(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘music

“Cocaine is God’s way of telling you are making too much money”*…


Not just any white powdery substance will do, of course. Says [prop master Ken Finn]: “You don’t want to use powdered sugar because it gets sticky. You really don’t want to use flour either because if it gets damp at all it just becomes clumpy.” Instead, it’s almost always inositol, a B-vitamin compound.  “In fact,” says Ken, “if you ever snort it, you might get this familiar feeling.  A certain memory, like, ‘Hey, I’ve tasted this in the back of my throat before.’ What I’ve learned since then is that actual cocaine is oftentimes cut with this stuff. If you ever do shitty [cocaine], You might actually be ingesting this stuff without even knowing it.”

Natalie Kearns, a veteran stage prop master, seconds the use of inositol: “It absorbs easily into the sinuses and doesn’t affect vocal chords, so it’s a good choice for musicals and has been reliably used by some big names on Broadway for extended runs.”…

More at “Prop Masters Explain the Movie Magic of Fake Cocaine.”

* Robin Williams


As we lay it on the line, we might send melodic birthday greetings to Paul Williams; he was born on this date in 1940.  A composer, singer, songwriter, and actor, Williams is probably best known for popular songs performed by a number of acts in the 1970s including Three Dog Night’s “An Old Fashioned Love Song,” Helen Reddy’s “You and Me Against the World,” David Bowie’s “Fill Your Heart,” and the Carpenters’ “We’ve Only Just Begun” and “Rainy Days and Mondays”– as well as his contributions to films, including the lyrics to the chart-topping “Evergreen”, the love theme from A Star Is Born (Barbra Streisand) for which he won a Grammy for Song of the Year and an Academy Award for Best Original Song; and “Rainbow Connection” from The Muppet Movie.  He also wrote the lyrics to the opening theme for The Love Boat.

Williams struggled with substance abuse issues the 1970s-80s.  Sober since 1990, he became a Certified Drug Rehabilitation Counselor.



Written by LW

September 19, 2015 at 1:01 am

“I play a musical instrument a little, but only for my own amazement”*…


Mr. and Mrs. Karsy, an inventive and original “team” on the variety stage, have created a new and extrodinary musical instrument which is known as the Giant Myriophone (Myriphon). It is the work of a genius and when under full swing produces music similar to that of a full string band. Only two persons are required to produce this immense volume of sound. “The Myriophone has the appearance of a large screen, with a number of wheels fitted on the front. These wheels have strings fitted on them and look much like bicycle wheels. They are set in motion by four lusty stage hands concealed in the rear, and the performers who have a small stick of wood in each hand touch the strings, thus making a note, which can be prolonged to any length. The Myriophone consists of twenty-five discs, each with eighty strings, making 2,000 in all. The sounding boards are made of the same wood as is used in pianos. Regular piano strings are used…

Karsy’s Giant Myriphon

* Fred Allen


As we tinkle the ivories, we might spare a thought for François Couperin; he died on this date in 1733 (though some sources place his passing on the 11th).  An organist, harpsichordist, and composer, he was an important influence on Corelli– thus influencing J. S. Bach.



Written by LW

September 12, 2015 at 1:01 am

“! have just been to the dentist, and need not return for another six months! Is it not the most beautiful thought?”*…


email readers, click here for video

Andrew Huang has released a wonderful cover of The Weeknd‘s hit song, “Can’t Feel My Face,” that he made from sounds created with dentist equipment, using items such as rubber gloves, dental models, and syringes.

(The original song, for comparison.)

Via Laughing Squid

* “Hercule Poirot,” in Agatha Christie’s One, Two, Buckle My Shoe


As we open wide, we might send thoroughly-rinsed birthday greetings to Weston Andrew Valleau Price; he was born on this date in 1870.  A dentist primarily known for his theories on the relationships among nutrition, dental health, and physical health, he founded the research institute National Dental Association, which became the research section of the American Dental Association.



Written by LW

September 6, 2015 at 1:01 am

“You better lose yourself in the music, the moment / You own it, you better never let it go”*…


From the good folks at Polygraph, Spotify playcounts analyzed to understand how generations remember music, over time: “The most timeless songs of all time.”

* Eminem, “Lose Yourself”


As we ponder our playlists, we might recall that it was on this date in 1962 that “The Loco-Motion” hit #1 on the pop charts in the U.S.  Gerry Goffin and Carole King wrote the tune for Dee Dee Sharp (who then had a monster hit with “Mashed Potatoes”), but Sharp demurred.  Goffin and King then turned to their babysitter, Eva Boyd, who took the stage name “Little Eva.”

