf Otto Becker make me feel I'm dreaming.

Here it is, for download only until I send them a few physical CDs. CD Baby urges me to urge you to write a review. So please do.

The Astronomy Picture of the Day is especially lovely today.

The Little Book of Monsters doesn't give you a monster every day, but I like to go over there and browse in this person's peculiar imagination every couple of weeks.

Here's a complete digitization of Samuel Wakefield's Christian's Harp, "corrected, enlarged, and much improved by Lazarus B. M'Lain". This shape-note tune book was published in Pittsburgh by Johnston & Stockton, 37 Market Street, in 1837.

For fun, I've linked to page 25, where you'll find a tune called Pittsburgh. You can page through the book by clicking on the left- or right-hand page of the image. Or use the toolbar.

In these three-part arrangements, the melody is on the top line. Shape-note singers will find quite a few familiar tunes here. Idumia [sic], for instance, is on page 47 of the appendix, and Sherburne on the next page.

If you ever have the chance to see these people, seize it! And buy their CDs.

First movement

Second movement

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