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Coláiste Lurgan (Lurgan College) is an Irish-language summer school in Connemara; it has a musical project called TG Lurgan which does lots of brilliant translated covers. Here are a couple, worth watching even if you have little or no Irish 'cause they're obviously having such a good time with it!

videos )

(I'd run across them before, but [twitter.com profile] eyebrowsofpower reminded me of them today.)

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Happy Christmas and happy Hanukkah (they coincide this year)! This is not especially festive except that I was reminded of it at Midnight Mass while counting verses of a rather long litany.

When I was a teenager, I invented what as far as I know is an original method of finger-counting; at least I was unaware of having based it on anything else and I haven't seen it used anywhere since. No, please stop backing away slowly, I promise I'm not dangerous. I don't remember exactly why I bothered, but it may have had something to do with being a cellist and therefore occasionally having to count off long rests in a reasonably discreet way that was harder to lose track of than just counting in my head. I still sometimes use it in similar circumstances.

My method goes as follows:
  • Begin by counting off the three segments of each finger on your left hand by touching the palmward side of them with your left thumb: 1, 2, 3 for the tip, middle, base of your index finger, 4, 5, 6 for your middle finger, and so on. This takes you to 12.
  • Touch your left palm with your left thumb for 13.
  • Now return to your left fingers as before, but this time touch the backs of the segments: 14, 15, 16 for the tip, middle, base of your index finger, and so on. This takes you to 25 on a single hand.
  • If you need more, use your right hand in the same way as a 25s place. The upper limit is therefore 625.
I was certainly aware of binary and hexadecimal bases by that time and reasonably fluent in both, and I thought of finger binary independently, but converting between bases can take a bit of thought, and the point was to be easily usable in situations where I didn't have much spare brainpower available, for example when in the middle of an orchestral concert with lots of other stuff going on. I basically wanted to be able to delegate the job of counting to a simple motor task and be reasonably sure of getting it right.

This method has several nice properties:
  • 25 is very decimal-friendly, at least at smallish values. It's pretty rare to have to "manually" count higher than 100, and that's just 0 on the left hand and 4 on the right. Most numbers one is likely to need to count to come out easily. Wikipedia tells me that there are Asian systems that use finger segments in a similar way to reach 12 on each hand, but that's not as decimal-friendly.
  • Only involves small movements, mostly within the natural crook of your hand. You can quite easily count this way in a context where other methods would be awkward or gauche, and probably nobody will notice.
  • Reasonably useful upper limit with a single hand. (As a cellist I was usually holding a bow with my right hand, but during rests my left hand was free.)
It is, I suspect, not at all useful for communication: distinguishing between two different sides of a finger is quite easy by touch but probably not by sight.

Am I weird? Is anyone aware of a previous base-25 system like this? Feel free to only answer the second of those questions.

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For Christmas Eve, [livejournal.com profile] ghoti asked me to talk about my favourite carol.

Noël, Noël )

This post is part of my December days series. Please prompt me!
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[livejournal.com profile] pentamer asked me to write about music. I briefly covered this in my post on art earlier in the month, but let's expand on that a bit.

do re mi )

This post is part of my December days series. Please prompt me!
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[livejournal.com profile] ghoti, Benedict, and I have just got back from Spode Music Week, our first in its new home. We had a wonderful time although I at least am pretty tired, and [livejournal.com profile] ghoti is sleeping so I assume she is too ...

The course music was, on the choral side:

  • Britten: Hymn to St. Cecilia
  • Brahms: Fest- und Gedenksprüche
  • Tallis: Puer natus est nobis (Mass setting)
  • Davy: Salve Regina (sung at the end of Compline)

... plus a good deal of liturgical music. In orchestra:

  • Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherezade (third movement)
  • Rimsky-Korsakov: Capriccio espagnol (fifth movement)
  • Tchaikovsky: Waltz from The Sleeping Beauty

The string orchestra had rather less preparation time :-), and played:

  • Holst: St. Paul's Suite (Dargason)
  • Grieg: Holberg Suite (Sarabande and Gavotte)
  • Handel: a movement from a Concerto Grosso, though I've forgotten which one

We did a scratch performance of Show Boat, and I sang Schubert's An die Musik (accompanied by Charles) in the last night concert, which seemed to go reasonably well.

As usual, there was lots of impromptu/sight-read music-making, the highlights for me being a five-voice arrangement of the Londonderry Air, some rather good six-cellos work (which unfortunately I couldn't join because I picked up a stinking cold a couple of days from the end and had to retire to bed), and I'm told GSJ's nine-part recorder arrangement of Bohemian Rhapsody was amazing.

I doubt I'll have much of a voice for the next few days, but it was definitely worth it!

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