The song appeared in the American Top 5 three times – each time in a different decade, performed by artists from three different cultures: originally African American pop singer Little Eva in 1962 (U.S. No. 1); then American band Grand Funk Railroad in 1974 (U.S. No. 1); and finally Australian singer Kylie Minogue in 1988 (U.S. No. 3). It was the second song to reach No. 1 by two different musical acts; the first, “Go Away Little Girl,” was also written by Goffin and King.

email readers click here for video


Written by LW

August 26, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Dead men are heavier than broken hearts”*…


From the British Film Institute, an infographic dedicated to the shadowy world of one of classic Hollywood’s most beloved subgenres– see it in its gritty entirety at “What Makes a Film Noir?

* Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep


As we grope for our gats, we might send haunting birthday greetings to Brian Easdale; he was born on this date in 1909.  A composer of both orchestral and operatic music, Easdale is best remembered for his film scores, especially those he composed for the films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (including Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes, and The Elusive Pimpernel).  Perhaps his most powerful film work was on Powell’s controversial Peeping Tom, a film that used a number of film noir conventions to create a horror-thriller so shockingly unexpected that– while the film is now considered a masterpiece– it effectively ended Powell’s career.

Sir Thomas Beecham (left, with baton), and Easdale (center) preparing to record the score of The Red Shoes



Written by LW

August 10, 2015 at 1:01 am

“I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own”*…


Olympic National Park: the stone marking the quietest square inch in the U.S. (stolen by vandals in 2009)

Reaching the quietest square inch of land in the U.S. is literally a walk in the park. Well, a rainforest, to be precise. To find it, you hike along the Hoh River in the heart of Olympic National Park, past bigleaf maples carpeted in spike-mosses and around epiphytic ferns sprouting out of the saturated Northwest soil. Eventually you pass through the split trunk of a Sitka spruce to enter an even muddier, mossier, more verdant nook of the forest. Look to your left and you may notice a tiny red pebble resting on a mossy nurse log, marking 47°51’57.5″N, 123°52’13.3″W. That’s America’s quietest wild place.

The quietest inch isn’t a sound vacuum. It represents a place with a minimum of human-made noise. The discipline of acoustic ecology, which is dedicated to understanding the natural sounds that come through loud and clear when we’re not around, outlines an important distinction between sound and noise. The blip of water droplets from a forest canopy? Sound. The tinny din of Taylor Swift through smartphone speakers? Noise. For example, the inch, as it’s often called, is exposed to flute-like bugling from Roosevelt elk, the Morse-code chirp of the American Dipper, and assertive hooting from the endangered Northern Spotted Owl. The steady rush of the Hoh River rounding the shoulder of Mount Olympus whooshes nearby, and summer snowmelt punctuates the setting with staccato droplets. In spite of the natural sound, dense forest engulfs the inch in a hush that is, at times, below 20 decibels—quieter than most recording studios…

Understand why silence is golden at “Welcome to the Quietest Square Inch in the U.S.“; dive more deeply at “The Unintended Consequences of Noise.”

* Chaim Potok, The Chosen


As we keep it down, we might spare a thought for Oscar Hammerstein; he died on this date in 1919.  As a newly-arrived immigrant to the U.S., Hammerstein worked in a cigar factory, where he discovered ways to automate the rolling process.  He patented his innovation and made a fortune– which he promptly reinvested in his true passions, music and the arts.  Possessed of a sharp sense of design and an equally good acoustical sense, he built and ran theaters and concert halls, becoming one of Americas first great impressarios…  a fact worth honoring, as history tends to overlook “Oscar the First” in favor of his grandson, Oscar Hammerstein II, the gifted librettist/lyricist and partner of Richard Rodgers.

Hammerstein (on left, with cigar) and conductor Cleofonte Campagnini



Written by LW

August 1, 2015 at 1:01 am

“It’s easy to play any musical instrument: all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time”*…


Deirdre Loughridge and Thomas Patteson, curators of the Museum of Imaginary Musical Instruments, explore the wonderful history of made-up musical contraptions, including a piano comprised of yelping cats and Francis Bacon’s 17th-century vision of experimental sound manipulation: “Cat Pianos, Sound-Houses, and Other Imaginary Musical Instruments.”

* Johann Sebastian Bach


As we tickle the ivories, we might spare a thought for Johann Nepomuk Maelzel; he died on this date in 1838.  Remembered these days as the inventor of the metronome, Maezel was well-known in his own time as an inventor and impresario.  He was especially well-known for his automatons– clock work trumpeters, chess players, miniature song birds, and the like that he exhibited widely.  In 1804 Maezel invented a kind of “player orchestra,” the panharmonicon, an automaton able to play the musical instruments of a military band, powered by bellows, and directed by revolving cylinders on which the notes were stored.  The “instrument” was admired across Europe, and earned its creator the post of imperial court-mechanician at Vienna, and the friendship of Beethoven (whom Maezel convinced to write Wellington’s Victory [Battle Symphony] Opus 91).



Written by LW

July 21, 2015 at 1:01 am


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,145 other followers

%d bloggers like this: