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Friday December 7, 2007

Comedia Finita Est

Plaudite, amici, comedia finita est.
(Applaud, my friends, the comedy is over.)
Ludwig van Beethoven, on his deathbed, 1827

Hi folks,

DIFFICULTWOMEN @ The Artery, Fitzroy

DIFFICULTWOMEN will be performing its last show for 2007 at The Artery, in Fitzroy, VIC, on Saturday Dec 15th. Tickets are only $15. Doors open at 7 with an 8 pm start. We are looking for a few more contestants for 'The Frida Kahlo Look-a-Like Contest,' segment - open to both men and women - so if you are interested in dressing up, or booking, email here or phone 0419 103484. Limited seating.
DIFFICULT WOMEN WEBSITE

DIFFICULTWOMEN's next performances in 2008 are at the Daylesford Singers Festival, the Illawarra Folk Festival, in Bulli, NSW, and at Ruby's, in Bondi Beach, all in January. Then , in March, we're artists-in-residence for the Brave New Works Festival in Denmark, Western Australia.

 

COMPOSER COMPOST NO. 1
'Since the best man could not be obtained, mediocre ones would have to be accepted.
-- Leipzig mayor Abraham Platz, 1723, commenting on appointing JS ach as the Cantor of St Thomas School, Leipzig, when Graupner refused the post (Graupner is a now long-forgotten minor musician); quoted in Werner Neuman, Bach (1961)

 

FAVOURITE LETTERS OF THE WEEK

Joe,
thanks for the letters - always a treat - I decided that I'm not in the " music business" but in MUSIC so - I'm now placing my CDs up for FREE download on my WEBSITE
would like you to download and enjoy the music and if you would tell your readers about the site and the FREE downloads - Can you make a living like this????? I'm not sure - Take care - thanks - may see you in Melbourne before the too long joe gallivan

 

COMPOSER COMPOST NO. 2
I shall seize Fate by the throat; it shall certainly not bend and crush me completely.
-- Ludwig van Beethoven, letter to F G Wegeler, 1801

 

US Says Iran Ended Atomic Arms Work
By Mark Mazzetti
The New York Times

Washington - A new assessment by American intelligence agencies concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains on hold, contradicting an assessment two years ago that Tehran was working inexorably toward building a bomb.

 The conclusions of the new assessment are likely to be a major factor in the tense international negotiations aimed at getting Iran to halt its nuclear energy program. Concerns about Iran were raised sharply after President Bush had suggested in October that a nuclear-armed Iran could lead to "World War III," and Vice President Dick Cheney promised "serious consequences" if the government in Tehran did not abandon its nuclear program. ARTICLE

 

COMPOSER COMPOST NO. 3
I'm a revolutionary, money means nothing to me.
-- Frédéric Chopin, quoted in Arthur Headley, Chopin (1947)

 

 Jason Leopold Reviews "Pete Seeger: The Power of Song"
 By Jason Leopold
 t r u t h o u t | Review

One of the sad truths about the Bush administration's historic foreign policy failure, resulting in the occupation of Iraq and the numerous constitutional abuses that followed, is that it has not led to the type of artistry reminiscent of the Vietnam War era.

That's the feeling you're left with after watching "Pete Seeger: The Power of Song," an inspirational new documentary that pays tribute to the legendary folk singer and activist.

With all due respect to Neil Young and The Dixie Chicks, there hasn't been a single musical artist to emerge over the past five years who has displayed a passion and an urgency in using the power of song to rail against the social and political injustices and inspire a generation to rise up the way Seeger has done for more than half a century.

That is partly because record labels in this day and age frown upon that sort of dissent from its artist roster, fearing that it will negatively impact album sales. Moreover, corporations such as Clear Channel, which control playlists at thousands of radio stations across the country, have refused to air songs openly critical of the Bush administration's policies. In essence, there is no incentive for musicians to exercise their rights to free speech via songwriting when profits, first and foremost, trump the free form of expression. ARTICLE

 

COMPOSER COMPOST NO. 4
He is the greatest composer that ever lived. I would uncover my head and kneel before his tomb.
-- Ludwig van Beethoven, quoted in Percy M Young, on Handel (1947)

 

