Friday, December 31, 2010

Declan Galbraith "Auld Lang Syne"




And once again here we are,
family and friends from afar,
Sharing our hopes and our dreams,
Laughing at old memories,
So when that old song starts,
Everyone sing from the heart.
Let's sing...
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind,
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
For the sake of auld lang syne.
Dancing as one, holding hands,
Like people all over the land,
Greeting a friend with a smile,
World is at peace for awhile,
So when that old song starts,
Everyone sing straight from the heart.
Let's sing...
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind,
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
For the sake of auld lang syne.
For auld lang syne, my friends,
For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup of kindness yet,
For the sake of auld lang syne.
For auld lange syne, my friends,
For auld lange syne,
We'll take a cup of kindness yet,
For the sake of auld lang syne.
For auld lang syne, my friends,
For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup of kindness yet,
For the sake of auld lang syne.
For auld lange syne, my friends,
For auld lange syne,
We'll take a cup of kindness yet,
For the sake of auld lang syne.

You might be interested in the history of "Auld Lang Syne" (which means "A Long Time Since.." or "Times Gone By") You can find out about this traditional New Year's song by reading this article in Wikipedia. This article also has the original lyrics of the song, different versions, and pronunciation guides. Also, there is a biography of the original Scottish author of the song, Robert Burns.

Monday, December 13, 2010

"All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth"





All I want for Christmas
is my two front teeth,
my two front teeth,
see my two front teeth!

Gee, if I could only
have my two front teeth,
then I could wish you
"Merry Christmas."
It seems so long since I could say,
"Sister Susie sitting on a thistle!"
Gosh oh gee, how happy I'd be,
if I could only whistle (thhhh, thhhh)

All I want for Christmas
is my two front teeth,
my two front teeth,
see my two front teeth.

Gee, if I could only
have my two front teeth,
then I could wish you
"Merry Christmas!"

Gee, if I could only
have my two front teeth,
then I could wish you
"Merry Christmas."
It seems so long since I could say,
"Sister Susie sitting on a thistle!"
Gosh oh gee, how happy I'd be,
if I could only whistle (thhhh, thhhh)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"





You know Dasher and Dancer
And Prancer and Vixen,
Comet and Cupid
And Donner and Blitzen.
But do you recall
The most famous reindeer of all?

Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer
had a very shiny nose.
And if you ever saw him,
you would even say it glows.

All of the other reindeer
used to laugh and call him names.
They never let poor Rudolph
join in any reindeer games.

Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say:
"Rudolph with your nose so bright,
won't you guide my sleigh tonight?"

Then all the reindeer loved him
as they shouted out with glee,
Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer,
you'll go down in history!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"When You Wish Upon A Star"





When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires will come to you.

If your heart is in your dreams, no request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star as dreamers do.

(Fate is kind, she brings to those who love
The sweet fulfillment of their secret longing)

Like a bolt out of the blue, fate steps in and sees you through
When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Yankee Doodle Dandy




Yankee Doodle went to town
A-riding on a pony
Stuck a feather in his hat
And called it macaroni.

Yankee Doodle, keep it up
Yankee Doodle dandy
Mind the music and the step
And with the girls be handy.

Father and I went down to camp
Along with Captain Gooding
And there we saw the men and boys
As thick as hasty pudding.

Yankee Doodle, keep it up
Yankee Doodle dandy
Mind the music and the step
And with the girls be handy

There was General Washington
Upon a slapping stallion
A-giving orders to his men
I guess there was a million.

Yankee Doodle, keep it up
Yankee Doodle dandy
Mind the music and the step
And with the girls be handy.

A long war then was fought and won
The British were defeated,
and Yankee Doodle was the march
to which their troops retreated.

Yankee Doodle, keep it up
Yankee Doodle dandy
Mind the music and the step
And with the girls be handy.

VOCABULARY

hasty pudding = ground corn cooked in milk or water
handy = skilled, effective, probably referring to good dancing
slapping stallion = strong horse
mind = pay attention to
troops = soldiers
macaroni = a fashionable wig.
stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni = the stupid
American soldier, having no idea about fashion, only puts a
feather in his cap and thinks he's made a fashionable wig.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Elaine Paige Sings: "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina"

Buenos Aires, Argentina


Don't Cry For Me Argentina Lyrics

(Evita:)
It won't be easy, you'll think it strange
When I try to explain how I feel
that I still need your love after all that I've done

You won't believe me
All you will see is a girl you once knew
Although she's dressed up to the nines
At sixes and sevens with you

I had to let it happen, I had to change
Couldn't stay all my life down at heel
Looking out of the window, staying out of the sun

So I chose freedom
Running around, trying everything new
But nothing impressed me at all
I never expected it to

Chorus:

Don't cry for me Argentina
The truth is I never left you
All through my wild days
My mad existence
I kept my promise
Don't keep your distance

And as for fortune, and as for fame
I never invited them in
Though it seemed to the world they were all I desired

They are illusions
They are not the solutions they promised to be
The answer was here all the time
I love you and hope you love me

Don't cry for me Argentina

(chorus)

Have I said too much?
There's nothing more I can think of to say to you.
But all you have to do is look at me to know
That every word is true.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles



It was twenty years ago today,
Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play
They've been going in and out of style
But they're guaranteed to raise a smile
So may I introduce to you
The act you've known for all these years
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band!!!!
We're Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
We hope you will enjoy the show
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Sit back and let the evening go!!
Sgt. Pepper's lonely, Sgt. Pepper's lonely
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band!!!!
It's wonderful to be here
It's certainly a thrill
You're such a lovely audience
We'd like to take you home with us
We'd love to take you home
I don't really want to stop the show
But I thought that you might like to know
That the singer's going to sing a song
And he wants you all to sing along
So let me introduce to you
The one and only Billy Shears
And Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band!!!!


