Learning from Covering a Song

Covering a song you love is a way to go farther into it, to find out what it is about. For a while I have had a thought of covering Platon Karataev’s “Lombkoronaszint” (“Canopy Layer”) and a few ideas of how I would do it. About a week ago I set down the underlying track. Then yesterday I recorded the rest. The recording is far from perfect, but I learned a lot about the song while making it. Here it is (available only in this post; I am not turning it into a video or sharing it elsewhere).

When you first listen to “Lombkoronaszint,” it might seem very simple to play: a melody repeating over and over, a refrain that slowly takes over. But then when you try to play it, you find a hidden intricacy: the pattern varies, the syllables match differently with the beats of the measure. It takes intense concentration to get it right (and I still only got it right up to a point). As I worked on it, I was taken into a different level of the song, and I think that comes through.

The lyrics can be translated roughly as follows (I might edit or correct this later):

now the boat left behind
for the last one
floats entirely on its own,
look, we have crossed over,
the tired capillary
slowly pushes
my blood forth;
all the water
is just now reaching the other shore.

do you ask where god is?
on the canopy layer,
in a shivering child.

see, how magic hides in each setting forth,
the slow water sets you on your way,
let’s row back all over again.

do you ask where god is?
on the canopy layer,
in an opening flower,
on the canopy layer,
do you ask where god is?
on the canopy layer,
do you ask where god is?

Here, below, is a beautiful live recording and video of Gergő and Sebő playing the song. And you can hear the album version here.

Update: I re-recorded the later part of the vocals and uploaded the new version here.

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  1. Come Hear the Platon Karataev Duo in New Haven and NYC! | Take Away the Takeaway
  2. “See, there’s magic hiding in every departure…” | Take Away the Takeaway
  3. Feldolgozások – Megfogalmazások
  4. A villám zenévé fordítva – Megfogalmazások
  5. Zenévé lefordított villám – Megfogalmazások

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  • “Setting Poetry to Music,” 2022 ALSCW Conference, Yale University

  • Always Different



    Diana Senechal is the author of Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture and the 2011 winner of the Hiett Prize in the Humanities, awarded by the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. Her second book, Mind over Memes: Passive Listening, Toxic Talk, and Other Modern Language Follies, was published by Rowman & Littlefield in October 2018. In April 2022, Deep Vellum published her translation of Gyula Jenei's 2018 poetry collection Mindig Más.

    Since November 2017, she has been teaching English, American civilization, and British civilization at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium in Szolnok, Hungary. From 2011 to 2016, she helped shape and teach the philosophy program at Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science & Engineering in New York City. In 2014, she and her students founded the philosophy journal CONTRARIWISE, which now has international participation and readership. In 2020, at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium, she and her students released the first issue of the online literary journal Folyosó.


    On April 26, 2016, Diana Senechal delivered her talk "Take Away the Takeaway (Including This One)" at TEDx Upper West Side.

    Here is a video from the Dallas Institute's 2015 Education Forum.  Also see the video "Hiett Prize Winners Discuss the Future of the Humanities." 

    On April 19–21, 2014, Diana Senechal took part in a discussion of solitude on BBC World Service's programme The Forum.  

    On February 22, 2013, Diana Senechal was interviewed by Leah Wescott, editor-in-chief of The Cronk of Higher Education. Here is the podcast.


    All blog contents are copyright © Diana Senechal. Anything on this blog may be quoted with proper attribution. Comments are welcome.

    On this blog, Take Away the Takeaway, I discuss literature, music, education, and other things. Some of the pieces are satirical and assigned (for clarity) to the satire category.

    When I revise a piece substantially after posting it, I note this at the end. Minor corrections (e.g., of punctuation and spelling) may go unannounced.

    Speaking of imperfection, my other blog, Megfogalmazások, abounds with imperfect Hungarian.

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