Iain Cameron's Diary
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2003-12-24 - 10:38 a.m.

Chatted to Louise about Stalingrad – always a favourite Christmas issue in our house. She was going to meet some of the Moscow crowd at Guildford and then link up with James for lunch, This seems to have had a nostalgic impact on James and as I write he is playing his CD of Viagra – the hit Russian girl group – to get him up and going for another day on the shopfloor at Heals. He wonders if Putin quietly grooves away to Viagra in his dacha.

I waited for ages for Vita to wake up yesterday as I need her technical direction on a Christmas present buying project. She finally emerged and briefed me so I could set off round the specialist retailers of Guildford. I needed a bit of a steer mid project but I managed to reach the objective.

An enormous parcel arrived from Amazon full of contemporary history books but tucked away inside was a copy of Paris 1919 which was sitting on my wish-list and somehow got mixed up with the order. I had forgotten that Little Feat played on these sessions. Cale’s first two albums were done for Columbia in NYC and then he moved to LA to work for Warners and Paris is the 2nd of two albums that he did for that label. It was the first to really establish him as a singer songwriter and a platform on which he was able to get a longer running contract at Island. I looked on Amazon to check the prices of some of this stuff. I wrapped up all the history books.

I tried to get Resonance FM 104.4 which is London’s altmusic station – on the tuner, on the DAB and in the car – and failed miserably. I listened to some of the Radiohead special material that is on BBC6 all Christmas. The Reich and Glass CDs arrived from my sister but I decided to save them for Christmas day to drive my family mad – esp 600 lines.

Peter Chatterton mailed to show me some new teaching software that he has discovered. I mailed back to say that DH500 is already featuring in the “search word” table for the KK site – this looks promising for the video he wants to put on the site on the instrument. I also posted a really interesting end of ear report on the SA government – with individual marking s for different politicians. You can read it by clicking on the Highveld link at the top of this page and going to the news page.

I mailed him an interesting link to a US Casio specialist.

I remembered that I have to do a presentation for a regional group that my boss is a member of – quite early in January, Better start planning this.

Glanced at the theory of Lake Harrison. This is a large putative Ice Age lake stretching from Stratford to Leicester blocked to the South and East by the Cotswolds scarp face and to the West by a glacier in the Severn Valley. The idea is that prior to the Ice Age the rivers drained North East into the Humber as indeed the river Blythe does today. The effect of Lake Harrison forming and then overflowing at certain points – the M40 route that I use every week and the one near Cropreddy where the Fairports hold their festival – was to create the conditions that allowed the Avon to form draining to the South West into the Severn.

Tried again with Marigold Sky – the 1990s Hall and Oates album. There must be more to it than meets the ears initially especially given where they got to with DX7 based soft soul about 6 years earlier – pretty close to the stuff Marcus Miller was doing with Miles. The best I can do is that it is a reversion almost to where they were before they first evolved their softsoul formula circa 1975 when folkrock and British Blues were more salient in their sound. The problem I have with it is that seem to have coarsened the rhythmic articulation of the songs – made the backing much more homogenous so it ceased to point the meaning so effectively.

I have been skimming over some grand theory – whether it might be possible to formulate a structural theory of rhythmic function in the way that Schoenberg postulates the structural functions of harmony. For example if you look at the eighth bar turnaround – the drummer will modify his beat pattern to give a grammatical expression of the piece. This would tie in with the material that Theodore Gracyk assembles in his “Rhythm and Noise/Aesthetics of Rock.” For example Gracyk writes as follows:

“There is a temptation to suppose that the backbeat is simple and mechanical. Jim Keltner gravitated to rock from jazz. But to succeed he had to relearn drumming. “I’d thought any idiot could be a rock drummer – that all you needed was a hammer and a block of two by four. Of course I was totally wrong.”…………..The lesson is that rock’ beat is not a rhythm played along with the rest of the music. As highlighted by the drummer it is a matter of strategically accenting and interacting with the beats in the rest of the music.”

He goes on to look at Mo Tucker – and Connie Kay on Astral Weeks. The drummer’s task is to find and emphasise the central rhythmic elements of the piece.

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