"With a Little Bit of Help from My Friends"


BILLY SHEARS:

What would you think if I sang out of tune,
Would you stand up and walk out on me.
Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song,
And I'll try not to sing out of key.
Oh I get by with a little help from my friends,
Mmm,I get high with a little help from my friends,
Mmm, I'm gonna try with a little help from my friends.


What do I do when my love is away.
(Does it worry you to be alone)
How do I feel by the end of the day
(Are you sad because you're on your own)
No, I get by with a little help from my friends,
Mmm, get high with a little help from my friends,
Mmm, gonna try with a little help from my friends

Do you need anybody?
I need somebody to love.
Could it be anybody?
I want somebody to love.

Would you believe in a love at first sight?
Yes I'm certain that it happens all the time.
What do you see when you turn out the light?
I can't tell you, but I know it's mine.
Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends,
Mmm I get high with a little help from my friends,
Oh, I'm gonna try with a little help from my friends

Do you need anybody?
I just need someone to love.
Could it be anybody?
I want somebody to love

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends,
Mmm, gonna try with a little help from my friends
Ooh, I get high with a little help from my friends
Yes I get by with a little help from my friends,
with a little help from my friends.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

"Only You" - The Platters





Only you can make this world seem right
Only you can make the darkness bright
Only you and you alone
Can thrill me like you do
And fill my heart with love for only you

Only you can make this change in me
For it's true, you are my destiny
When you hold my hand
I understand the magic that you do
You're my dream come true
My one and only you

Only you can make this change in me
For it's true, you are my destiny
When you hold my hand
I understand the magic that you do
You're my dream come true
My one and only you

(One and only you)

Read about this great singing group in Wikipedia.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"Soothing Music from Youtube"


Just relax, breathe deeply, let your problems go, and enjoy this nice music and video. You owe yourself seven minutes of calm!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"Classical Music with a Modern Sound"




VOICE ONE:

Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.

VOICE TWO:

And I'm Barbara Klein. Today we begin the first of two programs about classical music composers at work today in the United States. Some continue the traditions of European music from centuries ago. Others take a more experimental approach to their music.

(MUSIC: Symphony No. 1/Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra)

VOICE ONE:

We start with Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. Her music is often described as complex but accessible, appealing to wider audiences. In nineteen eighty-three she became the first female composer to win a Pulitzer Prize. She won it for her Symphony Number One.

She says this is a special time to be a composer. Thanks to technology, more music is available to more people than at any time in history.

Ellen Zwilich began her musical exploration playing the piano, violin and trumpet. She started writing music as a child. She studied music at Florida State University and later moved to New York City to study violin and composition.

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

One of Ellen Zwilich's teachers has been a big part of American classical music for over seventy years: Elliott Carter.

This is Elliott Carter's Double Concerto for Harpsichord, Piano and Two Chamber Orchestras.

(MUSIC)

He began his musical studies at Harvard University in the nineteen thirties and went on to study in Paris.

His early works were influenced by composers of the classical period of the late seventeen hundreds and early eighteen hundreds. But he later broke away from this neoclassical sound to create a freer and more expressive modernist sound.

Elliott Carter has written over one hundred thirty works, many of which he composed after the age of ninety. He is one hundred one years old.

(MUSIC: ''Facades"/Philip Glass)

VOICE ONE:

The music of Philip Glass is often described as minimalist, though not by him. He would rather people describe his music as having repeating structures.

Philip Glass experiments with many different sounds. He has written operas, concertos and symphonies. He has worked on projects with singers, dancers and artists. He has also written music for many movies, including "Koyaanisqatsi," "Kundun" and "The Hours."

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

Becoming a composer generally starts with musical training and education.

There are many well-known music schools in the United States. These include the Juilliard School in New York City and the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Others include the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio and the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.

Boston is also the home of the New England Conservatory of Music, the nation's oldest independent music school.

And it is not just Americans who study at these schools. At the Manhattan School of Music in New York, for example, an average of thirty-five percent of the students come from outside the United States.

VOICE ONE:

Carol Aicher is a professor at the Manhattan School of Music. We asked her how success is defined for a composer today.

Success, she says, is all about getting your music played. Having established groups hire composers to write new music is important, but that is not enough.

Professor Aicher explains that many composers have exciting premieres, where their music is played in public for the first time. But she says the real measure of success is whether or not their music gets replayed. For example, performance groups might buy the rights to play the work live. Or the music might get recorded and sold on CD or online.

Carol Aicher says most composers teach at music schools to add to their income.

(MUSIC: "Secret and Glass Gardens"/Jennifer Higdon, pianist Maria Mazo)

VOICE TWO:

Jennifer Higdon clearly fits the description of a successful composer. Her works are played by orchestras and at music festivals around the world, and this year she won a Pulitzer Prize.

Yet she came relatively late to music. She taught herself to play the flute at the age of fifteen. She began her musical schooling three years later. Soon, she became interested in composing. She currently teaches composition at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

VOICE ONE:

For a classically trained composer, Jennifer Higdon's musical influences might surprise you.

