Tuesday, July 08, 2008

On The Purpose Of Squid Ink

Further to the salute to Jeff Healey below, I was listening to The Science Show on radio national last night and there was an excellent interview with Oliver Sacks mainly regarding his new book about brain malfunctions and oddities regarding music (a middle-aged surgeon with no prior musical intent or ability gets hit by lightening and two weeks later becomes obsessed with Chopin to the extent that he learns piano just so he can play Chopin's work, at the expense of his marriage, and this year saw the concert debut of some chopin-like piano pieces that he has since written). Anyway, he dropped some interesting facts throughout the conversation such as less than 1% of the population has perfect pitch but over 40% of the blind population has perfect pitch. Also (and I am not sure how this is ascertained) almost everyone has perfect pitch in the first year of life but subsequently lose it… I am setting Hughie to work as we speak. What sets Ollie apart though is the ability to link all these back to the human condition… the plight of the everyman… and he used a favourite phrase of mine from Thomas de Quincy “the pressure on the heart from the incommunicable” to express why he thinks music is important, i.e. that music, and Squid Ink in particular, relieves that pressure.

If in this world there is one misery having no relief, it is the pressure on the heart from the Incommunicable. And, if another Sphinx should arise to propose another enigma to man – saying, What burden is that which only is insupportable by human fortitude? I should answer at once – It is the burden of the incommunicable.

Not sure why a Sphinx is proposing enigmas and why anyone is listening but I am sure that is this caused by my mythological ignorance.

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Blogger Fluffy said...

I want to know who tested these bebbehs for perfect pitch, and how?

9/7/08 09:17  
Blogger silky-D said...

You are all in luck because I am currently reading Mr Sacks' most interesting monograph (my delightful parents having gifted it to me upon the occasion of my birthday). The bit that struck me when I was reading it on the plane home from Al Fresco City was the discussion around the downsides of perfect pitch. For those who are truly gifted it can be quite the cross to bear. This is because those with perfect pitch can detect differences in pitch that are imperceptible to most of us. Something like an eight or a sixteenth of a tone out of tune is excruciatingly discordant to them. He gives the example of a gifted concert pianist who sat down at a newly tuned piano that was just ever so slighty sharp (apparently as piano tuners get older they tune them sharp because their sense of pitch shifts). Anyway, the slight sharpness was so infernally distracting to him that he struggled even to play his way through Moonlight Sonata, which most school children can knock over without too much bother. All of this led, somewhat inevitably, to some hard self-reflection and concern about what it must be like for Paddy to stand opposite me in the rehearsal room and keep smiling through the all the pain.

9/7/08 10:03  
Blogger Unrelenting Tedium said...

Fluffy, I too am unclear on how this is done. I can't think of a way...hughie can roll over on to his stomach and back again with aplomb which brings me great pleasure to watch.

Silky, my high school music teacher, Jack, who did not have perfect pitch but was a pretty natty musician (for instance when playing the songs for the school musical he decided that a song would work better in another key he would write the letter at the beginning of the song and transpose as he played...a neat trick) often spoke of how he wished when he heard a piece of music it was not automatically deconstructed by his brain into chords, harmony and intervals...instead just to enjoy the sounds as they happened. I guess this is why some more developed musicians gravitate towards post-tonal music and 20th century composition which can sound on first pass (and many subsequent passes) like a pile of unrelated notes...even when presented with the 12 tone from where a song was generated it can seem pretty directionless at best and impenetratable at worst. I never did find out from Paddy, among the many topics I find it hard to draw him on, how he feels about 12 tone composition and post-tonal music generally...which is odd as I attended several university subjects with him that covered such topics...mainly he spoke about how bitter the coffee was in the Plaka.

9/7/08 11:57  
Blogger silky-D said...

I have no idea what you are talking about. But yes, bitter coffee is bad. Is my guitar playing innadvertantly post-tonal?
Possibly more pre-tonal. Also pre-melodic and pre-rhythmic.

I am struggling to find a cover by the way. I have had many ideas, all of the bad. I sought inspiration from my iPod, which has been little help.

Planet Caravan - while this initially appealed because it would mean making Dave play the bongoes, I then remembered that it is a pretty dull song and found myself wondering what it was doing on my iPod in the firstplace.

I thought of doing a sped-up punk rock version of John Lennon's Crippled Inside. But then I tried it in the protective cocoon of my lounge room and it sounded pretty shit.

I've been singing The Eagles Boys of Summer a lot im my head lately. I can't see that working for reasons to numerous to calculate.

I rocked out in the car this morning to Led Zep's What is and What Should Never Be but I feel this would challenge all of our vocal range and is also not a great tempo for us (well tempi, I spose cos it changes). I would like to steal the bit at the end though and put it to use somewhere.

I toyed with the idea of Strychnine by the Sonics but it really needs saxophone. I am at a loss.

9/7/08 12:09  
Blogger silky-D said...

post tonal: is it something to do with schoenberg (sp?) because I just don't get that avant garde shit. Best left to people who like to photograph their children naked for fun.

9/7/08 12:11  
Blogger Unrelenting Tedium said...

My man, there are hundreds...covering something that sticks in your head is a good idea...The Sonics would make me feel like we thought we were cool. Planet Caravan is not the Sabbath number I would choose (I had already considered Spiral Architect and All Moving Parts (Stand Still) partly because I love a good set of parentheses in a song title...'cause it changes the meaning quite some) but now that you mention it Crafty's angelic voice could quite possibly nail the ethereal feel of the original. I beleive it was the number chosen by Pantera for the Sabbath tribute album, Nativity In Black...which brings me to another question the song N.I.B., a stand out from the eponymous debut album, was so called according to an interview I have on tape with Ozzy and Geezer because Bill Ward's beard looked like a pen nib. Why then is it an acronym? And why does everyone else think it stands for Nativity In Black? Particulalry when the lyrics outline the devil falling for a mortal woman and changing his ways for good, which whilst not exactly an update of the nativity story, is certainly a bit closer than the drummer's beard looking like a pen nib?

I don't expect an answer to these questions...I have many from 5 years spent as a furniture restorer listening almost exclusively to Sabbath and thin lizzy.

How did the magnetic field turn Iron Man into steel? Can a magnetic field do this? Apparently it was a "great" one?

I could go on...

9/7/08 13:01  
Blogger Unrelenting Tedium said...

Yup, Schoenberg qualifies...and what I choose to do with Hughie in the name of art is my business. I have moved on from photography and now make short films of him nude whilst singing a perfect Bb.

9/7/08 13:04  
Blogger silky-D said...

let me get this straight... are you saying we aren't cool?

9/7/08 13:09  
Blogger Unrelenting Tedium said...

Oh no...we are the height of cool...check out your crossword puzzle volley slip-ons sometime...but we can't appear to think we are the height of cool surely.

9/7/08 13:57  
Blogger silky-D said...

they are converse allstars and laceups at that. I'll thank you to take more notice of my feet from now on, good sire. We are, each of us, a Jesus of cool.

9/7/08 14:00  

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