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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

Schoolwork and headlice -- all in a day's work
for classical music's agony aunt ALICE McVEIGH

hi alice
i really need help with my music assignment my questions are. if you can not help me please still get back to me and you dont have to answer all of them

  1. what is the definition of the musical genre 'suite'?
  2. This started about 1550 when someone in France figured out that 'toute de suite' (meaning 'pronto, matey') could be shortened to suite, meaning lasts about twenty minutes, or until the audience got fed-up and died.

  3. During what period in music did the suite first become popular? give the name of the period and the dates?
  4. The suite became popular in the early 1900s, when some clever-clogs figured out how to make sugar stick together. The rest, I need hardly add, is dental history.

  5. during which other period in history has the suite been popular? give the name of the period and the dates.
  6. Sweets were briefly replaced by chewing gum in the 1960s and 70s. Otherwise, they have reigned supreme.

  7. how many pieces did the suite use when it first appeared? name the type of pieces that the suite used when it first appeared?
  8. The traditional suite comprised seven parts: the prelude (or 'omygod, how do I get through this?'), the Allemande (or German clog-dance), the Courante (or French dance of joy when they beat up the English), the Sarabande (slow Spanish dance, or how your Spanish waiter 'rushes' to serve you), the Bourée or Minuet (both very worthy and dull) and the Gigue (or jig, by any other name, lively and joyous and fairly pissed.)

  9. what kind of pieces does the modern suite use today? do suites have the same number of pieces as they did when they first appeared?
  10. There are no modern suites. Wakey, wakey!!!!

  11. where do composers today get pieces from to make their suite?
  12. They don't. See previous answer.

  13. give the full name of a suite studied in class and the name of its composers
  14. It's your shout, here, I'm afraid. Try Bach's orchestral suite No 3, at a guess, or consult someone in your class who looks pale and interesting, or takes a lot of notes.

  15. give the definition of these terms
    allegro, adagio, movement, dynamics
  16. Allegro is fast, also known as 'Ere we go, ere we go, ere we go!' Adagio is super-slow. Movement is a self-contained piece within a larger piece, such as sonata or symphony. Dynamics are loud to soft and everything in between, as in, 'Josephine, unless you play the pianos softer and your fortes louder, you have a newt's chance in hell of passing your Grade Five!'

Hope this is helpful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

PS I am touched by your gentle doubtfulness as to my qualifications ('You don't have to answer all of them!')

PPS Good luck, good buddy! (You're going to need it ...)

Ask Alice

Dear Alice,
I have a very embarrassing problem. My boy (now eight) is afflicted with head-lice. I've tried everything -- medications, combs, the lot, but nothing works. I'm still discovering them in his hair, every time I comb with the special comb. What else can I do?

Dear Harpsiplonk (I wish people could be bothered to get their spelllings right!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

I am full of sympathy about your recent problem. Thousands of people would say, lice, schmice, but I too have suffered from this with my own daughter. All I can think of is that the schools are to blame (well, they're to blame for everything else, right????)

In short, I send my lovely, clean-haired daughter schoolwards and, in short, back she comes back with her head full of nits. Not that the nits (at last I learn the origin of the word nit-picking!!!!!!!!!!!) could not be, in and of themselves, fairly blameless. If they were content to just snuggle down peaceably all would, very probably, be well. However, these bizarre creatures live (literally live) to lay eggs and -- next thing you know -- your child may indeed be -- thanks to your unswerving efforts -- free of lice but boast a scalp full of even teenier, even tinier, microscopic eggs, which (you guessed it) in time will cause the problem to re-emerge, regardless of the energy with which you (successfully) attack the parents species.

Now it seems to me that the fault here lies directly with God. If he can't be bothered to invent an eggless nit, really, what's the use?????????

I mean, life is short. Way too short to spend it, as I have myself recently, removing minute eggs from a minute-toothed comb while a lovely six-year-old weeps into her favourite teddy-bear. And what about (this) parent-species? For I too, in Robert Frost's immortal lines, have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, etc etc ...

For what it's worth, I think this is not the time for airy-fairy, organic lice-repellents. In my experience, at least, it's the multi-national baddies that take the prize. Also, don't make the same mistake I did in assuming that the (currently) lice-less head fails to harbour enough weapons of mass destruction to be going on with: keep at it, day after day, with the lice-comb until nothing but dandruff rewards your efforts.

Finally, may the force be with you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Copyright © 16 April 2004 Alice McVeigh, McLean, Virginia, USA



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