Duga Nota (The Long Note) is a radio show aired every fourth Saturday from 10 to 12 PM at the Yammat.fm radio station in Zagreb, Croatia. The show is a musical rendition of the manuscript for the book Duga Nota (The Long Note) I’ve written in 2018 and 2019, published in 2021. Every episode is a loose interpretation of the content of a single chapter in the book.
Below are the links to all of the Duga nota episodes aired on the Yammat.fm radio thus far. Yammat.fm uploads the shows to their channel at the MixCloud platform, where they are directly searchable under its name (Duga Nota) or by my name (Mladen Vukmir DUGA NOTA). Duga Nota project is easiest to reach via its dedicated web page, where you can find all relevant links. You can find other information regarding the project (either the book or the radio show) on the FB page Duga Nota. I also post the playlists for each episode as text in the comments to its MixCloud uploads.
I will be accompanying each link below with a link to the Apple music playlist I create in the preparations for each episode. I will be adding the links below as the shows are made available by the radio station. There will be significantly more tracks in the playlist than aired for some of the shows so that you can explore and enjoy more music. Those bonus tracks are the songs I have considered in preparing the shows but could not be squeezed into the two-hour format.
I will also be posting the summaries that I prepare for each episode as it is posted on the Stražarni lopov blog. The summaries are also partially available in the MixCloud descriptions posted by the radio station. This blog post is intended to reach English-speaking listeners, so all the resumes are translated into English. If your intuition tells you that there might be second meanings and hidden clues in the way I have selected and juxtaposed the music for the shows, then they probably are! Indeed, I do play not only with my memories and toss the associations between the musicians, songs, and the times in which they were created, I actually do! However, not all of those combinations are mentioned explicitly, nor do I lay out the clues for you in all of the instances. Indeed, I actively seek links and coincidences, overlapping influences, and other mysterious, almost holographic occurrences between the songs we listen to in the show. Therefore, please go and seek the hidden flows, which might further enhance your enjoying all of the music in the show.
If your intuition tells you that there might be second meanings and hidden clues in the way I have selected and juxtaposed the music for the shows, then they probably are! However, not all of those combinations are mentioned explicitly, nor do I lay out the clues for you in all of the instances. Indeed, I do play not only with my memories and toss the associations between the musicians, songs, and the times in which they were created, I actually do! Indeed, I actively seek links and coincidences, overlapping influences, and other mysterious, almost holographic occurrences between the songs we listen to in the show. Therefore, please go and seek the hidden flows, which might further enhance your enjoying all of the music in the show.
Finally, although the radio show is conducted in the Croatian language, Duga Nota is first and foremost a music program, and music dominates spoken segments by far. Only parts from the book read by Robert Šantek, Dubravk Bratoljić, and Antonija Vrčić can be longer more than a couple of minutes. I, therefore, trust that all of you can enjoy it as it is played, regardless of the language. An American friend, keen on music, said after listening to the show: Mladen – Speaking honestly, that’s one of the best rock and roll radio programs I’ve ever heard – truly great selection of tunes – really wide range of stuff. Now, if I only could understand Croatian.
You have heard the opening jingle of the show: Duga Nota! Glazba kojom smo mijenjali sebe i pokrenuli promjenu koja traje. Kako smo postali duga, ostali mladi i druge priče. Duga Nota; autor i voditelj Mladen Vukmir. Samo na 102 sve 5! and might wonder what it all means? It is a poetic abbreviation of the book’s concept, and it roughly translates as Long Note! Music by which we have transformed ourselves and have started a lasting change. How did we become a rainbow (in the Croatian language, the word for long and for rainbow are written the same, allowing for this wordplay), remained young, and other stories. Long Note: author and host Mladen Vukmir. Exclusively at one-o-two, all five (instead of point five, as all five is a Croatian slang for OK)!
