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« Basij Or Me: Love In The Time Of A Revolution | Main | Lincoln out, Christianity In »

July 13, 2009


I'll chime in (heh heh, dumb pun) on 1. There is Music Minus One, which is intended for the above average music performer, but it's a similar concept. (Love that anachronistic motto! Who knew CDs were available with sheet music back in the '50s?) I mostly disagree with your desideratum, though, Ruchira, for a couple reasons. For one, even average listeners (among whom I include myself as a lower borderline case) who take the time and make the effort to listen critically can hear through the voices of a symphony orchestra (or string quartet or jazz combo or solo piano work, for that matter) to the individual components. One can always listen with a score, for example.

Secondly, any recording is already a poor artificial token of the live performance, although superior stereo equipment in a suitable room will immensely improve the results. Those iPod thingums make utterly dreadful noise, a miserable way to pretend one is listening to music. (I acknowledge that when I play records it's often because I enjoy the practice of playing records. Whether or not I listen to the music is often incidental.) Still, the experience would be far richer than having technology artificially analyze a performance, because it delivers a flavor of the gestalt while one's mind, rather than a machine, is parsing the instrumentation.

Perhaps there is a market for such a product, but I suspect many average listeners with a little technological expertise take a post-coordinated approach. It's easy to run mixing software on a laptop and probably not an overwhelming task to strip out the unwanted lines. The laptop will surely generate low fidelity playback but, again, falling short of pure fidelity is unavoidable.

Dean, I wouldn't want Ruchira accused of most of my ranty posts! I was thinking not of digitally separating the instruments (which would probably be fairly low quality) in a recording but of (analog) recording the instruments independently to begin with. Record just the one while nothing else is playing, then get the next one etc. You'd need a conductor with some patience for the exercise, but I imagine it'd work out moderately well.

Also remember, some of us iPod lovers don't read sheet music!

Oops. Sorry, D and Ruchira, for the mix-up. (Dang! Another pun!) Of course, what you're proposing is not an entirely unorthodox approach to recording mainstream classical, or what have you, recordings. I understand that Glenn Gould even produced solo piano recitals using overdubs in pursuit of perfection. And even as I invoke Gould, a good example comes to mind of a piece (at least a composer) for critical listening: Bach from the Art of Fugue. Gould delivers a value-added performance here, too. In addition to Bach's lines, you can isolate Gould's mumbling.

I barely read sheet music. I can toot along with Telemann's simple stuff on a recorder. Doesn't matter. You can follow the music's progression, unless you're working with, oh, Iannis Xenakis or Anthony Braxton.

The iPod is a marvel to me, an inverse aural colostomy bag. There are jokes about people putting bananas in their ears, but Apples evidently don't prompt a smirk.

I am about to step on Ruchira’s sensibilities.

The post raises several issues with me. Although having started late I am an addict; I have been trying unsuccessfully to quit for many years; I am solicitous in the extreme of others who don’t want to be exposed to smoke; but none of this matters, for once someone as much as sees me light up, intense opprobrium sets in forever. Curiously, I myself often find other peoples smoke offensive (cigars are the worst, menthols next) and react to it uncharitably.

To Ruchira’s two citations I should bring up the statistic, stated on anti-smoking ads on TV, that a pack of cigarettes reduces your life by so-many-days. For the past nine months I have come to the realization that, no matter how much I have smoked, the effect of nicotine on my longevity is nothing compared to that of my beggaring by the robber barons of the financial world, combined with the high cost of healthcare and denial of medical insurance and long term care to smokers. For my age I am not at all in poor health but must pay for healthcare more than for my mortgage, food, and tobacco combined.
The opprobrium is uniquely American, the equation being that a smoker is a sinner, or worse. Since the post is also about music I’ll take the liberty of combining the two by giving the counterexample of a Chilean popular song by that famous victim of dictatorship Victor Jara. I learnt his song from my very favourite singer, also famous as a victim of Spanish dictatorship, Joan Manuel Serrat. Serrat is also an addict trying to quit as he confesses in another song. Here is Serrat's version of Jara's "El cigarrito" (the music starts at 2:00; the video shows the children of Violeta Parra, another revolutionary songstress, in the audience) – there are several other versions on YouTube including the Jara’s. The song resonates with me because I roll my own, and tobacco has been a special crutch in bad times and an enhancer of good times, not just an addictive necessity. It is a simple paean with overtones of a love song. A free translation : “I’ll make me a cigarette / If perchance I have tobacco / If I don’t have it / It surely don’t matter / … I’ll make me a cigarette / From my tobacco sack / Smoke it and toss the end / Who wants to can have it / … When I’m threatened with cold / I light up with a match / And my face warms up / With the cigarette aflame / …”.

There are those who wouldn’t understand. It's a right wing conspiracy, y'all!

OOPS - here are the links I intended to put into my comment

Victor Jara

Joan Manuel Serrat

Serrat singing El Cigarrito

Violeta Parra

Oh dear! D, you need to get a name or at least a longer, more visible nom de plume here. That single letter identity will forever get you confused with me, even by those who are acquainted with me well enough to know that I would "never" write a technically complicated music post. Narayan did it too! To all who may read this, I am NOT the author of this piece. "D" is.

I sympathize with Narayan's impatience with the anti-smoking Nazis. Also correct is his assertion that this particular aversion is uniquely American. But I don't agree that it is a "right wing" conspiracy. In this case, it is mostly the left wing, organic food eating, goody-two-shoes who are the culprits.

As for animals, although a meat eater, I am on the side of the "we are all in the same boat" theory of ecology rather than the Biblical "humans have dominion over all creatures" mindset.

Regarding the last story about the clueless mother with infinite faith in her teenage daughter whom Ms Lopez found funny, it made me wonder. Why is it that right wing conservatives do not give the benefit of the doubt to any other "immaculate conception" story except only to their own favorite one?

I agree too that extreme smoking hysteria is predominantly an American phenomenon. On the politics of it, I'm less sure. I don't know if it's really largely left wing though, especially given the relative smallness of that population in the US. Certainly the connection to organic and other food purity movements is clear, but I have noticed that outside the libertarian fringe the right doesn't much care for cigarettes either. Stir in a more conventional puritanism about addiction, corrupt and weakening pleasures of the flesh etc perhaps?

I wonder if there are people getting here via RSS feeds etc, because when I initially wrote the post, I'd forgotten to sign the title. I did so almost immediately, but presumably it was too late for a feed mechanism.

Wow, this post is so out of character for Ruchira. I'm confused--what's going on?

Joking aside, D, I actually don't get #4. The daughter lied to the mother about having sex, who is in turn upset that her daughter is pregnant. This can't be uncommon, although the lawsuit is probably statistically rare. Am I missing something?


The lawsuit is rare. Even rarer is a pregnancy caused by "stray" sperms floating in a swimming pool. The mother doesn't stand a chance in court, in my opinion.

Wow, another nice post. I really like the music part of your post. I agree that the market can't be that small, and the production certainly isn't difficult.


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