JENNIFER HIGDON: "The Beatles. That's probably the first influence. Lennon and McCartney, because I listened to so much of it growing up. I actually didn't grow up listening to classical music."

VOICE TWO:

She is known for choosing unusual instruments and sounds. In a recent concerto piece called "On a Wire" she had the musicians play a bowed piano. They took the hairs off the kind of bow used to play a violin or cello and placed them inside the piano, under the strings.

JENNIFER HIGDON: "It makes for this haunted sort of sound. It's a little bit like a wine glass, when you play a wine glass. It's very unusual."

VOICE ONE:

One of her more widely performed works is "blue cathedral." She says the work is a poem about the people who cross our paths in a lifetime. It was influenced by her brother's death from cancer.

(MUSIC: "blue cathedral"/Atlanta Symphony Orchestra)

VOICE TWO:

We asked Jennifer Higdon how she goes about planning a new work.

JENNIFER HIGDON: What I do is I always know who I am writing for, I always know the ensemble or the soloist. And I know how long a piece they want. Then I daydream a lot, trying to figure out what might be interesting for that group to do."

VOICE ONE:

She writes down her ideas with a pencil in a music notebook. She considers not only what would be interesting for the musicians to play, but also what would be interesting for the audience to hear.

JENNIFER HIGDON: "There's a lot of sketching that goes on, and a lot of times I don't know where things are going to fit in the texture. I may come up with an idea and it may end up being something in the middle of the piece. When I wrote 'blue cathedral' there is a huge English horn solo in the middle of it, and that's actually the first idea I came up with."

Next, she plays some ideas on the piano before entering the beginnings of a composition into a computer.

VOICE TWO:

Jennifer Higdon says the classical music world still has a way to go in supporting more women composers, as well as conductors. She considers composers like Ellen Zwilich and Libby Larsen to be mentors who opened up possibilities to her.

JENNIFER HIGDON: "I was very lucky because my parents never discouraged me. They never said you can't do it because you're a woman, so it never occurred to me that I couldn't do it."

VOICE ONE:

But she says things are starting to look better for women composers.

JENNIFER HIGDON: "We're starting to see a little bit of a change. I suspect my winning the Pulitzer this year will probably alter quite a bit because it meant that I was in the news enough that there’s some little girl out there who says 'Oh! I can do that!'"

VOICE TWO:

Jennifer Higdon is currently working on an orchestral piece for the Grand Teton Music Festival in Wyoming. The music will celebrate the festival's fiftieth anniversary next year.

Ms. Higdon says one important thing about her work is her general goal when writing music.

JENNIFER HIGDON: "I write music for people who may have no experience with classical music. I often think you don't need to have a [music] degree, you don't even need to have been to a concert hall."

VOICE ONE:

Jennifer Higdon says she is always thinking about her audience when she is composing.

JENNIFER HIGDON: "What if this was someone coming to the music for the very first time? Maybe they've never heard classical music. So give it a chance, see what you think. There is some cool stuff out there."

(MUSIC: "String Poetic"/ Jennifer Higdon, violinist Jennifer Koh and pianist Reiko Uchida)

VOICE TWO:

Our program was written and produced by Dana Demange. I'm Barbara Klein.

VOICE ONE:

And I'm Steve Ember. You can read and listen to our programs at voaspecialenglish.com. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter at VOA Learning English. Join us again next week for more about contemporary American composers on THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English.

Jennifer Higdon: "Blue Cathedral" from Youtube



Phillip Glass: "Prophecies"


Thursday, June 3, 2010

"Stormy Weather" Lena Horne




Don't know why there's no sun up in the sky
Stormy weather since my man and I ain't together
Keeps raining all the time, the time
Life is bare, gloom and misery everywhere
Stormy weather, just can't get my poor self together
It's raining all the time, the time

When you went, you went away, the blues walked in and met me
If he stays away, ol' rocking chair will get me
All I do is pray, the Lord above will let me walk in the sun once more

Can't go on, everything I had is gone
Stormy weather since my man and I ain't together
It's raining all the time

I walk around, heavy-hearted and sad
Night comes around and I'm still feeling bad
Rain's pouring down, blinding every hope I had
This pitterin pattering, beating and spattering drives Me Mad
Love, Love, Love, this misery's just too much for me

Can't go on, everything I have is gone
Stormy weather since my man and I ain't together
It's raining all the time, keeps raining all the time

Read and listen to Lena Horne's biography here.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

"Oh, Susanna" by Steven Foster: Sing-Along





I come from Alabama
With my banjo on my knee
I'm going to Louisiana,
My true love for to see

It rained all night
The day I left
The weather it was dry
The sun so hot,
I froze to death
Susanna, don't you cry

Oh, Susanna,
Oh don't you cry for me
For I come from Alabama
With my banjo on my knee

I had a dream the other night
When everything was still
I thought I saw Susanna
A-coming down the hill

The buckwheat cake
Was in her mouth
The tear was
In her eye
Says I, I'm coming from the south
Susanna, don't you cry

Oh, Susanna,
Oh don't you cry for me
For I come from Alabama
With my banjo on my knee

Sunday, May 9, 2010

"Hey, Jude" One of the Greatest of the Beatles' Songs.




