Saturday, February 14, 2009

Some musical silliness

I am in the process of teaching myself to play the Hammer Dulcimer. This is complicated by the fact that I’ve never played an instrument before. (To say nothing of how little time I make for that endeavour while also trying to finish writing up my PhD project.) One useful tool in learning to play (and learning to understand/read sheet music) has been the program Noteworthy Composer. With this program I am able to have the computer play me the tune and listen to it whilst it lights up the notes, so I am getting a sense of which notes are which and how they all sound. However, even with that assist, I find that it is easier for me to remember tunes with words in them. The artist who built my instrument is also part of a band which specializes in Medieval Music, and he suggested that if I learn to play the Cantiga de Santa Maria #322 (one of the easier tunes his band plays) I could come play with them. This sounded fun to me, so I have been working on it. Alas, the original words to that song are not only in Latin, but the syllables don’t correspond to the notes on a one-to-one basis (as is true of any number of songs out there!). Therefore, I decided that rather than learning the original version, I’d write my own words to sing to myself as I try to learn the tune. I didn’t need them to be a great work of poetry, but I did want them to have a one-to-one correlation between the syllable count and the number of notes per line. I also wanted the same words to repeat every place the same sequence of notes was used, and to change when there was a difference in what notes appear from one line to the next. The result is no work of musical genius, but, does what I need it to do, and since it is in praise of rocks, I thought I’d share it here. Are there any other geologists out there writing lyrics in praise of their rocks to help them learn tunes?


The lyrics, in case they are hard to read in the sheet music:

Rocks metamorphic, my, aren't they lovely?
See crystals grow when they're subject to folding.
Rocks metamorphic my, aren't they lovely?
Crystals grow with time when they're subject to folding.
Heat and pressure are what makes them grow so lovely.
Exhumation brings them back fast and frozen.
Heat and pressure are what makes them grow so lovely.
Exhumation brings them back cooling quickly.
Rocks metamorphic my, aren't they lovely?
See crystals grow when they're subject to folding.
Rocks metamorphic my, aren't they lovely?
Crystals grow with time when they're subject to folding.
Heat and pressure are what makes them grow so lovely.


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