Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Plink plink

Y'know, sometimes I'm a little slow on the uptake. You'll remember that I posted about the problem with my CD collection[^] on this side of the larger pond. For over three years I've been listening to whatever random CD was easy to get at and all the time the answer's been staring me in the face.

Last night, as I watched my weekly dose of British Comedy on PBS the penny finally dropped. We have a large network store as part of our house LAN; I have 120 gigs free on my own machine alone.

An aha moment! Of course, the fact that I wrote about Andrew's iPod probably helped. This is the digital age and processing time is cheap; so is storage. I've spent almost all of today inserting CD after CD, in no particular order, to rip em to the hard drive as MP3's. Slow work but it's not really work when all I'm doing is taking a CD from one spindle to the CD drive and taking the preceding CD out of the drive and putting it onto another spindle. 80 or so CD's down the track and a mere 5 gigs have been consumed. Yeah, I know it's probably a copyright violation. But the mere fact of my having CD's purchased in Australia here in the US is probably also a violation of territorial agreements. *shrug*

So far I have just the one CD that wasn't in the CDDB. It's a genuine pressed CD (not a rip off). It was Philip Stainton's 'The Island' and Patrick Hadley's[^] 'The trees so high'. Strange that every other Chandos[^] release seems to be in the database. *shrug*

It's been a voyage of rediscovery along the way. I don't think I've spent such a pleasant Sunday afternoon in ages. I'm not going to do many more links; I'm a lazy bastard at times. But in no particular order, a CD of 'Silly Songs' dating from 1922 to 1934 including such classics as 'I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream' and 'My canary has circles under his eyes.' Midnight Oil. The Deryck Cooke reconstruction of Mahler's 10th symphony. Carl Orff's Catulli Carmina. Steve Reich's Different Trains[^] where the the melodies follow the speech patterns of various people interviewed about train journeys across the US and Europe in the 1940's. The journeys in Europe are of Jews to the gas camps and he manages, in that juxtaposition, to create an incredibly moving piece.

John Adam's Nixon in China[^] which I probably would never have heard of had it not been for the fortunate circumstance of having to drive to Geelong one morning in 1990, when it cropped up on ABC Classical Music. I'm old enough to remember the almost frenzied news coverage of that surprise trip by Richard Nixon to 'the enemy'.

The one that gave me the most pleasure though, was In C[^]. An ex girlfriend used to refer to it as 'plink plink' and laugh at me if I tried to play it within her hearing :-) I'm not THAT slow on the uptake; I didn't play it when she was around.

She called it plink plink because at first hearing that's just what it sounds like. A difficult piece to describe in words; the 'pulse' is a pianist playing just two notes, middle C and the C an octave above that. That's all she plays, for upwards of an hour on my favourite recording of the piece. Over that are seemingly random collections of notes played by various instruments. They play until they've played all the fragments to their hearts content and when they're all satisfied the piece ends. I have two recordings; one runs 42 minutes (but it was recorded in the LP age so that probably explains it's brevity), the other runs 76 minutes which is about the limit for an audio CD. I can easily imagine a live performance running over two hours.

Now as described it doesn't sound all that inviting does it? But what it comes to when you hear it is an amazingly fluid swirl of sound. I'd never actually heard it when I bought the 25th anniversary performance; I'd just read a review. Loved it at first hearing and I've loved it ever since.

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