Hey Jude don't make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better

Hey Jude don't be afraid
You were made to go out and get her
The minute you let her under your skin
Then you begin to make it better

And any time you feel the pain, Hey Jude, refrain
Don't carry the world upon your shoulders
For well you know that it's a fool who plays it cool
By making his world a little colder
Da da da da da
da da da da

Hey Jude don't let me down
You have found her now go and get her
Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better

So let it out and let it in
Hey Jude begin
You're waiting for someone to perform with
And don't you know that it's just you
Hey Jude you'll do
The movement you need is on your shoulder

Da da da da da
da da da da Yeah

Hey Jude don't make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her under your skin
Then you'll begin to make it better
Better, better, better, better, better, Yeah,Yeah,Yeah

Saturday, April 24, 2010

"Grizzly Bear" sings "Two Weeks"




Save up all the days
A routine malaise
Just like yesterday
I told you I would stay

Would you always
Maybe sometimes
Make it easy
Take your time

Think of all the ways
Momentary phase
Just like yesterday
I told you I would stay

Every time you try
Quarter half the mile
Just like yesterday
I told you I would stay

Would you always
Maybe sometimes
Make it easy
Take your time

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"Planet Earth Poem"- Michael Jackson





Planet Earth, my home, my place
A capricious anomaly in the sea of space
Planet Earth are you just
Floating by, a cloud of dust
A minor globe, about to bust
A piece of metal bound to rust
A speck of matter in a mindless void
A lonely spaceship, a large asteroid
Cold as a rock without a hue
Held together with a bit of glue
Something tells me this isn't true
You are my sweetheart soft and blue
Do you care, have you a part
In the deepest emotions of my own heart
Tender with breezes caressing and whole
Alive with music, haunting my soul.
In my veins I've felt the mystery
Of corridors of time, books of history
Life songs of ages throbbing in my blood
Have danced the rhythm of the tide and flood
Your misty clouds, your electric storm
Were turbulent tempests in my own form
I've licked the salt, the bitter, the sweet
Of every encounter, of passion, of heat
Your riotous color, your fragrance, your taste
Have thrilled my senses beyond all haste
In your beauty, I've known the how
Of timeless bliss, this moment of now
Planet Earth are you just
Floating by, a cloud of dust
A minor globe, about to bust
A piece of metal bound to rust
A speck of matter in a mindless void
A lonely spaceship, a large asteroid
Cold as a rock without a hue
Held together with a bit of glue
Something tells me this isn't true
You are my sweetheart gentle and blue
Do you care, have you a part
In the deepest emotions of my own heart
Tender with breezes caressing and whole
Alive with music, haunting my soul.
Planet Earth, gentle and blue
With all my heart, I love you.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

"Happy Days are Here Again"





Happy days are here again
The skies above are clear again
Let us sing a song of cheer again
Happy days are here again

Altogether shout it now
There's no one
Who can doubt it now
So let's tell the world about it now
Happy days are here again

Your cares and troubles are gone
There'll be no more from now on ...

Happy days are here again
The skies above are clear again
So, Let's sing a song of cheer again
Happy days are here again!

So long sad times!,
Go 'long bad times!,
We are rid of you at last
Howdy, gay times!
Cloudy gray times,
You are now a thing
Of the past, cause:



Thursday, April 8, 2010

"Songs Cowboys Sang" from Voice of America.




BOB DOUGHTY: Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION – American history in VOA Special English.

Last week, we talked about the growth of the cattle industry. This industry started in Texas during the eighteen seventies. With its growth came a new kind of worker -- the man who watched and took care of the cattle. These men who watched the cows and rode with them as they moved across the wild lands were often young. Just boys. And so they were called "cowboys."

This week in our series, Kay Gallant tells what life was like for the early American cowboy.

KAY GALLANT: People all over the world have seen all sorts of films about the cowboy. And he is often shown in television shows. But the real life of the cowboy is not often shown. His work has been hard, and his life lonely and full of danger.

The cowboy has told his own story in many songs and ballads. Hundreds of these have come from cowboys whose names are not known. They just sang these songs as they rode on the saddles of their horses across the cattle lands. Or, as they sat at their campfires at night.

They sang about the things that were close to them. Horses and cows and danger and death. Often, they sang about the long ride to the cattle markets where the cows were sold for beef, as in this song called, "Git Along Little Dogie."

Dogie is another name for a young cow, especially one which wanders away from the herd. The song tells how the young cowboy keeps driving the dogies forward. He feels sorry for them, because they will soon be sold for meat. But that's their hard luck, not his. And he keeps pushing them on while he sings.

(MUSIC)

One of the most famous of cowboy ballads is this one, called "The Chisholm Trail."

(MUSIC)

Day and night, the horse was at the cowboy's side. A cowboy was as proud of his horse as he was of his skill in riding him. There is this feeling in the song "I Ride an Old Paint." A paint, or pinto, is a horse of three or more different colors.

(MUSIC)

The cattle herds were driven a very long way to the cattle markets and had to be kept and watched on the open trail for many weeks. And the trail took the cowboys over rough country in all kinds of weather. The wild prairie lands were not friendly to men or animals. It was a lonely land. And the howling of wolves and winds at night made it more so.

Across this strange land, no man in the early days of the West knew just where death was waiting for him. A listener hears the mournful feeling cowboys had for the prairie in this song called, "The Dying Cowboy."

He does not want to be buried out in these wild lands -- in the lone prairie -- as the song says. Still, the dying cowboy does not get his wish. There is no choice. He can be buried only in the lone prairie in a narrow grave six by three. Six feet deep and three feet wide.