Episode 31 July Morning. The truth is that to a greenhorn fan as I was, it seemed that many performers in other genres were really irrelevant, their music was incomprehensible, and seemed insignificant to me. The sheer volume, the strength of the rhythm, and the power of the electric attack it provided gave heavy metal music instant confirmability. When one heard that power of sonic punches and immediately knew that that music in your social group was pre-approved and the question of whether you were listening to something good or bad lost its meaning and one didn’t have to justify his or her choice to anyone. At the same time, references to insignificant mythical creatures, incomprehensible metaphors, and the general kitschy iconographic menagerie of mythological creatures nurtured and cultivated in part by the heavy metal scene, really couldn’t provide much stimulus to the curious mind growing up. Ultimately, heavy metal remained convincing precisely because of its strength and success described above to create a space outside the social convention, in places opposed to socially prevailing ideas, and therefore, like any other form of rock music, led the listener into the newly created space. Once a young listener found himself or herself in such a space, it would ultimately not matter which idiomatic musical set was the one that pulled him out of the insignificance and oppression of every day established social norms. Therefore, all rockers, regardless of the genre they chose as the space of their freedom, became brothers and sisters, not only by escaping from everyday life but also by opposing its expectations and conventions.
Episode 30 Lua, Lua. Duga Nota is dedicated to the merger of cultures. Whatever happened in Brazil did not stay there; it went global. Of course, I am talking about the divine influence of African music that is reflected in the West like the moonshine in a lake, sparkling in the whitewater of samba and oozing the still waters of Bossa Nova. Just as blues influenced the New World in the North, so did the samba in the south. The global reach of Bossa Nova introduced us to another aspect of African influence and has changed the course of the painful twentieth century for the better. Of course, the African roots are most clearly visible in contemporary African music, a fertile field that was always generously open to overseas influences, growing wildly on the strong local roots. The richness of the African music can only be compared to the explosive, saturated intensity of the African clothing, whose colors seem to be stronger than life itself, at least compared to the life in the grey of Europe. This is why this gift of merging colors is incomparable and why the culture of rock, springing out from its African roots, was so much better than the life Europe knew before. As soon as the music left the strength of this marriage, it withered back to its pale and insignificant shadow, the one we listen to today. Thus, tonight we shall celebrate the roots.
Episode 29 Gran Azzurro. Italian music is perhaps the best way to get to know Croatia’s great neighbor, a country with which we share a common sea and history, perhaps better than through food. It is at the table that we can easily see how little we know about each other, and how neither of us actually knows the regional differences in the ingredients, the customs, and the richness of those differences. What’s worse, our ignorance is so complete that it allows us to imagine that we know each other, because of course, spaghetti and pizza are world-famous, and we are their neighbors. The truth is very different and the fact remains that it is absurd that two countries that share a common, sometimes painful history do not really know anything thoroughly about each other. Just because we drink espresso doesn’t mean we know much about the drink, nor are we willing to admit that it is often not prepared with the care, knowledge, and pride with which Italian baristas would do so. I hope that the songs we listened to tonight will at least arouse additional interest in getting to know Italy better and its way of feeling the world if it can’t already teach us more about that complex country. The fact that we recognize many of these songs, just as we know the many words we hear, does not mean that we understand the songs or the people who sing them. Our common European future requires us to do more to truly get to know each other and understand why our future is common and how we will build and achieve it. Fortunately, in the case of Italy, that effort is sweet and the reward is great.
