A Whiter Shade of Pale

This song has been stuck in my head since I first heard it in college. I love playing the descending bass line on the guitar and had intended to record a version with a melodica or accordion for the organ part. But it’s too beautiful to mess around with. So, here’s my take using a cheap Yamaha keyboard hooked up to GarageBand with the “Lighter Shade” midi organ sound.

If you are somehow not familiar with the amazing original, give it a listen:

Safari Best Of Video

Ok, I finally narrowed down the best clips of our 4 days at MalaMala. Here’s the video –

It reminded me of the sheer variety of creatures we saw. Our rooms had checklists in them for keeping track of animal sightings. I didn’t want to bug the guide for the name of every bird and tree, but here’s what I marked:

  1. Blue Wildebeest
  2. Bushbuck
  3. Cape Buffalo
  4. Common Duiker
  5. Impala
  6. Klipspringer
  7. Kudu
  8. Nyala
  9. Steenbok
  10. Waterbuck
  11. Side-striped Jackal
  12. Wild Dog
  13. Chacma Baboon
  14. Vervet Monkey
  15. Elephant
  16. Burchell’s Zebra
  17. Leopard
  18. Lion
  19. Giraffe
  20. Hippopotamus
  21. Spotted Hyena
  22. Scrub Hare
  23. Lesser Bushbaby
  24. White Rhinoceros
  25. Tree Squirrel
  26. Warthog
  27. Dwarf Mongoose
  28. Slender Mongoose
  29. White-tailed Mongoose
  30. European Bee-eater
  31. African Cuckoo
  32. African Green Pigeon
  33. Egyptian Goose
  34. Bateleur
  35. African Fish Eagle
  36. Tawny Eagle
  37. Helmeted Guineafowl
  38. Grey Heron
  39. White-backed Night Heron
  40. African Grey Hornbill
  41. Giant Kingfisher
  42. Pied Kingfisher
  43. Lilac-breasted Roller
  44. Black-backed Puffback
  45. Cape Glossy Starling
  46. Saddle-Billed Stork
  47. Hooded Vulture
  48. White-backed Vulture
  49. Lesser Masked Weaver
  50. Rainbow Skink
  51. Nile Crocodile
  52. Leopard Tortoise

Bushbaby

Our guide caught the reflection of this bushbaby’s eyes as it jumped from tree to tree looking for bugs. I caught a couple of minutes of it when it finally stayed relatively still in one tree. This is zoomed in as far as the camera would go, which is why you’ll hear us asking questions about what it looked like — we couldn’t see it very well.

Also called a Galago.

Leopards

I had hoped we would at least catch a glimpse of a leopard during our time at MalaMala. As it turned out, we saw at least one per day and a couple were within arm’s reach of the Land Rover. We watched one pounce at a rabbit but miss. (Another group bragged at lunch that they saw him catch it right after we left.) Beautiful animals!

My favorite photo was one my dad captured at sunset –

Leopard yawn at sunset

Here are some video clips –

And more photos –

A music without beginning and without end

Nadia Boulanger was a composer and music teacher in France – one of the best teachers ever. Among her students were Aaron Copland (Fanfare for the Common Man), Quincy Jones (producer of Michael Jackson’s best albums), Astor Piazzolla (bandoneon [accordion-type instrument] composer – I heard his music from a street band in Italy), Philip Glass (pianist and Truman Show soundtrack composer), and Joe Raposo (creator of the Sesame Street theme and Kermit the Frog’s “Being Green (It’s Not Easy)”).

George Gershwin sought her as a teacher but she declined because she said he had already found his voice. That was what she was good at and that’s why her students had such diverse styles – all she did was help them find their voice, without imposing her own on them. Astor Piazzolla came to her for classical music training and she perceived that he had another love — he reluctantly admitted that he loved tangos on the accordion. She asked him to play a tango for her. She said, “Astor, your classical pieces are well written, but the true Piazzolla is here, never leave it behind”.

She would ask prospective students: “Can you live without music? If you can live without music, thank the Lord and goodbye.” (See video where she discusses this.)

“Nothing is better than music; when it takes us out of time, it has done more for us than we have the right to hope for.” – Nadia Boulanger

She became friends with Leonard Bernstein, the great conductor of the New York Philharmonic and composer of West Side Story. Their final visit took place in Fontainebleau as she was floating between coma and sleep on her death bed. He was surprised to be recognized. “Cher Lenny,” she called him.

In Bernstein’s words:

“Then I heard myself asking: ‘Vous entendez la musique dans la tete?” (Do you hear music in your head?)

Instant reply: “Tout le temps, tout le temps.” (All the time, all the time.)

This so encouraged me that I continued, as if in quotidian conversation: “Et qu’est-ce vous entendez, ce moment-ci?” (And what do you hear right now?)

I thought of her preferred loves. “Mozart? Monteverdi? Bach, Stravinsky, Ravel?”

Long pause. “Une musique. . .” (A music. . .)

Very long pause . . . “ni commencement, ni fin” (. . . without beginning and without end).

(From Findings by Leonard Bernstein)