Friday, January 23, 2009

Pre-recorded Music for the Inauguration and Pete Seeger

I have begun to see a few articles taking issue with the classical quartet for using pre-recorded music at the inauguration. They have been compared to the likes of Milli Vanilli and Ashlee Simpson. No comparison. The articles have obviously been written by someone who knows little or nothing about stringed instruments or people with little talent. If you don't have much talent to begin with, you don't want to be exposed before a live audience. If you play a stringed instrument, you know all of the things that can go wrong in an extreme weather situation.

Anyone who has ever played a stringed instrument knows how easily they are affected by changes in temperature and humidity. It is almost impossible to keep an instrument in tune in such extremes. Both the wood and the strings are affected. In extreme cold strings held so taut can easily break. Obviously the musicians were playing. We don't know exactly what they sounded like. Surely the instruments had been allowed to adapt to the cold, but who knows how well they held up.

It is hard to gloss over something so precise as classical music. Whereas, if James Taylor or Pete Seeger had hit missed a note we probably wouldn't have noticed. Changing the subject slightly, wasn't it great to see Pete Seeger on stage singing? A man who was a prime mover in the folk movement of the 1950's and 60's and who felt the wrath of McCarthy as a member of the Weavers. He was blacklisted and investigated and tailed by the FBI, so he could certainly identify with those who were blacklisted, wiretapped, and secretly investigated during the recent Bush era. What a great choice for the inauguration, and it was hardly noticed. I digressed, but maybe a good subject for a later post.


Dirk said...

I agree, it was obviously written by someone who knows nothing about musical instruments & weather. It's basic science, but there are so many basic things that just aren't taught anymore, it's not surprising.

It's amazing to me too that with such a momentous occasion as a Presidential inauguration, & the fact we're one of the few countries in the world that can have a non-violent, smooth transition of power & government business continues without so much as a hiccup, that someone nitpicks like that. This type of transition is something Americans should be proud of & thankful for, & not try to find fault in it or with any of the participants. Such a thing would never enter my mind.


Georgia Mountain Man said...

Amen, brother. Others should stand up and take notice, how particularly well this one went. It was a credit to President Bush and President Obama. Both made a strong effort to work with the other. Bush, especially, bent over backward to ensure a smooth transition. I was amazed that so many people could come together peacefully. The last I heard there were no arrests. As easy as it seems to be to incite a large crowd, apparently all was quiet.

Rod in Rabun Gap said...

The transition was very smooth. The Bush administration realised the severity of the times and seems to have been very gracious and helpful to the Obama team.
One more note about the music at the inauguration. I heard an interview with Yoyo Ma (? spelling) today on NPR. He said his strings were soaped to reduce friction, and therefore vibration and sound, and the piano keys were disconnected from the hammers. The people on the stage heard the music through the stage monitors. As you said, the weather was the concern, as well as it being such a momentous event that everyone wanted to make sure there were no glitches. They did a live soundcheck yesterday on the stage, and the keys on the piano went down, but refused to come up. It was also said that the Marine band was synched as well, and for the inaugural, because of the time of year and the risk of the weather, the music, by the Marine band and guests alike, are always recorded. So the naysayers are just looking for something to harp about.

herrad said...

Agree that however it was did not know anything about musical instruements.

It was brilliant seeing Pete Seeger got a tear in my eye.

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