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Subject: "Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #2060
Reading Topic #2060
Brendan

03-09-01, 07:31 PM (GMT)
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"Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp"
 
   When I was pulling together this morning’s links, Clement Crisp’s piece stopped me in my tracks. The first sentence went: "Without quite echoing Schumann with his "Hats off, gentlemen - a genius", I would urge a raising of titfers to Christopher Wheeldon for his new-this-year Polyphonia”.

Titfers? I had never heard the word. I looked up two separate dictionaries. Nothing there. I tried a search engine and found that ‘titfer’ was the cockney rhyming slang for hat, as in “tit for tat”.

Crisp’s columns are worth reading, not only for their value as criticism, but also for the way in which he wrests words from obscurity. Take this example from his review on May 24th. of the Royal Ballet’s The Dream: “I was less happy with Titania (Leanne Benjamin) who seemed a bit of a hoyden”. Hoyden? I looked it up. According to the shorter OED the word dates from 1593 and means a clown, a boor, a rude or ill-bred girl.

On February 28th Crisp reviewed La Fille mal gardee. Leslie Edwards had just died; he had been Farmer Thomas in the original cast. Crisp wrote “I piped the eye a bit when Thomas first came on stage at this happy performance”. I went back to the dictionary. It is nautical slang dating from 1789. “Piping one’s eye,” means shedding tears or weeping.

Then on April 17th Crisp reached for the superlatives in response to Tamara Rojo’s Giselle. He wrote of “ravishing technique…. dance poured out in an exquisite cantilena”. Cantilena? Again the word dates from 1789 (Crisp, it seems, likes 1789). It means plainsong in old church music, or the melody in any composition

Then there’s the invective. Take this review of Houston Ballet’s Cleopatra on April 5th. “The big tune for Antony and Cleopatra is set to a bombinating arrangement of the Song of the Indian Guest from Sadko, and may soon become a Tune on Classic FM”

The faux-Crisp, who posted here briefly earlier in the summer, lacked the real Crisp’s linguistic eccentricities. They are absolutely inimitable.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp Bruce Madmin 03-09-01 1
  RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp Jim 03-09-01 2
     RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp Ann Williams 03-09-01 3
         RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp Caz 04-09-01 4
             RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp Robert 04-09-01 5
                 RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp Viviane 04-09-01 6
                     RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp Brendan 04-09-01 7
                         RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp Viviane 04-09-01 8
                         RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp Bruce Madmin 04-09-01 9
                             RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp pmeja 04-09-01 10
                             RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp Helen 04-09-01 11
                             RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp Richard J 04-09-01 12
                             RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp Jim 04-09-01 13
                             RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp Caz 05-09-01 14
                             RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp Ann Welsh 05-09-01 15

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Bruce Madmin

03-09-01, 08:13 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp"
In response to message #0
 
  
Nice piece and not for nothing did he top one of our polls:
http://www.danze.co.uk/survey/balletco_mini_poll_0100.html#critic_most_trusted


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Jim

03-09-01, 08:45 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp"
In response to message #0
 
   >Crisp’s columns are worth reading, not
>only for their value as
>criticism, but also for the
>way in which he wrests
>words from obscurity.

I could hardly agree more - something I have been known to do myself occasionally. I wonder, however, if this all flows naturally from the tongue, or is it an affectation? Find the word first, then look for a context in which to use it? I actually prefer the eloquence of John Percival. Far more unaffected, I think. And anyway, he likes Sylvie.


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Ann Williams

03-09-01, 09:17 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp"
In response to message #2
 
   I'm not boasting, Brendan, but I knew all of those words (except bombinating).


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Caz

04-09-01, 01:10 AM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp"
In response to message #3
 
   >I'm not boasting, Brendan, but I
>knew all of those words
>(except bombinating).

Hehe... me too. But then I studied etymology and grammar as a core subject at school so I'd be disappointed if I didn't know 'em



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Robert

04-09-01, 12:34 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp"
In response to message #4
 
   I knew all these words, my parents used most of them, Clement Crisp is probably a bit old fashioned. Brendan is obviously much younger.


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Viviane

04-09-01, 12:48 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp"
In response to message #5
 
   ... I need another dictionnary....


