Monday, September 11, 2006

Prof. McJeebie Attends the BBC Proms

I apologize for my prolonged absence from the blogosphere. I have spent the last week at the BBC Proms in London. I attempted to use my TANDY computer to post to my blog, but I could not access my AOL account because it was registered in U.S. dollars, not English pounds. At any rate, I am back in the land of internet freedom and ready to blog again.

At Prince Albert Royal Hall, those strapping, scholarly London lads couldn’t get enough of the Proms, which makes sense given that they won’t be able to resume their proper academic studies until October. The nightly concerts featured a disproportionately large amount of English music; Thomas Adès’ Symphony No. 812 and Sir Michael Tippett’s Trumpet Concerto No. 57 were particularly well-received. Some Irish and Scottish audience members shouted “Bravo” in Italian as Sir Rupert Murdoch took to the stage to narrate Colin Matthews’ dramatic percussion concerto, The Fast Beating the Slow. Even the Queen herself was on hand to conduct the opening fanfare by Sir William Walton, and she presented Walton’s widow, Gütte, with a royal, golden baton in celebration of her adherence to musical celibacy following the death of her husband.

Yet throughout all the pomp and circumstance, this Professor heard not a trace of electronic music. Why, you ask, would a classical music festival ignore the significant contribution of computers and MIDI to the modern-day canon? The answer is quite simple: Electronic music does not sound very good at the British frequency of 250 Volts. In the U.S., our electricity runs at a much more reasonable 115 Volts, and my TANDY operates smoothly and produces vivid, dramatic sounds. When I attempted to use my TANDY at 250 Volts, the results were unpredictable and jarring, to say the least.

It’s nice that American composers occasionally get standing ovations in England, but this Professor knows that truly American music, such as that made on TANDY computers, will not be performed in the U.K. until the proper voltage is available.


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