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Musings...

The Bar Joke explained:

Here's the Joke:

C, E-flat, and G go into a bar. The bartender says, "Sorry, but we don't serve minors." So E-flat leaves, and C and G have an open fifth between them. After a few drinks, the fifth is diminished, and G is out flat. F comes in and tries to augment the situation, but is not sharp enough. D comes in and heads for the bathroom, saying, "Excuse me; I'll just be a second." Then A comes in, but the bartender is not convinced that this relative of C is not a minor. Then the bartender notices B-flat hiding at the end of the bar and says, "Get out! You're the seventh minor I've found in this bar tonight." E-flat comes back the next night in a three-piece suit with nicely shined shoes. The bartender says, "You're looking sharp tonight. Come on in, this could be a major development." Sure enough, E-flat soon takes off his suit and everything else, and is au natural. Eventually C sobers up and realizes in horror that he's under a rest. C is brought to trial, found guilty of contributing to the diminution of a minor, and is sentenced to 10 years of D.S. without Coda at an upscale correctional facility.

Some background theory to "get" the joke:

An example of a major chord is C, E, G; this is a C major chord (play it to see what it sounds like). It consists of a major third (C-E) and then a minor third on top (E-G). A c minor chord is C, Eb, G which is a minor third on the bottom (C-Eb) and a major third on top (Eb-G). So the Eb is the note that makes the chord a minor chord rather than a major, so the Eb, being a minor, has to leave. (FYI: Major chords are designated by capital letters, C; minor chords are designated by lower case, plus the "m", cm. Everything changes in jazz...)

A half step is the very next key on the piano, or the very next note of your chromatic scale, so C-C# is a half step. A whole step is two half steps, so C-D is a whole step. (The tricky part is between E&F and B&C where there is no black key between those notes, so, even though there is no sharp or flat, E-F is a half step and B-C is a half step. E-F# and B-C# are whole steps. You don't need this info for the joke, but it is important for you for as a musician. (Follow the link to see a keyboard and the chromatic scale.)

C-E is a major third, which is 4 half steps (two whole steps) and a minor third, C-Eb, is 3 half steps (a step and a half).

Intervals are measured by scale tones: C-D is a 2nd, C-E is a third, C-F is a fourth, C-G is a fifth, C-A is a sixth, C-B is a seventh, C-C is an octave. The interval also has a quality (major or minor are the qualities and there are also diminished, augmented and perfect intervals) and that is where the key signature or accidentals come into play. Fourths & Fifths are perfect, diminished or augmented, never major or minor (don't bother with why). The perfect intervals, like a perfect fifth, are often called "open", like an "open fifth".

C-G is an open fifth. A diminished fifth would be C-Gb ("G is out flat"). An augmented fifth would be C-G# (so F isn't sharp enough).

C-D is a second ("...heads to the bathroom. 'Excuse me, I'll just be a second'")

C-B would be a major 7th, C-Bb is (you guessed it!) a minor 7th.

Eb in his three piece suit is looking sharp, and if you sharped an Eb, it would be an E natural, thus making it a major third with C, not a minor third!

And I think you can get the rest (pun intended...).

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Did you know you are an OPSIMATH??

Dr. Goodword's Good Word of the day on Sunday, March 6, 2011 was "Opsimath". What is an opsimath? WE are opsimaths! Dr. Goodword's definintion was:

OPSIMATH: (Literary) A person who undertakes study late in life, a person who learns late in life (an old dog that can learn new tricks).

Yup! Sounds like us, eh? He goes on to say,

Notes: As more and more people return to school and on-line study after retirement, the more we need today's Good Word. We even predict that the growing number of opsimaths will include many polymaths, people who are educated in many subjects.

The activity of opsimaths is 'opSImathy'. Things pertaining to opsimathy and opsimaths are opsimathic.

In Play: The popularity of opsimathy is growing in the US as baby-boomers age and more and more of them return to university after retirement: "Professor Badenoff was surprised to discover that 25% of the students enrolled in his medieval philosophy course were opsimaths." Experience, in fact, enhances learning, so be careful how you speak to older folks these days: "I didn't realize what an opsimath the boss was when I told him that old dogs can't learn new tricks."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes to us from Greek, where opse means "late" and math- means "learning". 'Mathematics' shares the same root, but it comes from the adjective of mathema "science, learning". The original Proto-Indo-European stem that became 'math' in Greek turned into Russian mudry "wise", Avestan mazda "wise", and Sanskrit mantrah "counsel, prayer". It turns up with a FICKLE N (an N that is sometime there, sometimes not) in Latin mens, mentis "mind" that we find in the English borrowing, 'mental', and the common abstract noun suffix '-ment' found in English and Romance languages.

Mario then reported that in Sunday's March 6th Globe Magazine Section there was an article on Careers and why starting over is so hard. ("Careers" by Alan Deutschman page 15 Boston Globe Magazine March 6, 2011)

Mr. Deutschman says that, " 'Learning' means becoming a true beginner in another challenging pursuit, [for example, like playing the trumpet after spending a career doing something else, says Mario!]. [The author] then goes on to say 'You know that you're learning something new and different if it's really hard for a long time and you're constantly making mistakes and feeling like an idiot'.

We understand about that, right?!?!?   I guess it goes with being an opsimath.  Now, go practice!  Hey... want to learn to practice better and more efficiently?  Go the the "eLesson" on Practicing

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A poem by Steven Swanger who says,

"I wrote the attached as a sort of paean to Klezmer music, which touches my Ukrainian soul and is a big part of what led me to want to play the clarinet. ... The clarinet plays a big role in the Klezmer tradition, though I've come to discover over time that it's a gorgeous instrument in classical music, as well.

I wrote this poem shortly before I decided to take clarinet lessons a few years ago."

(FYI... the clarinet is often called a licorice stick! -dem)

Licorice Harmonies

Wedding, funeral, a young man's Bar Mitzvah,
licorice harmonies deeper than faith.
The reeds cackle and scurry
around and through the core of melody
like intrusive aunts dancing madly,
silhouetted upon the ridge.

Clarinets weave warp to the woof
of skittering violins,
together bringing order, somehow, to the lunatic cotillion.
Minor keys slither through the cold moonlight,
warming the whole with vermillion glow
while brassy uncles zoom around the edges,
hemming in the maelstrom of sound.

Laughing, sobbing, itinerant harmonics
born deep inside the Ukraine,
            Crimea, the Caucusus,
circling north and west for European ports and beyond.
Welcome to Brooklyn, boychik, where the streets are paved!

                                                                                                --  Steven Swanger

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(SVNHM Members: Do you have a musing you'd like to add here?  Send it to me.)

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Sudbury Valley New Horizons Music at Wayland Middle School -- 201 Main Street, Wayland, MA and The Loker School, 47 Loker St, Wayland