Holland (Nederland) is famous for its cheese. Nonsense. There is hardly any dutch cheese worthy of the name. Well, that is, if we are talking about typical dutch cheeses, because there are some very nice blue, red and white cheeses made there by enthusiasts.
Typical dutch cheese like Gouda and Edam, or its farmhouse biological versions made with unpasteurised milk used to be highly diverse from one to the other. Sometimes they would be very pungent, with a strong smell of cows, stables, pastures, and the like. And they could have different colours, that would betray their true natural nature. Failures, they were called. With the standardisation of the production processes there are no failures anymore. Not even in the smallest local cheese farms.
In Switzerland I still find wonderful cheeses, but they are produced locally in small quantities that are consumed locally as well. The cheeses that are exported like etivaz and gruyère are quite standardised. At the moment of writing a hard cheese with that rich flowery taste is a very old comté. If you’re lucky that is. The KaasKampanje in Haarlem usually has great comté.
Chinese teahouse music is considered a classic example of heterophony. What is that? Well, it is not polyphony or harmony, but not quite cacophony either. In the eyes of the atlantic barbarians. Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz (1960) was heterophony. The subtitle of the album says it all: “collective improvisation”. But chinese teahouse music has a long history and it has developed far beyond the recent tentatives in the atlantic periphery. Chinese conservatories (conservatoires) are completely modelled on atlantic principles. In the curriculum they do however include national music, chinese music in this case. Some of it is regional, some is widespread. And then, composers and arrangers have perfected it. Take out the caco from the hetero and it will become poly, homo, mono. In short taediosophony.
A famous brass band from northern Brazil came to the Netherlands. Playing deliciously out of tune is their hallmark. One of the dutch organisers of their tour took it upon him to get everybody tuned to his tuning pipe. Gone was the music.
Samba rhythm is a binary rhythm with ternary subdivisions 3+3+2. That’s how staff notation will represent it. But if you go the inlands of Bahia and you try to clap the sambas the play and dance there you will notice that it is not it is not quite 3 and 2 but actually long and short in a difficult to define proportion.
Deep North Indian rāga music is very much “between the notes”. Most contemporary musicians consider that “out of tune”. Two centuries of indoctrination from the harmonium and just intonation freaks gradually destroyed the life of the rāgas. Interestingly the influence of the harmonium was strongly criticised by the just intonation freaks, but the latter had a more discretised approach to scale. What happens with both approaches is that the tonal space is reduced to a number of fixed, discrete pitches as opposed to the traditional approach in which the full tonal space is used with the fixed pitches as mere points of reference.
My guru, Pandit Dilip Chandra Vedi told me: “Roses are beautiful, and each rose is unique.” Indeed, if all roses were identical…