from Saturday, November28th of the year2009.
Dutch is one of those languages I wish I had a quicker time with. I’ve mastered ordering coffee and sparkling water without people switching to English, so, that’s good. There’s something slightly disturbing about the visual scan of the language (I don’t even know what the term is for that: you know when you see a page, or a sign, written in a language and you have an immediate impression of the content of the text? This works also in your native language: look at a page from, like, Dickens, and you can sort of get the Shudder of the Text, or whatever, anyway, what I mean is that some languages, like French, always seem to bear a melismatic philosophy behind the page; German, an authority, Amharic, a crooked delight…) … with Dutch what I get is a sort of childlike pornography: hoog, sneeuwt, poesje, standplaats. But I’m obsessed with it: there’s nothing better than having an old school diagraph still kicking around like an appendix. Nobody knows how to talk about it, either; just as a sort of social experiment, I asked the concertmistress of this project (who has one of these fuckers in her name, Lidewij) if it was one letter or two and she couldn’t really answer. It’s fascinating. Also, look: the bougie place in Eindhoven (see my previous post about this) with the design budget can’t figure out how to kern it:
I’ve been frantically tweeting (@nicomuhly, by the way) about Zwarte Piet, which is a blackfaced Dutch Christmas Elf. I had literally never heard of this before, so maybe I’m stupid, but then again, one never expects Blackface at 11 in the morning. Check out the Wikipedia on it here; as best I can tell, the figure started as, like, Generic Spanish, but then eventually got Sambo’d Up over the course of the late 1800’s, and it wasn’t until 20 years ago that people tried to fix it up, which resulted in multi-colored Piets, like, a blue one, and that didn’t take because that’s stupid, and now it’s kind of cute again to have blackfaced children running through the streets. I will say that they were shouting Generic Dutch Christmas Greetings and kept it pretty PG; this is all neither here nor there.
Teitur and I have relocated to Amsterdam; it’s nice to get into the big city for a minute. Yesterday morning I had a fantastic experience with a cantankerous Italian man who runs a very aggressive coffee shop near the ballet.
Here is the Holland Baroque Society & Teitur rehearsing:
Here is me conducting; this is the last song, which is built on an irregularly-shaped ground bass, called “Time to Dry: