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Thomas Hardy's iPod

Marje 10 Dec 11 - 10:37 AM
greg stephens 10 Dec 11 - 10:49 AM
Les in Chorlton 10 Dec 11 - 12:09 PM
JohnB 10 Dec 11 - 12:30 PM
Les in Chorlton 10 Dec 11 - 12:36 PM
Marje 10 Dec 11 - 12:59 PM
Chris Partington 10 Dec 11 - 02:52 PM
GUEST,henryp 10 Dec 11 - 03:19 PM
giles earle 10 Dec 11 - 05:14 PM
TheSnail 10 Dec 11 - 07:58 PM
GUEST,Betsy Guest 10 Dec 11 - 08:19 PM
Crowhugger 10 Dec 11 - 09:05 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 10 Dec 11 - 10:15 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 10 Dec 11 - 10:32 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 10 Dec 11 - 10:45 PM
Crowhugger 10 Dec 11 - 11:00 PM
GUEST 10 Dec 11 - 11:00 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 10 Dec 11 - 11:46 PM
Marje 11 Dec 11 - 05:28 AM
greg stephens 11 Dec 11 - 08:53 AM
Les in Chorlton 11 Dec 11 - 09:06 AM
GUEST,Jon 11 Dec 11 - 09:33 AM
Jack Campin 11 Dec 11 - 07:42 PM
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Subject: Thomas Hardy's iPod
From: Marje
Date: 10 Dec 11 - 10:37 AM

Did anyone else listen to the latest in BBC R4's "iPod" series? It was broadcast this morning and is available on Listen Again now.

I found it an odd mix. There was some interesting information about Hardy and his musical interests, although nothing much that I hadn't heard before. But the arrangements they offered of the folk-related music were distinctly bizarre, and in some cases quite ghastly, to my ears. Did anyone else react as I did? If you've heard the programme, what did you think?

Marje


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Subject: RE: Thomas Hardy's iPod
From: greg stephens
Date: 10 Dec 11 - 10:49 AM

It is a very tricky area geting the voices right for this sort of thing. I made a radio programme for the BBC some years ago about Thomas Hardy's music, and agonised a lot aboput it. If you want to do Mellstock Quire type stuff, I now think trained voices and folk club voices should both be avoided like the plague. This programme erred in the trained direction I thought.


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Subject: RE: Thomas Hardy's iPod
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 10 Dec 11 - 12:09 PM

I didn't enjoy the trained voices. Maybe I have been to too many folk sessions.

L i C#


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Subject: RE: Thomas Hardy's iPod
From: JohnB
Date: 10 Dec 11 - 12:30 PM

Could someone please provide a link, I do not seem to be finding the programme.
JohnB (in Canada)


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Subject: RE: Thomas Hardy's iPod
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 10 Dec 11 - 12:36 PM

Here

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Thomas Hardy's iPod
From: Marje
Date: 10 Dec 11 - 12:59 PM

OK, I'll say what I think now.

Just the fact that a voice is trained shouldn't be a problem. Ths issue (IMO) is that those voices are trained in the wrong way, for entirely different genres of music. The man is a classically trained baritone, and the woman in the final track a jazz singer [sic]. No wonder they sounded ridiculous singing "Spotted Cow" in a soupy duet. Oh, and they missed the twist that comes in the omitted final verse, observing how the girl can regularly be seen at the roadside asking any passers-by to help find the cow. You'd think they could at least have presented us with versions that Hardy himself might have heard and enjoyed, instead of gentrifying them like that.

The folky melody of the song about Louisa was performed in an almost tuneless groan; and even the fiddle version of Devil Among the Tailors seemed to miss the strong point of the tune (that insistent, stressed top A in the first line). I just felt the whole thing was done with not one jot of understanding or respect for the music that Hardy loved and understood so well.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Thomas Hardy's iPod
From: Chris Partington
Date: 10 Dec 11 - 02:52 PM

I agree.


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Subject: RE: Thomas Hardy's iPod
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 10 Dec 11 - 03:19 PM

Presenter David Owen Norris is a broadcaster, composer and concert pianist. He has arranged the songs, which are performed by Thomas Guthrie and jazz singer Gwyneth Herbert.


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Subject: RE: Thomas Hardy's iPod
From: giles earle
Date: 10 Dec 11 - 05:14 PM

It is a very tricky area geting the voices right for this sort of thing

Indeed. To my ear, in this instance we were presented with utterly the wrong voices: the baritone lacking the gravitas and power needed for the more operatic and 'trained' numbers, whilst demonstrating some distinctly dodgy vocal technique; and the lady's style wholly anachronistic for the period.

The specially-done arrangements seemed to me far too simplistic to be convincing, and that of the final song ludicrously inappropriate. It's an indictment of the other items, I fear, that the setting by Henry Balfour Gardiner of The Hangman's Song, a piece I know but have never considered remotely worth performing, came over as the only authentic composition in the programme.

Such a shame; such a wasted opportunity.


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Subject: RE: Thomas Hardy's iPod
From: TheSnail
Date: 10 Dec 11 - 07:58 PM

The Spotted Cow was, indeed, bizarre. They did Burns a couple of weeks ago which had some very regrettable piano accompaniments.