Episode 28 Shroom (Gljiva). The relationship between creativity and perception has always been very complex. Throughout the history of art from prehistoric times, the use of various psychedelic natural ingredients has allowed creators a perception different from that inherent in the regular state of consciousness. Perhaps even more than encouraging inspiration itself, because it also dulls it, the significance of altered perception is important after one’s returning to reality. A person who has experienced a changed perception remains forever aware that reality is not just unambiguous and that it is subject to changes that individuals without such experience could not fully grasp. In rock art and rock culture, the role of love, music, and drugs has been emphasized even more than in the past. As the poets of Romanticism moved away from everyday life using absinthe and perhaps opium, rock grabbed a wide variety of recently developed chemicals as well as traditional, herbal narcotics. Observations of relations between drugs, music publishing media, and forms of compositional and arranging creativity are widely discussed. In short, this is how we note the connections such as between amphetamines (speed) and energetic rock and soul music of the first half of the ’60s. This fast-paced music was released in short, energetic forms lasting up to three minutes, on compact single records. In the mid-1960s, the use of marijuana and LSD increased, leading to freer compositional forms lasting from over five to over twenty minutes. That psychedelic music was slower, and the extended length of songs was made possible by the long play (LP) format. The hippie era ended with increased use of dangerous drugs such as heroin, and in the early 1970s with a sharp rise in cocaine use. Cocaine, with its emphasis on egomaniacal urges, most likely led to the breakup of many bands because the discipline needed to maintain the unity of the rock band was impossible to keep with the inflated egos of the members. This indirectly led to a great increase in the importance of singer-songwriters who as individual artists became the dominant form of creative expression in the first half of the 70s. The punk era was marked by the frenzy of glue sniffing and a return to energetic short forms, and the slowness of marijuana was limited to the realm of reggae music. The conformist kindness and chemical closeness of ecstasy marked the transition of rock and roll and the end of rock culture. In this episode, we listen to a number of songs related to drug use and abuse.
Episode 27 All That Jazz All That Jazz is a movie about dance, not about jazz. While I don’t like the movies, I do like modern dance and have picked a lot of dance iconography and the celebration of dancers from this movie. What I do truly love is jazz, all of it, but especially the be-bop and cool jazz up to the period of free jazz in the mid-Sixties, when the music started getting more radical under the pressures from pop and rock music. I also always had a soft spot for the blues and have liked what many jazz aficionados look down upon, that is the blues influences in jazz. I have made this episode to reflect some of the genuinely important jazz tunes that are dear to me just as the most treasured rock songs are. Excitement is the same, the sentiment sometimes even deeper. Just as I tried to do in episode 8 about the prog-rock, I have selected the songs that fit into a pop format. Therefore, tonight we listen to a selection of the shorter formats, some of them true beauties that, while distinctly jazz, transcend all boundaries and as such represent well the revolution that happened in the twentieth century. The music became a vehicle for art to reach the masses and outgrow the traditional confines of art as an elite endeavor. Thanks to the blues, rock, pop, and jazz an unprecedented amount of individuals came into direct contact with the true, undiluted, unadulterated, and unfiltered artistic expression. This is the true merit of the twentieth-century pop that changed our civilization, and jazz was first there.
Episode 26 After the Rain (Poslije kiše) Songs… There are so many beautiful songs! Some would have a meaning to you, some have it for me, some for her, and some for him. Some are more important than you or me, and these are those that I play tonight. Of course, some are important to me, others I knew and have never realized how beautiful they are, and some are here for you to discover if they really are. This is the last episode made to a chapter of the Duga Nota book my friends and this is my goodbye to you. But not quite. As the Rolling Stones are playing in the room behind me I am writing this small note already thinking about what will go into the next episode. And I know it already. I did not tell you about jazz and how I have escaped from the death of rock into the dead yet the still-warm body of jazz and survived there until they all woke up, merry zombies, dancing, bobbing their heads, the hands falling off, stomping their feet. Don’t fret my friends. Just as my dear 007 franchise went on beyond the original Ian Flemming spy books, so will we continue with this sustained note. There are some intricate stories well hidden within the chapters we have already produced in the episodes you have heard, so will we develop these small stories into the next episodes and you will be able to enjoy Duga Nota for some time ahead. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to go back to MixCloud and listen to some three days long of rock and roll I have produced over the last three years. They are made to be listened over and over again.
