I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

He sung 'em. They stayed sung

Loathsome in life, Sinatra was a professional angel when singing. A music lesson in himself. Two songs representing the extremes of his style.

One For The Road. Lyrics that are sometimes wonderful (“We’re drinking, my friend, to the end of a brief episode…”), sometimes dreadful (“You’d never know it /But buddy I’m a kind of poet…”) but FS gives them full value. Not surprising, much of his repertoire is of the era when lyric writers were king. Instinctively he recognises the song’s narrow musical range (I know; I can sing it plausibly myself) and uses this to be conversational. With beautifully judged delays (eg, “There’s no one in the place (Pause) except you and me.”)

Although it’s a lament it’s no Richard Strauss long-line legato. The music emerges in soft bursts like one side of a dialogue, implying that Joe the barman says nothing. I’ve only realised this, just now. Notice how FS dwells fractionally on “my” in “Hope you didn’t mind my bending your ear.” Adds a couple of “longs” to the final line but, I think, he’s entitled.

New York, New York. Don’t be confused, this one starts “Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today.” And I’m concentrating on just one line: “If I c’n make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.” Second time round he changes the delivery: increases the volume, snarls the words and somehow grins confidently. Grins? How can I tell? It’s there, I say, a far more persuasive summary of his life than the frequently maudlin I Did It My Way.

Horn concertos? Surely Mozart and Dennis Brain? There’s an alternative. No slouch, Antonio Rossetti wrote a Requiem for Mozart’s memorial service in Prague.

His concerti are great fun; WAM would have approved


  1. Sticking on horn (something that even horn players have trouble doing on occasion ;-) have you heard Leoš Janáček's concertino for two violins, piano, horn and clarinet? Very different from Mozart and Rossetti but worth a listen. http://youtu.be/G8LZbM0Px38

    (LEH-osh JA-naa-check)

  2. JOO-lyuh or JOO-li-uh: Hey, I liked that - I think it represents that rarely encountered quality, musical wit. He's good with chamber music - we've got a couple of quartets that I like. Only listened to the first movement because we're off to one of those HD transmissions shortly - Rodelinda.

    But it won't be the end of good old LJ. At Mrs LdP's suggestion we're not buying each other presents this Christmas, instead a whole slew of DVD operas, including the Glyndebourne Jenufa. Plus a triple box of Salzburg WAM (Flute, Cosi, Tito), Strauss's Elektra, Solti's Eugene Onegin, Nixon in China, Capriccio (pref. with Kiri, if not Flamehead of the Met). I had in mind to include Peter Grimes (Runnicles, Met) but the woman at the record shop said that would make the order too Christmassy.

    If you wanted to cite three classical pieces that showed the trumpet (not the Bach trumpet) at its best which would you choose.

  3. This image of Old Blue Eyes suggests he was recording "Pistol Packing Mama/Papa" at the time it was taken.

    I like almost everything from his Nelson Riddle years, and OFTR is one of my favorites. "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" is another. Mack the Knife.

    I signed up for one of those record clubs - probably Columbia - when I was seventeen (Oh! That's another one.) just so I could get 5 of his albums for 10-cents. Ah, those were the days.

  4. Hmm...off the top of my head I'd say Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," Copland's "Buckaroo Holiday" from Rodeo, and Vivaldi's "Concerto for 2 Trumpets in C" but I should dig a bit and see what else I can come up with. What about you?

  5. It’s good to see this phoenix.

    I will follow, but frequent comments may be sparse.

    I enjoy an eclectic range of music, but when it comes to its technicalities, which I have tried to understand, my mind just switches to that heart sinking, blank, blue screen that appears when Windows crashes.

    As we have discussed this is a difficult, and challenging writing subject, and making comments will be similar, but with effort, and lateral thinking this could still be meaningful without having resource to the baffling inner workings.

  6. The Crow: I have many Sinatra favourites, which I'll no doubt be returning to. I could have made the same point (about the two extremes of his stylistic range) by alluding to the two orchestras that accompanied him in those days: Nelson Riddle for the subtler stuff and Billy May for the more rambunctious, up-tempo things.

    Trying to reproduce Sinatra's songs afterwards by oneself made one realise how skilful he was and how one could pick away usefully at the technique. First steps in musical criticism.

    Julia: Re. trumpets. I need some time to contemplate the CD spines in my racks. For the moment I'm unable to rid my mind of the glorious blare at the beginning of the Christmas Oratorio which is outside the brief I had in mind. When I asked the question my mind was blank.

    Sir Hugh: It's a bit like launching out into French in some remote village in the Auvergne when you doubt your vocabulary and your knowledge of the syntax.

    Here's a simple aid. Consider two song performances, one you like and one you detest (You need any help with the latter? I think I should start compiling a list.) If you can, play them through in your head. Concentrate on the worst bit of the detestable one (Typical Anglo faults: acute nasality, a sense that the singer's running out of range - ie, straining) and try and set this against one of the best points of the good performance. It's unfair but then the hell with that: becoming a critic is far more important.

    Oh, yes. Here at Tone Deaf we never use the word "challenging".

  7. Linda Rondstat did an album backed by Riddle's orchestra, which I liked. Maybe I liked his sound more than the singers. I liked the strings, the swell of the music. Billy May was the finger-snapper conductor-arranger, well suited to Sinatra's cool cat styling.

    I read an article years ago about Sinatra's style, about how he sang a fraction of a second into the note. I listened to one of his CDs to see what the writer meant. Pretty cool. I didn't know you could do that and not mess up the singing.

    Music affects the electro-chemical balance in our brains, which affects mood and attitude - that's my theory, anyway. For what it's worth.

  8. Very pleased to find that Lorenzo Da Ponte (amazingly, I even knew who he was thanks to the OU) who left a comment on my blog is you. I have just read through the whole blog (including comments).

    I echo Sir Hugh, 'I will follow but frequent comments may be sparse.'

    I know next to nothing about music.

  9. The Crow: Sinatra sings all over the beat yet always resolves the lost hemi-demi-semiquavers at the line's end. I quite support your theory about electro-chemicals; when music is at its most powerful the effects are entirely visceral.

    EB: Welcome back. Sparse comment: I predict I'll be down one or two comments per post in a week or two. Easygoing, playing-to-the-gallery BB was a comparatively simple act. Here at Tone Deaf I'm trying to teach myself something and there is a limited market for watching that.

    But reflect. You mentioned going to see Don Giovanni. That's an opera and watching it puts you into an elite 0.5% of the population. So already your insistence of ignorance must be taken with a pinch of salt.

    There's another reason for visiting Tone Deaf. Practise a little analysis and you'll discover just how little good ol' LdP knows about music. Look for the clues. This whole edifice is built on plyword but the aim is to replace the plywood with - at least - chipboard.