11-18: Sir Douglas Quintet Mendocino 1969 - Neil Young & Crazy Horse Cincinnati 1970 - Alois Hába Mother / Jirouš 1994 - Junior Parker Love Ain't Nothin But A Business Goin On 1971

1678 – Giovanni Maria Bononcini (Italian violinist, composer, music theorist & patriarch of musical dynasty)
1844 – August Ferdinand Häser (German conductor, choirmaster, teacher & composer)
1887 – Heinrich Panofka (German violinist, composer & singing teacher, active in London)
1951 – Václav Kalík (Czech composer & conductor)
1966 – Béla Tardos (Hungarian composer)
1969 – Ted Heath (English jazz trombonist, bandleader & composer)
1971 – Junior Parker (American blues & gospel singer & harmonica player)
1972 – Danny Whitten (American rock guitarist, singer & songwriter, Crazy Horse)
1973 – Alois Hába (Czech composer, music theorist & teacher, known for microtonal works)
1992 – Dorothy Kirsten (American operatic soprano)
1994 – Cab Calloway (American jazz singer & bandleader)
1999 – Doug Sahm (American rock & country multi-instrumentalist, Sir Douglas Quintet, Texas Tornadoes)
2003 – Michael Kamen (American film composer, songwriter, arranger, conductor, oboist & pianist)
2004 – Cy Coleman (American composer, songwriter & jazz pianist)

Well, what a day. Cab Calloway, that great nattily-dressed showman of the swing era (and very handsome as a young man, as you can see)... Doug Sahm, a legend of South Texas music (and of course I just had put his Sir Douglas Quintet as our headliners, since that's the region I'm blogging from)... Crazy Horse's guitarist Danny Whitten (another rock great taken from us much too young)... fine film composer Michael Kamen (a real talent, he was)...

... and radical Czech composer Alois Hába... yes, it's MORE icky microtonal opera for you tonight... muahahaha!! But you're lucky. This opera is only in quarter tones... some of Hába's works are in fifth tones, sixth tones... even eighth and twelfth tones! Can you imagine? It's difficult enough just playing in semitones, isn't it? For that matter, it's difficult enough composing in them, just organizing the pitch material into some kind of coherent whole. Even merely the notation of microtonal music poses a problem that has resulted in various solutions. Here's how a chromatic scale in quarter tones is usually notated today:

And of course the complications compound when even smaller intervals are used. It leaves one in awe not just of composers like Hába, and those who can perform their music well, but of any person who can just sing a simple melody and have it sound in tune!

And that's because musical pitch-space (as we nasty little theoreticians call it) does not really consist of 12 discreet objects within however many octaves. It's an infinite continuum; between any two pitches - no matter how close together they are - there are an endless multitude of intervening pitches! This is the Hubble Deep Field of music we're talking about here. Heavy stuff!


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