Winter Olympics in Korea, music

This 11 February 2018 video shows Kleintje Pils playing at the Winter Olympics in Korea, at the 5,000 meter men speed skating event.

In 2014 at the Sochi, Russia games, they played YMCA.

This 6 February 2018 video from the Netherlands says about itself:

The Dutch mopping orchestra called “Kleintje Pils” (Little Beer) is invited to play at the 2018 winter olympics in PyeongChang, Korea. So they rehearse the [Korean] song “Gangnam Style” in Sassenheim, Holland.


European Union Brexit negotiations parody song

This 12 February 2018 parody music video from Britain is called Barnier the Dinosaur – “I Love EU”.

“The European Union‘s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier now comes as a purple dinosaur.”

It is a parody of a song from the United States children’s TV show Barney & Friends. The original song is ‘I love you’, sung by the title character Barney, a purple Tyrannosaurus rex.

The lyrics are:

I love EU, EU love me
We’re the best economy
With a single market and customs union
We won’t miss Britain when they’re gone

I love EU, EU love me
We’re the biggest trade bloc, see
We’re a neoliberal Eurodisney park
Great Britain can get to fuck

Britons’ ancestors were black-skinned blue-eyed

There are many pro-peace songs. Like one written by Pete Seeger, sung by Marlene Dietrich. Here is a music video, from Britain, by The Equals – Black Skinned Blue-Eyed Boys. Written by Eddy Grant, from Guyana.

The lyrics are:

Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys

People: white is white
What’s black ain’t clover

Together we’ll be
When the war is over.
You see the Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys

They ain’t gonna fight no wars
Oh no.

Cool is school
But the teachers beat yer

When they see
That they can’t reach yer.

You see the Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys
They ain’t gonna fight no wars
Oh no.

They ain’t got no country
They ain’t got no creed
People won’t be black or white
The world will be half-breed.
The world will be half-breed.
The world will be half-breed.

You see the Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys
they ain’t gonna fight no doggone wars.

They ain’t got no country…
It’s a brand new day
With brand new people
In one big world
We’re just one people.
You see the Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys

They ain’t gonna fight no wars. Oh
you know that we hate fighting.

Recent research about people in Europe, more especially Spain, in the Mesolithic age, ten thousands of years after their ancestors had immigrated from Africa, shows they had blue eyes but ‘the dark skins of Africans’.

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

Cheddar Man: First modern Briton had ‘dark to black’ skin, DNA research reveals

Groundbreaking new analysis of 10,000-year-old remains shows man had darker complexion than previously thought, along with blue eyes and dark, curly hair

Chris Baynes

A full facial reconstruction model of Cheddar Man's head, based on the skull Britain's oldest complete skeleton. PA

The first modern Briton had “dark to black” skin, groundbreaking new analysis of his 10,000-year-old remains has revealed.

Britain’s oldest complete skeleton, known as Cheddar Man, was unearthed more than a century ago in Gough’s Cave in Somerset.

But an unprecedented examination of his DNA, along with a facial reconstruction of the fossil, shows the young man would have had a darker complexion than previously thought, along with blue eyes and dark, curly hair.

Research by evolution and DNA specialists at the Natural History Museum and University College London suggests the pigmentation associated with northern European ancestry is a more recent development.

The research and remodelling process was documented for Channel 4 programme The First Brit: Secrets of the 10,000 Year Old Man.

Professor Ian Barnes, research leader at the Natural History Museum, said at a screening of the documentary: “For me, it’s not just the skin colour that’s interesting, it’s that combination of features that make him look not like anyone that you’d see today.

“Not just dark skin and blue eyes, because you can get that combination, but also the face shape. So all of this combines together and make him just not the same as people you see around today.”

Researchers Professor Barnes and Dr Selina Brace extracted DNA data from bone powder by drilling a 2mm hole through the skull’s inner ear bone.

They scanned the skull and a 3D model was produced by “paleo artists” Alfons and Adrie Kennis, who make life-like reconstructions of extinct mammals and early humans.

The twins, who have created reconstructions for museums around the world and usually create models of Neanderthals, spent three months working on Cheddar Man.

“It’s really nice to make a more graceful man, not a heavy-browed Neanderthal,” said Alfons. “So we were very excited that it was a guy from after the Ice Age. We were very interested in what kind of human he was.

