my hiccups and Hannah Hickok
This post starts with a video of my beautiful, wise, and talented friend Hannah singing one of her newer songs, “Warm Again.” I’ve been lucky enough to sing with her and it always makes me happy to see how creative and productive she continues to be musically, especially in a cold part of the world where the winter can often sap one’s ability to feel inspired, or at least ever warm enough to do anything about it. This reminds me both of how much I love the northeast, how well I remember darting to Neilson under the streetlights getting snow in my eyes in winter, and then how much I always love going south in the springtime.
The second part of this post follows a winding train of though which connected Hannah Hickok’s last name to the sound of the French word hoquet, which means hiccup. My French soeur d’acceuil thought it was funny the other night when I got a bad case of the hoquets at dinner, and I in turn was charmed by how much our two languages have chosen words for hiccups that are pretty onomatopoeic despite their different origins (hiccup from hiccough from the Dutch kuchen – to cough and the German keuchen – to pant; hoquet – hitch, sudden interruption from the Old French).
The train of thought then chugged along to the appropriation of the word hoquet, and then into the English “hocket”, in the world of music. Hockets in music are places where the linear rhythm alternates between voices, usually brought about by the use of dotted notes and their rests in one voice alternating with a rest and a dotted note in another. It was used pretty frequently in 13th century chant arrangements, and after that in secular French motets. It could look like this:
NOW for the interesting part: the other night I was still thinking about hiccups after curing mine with my foolproof hiccup cure (hold your ears closed and drink water) and listening to the Dirty Projectors when I noticed that part of what makes them so good is that Dave Longstreth is secretly a big artsy musical snob and uses hockets all the time in his arrangements.
Dirty Projectors – Cannibal Resource