Oliver Mundy

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About Oliver Mundy

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  1. “This has another advantage too. How many times have you written a long message, only to lose the whole thing with a single errant keystroke?” This evoked a painful resonance for me. I constantly find that, in looking for the CAPS LOCK key, I stumble upon another key or combination of keys whose effect is to wipe out the post-composing window with all its contents - usually after at least ten minutes' work. I would give much to be able to (a) identify that key or combination, ( disable its function and © very slowly unscrew the head of the meddlesome genius who smuggled it into the keyboard design.
  2. It is perhaps too short to be called a novel, but there is a rather splendid piece of melodrama by John Philip Sousa (yes, THAT Sousa) called (I think) ‘The Fifth String’, about a demonic violin which could transform people's characters.
  3. ‘Ai na vedui’, Bud! - and how I wish I could unleash my manifold reflections on the ‘Lord of the Rings’ films; but of course this is just the kind of subject which would have been perfectly at home on the Soapbox (at its best) but which I could not presume to smuggle in here now.
  4. I think I understand staylor's feeling. The Soapbox may have become intolerable before the end, but surely it was at least a justifiable experiment. In contrast with other miscellaneous boards, it was populated largely by people who had previously belonged to one or another of the purely musical forums, so that they already formed something of a community, and there was no need for Soapbox novices to go through the often painful and easily-mishandled process of ‘playing themselves in’ and earning acceptance for their individuality before venturing to speak freely. And, while there is no ground for arguing that musicians' insights into general problems are superior to anybody else's, might they not have a distinctive flavour that deserves to be tasted and would be swamped in a more general environment? Both these points, I feel, gave it a right to exist. So much for the theory. In practice, I can remember a time - even amid the thunder of pulpit-beating and the rattle of vituperation - when it was quite possible to slip in a topic that was neither political nor polemical, and when even the most deeply-felt events could be discussed courteously and constructively. What is more, some of the political screamers themselves could and did show a better side; as I remember, one of the loudest and most pervasive of them all was also both a practising luthier (with a quirkish taste in decoration) and a talented graphic artist, and capable of giving much genuine and unoffending pleasure in both capacities. Without this enclave of licensed eccentricity, the Fingerboard for one, viewed after a long interval, seems altogether more severely functional - less like an assemblage of friends and more like a dedicated advice bureau. Not that it is any less valuable in consequence - quite the contrary, perhaps - but I do sense a narrowing, a loss of sunshine (so to speak), which may have been entirely necessary but which is still a matter for regret. And yet it could be much worse. I notice, for example, that the organisers seem to be quite liberal in allowing threads that are specific to music but not in the least specific to string-playing. Long may they continue!
  5. Miklos Rosza (mentioned by Connie) wrote at least two concertos, for violin and cello (op. 24 and op.32 respectively). One who may or may not qualify for Ann's criteria, but who must have studied and at least begun his career outside the field of the cinema, was William Axt. His exuberant and rather ‘Lohengrin’-like score for ‘Don Juan’ (1926) was, I believe,the first to be recorded on film. His later work ranges from a fine imaginative score dubbed onto a reissue of the 1925 silent ‘The Big Parade’ to songs for Judy Garland. Another interesting early figure is Louis F. Gottschalk, composer of the music for Griffith's ‘Broken Blossoms’ (1919). It would be interesting to know if he was related to Louis Moreau Gottschalk, the New Orleans pianist-composer (1829-1869). Clearly, anybody who was writing for the cinema at such an early date must have made his name in other areas of music, and probably the same is true of any other pre-war film composer. A glance over the back covers of old orchestral parts and other sheet music would probably reveal hundreds of forgotten curiosities by these and other composers who are now recalled only for their film work.
  6. In answer to Samira: New York had both a Philharmonic Orchestra, or rather a Philharmonic Society's orchestra (see below - founded 1842) and a Symphony Orchestra (founded 1878) until the late 1920s,when they merged. Bob Davis's definition of ‘Philharmonic’ seems to preserve something of the earliest meaning of the word - not an orchestra as such, but a group of music-lovers who formed a concert-giving organisation and employed an orchestra for the purpose. Until 1946, for example, London had no such thing as ‘The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’; there was only the Royal Philharmonic Society, which hired players for its annual season - a glorified scratch orchestra, in fact. I believe the Berlin Philharmonic (1882) was the first ensemble to use the word in its own name.
  7. A maiden of Erin, Finola, In sadness contrived to console her By scoring with care Bach's much-abused ‘Air’ For xylophone, horn and viola.
