Friday, October 19, 2012

Ophelia’s Songs

Part One: Ophelia’s Songs
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“On a synthesizer,” she said, “I can sing a duet
and hear my voice along with the flute voice weave a texture
and both voices of the duet are under my control
and the harmony and counterpoint can be more subtle
than two musicians no matter how practiced could produce
so this mode of making song never existed before
this duet of voice and flute both performed by one singer.”

“I tell thee, churlish priest,
A minist’ring angel shall my sister be
When thou liest howling.”

Hamlet, Act V, Sc. 1

Part Two: Little Drummer Girl
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She said, “This is in four-four. I know you like waltz time and this has a little three-four feel to it. Have you ever thought of playing this in three-four?”

“Just a second,” I said. “We’ll give it a shot. This just takes two or three buttons.”

I pressed the Style button called ‘Ballroom’ and selected the first waltz setting with a slow tempo. Then I pressed the Sync Start button.

I played the arrangement again, but this time to the three-four beat. The notation looks very, very similar, but the different pulse makes for a different feel. And it felt better. I changed the last chord just a bit.

“That’s better,” I said. “That’s closer to what I had in mind. If that’s what I had in mind, how come it didn’t occur to me to do it? Why do you suppose I was I trying to fit it into four-four time?”

She said, “Play it again. Let me listen.”

I played the arrangement again in three-four time.

She said, “I don’t know. But I notice at the end, when you turn it around you hurry it up instead of going into another full bar and you hit three eighth notes. With the dotted quarter, that creates a three-four measure with four notes to it. Since all the other measures are quarter notes or dotted half notes, those three eighth notes are a little bit of syncopation. But since there are four notes there in that measure, you may have been focusing on that and thinking those four notes in the measure defined the meter of the melody, when really they were just a little bit of syncopation in the turnaround.”

I made a face and looked at my workstation and asked, rhetorically, “Why didn’t my machine tell me that?”

She laughed. “Hey, look at that first transcription. The machine did a pretty good job of fitting the three-four feel into four-four bars. It was just trying to do what you told it to do.”

“Oh, great,” I said. “Now I’m going to feel inadequate for giving my workstation the wrong directions. And I’m going to feel ungrateful for expecting it somehow to see into my thinking and figure out what directions I really wanted to give it.”

She laughed again. “Maybe the machine will forgive you. You were in—” she giggled “—you were in the throes of creation. You were thinking of the music, not the technicalities of notation.”

“You figured it out easily enough,” I pointed out.

“Yes, but I was just listening,” she said. “And I know you.” Then she smiled and held her head very high. “And besides, drummers—I mean, percussionists—are all geniuses. You can’t expect machines, even fancy workstations, really to do what we do.”

Part Three: The Chemicals of Amazon
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A character in a Richard Brautigan novel
once said the automatic pistol was invented
to kill more people in a war in the Philippines.
I imagine something similar to this is true
in a metonymy and metaphor kind of way
for the Kindle and other digital book readers.

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“The Hawkline Monster”
by Richard Brautigan
at Wikipedia


Ophelia’s Flowers

Machines Of Loving Grace

Machines Of Rapacious Hate

It Shall Be So Madness Must Unwatched Go

The Application Of Beyond Understanding

The Little Drummer Girl is about spies
Madame Bovary is about adultery
Crime and Punishment about crime.”

William Buckley
quoted at the link above


A Behind-The-Scenes Note:
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This final version of today’s post
very different from the first
version. Just in case anyone
was looking in and saw all
the changes, all I can say is
my sinuses and allergies are
killing me right now, and
I’m having trouble thinking
at all, let alone thinking clearly
enough to create a sensible post.
So I made
a lot of changes
after I posted the first version.
I don’t like doing that, but
I also don’t like talking much
about celebrities. So that’s
a behind-the-scene glimpse
of this post. Lots of changes—
but I like this version better
than the first, although maybe
it’s not as funny. I don’t know.
Now I’m going to take
some Benadryl and possibly
sleep the entire weekend.

1 comment:

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