Music for a Classical Atmosphere

Hello everyone! Sorry that this is a day late; the system seemed to think we had compromising material on our blog and shut down our posting abilities until we could be reviewed by staff. I hope this lives up to how much you missed out!

Ok, so this is the first time I’ve ever tried to do this. I’m going to talk to you about music, something I will not even pretend to be an expert about! So, for all of you music buffs, this isn’t a classical playlist as much as it is music with a classical feel. Music that brings you back to the 1300s, the 1700s, etc. I was jumping between writing about the best of the 1920s-1940s and this, but I think that this might bring to light some interesting groups you didn’t think of! So turn your scopes back pretty far, retroverts, because we’re taking a jump into the real past.

Francisco de la Torre

Francisco de la Torre
You can find pieces of Francisco de la Torre on Youtube, thankfully, and if you want to jump back to real Spanish mediaeval music, this fellow is the way to go. He’s a mediaeval composer who was most likely from Sevilla. His work has a jumpy, lilting feel that is very typical of mediaeval tunes. Check out a few of these videos:

Mediaeval Baebes

These ladies have been a favourite of mine for several years, and are a staple of the ancient-loving in music. You can find their website online, where they have a few samples of songs. I don’t recall if you can buy them on iTunes (I ripped their CDs onto my iTunes), but it’s certainly worth a try. They sing in Middle English, Latin, Italian, and I believe, at times, in modern English as well.
Mediaeval Baebes

Some of my favourites of theirs include:

  • Gaudete
  • Ecce Munde Gaudium
  • Return of the Birds
  • Undrentide
  • Cittern Segue
  • Scarborough Fayre

They have a lovely authentic sound and their songs are of fantastic quality. I can safely say that I’ve been listening to their songs for as long as I can remember, really, and they never get old. Though, I do wish they’d change their name; it’s a bit embarrassing to refer someone to “baebes,” especially someone academic.

The Waverly Consort
I actually had no idea that this group was online until I sat down and wrote this. They also have a website where you can purchase some of their CDs, but I have to say, my favourite wasn’t there.

Mappa Mundi
What you’re listening to is a song called Mappa Mundi from the Waverly Consort’s CD 1492: Music from the Age of Discovery. This copy in my hand is from 1992. I can, through sheer repetition, sing along to the mediaeval Italian because it was such an integral part of my childhood. There is something pure and enchanting about their works, especially the ones from this CD. If you enjoy the Youtube video, be sure to check them out and consider purchasing more of their work.

Broadside Band

I don’t know if you can get these very easily, since my CD is from 1991 and the only song I found on Youtube, I’m not even sure if it’s by them, but they are one of my favourites. I enjoy their folk approach t classical music, and I have spent many (semi-sophistocated) afternoons listening to their CD English Country Dances, definitely what you need for a hop and a skip into real-life Pride and Prejudice!

Loreena McKennitt

A modern artist, Loreena blends mediaeval, Middle Eastern, fantastic, and some modern elements into her pieces. They evoke images of Middle Earth and other fantasy worlds to me, and I always throw in a song or two by her whenever I put together a playlist of classical-atmospheric music. After all, since none of this is actually in the genre of classical music, why not add a mysterious element to it?

The Mask and the Mirror Loreena McKennit

Find her website here: http://www.quinlanroad.com/homepage/index.asp?LangType=1033 and consider purchasing her works either in CD form or on iTunes so that you can add this exotic twist to your library!

Jean Yves Thibaudet

A few of you savvy Austen-ites may recognise this name, or perhaps just those familiar with film music. Jean Yves Thibaudet composed the music for the latest Pride and Prejudice film. These songs, while short and soft, add a quick moment of romantic dreaminess to your playlist. Take a hop back to the 1700s, with a more conventional feel, by trying out a few of these for your latest craze.

The Chieftains

Irish Pub Painting

And now we turn to the timeless. I cannot reccomend these fellows enough to you, and I beg you to invest in music that they’ve done by themselves, without featuring other artists, because I enjoy that the best. I’ve included their Christmas album into my classical-atmosphere playlists for the sort of music that makes you want to hop up and do a jig! Visit their website here: http://www.thechieftains.com/ and think about bringing more bagpipes and accordions into your life! Thankfully, they sample more pieces on their website, so you can get a better taste of them. Here’s to the best  playlist composing!

-A.

Photos Courtesy of:

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Dùn Èideann

So perhaps a few of you knew that I was gone to Scotland for 6 days at the end of last week. I went to Edinburgh and then took a town bus out to Rosslyn Chapel for a day (confused? watch the Da Vinci Code), both of which were stunningly beautiful. Like, I can’t even describe to you this sort of beauty. So I’m going to include various photographs that I took that will hopefully describe my travels and include an anecdote or two to make my text seem worthwhile.

First of all, as many of you are probably ignorant of, I adore languages. And there’s nothing better than a good bookstore. Now, I know that lots of people say that there’s unnecessary hype about Blackwell book stores, that they’re a chain and that everyone makes a big deal out of nothing, but I have to say, they have a consistently great, academically oriented selection. Of course, I also tend to go into ones located in university cities. Maybe I’m biased because not many people have whole sections dedicated to linguistics and Anglo-Saxon literature.

Upon browsing the language section in Blackwell book store Edinburgh, I noticed that there were no books on Scottish Gaelic. Now, I’ve wanted to learn Gaelic for a while, and where better to get a book than Scotland? But none. Nothing. Not even Irish or Welsh. I was shocked! They had books on Urdu, Dutch, Basque! But no Gaelic? The original language of the Scots?