FAVOURITE GRATUITOUS MENTION OF THE WEEK

Meanwhile, Corby's lawyer Paris-hotman left a note for Warwick Capper asking him to to call Alexander Downer and tell him Corby's working for Ozzie Gus Hiddink who originally planted bonsai triffids and Joe Dolce records featuring Bert Hellinger on the Doodlehopper and Heinrich Kammhuber playing the piano which was made of brass. Franz Koppensteiner provided tea and scones & French Doodlehopper specialists who'd trained with Bert Newton's craniologist. Meanwhile, Kapil Dev & Bert Newton's craniologist devised a plan to transplant a reverse swing toupee.
SOURCE

 

COMPOSER COMPOST NO. 5
Handel understands effect better than any of us -- when he chooses, he strikes like a thunderbolt.
-- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, quoted in Percy M Young, Handel (1947)

 

Meditation on the Six Truths

Truth 1
You cannot touch all of your teeth with your tongue.
Truth 2
All idiots, after reading the first truth, try it.
Truth 3
The first truth is a lie.
Truth 4
You're smiling now cause you are an idiot.
Truth 5
You will soon forward this to another idiot.
Truth 6
There's still a stupid smile on your face.
(thanks to Francheska Dolce)

 

COMPOSER COMPOST NO. 6
That will make the ladies scream.
-- Joseph Haydn, speaking of the 'surprise' in the 'Surprise' Symphony No.94; quoted in A Gyrowetz, Memoirs, 1848

 

Why It's Great to See Him Go
by Phillip Adams

SPARE me the sentimental tosh about John Howard. Here's why his departure is a joyous occasion.

The scene: The Great Hall at the University of Sydney. The grand opening of a conference for the Centre for the Mind. Crowds have gathered to see Nelson Mandela cut the ribbon. As chairman of the advisory board it is my duty to welcome our patron, the Prime Minister. That long-time opponent of sanctions against apartheid South Africa will then welcome Mandela. When I complain bitterly about my chore, the vice-chancellor murmurs, "Protocol."
A last-minute phone call from a protocol officer in the PM's department.
"Do you really want to introduce the PM?" he asks.
"Of course I bloody well don't!"
"Yes, it would be a bit hypocritical."
"Not as hypocritical as the PM introducing Mandela."
The resolution? The VC will introduce Howard. I'll move the vote of thanks. When I explain the change, Mandela isn't fussed but asks me: "How's Paul Keating getting on?"
This backstage kerfuffle is nothing to Malcolm Fraser's loud performance in front of the gathering dignitaries, including the PM. He tells of a crisis early in his prime ministership involving Vietnamese close to the Australian embassy. They are understandably desperate to be allowed into this country. Fraser phones Gough Whitlam, who agrees they should be welcomed. "So did my entire cabinet, except for one person. Guess who!" And he points the finger at Howard.
The scene: John Laws's 2UE studio in 1988. Anticipating One Nation by many years, Howard warns the nation of the dangers of Asian immigration. So outraged is the response to his statement that Howard loses his job as Opposition leader a year later.
The scene: A new prime minister manipulates Hansonism in the mid to late 1990s. Forget dog-whistle politics. In a campaign as deafening as any air raid siren, Howard declares war on multiculturalism and political correctness. White Australia rises from its grave. Bigotry is unleashed via an epidemic of racist graffiti, schoolyard attacks and shock-jock broadcasting. Thanks to the main parties' accommodation of One Nation, Australian racism is world news.
The scene: A few thousand refugees flee the Taliban and Saddam Hussein in 2001. Howard brands them queue jumpers, illegals and has cohorts hint that they're terrorists. The Tampa sails into view and our detention of decent people in concentration camps becomes an international disgrace. Kim Beazley rolls over. The ALP is complicit in this political pornography, this immense stunt. Kids overboard. The Australian Navy is appalled by what it's ordered to do. More than 350 die on the SievX. All this wins Howard another term.
The scene: 9/11. Howard jumps the queue to sign up for the misconceived war on terror and the horror story of the Iraq invasion. Immense numbers of Iraqis are killed. We are complicit in hundreds of thousands of deaths, in Abu Ghraib, in torture, in rendition. It isn't democracy that blossoms in the Middle East. It's terrorism. To this day Howard insists that the fiasco of Iraq is a success.
The scene: Guantanamo Bay. Howard permits the monstrous treatment of David Hicks.
The scene: The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission prepares Bringing Them Home, the tragic account of the stolen generations. Before publication date in 1997, Howard's bovver boys not only deride the document but slander Ronald Wilson. Historical revisionism kicks in. Reconciliation is rejected. The black-white divide deepens. Quadrant crows. Pauline Hanson is pleased.
The scene: The Kelly gang - the husbands of retiring member Jackie Kelly and her would-be replacement - are caught distributing a piece of crap designed to press the hot buttons on anti-Muslim bigotry. We're told this attempt to throw fuel on the world's most inflammatory issue is a prank. The PM promptly denies any knowledge of this dirtiest of dirty tricks, yet it sits within the culture of bigotry he has encouraged over many years.
The scene: As the election gains pace, Howard's immigration minister Kevin Andrews targets the alleged criminality of Sudanese refugees and immigrants. Deja vu all over again.
The scene: A few days before the election, Howard is asked to list his proudest achievements. Right up front he says the destruction of - yes - political correctness.
Is Howard a bigot? His support of apartheid South Africa, his long-term indifference to the issues of Aboriginal Australia, his exploitation of the refugee issue and his on-the-record hostility to Asian immigration would suggest so. Or is he a main-chancer, a cunning manipulator of other people's fears and racism? If the latter, isn't that morally worse? That's why I'm not shedding tears at Howard's departure. Because his fondness for the Menzies era involved the revival of too many aspects of White Australia. No other modern PM on either side of politics would have touched it with a barge pole.
Over to you...
(thanks to Dai Woosnam)