(MUSIC)

BOB DOUGHTY:

Our program was written by Harold Braverman. The narrator was Kay Gallant. Transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our programs are online, along with historical images, at voaspecialenglish.com. Join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION - an American history series in VOA Special English.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

"My Heart Will Go On" from "Titantic"




Every night in my dreams
I see you, I feel you
That is how I know you go on.

Far across the distance
And spaces between us
You have come to show you go on.

Near, far, wherever you are
I believe that the heart does go on.
Once more you open the door
And you're here in my heart
And my heart will go on and on.

Love can touch us one time
And last for a lifetime
And never let go till we're gone.

Love was when I loved you
One true time I hold to
In my life we'll always go on.

Near, far, wherever you are
I believe that the heart does go on.
Once more you open the door
And you're here in my heart
And my heart will go on and on.

You're here, there's nothing I fear
And I know that my heart will go on.
We'll stay forever this way
You are safe in my heart
And my heart will go on and on.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ted Nash Plays Jazz Inspired by Art. From VOA

"The Starry Night" Vincent Van Gogh, 1889



STEVE EMBER: I’m Steve Ember.

BARBARA KLEIN: And I’m Barbara Klein with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. Many people may know what the artist Pablo Picasso’s paintings looks like. But what would they sound like if they were turned into music? Jazz musician Ted Nash explores this question in his album “Portrait in Seven Shades.”

Nash studied the works of seven important painters who lived during a one hundred year period, a time frame similar to that of jazz. Then, he created a jazz composition in seven parts influenced by their art.

STEVE EMBER: Wynton Marsalis is the artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. He asked Ted Nash to write the hour-long composition “Portrait in Seven Shades.” Nash said one of the hardest parts was limiting his choice to only seven artists. Jazz at Lincoln Center worked with the Museum of Modern Art in New York to give Ted Nash access to its art collection. The music is performed by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, of which Ted Nash is a member.

(MUSIC)


"The Water Lilies", Claude Monet, 1899

BARBARA KLEIN: That was Ted Nash’s composition “Monet,” influenced by the French Impressionist painter Claude Monet. He was famous for painting flowers, buildings and the natural environment in a way that explored color and the changing effects of light. Ted Nash was influenced by Monet’s famous series of huge paintings of water lilies. Nash liked how these works express the feeling of nature, lightness and air.

When he looked at the paintings up close, he saw brush strokes, texture and fields of color. But seen from a distance, these elements come together to create a dreamy representation of water lilies. Ted Nash said he wanted his music to be the same way. Up close, it is made up of individual sounds and instruments. But when you step back and listen to the composition, all these elements artfully come together.


"The Persistence of Memory", Salvador Dali, 1931

STEVE EMBER: Salvador Dali was a Spanish surrealist painter whose works often represent a strange, dream-like world. Ted Nash’s composition “Dali” was influenced by the painting called “The Persistence of Memory.” The painting shows melting clocks, insects, and a dead tree in an empty landscape.

(MUSIC)

Ted Nash says that Dali combined everyday objects in a way that creates a feeling of insecurity. Nash did the same thing with music by layering sounds and creating an unusual timing.

BARBARA KLEIN: The French painter Henri Matisse is known for his use of bright colors and expressive forms. His nineteen-oh-nine painting “Dance” shows five women energetically dancing in a circle.

The painting is mostly three colors -- blue, green and pink. Matisse was a master of expressing great beauty using the simplest combinations of colors and forms.

(MUSIC)

"La Danse" Henri Matisse, 1909

Ted Nash said his main goal in “Matisse” was to express the painting’s playfulness and feeling of joy. He says Matisse showed a child-like quality in his work. Nash wanted his jazz composition for this artist to be swinging, and make you feel good.





"Les Demoiselles D'Avignon" by Pablo Picasso, 1907
STEVE EMBER: Pablo Picasso was a revolutionary modern artist who painted in many different styles during his long career. He had a very strong influence over several art movements, including cubism. His nineteen-oh-seven painting “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” turned the art world upside down. This painting of five women went against the traditional values of artistic representation and changed modern art forever.

(MUSIC)

Ted Nash explored cubism and the four sides of a square through the idea of fourths in this composition. For example, four musical chords are repeated in this work. The music also has two parts to express different sides of Picasso.

The first part explores the artist’s romantic side and his love of women. The second part is about the emotional effect of Picasso’s paintings.

(MUSIC)

BARBARA KLEIN: The Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh is famous today for his bold works that use thick paint and bright colors. But while he was alive, he received little respect for his art. Vincent Van Gogh’s life was filled with sadness and struggles. Ted Nash chose to express the tragic side of the artist’s life with this composition. One Van Gogh painting that especially influenced him was “The Starry Night”, painted in eighteen eighty-nine. The curving brushstrokes of Van Gogh’s expressive sky look like explosions of blue fire.

(MUSIC)

This is the only part of “Portrait in Seven Shades” that includes singing. Ted Nash imagined what Van Gogh might say to his friend, painter Paul Gaugin.


"I and The Village" Mark Chagall, 1911

STEVE EMBER: The artist Marc Chagall was born in Russia to a large Jewish family. He spent most of his career in France. Chagall painted colorful works filled with imaginative details such as floating people and dancing animals. His work was also influenced by his interest in theater. Ted Nash wanted his composition about Chagall to express his ties to family and Eastern European culture. He wanted the music to sound like the streets of Chagall’s neighborhood in Russia.

(MUSIC)

Ted Nash paid special attention to Chagall’s nineteen eleven work “I and the Village.” It represents the artist’s memories of his childhood village and its farmers, cows and buildings. The work is colorful and playful, just like this music.



