Letters to The Appendix
Welcome to The Appendix letters page, where we offer letters from the past. In honor of this issue’s theme, we’ve scoured magazines and newspapers in search of dispatches related to music and sound—including some teenage voices in praise of an up-and-coming band called “the Rolling Stones,” an 1801 report of a curious Persian dance on the Russian steppe, and a traveler’s lamentation from 1950s New Orleans.
As always, we hope they inspire you to write letters of your own—to The Appendix and to parties deserving and otherwise.
“Hear That Big Sound,” Life Magazine, 11 June 1965, 25.
I am one 15-year-old girl to whom this so-called big sound is more like nerve shattering. All these groups do is make weird sounds, like my 8-year-old brother makes free of charge.
DENISE MURRAY Framingham, Mass.
I must disagree with your phrase, “As of this week her favorite group is the Rolling Stones.” I have been president of their Chicago fan club for over a year now. And the Stones are neither “scruffy” nor “surly.”
Also, I consider my greatest so-called “trouble” at a teen concert to be Jan. 29, when I met an adorable long-haired Stones fan named Barry, whom I have not been able to locate since.
TRISH FOLLETT Lombard, Ill.
“One Hand Claps,” Black Belt, July 1966, 66.
As Mr. Kei Tsumura says in his article on Haiku poetry (May, 1966), the Haiku which contains the lines, “… the mighty ovation/Of one hand clapping,” may be expressing disillusionment about the fleeting glory of death on the battlefield. On the other hand, the sound of one hand clapping reverberates through Koan exercises used in the enlightenment of Zen Buddhists.
Whatever is that sound—and it may be as the image reflected by an empty mirror—it is no more the sound of futility than is the roar of waves beating endlessly against the beaches of the oceans of the world. It will be the sound both of the final implosion of this universe and the explosion beginning the next. Anyway, it’s not futility.
CHRISTOPHER DUNGAN Jeffersonville, Ind.
“Description of the Wardish-Game, or Public Gymnastic Exercises of the Persians,” Monthly Magazine and British Register 9 (July 1, 1801) : 543-544.
I had some time ago an opportunity here in Astrachan of being present at a Persian spectacle; which I recollect to have before seen in Masanderan, but not so perfect …
The Wardish-players usually assemble very early in the morning; and as soon as a sufficient number is arrived, the exercises commence. The players, having previously stripped themselves quite naked, and put on a pair of wide breeches reaching no lower than the knee, step forth to the sound of the music into the middle of the arena; and then their gymnastic exercises begin in the following manner: They first all place themselves in a row on their heads and feet, and endeavour by stretchings and distortions of the body, during which some times the most indecent postures occur, to rend every part thereof more pliant. They all at once jump up, form a circle, hold one foot up, and hop round in a circle on the other, whilst with both hands they incessantly strike their thighs. After this they alter their position, so that, instead of going round in a circle, they hop in a straight line from one end of the arena to the other, either across or lengthwise, and as often as they approach the wall, they beat time to the music by striking backwards with one of their feet a board leaning against it …
The chief art of the Wardish game consists in this, that all the movements of the body are regulated by the music. There are therefore particular masters who give instructions in the art: and it is generally believed, that it is an exercise beneficial not only to those in health, but likewise to invalids, especially to such as labour under diseases arising from an obstructed perspiration.
M. VON HABLITZ’L Petersburg, Russia
Though not a proper letter to the editor, we also wanted to share Issue 3 guest editor Michael Schmidt’s archival find: an August 6, 1949 letter from Hugues Panassié (probably the most influential jazz critic before 1945) responding to interview questions from a German collector and pianist, Günter Boas. In fractured English, Boas eagerly inquires about his correspondent’s recent trip to New Orleans, only to be rebuffed by a rather disappointed-sounding Panassié, who, remarkably, complains that Mardi Gras prevented him from hearing brass bands!
Dear Mr. Panassié how is the situation with the REAL JAZZ in New Orleans today? Have You heard some brass bands? Please tell me some impressions You had in New Orleans.
I did not hear any brass band. I only stayed one day in N.O. and it was the Mardi-Gras, so I did not hear much. I only heard there Louis [Armstrong’s] band and Cousin Joe, who is a great blues singer.
During the Mardi-Gras, I heard through a loud-speaker a trumpet player who sounded a lot like King Oliver and Tommy Lednier but could not locate him. Some people told me that there was still fine N.O. style musicians in N.O. but in most of the night-clubs you only hear the current “modern” stuff. What is left in the South is mostly great blues singers.
Have you visit [sic] the Nick’s and Condon’s? Who was playing there?
I did not go Nick’s but I went to Condon’s. I don’t like that kind of music. Wild Bill Davidson, Ralph Sutton, Arthur Troppier, Peanuts Huckoo, George Bruenie were playing at Gordon’s. I did not like the band at all.