Keyboards of the World! Vol. 2

Time to post the latest keyboard pics from my recent travels!

It has taken much longer than usual to get these from meatspace to cyberspace, due to the untimely demise of my trusty digital camera. I bought it in 2003, so I suppose I shouldn’t be too sad; it had a good, long life, as electronic gadgets go. It made a dramatic exit though: on the night my Theremin Concerto was premièred, McDoc gave me a lovely bouquet of pink and white tulips, and I wanted to capture them for posterity. When I saw the image below on the little display, I knew something was amiss:

tulipsmear

I think it’s cool, in a modern-art kinda way, but it didn’t have the documentary value I was after.

I wanted to find out if there was any cure for the camera’s condition, so I consulted the experts, a.k.a. virtual friends who, like me, spend too much time online. The diagnosis:

Most likely, your CCD has failed. In other words, the electronic detector that substitutes for film in your digital camera, is taking a dirt nap. Pitch the camera and buy a new one unless it is wicked expensive; which is the only way it would be cost-effective.

Very sad. However, I wasn’t alone in finding the sick camera’s output attractive:

I don’t care if it’s broken — if you can take images like that, until it totally craps out, hie thee to a printshop and sell those as modern art. Very soothing, except to the camera-owner. Lemonade from lemons, etc.

I think that’s a great idea, don’t you? 😉

Anyway, I had to resort to a disposable digital camera for the rest of the trip, and it took awhile to use it all up and get it processed. Good news is, the pictures turned out pretty well. The bad news is, I still need to replace my digital camera. 😦

Donations to the Miss Music Nerd Digital Camera Replacement Fund will be gratefully accepted!

Meanwhile, let’s get started with the ‘board pics!

McDoc has relatives in San Diego, who graciously put us up while we were there. And their neighbors graciously let me play and photograph their piano:

usflag.gif San Diego, CA
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Click Mr. Readmore for pianos and organs and harpsichords, oh my!
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Picking on Radio 2, Part Deux

Intrigue and controversy continue to rage regarding the upcoming changes to my newly beloved CBC Radio 2. And I neglected to mention it in my previous post, but the CBC Radio Orchestra, the last existing radio orchestra in North America, will be disbanded in November, shortly after R2’s new programming begins. One of those things adds insult to injury — I’m not sure which is which.

Anyway, I have one thing I want to pick on, which is CBC Radio 2’s description of the changes to its weekday classical programming that will go into effect this fall:

A classical program that will emphasize the most popular and accessible classical music, including Mozart, Beethoven and other favourites.

Honestly, did someone get paid to write that? If so, I’m definitely in the wrong corner of this business, and I need to find out how I can hop on that gravy train. I mean, really, that sounds like something from the back of a cereal box, for Pete’s sake!

On the bright side, though, isn’t it a big relief to know that Mozart and Beethoven will finally be getting some air time?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the music of Mozart and Beethoven, and fully recognize its greatness and historical significance. In fact, my deep respect and affection for their music is part of what makes the description so nauseating to me. Mozart and Beethoven have been reduced to mere marketing buzzwords. Their names are now synonyms for “A safe bet!” and “A sure thing!” and “You’ll like it, we promise!”

Mozart and Beethoven were anything but safe bets during the time that they wrote the profound and complex musical works that we now use as aural anodynes. Anyone who has ever been in the same room with a music history textbook knows that. Actually, you don’t even have to read about it – you can just watch Amadeus or Immortal Beloved, movies which, for all their dramatic liberties and historical inaccuracies, contain a kernel of truth in their portrayal of the struggles for success and acceptance that the composers faced in their own lifetimes.

In defending its decision to make sweeping changes to its programming, Radio 2 is making a big deal about its intention to push the envelope with its non-classical programming, by promoting Canadian artists who haven’t gotten a fair hearing on commercial radio. At the same time, it would seem that their classical programming is fated to become as predictable and generic as it can possibly be, shunning anything that might need the kind of boost only non-commercial radio can provide, in favor of “popular and accessible… favourites.” In the words of a certain Canadian artist — isn’t it ironic? 😛

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    Et tu, CBC?

    One of the nice things about living in Detroit (yes, there are some!) is that we’re close enough to Canada to pick up the CBC radio stations. I cannot stand commercial radio — the ads are so obnoxious, I can rarely wait to see if there’ll even be any music scattered among them, let alone any worth listening to. I’ve been a hard-core public radio junkie for years now. (I’m a nerd — we’re clear on that, right? 😉 )

    When McDoc and I first moved here, I figured that the CBC would provide a welcome alternative to the local public stations during pledge drives 😛 or when the news became tiresome. But pretty soon we found that we were turning to CBC Radio 2 first, and leaving it on most of the time. We found that they played a great mix of music — mainly classical, but anything was fair game, depending on the program. The hosts were eccentric and witty, and were allowed enough talk time to charm the listener with commentary and off-the-wall stories, and they did it so engagingly that I never minded having to wait a bit longer to hear the next musical selection.