 

COMPOSER COMPOST NO. 7
I was cut off from the world. There was no one to confuse or torment me, and I was forced to become original.
-- Joseph Haydn, speaking of his period as Kapellmeister at the Esterhazy court; quoted in J Cuthbert Hadden, Haydn (1934)

 

SONGWRITING WORKSHOP 13
The Present Box and The Future Box

It's important to be able to separate the music you make that is for today from the music you make that may have it's real life tomorrow. Not to get them confused. Not expect people around you to understand the works for the people that haven't been born yet.

Beethoven once said that he had composed all he could for his own generation and now he was composing for the future generations.

The B-Minor Mass, by JS Bach, was never performed in his lifetime. It was also a Catholic Mass (a flawed Catholic structure at that) written by a Lutheran composer! So he couldn't even perform it in his own church. Bach didn't let that bother him though as he continued to pinch sections from his own work to use in his weekly cantatas. Which brings me to another fine axiom:

'Any hack can steal from others, but the Master knows how to steal from himself.'

Bach had created something for his future audience (us!) but was also practical enough to know he could also borrow from it for his present needs.

There have been several works that I personally have composed in the last thirty years that I have been denied permission to perform, or record, by the publishers of the works. Whenever this happens - and I expect it to happen many more times as I have a rampant deconstructive side to my personality - I just have a good bitch about it and then put them in my 'For the Future Audience' box: the audience of tomorrow who may get a chance to hear these works after the restrictive copyrights have expired and they go into the Public Domain. And after I have expired and gone back into the public domain as well.

But I follow Bach's fine example right now by appropriating from my own forbidden works'for current projects when the need arises. A good melody will support many different sets of lyrics. A good lyric can be set to many different tunes. And one melody line has within it many other melody lines that can be coaxed out of it.

Here are some of the works I have written where I have run into permission brick walls:

'Lorca' - a three act play for solo actor/singer, flamenco dancer and guitar, composed in 1983. Based on twelve piano songs that Spanish poet, Garcia Lorca himself composed with his original lyrics using old gypsy instrumentals. My third act focuses on Lorca's homosexuality and his flirtatious relationship with Dali. Lorca's Spanish publisher did not go for it.

This situation also exists with my setting of the Greek poet CP Cavafy although to date I have not had permission denied. See, the mainstream Greek community do not want to hear about Cavafy's homosexual exploits, which were the source of many of his best poems.
Australian composer Percy Grainger needed a long period of self-flagellation, naughty sex talk and even exchanging envelopes of clipped pubic hair with his Danish girlfriend, Karen Holten, to keep his artistic flame alive!