Episode 25 Twentysix (Dvadesetšest) Electronic music has intrigued musicians throughout the rock culture history. Leaning on the creative queries of the European and American avant-garde of the 20th century, musicians were tinkering and tweaking the available electric instruments in various ways, starting with Theremin in the first half of the century and culminating with the advent of the analog synthesizer in the second half. Analog electronica was much closer to the sounds of rock whose main instruments were also amplified by the electric current and were thus rather compatible. Basses, guitars, and electric organs were often distorted in a way that shows that the destruction of the signal can lead to the birth of a new beauty. It was a way of discovering that the destruction and distortion of the existing social relations might lead to the same beauty of building a new world. These sounds, being compatible with rock music became an integral part of it and the rock audiences were accustomed to accepting it as a natural extension of the rock culture. Thus, nobody was really surprised by the rise of digital electronic instruments. Yet, a strange consequence of this stealth rise started showing its true nature rather soon. The ease of sound manipulation and its impersonality soon changed the nature of rock. These sounds were no anymore compatible with the blues-based timbre of rock and the new musicians easily disposed of the fundamentals of rock. All this looked natural to the rock audiences accustomed to pushing the boundaries even further. The ever-increasing curiosity, exploration, and adventurism of rock music eased in its demise. Soon, there was no rock left in the music. This happened with the onset of rave culture and dance music and this was the end of the rock story. This culture evolved further and the music of today contains almost no traces of the rock foundations although some of its mores and manners seem to remain connected to the empty shells of the past rock culture. We play here a lot of electronic music illustrating this passage from one of the coasts of the musical ocean to the other.
Episode 24 1st April (1. travanj) Many of us in rock generation were decisively shaped by the flows of the post-World War II hope that were gushing around us before and in parallel with our rock experiences. Even as some of the happy magma flows were slowing down and were extinguishing themselves, such as the French chanson, they were still full of hope and rich in sentiment. Epic melodies from the Russian steppes, thick with pride, dripping from behind the Iron curtain, blended in whirlwinds with the happy Mediterranean riviera festival songs from Italy and France. Crooners from the US mixed with the vaudeville and cabaret traditions, sounds of lounge organs combined with the Mexican exotica. Dancing, colors, geysers of optimism, op art, innocence, and happiness, all of this not only surrounded but finally ended up in the rock outlook. Vlada Divljan was just one of the kids that hoped to bring this beauty forward, grow it forever, and spent his life intent on repaying his debts to it. Drazen Vrdoljak was another. They lived their lives brilliantly; they brought beauty far and were fearlessly fighting ugliness and gloom. Yet, just a few decades passed by, and they were gone… Did they go prematurely because they enjoyed too much their exciting youth or because they invested too much of their strength in constructing that beauty? Was it the war in their shared homeland that cut their lives short, that had mercilessly taken their lives, or was it the fact that rock itself started dying before their eyes, and they knew they could not have done much about its demise that killed them? Although we shared so many of the very exact wishes about building the World of beauty, fun, and decency with them – I don’t think we will ever know…
Episode 23 Scarred Smile (Osmijeh s ožiljkom) Death is the alter ego of youth. The history of rock proves it. The day the music died happened while rock was still young. Buddy Holly, Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens vanished on tour, Richie caught a cold, had a runny nose, they were all tired and exhausted and ended up in a plane crash because they wanted to avoid further touring hardships. That train of disappearances was constantly moving and never stopped; it was just gaining in length, sixteen coaches long. The kids were leaving, sometimes boarding the train alone, sometimes along with their songs. Early on, they founded a club called 27, named after a border that young people were not allowed to cross. Someone left at 26, someone at 27 or 28 because they couldn’t face the age ahead. Tonight we sing together, all together in a room; it’s a beautiful moment; shadows and lights flicker, drinks flow, notes ring, and melodies sing. It’s incredible how happy their music was even when it was born out of sadness, how flawless it is even though many were ashamed of it, of their voices, of the failure of their audience to see how good they are, how good music they’ve made. It is said some children killed themselves and some died suffocating in their vomit… They performed autopsies to find out, but they didn’t think of listening to their silent hearts. There, in dark, shady, and wet corners, the secrets were written in their music, not in their heartbeats. There was no life after we grew up, so why bother for so long. Some did not know this, so they experienced their eighties dying as children, and we are grateful for this mercy. Some children decided they had to leave or were afraid to stay. Nick Drake and Sid were like that. Some listened to the call; they were killed growing up without even thinking to do it themselves. Sandy and Harry were there. Some preferred to turn against their alter egos, against the artistic personalities they created, and some killed more than one creative self. Cat and Ziggy were such children. They go, they go, they are gone … To this day, relentlessly. But you wouldn’t even notice it listening to the music in this episode. It’s all about Death, but it’s still sweet and celebrates life. Because the more significant the celebration than singing in the face of fear and pain, showing emotion and burning. Not to burn out, it could only be braver that it didn’t happen to them, and we who stayed in rock readily applauded the courage Cash and Elton had.
Episode 22 SFSP (Smrt fašizmu, sloboda pojedincu). The faith in oneself v. the faith in God? Helpless, helpless, the story of humanity, a tender, confused fable of going steady against ourselves. Many of us who stem from the counterculture don’t fully appreciate that the history of rock music is contingent on faith. Rock music would not be the one we love if it wasn’t boosted by the religious beliefs of the musicians who made it. Indeed, the pentecostal Holy Rollers included the families of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, B. B. King, James Brown, Tina Turner, Marvin Gaye, Sly Stone, Al Green, Little Richard, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and many others. Their faith brought them to dance in a trance, but their rock wasn’t shaking because of their passionate belief. How is it then that some of the kids were feeling guilty because of their music? It is because their music went far beyond their faith. After all, they dared to share the truth of their feelings. The truth will always trump faith. Or will it? It is a thin line between faith and truth. In effect, when religious artists don’t shy away from the truth, their music sings with the same force as any other artists’ music does. Christian, Buddhist, or Muslim artists, thankfully, did not remain mute because they were religious. Many musicians who were not religious chose to sing their superficial muzak choosing not to reach for the artistic expression. It is often beautiful when we listen to the music dedicated to matters of faith from across the aisle. It makes us believe that the people capable of truth, either religious or those of us who are not, must work together for this World to become a better place. Actually, for those of us who believe that it is possible to change our societies for the better, it becomes clear that only working together with the people who believe can bring about the results, hoping they will also choose the path of change.
Episode 21 Yesterday, Nirvanas, tomorrow (Jučer, Nirvanas, sutra). I started to work, and after only a few months on the job, it became clear that I could not continue to live the rock and roll lifestyle I had led until my twenty-sixth year. At the same time, I stopped looking forward to going out late at night, and getting up, even after short outings, made it impossible for me to function effectively the next day at work. Not only did I no longer enjoy going out and partying, but I felt I could no longer laugh for no reason with friends standing all evening on the corner. It was this feeling that the carefree and unreasonable laughter had dried up that was a sign to me that youth had ceased. I had less time to listen to new records, and after I went to postgraduate studies in the US, I suddenly didn’t even have a turntable anymore. LPs stopped selling, and CDs with tiny covers in awkward, fragile plastic boxes became the primary medium of music that seemed more and more distant to me. I couldn’t help but get the impression that CDs had contributed to the fall of rock music and rock culture. Listening to the music for this episode, I discovered how much music I listened to superficially or skipped utterly, from the Manchester scene of the second half of the 1980s to the Seattle proto-grunge music of the late 1980s. I have to admit that during the preparation of this episode, I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of a lot of the music from that period and the number of authentic rock elements that I thought were disappearing. So enjoy tonight, because rock and roll are still alive.