“With the new DNA information it was really revolutionary. And it allowed us to look more at race, this revealed stuff that we’d never had known before.”

Cheddar Man, thought to have died in his twenties and have had a relatively good diet, lived in Britain when it was almost completely depopulated about 300 generations ago.

Although previous populations had settled in Britain long before his arrival, they were wiped out before him and he marked the start of continuous habitation on the island.

Genetically, he belonged to a group of people known as the “Western Hunter-Gatherers”, Mesolithic-era individuals from Spain, Hungary and Luxembourg.

His ancestors migrated to Europe from the Middle East after the Ice Age. Britain has been inhabited ever since and today about 10 per cent of White British people are descended from the group.

Alfons said: “People define themselves by which country they’re from, and they assume that their ancestors were just like them. And then suddenly new research shows that we used to be a totally different people with a different genetic makeup.

“People will be surprised, and maybe it will make immigrants feel a bit more involved in the story. And maybe it gets rid of the idea that you have to look a certain way to be from somewhere. We are all immigrants.”

The First Brit: Secrets of the 10,000 Year Old Man airs on Channel 4 on Sunday, 18 February.

From daily The Guardian in Britain today on this:

“It really shows up that these imaginary racial categories that we have are really very modern constructions, or very recent constructions, that really are not applicable to the past at all.”

Cheddar Man: Discovery first modern Briton had dark skin is reminder ‘we are all from Africa’, expert says. ‘It just challenges this idea we have that certain people belong to certain places – that Britons are Britons are Britons’: here.

Chilean musician Violeta Parra

This 6 February 2018 video about Chilean musician and visual artist Violeta Parra is called A Committed Chant Against Injustice.

More about her is here.

Painter Vermeer, film reviewed

This video says about itself:

Exhibition on Screen: Vermeer and Music. Cinema Trailer

The 3rd film in the EXHIBITION ON SCREEN series, Vermeer and Music: the Art of Love and Leisure at the National Gallery London, hit cinema screens worldwide on Thursday 10th October 2013.

On 28 January 2018, I went to see this film. The London exhibition which the film is about was unique, as Vermeer paintings depicting music were exhibited together for the first time. Vermeer depicted musical instruments and people playing them quite often: on one-third of the paintings known to be by him, 12 out of 36.

Vermeer made more paintings than 36: probably about 50. Not that many: he worked slowly and meticulously. And he lived 1632-1675, dying at only 43 years old.

What do we know about Vermeer‘s life? Not much. We don’t have writings by the painter on his works or other subjects. He did not give his paintings titles. Like older Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch. Like with Bosch, this means there are many hypotheses on his art of which we don’t know whether they are true or not.

Let us compare Vermeer to his older contemporaries Rubens and Rembrandt. All three lived in the Low Countries, ruled in the sixteenth century by the king of Spain. In 1568, the Low Countries revolted against excessive taxation of the urban bourgeoisie by the absolute monarchy, and the Spanish’s Inquisition’s persecution of Protestants. Spanish armed forces managed to crush the rebellion in the southern provinces (roughly, what is now Belgium). However, in 1648 Spain had to recognize the independence of the northern provinces (roughly, what is now the Netherlands).

The newly independent Dutch state was special for being a republic instead of a monarchy like other European countries. Its ruling class were, unlike elsewhere, not nobles with an emperor or king on top of a hierarchical pyramid, but mainly urban bourgeois. This social and political change also made for a change in art in the seventeenth century. In most European countries, artists were then still dependent on princes and other feudal aristocrats; and, where Roman Catholicism was the state religion, on the Roman Catholic hierarchy. That was also true for Rubens’ Spanish Netherlands (roughly: present Belgium).

In the European seventeenth century, the establishment view on art considered Christian religious, historical and ancient Roman mythological subjects to be the most noble ones for painting. Catholic church dignitaries commissioned religious work; secular aristocrats commissioned historical and mythological art which often made complimentary allusions to seventeenth century monarchs and nobles.

But the new Dutch republic was different. There, the new urban bourgeois rulers wanted art which they could relate to their own lives more. Money to buy art was more widespread than in other countries; seventeenth century Dutch artists made millions of paintings. Also, often on different subjects than traditionally or still customary abroad.

