Yiddish and the Italian Welsh

Daffy-down-dilly has been and fled / Her yellow-green gown all stained in red. Featuring Google Translate’s transliteration service for unfamiliar scripts.

Here’s the Yiddish original of an Abridger’s Confession quoted (and translated) by A.Z. Foreman:

דש דוזיג בוך אין וועלשן שפרוך
דש שרייבט גאר לאנג אין אלן עקן
איך וויל אים ניט מין שרייבן נוך
וויל אויביריגי ווארט לוש איך נוך שטעקן
זוישט וואורד מיר מיין בויכֿלן צו הוך
אונ׳ דיא צייט וואורד מיך דרצו ניט קלעקן
דרום ווער עז הוט גילייט בֿור אך אין וועלשן
מאיין ניט דש איך עש דעהרום וויל ועלשן

I was interested in the literal original and the translation process, but I can’t read Hebrew. here‘s the Google Translation:

Flap doozy book in which entitlement
Flap writing extremely long in aln ends
I wish him no kind writing nukh
Wants aoybirigi word Lush I nukh staff
Cleaner wards me my boykhln to hukh
And Dia times wards me moreover not suffice
South who EZ hat gileyt majority but in which
My not flap I Esche dehrum wants uelshn

A case of madness beating method. But anyone who knows a bit of German should be able to understand Google Translate’s transliteration:

dsh duzig bukh in velshn shfrukh
dsh shreybt gar lang in aln ekn
ikh vil im nit min shreybn nukh
vil aoybirigi vart lush ikh nukh shtekn
zoysht vaurd mir meyn boykhln tsu hukh
aun’ dya tseyt vaurd mikh drtsu nit klekn
drum ver ez hut gileyt vur akh in velshn
meyn nit dsh ikh esh dehrum vil uelshn

One curiosity: Foreman translates velshn/uelshen as “Italian” in line with historical linguistic theory:

*Walhaz … is a reconstructed Proto-Germanic word, meaning “foreigner”, “stranger”, “Roman”, “Romance-speaker”, or “Celtic-speaker”. The term was used by the ancient Germanic peoples to describe inhabitants of the former Western Roman Empire, who were largely romanised and spoke Latin or Celtic languages. The adjectival form is attested in Old Norse valskr, meaning “French”, Old High German walhiskbarrick, meaning “Romance”, Modern German welsch, used in Switzerland and South Tyrol for Romance-speakers, Dutch Waals “Walloon”, Old English welisċ, wælisċ, wilisċ, meaning “Romano-British”, and Modern English Welsh.

However, it is common knowledge here in Bala, Gwynedd, Wales that all other incomprehensible tongues in fact spring from Welsh, in which tongue proto-Calvinistic Methodist dogma was being preached long before the Shemites shtarted shquabbling, and whose speakers have dominated European government for centuries by the subtle use of leeks. A fearsome language and a fearful people, of whose death-dealing daffy-down-dilly Robert Herrick (1591-1674) wrote:

When a daffodil I see,
Hanging down his head towards me,
Guess I may what I must be:
First, I shall decline my head;
Secondly, I shall be dead;
Lastly, safely burièd.

The Welsh appear in a notorious poem by Ernst Arndt (1769-1860), which on a particularly slow day Mr Foreman might translate as follows:

That is the German fatherland,
Where foreign junk is fiercely banned,
Where every Frenchman is condemned,
Where every German is your friend.
So shall it be! so shall it be!
So shall be all of Germany!

[
Das ist des Deutschen Vaterland,
Wo Zorn vertilgt den welschen Tand,
Wo jeder Franzmann heißet Feind,
Wo jeder Deutsche heißet Freund.
Das soll es sein! das soll es sein!
Das ganze Deutschland soll es sein!
]

But this, pace Bala, is actually about the Welsh, not foreigners in general. A precocious talent, Arndt is recalling his attendance, at the age of 18 months, at Cardiff City’s best ever showing in European competition: the second leg of its 3-4 aggregate loss against Hamburger SV in the semi-finals of the 1768 Cup Winners’ Cup:

Why not simply learn Hebrew script? Because I have discovered from overheard conversations in Yiddish that the Stamford Hill Haredim are less interested in world domination than in what’s for tea, so the chance of Hebrew script becoming more widely used and useful seems unacceptably small.