"She-Wolf" by Jackson Pollock
BARBARA KLEIN: Of all these artists, Jackson Pollock was the only one who grew up during the age of jazz music. Jackson Pollock helped create the art movement called Abstract Expressionism. His work redefined modern art and brought new attention to American artists.

Pollock’s paintings do not represent objects. They are examples of pure color, action and emotion. Pollock placed the canvas on the floor and threw different colors of paint onto its surface. His works are rivers of paint that are filled with an expressive energy.

Ted Nash wanted to copy the idea of thrown paint musically by creating a composition that sounded big and free. He also wanted the music to express the kind of jazz music that Pollock listened to and enjoyed. We leave you with “Pollock,” the last part of “Portrait in Seven Shades.”

(MUSIC)

STEVE EMBER: This program was written and produced by Dana Demange. I’m Steve Ember.

BARBARA KLEIN: And I’m Barbara Klein. You can read, listen and comment on this program on our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com. Join us again next week for Explorations in VOA Special English.

COMPREHENSION CHECK

1. In “Portrait in Seven Shades”, Jazz musician Ted Nash explores ______________ .
a: the sounds painters make while painting
b: jazz music at art galleries
c: what paintings would sound like if they were music
d: how to turn jazz compositions into paintings

2. Ted Nash used paintings in a time period _________________ jazz’s time period.
a: different from
b: earlier than
c: later than
d: similar to

3. Salvador Dali combined every day objects to create a feeling of _____________ .
a: insecurity
b: ecstasy
c: jubilation
d: depression

4. Ted Nash did not use the paintings of ______________ in his jazz composition.
a: Mark Chagall
b: Vincent Van Gogh
c: Georgia O’Keefe
d: Pablo Picasso

5. By the word “shade”, Ted Nash probably means _______________ .
a: the painter’s use of color
b: the painter’s style
c: the quantity of work the painter sold
d: the use of shadow in the painter’s works

6. In expressing the theatrical quality in Chagall’s work, Ted Nash created music to sound like ________________ .
a: floating people
b: dancing animals
c: a large family at the dinner table
d: the streets of Chagall’s neighborhood in Russia

7. Ted Nash chose to express __________________ in the life of Vincent Van Gogh.
a: the tragic side
b: the romantic relationships
c: the very successful side
d: the curving, lively brushstrokes of the works

8. A composition that sounded “big and free” to capture the feeling of thrown paint was Ted Nash’s response to the paintings of ___________________ .
a: Claude Monet
b: Jackson Pollack
c: Vincent Van Gogh
d: Henri Matisse

9. Another name for this article could be “_______________” .
a: The Jazz of Ted Nash
b: The Paintings of Europe’s Finest Artists
c: Jazz and Painting, Ted Nash’s Striking Visual Music
d: The Jazz Age and the Impressionists

10. This article is mainly about _____________________ .
a: European jazz
b: seven paintings and Ted Nash’s musical response to them
c: American jazz and Jackson Pollack
d: abstract impressionism in jazz and art

An excerpt from "Chagall" in "Portrait in Seven Shades" by Ted Nash.




Monday, March 15, 2010

"Songs of Spring" from Voice of America.



BARBARA KLEIN: Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English. I'm Barbara Klein.

STEVE EMBER: And I'm Steve Ember. This week on our program, we play some favorite songs about spring.

(MUSIC: Vivaldi, "Spring")

BARBARA KLEIN: On earlier shows, we have brought you some of our favorite songs about summer, autumn and winter. Now it is spring in the northern part of the world so it is time to celebrate that season. Many people think of this classical music piece when they think "spring." It is Allegro from Concerto Number One "Spring" from the "Four Seasons." Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi wrote it in the seventeen hundreds.

(MUSIC)

STEVE EMBER: Spring is a wonderful season to celebrate rebirth and new life. The long, cold winter is over. The weather is warmer and sunnier. The trees again have leaves and the flowers are blooming. The season represents hope, joy and beauty.

However, not all songs about spring are happy. This song by K.D. Lang is about dreaming of spring in cold dark places. She recorded "I Dream of Spring" in two thousand eight.

(MUSIC)

She arrives like autumn in a rainstorm
The threat of thunder above
I'll return from the streets of Melbourne
I'll return my love

This is world is filled with frozen lovers
The sheets of their beds are frightfully cold
And I've slept there in the snow with others
Yet loved no others before.

BARBARA KLEIN: Unlike the other seasons, there are not many rock songs about spring. Most of the songs about this season were written in the nineteen thirties and forties by famous modern composers. The songs became "standards," popular songs recorded by many singers.

Here is one example, "It Might as Well Be Spring." Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein wrote the song for the movie "State Fair" in nineteen forty-five. Frank Sinatra sings about having "spring fever." This is not a real sickness. It is a feeling of restlessness or excitement brought on by the coming of spring.

(MUSIC)

STEVE EMBER: Richard Rodgers also wrote "Spring Is Here," this time with Lorenz Hart. Ella Fitzgerald sings this song about feeling lonely during this season.

(MUSIC)

BARBARA KLEIN: Frank Loesser wrote this sad song, "Spring Will be a Little Late This Year." Why has the season been delayed? Because the singer's lover has left her. Sarah Vaughn released her version of the song in nineteen fifty-three.

