Friday, February 24, 2006

Pushing the envelope

Despite what you might think, reading my blog, I'm really not all that assertive. I find it difficult to push my point of view if it might make other peoples lives difficult. How else explain that I haven't yet said much at the office about the screw ups that forced me into spending a weekend a couple of weeks ago rewriting someone elses code?

I've said enough; but not so much as to cause management to actually bite the bullet and do something about it. Methinks they're as chicken hearted as I am! On the other hand, I'm not paid to do that kinda stuff. A sophistry as you'll agree.

That's been part of me for nearly 40 years; probably longer but I no longer remember. I suppose that's one of the compensations of passing 50; eventually some things just disappear :-) I have to admit that I do think that reaching 50 is some kind of achievement; let's just not dwell too much on what kind of achievement. Nonetheless, when some young bastard of 35 makes some comment about my years I reply 'I hope you're as good looking as I am at my age'. What are the odds that I'll still know said young bastard 16 years from now? I seem to remember some such conversation taking place between me and Heino a bit over 30 years ago :-)

In 1970 I became more than enamoured of the music of Ludwig Van Beethoven. Discovering 'classical' music was a delight. When I jumped in the car today on my way to the office they were running an ad for the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra - Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto and Ralph Vaughn Williams Fourth Symphony. I'm very familiar with the piano concerto; somewhat less so with the symphony. I couldn't help but notice that the musical background for the ad was the concerto; rather more accessible music than the symphony. I suspect an imposition. If they played the symphony over the ad they'd scare off the audience with music that requires more than a bit of familiarity with Hollywood musical scores.

Which is not to say that the music of Rachmaninov is to be despised; far from it. That part of the second movement of his first symphony; high violins over pizzicato is to die for! I'm still debating whether or not to suggest to my wife that we go and hear the concert. I know I'll enjoy it; I'm rather less sure that she won't find a couple of hours of classical music more of an endurance than a pleasure.

In 1971 I taught myself the basics of music notation from some books. This was before the age of the 'Idiots guide' but it was much the same kind of thing. And in 1971 I started buying musical scores. There are at least two kinds of scores; 'Pocket' scores and 'Full' scores. The pocket scores cost a lot less (at the time it was about 10 bucks a score; contrast that with 3 bucks for the LP). Other than that there's not a lot of difference; full scores show a stave for each instrument whether they have something to play for that page or no; pocket scores omit the empty staves. This means that you spend a little more time finding the continuation on the next page but if you're a fast reader it doesn't matter much. I'm a fast reader :-)

So it was, in early 1971, that I started building my library of Beethoven scores to match my library of Beethoven records. The learning of the basics of music notation went hand in hand with the aquisition. I have to say that learning how to read music and follow it in the score taught me a lot about how classical music works; where I might not have noticed that clarinet contribution if going by ears alone I certainly noticed when it was there on the page. It works the other way too; I think I hear at first hearing details others might not notice because I can see how it would look on the printed page.

One of the scores I purchased in late 1972 had a binding error. Some pages were repeated, some missing. It seems silly to remember it now but I can recall rehearsing arguments, as I drove back into the city, as to how it was that even though I knew the forms of the classical symphony and how they involved repeats, it was still a binding error.

It shouldn't have come as a surprise that the young thing behind the counter had rather less interest in my arguments than you do :-) She replaced it with a yawn.

No comments: