Aug 25, 2023

How Do They Do It? -

- the virtuoso pianists, violinists and other  -ists who take the stage, bow, glance at the conductor and launch into 30 or 40 minutes worth of  concerto, with no printed music in sight.  Beethoven's 5th piano concerto  - the 'Emperor' - keeps the soloist busy for 38 minutes - about par for the course.  It's an astonishing feat of memory. But memory of what, exactly?  Partly 'muscle memory,' where your arms/hands/fingers know where to go next;  partly 'score memory,' where you 'see' the printed music unrolling in your imagination; partly 'sound memory,' where you 'hear' what's coming next and play it.
Whatever, it's an amazing. almost eerie ability . . . that occasionally goes wrong!
I wish the following little story was true, but it seems 'too good to be true' somehow.

The Russian pianist and composer Sergei Rachmaninov was accompanying a violinist in a performance of somebody-or-others sonata for violin and piano.  Two virtuosi who, whilst combining superbly as musicians, did not get on with each other particularly well off stage.  The violinist was playing from memory; Rachmaninov, at the piano, was playing from score.  The violinist sensed his memory was about to let him down; he was losing his place in the music. Disaster!  Still playing, but getting closer to, as you might say, his collapse point, he edged toward the piano and, in a rest passage, indicated the score with the tip of his bow and muttered to Rachmaninov 'Where are we?'
Rachmaninov leered, and said 'We're in the Carnegie Hall.'

Read a medley of responses to the Poets and Storytellers' prompt here. 

Aug 11, 2023


To Laugh or Cry.

The world is on fire, and if not in fire it's under 2 metres of water, and if it's had the good fortune to avoid fire and flood it's being blown away by hurricane force winds, tornados and typhoons.   Climate scientists tell us that these extreme weather events are at least in part caused by Mankind - individually brilliant, collectively stupid - abusing planet Earth, our one and only PERSONAL LIFE SUPPORT SYTEM. Read that bit again. Climate sceptics - exemplified by USA's favourite half-wit (you know who I mean) deny humankind's role in global warming, maintaining that climate change is 'fake news' and/or 'a hoax,' while all over the world political leaders trumpet 'zero carbon by 20something' once day and do their green-washing the next - JUST CARRY ON GRANTING DRILLING LICENSES.  

Now here's the funny thing.  MOST PEOPLE agree that there is a problem.  'Ooo, it were terrible!  We was burned out of our 'oliday 'otel.'  'Me car were floatin' down the street.' 'Granny and Granddad were buried in a mud-slide.'  'Blew the roof of me conservatory, so it did.'  'You'd enjoy Greece more is it weren't so bloody hot.'  BUT HOW MANY PEOPLE do you know who have changed the way they treat their PLISS in the interest of an earth fit for their grandchildren to live in?  No, once they've settled the insurance claim they resume flitting round and round the world for fun in aircraft.  They buy a replacement motor twice the size they really need  - SUV's are posh builders' vans. They buy an outfit for their Saturday Night Out and bin it on Monday. They cool themselves down by cranking up their air-cond - and how many people understand that AC makes matters worse.

Before starting this rant I did my washing-up. (Don't have a dishwasher . . . too polluting) Rinsing a saucepan, I thought, 'That used more pure, clean water than lots of little kids in the world get to drink in a week.  Doesn't that make you want to cry?

I watch Hawaii, Portugal, Greece, Canada going up in smoke and am reminded of a line from a Peter, Paul and Mary song. back in the seventies -


This doom-and-gloom inspired by Magaly's prompt on Poets and Storytellers

Aug 5, 2023


 . . .  how many 'psychological thrillers with a gut wrenching twist' (*)  feature a female character, usually a police person, who has been blessed with 'red hair and green eyes.'  So many that, IMHO, the red-haired, green-eyed heroine has become a cliché.

With this in mind I did some research and discovered that . . .  Less(**) than 2% of the world's population have 'green eyes,' with aren't green anyway.  They are brown eyes deficient in melatonin. There is no 'green' pigment.  The 'green' tint is produced by internal reflection in the cornea.   Just thought you'd like to know that.  Start a punch-up by commenting below - particularly if you have green eyes and have never featured in an Amazon thriller.

(*) Translation.  'Psychological' means it's about people. 'Thriller' means it usually isn't.  'Gut wrenching' can be substituted by (pick where you like): hair raising, ear splitting, eye popping, jaw dropping, mind boggling, heart stopping, stomach turning, knee trembling, foot tapping, toe curling . . . and that's just for starters.

(**)  'Less' or 'Fewer'?  Which would you vote for?

This post posted in response to Rommy's intriguing prompt on Poets and Storytellers United