Arimathea
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In Greek mythology, the muses were the daughters of Zeus the king of the gods and Mnemosyne the goddess of memory. The muses inspired men to create what we commonly call the fine arts. In this digital realm, you will find music of both high and low culture, from literature to the visual arts to what we narrowly call music in English. Enjoy and be grateful for being human; for the muses have richly blessed our race.
Saturday, November 29, A.D. 2008
Another Kid in the Cult

During the last few years, my nephew has developed a direct interest in rock and roll unmediated by my sister, as teenagers typically do. While I was home on break this week, he played Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” several times. He has become a fan.

The videos below simply feature album cover art, sine corny and obnoxious graphics and printed lyrics, which suits me just fine. For I usually hate fan videos; they are almost always painful or boring to watch. However, the drug addled productions before MTV often lack official videos. What else is there to embed?

The music starts about a minute into the video for some odd reason.

My own favorite Pink Floyd song is “Time”

I like Pink Floyd but find their music bleak. A lot of rock reverberates with teen angst, but Pink Floyd’s music does sound like despair. A professor of mine in a course on Plato’s Republic, when covering the modes of music discussed in the city in speech’s proposed educational program, suggested that the Lydian mode was the Pink Floyd of the day. I always think of his comment when I listen to the band.

Posted by Joseph on Saturday, November 29, Anno Domini 2008
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Tuesday, November 25, A.D. 2008
Dr. Worm

If Belle and Sebastian is a soft band for indie folks mildy estranged from the demographic center, They Might Be Giants is straight hardcore for socially dysfunctional super nerds. Naturally, I love them both. One of the most fun concerts that I ever attended was with They Might Be Giants at the 9:30 Club. Geeks have more fun; it really is true, and their only drug is caffeine.

I am fond of almost all of T.M.B.G.‘s songs, but having to hear about Obama’s Clintonization this week makes me feel a bit more vermicular than usual; ergo my mood for “Doctor Worm”:

John and John, thanks for all the good times.

Posted by Joseph on Tuesday, November 25, Anno Domini 2008
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Thursday, November 20, A.D. 2008
Anonymous 4

In high school, when I first began to explore pre-modern music outside of church services, I became a fan of the women’s chant and polyphony group, Anonymous 4. If you are not familiar with medieval or Renaissance Western music, you will still find them somewhat familiar due, I think, to Christmas and hymnal traditions that have preserved a bit of that sound in our contemporary culture. Anonymous 4’s work is astoundingly beautiful. English speakers frequently abuse the adjective “angelic” but it suits the music of Anonymous 4 very well.

I highly recommend their albums. I love them all, but if I had to choose a favorite, it would probably be Miracles of Sant’iago: Music from the Codex Calistinus. On Harmonia Mundi’s web site, you can listen to samples of their recordings.

Here is “Congaudeant Catholici” from their Miracles of Compostela:

If you like Anonymous 4, you may wish to explore other medieval and Renaissance works, as well. You ought then to consider the works of William du Fay, Josquin des Prez, and Giovanni da Palestrina, which are relatively easy to find and quite remarkable. Below is “Ave Maris Stella” by William du Fay.

The West has its splendor. I wonder if it can retain it.

Posted by Joseph on Thursday, November 20, Anno Domini 2008
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Tuesday, November 4, A.D. 2008
Vladimir Icon of the Theotokos

On this election day, I would rather be abroad. At least I can write about something other than politics.

Iconography is theology in color, as they say. It seems that iconography plays a more significant role in the Orthodox Christian life than religious art in the West, though perhaps medieval church architecture provided such a role for Western Christians centuries ago. If you ever go to an Orthodox parish, you might experience stimuli overload with all of the iconography; the story of God’s economy is illustrated on every wall, from creation to the martyrs of the Soviet monster. I cannot explain here the richness of the iconographic tradition, but there are many electronic materials online, such as the Orthodox Christian Information Center.

My favorite icon is the Vladimir Icon of the Theotokos:

Aaron and I had the wonderful opportunity to venerate the icon in Moscow. The Soviets confiscated it but, in their shame, did not destroy it. The Tretyakov Gallery is the current custodian of the icon, but the Russian Church demanded it back. The museum struck a compromise with the Church; there is a church next to the museum, Saint Nicholas in Tolmachi, and the museum owns the church, in which the icon is kept. Therefore, the faithful can venerate the icon during liturgical worship, while the museum’s visitors can see one of the most remarkable icons ever written.

Posted by Joseph on Tuesday, November 4, Anno Domini 2008
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