Irregular rhythmic irregularity in southern German music

How to write pastiche inconsistent non-isochronous subdivision for mechanical organ. With metrical analysis of the notes inégales in a bit of the Furtwängler recording of Mozart’s Gran Partita.

I still haven’t managed to find a communicative functionary in the northwestern Czech Republic, but I have as a result got to know several nice southern Germans with interests in mechanical music and pre-Sarajevo central Europe. One of these has now put me in touch with a Swiss gentleman who was looking for someone to write a couple of one-off arrangements of Austrian favourites for his roll-controlled salon organ for Mrs’ birthday. The catch is that he wants the music to sound not as it might be written but as it is played, which involves rhythmic give-and-take far more complex than for example American swing.

Irregularity in Austrian waltzes

The best known example of Austrian-ish rubato is the Viennese waltz, which British classical musicians, with their honest Hanoverian (i.e. Prussian) rhythmic heritage, tend to perform by making their beat 2 eat into beat 1’s tail by roughly a semiquaver and with simple tempo changes. Danubians, however, (still) vary the amplitude of the beat-2 lurch from bar to bar, depending on factors such as where they are in the phrase and what’s happening in the melody (the bar subdivision of which may not coincide with the accompaniment), and tempo is up for grabs to a far greater degree.

[
I should say that waltzes like this aren’t designed for people with three legs of unequal length: as Harold and Meredith Sears observe, the Viennese waltz is fast, and dancers tend to either canter (foot down on beats 1 and 3) or hesitate (foot down on beat 1); while Franz Fuchs from Klosterneuburg on the Danube compares it to Alpine skiing and indulges in a bit of gratuitous abuse:

It has everything, except the Prussian goosestep.

]

Irregularity in other Austrian genres

This variation extends to other forms. Franz has written a simple guide with MIDI examples of how to take a written polka and turn it into music (version 4), as well as an excellent introduction to the the application of inequality in various genres, including the Viennese and Alpine waltzes, Ländler and Steirer, the polka and Boarisch, marches and mazurkas. But not yodelling, which is beyond irregularity:

But this irregularity is also irregular. As Franz wisely comments:

None of these indications is to be regarded as an absolute must. It always comes down to the nature of the melody. In folk music there are no exact rules. Time and again you will find situations or entire melodies where this information simply isn’t appropriate and where you’ll have to accentuate differently. Some waltzes are if anything fast Ländler, while in others some passages are played in the exact metre. You have to try it out for yourself with every piece. Above all, you have to listen and investigate how other musicians do it.

Here’s a nice polka from Die Hoameligen showing amongst other things that stuff gets tighter when there are semiquavers around:

Obligatory Ernst Mosch moment

This eccentricity also extends to a considerable degree into the literate tradition. While Brits, Yankees and Prussians play their marches and polkas more or less straight down the line, their southern German counterparts deviate considerably. Regular readers know that I’m just looking for an excuse to usher on Ernst Mosch and his Egerländer Musicians, here playing along with their gold disc at the 1965 Stuttgart Radio Exhibition:

… and for a curious contrast of absolutely no other interest, here they are again in 1981, celebrating their 25th anniversary with a piece of Sudeten swing (do check the rest of the recording, though):

Inequality in Viennese Mozart

It’s also found in performance of parts of the classical repertoire untouched by popular dances. The Furtwängler recording with the Vienna Phil in 1947 starts up the bar 2-3 vamp in the Adagio from Mozart’s K.361 Gran Partita like a steam train on a cold, wet morning, and shifts continually throughout:

In contrast here’s a recording by Mackerras and a group of London players which, while superior in many ways, slots into a very slightly lilting rhythm in bar 2 and more or less stays there:

