Friends of Fuddle Presentation

At Highlands, North Carolina classical music series, which had its 31st anniversary this summer,  for people who are passionate about classical music

Dr. Fuddle's Musical IQ Test 48


1.  a  “Place,” meaning return to the normal tonal position after playing higher or lower
2.  c  The Appassionata Sonata
3.  d   All of the above
4.  b  The rate of speed the music is to be performed
5.  c   Franz Joseph Haydn

Classical music vs rock'n'roll

As the Proms get under way, we ask their director, Roger Wright, to convert writer and rock'n'roller Laura Barton into a classical music fan 

Interview by

Proms director Roger Wright with writer and rock'n'roller Laura Barton
Proms director Roger Wright tries to convert writer and rock'n'roller Laura Barton to the joys of classical music. Photograph: Felix Clay for the Guardian
The BBC Proms, the world's greatest classical music festival, begins this week. Can Roger Wright, controller of Radio 3 and director of the Proms, convince Laura Barton, writer and rock'n'roll lover, of the joys of classical music? Emine Saner listens in.

Roger Wright: The original aim of the Proms was to bring the best possible classical music to the largest possible audience, and that vision has stayed the same. There are still up to 1,400 £5 standing tickets on the day, but thanks to technology, there is the possibility of reaching a much wider audience than simply those who get into venues. I don't know how the audience has changed in terms of its demographic since the late 19th century, but there is no doubt that it attracts a huge number of younger people, and all our figures show that there are people who are coming for the first time to a classical music concert.

Laura Barton: I like the Proms, particularly the idea of cheap tickets, it's a wonderful event and a brilliant way to be introduced to classical music for newcomers, or younger people. But away from the Proms, the problem I have with classical music is the lack of democracy – not just to do with how much it costs to go to the opera. I remember reading something – do you know Jonathan Rose's The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes? – about how many working-class people loved to go to classical music concerts, and then it stopped. That was probably around the same time rock'n'roll was born. Now there is a weird aristocracy of music, where people automatically assume classical music is superior to rock'n'roll. My problem is with the way it is represented and regarded.

RW: Classical music, itself, I don't see it as a hierarchy. I recognise that there is great classical music, but there is frankly also second-rate classical music. There is great hip-hop, but clearly there is also second- and third-rate hip-hop. I also think that opera gets a bit of a bad press. Do you think football is elitist? How much would it cost you to go to see even a Championship game, let alone a Premier League game?

LB: I agree, but if you are trying to be introduced to that world, you can get into football far more readily than you can get into opera.

RW: There was something in that postwar period: it was when the Arts Council began, the Third Programme – Radio 3's ancestor – began. It was Festival of Britain time. There was all that sense of the working person being culturally engaged. Are you suggesting rock'n'roll came out of that social situation …

LB: I'm not saying it came out of it, but I think there came another form of music that was more readily available to more people, and I wonder if that is where that division, that strange hierarchy, started. When rock'n'roll was born, it related more obviously to people's experience, because of the language it was sung in, because it used instruments that were more readily available to those people, so it was about attainability and identifiability. At that point, classical music might have started to seem more remote.

RW: There are loads of people who love rock who don't play the guitar or sing.

LB: Of course, but think about early blues songs – they're singing about a common experience of that community. I suppose rock'n'roll is a similar thing.

RW: One of the great things about music is you can say things in music that you can't say in words. That's one of the reasons why a lot of people get their first experience of classical music through films. That's about playing to emotions, and it can be incredibly powerful.

LB: It's not that I don't like classical music. I do, and I have friends who try to get me into it.

RW: Is it that in some way you're socially or historically uncomfortable with it?

LB: For me, it is the number of people I have met, predominantly people who are older than me, maybe from a different background, who have dismissed the fact that I love the music that I love, and think I should get into this. That's what I mean about a hierarchy: "This is nice but this is sort of adolescent, and eventually you'll graduate to liking this." That's what I resent, or feel uncomfortable with. A kind of loftiness.

