Wednesday, November 24, 2010

King Ralph

Yes, I'm very fond of John Goodman. A big actor, in body, and a very big actor in talent. He dances well, too, and I take a particular pleasure in watching big people show a dancer's skill. I've seen a number of his films but I'll save space and unwonted distraction by mentioning only the one, King Ralph, because it provides the perfect image for a complaint. Not about John, you understand, but about the thinking - or lack of it - behind music writing software. In case anyone hasn't seen the movie, just let me say that the salient point is that ordinary American Joe J.G., a musician anxious to cut a record and find fame and fortune, turns out to be a very distant relation to the British Royal Family and thus succeeds to the throne of England when everyone else gets electrocuted standing on metal bleachers in the damp for a group photo. Right, it's a comedy. It's a very entertaining plot, with also a beautiful actress, and when a more likely heir - Peter O'Toole - admits his connection to the crown, Goodman happily bows out in return for his own recording studio, back in L.A.
All this from me because MT has been scouting the Net for a programme by which I can share my latest scale discoveries, both in single note and added voices, with interested students. That is, interested students already familiar with ordinary staves, and who haven't been coached on my fundamental use of the numbers. The numbers people have got themselves a trio of humdingers, studies I'm almost proud of, were it not that I have to shake my head over how long it took to find something so obvious. Is that how Einstein felt when he finally came up with E=MC2?
There are a lot of programmes,  but they are totally oriented to would-be composers, most of them addicted to noise. This may be all right in its place, but where is the room for teaching? Is it that  difficult to the technical whiz kids to add the chops for fingering notation? One of first schemes MT found I sat to, and happily typed in an old-fashioned D mode octave, very much pleased with how much neater the computer printed than I can. But where was the device for letting me put down fingering as neatly and quickly as the notes of the scale? Do these designers have no idea of the history of wars over fingering? It's almost as outrageous as the controversies over voice training.
How can so much money, so much science, simply drop the ball where pedagogy is so necessary?
Does the Great White West really want to keep itself in the Third World as far as basic music understanding is at stake?

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