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Brendan

04-09-01, 01:21 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp"
In response to message #6
 
   Perhaps the words and phrases ('cantilena' excepted) are strange to me because I grew up in Ireland. I had assumed they were archaisms and not in current use. The posting was "just a piece of fun" to show pleasure in the words - nothing more! In self defence I would add that 'titfer' is not mentioned in the two volumes of the shorter Oxford English Dictionary.


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Viviane

04-09-01, 01:51 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp"
In response to message #7
 
   Oops, I see I have to concentrate on spelling 'dictionary' in the right way ... before struggling my way through the big volumes


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Bruce Madmin

04-09-01, 02:03 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp"
In response to message #7
 
   Well they were all new to me - but then despite being born in the East Midlands, much of the English Language is something of a closed book to me!

I'd love to see my old English teacher again - she would have a fit to see what I am now into!


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pmeja

04-09-01, 02:34 PM (GMT)
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10. "RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp"
In response to message #9
 
   well as long as we're doing words here's one of my fave raves: (am i a 60s child?????):
***************
"Lagniappe" derives from New World Spanish la ñapa, “the gift,” and ultimately from Quechua yapay, “to give more.” The word came into the rich Creole dialect mixture of New Orleans and there acquired a French spelling. It is still used in the Gulf states, especially southern Louisiana, to denote a little bonus that a friendly shopkeeper might add to a purchase. By extension, it may mean “an extra or unexpected gift or benefit.”


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Helen

04-09-01, 09:21 PM (GMT)
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11. "RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp"
In response to message #10
 
   I also knew all of those words (the Clement Crisp ones) except bombinating. I have a nasty feeling it is connected with age!


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Richard J

04-09-01, 10:17 PM (GMT)
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12. "RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp"
In response to message #11
 
   I often heard the word 'titfer' in my childhood (immediate post-war era); an aunt, brought up in Bedford, used the word frequently. She also used phrases such as ‘apples and pears’ (=stairs), etc., so perhaps rhyming slang extends through ‘home counties north’ (there’s a phrase that some will remember – from the earliest days of TV’s “Come Dancing”).

She also left me a Nuttall's Standard Dictionary, 1932 edition. It gives the alternative spelling of hoiden for hoyden, and lists it not only as a noun, but also as an adjective (rude, rustic, bold) or a verb (to hoiden = to romp rudely or indecently!). Apparently it all comes from old Dutch.

There is no 'bombinating', but there is the verb to bombilate; bombilating (typo?) = making a humming noise (from Latin 'bombilatus').

Musically, cantilena has meant different things at different times. It was used in a loose sense in the late mediaeval period to designate a whole class of secular songs; some with melody alone, others in a number of parts (the word appears in a treatise written in Paris in 1300). It is also used by some authorities to denote a style of church choral music in which the principal plainsong-derived melody appeared in the highest part rather than in, say, the tenor voice (late 14th/early 15th centuries). The use of the term to indicate a smooth, melodious vocal style (even if the music is played by an instrument) is a far more recent usage.

The proper term for chanting in free rhythm in a plainsong style is cantillation; a term which can be applied to Jewish liturgical music.

Apparently there is a collection songs describing the deeds of heroes made in 16th century Spain and kept in Seville – called Cantilenas vulgares; make of that what you will!

Like others who have contributed, I appreciate Clement Crisp's sharp pen. I noticed him at the first night of the SFB visit to the ROH; the FT review reflected what he saw from mid-stalls.


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Jim

04-09-01, 10:32 PM (GMT)
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13. "RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp"
In response to message #12
 
   >there is the verb to bombilate;
>bombilating (typo?) = making a
>humming noise (from Latin 'bombilatus').

Aha! That makes sense - the generic scientific name for the bumble bee is Bombus!


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Caz

05-09-01, 00:32 AM (GMT)
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14. "RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp"
In response to message #11
 
   >I also knew all of those
>words (the Clement Crisp ones)
>except bombinating. I have a
>nasty feeling it is connected
>with age!

Nope, don't think so!

In my case it comes of going to a very odd school where instead of computer and media studies they were convinced that what kids really needed to learn were classical studies and Old English grammar! Maybe they were right? Who knows...



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Ann Welsh

05-09-01, 06:54 PM (GMT)
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15. "RE: Titfers, hoydens, cantilenas and Clement Crisp"
In response to message #14
 
   Sounds like the making of a poll here. ie, how many ballet.co readers remember words like .....


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