  8. Another site worth looking at is http://www.mozart.co.uk . ‘Mozart 6’ costs $79.95 and is very comprehensive; I have used it to create full orchestral scores, and it also copes with things like ornaments, small notes for cues, or inserting song lyrics (each syllable under its appropriate note). It can also be used to import MIDI sound-files created in other applications and turn them into playable notation, although most items will need a good deal of editing before one can read and play from them.
  9. The lettering on the label seems rather odd; the character ‘a’, for example, is slightly different in shape and proportion each time it appears, as if the text were not typeset but hand-written (in imitation of typesetting) or perhaps printed from a wood-block. Is this type of label found on authentic G. B. Grancino instruments? Incidentally, Albert Fuchs (quoted in Kolneder's ‘Amadeus Book of the Violin’) remarks on the ‘coarse craftsmanship’ and ‘inferior wood’ of this maker's work. That seems to fit, at least.
  10. The Latin verb VITULARI is thought to have meant ‘to skip and gambol like a calf’ and hence ‘to dance for joy’; perhaps this is what Marie Brown has in mind. There is another suggested derivation for ‘fiddle’, namely that it comes from the classical Latin FIDIS, ‘string’, and that the word was originally FIDULA or FIDICULA, ‘little string’. However, there is a lot of guesswork involved here; neither FIDICULA nor VITULA actually appears in mediaeval Latin, where the usual word for a largish bowed instrument with separate neck and body is VIOLA. ‘Lute’ comes from the Arabic 'UD (the L is a misunderstanding of the Arabic definite article AL). Presumably, from what Claudio says, 'UD originally meant ‘turtle-shell’; I have not been able to verify this, but it would exactly parallel the usage in ancient Greek of CHELYS ‘tortoise’ as a poetical word for a lyre (from its tortoise-shell sound-box).
  11. There are two theories I know of regarding the origin of the word ‘fiddle’; all presume a Latin source. One derives it from FIDIS, ‘string’, and suggests that the original form (of which there is no surviving record) was FIDICULA, ‘little string’; another points to a Latin slang verb VITULARI, ‘to skip like a calf’ (from VITULA, ‘calf’) and hence ‘to rejoice’. The word FIDELIS ‘faithful’, which is clearly what Soundboot's professor had in mind, is also Latin. When I mentioned this subject on the Board some time ago, there was a suggestion (I am sorry to say I forget whose) that, as bowed instruments were almost certainly introduced from the Middle East, one should look for an Arabic or Persian rather than a Latin source for the name; which seems a fair point. An odd side-issue:— Early Latin forms such as VITULA or FIDULA were taken into the European languages and became worn down with usage in different ways, becoming ‘fithele’ in old English, ‘Fiedel’ in later German, ‘vihuela’ in Spanish and ‘viole’ in old French. Thus, ‘fiddle’ and ‘viola’ are actually one and the same word! Specialists in mediaeval music have revived a 14th-century instrument, roughly viola-sized, with a flat belly, low bridge, five or six strings and pegs facing forwards in a circular peg-box. Just to be helpful, they give this the name of —‘fiddle’.
  12. Sean, you have given me the clue I needed! The words you quote struck me as a translation of the French carol ‘Quelle est cette odeur agréable’, which I knew I had seen in the Oxford Book of Carols (I was singing from this only a few weeks ago); I looked it up, and there was my tune right under my nose. It is described as French (one up to you, Fiddling Around!) and was apparently set to English words in Gay and Pepusch's ‘Beggar's Opera’; this is probably the other version which I dimly remembered hearing. Thank you, all three.
  13. Not for the first time, I am seeking help on a tune that has haunted me for forty years. I have posted a MIDI arrangement for winds (which I hope will not sound too grotesque) on my site at http://www.geocities.com/menophanes/midifiles.html (scroll down the page), together with notation for the tune itself, in the hope that somebody will recognise either one or the other. It sounds Irish to me, and I suspect that fiddle specialists may know it.
  14. What a splendid enterprise! Congratulations particularly for including a viola section; I need this myself! The MIDI piano items come over very successfully. There is of course very little anyone can do with the mouth-organ-like MIDI solo string sounds, but this does not detract from the usefulness of your samples of Bach etc. in giving the general picture and setting a tempo. I should be interested to know how you created the sound files. Are they played in via a keyboard, drawn on screen with the mouse, or entered in the form of notation?
  15. Would anyone like to hear these? http://www.geocities.com/menophanes/midifiles.html (In fact they are not MIDI files but MP3 transcriptions; the page-title is inherited from an earlier version.) Because some of the pieces are quite long, I have had to use a very low resolution in order to keep within the 15MB limit of the Geocities server. Even so, I hope the results will make more sense than the MIDI versions which I offered for consideration some time ago. In any event, three of the pieces are new.