CBC Musical Keys Signature Series

A week ago, I stumbled across an award winning series on CBC Radio which I absolutely loved! It was a called the Signature Series, and comprised of 5 minute podcasts about each musical key. Each podcast is a poetic narrative about the persona represented by that key, beautifully done by  Paolo Pietropaolo, over mostly famous classical music all composed in that key.

You can listen to the series via the CBC websites, or on SoundCloud, where you can “collect” them by Likes or into playlists. However, the SoundCloud free account was so freakingly limited for what you could do with building playlists, especially for this day and age, that I’ve decided I’ll collect them here on my blog for reference, and to share with others.

Here are the podcasts of all the keys, from C to B like on a keyboard, alternating between major and minor keys. Enjoy!

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Complete This Phrase: “Everything I Needed to Learn About Life, I Learned…”

Have you ever seen one of those statements, articles, or even books that touts all of life’s lessons being contained in something? Often, it’s some passion someone has, like marathon running, or some show or movie. Sometimes it’s in a relationship or person, whether it’s one with your dog, or a hero/heroine you look up to.

For a future quote to point to some fun references, I’m wondering if you’d mind leaving a comment and completing the phrase Everything I needed to learn about life, I learned…

You don’t need to explain it if you don’t want to. That would likely be rather long, I would think, because there’s a LOT to learn about life! But if you want to, you go for it.

I’m not going to explain my choice much other than to say, go see it and think hard, over and over again, about all the many things said, situations presented, solutions developed. And also think about all the things not said, or done, but perhaps implied. So my answer is Continue reading

Guitar and Ukulele Tabs for Blowin’ in the Wind, in 3 Keys (Bob Dylan)

Bob Dylan

Blowin’ in the Wind is a Bob Dylan classic that is not only simple in its chording, but can also be played in 3 different keys without needing any difficult chords or capo. That means no bar chords, or even chords requiring 4 fingers! You can play and sing it in the keys of A, D or G, depending on where you vocal range lies.

Or you can do it in all three keys as I have arranged and shown in the video below! You play and sing each verse in a progressively higher key as the urgency grows in the lyrics. Notes are included in the printable guitar and ukulele tab PDFs below the video.

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I Need 2 Go 2 NY CT 2 C Avenue Q

avenueq1I owe this post to my friend Holly Bartlett, who told me about the 2003 Tony Award Musical of the Year called Avenue Q. The musical’s content that is talked about here, though, has serious potentially offensive content so this is your one and only warning. If you don’t have an edgy sense of humour, please don’t read on. There are plenty of other good things to read about on this blog.

I’ve liked Broadway and musicals for a long time now, but I was and still am quite “old skool” at it, loving the Rodgers & Hammerstein stuff. I have heard of, and love, some more modern stuff like Chicago, Wicked and Jekyll & Hyde. However, I need to pay closer attention to what Broadway is putting out each year if they’ve got stuff which doesn’t get a lot of attention as some of their other shows, but still is great, like Avenue Q.

Avenue Q is a modern Sesame Street parody of similar characters trying to find a purpose in life when things aren’t going so well in adulthood after college. I can’t write a better plot summary than Wikipedia so I won’t try, but I like the description by one of its actors of “Sesame Street done South Park“. The show features a neat visual of real characters and puppets with their masters visible, something I’d like to try and learn one day for fun, and some seriously edgy humour and content.

Below is a medley of some songs in it, played for the Queen of England at the Royal Variety Performance, no less! That’s the one contestants on Britain’s Got Talent were vying to be a part of. So despite Avenue Q‘s potentially offensive content, the Royals proved they could handle it. Good on them!


The actual full musical has swearing in it, all kinds of soft and hard innuendos, even nude puppet sex! Other than songs like It Sucks to Be Me [lyrics] shown as part of a medley above, you also have songs (links are to lyrics) like

With a list of songs with titles like that, and others, better lyrics and even better music, who could resist seeing a show like this?

Ah, but it gets better with the Web and user-generated content. The Sesame Street parody has generated a whole bunch of parody Sesame Street videos of this musical, like the one below which I found just hilarious! The music is the actual music from the musical. Someone just adapted video for it from Sesame Street clips.


There are also versions with everything from Sponge Bob to The Mutant Teenage Ninja Turtles to Disney cartoons! A whole night’s worth of humour from clicking on video responses to each of these videos!

And then there’s If You Were Gay with Bert and Ernie, my favourite characters on Sesame Street who were parodied to be gay in 1997. Avenue Q ran with this to put it into its story with its equivalent characters to Ernie and Bert. So someone then had to have made the parody video with the original music and Sesame Street video clips of Bert and Ernie.


Other songs have parody videos, too!

But in all fairness to Avenue Q, it addresses many tough issues of today like homosexuality, pornography and racism.


If you can’t stomach edgy humour and content, then this show would not be for you. You would not be normal in this, though, because this show is the 21st longest running show in Broadway history at the time of this writing (Jun 11 2009).

As for me, I have never visited New York City, but this might be enough impetus to get me there for a visit and viewing! Before I go, though, I’ve saved the best number, in my humble opinion, for last. Mix Tape isn’t outrageous or anything, aside from a few words, but it is funny. The best part of it is how well it was sung on the recording, shown in the “video” below. There’s actually no “video”, just an image, so read on and listen for all the little things mentioned to listen for.