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Subject: RE: Thomas Hardy's iPod
From: GUEST,Betsy Guest
Date: 10 Dec 11 - 08:19 PM

It was a load of ould bollocks - I switched it off


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Subject: RE: Thomas Hardy's iPod
From: Crowhugger
Date: 10 Dec 11 - 09:05 PM

Great concept. Can't say the execution was pleasing to my ear, to the extent I could bear to listen. Often jarring, in fact, both script and musical inserts. I lasted about 17.5 minutes. Early on I found the spoken parts annoying mostly in the tone, "listen how clever we all are, especially me" so after a few minutes I began to skip ahead in 30 second jumps to find the music. The song that finally made me turn it off: violin & voice around 17 minute mark, which had me wondering if Norris' arrangement of the song was designed to make me think both musicians were drunk. I agree with giles, a lost opportunity.

Yet I wondered if the tone so offputting to me is simply beeb or beeb4 culture: Do many or all their broadcasters come across as so intensely pleased with themselves?


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Subject: RE: Thomas Hardy's iPod
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 10 Dec 11 - 10:15 PM

this sounds like a daredevil challenge to try to listen to to the entire program..

right then, where's the link...


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Subject: RE: Thomas Hardy's iPod
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 10 Dec 11 - 10:32 PM

I've pressed 'pause'..

4 mins in and I'm feeling uncomfortable;
the atmosphere is cloying and heavy with fawning smugness..


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Subject: RE: Thomas Hardy's iPod
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 10 Dec 11 - 10:45 PM

do people actually talk & sound like this in the real world ???



It's 12 years since i moved out of London back to the west country scum hole of my family origins..

..and 3 years since [known by police] next door neighbours complained in public that i listened to radio 4 too loud;

..and brought the entire wrath of the local social club down upon me..



never had courage to listen to radio 4 again ever since...


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Subject: RE: Thomas Hardy's iPod
From: Crowhugger
Date: 10 Dec 11 - 11:00 PM

pfr, LOL!


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Subject: RE: Thomas Hardy's iPod
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Dec 11 - 11:00 PM

sorry, I failed the challenge..


I honestly tried.. but it just faded from my attention.........


..and became a background drone while I started checking ebay for fuzz boxes...


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Subject: RE: Thomas Hardy's iPod
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 10 Dec 11 - 11:46 PM

yes.. that GUEST was me...

[obvious enough.. but needs to be stated in writing.. for obvious reasons..]

merry xmas mudcat mods !!!



Xmas.. a time for reflection and melancholia..



Hardy was a bit of a sad f@cker by all accounts..

bleak west country outlook... tragic characters struggling against their passions and social circumstances..

important letters lost and unread [probably stolen by junkie postman]..

sounds like he grew up on my council estate..


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Subject: RE: Thomas Hardy's iPod
From: Marje
Date: 11 Dec 11 - 05:28 AM

You feeble souls who chickened out half way through haven't heard anything like the worst of it, the final track was in a class of its own.

Crowhugger, you have touched on another aspect that was irritating me, although I hadn't been able to put my finger on it: there is a mismatch between the knowing scholarliness of the presenters and the way they considered and presented the music. It was, as you say, as if in some cases they wanted to present the singers/musicians as drunk, or rough and untutored, but the only way they could get this across was to sing badly (especially in that psalm)or play the fiddle a little out of tune. And there were the somewhat surprised observations about how someone whose roots were in folk music could also appreciate Wagner, and was musically very literate.

I've only listened to one other of the "iPod" series, which was "Queen Victoria's iPod". I don't recall any such problems in that programe- they just played the sort of music she's known to have liked, approximately as she'd have heard it. Just why traditional music is so problematic for them I have no idea.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Thomas Hardy's iPod
From: greg stephens
Date: 11 Dec 11 - 08:53 AM

I have to say that I found aspects of ther programme very disappointing indeed, though I am glad they had a crack at it, and glad the BBC felt it worth putting on. A bit I found particularly annoying, like the previous poster, was the expression of patronising surprise that someone knowing folk music could read music. I have spent most of my life(on and off) researching fiddlers' MS notebooks, so I can assure the makers of this programme that a knowledge of musical notation is in no way unusual among folk musicians in England.


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Subject: RE: Thomas Hardy's iPod
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 11 Dec 11 - 09:06 AM

Excellent point Greg.

I think a major difference between surviving old songs and surviving old tunes is exactly the point you make. So many old tunes have survived because musically literate tune players wrote down. The tunes and their books have survived.

The singers of old songs don't seem to have generally written the music down. Broadsides are another though related source

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Thomas Hardy's iPod
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 11 Dec 11 - 09:33 AM

I only picked out two musical bits and gave up.

I agree with Marge about the Devil Amongst The Tailors missing the point of the tune.

As for the baritone singer. I can enjoy a trained voice (more my father's thing but I sometimes play his CDs, I like John McCormack, quite like another CD he has, A Victorian Gentleman's Songbook, etc.) but I can't work out what that singer is trying to do.


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Subject: RE: Thomas Hardy's iPod
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Dec 11 - 07:42 PM

I listened to a few bits including "The Spotted Cow".

That even makes Eddi Reader sound competent.

How the fuck did those bozos get the job?


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