Tag Archives: music

Hank Williams

Here’s another set of documents that to the best of my knowledge I only used once; that means I wrote them for someone with an interest in country music in general and this legend of the genre in particular. So, here is a reading on Hank Williams and its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Troubadours

“Troubadours: Poets of southern France, northern Italy, and Catalunya who flourished from the 12th to the 13th century and wrote primarily in Occitan. The term is derived from the Occitan verb trobar, to compose. Troubadour poetry is best known through the elaborately formal lyrical Canso which celebrated courtly love and chivalry, and for proposing a fusion of aesthetic sensibility with the ability to love. During the 13th century nonlyrical genres, such as the sirventes, and the narrative works, such as the Canso de la crozada, became prevalent. Eleanor of Aquitaine was a noted patron of troubadours who introduced troubadour themes and lyrical conventions at the courts of northern France. The trobairitz were female poets of southern France who wrote in Occitan in the same period. Most trobairitz, such as Beatrice de Dia, Cara d’Andeza, and Na Castelloza practiced the Canso and other lyric genres. (See TROUVERES; GUILLAUME IX; BERNARD DE VENTADOR; and BETRAN DE BORN.)”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

A Reading Course in Romanticism in Art, Literature, and Music

If we’ve learned anything during the COVID19 pandemic, it is that far too many people are far too quick to forego reason, the weight of facts, and the methods of scientific inquiry for emotionalism, subjectivity, and simple ignorance when considering public policy and personal conduct in our current circumstances. I’ve always distrusted emotion, primarily because in my life I have seen it used to contrive, justify and buttress errant nonsense and the ghastly conduct that often accompanies errant nonsense–e.g. showing up heavily armed at a state capital building out of anger that you cannot get your hair done or drink in a tavern. It seems to me that when the leader of a nation-state suggests that a new, aggressive, and demonstrably fatal virus will disappear by “miracle,” romantic thinking is on the march.

In these circumstances, it is useful to remember the romantic movement in Europe rejected reason and objectivity in favor of ardor and subjectivity. I almost wrote my undergraduate honors thesis on the extent to which romanticism was implicated in twentieth-century totalitarian political movements. I don’t think one needs to watch much of a speech by either Benito Mussolini or Adolf Hitler, or review the propagandistic graphic art from Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union, to see that these dictators weren’t appealing to the capacity for reason in their audiences.

So, now seems like as good a time as any to publish a trio of readings and comprehension worksheets on romanticism. I just rendered the readings as typescripts and wrote the worksheets a couple of days ago, so this stuff is brand new. Between the three readings, there are repetitions of key ideas: as always on Mark’s Text Terminal, all of these documents are in Microsoft Word, so you can do with them as you wish.

First, here is a reading on romanticism in the plastic arts along with its vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet.

Second, here is a reading on the romantic movement in literature with the vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet that accompanies it.

Finally, here is a reading on romantic music (not make-out records by crooners, but those nineteenth-century composers like Schumann, Liszt, and Wagner) along with its attendant vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet.

And that’s it.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Led Zeppelin

OK parents and teachers, if you have headbangers in the house, literally and metaphorically in your respective cases, then you might have use for this reading on Led Zeppelin and its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. I just wrote this yesterday. That said, I suspect that for the right kind of learner, this will be high-interest material, so I’ve tagged it as such.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Brian Eno

A couple of hundred years ago when I was a high school student myself, the primary form of one-upmanship in my crowd consisted in identifying the most obscure, and often the most unlistenable, prog rock band. Then, at exactly the right moment, i.e. when it would most effectively reflect one’s own cultural superiority, one would drop the name of said band into conversation, generally editorializing on the band’s “excellence.” Personally, I wasted a lot of time and money on this exercise in status anxiety, buying and listening to execrable records by bands like Jade Warrior, Aphrodite’s Child (my faux sophistication required me to feign affection for the atrocious album 666 by Aphrodite’s Child), and other groups and artists on Vertigo Records.

