Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey To The End of Taste

CD cover

Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On (1997) is the song used by Carl Wilson to frame an in-depth discussion of musical taste in his 2007 book ‘Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love’.

Today I’ve been at the University of Bristol with scholars from the Severn Pop Network. We were discussing Carl Wilson’s book Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey To The End of Taste. It’s an interesting read, using CD’s work, biography and persona to drive a discussion of what we perceive as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ music and why, and how this contrasts with demographic and literal popularity of a pop product. I personally find Wilson’s lack of musicological comment to be slightly annoying (he makes almost no reference at all to the musical content of the works, or the works of the other artists he uses for contrast – for example, Elliott Smith). Wilson’s own musical prejudices (as he very occasionally admits) are obvious in the book, and he never attempts to quantify his reasons for disliking Dion’s work. He does, however, get into a fascinating discussion of Dion’s Québécois cultural background and the way the French-Canadian music industry’s economic evolution in the last 20-30 years has contributed to its content. I found it to be a very entertaining book, and not terribly academic, apart from the allusions to Bourdieu’s concept of cultural capital in chapter 8. I just get irritated when people talk about music without mentioning the music…

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Here’s a playlist of some of the music cited (and implicitly cited) in the book.

spotify:user:joebennettbath:playlist:5OWQt7Q7vm2gCOP3uWDh21

Here’s a few relevant citations, and a video from Steve Almond providing his own take on the discussion of taste and fandom.

Bourdieu, Pierre. “Cultural Reproduction and Social Reproduction.” In Knowledge, Education, and Cultural Change: Papers in the Sociology of Education, edited by Richard K. Brown, 71–84. London: Tavistock, 1973.
Frith, Simon. Performing Rites: On the Value of Popular Music, 1996.
Salganik, Matthew J., Peter Sheridan Dodds, and Duncan J. Watts. “Experimental Study of Inequality and Unpredictability in an Artificial Cultural Market.” Science 311, no. 5762 (2006): 854–56.
Washburne, Christopher, and Maiken Derno, eds. Bad Music: The Music We Love to Hate. New York: Routledge, 2004.
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Don Giovanni

The cast of Don Giovanni, Bath Spa Opera project 2010

This is a quick lo-fi post for Facebook friends – a few audio excerpts (roughly recorded and edited on a phone, I’m afraid!) from last night’s performance of Don Giovanni by Bath Spa University Music Department. A thoroughly enjoyable performance in a great little venue. Well done to everyone involved.

Don Giovanni excerpts – Mission Theatre Feb 2010 (MP3)

Don Giovanni excerpts 2 – Mission Theatre Feb 2010 (MP3)

And we sing it every year (oh yes)

Thanks to all the musicians who offered to play on the Widcombe song. The consensus was that my original proposal (FTP-ing Logic files and hoping for the best with plugin compatibility) was just too impractical for the different tech setups you all have. So here’s a simpler solution.

  1. Download the MP3 of my demo (done in the new studio, of course!).
  2. Using whatever multi-track kit or software you own, add a track of yourself playing your instrument (or singing) on it.
  3. Send me the audio file (320kbps MP3 should be fine) of your part only and I’ll drop it into the mix. Don’t worry about lining it up – I’ll figure all the tech stuff out.

I’m looking especially for ornament folky-ness – there’s an approximation of a whistle/recorder part on the final chorus. Plus, of course, you need to join in the main theme after each chorus.

If we find a male vocalist who’s improved on my guide vocal (shouldn’t be difficult!) we’ll use that for the final version.

We’re in G major BTW. Well, of course. And it’s 95 BPM. See this previous post for the full brief.

Widcombe Rising – MP3 download

Widcombe Rising – pdf of sheet music download

—————-

Widcombe Rising
Words and music by Joe Bennett, May 2009


English Morris feel, 2/4 bounce; crotchet=95

Chorus
D
So let’s all join the Mummers
G                     C
Listen can’t you hear?
G                           C
It’s the sound of Widcombe Rising
G        D7     Em        C
and we sing it every year, oh yes
G/D           D7    G
we sing it every year

G                          D
As I walked down this fair Parade
G                 D
One sunny day in June
G                D
I met a man along the way
G                    D
Who said good afternoon
C                      G             C                     G
I asked him for directions to get to Pulteney Weir
C                G                  D                          G
He said if I was going there I wouldn’t start from here

I asked him if he had a job
He cheerfully replied
“I sit by the canal all day
(Just) watching for the tide
And since I started working, I think I’ve done some good
From Allie Park to Beechen Cliff there’s never been a flood!”

