Riches from a musical crossroads


Madagascar is a smallish place (about the size of Texas) with an incredibly rich diversity of music. The island was populated successively from Borneo, Africa, Arabia, France and elsewhere. Here's a mere taste of the resulting music, from a concert…

Bad student!

Returning to The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study' Take Note exhibition, I was amused and impressed by William James's vividly imagined cat fighting it out with his medical school notes on writer's palsy.


A voice of living water

Julianne Baird's singing has everything: a beautiful instrument, seemingly flawless technique, thoughtful control, but above all a sensibility that takes you from great depths to great heights in the little space of this brief Italian song.

Saving a vanishing Paris

It wasn't possible to save it, but the old Paris that was vanishing away 100 years ago was documented in thousands upon thousands of beautiful photographs by Eugène Atget, a failed painter and actor who never thought of his photography…

A treasure on the other side of the world

As it's very unlikely I'll ever visit the Daijyoji Temple in northern Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, I'm grateful for this virtual tour even though it takes some tinkering to figure out how to use the controls. The Hyogo International Association has…

Opera illustrated

I love illustrated books, and this edition of W.S. Gilbert librettos for The Pirates of Penzance and others (again via the Open Library) reminds me of solitary childhood pleasures: puzzling over my parents' Gilbert & Sullivan with its cartoon-like…

Praetorius's theater of instruments

Via the Open Library and Google Books, you can download a pdf file containing images of the entire text of a 19th-century German reprint of Michael Praetorius's De organographia (1618). As best I can tell from a quick look, this…


The piano speaks

The Austrian composer Peter Ablinger translated the human voice to a computer-controlled piano. Interesting–both for the idea and for the way understanding "pops out" at the listener when the written form is provided.


Old and weird

I don't know why it's taken me so long to stumble across The Old, Weird America, which is required reading and listening for anyone who likes old songs.

Here's the page for The Cuckoo.

And here's my rendition…