How in the fuck can we understand how these great artists did what they did if we continue to block our understanding of who they really were as human beings and where their creative drives came from? The key word here is TRANSFORMATION! These often taboo antics are part of the transformational process of the artist's evolution. You publishing fools out there can continue to wear the blinders - but don't ask me to. The dark side of these artists was the prime compost necessary to nourish the bright flowers of creation that we wax so serenely about. We have our own dark sides to acknowledge as well so how about a bit more tolerance for our artistic ancestors?

'Reggae Matilda' - The first song I recorded when I came to Australia in 1979 was my new lyric reggae version of Waltzing Matilda. Glenn Wheatley signed me to release this song as a single a year before 'Shaddap You Face' was recorded.
'That's a hit single, mate, if I've ever heard one!' he told me.
The Estate of Banjo Patterson objected to my lyric change, and forbid Wheatly to release it. He withdrew his interest. Two years, later, after 'Shaddap You Face' was a hit, I released Reggae Matilda anyway. The Estate of Banjo Patterson did nothing to stop it. It wasn't a hit and Wheatly is currently serving time in prison. Is there a connection here?

'The Black Telephone' - This was my poetry-cantata written in 1996 using fifteen fairly obscure poems of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes in a kind of duet-dialogue. The Castlemaine Festival agreed to stage it. I wrote Ted Hughes for permission. He wrote back telling me that I was misrepresenting his and Sylvia's poems, in my context, and supplying his 'missing' dialogue on many of the issues surrounding her death and the destruction of her final journal. He gave me an emphatic NO to my request.
But just one year later, Ted Hughes, before he died, released 'Birthday Letters' - his own sanitized and self-serving side of the 'dialogue' between he and Sylvia Plath. A book of lies, in my opinion - but he used three of the same obscure poems that I used in my cantata, which I in fact had pointed out to him.

'Guantanamo Bay' - This is the most recent denial given to me for my controversial and funny lyric change to the well-known Cuban anthem, 'Guantanamera.' I was told by the Spanish and Australian publishers that there could be no political slanting of the song as it would interfere with marketing potential for advertising etc. Also, it happened to now be one of Fidel Castro's favourite songs. The irony of this is two-fold: first, the original song was written as a protest song against the Battista government in Cuba which was eventually overthrown by Castro himself. Secondly, my version is a 21st century protest song against Guantanamo Bay which is the American prison gulag ON THE ISLAND OF CUBA itself! Castro wants this base removed from Cuba. Sometimes folks dont know whether they are Arturo or Marturo.

Even today, I am currently in some argumentative negotiation with the publishers of the Leadbelly songs I want to include in my ballad-novel about Leadbelly's life. There are two roadblocks at the moment. Firstly, the publisher is claiming that all the songs I want to use were written by Leadbelly when every biography written about him clearly states that songs like 'Rock Island Line,' 'Midnight Special,' 'Skip to My Lou,' and 'Old Riley,' for instance, had been in existence long before Leadbelly sang them. Folks, it's pretty hard when you are trying to dramatize a scene where you have Leadbelly hearing a chain gang sing 'Rock Island Line' for the first time - and then later claiming that he wrote it. Sounds like a thief to me, doesn't it? Secondly, many of the current transcriptions of Leadbelly's songs are just plain incorrect and look to have been done by musical idiots. 'Grey Goose,' for instance, is scored in the key of G - but the chords are for the key of E! This is some dyslexic cow poo, people. I can do my own musical 'translations.'

The moral to all this is this.

To retain sanity while growing your rampant personal genius, make a box for the future and a box for the present for your work. Some works goes in one, some in the other. Some in both. Some may start in one and end up in the other. Parts from one box can be cannibalised and put in the other and vice versa. Never expect the current audience to understand the future work but you will be surprised when some do.

