Boston Early Music Festival (BEMF)

I ordered my tickets to BEMF this
morning. I had been agonizing over how many to buy since the
brochures arrived in February, but I finally decided to go with a
minimal number. So what I got is all the Renaissance ones, all
the recorder ones, and all the 11PM ones. And a pass and a book.

The festival is a major event in the early music community,
which takes place in odd-numbered years. (In even-numbered
years, there’s an event in Berkely, California.) There are
concerts by world-renowned players, masterclasses with famous
teachers, fringe events by less-renowned players, and an
exhibition of instruments and related paraphernalia.

Two years ago, this blog was just starting to take shape, and I
announced that I would be blogging from BEMF.
I attempted to convince other people to also post about their
experiences, since there’s no way one person can cover all the
events, or even the whole set of events that are interesting to
them. I got more comments on these posts than I usually do, but
didn’t get a lot of guest blogging action, partly because a lot
of people who might have done it were out-of-town without their
usual network access. But mostly because if you’re as busy as
the really committed early music people are at BEMF, you don’t
want to add writing to it.

So this year, I’ll keep up my one post a day policy, and during
that week (June 9-14 for me) most
posts will probably be about BEMF, but I’m not going to try to
be comprehensive, even about what I’m doing. I will set up a BEMF 2009
category, and if you’d like to get a user account that entitles
you to post entries on this blog, let me know and I’ll set it
up. You don’t need my permission to post comments, and it would
be really good if my readers wanted to

In terms of preparation for BEMF, I’ll be putting out flyers
for the Cantabile Band
and Serpent Publications.

I’m hoping to get the new
site set up by then, but it’s going slower than I hoped for, and
the flyer might still have to stick to the current and stuff.

Following up


I mentioned that I’d retired my winter jacket for the Spring on
Good Friday. This turns out to have been a
couple of days early, as there was a cold, raw wind on Easter
Sunday morning. Since then, my lightweight spring jacket has been
fine, though.


Immediately after the Opening Day game that I wrote about, the Red Sox all (except first baseman
Kevin Youkilis) went into hitting slumps, and the starting
pitchers all had trouble getting hitters out. Luckily, the
defense and the bullpen were solid.
Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe wrote an article saying:

So the day after Beckett said the Sox have to pitch
better, have to play better, have to do everything better, nothing
was better.

And a disgruntled fan commented:

I fully understand that it is early but like Yogi
Berra once said It can get late early!

This week they seem to have gotten everything better, and the
starting pitchers are pitching for 6 and 7 innings and the hitters
are hitting the way we expect them to.

More transcription woes

I didn’t get the corrections to Upon a hill right the first
time. All the parts ended at the same time, but for every
cadence, the cantus part cadenced later than the other two parts.
I didn’t notice listening to the MIDI file, but
when the woman singing that part, who’s a very experienced singer,
was having real trouble making it sound right, I looked at the
score, and made some more adjustments.

Handmaid’s Tale

Read the Mccarthy review after posting my review, I think the
book has gotten a lot more scary since 1986.

Chocolate Chip Brioche

I went to a large party last night and baked two batches of my
bread machine brioche, one with fruit and nuts
and one with chocolate chips. People liked both of them, but I
don’t know that I’ll repeat the chocolate chip one. One of the
points of that recipe is how much fun the dough is to play with,
and with the warm chocolate chips in it, it isn’t as much fun.

Recorded Music Library on Linux

Compared with people who use ipods, I’ve been late getting my
music on line and computerized.

The reason I don’t use ipods,
or some more open version of the same thing, is that I don’t
really enjoy listening to music through earbuds or

So when I’m home or in the car, there’s no problem playing CD’s
through speakers. When I’m somewhere else, I either listen to
whatever music is playing there, or don’t listen at all.

But of course, one of the things computers are good at is
organizing and cataloging things, and CD’s are especially suited
to being catalogued that way, because they usually have all the
information on them, in the metadata.

So in the last few months, I have compacted and catalogued my
cd’s on the computer. They now sit in two large notebooks on my
living room bookshelves, most of them are in a directory on an
external hard drive in .flac format, from which I could recreate
the CD if I needed to, some of those are in a directory in MP3
format which I could play on my cell phone if I wanted to, and
my home network is set up so that I can play the music off the
upstairs computer on either the laptop or the media center
computer in the living room.


Here’s the LINUX software I use to do this:

  • sound-juicer takes the CD’s and reads them into the
    directory on the computer. I use flac as the output format. It
    turns out to be important to set the preferences to “strip
    special characters”; otherwise you end up with directory names
    with commas in them, and most of the programs that want to do
    something with the directory (like back it up, or convert the
    flac’s to mp3’s) are going to have trouble with that.
  • I use rhythmbox to play the music on the computer. If it’s
    running on the upstairs computer, you can play the music it sees
    on the downstairs computers automagically, without configuring
    networking drives or anything. It has lots of options for
    having the computer make pretty colored patterns based on the
    music and getting the lyrics off the web (this seems somewhat
    unreliable for the music I listen to) and accessing internet
    radio stations like I turn out to actually sort of
    enjoy putting “shuffle” mode on and listening to random songs
    from my entire collection, as long as I’m close enough to the
    “next” button to skip something I”m really not in the mood for,
    or that really doesn’t make sense out of context.
  • I use brasero these days to write CD’s. It definitely beats
    remembering the options to mkisofs and cdrecord, like we used to
    have to in the bad old days. I haven’t been
    making mix CD’s from the music, but I’m pretty sure I
  • If I just want to play one song and I know where it is in
    the filesystem, I usually use mplayer from the command line.
  • soundconverter converts all the .flac files in a directory to mp3 files in a different directory.

I installed all of these programs from the Ubuntu repositories.


I did try out one of those devices that transmits music from an
MP3 player on an unused FM frequency that you can tune your car
radio to. It didn’t work consistently enough, so I gave the MP3
player and the radio transmitter to a friend who lives where the
radio spectrum isn’t quite so crowded. I don’t know if she uses
it or not.

One of the binders I put all my CD’s in came with a cd holder
that velcros onto the sunshade in my car, so I just put a few CD’s
into that and play them when there’s nothing good on the

If that ever seems too restrictive, I might buy a new car radio
with an input jack or an SD card reader. But I think that’s a
ways down the list for the toy-buying budget.

Other places

I can use either my phone or my Nokia N810 to carry music with
me. I also have a small portable Sony speaker that I can plug
into either of those devices. (They do both have speakers, but
certainly you wouldn’t want to listen to music on the phone for
any length of time; the Nokia is less tinny but still pretty small.) So when I buy music from the Amazon
MP3 store, I can still play it to my friends, although not quite
as easily as bringing a CD to a house with a CD player.