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September 24th, 2007

found in a cd changer


texas woodland, originally uploaded by gurdonark.

Yesterday I watched a PBS show about the composer Grieg. The show focused on all these incredible scenic vistas in Norway which the composer visited. I think that both Grieg's story and the scenery benefitted from the juxtaposition. I am not sure that the imposition of a story necessarily serves the goal of illuminating the subject of the story any better. The risk is reductivism seems to me to be too great. Yet the enjoyment of the viewer is enhanced by having a context for the incredible pictures, and a sense of a "rollicking good tale" for the composer's life.

Yesterday my copy of Be Bop Deluxe's Live! in the Air Age! surfaced once more, after years of hiding, undetected in one of those multi-disk CD changer devices that will one day seem as quaint as a slide rule. Listening "anew" reminded me why this is my favorite rock album. I like it as well at 48 as I did at 18. My favorite song is "Adventures in a Yorkshire Landscape", a meditation on home coupled with a great, loping guitar solo. I'm intrigued that at 18 the witty lyrics would have mattered most to me, but now it's the instrumental passages I favor. I think the instrumental can communicate more than the words, sometimes.

The weather is appropriately getting slightly cooler. The "high" temperatures still sound rather mid-Summer-y, but the first hint of a cooler feel to the air is about, and I'm glad that Autumn is near.

The surf-fish of sound


Copano Bay Pier, originally uploaded by gurdonark.

We are all fishers of sound. We participate in a culture which pre-determines for us, to some extent, what sounds we find appealing and what sounds we find repulsive.

The nature/nurture of sound is everywhere. Theoriests historically got tripped up on this problem. Some notions even arose that western scales were "natural" while scales from other cultures were "aberrant". Everyone imagines that they teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. Yet for all the errors of species memory that arise, surely there must be some reactions to music which are "in-built".

I do the best I can to expand the waters in which I fish. I pick up a Zebco 33 and cast my beetle spin out into new listening waters. Sometimes I find a familiar sound, like a routine bream catch. Sometimes the sounds are new species, hauled from deep beneath the pier.

I never want to lose my fondness for the familiar, but I never want to stop casting out for unique and interesting catch.