Thursday, December 19, 2013

Exhibition Review: High Spirits: The Comic Art of Thomas Rowlandson

I recently had the pleasure of seeing High Spirits: The Comic Art of Thomas Rowlandson now on display at the Queen's Gallery, Holyroodhouse which explores the satirical prints of one of our favourite satirists.  My review can be seen as the BSECS Criticks' page here.  There is also an accompanying catalogue (which is quite big) for those who will miss the exhibition.  In short, the exhibition is packed with some of Rowlandson's most well-known prints as well as some rarer pieces.  There is a section dedicated to the Westminster Election of 1784 so there are quite a few prints depicting the Duchess of Devonshire and they're all in pristine condition.  So if you can make it to this exhibition, be it in Edinburgh or London, I would recommend it!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tis the season for Christmas music to be on ad nauseum.  One song that I keep hearing recently is We Need a Little Christmas which contains a line about singing carols at the spinet.  So in the spirit of the season let's look at the beauty that is this lesser-known musical instrument.

Spinets are the harpsichord's less popular sister...well in terms of notoriety at least.  They sound just like a harpsichord but the difference lies in that, unlike their big sister, they only have one set of strings so are a little more simple (check out this video of my colleague playing a harpsichord if you're not quite sure what I mean). Spinets are also smaller and tend to be 'bentside,' meaning they are a bit triangular and fit conveniently against a wall.  They are basically the basically the upright piano to the harpsichord's grand.  Therefore, if you weren't raking in Mr Darcy's income, you may have still been able to afford a spinet so as your daughters could tick off 'music' on their accomplished young lady checklist.  Despite being slightly more middle-class (if you will) spinet craftsmen still created some glorious pieces; so without further ado, let's fill our eyes with them.