So let’s all join the Mummers…

He said he lived in Abbey View
Had been there all his life
And now that he was ninety-two
He wanted for a wife
He said “I’ll love her truly, and give her all I can
As long as she lives less than fifty paces from The Ram!”

So let’s all join the Mummers…

The Logical Song

Widcombe Rising

Right. Muso mates, I need your help. I need to do a recording of the Widcombe song, and I don’t play fiddle, accordion or (much) mandolin. Here’s what we’re going to do.

  1. I’ll demo the song with guide vocal & drums, plus acoustic guitar, (possibly) banjo and bass. It’ll be a Logic Pro file – around 50-100MB, best guess.
  2. You’ll download the file (and a .pdf of the sheet music) and use your own copy of Logic Pro to record your performance/s (I need at least fiddle, accordion and mandolin, plus many vocals on the chorus).
  3. Send me back your own .zipped version of the Logic file (via YouSendIt or similar) with all the audio files included.
  4. I’ll drop your part into the full arrangement.

Performance brief as follows –

  • we all need to sound like a Morris band – so fiddle or accordion (or both) can take the melody
  • keep it folky, light, bouncy and authentic
  • you don’t have to play all the time – parts can drop in and out
  • there are some obvious harmonies in the chorus – please do go for it
  • vocalists – no American accents please!
  • Shakey bells – well, if you must

Your payment will be a performance credit, a hyperlink from this blog, and a beer next time I see you. In the event that you’re not in the Bath area, you may have to get drunk on my undying gratitude instead.

Contact me via Facebook or whatever if you’re up for it. The Logic file download link will be available in a couple of days. Now download the sheet music so you can start practising.

Widcombe Rising pdf download.

Last few song tweaks

I’ve made some edits to the original version of the Widcombe song, having identified a few things that I thought were wrong with the first draft.

  • The melody didn’t rise enough in the chorus – so I’ve taken it up a diatonic third and got rid of the scalic 3-note rise.
  • I didn’t like the ‘give a damn’ lyric in verse 3 – replaced with something less abrupt.
  • The sibilant consonants in ‘canalside safe’ were a bit ugly when sung at speed – now fixed.
  • The melodic shape of the end of the chorus was too repetitive – pitches now moved around a bit.
  • The song needs to be applicable to the Widcombe Mummers (who now get a mention in the chorus). This has worked out OK, because I wasn’t happy with the original chorus lyric anyway “all join together” – too clichéd.

Here’s the final version. Probably.

Widcombe RisingDownload pdf version

Here it is as text only…

Widcombe Rising
Words and music by Joe Bennett, May 2009


English Morris feel, 2/4 bounce; crotchet=92

Chorus
D
So let’s all join the Mummers
G                     C
Listen can’t you hear?
G                           C
It’s the sound of Widcombe Rising
G        D7     Em        C
and we sing it every year, oh yes
G/D           D7    G
we sing it every year

G                          D
As I walked down this fair Parade
G                 D
One sunny day in June
G                D
I met a man along the way
G                    D
Who said good afternoon
C                      G             C                     G
I asked him for directions to get to Pulteney Weir
C                G                  D                          G
He said if I was going there I wouldn’t start from here

I asked him if he had a job
He cheerfully replied
“I sit by the canal all day
(Just) watching for the tide
And since I started working, I think I’ve done some good
From Allie Park to Beechen Cliff there’s never been a flood!”

So let’s all join the Mummers…

He said he lived in Abbey View
Had been there all his life
And now that he was ninety-two
He wanted for a wife
He said “I’ll love her truly, and give her all I can
As long as she lives less than fifty paces from The Ram!”

So let’s all join the Mummers…

A song for… Widcombe

This post will mainly be relevant to Bathonians, who may know about the ‘search for a song’ for local Bath district Widcombe. The whole Widcombe community thing is great – street parties, arts events, local history and political pressure groups – all in a group of fewer than 1000 people.  So today I’ve had a punt at writing a traditional English Morris Dance tune (with local references in the lyric). No audio demo yet (as you know my studio is currently being built) so this is done in traditional notation. Any folkies reading this – do you feel like doing a demo with traditional instruments?

Widcombe Rising

Download Widcombe Rising (pdf)