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February 06, 2014


Many years ago I used to listen the Cat Stevens album Mona Bone Jakon in LP form while lying on my bed. The last song on that album devolves into a relatively rhythmically unordered electric violin soundscape. It's only about 2 minutes long, but it used to hypnotize me. I recall hearing the beginning of the song in my normal waking self, where there's singing, and I would snap out of it at the end of the song -- I recall hearing the needle arm returning to its cradle -- but it would seem to me that I had been under for at least 20 minutes. It sort of felt like I had gotten a 90% discount on a 20 minute nap.

JakeB, that reminds of a similar/opposite thing that used to happen to me. I would feel like I slept way longer than I had

In college, I spread myself pretty thin and used (copious amounts) of caffeine to keep functioning.

Of course, scant hours of sleep and an irregular schedule, fueled by caffeine, wasn't really conducive to sleeping well when you were down.

I used to crawl into bed at odd hours, exhausted, but only a short time after a dose of caffeine.

15-30 minutes later, I'm slammed awake in a panic because it feels like hours have passed...

Caffeine hijacked time and took it for a joyride.

One story that often comes up about the relation between music, time and technology is Beethoven's Ninth and CD length.

I vote we make that the official story of CD length, whether true or not.

Somewhat related: performance lengths of certain operas. One makes exceptions for Wagner, but operas like, for instance, The Marriage of Figaro, have certain arias that are traditionally cut in European houses. I alway thought these were purely artistic decisions, with the audience in mind, but I recently learned that the major reason behind them is that it keeps the evening from going into overtime, which is when the orchestra and the techies get paid extra. Purely monetary decision.

"Purely monetary decision."

Do you mean to say that art and audience satisfaction, otherwise known as overhead, have been sacrificed on the alter of economic austerity?

Are the Koch Brothers now financing opera?

Maybe we should get some time and motion people to come in and point out the inefficiencies in the staging of the "The Magic Flute". Just call it "The Flute", thus cutting marquee expenses and the time those expensive yobs spend up on ladders adjusting the lettering.

Maybe the signature Pagliacci aria could be tightened up by singing every OTHER word because the lighting crew is demanding overtime.

In the U.K., I understand the Tory government has now edited some of the well-known soliloquies in Shakespeare to save money on the arts subsidies.

Hamlet's famous speech has been whittled down to "To be or .. etc. etc. We're not entertaining questions tonight."

Then we proceed directly to Laertes grazing Hamlet with the poisoned sword, skipping Polonius's demise (the curtain-makers Union must be crushed), and Ophelia's drowning (she dies of a sudden aneurysm and is carted off), is cut to redirect the money spent on the burbling brook to the mammoth statue of Margaret Thatcher in Trafalgar Square, for which passersby are charged 100 quid for a glance, deducted from their NHS subsidies, and the play within a play has been sacrificed as a redundancy.

The works of the great poets have been downsized because poet wages are getting out of hand. Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" was cut to just one road because of high construction costs and the idling of the road crews because it cost too much waiting for the poet to idle away our money and time as he made his decision which way to go. In fact, don't bother leaving the house.

Dante's Inferno, well, what more do you need to know, midway on our life's journey, he found himself in dark woods, the right road lost and and then all Hell broke loose.

Make it a toll road and automate Beatrice.

American pop radio stations, forgoing the extravagance of the profligate 1960s, have now cut the playing time of "Hey Jude" to three minutes (that will allow room for three extra beer commercials), though you may pony up an extra buck to hear each set of "na, na, na, nanananas".

I think we've gotten to the bottom of the mystery of Hiroshima and Nagasaki decision. Hey, do the math, two bombs, tops, several hundred thousand people wiped out. Compare that to what we might have spent on killing them all individually had we invaded Japan.

Plus, we saved money for the VA by forgoing all of the amputations for our surviving soldiers,, so they could come home, shadup, and get to work.

Well, Obamacare, as the Republican Party is now demagoguing us, will put the kibosh on this type of penny-pinching scroogosity, by allowing the lighting crews, stagehands, understudies, and soldiers, all of the people who we hate paying time and a half for their contributions to our lives as we once knew them, by disincentivizing the workers from labor and allowing them to have healthcare in the middle of the workweek without the pain of kissing arse for a pittance like the rest of us so much enjoy doing and maybe even have a few moments left over for entrepreneurship.

Something's got to change, or we're going down the tubes, unless overhead is cut and the tubemakers laid off, and we are all forced to go down one tube together, or worse, give it up completely tubeless, which the exception of the luxury box seat tubes, tubing in Coach, the Romneys have reserved for themselves, with tax incentives.

Wiki says that the first wax cylinders held two minutes of sound - and could be recorded over! a four-minute variety came later, but only after 78s (which hold up to 5 minutes) had started taking away Edison's cylinder biz.

and looking at songs from back in 1871, the three-verse + chorus format was popular for popular songs. so, i suspect many songs were already in the 3 minute range, and the recording media was designed to hold those songs, not the other way around.

I guess I don't really need to hear the drum solo on In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida one more time, so that's a relief.

And Jerry Garcia's endless noodling about always seemed to me to be a pointless self-indulgence, not that anyone was counting, and if they were, they lost their place and had to start over numerous times.

Come to think of it, now that marijuana is big business and the accountants are swarming around the grow rooms, get me thru the song, say what you have to say, and on to the next thing.

I have receipts to count. Less time sampling the product at work will improve margins.

After the Byrds hit the acid in the late Sixties and added three guitar breaks and two drum solos to "Eight Miles High", it was time to call in McKinsey and Associates and get the lunch break down to 15 minutes for the roadies.

Get it back to three minutes and rename it "Three Miles High". We can use the other five miles more productively.

The Grateful Dead and the Deadheads won't survive modern time management and labor-saving advances in the arts.

I can look out my office window and see this, which makes me an expert on early recording methods, much in the same way Sarah Palin is an expert in foreign policy by virtue of being able to see parts of Russia from Alaska.

I wonder what year they came out with those stone discs you played with a pointy-beaked bird? (And was that the same bird that chisled the images onto the stone tablets in the early days of photography? 'Cause that would be kind of efficient.)

HSH, that would be 1960, of course. In the fall.

But I'm pretty sure they would be different birds (although no doubt related species). One needs to work from what is sees, the other from what it hears.

cleek, I wish I could find that article, cause it had some interesting points, but I can't quite be sure of them now. I probably messed up the argument with my summary.

The Grateful Dead and the Deadheads won't survive modern time management and labor-saving advances in the arts...

You're not standing up for prolixity by any chance, Count ?


Well, in so many words ....

Fellow Open Threaders,

For all of us armchair generals of the WWII heavy aerial bombing campaigns, please do take a brief look: http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2014/02/sunday-book-review-the-bombing-war

History is indeed not so cut and dried as some would assert. It's not over 'till it's over.


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