Just for fun I’ve had a bash at calculating the ratio between semiquavers 1 and 2 for each quaver in bars 2-3 Furtwängler’s notes inégales. Here is the relevant line in the score:

… and here in Audacity format is the relevant clip from Furtwängler, slowed to roughly half tempo and containing my time event labels for semiquavers, which are available here as a text file. (Judging when a note happens is akin to determining whether one’s favourite uncle has entered the room on the basis of his stomach or his smile, so by all means suggest improvements. 1)

The following chart shows for this miniscule data set the irregularity of the irregular ratio between semiquaver 1 and 2 for the 16 quavers in question:

Grouping the quavers into 4s, you get the following mean semiquaver ratios, which might indicate that players tend to favour long-short feet at the beginning of a metrical unit and short-long at the end:

Austrian rhythm and notes inégales

I think that the irregular ratio and the use of short-long as well as long-short probably distinguish this practice from French notes inégales, which I understand to be invariably long-short. If the two are related at all then I imagine notes inégales to be a pedantic, lobotomised offshoot of some Austrian or Italian tradition, rather like the robotic valse-musette.

However I wonder whether all those treatises detailing performance practice actually tell the whole story. Perhaps Thurston Dart, who I seem to recall in the Interpretation of music preaching against mixing equal and non-equal notes, would have revised his opinion had he been as fond of mid-C20th German popular music as he was of American jazz. Perhaps there’s a Two Cultures thing going on: progressives play early music and conservatives play commercial folk, and ne’er the twain shall meet, till earth and sky stand presently at God’s great judgment seat, and that’ll be fun. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

Loss of inequality in barrel organ music

I haven’t seen any evidence of inequality in serinette, flute clock and other barrels from the C18th Black Forest or other southern German foci of production, nor have I found great criticisms of a loss of rhythmic flexibility in historical Central European writing. Perhaps this is because the tunes being pinned were often religious or foreign or high art and thus exempt, or because pinners were working from paper scores and were unmusical or didn’t regard interpretation as within their contract scope, or because irregularity was a characteristic principally of marginal (bi-cultural) areas (think of the Oberkrainer, Zillertaler, Egerländer repertoires…) about which no one cared a great deal, or because irregularity was regarded as Luddite and mechanical constancy as the future, or because people were so delighted with such cheap and reliable results that the loss of eccentricity seemed a minor price to pay, or because grinders added variation themselves by modifying their crank speed. More perhapses. In a way the survival of such techniques is another echo of the Audi cliché of the southern German lands: Vorsprung durch Technik … und Tradition.

Down to work: my modus operandi

Based on my limited knowledge of the styles involved, and bearing in mind Mr Fuchs’ comments, I’m going to record simple mixes with Audacity, MIDIfy the results, import them into Sibelius and then fiddle around until I get some results, which, since they are going to Switzerland, are at least one transaction unlikely to be affected by Brexit.

Stuff

  1. I hope you’ll also read W. Bas de Haas & Anja Volk, “Meter Detection in Symbolic Music Using Inner Metric Analysis” and report back

Karl Marx condemns organ-grinders!

“vagabonds, discharged soldiers, discharged jailbirds, escaped galley slaves, swindlers, mountebanks, lazzaroni, pickpockets, tricksters, gamblers, maquereaux, brothel keepers, porters, literati, organ grinders, ragpickers, knife grinders, tinkers, beggars”

Although he benefitted from them, the position of Trotsky with respect to organ-grinders is not clear. Marx on the other hand leaves no room for doubt. He opposed Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte’s populist 1851 coup, which restored universal male suffrage, so he claimed in The Eighteenth Brumaire that the considerable popular support for Bonaparte came, not from the proletariat, but from what he called the lumpenproletariat – basically, the poor and workers who didn’t agree with him:

