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Volume 15 Issue 6 - March 2010

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The

The TechnologicalBandwagonJACK MACQUARRIEI’m going to start this month’s column with four only somewhat relatedanecdotes, then, with luck, connect the dots between them.In December 1877, a young man walked in to the office of theScientific American magazine, and placed before the editors a small,simple machine about which very few preliminary remarks were offered.The visitor, without any ceremony whatever, turned the crankand, to the astonishment of all present, the machine said: “Goodmorning. How do you do? How do you like the phonograph?” Theyoung man was Thomas Edison.One of my prized possessions is an old Edison cylinder phonographwith a few cylinders. One of those cylinders containsa conversation between Edison and JohannesBrahms where Brahms asks Edison about how his newinvention might influence music.(Little could either haveknown that in just a few years, as recording technologyadvanced, performer and listener could be separated bytime and distance, and a single performance could beheard many times at many different locations.)Twenty-nine years after Edison introduced hisThomas Edison andphonograph.phonograph, in December 1906, a Canadian, ReginaldFessenden, was the first to transmit sound by radio. Inthe world’s very first radio broadcast, Fessenden playedhis violin to the astonishment of the crews aboard ships in the Atlanticand Caribbean. The age of broadcasting had begun.In a recent broadcast of the CBC Radio programme “The SundayEdition,” host Michael Enright had as his guest music guru RobertHarris, who was there to “teach us how to listen to music withoutstraining ourselves.” The Enright programme was interesting inmany ways. One idea, though, made me stop in my tracks: it waswhen Harris suggested that we consider all of the elements makingup the “infrastructure” of a modern concert performance.Some are obvious: performers, conductor, composers; repertoire;presenter; venue. But what of all the other less obvious factors? Howdid each of the composers on the programme come to be a composer,for instance? Childhood ambition to compose? Experience as aperformer? How did their first musical thoughts gel, evolve and endup on a printed page? And speaking of the printed page, how manypeople, over a period of several centuries were involved in the developmentof the notation system for Western Music that is now universallyused? For that matter, where would music performance betoday if the art of printing had never been invented?And what about the instruments? The trombone was certainly thefirst fully chromatic member of the brass family of instruments, andis generally considered to be the oldest instrument, in unchangedform, of the modern symphony orchestra. All of the other instrumentsin a modern symphony orchestra, including the strings, haveundergone varying degrees of change over the past two centuries.In short, once we start, we can’t possibly count the number of individualswho have directly or indirectly had an influence on anygiven performance we hear or play in.Now, let’s look back over the past one hundred plus years sinceEdison and Fessenden. Since those early days, sound recording devicesand media have become more compact and much more portable.The media have evolved from cylinders through 78 rpm records,LPs, reel-to-reel tapes, cassette tapes, eight-track tapes to CDs,and now to various forms of solid state gadgets like MP3 players andiPods. Similarly, broadcasting has changed considerably. Comparethe Metropolitan Opera’s “revolutionary” Texaco live radio broadcaststo their current HD “Live from the Met” telecasts, and you’llsee what I mean.Another example: look at the evolving major role of electronics inmusic in recent years. Some years ago MIDI appeared on the sceneto harness the power of digital computers. This was closely followedby various music notation programmes to minimized the drudgery ofwriting out parts by hand. Then, of course, the ubiquitous internetis having a profound influence on many aspects of music. Whetherit be downloading actual music, looking for publisher’scatalogues, purchasing instruments, researching composersand their works, reviewing performances, or visitingband or orchestra websites, the internet has becomean essential part of our musical toolbox.The point? Rather than trying to experience music assomething distinct from the social forces shaping and reshapingit – what Harris might call “straining ourselves”– we should enjoy the way music performance reflectsour changing world.Which brings us to requesting your comments. Howis technology impacting on the bands or orchestras youare interested in? What can (and should) band and orchestra websitesset out to do, beyond such obvious things as giving you the name ofthe group, the conductor, their concert schedule, rehearsal time andlocation? From the perspective of the music you love to play or listento, what are the history-making changes now getting under way?Coming Events The Etobicoke Community Concert Band,John Edward Liddle, Music Director, present “That’s Entertainment” featuring special guest, Juno-nominated jazz pianist ChrisDonnelly. Etobicoke Collegiate Auditorium, 86 Montgomery Road. The City of Brampton Concert Bandwith music director, Darryl Eaton, will close its 125th AnniversaryConcert Series with “2010: A Space Odyssey” at the Rose Theatre. The Hannaford Street Silver Band presents: “Trumpet Spectacular” with trumpet soloist Allen Vizzutti. The Plumbing Factory Brass Band,Henry Meredith, Conductor present “Heroes – ordinary and extraordinary.” Byron United Church, 420 Boler Rd., London, Ontario.Jack MacQuarrie plays several brass instruments, andhas performed in many community ensembles. He canbe contacted at: bandstand@thewholenote.com.24 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COMMarch 1 - April 7, 2010

Photo by R. DiVito“Powerful and versatile”John Terauds, The TorontoStarCall the St. Lawrence Centre Box Officeat 416-366-7723 or 1-800-708-6754or book on-line at www.stlc.comVisit us at www.hssb.caTrumpet SpectacularSunday April 11, 2010, 3 p.m. Jane Mallett TheatreCurtis Metcalf, Artistic Director and Resident ConductorSpecial Guest Artist Allen Vizzutti, Trumpet Soloist www.vizzutti.comThe remarkable Allen Vizzutti returns to collaborate with the HSSB. Revel in two worldpremières as new works by Allen Vizzutti and Rob Teehan, both commissioned by the HSSB,are heard. This is the grand finale to our annual Festival of Brass, a three-day event thatcelebrates youth, community and the very best of professional music-making.The Hannaford Street Silver Band is grateful for the assistance received from its corporate and its many individual donors, and from the following:Long & McQuadeMusical InstumentsNewly expanded instrumental repertoire & methodsectonsDedicated RCM exam requirements sections for Theory,Piano, Strings, Brass/Woodwinds,(also great for highschool student solos/testing/university entrance auditions!)Discount cards available for all registered teachers andinstitutional directors (see staff for details)Toronto’s largest collection of Artist/Group/PersonalityfollosFull selection of electric/acoustic guitars, keyboards,drums, stands and accessories including amplifiers andpublic address systems/dj equipmentBand Instrument sales/rentals/serviceTakeA SECOND LOOKat us in 2010415 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario,M5V 2A5 store: (416) 593-8888www.stevesmusic.comeducational@stevesmusic.comMarch 1 - April 7, 2010 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COM 25

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