Friday, 4 September 2015

Many years ago, when I first started running a music department in a Welsh school, I was approached by a music lover who wanted to donate a large collection of operas on vinyl.  As we talked I understood that large meant large, there were thousands of discs covering the entire history of opera.
While I was excited by the idea I soon came to realise that there were a number of problems in accepting his gift.
Space wasn't a real issue, at the time the building was new and I could have housed the discs, but I wasn't a librarian, and the building was for education in which the love of opera wasn't a primary concern.
If I had accepted the collection what would be done with the discs?  I could have listened to them all, I may have enjoyed many of the works and their multiple performances, though opera isn't my passion.  I could have carried on the task of sharing the material, but being a very trusting person could I have faced the loss of discs to unscrupulous borrowers, and what about damage to these somewhat fragile objects?
I raised the question of permanence and suggested recording the discs onto a safe medium (I must have thought tape was safer than vinyl), but the smile on the collectors face brought me to my senses.
Even if digital technology had been available at that time it would have been a Herculean task to transcribe the material.
Finally I asked why he didn't just keep the collection, he explained that his home wasn't a home any longer, it had become a museum.  Family had won over art.

I share this at the start of this blog as Nurtan Esmen and myself are slowly evolving into a similar situation. We aren't collectors in the usual sense, though we both have many years of music stored away in one form or another. What we do have is a lively passion for listening, and that passion has lasted many decades.
If we listened for two hours a day (not much of a task for enthusiasts) a year would amount to 1,460 hours between us. Given a minimum of forty years of listening we would be approaching the 60K hour mark. In reality the figure is underestimated. If we were to add the hours we spent composing to the listening one wonders how the demands of daily life were met, we must have very forgiving families.

So the big question is what do we do with this "collection"?

We would like to share some of our passion about music, but in a practical way.
Our listening has informed our composing styles, and over the years we have encountered many problems regarding style and technique.  In our discussions we have been able to offer help to each other to resolve problems and offer a critical ear when required.
We have set ourselves tasks to keep our thinking fresh, including what is to be a part of this blog, an analysis of some very challenging 20th century music.  More of that later.

Should any musician ask for opinions on their music (shared via electronic media on the net) or request information regarding composing techniques, we will certainly reply.  If you are a less experienced listener and wish to broaden your outlook, we will be happy to share ideas. If you enjoy sharing music please contact us.

Finally, we understand that music has a technical language, we are experienced in its use, but simplicity is valued above complexity.