May 16th, 2009

flock

"The next voice you hear..."

"...will be that of the President of the United States, Mister Hoobert Heever."

Or maybe Barack Obama. If you don't read the whole thing, some salient points:

"Obama’s protectionism echoes Herbert Hoover’s protectionism, which helped spawn the Great Depression....

"Obama is following in Herbert Hoover’s footsteps on taxes and spending. In the Great Depression, Hoover raised marginal tax rates to 63%, and went on a deficit spending binge. Similarly, Obama has proposed higher marginal tax rates, which will produce another $1.9 trillion in tax increases. One of Obama’s own advisers now says that “the barrage of tax increases proposed in President Barack Obama’s budget could, if enacted by Congress, kill any chance of an early and sustained recovery.” He compares Obama’s tax increases to those that deepened the Great Depression.

"Hoover imposed regressive taxes that burdened consumers, like the Revenue Act of 1932. Obama is now doing the same thing through his proposed $2 trillion cap-and-trade carbon tax. Obama privately admitted to the San Francisco Chronicle (which didn’t report it) that under his “plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” As Obama admitted, that cost would be directly passed “on to consumers” — just the way Herbert Hoover’s 1932 excise tax increase was. Although the tax’s supporters claim it will cut greenhouse gas emissions, it may perversely increase them and also result in dirtier air. It is also chock full of corporate welfare, regional favoritism, political pay-offs, and give-aways to special interests"

P.S. Turns out the infamous gaffe was made not in an intro, but a program aired on Hoover's birthday. Kermit Schafer, he of the blooper recordings, recorded the version that people remember, but at least the vocal blunder actually occurred, unlike the "There, that ought to hold the little bastards" line that supposedly went out over a live mike at the end of a children's show.
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    nauseated nauseated
flock

Fingering unconstrained

Wind instruments are the gaseous equivalent of Pythagoras's famous monochord... OK, not really. They would be if you played different notes by chopping off and gluing back on pieces, but that being impractical, one ends up having the kind of funky cross-fingerings that plague students of the recorder, because the part of the tube past the topmost opening affects the pitch..

In the nineteenth century, Theobald Böhm spent an amazing amount of time and effort coming up with the maze of levers and tabs and pads, some closed by default, some open by default, that saves flautists from the complications we recorder players face and simplifies playing with ease in any key. (Just to amuse yourself sometime, try playing Dobie Gray's "Drift Away" on a recorder in its original key of B. If you even try, you're a better man than I am, Gunga Din.) Sax players owe him the same debt, as they share the same technology.

But with an electronic wind instrument, you're not tied to that iron relationship between the vibrating column of air and generated pitch--you have to still hold the darn thing up, of course, but that's about it. You don't have to be tied to the way acoustic wind instruments do things... but existing wind controllers are--there's a lot of woodshedding and muscle memory invested in those ways.

If you didn't feel constrained by backwards compatibility, though, what would you do? Could you do better? Is there a Don Buchla for wind controllers out there, coming up with something new?

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    curious curious