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Weekend O' Fun (Part I)

This weekend saw the annual visit of the Pony Parents. For several years, it was just Dad Pony, because the event he comes for is a scholarship event at his old high school. But ever since Mom Pony retired, she accompanies him on the trip.

They were due to arrive sometime on Friday night, but the fun started Friday afternoon with . . . Colloquium! Yes, that makes me sound like an incurable geek. And, to be honest, I am an incurable geek. But the colloquium talk was a lot of fun. We had Robert Gjerdingen of Northwestern University, talking about the poetics of 18th-century music. I'd heard him speak before, back in Old Grad School Town, and I'm positive that I wrote about that talk, but for the life of me, I cannot find that LJ entry. So I'll just sum him up again here.

Gjerdingen's main point (in both talks) was to discuss the ways in which 18th-century court musicians used a set vocabulary of melodic/harmonic patterns kind of like Legos to construct and (in some cases) improvise new music for a time and a place that demanded lots of new music in short amounts of time. He described the training of Italian orphans in conservatories, and where the word "conservatory" comes from: nowadays, we use the word to describe a professional music school like Juilliard, but originally, it just meant "orphanage." The things being conserved were the orphans. But so many of them did musical training as a trade that the word came to mean "music school." Anyway, Gjerdingen talked about how, if you train a small child intensely in this kind of pattern manipulation, you can get very small children (like a four-year-old in a video he showed us) to improvise in a lovely galant style.

I think this topic is fascinating, and I love Gjerdingen's speaking style -- relaxed and informal, and super-prepared, which is what lets him be so relaxed and informal. And he tells good jokes, too. One of the best colloquia we've had all year.

After Colloquium, I went down to Pub Night with the music students, stayed there for about an hour and a half, and then went to catch at least the beginning of the U of C's monthly contra dance. I got in two good dances before I left to make sure that I was home by the time the Pony Parents arrived.

The Pony Parents showed up around 10:30, tired from their own day of activities, but happy to see me. What we did after a good night's sleep, I guess I'll save for another post, since this one is getting long.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
May. 10th, 2010 11:33 pm (UTC)
And that was just Friday! The whole weekend was excellent.
May. 11th, 2010 04:20 am (UTC)
Very interesting about how "conservatory" came to mean what it does now. The old meaning amakes more sense, but some associations, once made, can't be broken.

Looking forward to reading the tale(s) of the Pony Visit.
May. 11th, 2010 01:28 pm (UTC)
Right now, musical tradition is what's conserved at a conservatory, so the meaning still does hold water. But that's what I love about Gjerdingen. He just . . . tosses off these fascinating little things in the middle of an equally fascinating larger talk.

More Tales of the Pony Weekend are up!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


by Illsaysheis

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