Altamont in The TrumpetAs a bookend for Before the Beginning's look at the Bay Psalm Book, here's The Trumpet, which publishes new compositions in the shape-note tradition, beautifully typeset by James Gingerich, three times a year. The image is of my own song, Altamont, published in Volume 1, Issue 3.

Durer Melancholia at WikipediaDürer's Melancholia at Wikipedia. The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings—and you know how happy kings are.

Notice how low the sun is in the sky. Just now I'm hating the fall equinox, and poor Dürer had to put up with the latitudes of northern Europe!

The Textile Museum Mola Moon LandingAt the web site of The Textile Museum you can see images of both the permanent collection and current shows. Just now they have some stunning Turkish textiles. The image here is from the permanent collection, an applique panel showing the moon landing, made in the San Blas Islands off Panama.

CD cover Zambia RoadsideSWP Records issues recordings of "music that regular labels won't touch", including many beautiful field recordings of village music from many parts of Africa. At the link you can hear some delightful singing from Zambia, but there are many more pleasures at their site.

African American egg timer quilt My total ignorance of the African-American quilting traditions was shattered when I ran across an art book in a museum shop. At Corrine Riley's website you can see a slide show of these gorgeous designs.

Be careful -- you might lose track of time -- when you visit Greg Ross's Futility Closet, where you can ponder questions, answers, and fascinating tales gathered from all over. For instance, you can discover that mathematicians have been unable to determine the size of the largest sofa you can get around a corner in a one-meter corridor:

Hammersley sofa animated

(Image from Wikimedia Commons vie Greg Ross)

The best way to see and hear a clavichord is to know someone who owns one, but the second-best way is probably to use the internet. Here's John Irving demonstrating an instrument owned by Edinburgh University.

singing ringing tree | tonkin liu from tonkin liu on Vimeo.

Here's a sculpture that sings in the wind, sometimes sounding close enough to human to be genuinely frightening.

Here's Louis Killen's Lord Franklin, as strong an evocation of loss as I ever heard.

Brazilian sky

Ok, I am in thrall to Google maps.

Raghu Rai Bombay beachThe photographs of Raghu Rai show us an India of the familiar and the strange all mixed together.

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Sometimes the composite world of Google maps has an unearthly beauty. Here we are somewhere near Prague, if that matters.

Hukuda Teruhisa and Kineya Shiho perform Japanese flute and vocal music from the 18th century to the present. 

Pisanello initialPisanello is one of those artists whose name eludes me while his images stay vivid in my mind. This initial from a detached page at the Getty Museum depicts the conversion of St. Paul.

The Iranian musician Kayhan Kalhor in an extended improvisation on a traditional Persian fiddle. 

The ekonting player Ekona Diatta and dancers perform in honor of foreign visitors in an unlit community center at night in southern Senegal. The silhouetted dancers in the flashlight illumination have a dreamlike effect.

Bruce Molsky with his effortless-looking singing and fiddling.

The Mobile StrugglersAt Old Hat Records you can find, besides rare old recordings, excellent short illustrated historical essays, including this one on early recordings of African-American fiddlers.


An excerpt:

In his book Twelve Years A Slave, published in 1853, Northup wrote:

“Alas! had it not been for my beloved violin, I scarcely can conceive how I could have endured the long years of bondage. It introduced me to great houses- relieved me of many days’ labor in the field- supplied me with conveniences for my cabin- with pipes and tobacco, and extra pairs of shoes, and oftentimes led me away from the presence of a hard master, to witness scenes of jollity and mirth. It was my companion- the friend of my bosom triumphing loudly when I was joyful, and uttering its soft, melodious consolations when I was sad. It heralded my name around the country- made me friends, who, otherwise would not have noticed me- gave me an honored seat at the yearly feasts, and secured the loudest and heartiest welcome of them all at the Christmas dance.” 

Cover image of Street Life in LondonAt the LSE Digital Library you can see the entire contents of Street Life in London, published in 1877 with photographs by John Thomson and essays by Adolph Smith. The photographs are very beautiful--it's moving to see these glimpses of the ordinary people who made London work.  They are filtered through the photographer's sensibility, to be sure, but seem so much more direct than the amusing or decorative or political or moral figures they too often become in the 19th-century novels (which I love, but still...).

Larry Gibson is why I went back to Kayford Mountain the other day. He fought for the mountain to his last breath, Sunday, September 9th, 2012. It was an honor to know him and sing for him and be included in the Mountain Keepers.

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Google Maps tourism is getting kind of addictive. If you don't like the weather on Centre Rd in Sydney, Australia, just click on the navigation arrow a couple of times to move ahead and merge onto Airport Drive. Now that's more like it.

Vi Hart is one of the smartest, most creative human beings ever. I've embedded my current favorite of her videos here, but it's very hard to choose. Go tour her website!

Here's the entire (!) album Tracce della tradizione orale in manoscritti italiani del XIV, XV sec. with some lovely Corsican-style singing, among other pleasures.

Not as much fun as singing and playing the gurdy in the park would have been (we got rained out!), but a nice thing to stumble across over my second cup of coffee.

Chanticleer Pleasure GardenThis photo and the others you can see on their site only begin to suggest the joy that is the Chanticleer Pleasure Garden. If you see only one garden in the Philadelphia area, let this be it.

Bay Psalm Book title pageHere are beautiful images of the Bay Psalm Book, in a Boston edition of 1742. The link is to a page from the collection of tunes bound in at the end. Here you can see Old Hundred (Sacred Harp page 49), arranged in three parts, Cantus (melody), Medius, and Bassus.


There are no shape-notes, but above each part the syllable fa, so, la, or mi is indicated by its first letter. The Medius and Bassus are closely related to the Sacred Harp's treble and bass parts respectively.

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