Thursday, September 5, 2019

BISQC followup

Here's the page with all the videos from the Banff string quartet competition. You might want to consult my daily reports before choosing which of these to listen to: there's a tremendous amount of music there, and some of it is more appealing to the casual listener than others.

Oh, and the story I told there about the restaurant background music? It's like this:

This was a very long time ago, in fact over forty years ago, and it'll be helpful to remember that.

I was on a date, having dinner at a nice but moderately-priced restaurant in San Francisco. There was music playing on the house stereo in the background. It was not loud or obtrusive, so it was hard to make it out clearly against the ambient noise even of a not particularly noisy restaurant.

Still, it was obvious enough that the music was for symphony orchestra, and it was consonant. But it wasn't anything I recognized, and after a while, my music-listening ears began to pick up something odd about it. It was mostly the harmonic progression. The chords didn't succeed each other in anything like a normal way, there were no obvious cadences, and there was something odd about the phrasing too. It seemed weirdly modernist, but that was out of place both for the venue and for such lush and consonant music.

After a while I figured out what the explanation must be. I called over a waiter, and asked, "Is your house stereo on a reel-to-reel tape?" He said yes. I said, "Perhaps you should check it. I think it's playing backwards."

He went away, and a few minutes later the music stopped. Then it started up again. Now it was Swan Lake.

(And my date? She wasn't musical, but was used to my behaving like this, or would never have agreed to date me in the first place.)

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