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Friday, September 18, 2015

Field Theory Enigma



The picture above is in part a tribute to my favorite brew which, according to the label has come from St. James's Gate in Dublin since 1759.This brings us to the clip below, and to the mystery that follows it.
Clip is also about corned beef and cabbage, but this essay will be confined to musical theory, pubs and the act of skipping. Strife flees a jolly polka and polkas involve lots of skipping. This is one from "John Field Suite" --arranged by Hamilton Harty. It may not originally have been composed for Guinness. It is about skipping from pub to pub. Upon opening a second stout, it is obvious the piece is further reducible.

It is just about skipping.

One cannot listen to Harty's "John Field Suite" without wanting to skip. Even those who question the logic of skipping, who have not skipped since childhood, must at least imagine skipping to the music. It contains a message from outside time and space. We all do. One is assembled around them. One is born into the world with eternal truths at one's core. If you play the whole piece, you'll find an accelerating tempo near the end that will cause you to skip around in circles and fall down. This too is an eternal truth.

I posted the clip several years back, along with some other cheerful tunes by various artists, but I checked and YouTube now responds with a message: "Sorry, this video no longer exists." Existence can be unreliable, but it's prudent to make sure. I will use still photos. One video involved the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra tuning up for 16 seconds --long enough to perceive an enigma.

Here is a photo of their home venue in New York, Kleinhans Music Hall. The problem is obvious in it too. A conspicuous absence suggests the orchestra has misrepresented itself.

No Buffaloes! 

One dreams of the conductor hiking out to the paddock and herding these talented creatures onto the stage to perform on their instruments. One travels clear to New York, filled with admiration for musical buffaloes, and sadly finds no sign of them, only human musicians . An examination of the photo shows the surrounding grass devoid of hoof-prints.
There is, however, a field --a continuity. Indeed, clues come from within, and should the reader wish to pursue this one further, to unlock the enigmatic importance of  Fields,  I would suggest a study of  Sir Neville Marriner. Fields are so important to him, he has never consented to conduct The Academy Of St. Martin anywhere else.


22 comments:

  1. I have not had the pleasure of sampling Guinness. I do know about Irish music though. A lot of the jauntier songs get faster as they go. I have decided it has some relationship to the Tarantella which gets faster and faster to counteract the poison from a tarantula bite. Perhaps the Irish believe the faster the song, the faster the drink will fade from their systems to make room for more.

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    1. It's certainly a broad grouping of musical forms that includes Asturias and Portugal. Every tune from 6/8 jig-time to 18/8 and upward is a lesson in European history --and vitality.

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  2. I've always wondered what connection St. Martin had to the fields - but I was bright enough to know that it had nothing to do with John Field. Incidentally, I've performed numerous nocturnes by John Field in the distant past, but I'm not familiar with the sonata upon which this delightful polka was inspired.

    Guinness is a wonderful brew. Unfortunately, I usually limit myself to pathetically uninspiring cheap beers. They taste awful, of course, but after ingesting a few I usually get the urge to skip. I no longer skip with the carefree energy I had as a child - - and I have to restrain myself from executing any over-zealous skips, for fear of falling down this damn Tennessee mountainside.

    Why am I suddenly craving corned beef and cabbage??

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    1. Jon, I'm not sure where Harty got that tune --suspect he pulled it out of his own imagination with homage to Field's Nocturne no. 18 ["Midi"] in E Major Allegretto, which was more diurne than nocturne. That's just a guess, but there are similarities that strike me more as atmospheric than note for note. An enigma --who knew? This is your area of expertise, not mine. I skip to both pieces. And don't you dare fall out of your yard again!

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    2. Hi Jon .. met some Austrian youngsters on the train to London and they were off to see St Martin's - I asked them about fields .. they didn't understand - but might have done by the time I'd finished ... the teachers were opposite. It was built outside of the City walls and was in pasture land back then! Hence cows in Trafalgar Square ... 'cept they put lions there instead?! Cheers Hilary

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  3. No buffaloes? What a travesty!

    Is it just me or does corned beef not look like beef at all? Maybe it is corned buffalo, in which case it explains everything.

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    1. O, Jenny, it is my sincere hope that, with the right beer and the right music, everything --the whole of existence-- can be explained by corned buffalo.

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  4. I believe buffalo music is contributing to global warming.

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    1. Yes, the orchestra's wind section is especially at fault.

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  5. I can remember when every wedding I went to included a Polka. Boy, does that date me. They were fun and usually got everyone on the dance floor. It was yesterday's rap, or maybe not.

    That sure was fun to listen to although the thought of skipping that fast brings to mind the definite possibility of broken bones. Like the Buffalo, I would have to do a disappearing act if someone asked me to dance.

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    1. Arleen, I can't imagine you as anything less than graceful. My dancing skills have the effect of making others feel better about their own.

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  6. I will confine my comment to buffalo, first saying I've had enough Guinness in the last 50 years to get a large herd tipsy.
    You wrote of herding buffalo.....a fruitless task. Buffalo do not care to be told what to do, even the vaguest of suggestions will cause them to put large dents in your car. So far this year 4 people have decided to take 'selfies' next to a Buffalo while in Yellowstone....2 have gone on to see what the next existence holds.
    However, Bufala mozzarella is excellent on a pizza if it's made in Napoli.
    Cheers, Geo. Thanks.

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    1. You raise a sensitive issue, Mike. I have heard reports the Buffalo Symphony is plagued by occasional stampedes. They no longer let them play Mahler.

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  7. I don't drink beer, but I'd be happy to hang out in any of those pubs for a while. They're so atmospheric, just being in one of them just might be enough to change my palate in favor of beer. But the corned beef and cabbage, THAT I could go for. Too bad corned beef has gotten so darned expensive in the stores. Guess I'll have to corn my own again.

    Fun post, as always. Makes me want to kick my heels up and polka. (♪ ♫ Oh, I don't want her, you can have her; she's too fat for me... ♫♪)

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    1. Beer is an acquired taste --but oh my, the "Too Fat Polka"! Didn't Aurthur Godfrey (we were little and called him Offry Goffry) used to sing that with his ukulele?

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  8. Ah, Guinness, indeed! Aside from a California wine, Guinness is my elixir. It has been a companion on many a fine evening. When I was working many of our news crew would gather at a pub on Friday night around midnight and decompress and let our minds run free. Guinness walked many of us back to sanity.
    The pub's featured in the video bring an instant smile and sense of joy. And yes, one wants to skip and so we did in our imagination. Slainte Gaelach!

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    1. Thanks, Tom. Sláinte agus táinte --we need both!

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  9. I have a friend called Marilyn who was a long-time member of The Academy of St Martin’s. (she’s retired now)

    There, name dropping over, I congratulate you on a polka of a post.

    Skipping here there and everywhere, all in the company of a pint of Guinness, a rare treat.

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    1. The Academy of St, Martin in the Field is one of my favorites, Your friend must be an excellent musician. And yes, drinking Guinness Extra Stout while thinking about skipping is a staple of my exercise routine.

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  10. Hi Geo - I love the church .. and I love that music - dancing and music and I don't really go together ... perhaps I should try adding in Guinness - that might make the difference.

    I did enjoy the clip and the thinking about the corned beef, cabbage and carrots - looks good ... by an open fire .. then skipping to the next pub - think that might be unwise ...

    Cheers Hilary

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    1. You're right, it's probably best to check out local ordinances about skipping-under-the-influence before doing so.

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