Friday, September 6, 2013

First Rehearsal

    My mind goes back to my very first post on the Ranger, when I wrote of Father Vincent McNabb, the English Dominican of the last century who was wary of technology. I know nothing about his tastes in music, but it's difficult to imagine a good priest, as he most certainly was, being an enemy of Gregorian Chant. And therefore he would approve of a technology that could educate the universe on the merits of the finest music the Church will ever know for the purposes of worship through the liturgy.
    I've read his biography only once, and that at least two decades ago, so I also don't know what he thought of theatre, but I know what I think of theatre, and that is also a subject on my mind as I ponder what we are about to present over the Web. The exercise of the morning was to make sure the Shure was relating to the computer. Finally, it was. ( I sit helpless until MT has mastered the gadgetry, but once I hear my voice muttering through I'm okay, and my brain resumes normal functioning.) Then it was time to consider the initial webcam. It was a cheapo, and it's been around for a while. Odd colouring on the computer monitor, and a very slow time delay. My fingers were good to see in action on the Roller keyboard, but they most certainly moved in slow motion.
    The slow motion was not all that bad, because when presenting music understanding and technique to beginners of any age level, slow and repetitive is Job One, especially when you can use the voice to sing and explain. But I had an instinct that computer science had improved, and I was right, as we discovered in our trip to the computer store.
     I'd been in the store, some years ago, with the previous owner, when I had to tell him that the software he was offering me for the sake of piano instruction had been put together by someone who didn't know what I was learning. When we went in today I enjoyed informing the new owner that we were hoping for an improved webcam, because now that I'd finally learned all that I needed to understand to make a sound beginning, we hoped that the technology he had for sale could facilitate distribution. He did have, bless him, just the thing, and now a very nice little Logitech webcam hangs on the mike boom, right beside the mike, so when its action on the set we can swing it right over the piano keyboard, and I'm right in there with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, only we'll call it "Numbers and Music", instead of "Words and Music". Well, there will be words, and lots of them, but the purpose is to restore music to its proper relationship to mathematics. So there will also be lots of numbers.(Too bad Sesame Street didn't know how to put the Count to this kind of labour.)
    Numbers here, numbers there, bloody numbers everywhere. They're even annoying at first, if you haven't been raised with them. The only thing more intellectual than numbers is sheer metaphysics itself, but knowing how to use the numbers in music is almost as comforting in the long run, to a musician, because of the mental security, than metaphysics is to a real philosopher.
     "Today's show is brought to you by the numbers one to five, going backwards." Once that priority is established, perhaps we can sponsor a lesson by the letter "D", inasmuch as D is number one not only in the D scale, major or minor, but also numero uno in the D mode, which also happens - oh, oh - numbers again, to be Mode One.
    "Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to be . . . ."

    Lovely song, of course, and very well done on stage and screen, but reiterated universally in classrooms, somewhat inefficient, because it too masked the essential role of numbers. So here's the opening lyrics for a film called "The Sounds of Common Sense".

    "So you think you are a singer,
     And a star you'd like to be,
     Then sit right down, and go to town,
     Understanding the Mode in D."

    Do I hear all the conservatories, music faculties, and publishers absolutely outraged because I have ignored dear old C major for the opening day of theory class? I can't really blame them, of course, because until I knew better it was always the way I started a beginner myself. And if I had never learned the natural superiority of numbers over letters I would still be starting that way. And of course C major also plays a key part in explaining modal theory. One simply cannot do without it, even though it also must be admitted that certain promoters of the modes have done awfully strange things with it, from failing to grasp the ancient rule of numerical foundations.
    So to completely avoid such blunders, and to establish the genius of the numbers right off the bat, we open with Mode One, that is, the scale modern music calls D minor. There are possibly a dozen reasons for this beginning, to be explained as occasion arises.
     For those who like fiction, some of those explanations have already been set out in a different blog, Mr. Cameron's Conservatory.


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