Brother North-Wind's Secret

November 12, 2008 10:40 AM

Music for an imaginary children's TV show.

"Brother North-Wind's Secret" is the title of a children's book in John Crowley's novel Little, Big. If it had been made into an animated special in the Seventies, and they got Mike Oldfield and Leslie Penning to do the music, and they had stooped to using a cheesy analog drum machine, the results might sound something like this.

posted by doubtfulpalace (18 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Ah, that's cool. I dig the recorder a lot. Makes me remember that I've probably got one in the closet someplace. And I like the drum machine, too. Nifty.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:20 PM on November 12, 2008


This is really sweet, I love it. The melody really does have a certain 70s vibe to it. Well done. And recorder, as an instrument, has that 'music for children' thing going on, for sure. Here in Japan, on the public TV network NHK, there are various NHK-produced children's music shows (some of them really good) and they often feature recorder music in the themes and background music.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:12 PM on November 12, 2008


Impressive arrangement all the way through, but there's something about it that just tickles me. I sat and giggled through the whole thing. Thank you for this.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 5:36 PM on November 12, 2008


The recorder sounds beautiful and the melody is fantastic. I really enjoyed this.
posted by dagosto at 8:34 PM on November 12, 2008


And recorder, as an instrument, has that 'music for children' thing going on, for sure.

I started learning recorder (my first instrument, around age 19) because I wanted to play medieval and Renaissance music. To my surprise, everyone said "isn't that a children's instrument?" Turns out everyone but me was forced to learn it in grade school. The association bugged me for a while, but now I embrace it.

Thanks to all for the compliments!
posted by doubtfulpalace at 11:41 PM on November 12, 2008


Another high-five. The mandolin really gives it nice texture as well. You nailed the genre and I'm wondering why this isn't already a kid's show theme. Incidentally my other favorite kids show theme features the recorder as well. Have you ever seen The Friendly Giant?
posted by isopraxis at 9:02 PM on November 14, 2008


Autoharp too, amirite?
posted by isopraxis at 9:06 PM on November 14, 2008


The "mandolin" is actually an Appalachian dulcimer played way up high (but it does sound almost exactly like a mandolin). No autoharp--maybe you're hearing one of the plinky synths.
posted by doubtfulpalace at 10:24 PM on November 15, 2008


Yeah, it is funny how everyone thinks of the recorder as a device to scare children from becoming musicians (by forcing them to take lessons they don't really want). I was thinking about that the other day because I ran into this clip of Os Mutantes, which I think is my favorite use of recorder in rock. (And if you don't know the album version of the song, you might not like the version in the clip because the audio is not so good, but it is worth looking for).

The melody to me sounds a bit like those Bolivian or Peruvian ancient songs, something that is easier said than achieved. Congrats, doubtfupalace.
posted by micayetoca at 7:49 AM on November 16, 2008


my favorite use of recorder in rock

For me there are two separate categories. The first is "conventionally good", where excellent recorder players strut their stuff. Gryphon (featuring recorder virtuoso Richard Harvey) and the aforementioned Oldfield/Penning collaboration were the high points of this, and big inspirations to my teenage self. Admittedly neither really sounds like "rock" to the modern ear, but at the time both were considered progressive rock and sold in the rock section of your local record store.

The other category is rock musicians throwing on naive recorder playing because what the hell. Your Os Mutantes clip is an excellent example, but my favorite is David Bowie's All The Madmen. I also like the Minutemen's use of recorder for feedback simulation.
posted by doubtfulpalace at 10:34 AM on November 16, 2008


Recorders in rock? One of my favorites would be the Stones' Ruby Tuesday, played by Brian Jones.

And honorable mention to the ocarina solo in Wild Thing.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:40 PM on November 16, 2008


And of course, um... Stairway to Heaven.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:44 PM on November 16, 2008


Oh, and the wonderful solo bit Paul plays on Fool on the Hill.

And... a few others.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:53 PM on November 16, 2008


Oh, and the wonderful solo bit Paul plays on Fool on the Hill.

Sounds more like a slide whistle to me--are you sure it's recorder?

I had never noticed the recorder on Ruby Tuesday before--a great example of the naive style. Totally "wrong", but it works.
posted by doubtfulpalace at 12:11 AM on November 17, 2008


isopraxis, I forgot to answer your question: no, I had never heard of the Friendly Giant. I immediately recognized the tune, although I needed Google's help with the title: it's a folk song called "Early One Morning."
posted by doubtfulpalace at 12:18 AM on November 17, 2008


are you sure it's recorder?

That would've been my guess... I've never heard a slide whistle pitched so low, and even if it was a slide whistle, man, that'd be some fairly virtuosic slide whistle, IMO. And note the trill at the end of the little solo in question: impossible to trill on a slide whistle! Here's the credits as listed on the song's Wikipedia page:

John Lennon – harmonica, maracas
Paul McCartney – lead vocal, piano, recorder, bass guitar
George Harrison – acoustic guitar, harmonica
Ringo Starr – drums, finger cymbals
Richard Taylor – flute
Jack Ellory – flute

(Credits per Ian MacDonald)

The list of pop tunes that feature recorders (that I linked to in the comment above under a few others also includes Fool On The Hill, for what that's worth.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:10 AM on November 17, 2008


Well, nice glissandi then!
posted by doubtfulpalace at 9:23 AM on November 17, 2008


I keep revisiting this song and humming it to myself months later. You've inspired me to dig out my old plastic recorder and give it a shot. I love a new musical challenge.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 7:48 PM on January 8, 2009


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