Odious and Peculiar

Philology and esoterica: scribblings, ravings and mutterings.

O&P's Current Pick:

Forging the Sampo

Odious' Links:

The Little Bookroom
The Pumpkin King
Larissa Archer
Inverted Iambs
Eve Tushnet
Pamela Dean
Kambodia Hotel
Pen and Paper

Charles Darwin's Beagle Diary
Deep-Sea News
NASA's Mars Website
Classics Online
Perseus Digital Library

Nine Scorpions
The Blithe Kitchen
Letter from Hardscrabble Creek
Arts & Letters Daily
About Last Night



Chas Clifton's Nature Blog
Rock Art Photo Blog
Girl on a Whaleship
Nature Lyrics Languagehat
Jabal al-Lughat
Laputan Logic
Strange Maps
Vladimir Dinets: Polymath Russian Adventurer
Virtual Tour of Almaty, Kazakhstan
Aerial Landscape Photography
USGS Earth As Art
Panoramic Aerial Maps of the American West

The Internet Bird Collection
Bird Families of the World
Ancient Scripts
The Aberdeen Bestiary Project
The Cephalopod Page
The Ultimate Ungulate
The Red Book of the Peoples of the Russian Empire
USGS Streamflow Data

Worthy Miscellany
Finno-Ugrian Music
Boojum Expeditions
American River Touring Association

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Monday, November 26, 2007
Even for a serious fan of world music like myself, Chinese music is a tough nut to crack. Pentatonic scales and vocals in tonal languages are simply not a winning combination for western ears. Farewell My Concubine is one of my favourite movies, but that's not due to it's scenes of Peking opera. As has been remarked, "When it comes to Chinese composers, I prefer Puccini."

So I was all the more delighted this evening to hear a wonderful NPR interview with Ma XiaoHui, an erhu virtuoso. You really owe it to yourself to listen to the story and appreciate this woman's music. It sounds like a cross between Yo-Yo Ma and Tuvan or Kazakh tunes. They open with Ms. Ma playing Elegy, a "concerto for erhu and orchestra," though they do not trouble to specify the composer, nor if and where a recording can be obtained. I'd get it in a second. She also adapts western violin classics to her instrument, with fine effect. And her Horse piece which closes the interview is not to be missed: sounds like H.I. Biber and his Sonata Representativa (samples) reincarnated in northeast Asia!

Also in the realm of Asian music, I just ran across Smithsonian Folkways' new six-disc collection Music of Central Asia (lots of samples via link). I am now hoping that Christmas morning in the Peculiar household will exalt to Kirghiz and Tajik strains.

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