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BlöödHag: Seattle's Edu-Core Death Metal Library Rockers

BlöödHag is a death metal band from Seattle who perform, among other places, in libraries. Their songs are "Edu-Core," and focus on science fiction authors and literacy -- check out some lyrics here. In fact, what the heck, I'll just quote their classic "Robert A. Heinlein" in its entirety:

Robert A. Heinlein
Grok this! Robert A. Heinlein, here's a dis
You're a misogynist. Known as the fascist of the Best Seller list
As you died in pain. You still had to persist
And make sure everybody knew you were pissed
Wrote about your great great great great Grandson
Only as Larzarus Long could you be that handsome
I swear as sure as your middle name is Anson
I heard you wrote a favorite book of Charles Manson
Starship Troppers. Podkayne of Mars.
Time Enough For Love. Time For The Stars.
You opened the door they could've followed
The future starts the day after tomorrow!
H-E-I-N-L-E-I-N
H-E-I-N-L-E-I-N
It's the day after tomorrow

In the eight-minute mini-documentary below, several of BlöödHag's library performances are shown. It's insane. The performances seem to be a mixture of kids getting excited about reading...and everyone in the library plugging their ears due to the extreme death metal noise-fest. Sample quote from the lead singer: "The basic idea is: show music fans the literary inspirations for their favorite songs, by their favorite heavy metal musicians. And it kinda mutated into the general idea that rock fans need to get smarter. And we're here to do [that]." (We're then shown the band shredding in libraries, touring the stacks pointing out classics, throwing books at fans, and kids plugging their ears.)

As I post this, the documentary has a scant 122 views on YouTube. This is just plain wrong. How can a group of death metal sci-fi library rockers not be ultra famous? Time to fix it, my fellow nerds -- watch the video and be amazed.

Check out their website for more. They released an album called Hell Bent for Letters in 2006 -- you can buy it here.

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Big Questions
What's the Difference Between an Opera and a Musical?
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They both have narrative arcs set to song, so how are musicals different from operas?

For non-theater types, the word “musical” conjures up images of stylized Broadway performances—replete with high-kicks and punchy songs interspersed with dialogue—while operas are viewed as a musical's more melodramatic, highbrow cousin. That said, The New York Times chief classical music critic Anthony Tommasini argues that these loose categorizations don't get to the heart of the matter. For example, for every Kinky Boots, there’s a work like Les Misérables—a somber, sung-through show that elicits more audience tears than laughs. Meanwhile, operas can contain dancing and/or conversation, too, and they range in quality from lowbrow to highbrow to straight-up middlebrow.

According to Tommasini, the real distinguishing detail between a musical and an opera is that “in opera, music is the driving force; in musical theater, words come first.” While listening to an opera, it typically doesn’t matter what language it’s sung in, so long as you know the basic plot—but in musical theater, the nuance comes from the lyrics.

When it comes down to it, Tommasini’s explanation clarifies why opera stars often sing in a different style than Broadway performers do, why operas and musicals tend to have their trademark subject matters, and why musical composition and orchestration differ between the two disciplines.

That said, we live in a hybrid-crazy world in which we can order Chinese-Indian food, purchase combination jeans/leggings, and, yes, watch a Broadway musical—like 2010's Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark—that’s billed as “rock opera.” At the end of the day, the lack of hard, fast lines between opera and musical theater can lead composers from both camps to borrow from the other, thus blurring the line even further.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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History
Lost Gustav Holst Music Found in a New Zealand Symphony Archive
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English composer Gustav Holst became famous for his epic seven-piece suite "The Planets," but not all of his works were larger-than-life. Take "Folk Songs from Somerset," a collection of folk tunes composed by Holst in 1906 and largely forgotten in the decades since. Now, more than a century later, the music is finally attracting attention. As Atlas Obscura reports, manuscripts of the songs were rediscovered among a lost collection of sheet music handwritten by the musician.

The Holst originals were uncovered from the archives of a New Zealand symphony during a routine cleaning a few years ago. While throwing away old photocopies and other junk, the music director and the librarian of the Bay of Plenty (BOP) Symphonia came across two pieces of music by Holst. The scores were penned in the composer’s handwriting and labeled with his former address. Realizing the potential importance of their discovery, they stored the documents in a safe place, but it wasn't until recently that they were able to verify that the manuscripts were authentic.

For more than a century, the Holst works were thought to be lost for good. "These manuscripts are a remarkable find, particularly the ‘Folk Songs from Somerset’ which don’t exist elsewhere in this form," Colin Matthews of London's Holst Foundation said in a statement from the symphony.

How, exactly, the documents ended up in New Zealand remains a mystery. The BOP Symphonia suspects that the sheets were brought there by Stanley Farnsworth, a flutist who performed with an early version of the symphony in the 1960s. “We have clues that suggest the scores were used by Farnsworth,” orchestra member Bronya Dean said, “but we have no idea how Farnsworth came to have them, or what his connection was with Holst.”

The symphony plans to mark the discovery with a live show, including what will likely be the first performance of "Folk Songs from Somerset" in 100 years. Beyond that, BOP is considering finding a place for the artifacts in Holst’s home in England.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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