September 24th, 2004


If I had manners...

Greetings from Sunny London, where the air is thick with traffic noise, and instead of an alarm clock you have the piercing sirens of the emergency services on their way to collect ne'er do wells - or douse them in water so the sickly smell of their burning flesh doesn't put the honest commuter off his breakfast.

Last night quondam and I travelled down to see the Lord of the Rings Symphony at the Royal Albert Hall. It was a thought provoking piece on a number of levels, and had me considering music, the playstation generation, bubbles and how to commit murder quietly and quickly.

First up the music. It was tremendous, though the very talented soloist really struggled making the pop songs sound interesting. Her technical quality somehow dampened down the more raw voices on the orginal recordings - especially the case with Gollum's Song (one of my favourites). Lots of top choral action (a growing soft spot for me) and string instruments (playing a chord on my heart strings). There was also a nod to my more contemporary tastes, and the Uruk clashing noise (you'll know it if you know it) is made by a roving percussionist hitting a metal sheet while wearing a boxing glove (or that's what it looked like).

I did start thinking of the credibility of such music - and how this "movie soundtrack" has become a "symphony" - something that I always associate with central european men with wigs. Would Mozart be writing for George Lucas these days? Are movie scores the operetta of the 21st century? Answers on a postcard.

The hall itself had a huge projection screen over the orchestra. On this was beamed a "powerpoint" showing the rough position of the music in the narrative using John Howe's drawings. I'm not sure what I made of it. To some extent it felt like the director had decided that the (mixed age) audience needed something to watch as well as they listened, and that the orchestra itself wouldn't hold their attention - which I felt rather patronising and unnecessary; but then it was nice to be reminded of how the music did itself tell a story. On balance I'd rather have done without it - or at least had a "slide show" of stills rather than the zooming and panning of images that seemed half way to a pop-video.

Finally bubbles. Whether I'm in the cinema, theatre, or listening to music I tend to try and erect a personal forcefield and do pretty well in keeping the rest of reality at arms length. This is why I don't like to talk in the cinema, theatre, Royal Albert Hall or even when I'm watching TV (though differentiate between watching and background noise). So, I don't want you bursting my bubble with noisy sweet wrappers (two people immediately in front with their eclairs); conversation (two people immediately to the left) or mobile phone (somewhere behind and to the right). Just get a grip!

However I was myself apparently "breathing too loudly through my nose" (quondam) and I'll save a special rant for users of flash...

Just say no!

Dear user of camera inside hall:
  • The programme says "No cameras"

  • Your flash will not reach the stage - it will only illuminate the heads of the people in front of you

  • Your picture will be crap

  • Just because everyone else is doing it doesn't mean you should.
I suppose I'd better do some work now.

(no subject)

In the true spirit of work avoidance, I was chatting with my brother earlier and he told me how he downloaded one of the videos of an American hostage being beheaded in Iraq. I did the same weeks/months ago with the first and found it quite traumatic viewing.

His point was that the footage should be shown on national TV, which as far as I am aware hasn't happened yet (though it's got some people in trouble in South Africa - I don't know what happens elsewhere in the world, for example in the US.

So, should the footage be shown? Would it encourage calls to withdraw our troops and civilians? Will it be of little impact to the playstation generation who have become desensitised to violence and bloodshed?

Rather than allow for endless permutations of "After the watershed", "On satellite", "On subscription" I've kept the choice binary. Opinions appreciated.

Poll #355339 Too graphic for Joe Public?

Should the beheading of hostages in Iraq be shown on TV?

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