RW: You can't criticise classical music simply because of the attitudes of some of the audience …

LB: Absolutely, but I think it's a real shame that getting to the music sometimes is hard. There's a programme I love on Radio 3 – Words and Music – which has no presenter, and they play some of my favourite soul songs, but they will play classical music and they do readings. It makes it a very human experience and that's ideal to me; give it a human context. I live in east London and we have little festivals with new bands you can discover, and I would love to hear more classical music in venues that weren't necessarily appointed for it.

RW: I would say that is happening, but it may not be happening enough. One of the issues that is very hard for classical music is its acoustic nature. You can deal with most acoustics in pop music if you're amplified, but you can't amplify classical music. It's one of the reasons you can't go down a big stadium route, but if you think about what James Rhodes [the classical pianist] is doing, he's out there playing in different venues. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment are doing late-night concerts where people can just pitch up.

LB: I think that's important to take away some of the preciousness. One of the things I love about rock'n'roll is, I don't want to say scuzziness, but it's almost tactile. I'd like to see that, or be in a room and feel that, with classical music.

RW: It's hard when so much of the music is so quiet. Performers have got better at introducing things and becoming more comfortable talking to audiences. A lot of those barriers are being broken down. The other thing to say is to keep pushing the message that there is some classical music for everybody. Give it a try.

LB: One of the greatest things that has happened is the fact that there is so much music online, and a teenager in Doncaster can find out about Chopin, and not have to go into a record store and feel embarrassed and think: "I don't know how to pronounce it." But I think finding information is hard if you don't subscribe to Gramophone magazine, and don't know where to look.

RW: You could try Building a Library on Radio 3, and the Penguin Guide to Classical Music. Unlike the pop world you need to find your way through a complicated catalogue because there are so many recordings of the same piece. But whatever your interest, you've always got to do a bit of work.

How Is 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' Selling Classical Music?

The book behind the unlikely re-emergence of Thomas Tallis' 'Spem in alium.'
courtesy of Vintage/Anchor Books

The book behind the unlikely re-emergence of Thomas Tallis' 'Spem in alium.'
File this under Strange Bedfellows. The crazy-huge success of E L James' Fifty Shades erotic trilogy — which as of late May stood at more than 10 million sales in all formats and 60 physical printings, according to publisher Vintage Books — has made quite the impact in ... classical music, of all things.

Consider this: Thomas Tallis' wondrous 40-part motet Spem in alium, written around 1570 and recorded by The Tallis Scholars more than 25 years ago, has bounded up the classical charts, thanks to its mention in the first installment of Fifty Shades.

I've just learned through fans' postings online — I must admit I haven't read the book — that Spem is what the seductive Christian Grey is listening to on his first night with the book's heroine.
This unexpected rebounding has been enough of a high/low cultural collision that Peter Philips, the very proper and rather starchy founder and director of The Tallis Scholars, has actually issued a statement about it. "I haven't read Fifty Shades of Grey," Philips said, "but I am most grateful to the author for introducing so many new listeners to the musical sensation that is Thomas Tallis's Spem in alium. Written during the reign of the first Queen Elizabeth it features 40 individual voices singing in Latin that combine to a thrilling climax for the words 'respice humilitatem nostram' (be mindful of our humiliation)."

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Prokofieff Sonata No.6 (2) - Allegretto. Roberta Rust, Piano

A satirical march begins the second movement and mocks the hostile ambitions of the first movement. This march surreptitiously returns to dispel the beautiful lyricism of the Trio section.

