Our local community radio’s show about what’s on in classical music locally
Monday Inspiration: Data Visualization and Infographics. A lovely swift overview using great visualization exemplars (found on Richard Banks blog)
Archive for January, 2008
Originally uploaded by dumbledad
I’d assumed that cassette recorders were something I wouldn’t see again. But they came up yesterday in Will’s guitar lesson. Will has electric guitar lessons after school with an amazing teacher called Dan Collins. Yesterday he was teaching Will a latin chord sequence to practise his rhytm guitar skills and a phrygian shaped scale to improvise over the chord sequence. Obviously Will cannot play the chord sequence while improvising from the scale so Dan recommended an old fashioned shoe-box speaker-on-the-top cassette recorder. Apparently you can pick them up cheaply on ebay or Argos even have a Sony one still. Dan favours them to the digital equivalent because of ease of use – something about the physicality of the tape and the playback and record buttons. It put me in mind of our recent reading group choice: Philip Faulkner and Jochen Runde’s “Getting to Grips with Technology” in which they cover the use of familiar form and interection techniques in the design of digital equipment for DJs.
Originally uploaded by dumbledad
I just want to jot down a project idea. I may have reason to buy another set of the HP novels soon and cut the spines off (more on why later). That would leave me with all the pages. Rather than just binning them I thought (as I jogged around Coton this lunchtime) that it might be fun to make a webpage offereing to give them to a worthy home. People could go to the site and choose their favourite page (I could show the first and last line of each page). Then if it’s not already taken I could send it to them. It would be a kind of participatory Harry Potter art piece, with the added bonus that I could produce a visualization of the popularity of all the pages (from recording peoples first choice).
Yesterday my son Will, my father-in-law Paul, and I went to the first of the new season of Kettle’s Yard New Music Sunday lunchtime concerts. It was a programme of piano work by Luke Stoneham. Luke’s an old friend of mine – we went to infant, junior, and senior school together and then found ourselves together again at Sussex where I was doing my doctorate and Luke was studying with Michael Finnissy. I wasn’t expecting him there, but the lunchtime concert opened with a conversation between Richard Baker, the Kettle’s Yard New Music Associate, and Luke.
The concert opened with Stephen Gutman playing John Cage’s “The Seasons – Ballet in one Act” and we were immediately aware of how fabulous Stephen’s playing was. His technique was flawless, and the acoustic in Kettle’s Yard is wonderful, but what really set Stephen’s playing apart was the theatricality. His playing is almost dance-like: at times arrogantly dominating the keys; at times peering inquisitively into the music; and at times gathering the music into himself as he played. Wonderful. Interestingly although Paul was not converted to ‘new music’ by the concert he too loved Stephen’s playing. Will, on the other hand, found it too theatrical. I’d certainly travel to see Stephen play again.
After the Cage we had five of Luke’s pieces which Stephen played with equal sensitivity and panache. First off was “Pour les cinq doigts”, one of a series of companion studies commissioned by Stephen from British composers responding to each Debussy piano études. There were brief Debussy-like fragments in more modern territory.
Stephen then played “Nobody here but us chickens”. I was half hoping for a “Famous Potatoes” homage! This was in fact a wonderful piece that Luke had written for harpsichord, though actually for a friend’s out of tune virginal. Stephen was playing a piano version and the range of expressivity he brought to it, while keeping the sense of it being harpsichord music, was excellent. It was fun watching the score too as there were additional bars glued onto the side (they are just visible in my flickr picture above).
Then Stephen realised he’d missed out Luke’s short piece “Plume” This formed a nice bridge piece between the Cage ballet and the last piece “Mercury in Retrograde” as it was written for dance. It was written by Luke improvising at the piano (I think he said he was blindfold!) This was the prettiest of the pieces, the looping reminding one of smoke curling in upon itself.
“Magenta cuts” had some striking moves between childlike playing that Luke recreated from early memories of seeing a piano at a family friend’s house as a child, and more scholarly adult work.
Lastly “Mercury in retrograde” was a larger piece with Stephen playing three movements: “I Trick”, “IV Glitch”, and “V Wit”. The programme notes point out that this piece had its origins in dance-theatre and Stephens theatrical playing style really brought out each mood and kept it direct and accessible.
There are some mp3s of Stephen Gutman playing some of these pieces on the Critical Notice website. I’ll also scan in Richard’s programme notes on flickr, they were superbly informative.