As this blog has mentioned before, Rembrandt in the northern independent republic made less religious art and far less historical and mythological art than Rubens in the southern Roman Catholic Spanish Netherlands.

How does Vermeer fit in this? Let us look at the Wikipedia list of 34 works ‘firmly attributed to Vermeer’. According to the London National Gallery and the film, two other works, including A Young Woman Seated at the Virginals, should be added to make 36.

Of these 36 works, only one depicts Roman mythology, Diana and her Companions, maybe Vermeer’s earliest painting. So, less than 3% of his oeuvre, even less than Rembrandt, far less than Rubens. Vermeer, a burgher of Delft city, fitted in the new art of the new republic.

How about Christian religious art? Only two of the 36 paintings, 5,5%. There used to be a third one, The Supper at Emmaus; however, it turned out to be a twentieth century forgery by Han van Meegeren.

So, considerable less religious art by Vermeer than by Rembrandt, let alone Rubens. Of these two religious paintings, one is an early work. The other one is The Allegory of Faith. It is special, at it was probably commissioned by the Roman Catholic Church which did not buy much art in the seventeenth century Dutch republic. Far less so than in Rubens’ Spanish Netherlands where it was the official church. Like Rubens, Vermeer had been born in a Protestant family, but converted to Roman Catholicism later. In Vermeer’s case, to be able to marry his wife.

Vermeer, The Allegory of the Faith

The Allegory of Faith is unlike most other Roman Catholic religious paintings. One might expect a depiction of Saint Peter’s Church in Rome, or some smaller but still big church. Instead, it depicts the interior of an urban house, like so many of Vermeer’s works. Roman Catholic services were only allowed in the Dutch republic in buildings which did not look like churches on the outside.

70% of Rembrandt’s work is portraits or self-portraits. 0% of Vermeer’s work is (a detail in one painting may be a self-portrait, but that is not certain).

The overwhelming majority of Vermeer’s work, over 90% is genre painting, plus a few in the cityscapes category. These two categories were not favourite subjects for Rubens: too ‘bourgeois’ for the Spanish Netherlands. Not favourite subjects for Rembrandt because of personal preference. However, Vermeer’s genre painting fitted in well with the Dutch Republic’s new urban upper class; like the portraits which Rembrandt preferred.

As the film notes, there are contradictions between Vermeer’s life and his work. His art usually has a peaceful, quiet atmosphere; but the painter lived in a probably noisy house with eleven children.

Vermeer also often depicted affluent persons at home, but he was not rich himself. In 1672, the Dutch republic was at war with France and other enemies. The art market collapsed and Vermeer became poor. The shock of poverty killed him in 1675.

Vermeer did not become famous initially. In the nineteenth century, French art critic Théophile Thoré-Bürger rescued him from undeserved oblivion. Thoré-Bürger was a radical democrat who praised the realism of his socialist contemporary Gustave Courbet. Though an opponent of French Roman Catholic clericalism, he appreciated Roman Catholic Vermeer for depicting mainly scenes from urban daily life, not religious or historical themes, still considered superior by the nineteenth century art establishment.

After this rediscovery, Vermeer’s paintings became dramatically more expensive, making lots of money more than the maker ever made; like happened to many other artists. 12 out of 36 paintings are now in the USA.

The film contains various interviews, including with Tracy Chevalier, author of the novel Girl with a Pearl Earring, inspired by the painting of the same name.

New research on Girl with the pearl earring: here.

British singer Mark E Smith, RIP

This 1977 live music video is the song Hey fascist, by the Fall.

I saw the Fall in 1978 at my first London punk rock gig, at Acklam Hall. Brian James (ex-Damned guitarist) and his then band the Brains also played that night.

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

Mark E Smith dead: The Fall’s lead singer dies aged 60

Punk singer died was forced to cancel shows last year amid reports of ill health

Ilana Kaplan

The Fall’s lead singer Mark E Smith has died. He was 60.

The band’s manager and Smith’s partner, Pam Van Damned, made the announcement via The Fall Online.

“It is with deep regret that we announce the passing of Mark E. Smith,” she said in a statement.

“He passed this morning at home. A more detailed statement will follow in the next few days.

“In the meantime, Pam & Mark’s family request privacy at this sad time.”

It had been reported that Smith was ill for some time, which led to show cancellations in late 2017.

In October, he performed at a Wakefield concert in a wheelchair.