Dr. Fuddle's Musical IQ Test 47


1. a.   Felix Mendelssohn
2. b.   Aram Khatchaturian
3. c.   A chord built from the root, third, fifth and seventh notes
4. c.   Franz Liszt
5. a.   A mechanical device that can be adjusted to indicate the exact beat or tempo of a piece

Prokofieff Sonata No.6 (1) - Allegro Moderato. Roberta Rust, Piano

The first movement of Sonata No.6 (1939-40) by Sergei Prokofieff is full of military suggestion, terror and conflict. The fierce tension of the opening pages is momentarily relieved by the melancholy of the second theme. The ingenious development exploits the second theme as it soars in octaves over virtuosic material consisting of repeated figures and first theme fragments. The fury of the development reaches orchestral proportions before the powerful recapitulation. The second theme reappears abridged and the movement draws to a disturbing close.


Tyler could see Antonio standing outside down the block, near an open garage. They shared the exact same birthday and felt like non-identical twins, except his Latin friend looked much older than he did. Compared to Tyler, Antonio was athletically built. The party always started when Antonio arrived with his striking good looks and ready-for-anything attitude. Lately, though, he was going through a rebellious, spiked hair stage and hanging out with guys very unlike Tyler. This was exactly what he was doing at that moment.

As Tyler and Christina approached, Christina covered her ears. The sound of raucous behavior and dissonant music upset her. Tyler grasped her hand. He already regretted bringing her here.
"Hey, Antonio, what’s up?" Tyler asked. The music stopped. Several boys snickered at the sight of the conservative boy and his little sister.
Antonio joined Tyler and Christina. "Hey, Tyler!" he said. "I didn't expect to see you here!"
"Tell them to get lost," a rough voice yelled.
"Knock it off," Antonio said. "They’re my friends."
Tyler appreciated Antonio’s sticking up for them, knowing it wasn’t the easy thing to do. But he didn’t understand why Antonio wanted to hang out with these guys, especially since they seemed to be getting meaner lately. They didn’t used to be, but they were turning into bullies. A couple of them had even been suspended from school.
"It's happened!" Tyler said.
"What’s happened?"
The biggest of the boys in the garage came out. He leered at Antonio and said in a fake sing-songy voice, "Why don't you just run along now and play with your little friends? Maybe you can play a game with the girlie who can't talk and her freaky little doll." The other boys laughed.

Tyler glared at them, picking Christina up and wiping away her tears.
"I told you to knock it off!" Antonio said in his face.
"You'll never be good enough to stay in our band anyway."
Antonio looked stricken.
"He’s better than you’ll ever be!” Tyler yelled. “Come on, Christina, don’t pay any attention to these jerks.” Before turning away he said to Antonio, “Will you meet us later?"
"Sure, just give me a few minutes," Antonio replied. "But what's this all about?"
"You'll find out soon enough.” Tyler lowered his voice. “Just meet us in thirty minutes at the corner of Oak and Willow."

[excerpt from Dr. Fuddle and the Gold Baton]

Dr. Fuddle's Musical IQ Test 46


1. b.    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
2. c.    Johann Sebastian Bach
3. a.    The rapid alternation of two adjacent notes
4. d.    All of the above
5. b.    A short melodic pattern or musical idea that runs though a piece

Classical 'Rock Star' Joshua Bell Takes On Conducting

 Joshua Bell.

Joshua Bell, the violin prodigy who grew into what some call a classical-music rock star, has taken the helm of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. Bell is the orchestra's first music director since Sir Neville Marriner, who created the group.

On his first tour with the group as both music director and conductor, Bell plays the violin while conducting the orchestra simultaneously, gesturing with his bow. And he leads from the concert master's chair, rather than the podium, which seems unusual to some audiences.

But the ASMF orchestra "really knows how to read those sorts of cues," he tells NPR's Neal Conan. In fact, Bell says, Marriner originally led the orchestra from the violin, too.
"So this orchestra, their roots come from being directed from the chair," he says. "Not with a stick."

