Monday, January 10, 2011

Classical Music Mnemonics

I attended The Central High School of Philadelphia from September 1967 to June 1971 (230th class).  When I was in the 11th grade (1969-1970 school year) I used to hang out during lunch period with Steven and Howard Chanin, fraternal twin brothers.  The Chanin brothers and I had attended the same elementary school, Rowen Elementary School ("Education is not a mere means to life.  Education is Life." -- William Rowen).  Maybe the Chanins were in Miss Perry's kindergarten class at Rowen, but I can't remember now.  In junior high school they were enrolled in a special program that combined the 7th and 8th grades, so they had started high school a year earlier than I and graduated in June 1970.  Coincidentally, they attended Penn State (where I went to college); they majored in psychology.  I think they live in Boulder, Colorado now.

In any event, the Chanin brothers and I used to play a primitive version of penny hockey every day at the lunch table in the cafeteria.  Some days another student would join us.  He was in the Chanins' class, the 229. I can remember his name, despite the fact that my only contact with him was a few encounters in the cafeteria.    His name was Alan Bedrick, whose last name happens to be the first name of the famous Czech composer Bedrich Smetana, who wrote the opera, The Bartered Bride (Die Verkaufte Braut).  (Smetana is Yiddish for sour cream.  And no, Smetana's father was not named Latka.  Latka Gravas was the name of a character on the 70s sitcom, Taxi.  But I digress.)

Alan Bedrick is now a medical doctor who specializes in neonatology.  Coincidentally, Dr. Bedrick earned his medical degree at Penn State's medical school in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Aside.  I can still remember that in their senior year the Chanin brothers read Franz Kafka's novel, The Trial (Der Prozess), in German class.  I studied French, not German; that I can remember their reading Der Prozess is a tad peculiar.

The Moldau, a nationalist tone poem by Bedrich Smetana, famously employs a melody that is the basis of the Israeli national anthem, Ha Tikva, The Hope.

8 comments:

Gary Freedman said...

The Chanin brothers had an older brother who was a mathematical genius -- literally.

Gary Freedman said...

The Chanins knew Fredric Cohen, another Central student who became a medical doctor also.

Odd that I should have become a fake psychoanalyst!

(I sent a copy of my book Significant Moments to Dr. Cohen.)

Wagner once said: "I only borrow money from people who can appreciate my work." (Weren't his friends lucky?). I only send my book to people who can appreciate plagiarism.

Gary Freedman said...

My point in all this? A creative person's apparent "loose associations" are not really loose associations. The ideas emerge again and again as recurring clusters of ideas.

But then, I'm just a fake psychoanalyst.

My theory? Labeling a patient's chain of ideas as "loose associations" is a convenient way for a lazy and ill-informed psychiatry resident to avoid having to do the hard work of analysis which is predicated on the idea that in the analytic hour associations are "strictly determined" by unconscious forces. Psychoanalysis assumes that the clustering of seemingly unrelated ideas has meaning in the nonpsychotic patient.

By asserting that a patient's chain of ideas are a psychotic symptom, the psychiatrist doesn't have to analyze anything. And isn't that a dream come true for the lazy psychiatry resident?

Gary Freedman said...

Psychoanalytic researchers such as Hartvig Dahl and Virginia Teller have subjected thousands of hours of analytic communications to linguistic analysis. "Through intensive linguistic and logical analysis of the verbatim transcript of a patient's hour, Dahl and Teller have attempted to lay bare the mental processes of analysis as they listen to tape recordings of an analysis with 'closely hovering attention' to a patient's utterances and find themselves forming hypotheses about their unconscious meaning. For embedded in the transcript, like a message written in invisible ink, are innumerable, unmistakable traces of the patient's unconscious motives. Invisible to the naked eye as such, they come into glaring view under the special linguistic and logical microscopy devised by Dahl and Teller from their singular demonstration of the existence of the unconscious. What every analyst implicitly 'knows' about his patient Dahl and Teller are attempting to explicitly show with their textual analysis." Janet Malcolm, Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession at 89 (New York: Vintage Books, 1982).

Gary Freedman said...

Virginia Teller, Hunter College

Virginia Teller, Professor, Department Chair

Office: Hunter North 1008
Email: virginia.teller@hunter.cuny.edu
Phone: 212-650-3074
FAX: 212-772-5219

Area of Specialty: Natural Language Processing, Artificial Intelligence
Educational ackground: BA in French Literature from Cornell University, MA and Ph.D. in
Linguistics from New York University.
Courses taught: Advanced Programming Languages, Artificial Intelligence, Language and Technology.
Recent Publications: Link to CUNY CoMoLA (Computational Models of Language Acquisition).

Gary Freedman said...

One of Virginia Teller's papers:

http://www.pep-web.org/document.php?id=paq.047.0339a

Gary Freedman said...

The melody for Hatikvah derives, with modifications, from the La Mantovana, a 17th-century Italian song, originally written by Giuseppino del Biado ca. 1600 with the text "Fuggi, fuggi, fuggi dal questo cielo". Its earliest known appearance in print was in the del Biado's collection of madrigals. It was later known in early 17th-century Italy as "Ballo di Mantova." This melody gained wide currency in Renaissance Europe, the Polish folk song "Pod Krakowem"; and the Ukrainian "Kateryna Kucheryava." This melody was also famously used by the Czech composer Bedřich Smetana in his symphonic poem celebrating Bohemia, “Má vlast,” as “Vltava” (Die Moldau).

The adaptation of the music for Hatikvah is believed to have been composed by Samuel Cohen in 1888. Cohen himself recalled many years later that he had adapted the melody from a Romanian folk song, possibly “Carul cu boi” (“Carriage with Oxen”) (itself deriving from "La Mantovana") which shares many structural elements with Hatikva.
The harmony of Hatikvah is arranged modally and mostly follows a minor scale, which is often perceived as mournful in tone and is rarely encountered in national anthems. However, as the title "The Hope" and the words suggest, the import of the song is optimistic and the overall spirit uplifting.

Gary Freedman said...

From Facebook:

Matt Burke 11 January 2011 at 02:08

Re: Hi!

Great stuff, Gary! I also believe that it's impossible to have 'free' associations, just as I don't imagine that jazz musicians are really spontaneously improvising in an abstract way, their 'solos' are a result of complex interactions of learned musical patterns and sequences.

Matt