(MUSIC)

STEVE EMBER: By now you may be thinking: "Enough with the sad songs, already!" OK, then how about a cowboy song? Gene Autry was one of America's most famous singing cowboys. He recorded "When It's Springtime in the Rockies" in nineteen thirty-seven.

(MUSIC)

BARBARA KLEIN: In most of the United States, spring is a warm and pleasant season. But this is not the case in the northwestern state of Alaska. According to Johnny Cash, it can be extremely cold. He sings "When It's Springtime in Alaska (It's Forty Below)."

(MUSIC)

STEVE EMBER: We leave you with a sunny song called "Up Jumped Spring." Freddie Hubbard wrote this jazz song and the Billy Taylor Trio performs it.

(MUSIC)

BARBARA KLEIN: This program was written by Shelley Gollust and produced by Caty Weaver. I'm Barbara Klein.

STEVE EMBER: And I’m Steve Ember. Our programs are online with transcripts and MP3 files at voaspecialenglish.com. Join us again next week for THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Billie Holiday, "Summertime"





"Summertime", by George Gershwin
from the musical, "Porgy and Bess"

Summertime,
And the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin'
And the cotton is high

Oh, Your daddy's rich
And your mamma's good lookin'
So hush little baby
Don't you cry

One of these mornings
You're going to rise up singing
Then you'll spread your wings
And you'll take to the sky

But until that morning
There's a'nothing can harm you
With your daddy and mammy standing by

Summertime,
And the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin'
And the cotton is high

Your daddy's rich
And your mamma's good lookin'
So hush little baby
Don't you cry.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

"When You Wish Upon a Star" sung by Louis Armstrong.


This clip is from the animated feature, "Pinocchio" about a puppet who learns how to become a real person. This delightful film was produced and directed by Walt Disney.



When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you.

If your heart is in your dream,
No request is too extreme.
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do.

Fate is kind.
She brings to those who love
The sweet fulfillment of
Their secret longing.

Like a bolt out of the blue,
Fate steps in and sees you through.
When you wish upon a star,
Your dreams come true.

Read and listen to the bio of the great Louis Armstrong.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Joan Baez, "Diamonds and Rust"




Well I'll be damned
Here comes your ghost again
But that's not unusual
It's just that the moon is full
And you happened to call
And here I sit
Hand on the telephone
Hearing a voice I'd known
A couple of light years ago
Heading straight for a fall

As I remember your eyes
Were bluer than robin's eggs
My poetry was lousy you said
Where are you calling from?
A booth in the midwest
Ten years ago
I bought you some cufflinks
You brought me something
We both know what memories can bring
They bring diamonds and rust

Well you burst on the scene
Already a legend
The unwashed phenomenon
The original vagabond
You strayed into my arms
And there you stayed
Temporarily lost at sea
The Madonna was yours for free
Yes the girl on the half-shell
Would keep you unharmed

Now I see you standing
With brown leaves falling around
And snow in your hair
Now you're smiling out the window
Of that crummy hotel
Over Washington Square
Our breath comes out white clouds
Mingles and hangs in the air
Speaking strictly for me
We both could have died then and there

Now you're telling me
You're not nostalgic
Then give me another word for it
You who are so good with words
And at keeping things vague
Because I need some of that vagueness now
It's all come back too clearly
Yes I loved you dearly
And if you're offering me diamonds and rust
I've already paid.

When Joan Baez sings "The girl on the half shell", she is referring to this painting: Bottecelli's "Venus".

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Killers - "Spaceman"





Oh oh ohoh oh oh oooah x4

It started with a low light,
Next thing I knew they ripped me from my bed;
And then they took my blood type,
they left a strange impression in my head.
You know that I was hoping,
That I could leave this star-crossed world behind;
But when they cut me open,
I guess I changed my mind.
And you know I might
Have just flown too far from the floor this time,
'cause they calling me by my name!
And the zipping white light beams
disregarding bombs and satellites!

That was the turning point;
That was one lonely night!

The star maker says, "It ain't so bad"
The dream maker's gonna make you mad
The spaceman says, "Everybody look down!
It's all in your mind!"

Well now I'm back at home and-
I’m looking forward to this life I live;
You know it's gonna haunt me,
So hesitation to this life I give.
You think you might cross over,
You caught between the devil and the deep blue sea;
You better look it over,
Before you make that leap!

And you know I'm fine, but I hear those voices at night
sometimes... they justify my claim,
and the public don’t dwell on my transmission
'cause it wasn’t televised...

But, it was a turning point,
Oh what a lonely night!

The star maker says, "It ain't so bad"
The dream maker's gonna make you mad;
The spaceman says, "Everybody look down!
Its all in your mind!"
The star maker says, "It ain't so bad"
The dream maker's gonna make you mad;
The spaceman says, "Everybody look down!
Its all in your mind!"

My global position systems are vocally addressed;
They say the Nile used to run from east to west,
They say the Nile used to run… from east to west.

I'm fine,
but I hear those voices at night,
sometime...

The star maker says, "It ain't so bad"
The dream maker's gonna make you mad;
The spaceman says, "Everybody look down!
Its all in your mind!"
The star maker says, "It ain't so bad"
The dream maker's gonna make you mad;
The spaceman says, "Everybody look down...
It's all in your mind!"

(oh oh oh oh oh oh oooah x8)
It's all in my mi-i-ind,
It's all in my mind...