COMPOSER COMPOST NO. 8
Le concert, c'est moi.
-- Franz Liszt, writing to the Princess Belgiojoso on his launch of a new kind of public concert: the solo recital; quoted by Alfred Brendel in The New York Review of Books (22 Nov 1990)

 

RECIPES

JOE'S BUTTERMILK LASSI

500 ml buttermilk
1 banana (or ripe mango)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup crushed ice
ground cardamom or ground cinnamon

Add the buttermilk, fruit, maple syrup and ice to a blender and whizz for awhile.
Keep chilled in the fridge until ready to serve.
To serve, sprinkle a little cinnamon or cardamom over the top.

Serves two.

 

COMPOSER COMPOST NO. 9
Ever since I began to compose, I have remained true to my starting principle: not to write a page because no matter what public, or what pretty girl wanted it to be thus or thus; but to write solely as I myself thought best, and as it gave me pleasure.
-- Felix Mendelssohn, 1843

 

Gozleme with Peas
Turkish Flatbread Sandwich

For the Dough:
120 g strong unbleached flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil or melted butter
60-90 ml lukewarm water

For the Filling:
fetta cheese, (strong salty flavour is important) crumbled finely
cooked peas.
half onion, finely chopped,
minced garlic and ginger
garam masala
oil or ghee

Sift the flour with the salt into a bowl. Make a hollow in the middle and pour in the oil and water using your hands to draw flour in from the sides. Work the mixture into a dough and knead well. Divide it into 4 pieces and roll them into balls. Place on a floured surface, cover with a damp cloth, and leave them to rest for about 20 minutes.

Saute the onions in some oil. Add the garlic and ginger and stir for a minute. Add the peas and mash them slighty with a spatula. Set aside.

Now roll the balls of dough into flat rectangular shapes. Approx 30 x 20 cm. Place a fine layer of fetta cheese on one half of the rectangle, spread some pea mixture on top, and fold in half. Press flat. Heat the griddle, wipe it with a little extra oil of butter, and slap one of the rectangles on to it. User your fingers to shift the dough about, making sure it browns..About a minute or two. When the first side is done, flip it over and cook the other side. Place on a board, cut into 2 inch squares with a sharp knife and squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top. Eat while hot.

 

COMPOSER COMPOST NO. 10
Mozart should have composed Faust.
-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Conversations with Eckermann (1827)

 

Open Your Legs, Sweet Sally

Open your legs, Sweet Sally,
Open your legs, Sweet Sue,
Open your legs, Black Patti,
I got something sweet for you.

I'll kiss you on your mouth, girl,
I'll kiss you on your shoe,
I'll kiss your round your waist, girl,
And on your big thigh, too.

Open your legs, Sweet Sally,
Open your legs, Sweet Sue,
Open your legs, Black Patti,
I got something sweet for you.

Hear that black snake crawling,
Hear that black snake moan,
Don't go steppin' on a black snake,
Or you won't make it home.

Open your legs, Sweet Sally,
Open your legs, Sweet Sue,
Open your legs, Black Patti,
I got something sweet for you.

I'll take you in the bushes,
The grass is sweet and white,
You can lie there on your back, doll,
And watch the moon all night.

Open your legs, Sweet Sally,
Open your legs, Sweet Sue,
Open your legs, Black Patti,
I got something sweet for you.

~ Joe Dolce ~
(from '
Good Night Irene: The Leadbelly Ballad-Novel')

 

 

The Final Hurrah


An 80-year-old man goes for a physical. All of his tests come back with normal results.
The doctor says, 'George, everything looks great. How are you doing mentally and emotionally? Are you at peace with God?'

George replies, 'God and I are tight. He knows I have poor eyesight, so he's fixed it so when I get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, poof! The light goes on. When I'm done, poof! the light goes off.'

'Wow, that's incredible,' the doctor says. A little later in the day, the doctor calls George's wife.

'Ethel,' he says, 'George is doing fine! But I had to call you because I'm in awe of his relationship with God.

Is it true that he gets up during the night and poof! the light goes on in the bathroom, and when he's done, poof! the light goes off?'

'Oh my God!' Ethel exclaims....... He's pissing in the fridge again. '
(thanks to Jim Testa)

 

COMPOSER COMPOST NO. 11
Tchaikovsky thought of committing suicide for fear of being discovered as a homosexual, but today, if you are a composer and not homosexual, you might as well put a bullet through your head. -- Sergei Diaghilev; quoted in Vernon Duke, Listen Here! (1963)