“Plinky plunk, A Chinese Elopmement” sheet music from 1930s USA

The “Oriental Theme”

Sun Ra the black liberationist, spaceman and jazz musician in “Overtones Of China”(1957)  unconsciously perhaps, repeats the old tradition of exotic stereotyping in defining musical Chineseness as wood blocks, gongs and pentatonic piano stabs. In essence the piece is an evolved jazz version of the ‘Oriental Theme’ that serves to evoke Orientalism in the western imagination. The tune, a nine note phrase, is found throughout modern popular music most famously in the introduction to Carl Douglas’s ‘Kung fu fighting‘ , The Vapour’s ‘Turning Japanese’, and David Bowie’s “China Girl”:

Oriental Theme MIDI File

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What does death sound like?

October 13, 2008

“A truck rear ended my car and I died instantly. All the traffic was at a stand still and a truck not paying attention to traffic, blasted into the rear end of my car. Not wearing a safety belt, I was thrown against the windshield and all of a sudden I was in this white silver light. A man’s voice, whom I couldn’t see, said to me “You can either come with us now, or you can go back.” The next thing I knew, I was back in my injured body. the music started pouring through me like Niagara Falls…”

In the film  ‘Touching the Void’ as Joe Simpson descends the mountain close to death and in the grip of delirium, he realises he is about to die because he is plagued  with the sound of  “Brown Girl in th Rain” going round and round in his head; “I was so pissed off… because i realised I was going to die to Boney M”. This post explores the audio experience before and during death – an event of importance perhaps, but little researched. Descriptions seem to have some commonality across cultures but of course come from either survivors of Near Death Experiences (NDEs) and therefore compromised by memory and suggestion or from religious/cultural texts  – compromised by cultural values but perhaps a store of a cultural memory of death…

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“Man will never be free until the last king is hanged with the entrails of the last priest.”
(attributed to) Denis Diderot

A group of Fundamentalist religious extremists have finally been evicted from St Mary’s in the Castle Arts Centre, Hastings, after a successful opposition campaign. The Sonrise Church which has occupied the Arts Centre will leave the building in january 2009 having endured years of “constant harassment from a minority of ‘nameless, faceless people” including death threats to the church members and congregation, egg throwing and vandalised cars: “we have been the subjects of a faith hate campaign. So extreme has this campaign against us as a family been that on several occasions we have had to involve the police” says Glen Khan head of the Church and Sky TV preacher.

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