Friday, February 12, 2010

Michael Jackson, "Heal The World"















There is a lot of pain and some disturbing images on this video. However, the song and lyrics point to the possibility of a better world, a hope for a future free of war where children can grow up healthy and without fear, and where the good things, like free education and health care for everyone, will thrive. Thanks, Michael, for showing us the way with your beautiful and inspiring song.




There's A Place In
Your Heart
And I Know That It Is Love
And This Place Could
Be Much
Brighter Than Tomorrow.
And If You Really Try
You'll Find There's No Need
To Cry.
In This Place You'll Feel
There's No Hurt Or Sorrow.

There Are Ways
To Get There,
If You Care Enough.
For The Living
Make A Little Space
Make A Better Place...

Heal The World
Make It A Better Place
For You And For Me
And The Entire Human Race.
There Are People Dying.
If You Care Enough
For The Living,
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me.

If You Want To Know Why
There's A Love That
Cannot Lie.
Love Is Strong
It Only Cares For
Joyful Giving.
If We Try
We Shall See
In This Bliss
We Cannot Feel
Fear Or Dread.
We Stop Existing And
Start Living.

Then It Feels That Always
Love's Enough For
Us Growing
So Make A Better World
Make A Better World...

Heal The World.
Make It A Better Place
For You And For Me
And The Entire Human Race.
There Are People Dying.
If You Care Enough
For The Living,
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me.

And The Dream We Were
Conceived In
Will Reveal A Joyful Face.
And The World We
Once Believed In
Will Shine Again In Grace.
Then Why Do We Keep
Strangling Life
Wound This Earth
Crucify Its Soul.
Though It's Plain To See
This World Is Heavenly.
Be God's Glow.

We Could Fly So High
Let Our Spirits Never Die.
In My Heart
I Feel You Are All
My Brothers.
Create A World With
No Fear.
Together We'll Cry
Happy Tears,
See The Nations Turn
Their Swords
Into Plowshares.

We Could Really Get There
If You Cared Enough
For The Living.
Make A Little Space
To Make A Better Place...

Heal The World
Make It A Better Place
For You And For Me
And The Entire Human Race.
There Are People Dying.
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me.

Heal The World
Make It A Better Place
For You And For Me
And The Entire Human Race.
There Are People Dying.
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me

Heal The World
Make It A Better Place
For You And For Me
And The Entire Human Race.
There Are People Dying.
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me.

There Are People Dying.
If You Care Enough
For The Living,
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me

There Are People Dying.
If You Care Enough
For The Living,
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me.

You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Joni Mitchell, "Both Sides Now"





Bows and flows of angel hair
and ice cream castles in the air,
And feather canyons everywhere,
I've looked at clouds that way.
But now they only block the sun,
they rain and snow on everyone.
So many things I would have done but clouds got in my way.

I've looked at clouds from both sides now,
From up and down, and still somehow
It's cloud illusions I recall.
I really don't know clouds at all.

Moons and Junes and ferris wheels,
the dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real;
I've looked at love that way.
But now it's just another show.
You leave 'em laughing when you go
And if you care, don't let them know, don't give yourself away.

I've looked at love from both sides now,
From give and take, and still somehow,
It's love's illusions I recall.
I really don't know love at all.

Tears and fears and feeling proud
to say "I love you" right out loud,
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds,
I've looked at life that way.
But now old friends are acting strange,
they shake their heads, they say I've changed.
Something's lost but something's gained in living every day.

I've looked at life from both sides now,
From win and lose, and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall.
I really don't know life at all.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Joni Mitchell sings "Big Yellow Taxi"




They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

They took all the trees
Put 'em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see 'em
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Hey farmer farmer
Put away the D.D.T. now
Give me spots on my apples
But leave me the birds and the bees
Please!
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Late last night
I heard my screen door slam
And a big yellow taxi
Took away my old man
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

I said don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Joni Mitchell sings "California", 1971

Joni Mitchell




Sitting in a park in Paris, France
Reading the news and it sure looks bad
They won't give peace a chance
That was just a dream some of us had
Still a lot of lands to see
But I wouldn't want to stay here
It's too old and cold and settled in its ways here
Oh, but California
California I'm coming home
I'm going to see the folks I dig
I'll even kiss a Sunset pig
California I'm coming home

I met a redneck on a Grecian isle
Who did the goat dance very well
He gave me back my smile
But he kept my camera to sell
Oh the rogue, the red red rogue
He cooked good omelettes and stews
And I might have stayed on with him there
But my heart cried out for you, California
Oh California I'm coming home
Oh make me feel good rock'n roll band
I'm your biggest fan
California, I'm coming home.

CHORUS:

Oh it gets so lonely
When you're walking
And the streets are full of strangers
All the news of home you read
Just gives you the blues
Just gives you the blues.

So I bought me a ticket
I caught a plane to Spain
Went to a party down a red dirt road
There were lots of pretty people there
Reading Rolling Stone, reading Vogue.
They said, "How long can you hang around?"
I said "a week, maybe two,
Just until my skin turns brown,
Then I'm going home to California"
California I'm coming home
Oh will you take me as I am
Strung out on another man,
California I'm coming home

CHORUS:

Oh it gets so lonely
When you're walking
And the streets are full of strangers
All the news of home you read
More about the war
And the bloody changes
Oh will you take me as l am?
Will you take me as l am?
Will you?

(I'll be putting more of Joni Mitchell's songs on this blog.
In addition to being a great singer and musician, she is
also a great poet. The war Joni Mitchell is singing about is the Vietnam War.)

Sunday, January 24, 2010