Thursday, October 05, 2006

Recent Advances in Beethoven Studies

Apparently, one cannot listen to My Chemical Romance every day for two weeks without eventually desiring to hear something different. (No offense is meant to MCR: I am looking forward to the new album more than any other recording released this year.) But, for a change of pace, the other day Fosco was playing through his classical discs...

And then he had an inspiration!

You see, a number of years ago, Count Fosco was the host of weekly radio show in Charlottesville, Virginia, devoted to contemporary classical music. Probably the station is one of the few in the US that would allow such a show to exist (as the audience for contemporary classical is, um, not large). He did this for almost five years, and he loved it. So many good memories:

  • chatting occasionally with a regular listener who also happens to be a well-known conservative cultural critic.
  • playing John Cage's 4'33" live on the air. Actually, as I recall, it was fund-raising week and my cohost and I gave our fundraising pitch for 4 minutes and 33 seconds. I suspect Cage would have approved.
  • following on air a rock show hosted by his pasty-faced Majesty.
  • causing a station-wide obscenity crisis by (naively) playing a musical setting of Allen Ginsberg's Howl. Silly me: I thought works of art were immune from obscenity rules... (This is SO not true, it turns out--stupid Supreme Court.)
Ah, good times, temporary layoffs...

But the thing I always wanted to do the most on that show I never did. You see, I heard once (and in the last 10 minutes of Google searching, I have been unable to track down a reliable source for this--if you have one, pass it along) that John Cage once played recordings of all nine Beethoven symphonies simultaneously. Several times during my radio years, it occurred to me that I would love to play such a "mashup" on my show. However, at the time, the technical difficulties of mixing the symphonies seemed a bit too daunting for me (i.e., I had a 386 with no sound card and no speakers) and the logistical difficulties of doing it "live" seemed to offer a problem as well (i.e., there weren't even nine working channels on the station's mixing board...).

Time has passed and I now have this MacBook that comes with (pre-installed!) some program called "GarageBand"--which is basically a mixing board for complete idiots (like me!). And so, flipping through my Beethoven discs last week, I realized that I am now fully capable of listening to ALL NINE BEETHOVEN SYMPHONIES SIMULTANEOUSLY.

And, to tell you the truth, it's even better than I thought it would be.

It's not the sonic mush that you might expect (at least if you, like me, can't imagine what to expect). And, believe it or not, it is quite catchy in parts--the beginning in particular.

Because I am Fosco and I love you, my Dear Reader, I want to make this experience available to you. If you want to hear this, you can download the sound file right here.

BEFORE you start downloading, here are the qualifications, caveats, etc:
1. This is a large file. 167 MB. It will take a bit of time and bandwidth.
2. The file format is AIFF. Why? I don't know. I'm not an expert at these things: just consider yourself lucky I could do this at all.
3. This is only the first movements of all nine symphonies. To go beyond that would be too complicated for me right now.
4. Do you know how hard it is to find a free filesharing site that will allow huge files and unlimited downloads and that will work with a Mac? It's hard, so I am using RapidShare. The downside is that, to download for free, you must A) choose the FREE download button and then B) wait like 3 minutes to begin (they even have an annoying timer). Alas.
5. For copyright reasons, I'm not going to tell you which recordings I've used. Just know that they are all the same conductor and orchestra. Does the conductor's last name (sort of) rhyme with "to-mah-to"? Could be. Does the orchestra's geographical location rhyme with "Merlin"? Maybe. I ain't sayin'.
6. Is this a travesty? Bite me.

Isn't contemporary music fun? And do I even need to tell you again to visit Osti Music to listen to some of John Mackey's compositions?

1 comment:

Todd said...

To compress:
In GarageBand, choose Share-->Send Song to iTunes.

Switch to iTunes, select the song and choose Convert Selection to [Format] from the Advanced menu. [Format] will be whatever your compressed format your import settings are set to.