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August 11, 2020:

WHY NOTES SHOULD NEVER BE DICTATED

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, what happens when you love the titles of certain classical compositions, but you don’t love the music that goes with them.  Well, I’ll tell you what happens but first I will ask THIS question: What happens when you discover a little microphone icon at the top of your Word document and said icon says “Dictate.”  Well, I’ll tell you what happens but first I will ask THIS question: Why the HELL am I asking so many questions without giving answers?  So, let me answer posthaste:  If you enable the “Dictate” microphone icon you can dictate your thoughts and it types them right into the document.  I tried it with the first sentence and while there were errors, like unwanted capital letters and spaces before a comma it worked perfectly.  The only problem is it took me five minutes to dictate one sentence.  Apparently I have YTFTYT Syndrome (You Type Faster Than You Think), so I’m much faster with my fingers than with my voice because I let my fingers do the talking and they just take on a life of their own, whereas with the voice, your brain thinks before you speak and slows you up because you can’t find the words fast enough.  If I’d tried to dictate what I just wrote it would be morning already.  The answer to the question that I dictated refers to the compositions of one Charles Ives.  So, for example, we have the Robert Browning Overture.  Doesn’t that sound like it would be a beautiful piece?  But the reality is that it’s a noisy cacophony from start to finish.  I have tried to listen to the music of Mr. Ives and to understand what his point is, and I must say I find it to be a trial.  Three Places in New England – doesn’t that title conjure up some beautiful Copland-esque music?  But the Ivesian reality is something wholly other.  That said, I do like some things by him, like symphonies one and two and a few of the less crazy-sounding, dissonant pieces.  The reason I am, once again, listening to Mr. Ives is thanks to a little six-CD set of Morton Gould’s complete Chicago Symphony Orchestra recordings.  He wasn’t their conductor for more than a couple of years, but it resulted in six very interesting albums, the majority of which I am really loving.  The first has Gould’s own Spirituals for Orchestra, a piece I’ve always loved, and I’ve never heard a better performance than this and the RCA stereo sound is mind-boggling.  It’s coupled with Copland’s Dance Symphony, a great performance that bests even Copland’s own version.  Then we get the first of the two Ives albums – the first symphony, Variations on America and The Unanswered Question.  The symphony is wonderfully done – this was its first recording in stereo or maybe first ever, can’t remember.  And I enjoyed the music very much.

I had many questions about The Unanswered Question, but they all remain – unanswered.  The Variations on America was certainly raucous and made me want to go break some dishes.  Then there’s an album of Tchaikovsky waltzes, which is very attractive, then a great album of Nielsen’s second symphony and his clarinet concerto with Benny Goodman doing the honors.  Loved both performances, and his performance of the second symphony is now my favorite.  It, too, was the first stereo recording of the symphony.  Gould seems to have been a pioneer with some of this music.  Then we get the second Ives disc, which has Orchestral Sets one and two, one being Three Places in New England.  It’s done very well, but the Robert Browning Overture is a pretty crazy piece.  Mr. Ives was, to put it mildly, very ahead of his time, since most of his music was written either just before or just after the turn of the century.  The final disc is Russian music – a Rimsky-Korsakov first symphony – a stunning performance and again I think it was the first stereo version, and then a Miaskovsky symphony, which is wonderful. Just imagine if I’d dictated all of the above – it would be next Friday.

Yesterday was a weird little day.  I was up at seven after three hours of sleep, did stuff, went back to bed, fell asleep around nine-thirty and got up at one, so I guess that’s eight hours or thereabouts.  So, due to that I didn’t get much work done, but I probably needed that time to clear my brain.  I did choose another song, I did pick up packages, and for food I just did Jersey Mike’s – their medium-sized sandwich and then a mini for later in the evening.  I proofed some music that we’ll do in the September show and got that corrected, got a track and approved it with one small change, and then at some point I finally sat on my couch like so much fish.  Oh, and I got lots of wonderful comments about our show, here and elsewhere.

Last night, I finished watching The Poseidon Adventure.  Even now, it’s easy to see why it was such a huge hit, and it was a HUGE hit.  It’s really well directed by Ronald Neame and it really only falters in the writing, with it’s one-beat characters.  Some of that works fine – the Shelly Winters/Jack Albertson stuff doesn’t wear thin, but Stella Stevens and Ernest Borgnine’s characters do, Gene Hackman gives it his all but his character is REALLY irritating as the movie goes along, like a demented cheerleader, Carol Lynley is pretty wasted, Arthur O’Connell is always great, and Leslie Nielsen is terrific as the captain.  In the end, none of the negatives matter because the effects are great and it’s compelling right through to the end.  A major asset is the John Williams score, but everything is first rate.  The transfer looks fantastic even now.  You can see just how bad the DVD looked if you watch the extras, because the clips in those are from that DVD.  If you’ve never seen it, it’s a good deal of fun, despite the problems with the writing.

After that, I ate the mini sandwich, which was good, as the other one had been, and then I listened to these Morton Gould albums, and had a long telephonic conversation in the midst of writing, not dictating, these here notes.

Today, I’ll be up when I’m up, and then I have to know one way or another about my two major guest star asks or I have to move on.  I’ll choose songs, I’ll hopefully pick up packages, deal with any drama that may occur, eat, and then at some point, watch, listen, and relax.

The rest of the week is more of the same and I hope to finish choosing songs by Friday and that everyone will have their music by then.  We’ll do a Zoom rehearsal for the opening number at some point towards the end of the week, as it’s complicated, and then I’ll try to relax a bit on the weekend.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, be up when I’m up, check up on guest stars, choose songs, hopefully pick up packages, hopefully not have to deal with drama, eat, and watch, listen, and relax.  Today’s topic of discussion: What are your favorite disaster films like The Poseidon Adventure?  Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, happy I didn’t dictate these here notes.

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