Whether Weather Affects Music

excerpt by Keith Kvenvolden, MPRO member


Keith KvenvoldenTwo U.K. meteorological scientists by day and musicians by night, Karen L. Alpin and Paul D. Williams, investigated depictions of weather in music over the longest possible time period. They focused on musical genres that had not changed substantially over centuries, limiting them to classical, church, or folk music. They selected classical music, which covers a wide geographical and temporal range encompassing a variety of climates.


They selected pieces of music as being representative of weather based mainly on clear indications given by the composer. This could be the title of the piece or section, references in accompanying notes, letters to acquaintances, or the use of special instruments such as a thunder machine or wind machine. In some cases, the meteorological link was made not by the composer but by music commentators and critics, perhaps long after the piece was written.

Their findings showed that storms, wind, and rain were the most popular weather to be represented, presumable because dramatic weather allows for effective depictions of emotional turmoil. Calm, peaceful weather was pictured less frequently. Almost all of the pieces depicting frontal storms were associated with the sea. They found disproportionately many representations of weather by composers from the U.K., possibly because of inspiration from its famously variable weather systems, but also possibly because of selection bias due to their nationality and place of residence. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, the pieces depicting miserable weather tended to be in minor keys, and pieces depicting fair weather tended to be in major keys.


A histogram found in the first link below shows the occurrence of various weather types in the authors’ database. In the storm category, light shading indicates frontal storms and dark shading indicates convective storms. In the wind category, light shading indicates calm conditions, and dark shading indicates windy conditions. If a piece of music includes more than one weather type, it is counted in all relevant columns.


Another histogram can be found in the second link below, which shows the nationality of the composers whose music was used in the study.


Whether Weather Affects Music

Eos is a geophysics magazine which is published by the American Geophysical Union.


Meteorological phenomena in Western classical orchestral music

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Dear members of the Mid-Peninsula Recorder Orchestra,


After an unexpected scheduling conflict with JLS Middle School caused the cancellation of the orchestra’s meeting on September 11, MPRO President, Dana Wagner, has contacted the school’s administration and confirmed the MPRO meeting dates for its 2013-2014 season.  All of the meeting dates previously sent to the membership are unchanged with the exception of the one on October 16 which has been rescheduled for October 9.  The location, time and music planned for that evening remain the same. Please mark this change on your calendar.


          Listed below is the music for the October 23 and November 6 meetings of the orchestra. Please note that there will be sectional seating for the Gabrieli Canzon Septimi Toni, with those in Coro Primo sitting on the right as they face the conductor and those in Coro Secundo on the left.  Please observe this seating arrangement when you choose your place at the beginning of the meeting on November 6.  Please note as well that sopranino, great bass and contrabass recorders will be needed at both meetings, bass viola da gamba on October 23 and krummhorns and dulcien on November 6.


October 23

Hotby:  Quae est ista

Cowell:  Birthday Piece, Jig

Albinoni:  Adagio Op. 9, No. 8

Corelli:  Concerto Op. 6, No. 2


November 6

Gabrieli:  Canzon Septimi Toni

Hotby:  Quae est ista

Anonymous:  O lusty May, Wo worth the tyme,

How shuld my febill body fure

Cowell:  Birthday Piece, Jig


            I look forward to seeing you at these upcoming meetings.


Sincerely, Fred Palmer


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$100.00 for Participating Member, $50.00 for Student Member, $35.00 for Associate Member

Make your check to MPRO. See September Upbeat for application.


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Dana WagnerFellow MPRO Members,

Well, our first meeting cancellation since the Loma Prieta ‘quake in ’89 wasn’t the most auspicious start to our season, but it did give us a chance to display the kind of cohesion that’s kept us together through the years.


Many thanks to Laura Gonsalves and Anne-Marie Wiggers for helping me with the impromptu phone tree. That dramatically reduced the time it took to contact everyone and meant only a handful didn’t get the message in time (sorry, folks!).


Fortunately, most of us were able to get to the makeup meeting on the 18th. It’s nice to know we’re all on the same page when we get thrown a curveball like that.


In other news, I’ll be traveling to Belgium this month and will visit the Brussels Museum of Musical Instruments. The MIM has one of the finest collections of early instruments in the world. I plan to bring photographs back to share with the group.


Have a happy October, Dana


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Judith UnsickerI am a native of the Bay Area, old enough to remember when Silicon Valley was mostly orchards. I learned to play the recorder as an eccentric extracurricular activity at the University of California, Santa Cruz in the 1960s. My other unusual activity at UCSC was majoring in ecology (as a biological science) at a time when I had to explain the meaning of the word to family and friends.  I spent most of my career as an environmental scientist with the state agency that protects Lake Tahoe, Mono Lake, and other waters east of the Sierra Nevada crest. One of the best antidotes for 6-month Sierra winters was playing with a recorder group at Lake Tahoe Community College. The group played at college and community events including Shakespeare plays, garden tours, and Renaissance fairs. One class combined recorders with accordions, a cello, a hammer dulcimer and other instruments to play traditional Celtic music, with a coffee house gig as a final exam.  I retired in 2012 and moved back to the Bay Area for year-round gardening, hiking, and cultural activities.  I am happy to have found MPRO.  I hope to improve my F fingering and to learn to play the soprano cornamuse that I bought several years ago, whether or not it annoys the neighbors. 

Judith Unsicker joined MPRO in 2012. She became a Board member in 2013 and serves as the Hospitality Chairperson.


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Links to youTubes of music in our current MPRO repertoire-for your reference




CORELLI CONCERTO GROSSO OP. 6, NO. 2   Slovak Chamber Orchestra


GABRIELI CANZON SEPTIMI TONI NO. 2 Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass



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Mark Your CalendarsOctober 9, 2013. New date for MPRO meeting previously scheduled for Oct 16. Music is listed in September Upbeat.

January 25, 2014. Workshop with Paul Leenhouts sponsored by MPRO. See September Upbeat for more information.



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The Board: President: Dana Wagner; Treasurer: Leslie Pont; Recording Secretary: Helen Shamble;

Membership: Chris Flake; Publicity: TBD; Graphics: Mary Ashley; Newsletter Editor: Mary Ann Field;

Workshop Coordinator: Laura Gonsalves, Stuart Elliot; Hospitality: Judith Unsicker; Music Sales: Laura Gonsalves;

Historian: vacant; Webmaster: Dan Chernikoff; Facilities Mgr: Grace Butler; Consort Coordinator: vacant;

Historian: vacant;


Music Director: Fred Palmer.


MPRO website: < >        












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