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Music’s Mechanical Makeup

I have just started my 3rd series!!

This series looks at what makes music tick. What are the components, the ‘mechanics’ of music which makes our emotions soar to great heights at times and plunge us into the depths of despair at others. What is it that makes us want to jive, tap our feet and jump up in spontaneous applause?

These are some of the questions I hope to answer in “Music’s Mechanical Makeup”

Elvis Costello has said that “writing about music is like dancing about architecture”. I can understand what he means. Music needs to be heard and discussed, concepts need to be questioned and styles debated. I am sure that this series will lead to much debate and discussion.

I gave a class on Melody yesterday.

They loved the Brahms I played, enjoyed the folk melodies and were fascinated with our innate ability to relate to the pentatonic scale; but when I pushed the boundaries of easy listening they weren’t so impressed. Ralph Vaughn Williams bored and Schoenberg shocked. And there was much debate and discussion!

These were great outcomes. Music isn’t meant to be like musak – something that washes over us without leaving its mark. Music is meant to stir our emotions, for the better or the worst. Some of it is challenging and needs many hearings to slowly grasp the composer’s intent and some hits us in the heart, pulling at us in all directions.

This is what I love about music and about this new series.

The topics are;

  1. The Importance of Melody.

  2. Rhythm.

  3. The Harmony of Music.

  4. The Bass Line.

  5. Instrument Selection and Orchestration.

  6. Literature in Music.

I also LOVE the cake I made. I found a little cake recipe book in the airport in Siem Reap, Cambodia and this is one of the cakes from it – who’d have thought!!

Siena Cake

I must admit that I take the ingredients with a grain of salt. I often substitute the nuts and dried fruits for whatever I have in the pantry, I just keep the quantities the same. I’ve also made the one mixture into 2 cakes by making them in loaf tins. It is also great to freeze. Yesterday I actually used self- raising flour instead by accident and it was still yummy…I love the indestructible cake!

  • 1 cup roasted blanched almonds

  • 1cup roasted hazelnuts (I used walnuts)

  • ½ cup glace apricots (I used dried apricots or sultanas, currents etc)

  • ½ cup glace pineapple (I used dried mango)

  • ¼ cup mixed peel

  • ½ cup dried figs chopped

  • ¾ cups plain flour

  • 1 tablespoon cocoa

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ½ teaspoon mixed spice

  • ½ cup caster sugar

  • ½ honey

  1. Preheat oven to 150°C. Line a 23 cm baking tray with baking paper

  2. In a large bowl combine nuts and fruit. Sift in flour, cocoa and spices and mix into the fruit and nuts

  3. Heat sugar and honey in a small pan on low until sugar has dissolved. Boil for 1 minute

  4. Pour hot syrup over the dry mixture, using a metal spoon combine quickly as the mixture will become very stiff

  5. Press into the prepared tin using wet fingers to spread the mixture out evenly

  6. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Leave in the tin until cold.

  7. The cake in best left for a few days before serving. When you do, dress it with icing sugar

Unfortunately we don’t have a photo of the cake… went too quickly!

Love me


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