    It was like being able to open your refrigerator at any time of the day and have a gourmet meal from a fine restaurant leap out onto your plate! 😛

    Our favorite programs included:

    • The Signal, with Laurie Brown — she tells the zaniest stories — delightfully random and ethereal.
    • The Vinyl Café, with Stuart McLean — a “variety show,” something like a Canadian answer to A Prairie Home Companion
    • In the Key of Charles, with Gregory Charles — this dude is some kind of savant, seriously — he sings and plays snatches of any song you can name, broadcasting from his living room piano bench. Each week he has a theme, and plays music of many genres that fit the theme.
    • …and perhaps most importantly:

    • Music and Company, with Tom Allen. Interesting classical music — not just warhorses — with the aforementioned witty commentary. Oh, I said “most importantly” because a) it’s the weekday morning program, so I wake up to it every morning on my clock radio, and b) this very blog was mentioned on the program about a month ago, as as a result I had the most hits in a single day so far — and folks are still finding their way here via a link from the show’s website (Howdy! 🙂 ). Also, Tom gives pre-concert talks at the Detroit Symphony, so I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him in person.

    You may have noticed my use of the past tense up above — “It was like being able…”, “Our favorite programs included…” Yes, well, I should’ve known it was too good to last… someone left the cake out in the rain, baby! 😦 (I should be used to this by now… stuff I like almost always ends up on the chopping block due to its lack of mass-market popularity…)

    In March, the CBC announced some programming changes that very few people are happy about.

    The plan for weekday programming on CBC Radio Two is:

    • 6-10 a.m.: A music program dedicated to a range of genres, including classical, pop, jazz and roots music.
    • 10 a.m.-3 p.m.: A classical program that will emphasize the most popular and accessible classical music, including Mozart, Beethoven and other favourites.
    • 3-6 p.m.: A drive-home show focusing on vocal music, including many new artists.

    The rationale behind the changes is that R2 (that’s what the cool kids call it, by the way 😉 ) needs to devote more airtime to Canadian artists, which means they have to increase the amount of non-classical music that they play. In this way, the folks who run R2 hope to attract more listeners.

    Unfortunately, these changes threaten to alienate many current listeners, who are very devoted. I read through some of the comments left by listeners on the Radio 2 blog, and the vast majority are not pleased. The demise of Music and Company is particularly lamented.

    I read comments on 3 different posts:

    Among the minority of commenters who support the coming changes, at least one referred to “dead white men,” saying it wasn’t a bad thing for their music to lose its dominance on the station. I felt like I’d gotten whiplash of the brain when I read that; on the one hand, I felt hoisted on my own petard — the complaint I’ve so often tossed around about the classical world was now being used to defend an action that I find lamentable. On the other hand, I wish I could meet this individual so I could hand her one of these:

    • Clue #1: A major plank in CBC 2’s new platform is their midday show: “A classical program that will emphasize the most popular and accessible classical music, including Mozart, Beethoven and other favourites.” No more of that pesky interesting stuff! Guess what? It’s about to get a whole lot deader, whiter, and manlier!
    • Clue #2: There are many people involved in the production of classical music who are one or more of the following: alive, non-white, non-male. Not all of the composers are dead, and there are living performers too.

    I think the goal of supporting Canadian artists is a worthy one, if, as Radio 2 claims, they really will be creating opportunities for artists who aren’t being heard elsewhere. I’m skeptical about that — if the goal is to draw more listeners, are we really supposed to believe they won’t play familiar and already-successful artists as a means to that end? Also, it’s very sad that classical programming will be short-changed in this equation. I like the way one commenter summed it up:

    On an ‘easy listening’ commercial station or on a Radio One afternoon show, Diana Krall and Joni Mitchell are intelligent and classy.

    On a nationally funded station that is supposed to be a repository of Canadian art and culture, they are pap.

    Overall, it seems that in their attempt to please everyone, CBC Radio 2 will end up pleasing no one… and irritating long-time listeners.

    *This statement is stupendously wrong-headed in more ways than one, but I’ll save that for another post. I also have a lot more to say about the word “accessible” as it relates to classical music, but I’m gonna climb down off the soap box for now, before I sprain something or get a nosebleed. 😉

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