Dr. Fuddle's Musical IQ Test 45

Answers to Musical IQ Test 44

1.   a.  Johann Pachelbel
2.   c.  Johannes Brahms
3.   d.  Anton Bruckner
4.   d.  Could be either “b” or “c”
5.   c. The Brandenburg Concertos

Why dissonant music can strike an emotional chord

Scientists suggest distortions make rock melodies sound like distress calls 


  Gil Aegerter  /

A young yellow-bellied marmot opens its mouth while on the edge of a cliff at Palouse Falls State Park in southeastern Washington. Studies of marmot screams led scientists to look into the emotional effect of dissonance in music.
 The Screaming Marmots aren't a rock band, but shrieks of the large rodents are telling scientists something about the animal nature of some music.

Daniel Blumstein, a biologist at the University of California at Los Angeles, studies marmots, a group that includes groundhogs, and he noticed something interesting about their cries.

"The pups sometimes scream when we capture them," said Blumstein, professor and chairman of UCLA's department of ecology and evolutionary biology. "These cries are very different than other vocalizations, like the alarm calls, we've studied."

Now he and colleagues have found evidence that human listeners can be aroused by the characteristics of music that resemble animals' distress calls.

"When we hear music, a lot of the mechanisms in our brain that are helping us understand it are probably originally designed to perceive emotions in voices, so music sort of fulfills that role of being an emotional voice," said study researcher Gregory Bryant, an assistant professor of communication at UCLA.

Bryant and Peter Kaye, a musician at Kingston University in Surrey, England, composed 12 brief clips of otherwise benign-sounding music that incorporated the unpredictable, or nonlinear, characteristics of animal cries. These included sudden shifts in pitch and distortion, similar to the guitar effects common in rock music.

Ukrainian pianist plays her way to YouTube stardom

With her multi-faceted playing described as "dazzling", Valentina Lisitsa is at ease in a vast repertoire ranging from Bach and Mozart to Shostakovich and Bernstein. Her orchestral repertoire alone includes more than forty concerti. She admits to having a special affinity for the music of Rachmaninoff and Beethoven and continues to add to her vast repertoire each season. by Michael Roddy


(Reuters) - A little-known Ukrainian pianist who has had 43 million views on YouTube of her performing everything from Liszt to Schubert said on Friday for an encore she will play London's Royal Albert Hall -- and the world is invited to watch on the Internet.

Valentina Lisitsa, who has been playing piano since the age of 3, began her rise to Internet stardom five years ago, when she posted a Rachmaninov etude nicknamed "Little Red Riding Hood" on the Internet.

Perhaps in part bolstered by her flashing long fingers and blonde tresses, that video clip has had 1.5 million views, while her Beethoven "Moonlight Sonata" has garnered almost 3 million views and numerous other videos of hers have viewership of a half million and up.

Some classical music clips on the Internet, even by famous performers, have viewership in the low thousands.

Lisitsa, who had been pursuing her career without a professional manager or promoter, attributed her success to "word of mouth" and said she thought the Internet had created a new way to reach the public.

"If people pretend to be something they're not, people can feel that in the digital age," she told Reuters in a telephone interview. "They know when they are being sold something."

In order to thank her fans, Lisitsa said in a press release that she had booked the 5,000-seat London hall that serves as the venue for the BBC Proms for a concert on June 19 that also will be transmitted live on the Internet.

"I could not have done this without all my fans online around the world," she said in the press release circulated by Universal, which announced simultaneously that it had signed her for its Decca Classics label. Universal said it had calculated the 43 million views - and rising -- for Lisitsa's 180-odd YouTube videos.

"Their reactions tell me every day that I am doing the right thing and that's the best reward for my hard work," Lisitsa added. "Now I want to say thank you and give them a great concert live and online."

Lisitsa is not a complete unknown in the music world, having played with numerous orchestras, at festivals, in recitals and as the accompanist for American violinist Hilary Hahn on a CD last year of American iconoclast composer Charles Ives's sonatas for violin and piano.

(Writing by Michael Roddy; Editing by Paul Casciato)