Julie Atherton, played Kate Monster and sang Mix Tape. She also plays a very different character of Lucy the Slut in the same show (see London performance 2nd from top). But for Mix Tape, Julie had my emotions like a yo-yo on a string with all the nuances she puts into singing the lyrics that also goes up and down emotionally like a roller coaster. Julie acts the song through her singing, basically. All the little gasps, squeaks, sighs, inflections and such not written into the score, and especially how giddily she said he likes me! at the end. Credits to the songwriter/s as well for such a great tune, but I’ve heard so many bad renditions on YouTube, and in singing songs otherwise, that the performer gets huge kudos here. It might possibly the best example of how to perform a song I have ever heard! I mean that for all those nuances, not some booming grand voice sort of best sung description, but that’s the tougher accolades to be getting, in my books. If you were to ask me how I liked that recording, I’d say I love it! pretty much the way Julie squeaks he likes me! at the end of the song! 🙂

Post-scriptum:

It is almost a year later from when I first posted this, now May 31 2010, and how things have changed. Sadly, it’s not been for the good, but I want to make mention as a dedication. I did just get to see Avenue Q a week ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, I watched it in memory of my friend Holly who had since passed away. I will always remember her for introducing me to this play, among many other reasons. Then, just a few days ago, Gary Coleman died on May 28. The show just wouldn’t be the same knowing he isn’t in the real world any more. I wonder how they’re handling the situation, but I’m glad I got to see Avenue Q without this circumstance surrounding it as it wouldn’t have felt the same for me.

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 8.3

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The World in Six Songs Challenge (Part 7 of 7 in series)

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Book and Theory Background

Daniel J. Levitin and The World in Six SongsDaniel J. Levitin wrote an absolutely brilliant book called The World in Six Songs, supported by a great website with the many music samples referenced, among other great related material.

My basic paraphrasing of the concept is this. All the songs in the world could be fit into at least one of six categories providing an evolutionary benefit to humanity, often ultimately tied to our social nature.

I have written about each category individually in separate posts, with song examples, listed below with links if you want to know more. However, here is how author Daniel Levitin has summarized the songs:

  1. Friendship
    Friendship songs centre around group cohesion, whether it be for war, or the bonding of different cliques in high school. For example, in prehistoric warfare, attackers would sometimes ambush another tribe using loud instruments (especially drums) to surprise the targets while they were still sleeping. Countertactics employing the use of singing may also have been used as a signal that the group was awake.  These songs serve to protect a tribe/group or succeed in the takeover of another. In the context of social groups, they provide a sense of community and belonging, bringing people together.
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  2. Joy
    Joy songs are associated with celebration, moments that inspire people to sing, jump, dance and shout. It has been shown that singing releases oxytocin (the hormone released during orgasm), and music listening releases serotonin (a mood-regulating neurotransmitter commonly used in antidepressants). The positive effect of singing or listening to music has also been found to have a positive effect on the immune system, which creates an evolutionary advantage.
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  3. Comfort
    This category of song provides comfort in times of loneliness, stress or heartbreak, along with the classic comfort song, the lullaby. Music written about loneliness and stress can provide us with comfort by assuring us we are  not alone in our grief or misery, aiding the recovery process. Lullabies mutually calm mother and child, and may release prolactin, while at the same time providing a bond between the two, which is beneficial for the child.
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  4. Knowledge
    Historically, songs have been used to transmit various information such as religious texts, survival and life lessons, and even the ABCs. Studies have shown information set to song is memorized more reliably than when simple rote memory is used. Increasing the reliability of transmitted information provides the next generation with valuable information.
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  5. Religion
    Religious ceremonies and ritual go hand in hand, with music frequently accompanying a ritual. Music acts as a retrieval mechanism to guide the movements and words of a particular ritual, and ritual can allow people to stop worrying and focus on the task at hand. Music is also tied to religious ceremonies such as weddings and funerals where acts can be performed as a community, providing social bonding.
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  6. Love
    Love songs serve as an expression of emotion, commitment, and honesty. They play a role in mating and bonding. Love provides an evolutionary advantage because it is altruistic, and corresponds with commitment, which leads to better care of children, which is an obvious fitness advantage. With altruism, the greater good comes before the individual, strengthening infrastructure.

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The Challenge: Name or Write Six Songs for the World

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If you are not a songwriter, your challenge is to name one song you can think of for as many categories as you can.

  • Please leave your answers as a comment if you so choose. Of course, you could always become a songwriter and take the other version below.

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If you are a songwriter, your challenge is to write at least one song for each category in your career, because songs in some categories are not that easy to write if they serve the purposes required of songs in that category.
I highly recommend you read either my posts or the book for more details on each type of song before writing some songs for each category because song classifications can be misleading to someone briefly familiar with the theory. For example, the Oral Torah that is all about the sacred text of Judaism is a song of knowledge, not religion, because it preserved knowledge, not associated with rituals.

  • If you have written songs, you will have songs which you can populate into some categories already. If you have them online, you are more than welcomed to leave a link in the Comments to share. Please identify the song and the category because most people have their recordings online in bunches, with with MySpace, where there are many songs per web page link. As you write others, you can add new comments until you get your six songs for the world.
  • Or just leave a comment with your name, website or whatever, to indicate you are committing to it.

I AM !!!

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Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 11.7