As in 1849 so during [1850]’s parliamentary recess — the party of Order had broken up into its separate factions, each occupied with its own restoration intrigues, which had obtained fresh nutriment through the death of Louis Philippe. The Legitimist king, Henry V, had even nominated a formal ministry which resided in Paris and in which members of the Permanent Commission held seats. Bonaparte, in his turn, was therefore entitled to make tours of the French departments, and according to the disposition of the town he favored with his presence, now more or less covertly, now more or less overtly, to divulge his own restoration plans and canvass votes for himself. On these processions, which the great official Moniteur and the little private Moniteurs of Bonaparte naturally had to celebrate as triumphal processions, he was constantly accompanied by persons affiliated with the Society of December 10. This society dates from the year 1849. On the pretext of founding a benevolent society, the lumpen proletariat of Paris had been organized into secret sections, each section led by Bonapartist agents, with a Bonapartist general at the head of the whole. Alongside decayed roués with dubious means of subsistence and of dubious origin, alongside ruined and adventurous offshoots of the bourgeoisie, were vagabonds, discharged soldiers, discharged jailbirds, escaped galley slaves, swindlers, mountebanks, lazzaroni, pickpockets, tricksters, gamblers, maquereaux [pimps], brothel keepers, porters, literati, organ grinders, ragpickers, knife grinders, tinkers, beggars — in short, the whole indefinite, disintegrated mass, thrown hither and thither, which the French call la bohème; from this kindred element Bonaparte formed the core of the Society of December 10. A “benevolent society” – insofar as, like Bonaparte, all its members felt the need of benefiting themselves at the expense of the laboring nation. This Bonaparte, who constitutes himself chief of the lumpenproletariat, who here alone rediscovers in mass form the interests which he personally pursues, who recognizes in this scum, offal, refuse of all classes the only class upon which he can base himself unconditionally, is the real Bonaparte, the Bonaparte sans phrase. An old, crafty roué, he conceives the historical life of the nations and their performances of state as comedy in the most vulgar sense, as a masquerade in which the grand costumes, words, and postures merely serve to mask the pettiest knavery. Thus his expedition to Strasbourg, where the trained Swiss vulture played the part of the Napoleonic eagle. For his irruption into Boulogne he puts some London lackeys into French uniforms. They represent the army. In his Society of December 10 he assembles ten thousand rascals who are to play the part of the people as Nick Bottom [A character in Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. – Ed.] that of the lion. At a moment when the bourgeoisie itself played the most complete comedy, but in the most serious manner in the world, without infringing any of the pedantic conditions of French dramatic etiquette, and was itself half deceived, half convinced of the solemnity of its own performance of state, the adventurer, who took the comedy as plain comedy, was bound to win. Only when he has eliminated his solemn opponent, when he himself now takes his imperial role seriously and under the Napoleonic mask imagines he is the real Napoleon, does he become the victim of his own conception of the world, the serious buffoon who no longer takes world history for a comedy but his comedy for world history. What the national ateliers were for the socialist workers, what the Gardes mobile were for the bourgeois republicans, the Society of December 10 was for Bonaparte, the party fighting force peculiar to him. On his journeys the detachments of this society packing the railways had to improvise a public for him, stage popular enthusiasm, roar Vive l’Empereur, insult and thrash republicans, under police protection, of course. On his return journeys to Paris they had to form the advance guard, forestall counter-demonstrations or disperse them. The Society of December 10 belonged to him, it was his work, his very own idea. Whatever else he appropriates is put into his hands by the force of circumstances; whatever else he does, the circumstances do for him or he is content to copy from the deeds of others. But Bonaparte with official phrases about order, religion, family, and property in public, before the citizens, and with the secret society of the Schufterles and Spiegelbergs, the society of disorder, prostitution, and theft, behind him — that is Bonaparte himself as the original author, and the history of the Society of December 10 is his own history.

More positive images from other revolutions? If you were a Marxist dictator, would you send us to the gulag or dedicate a statue to us?

Programmable mini pin organ for kids

Gloggomobil by Naef toys of Switzerland is based on the principle of the barrel organ and helps to introduce a child to the world of music. Designed by Herbert Bahli.

When the black pegs are pushed into the holes on the drum and the simple turning mechanism is set in motion, melodies can be heard. A child can also produce bell-like sounds directly with the drumsticks on the detachable xylophone.

Only one prob: it’s 900USD