Please welcome my guest – author Lisa Pugh. Lisa has a brand new book that was release last week – Unexpected Danger. It is an historical mystery/romance set in England during the Jazz Age.
Speaking of jazz, can we talk about music? Lisa is here to do just that. Be warned, you may end up with an ear worm. 🙂
Learning Classical Music via Cartoons
by Lisa Pugh
I grew up watching classic Loony Tunes. It was fun slapstick that made my family chuckle. At the time, I didn’t know why my parents were laughing at some points. Now I do.
I also didn’t realize I was being introduced to many styles of Classical music. I heard Wagner, Rossini, and even some Bach. I learned the traditional dress of certain operas. When I took a Fine Art Survey in high school, the Classical music section was easier as a result.
And this clever use of music hasn’t stopped. The series, The Backyardigans, did something similar. They even expanded to popular and ethnic music styles as well. They did episodes that included Gilbert and Sullivan, Rossini, Country Western, Polka, Bollywood, roller disco and psychedelic rock. In each episode, there is one song that is a pastiche of an actual song in the genre.
The Backyardigans added a twist by setting the music in unusual situations. Gilbert and Sullivan was used in “Heart of the Jungle” with the characters playing Tarzan. “Catch that Butterfly” did Rossini’s Barber of Seville style set in the Old West. “Legend of the Volcano Sisters” had Italian pop/folk music on a Polynesian island.
However, there is a strange side-effect to this introduction to musical culture. Sometimes you can’t listen to the original without hearing the parody.
Fans through the years linked the finale of the William Tell Overture with “The Lone Ranger”. Likewise, when I hear Wagner’s “The Ride of the Valkeries”, sometimes I hear Elmer Fudd singing “Kill the wabbit! Kill the wabbit!” The music from Rossini’s “Barber of Seville” Overture call to mind images of Bugs Bunny massaging fertilizer into Elmer Fudd’s head!
My daughter admits that something similar happens with her. The Overture of Barber of Seville now reminds her of Pablo the Penguin chasing the Gilded Golden Butterfly. “I’m Called Little Buttercup” from H.M.S. Pinafore conjures images of the Backyardigans gang dancing through the rain in a jungle.
The fact that the episodes’ impressions can dominate someone’s associations with the music is just an idle thought. I’d rather people hear and learn about beautiful music than worry about the possible consequences of the repeating images affecting the viewers’ relationship with the musical pieces.
For some children, these cartoons might be their only exposure to Classical music. It’s a great vehicle, showing the versatility of such genres. It’s fun and funny, and, of course, memorable!
Thank you Lisa! (Kill the Wabbit!) Personally, I can’t listen to Paul Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice without hearing the voice of the narrator of the story that overlaid the music on my child’s version of the story (on an old fashioned LP). I heard the story long before I saw Disney’s Fantasia. (Kill the Wabbit!)
About Unexpected Danger
Who knew a new friendship could be so dangerous?
Looking for peace and quiet, Margaret Taylor moves to a small Oxfordshire village to write about the Great War. She believes the idyllic countryside and picturesque hamlet would be the perfect contrast to the noise and distractions of Jazz-age London. Then one afternoon, she receives an unexpected invitation from a mysterious nobleman.
Christopher Tobias, forty-fifth Earl of Yawron, hasn’t left the grounds of his family’s estate since an accident that left him disfigured many years ago. Cloistered behind the protective walls that shield him from the outside world, he speaks to no one but his servants. Everything changes when he notices a young woman standing outside his gates staring curiously at his mansion. Intrigued, he takes a chance he never thought he would.
Margaret and Christopher must face decisions that will change their lives forever. As their relationship grows, Christopher’s past casts a dark shadow. Will Margaret’s future survive the demons of his past?
Excerpt From Unexpected Danger
From the first chapter:
Margaret remarked, “As I drove into the village yesterday, I saw a large Tudor-style house just beyond the outskirts. Who lives there?”
After a moment of uncomfortable silence, Lara answered. “That is the Tobias manor.”
“Who is that?”
Puffing a smoke cloud in the air, Teresa explained, “The Tobiases, who are the Earls of Yawron, have been here longer than any other noble family. Their roots even predate the Conqueror. A timely marriage to a Norman permitted the family to retain their holdings after Hastings fell, and they added to the original parcel of land through centuries of political and military maneuvering.”
“I see.” It was an old story. Ambition, greed, and Machiavellian maneuvering had created pockets of strong personal influence all across Britain. Why should this village be any different?
