Music Monday: April roundup

With both Easter and Camp NaNo going on this month, it was to be expected that my playlists would end up chant-heavy; it’s both meditative and writing-friendly music. If Nightwish’s latest hadn’t been so awesome, third place would have gone to Cantori Gregoriani, with 138 plays. But awesome is awesome, and perhaps I Cantori deserve their own limelight piece.

1. Anonymous 4 (334)
2. Nightwish (166)
3. Mediaeval Baebes (139)

Honesty Is Best

tangled-webAs children most of us learn that honesty is better than dishonesty, and we may not question this beyond whether or not to do what we’re told. As adults, however, we can go deeper to examine our choices as investments of energy with predictable risks and returns. When we speak the truth, we affirm what already is. This is like using a paddle when the stream is already moving the same direction. We are already supported by the universe and its energy flow, so we don’t need to exert much energy, leaving more for other pursuits. But dishonesty redirects a portion of our energy against the flow, which requires extra effort. In addition, it creates an alternate reality that requires further energetic input to be maintained. So we can easily see that we are best served when we work with the flow of the universe.

Life is not always clearly defined, so we may find it useful to follow our choices to their logical conclusions. We may feel that little untruths are harmless, but they can be like small cracks that weaken an overall structure over time. Even giving someone a compliment or trying to protect them can create problems later when the alternate reality we’ve created becomes the basis for further actions. Even if the actions that follow are honestly done, the underlying unstable foundation of dishonesty will threaten to topple things eventually. This can lead to further energy being spent on keeping things hidden, working to remember the tales we’ve spun and fearing the consequences of being found out. Life doesn’t need to be this draining, but we can make the choice to free ourselves from the bonds of dishonesty at any time.

Speaking and living our truth may involve risking, among other things, the possibility of rejection. But when we allow ourselves to follow the flow of life, we are supported. We can then use our energy to cultivate physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being and to create our dreams, rather than leaving ourselves too drained to even maintain our existence. Today we can make honesty our choice in every interaction, bringing the nurturing power of the universe’s energy into our lives to bring positive, lasting results.


Foodie Friday: Courgette, Tomato & Ricotta Bread

courgette_tomato_and_ricotta_bread(Makes 1 loaf/16 slices)

500g pack crusty white bread mix
100g sunblush tomatoes, halved (reserve 1 tbsp of the oil)
200g courgette, grated
150g ricotta
1 tbsp fresh basil, leaves picked
Olive oil, for greasing
1 tbsp grated parmesan

1. Preheat the oven to 200C, fan 180C, gas 6. Tip the bread mix into a bowl and, using the reserved sunblush tomato oil and 310ml warm water, make the dough following pack instructions.
2. After the first rise, knead the dough for 1 minute, then roll out to about 20 x 30cm. Spread the sunblush tomatoes, grated courgette, ricotta and basil leaves over the dough to within 2 cm of the edges.
3. Roll up the dough from one short end and place on an oiled baking sheet seam-side down. Loosely cover with oiled clingfilm and leave in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
4. Scatter the parmesan over the top, then bake for 45 minutes, until golden and risen. Allow to cool slightly before slicing.

The Great Russian Music Trail (Part 1/2)

Gutsy rhythms and soulful music that go right to the heart – it could only come from Russia, a country of great political and social change. Simon Trezise finds the real roots of Russian music.

While the political future of new Russia is anything but secure, there is no question about its musical genius. Its established figures continue to exert an intense influence on late twentieth-century musical life and new composers such as Schnittke appear all the time. They follow in the footsteps of some of the greatest geniuses in western music, but Russia’s musical history is not as well rooted as you might think.

Two vital ingredients ensured Russian music had a voice long before the art music we know today came to the fore – chant composed for the Byzantine liturgy and folksong. It is as well that this heritage was there, for in the eighteenth century Russia was dominated by the Italians, who provided the musicians and taught such native talent as there was. The demand for music in St Petersburg, for example, was minimal. Tzar Peter I had little appetite for it, so it was to satisfy his army’s need for marches that he brought in German instrumentalists. In 1750 a new court theatre was opened for Italian opera which Empress Elizabeth hoped her courtiers and other dignitaries would fill; when they didn’t, she invited leading members of the merchant class to attend; still beset with numerous empty seats she ordered her ladies-in-waiting to attend.

Continue reading ‘The Great Russian Music Trail (Part 1/2)’

Music Monday: Stats!

last-fm_logoAs of tomorrow, I will have been on for a full six years. So, instead of linking to videos, I’m just going to jot down a few numbers about these past years. Jolly good ones they were, too, at least musically.

Songs played: 65,209. That’s nearly 11,000 a year. If we take 4 minutes as the average song, it means I’ve definitely got my money’s worth out of my Winamp. (Yes, I know it’s free, but that’s beside the point.) It took me some time to get into serious scrobbling, but the last three years or so definitely made up for lost time.

Artists on library: 3,418. I may have flubbed a few places, but still, it’s a long list, and their increasingly fine-tuned suggestions keep making it longer.

Artist countries of origin (top 15 only): USA (6), UK (4), Canada (1), Germany (1), Finland (1), Italy (1), Netherlands (1)

Loved tracks: 1,420

Most played artists: Blind Guardian (2,514), Nightwish (2,081), Loreena McKennitt (1,838)

Most played tracks: One Direction – ‘Live While We’re Young’ (103), Lady Gaga – ‘Applause’ (66), Blind Guardian – ‘A Past And Future Secret’ (65)

Most played albums: Nightwish – Dark Passion Play (408), Epica – The Classical Conspiracy (309), Blind Guardian – Nightfall in Middle-Earth (301)

Here’s to many more years of it all!

Month at a Glance

April 2015
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