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Classical Notes

Classical Notes: January 5, 2007 Archive

"like a piece of wood attacked by termites."

Posted at 8:22 AM on January 5, 2007 by John Zech (1 Comments)
Filed under: The blog

That's what her attorney said she looked like. Some people get bitten by the opera bug, but soprano Alison Trainer says she was bitten by bed bugs, lots of them, at Phoenix's Hilton Suites, and she's suing the HIlton Hotels Corporation for $6 million. According to the AP story, Trainer, who has appeared with the New York City Opera and the Phoenix Symphony, soldiered on and kept her singing committments, despite the bites on her face.

Bed bugs have been going upscale, and just because you stay in a good hotel, it doesn't mean the little darlings won't be there. There's more about bed bug protection in this story from MSNBC.

Sleep tight.

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D Is for Dark

Posted at 4:49 PM on January 5, 2007 by Rex Levang (6 Comments)

A while back, a listener contacted us about something that we had said on the air. We had referred to a certain key as "dark," and the question was, Just what does that mean?

Fair question, and the best response I could come up with is that "dark," in music, is often used to describe minor keys, and low-pitched instrumentation. Describing music is a tricky business, once you get past adjectives like "loud" and "soft," and I can understand why announcers and writers would use whatever creative means are available to try to convey the mostly non-verbal experience of music in words.

But calling music "dark" is modest, in comparison with some of the extravagant images and associations devised by musicians of the past in order to describe the different key signatures.

E-flat major is the key of love and devotion, according to one commentator. According to another, it is cruel and hard. D-flat major cannot laugh, but it can smile. E minor is like "a maiden robed in white with a rose-red bow on her breast." For still others, keys evoke colors. E major is green, according to Rimsky-Korsakov; or yellow, according to Amy Beach.

Reactions such as the above -- often contradictory, so you've been warned -- have been compiled on this fascinating Web page.

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