Teresa continued, “They owned this village until the turn of the century. Even though their legal responsibility has ended, their influence continues to be felt. Many repairs to the village are still funded, at least in part, by the Tobias family. They see it as their duty. Noblesse oblige and all that.”
“That’s remarkably generous of them.” Margaret frowned. “So why the awkward silence when I asked about the house? If there’s no real bad blood…”
Teresa gave her a strange look and stayed quiet. Lara picked up the story. “Christopher Tobias, that’s the present earl, hasn’t been seen in the village for over fifteen years. He doesn’t even ride through as his father sometimes did. His groceries are ordered by his butler and delivered to his door.”
“Why does he keep away?”
Lara raised a shoulder to her ear in a half-shrug. “They say an accident left him terribly disfigured, and he locked himself away to avoid looks of horrified disgust.”
“Oh. And no one has talked with him since then?”
Teresa shook her head. “Some friends and other locals tried for a while. After they were continually turned away, well… they just stopped. Almost no one has been there in ages.”
The woman paused to exhale smoke away from her companions. “The village physician, Doctor Rowan, is perhaps the one exception. He saved the current Lord Yawron’s life and helped him through his recovery. He used to go there quite frequently. I don’t think even he has been there since the elder lord’s last illness at the end of the War. All the earl’s servants come into town for help. Otherwise, the doors are sealed to all visitors. But they needn’t be. No one would go up there.”
“There are rumors that the isolation has turned his mind.” Lara gave the answer in a hushed excited tone.
Margaret snorted. “They say that about everyone who lives alone. People probably have said it about me. Hasn’t anyone gone to verify this rumor?”
“Oh no,” Lara said, shaking her head vehemently. “No one dares. When I was younger, just leaping the wall was a sign of bravery, and that’s nowhere close to the house. No one has ever dared to do more than that.”
“Oh,” Margaret glanced out the window. “It must be terribly lonely up there.”
Lara frowned as if considering that idea for the first time. “Yes, I suppose it is.”
“The exile is self-imposed,” Teresa remarked brusquely.
“That seems a bit unkind.” Margaret reacted with a wince. “True, but still…”
“Let’s not talk anymore about it,” Teresa said with firm finality. “This was supposed to be a party, remember? So, Margaret, what do you think of your new house?”
As the days passed, Margaret got her house in order. It was a small bungalow but quite generous for a single person. The large, hedge-enclosed garden that surrounded it had a lovely, chaotic order to it. Most importantly, the house had plenty of room for her books and papers. All in all, it was a snug little home.
She continued to exchange visits with Lara and Teresa. Through them she learned more about the families in the district. The Tobiases still held a fascination for her, but she tried not to be too obvious in her prying.
Teresa seemed strangely reticent about the current earl and his family, despite the fact that she obviously knew them and their long history well. She even seemed irritated by Margaret’s natural interest.
Though she could not find out anything more about the peer, the history of his ancestors was gradually revealed to her. What she did not learn from her friends, she could easily find from others in the village, the local museum, or the library.
The family began in the normal way, with the bloody escapades of knights. A few royal sexual favors to the wives and daughters of these knights, and the financial and social advancement that often followed, allowed the family rank and fortune to rise. They gained land by the sword and between the sheets for many centuries. The last recognized bastard appeared during the reign of Charles II.
Though knights as a fighting force died out long ago, the Tobias men’s military service continued up to the present lord’s accident. Colonel Richard Tobias, his lordship’s father, had served in India, Africa, Asia, and in the Boer Wars. It was expected from the young heir’s birth that he would follow him into the service.
Many said that the disappointment of this ambition, together with the early death of her ladyship, broke the old man’s heart. The former earl died within a few years of his wife. The current Lord Yawron was an only child, and, of course, he had never married. With him the ancient line will die. Distant cousins in Scotland would take up the robes instead.
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About the Author
Lisa Pugh was born in Chicago and spent much of her childhood in New Orleans. She has been writing since she was nine years old, and she’s explored many genres. Unlike many her age, she grew up reading Sherlock Holmes, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Robert Louis Stevenson making her a literary Anglophile. She’s developed a liking for Marvel Studios films. She also loves watching British TV shows, such as Doctor Who and Sherlock.
She studied English Literature and Language, concentrating on Creative Writing, at Hollins University in Virginia. She started her career writing short stories and poetry published in two anthologies by the Windmore Foundation of the Arts—Words Across Time (2012) and In Other Words (2017). Now she has embarked on a new adventure in self-publishing, focusing on fiction in the romance, historical, and sci-fi/fantasy genres.
Lisa is married and lives with her husband and two children in the mountains of Virginia.
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