So I went up to the register and asked why they had no books on Gaelic in their languages section. The tweedy, buttoned-up fellow behind the counter looked over his glasses at me with a devilish smile and whispered, “Well, we’d get in quite a bit of trouble if we put the Gaelic in the foreign languages section.”

I was so embarrassed! I had completely forgotten that it wasn’t just “languages!”

Furthermore, I just have a newfound love of the Scots in general. They are more practical and lighthearted than the English, and a bit grittier too. It’s simply a different atmosphere, but, despite how much they would protest if they heard this, they are actually remarkably similar too. The English and the Scots both have a stick-to-it-ness that they’re individually proud of and claim the other group doesn’t have enough of. They’re both incredibly tidy (though I don’t think Edinburgh can represent Highland farms, just like clean Oxford streets doesn’t represent Liverpool). Literally, those lovely British buses were so clean, when I sneezed, I felt I had dirtied something precious.

Of course, not only were the buses clean, but also convenient. Edinburgh, while undergoing (endless) tram construction, has a bus system that makes sense. I’m not joking with you. It actually makes sense. There’s cafes and pubs on more than every street corner, literally 2 or 3 a block. Interesting restaurants, sketchy bars, tiny art galleries and tall-ceilinged antique map shops. It was undescribable!

-A/

The Scottish Make Money Through Murder

Well, perhaps not any more. But at some point, it appears that somebody did. Since I’m most likely going to live in the lovely Edinburgh next year, I find it deeply fitting that I should grace you all with a Scots-themed post.

Burke and Hare  Last night, I watched a brilliantly hilarious film called Burke and Hare, which, while not being at the pinnacle of the film industry, is a dark comedy about two men who murder — yes, murder — seventeen individuals for the sake of selling the bodies to a very competitive market in the anatomy schools of the University of Edinburgh. Two delightful laymen characters horrify themselves by attempting to murder people by throwing them down staircases, losing bodies rolling away in barrels, and make a small fortune in the business.

It stars the delightful Andy Serkis and Simon Pegg, two charming comedians who will be sure to give you the best of British comedy. But I’m not just here to blow whistles for Scottish cinema, because there’s a dark underside to this story.

It actually happened.

No, really! It actually happened. William Burke and William Hare actually murdered seventeen people in order to sell their bodies to the anatomy schools, and, here’s the twist: they had no criminal record of any sort before that. Their wives were both possibly into the act, helping them smother, knock out, and throw their victims off of cliffs. William Burke was actually Irish, in fact, who came over to Scotland in 1817, and could read and write. Unusual, really.

Burke and Hare

These are the real Burke and Hare (I’ll admit that I don’t know which one is which), and the way the story ends is a little different than in the film, but the same number of people die in the end. I can certainly say that this is a film you’ll want to watch if you’re with a gaggle of friends, wanting an early 19th Century basket of laughs with a little bit of squeamish squealing but no real gory horror. Pity the world isn’t like how it used to be, what with the possibility of being nabbed and murdered for the name of science at every dark streetcorner — or that four pounds sterling could get you into an exclusive nightclub. I’ll risk the former for the latter, if I can bring a ten quid note back with me!

Burke's Skeleton  This is Burke’s skeleton, now on display in the University of Edinburgh School of Anatomy Museum. The last shot of the film shows the “what happened to William Burke,” though I won’t give you the short end, since that’d be a spoiler, but we all know he dies eventually, and this is what happens to him. Propped in a fluorescent room, sticks all up in his exposed spine, sitting in a glass canister — in the name of anatomical science. Wonder if it’s what he would have wanted. Probably not.

For the second part of my Sunday post, however, I’d like to introduce to you a recipe for a bakery item that will murder. (Well, perhaps not as much as my Espresso Double Chocolate Cookies, but I’ll save those for another day when I give you Death by Chocolate.) More in line with the Scottish way, I’m going to give you my all-secret, never before shared, fluffy, luscious, scrumptious, Scottish Berry Scones.

I warn you. These are scones that contain sunlight in them, goldeny toasty with dripping blueberries if you get them in season. I’ve done them with chocolate chips and edited them for pumpkin when it’s in season, and when I spent time in Scandinavia, I put lindonberries in them. They work well with any juicy berry that you can find in season, but blueberries always steal the show.

Serve them with jam, butter, and tea, freeze them on a flat sheet and then in a Ziplock, and they’ll last months for your enjoyment. They’ve been doubled for hungry families and they’re in American measurements because most of our readers are American. If you’d like the European measurements, please leave a comment. Also, since they’re a family recipe… it’s more colloquial cooking language.
Blueberry Scones
A’s Murderous Berry Scones

  • 3.5 cup flour
  • 2 tbls & 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup salted or unsalted room temperature butter
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 and 1/3 cup milk (whole for creamier texture, but even skim works fine)
  • 2 cups berries
  • 2 egg yolk
  1. Preheat oven at 400 Farenheit (200 C)
  2. Mix baking powder and flour in a rather large bowl
  3. Rub butter and sugar together (literally, take it in your hands, it will be very sticky, and sort of cream it together) until crumbly.
  4. Add flour mixture.
  5. Add milk and berries and knead gently (still using my hands), as briefly as possible. Will be very sticky.
  6. On a thickly floured surface, roll until 1 inch thick.
  7. Cut out with a standard mug or biscuit cutter and put on a ban with baking parchment, smearing egg yolks on top (I use a basting brush). Sprinkle with Muscovado sugar (Sugar in the Raw, or other very unrefined sugar).
  8. Bake 15 minutes until golden and irresistable.

These are the moistest, fluffiest, most delectable scones you will ever eat. Use wisely.

-A

Information from:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1320239/

http://burkeandhare.com/bhperps.htm

Pictures from:

http://thepenningtonedition.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/burkes-skeleton.jpeg?w=240&h=320