When I was a kid, proper musicians were defined as those qualified in and able to play ‘classical’ music, meaning stuff written in Europe from about the time of Bach through to the early twentieth century, after which music ceased (apparently) to require any competence or talent on the part of composer or performer. All … More If I don’t like it, the artist is stupid… right?
1. Ernest Eldridge’s monster Fiat, Mephistopheles Back in 1923, British racing legend Ernest Eldridge bought an old Fiat racing car cheap after it had ‘blown’ a couple of cylinders at Brooklands. He lengthened the chassis and installed a 21.5 litre aero-engine developing 350 hp, driving the rear wheels by chain. He promptly broke the standing-start … More Three deco-era things I don’t own… yet…
When I was a kid I was deeply impressed by a music video shot in a snow-bound Montreal Olympic stadium. It was the British super-group ‘Emerson, Lake and Palmer’, performing their version of Aaron Copland’s ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’, which was basically his three-minute piece split by a six-minute solo section of their own. … More Fanfare for the common transistor
When I was growing up the definition of music was simple: it was anything composed from about 1650 up to about 1910 involving orchestras, opera singers, pianos and similar instruments. And the definition of a musician was somebody who could perform this stuff. One of the conceits poured over me on that basis was that … More Why classical music snobbery doesn’t cut it today
One of the reasons I got interested in physics as a kid – and still am today – is because of the way sound works. In physics terms, sound is simply a succession of alternate compressions and rarefications of the air, carrying energy which moves our eardrums. What does that mean? The first point is … More Making waves – the physics of sound
These past few months I’ve been getting my collection of vintage synthesisers going. I’ve got a lot of work to do. So far I’ve tested my 1976-vintage Micromoog s/n 2177 – which I picked up for $50 in 1988. This still works but the particle-board base that holds everything together has crumbled, which means I’ll … More Switching on – well, it’s not really Bach…
I have never really understood why people like nineteenth century opera. You know, those bombastic audio-torture events that feature singers making the kind of noises you’d expect from someone who’s just had particularly delicate body part slammed in a door. Usually the songs involve an obese soprano waddling out on stage looking like a giant … More Why I think opera is a kind of audio torture