The wonderful world of BBC Sounds

BBC Sounds is such a treasure trove.

It introduced me to You’re Dead to Me, a very funny history podcast by Greg Jenner. My favourite episodes so far are probably the ones on Mansa Musa and Harriet Tubman.

Around Halloween I came across Haunted Women, a one-off program exploring how women have used the ghost story form. Reminds me, I am way overdue reading some Shirley Jackson. I’ll probably start with the bookends, The Road Through the Wall and We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Will definitely have to read The Haunting of Hill House as well, The Haunting is one of my favourite horror films. The film was released in 1963 under the Hays Code, so I’ll be interested to see how much more of Theodora’s character is revealed in the book.

Other BBC Sounds programms that I’m planning to listen to include:

Gogo Penguin + Koyaanisqatsi, and the memory of a tower in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Last night I went to a live screening of Koyaanisqatsi at EartH in Hackney with GC. I knew Gogo Penguin would be playing live, but I didn’t realise they’d be playing their own re-scoring! Pretty impressive, both the execution and to even take it on considering the epic proportions of Philip Glass’s original score. The synchronisation of the rhythm and the visual was maybe not quite as intricate as the original but it was expertly handled, particularly for a live performance. Most of the time the pace was frenetic, frantic. There weren’t quite as many despairing moments as in Glass’s score, but the overall vibe was very similar.

I need to listen to more Gogo Penguin and definitely need to watch the original film, before this I’d only seen small bits of it.

The derelict facade of the Ljubljanska Banka Tower, or “Sniper’s Tower”, in Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Photo taken 15 April 2009

The second half of the film includes many clips of derelict housing projects and other buildings. Those clips unearthed a ten-year-old memory of a tower I’d seen when visiting a good friend in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The angular concrete structure loomed over the playground in Park Zrinjevac. It was an inanimate casualty of the catastrophic conflicts that consumed the region in the early 1990s, abandoned but clinging to a few remnants of glass and insulation.

That much I knew from the pocked concrete, but I didn’t know the specific role it played in the war until today. Once called the Ljubljanska Banka Tower, it’s now known to some as the Sniper’s Tower. It was used by gunmen targeting people below during the 1993–1994 Siege of Mostar. The multiple sieges led to the widespread destruction of the city, and almost 100,000 people fled.

I searched everywhere online for pre-war photos of the tower but couldn’t find any, just this photo taken a few months after I was there. The photographer captured it in much better light than I, the photo hints at the building’s formerly mirrored, golden facade. It still stands from what I gather, but the exterior structure has been removed and the entries have been blocked off. Graffiti artists use it, and urban explorers try to have a poke around. It looks like a skeleton in the more recent images I’ve seen. I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable going in.

Hum-worthy tunes

There are a few tunes that you turn up and hum along to when they come on. “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” by Jimmy Ruffin ticks the box for me. It’s one of those weird ones though, a song that has a kind of uplifting melodic line but some pretty sad lyrics.

Quick edit: Oh man, and “Crying” by Roy Orbison, and “Heaven Help Us All” by Stevie Wonder, and “Bye Bye Love” by the Everly Brothers. (Solid playlist on right now, clearly.) That last one will always have the softest spot in my heart.

#pianogoals

Songs I’ll learn when I get a piano:

  • Chopin, Nocturne en bi bémol majeur opus 9 no2: Ballade en Sol Mineur No.1
  • Tom Waits, I’m Still Here
  • Chilly Gonzales, Armellodie
  • Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guébrou, The Song of the Sea

Some of these are almost certainly wishful thinking, it’s been a while. Reach for the moon… 💫


Tips for buying a secondhand piano (focus on uprights):


Want to moonlight as a piano tuner someday, but looks like it might be difficult to find any courses… Supposedly there’s only one left in the UK. Maybe it’s this one? Pretty formal though.

Time to turn to the #1 self-teaching resource, the WORLD WIDE WEB. Have quickly discovered some circa-2000 diamonds in the rough. Sometimes the writing is a little salty, and it always has a pointed perspective, but pretty useful and fun. Need more room for tools.

And a few books:

LilyPond project boilerplate for music engraving

I was digging around the web for old folk songs this morning and came across Chumbawumba’s English Rebel Songs 1381–1984, was particularly taken by “The World Upside Down”. I wanted to try arranging it but didn’t want to just duplicate and Frankenstein the last score I was working on, so I finally sat down and made a boilerplate.

LilyPond project boilerplate

“She sprinkles flowers in the dirt / That’s when a thrill becomes a hurt”

Wanted some soulful-but-not-overly-corny tunes to work to so I put on a “song radio” Spotify station for music related to Gillian Welch’s “Look At Miss Ohio”, specifically the v. from Jimmy Carter: Man From Plains. First track to pop up was “That Day Is Done” with vocals by Elvis Costello and The Fairfield Four, Larry Knechtel on piano.

Oof, my heart…

The song was written by Elvis Costello and Paul McCartney, and it looks like it was originally released by Paul McCartney on his album Flowers In The Dirt. Personally, I prefer the Costello + Fairfield Four version. For a similar version, see live recording on YT. Related: see the history of The Fairfield Four, pretty exceptional. The group will soon be 100 yrs old.

“That cloud, that cloud / It looks like Ireland / C’mon and blow it a kiss now / But quick! / ‘Cause it’s changing in the big sky”

Yesterday was a Good Day ⚡️ Made a jumbled playlist with summer, optimism, a dash of rebellion, a little relaxation, and being ok with not being ok. Tracks as of 28.05.18:

  1. This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) – Talking Heads
  2. I Love Hot Nights – Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers
  3. Silver Lining – Rilo Kiley
  4. I’m A Lady – Santigold ft. Troubled Andrew
  5. Acid Raindrops – People Under The Stairs
  6. Blue Sky – The Allman Brothers Band
  7. Failure – Kings of Convenience
  8. Fade Into You – Mazzy Star
  9. Lady Pilot – Neko Case
  10. For the Dishwasher – Grandaddy
  11. Lola – The Kinks
  12. I Love You All – The Soronprfbs ft. Micheal Fassbender
  13. Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys
  14. Doo Wop (That Thing) – Ms. Lauryn Hill
  15. Mushaboom – Feist
  16. Circle – Shugo Tokumaru
  17. Your Arms Around Me – Jens Lekman
  18. The Big Sky – Kate Bush

EDIT 28.05.2018 at 14:37:
After making this playlist, SB suggested “The Morning of Our Lives” by Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers which does indeed fit the brief perfectly. Searched for the song on Spotify and came across this playlist, which IMO is superior! And it’s longer, so 👍