And this to some extent continues–or at least it did ten years ago when I was out visiting Madison. At a cocktail party, one of my interlocutors mentioned to several of us that he’d recently seen Peter Hammill live. I think he assumed that we wouldn’t know that Mr. Hammill had been a founding member of another of these prog rock bands, Van der Graaf Generator, or, indeed, that I still had Mr. Hamill’s song “Imperial Zeppelin,” from his solo album Fool’s Mate, in one of my current playlists. I decided it was best, at age almost fifty, to pass on taking the conversation any further.

Anyway, if you have such students, if they don’t already know about him, this reading on Brian Eno and its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet might be of some interest. Eno remains a major figure–and of deserved interest because of his work with David Bowie and U2, to name just two artists with whom he has worked–so this material, relatively speaking, is au courant. But he was, in my day, somewhat arcane–and for me, also mostly unlistenable.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Bono

To finish up this morning, here is a reading on Bono, the lead singer of the rock group U2, along with its vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. This work raises some interesting questions about the privileges and responsibilities of fame. I’ve never been a big fan of U2, and Bono has been a bit too messianic for my tastes. In any case, I assume that this is high-interest material, so I have tagged it as such.

It’s hard to argue, however, with the way he has accepted social responsibility for his fame and used it for good works.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Two Reading and Comprehension Worksheets on Bob Dylan

The first record I owned, at the age of ten or eleven, was Pete Seeger Sings Woody GuthrieMy father brought it home for me one day. I loved it from the first time I listened to it, and I still listen to it now. Within a couple of years, I managed to follow Woody Guthrie’s influence to Bob Dylan, whose music I also continue to listen to almost 50 years later. In fact, many of his records, particularly Blood on the Tracks and John Wesley Harding receive almost weekly play here at Mark’s Text Terminal.

To my mind, it’s nearly impossible to underestimate the cultural importance of Bob Dylan’s work. In fact, so much ink has been spelled on it by so many astute critics that I hardly need to belabor the point here. While I know his selection for the Nobel Prize in Literature is controversial, my own opinion is that the man who wrote “Desolation Row” and “Visions of Johanna,” to mention just two of his most brilliant songs, certainly earned his laurels as a writer of lasting worth and importance.

So, last but not least on this May morning, I have two sets of readings and comprehension worksheets on Bob Dylan. The first set is a general biography of Bob Dylan’s musical career and is in some respects anodyne. The second set, which to some extent, by comparison, renders the first set of documents anodyne, is this reading and comprehension worksheet on Bob Dylan’s switch to electric music in 1965 and his legendary (or legendarily disastrous) appearance at the Newport Folk Festival in that year. It’s worth mentioning that Dylan’s appearance at Newport in 1965 is something of a cultural touchstone, both a gotterdammerung moment and an intimation of what was to come in American popular music. It pops up in various places as a reference point to a particular moment in the history of popular music.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Requiescat in Pace, John Prine

I don’t know if you heard the news, or even if it means anything to you, but I am devastated at the loss of an American national treasure last night to COVID19, the great, and greatly underrecognized, John Prine. His first album, filled with some of the greatest songs ever to grace American culture, has been a part of my entire life.

Farewell, John Prine. Your death further pauperizes an already devastated world. And thanks for the songs.

John Lennon

OK, I’m drawing down to the last couple of posts for this morning. Here is a high-interest (depending on whom you’re teaching, I guess) reading on John Lennon along with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

The Algonquin Wits: Beatrice Kaufman

Beatrice Kaufman, who held little appreciation for music of any sort, once accompanied Oscar Levant to Carnegie Hall to hear Stokowski conduct Bach’s B Minor Mass. While en route to the theater Beatrice realized they were going to be late and urged her escort, ‘In heaven’s name let’s hurry or we’ll miss the intermission.’”

Excerpted from: Drennan, Robert E., ed. The Algonquin Wits. New York: Kensington, 1985.