Tributes were led by Smith’s former wife and ex-band member, Brix Smith Start, who posted: “I’m taking the news in right now. I will put a statement out tomorrow. I hope you will all understand.

“Thank you for your lovely messages, they mean a lot. I love you, Brix”.

Born in 1957, Smith formed The Fall with Martin Bramah and Tony Friel aged just 19.

The band became a part of the 1970s punk movement and, while it went through several line-up changes, Smith was the founder and constant member of the band.

The Fall never quite found commercial success, but helmed a cult fan base care of their 32 studio albums.

Their most successful single was a cover version of the Kinks’ “Victoria”.

The band’s most recent record New Facts Emerge came out in 2017.

Smith previously worked with Elastica, Gorillaz and Inspiral Carpets.

The Fall’s Mark E Smith was the voice of the northern working-class culture that inspired him, says DAVID WILKINSON.

South African musician Hugh Masekela, RIP

This music video says about itself:

Hugh Masekela – Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela) from Paul Simon’s “Graceland – The African Concert” (Zimbabwe, 1987)

I decided to upload this extract of the concert in order to dispose it in decent audio and video quality online, as it is my firm belief that its inspiring edge and indelible political meaning exceed the concept of copyright infringement protection. It is never too late for more people from all over the world to become or get more familiar with the great man Nelson Mandela (18/08/1918 – 5/12/2013) and his troubled yet glorious life, and this song is a bright example of his enormous influence to the people. Therefore, I communicate this performance via the internet as a token of appreciation to both Nelson Mandela and
Hugh Masekela.

More information about the song is here.

From the BBC today:

Hugh Masekela, South African jazz trumpeter, dies

Legendary jazz trumpeter Hugh Masekela, a leading figure in the struggle to end apartheid and “the father of South African jazz”, has died aged 78.

In a statement, his family said he had “passed peacefully” in Johannesburg “after a protracted and courageous battle with prostate cancer”.

Masekela gained global recognition with his distinctive Afro-Jazz sound and hits such as Soweto Blues.

The 1977 song became synonymous with the anti-apartheid movement.

In a statement, South African President Jacob Zuma said Masekela’s death was “an immeasurable loss to the music industry and to the country at large”.

Zuma continued: “His contribution to the struggle for liberation will never be forgotten.”

Born in the South African town of Witbank in 1939, Masekela was inspired to learn the trumpet after seeing Kirk Douglas play Bix Beiderbecke in the 1950 film Young Man with a Horn.

He persuaded one of his teachers – the anti-apartheid crusader Father Trevor Huddleston – to buy him an instrument, promising to stay out of trouble in return.

In 1960, aged 21, he left South Africa to begin what would be 30 years in exile from the land of his birth.

Under the tutelage of Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong, he was encouraged to develop his own unique style.

In 1967, he performed at the Monterey Pop Festival alongside Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, Ravi Shankar, The Who and Jimi Hendrix.

The following year, his instrumental single Grazing in the Grass topped the charts in the US and became a worldwide hit.

Masekela returned to South Africa in 1990 following the release of Nelson Mandela, whose freedom he had called for in his 1986 anthem Bring Home Nelson Mandela.

In June 2010, he performed at both the opening concert of the Fifa World Cup and the tournament’s opening ceremony in Soweto’s Soccer City.

In their statement, Masekela’s family described him as “a loving father, brother, grandfather and friend” who would be “forever in our hearts”.

“Hugh’s global and activist contribution to and participation in the areas of music, theatre and the arts in general is contained in the minds and memory of millions across six continents”, it continued.

“We are blessed and grateful to be part of a life and ever-expanding legacy of love, sharing and vanguard creativity that spans the time and space of six decades.”

Details of memorial and burial services, the family said, would be released “in due course”.

South African musician Loyiso Bala was among many to mark his death on Twitter.

Death South Africa liberation movement pays tribute to Hugh Masekela: here.

HUGH RAMOPOLO MASEKELA, born on April 4, 1939 in KwaGuqa township in South Africa, died last Saturday of prostate cancer in Johannesburg. Known as Bra Hugh, the rasping sound of his trumpet echoed that of political action and his voice carried the courage of the people in South Africa, even though he and many like him who protested and sang on international stages against the apartheid government were banished into exile and their music banned: here.