Saturday, March 05, 2005

From shortwave to streaming audio

Over at I miei cari amici, friend Garry Wilmore has a post lamenting the shrinking role of classical music in modern culture and linking to an essay on the same subject. I've posted a comment there which set me to thinking.

One of my most cherished Christmas gifts was a shortwave radio -- a tube set (I guess it was before transistors). I strung an antenna (which had resistors (?) encased in plastic in different lengths along the cable) between our chimney and a corner of our roof. I marvelled that I could pick up the World Service of the BBC, and that I could follow the tic-tocs and gong of the Greenwich UTC station (now my Mac automatically synchronizes its clock with a network time server). And to listen to radio stations across the world in languages I hadn't even heard of.

With the Internet and streaming audio, you don't need to string an antenna. In fact, with wireless broadband, I'm writing this on my iBook lying on my bed and listening to KBYU FM ("Classical 89") via streaming audio. (Help yourself, here). No static, just clear channel classical music.

We had a boys' night out last night (my father, my two sons, two nephews, and a friend): Magleby's Oyster Bar and Grill and later "The Guns of Navarone" (a total guy movie) on our jerry-rigged "home theater" (the firm's computer projector brought home for the weekend). After oysters on the half shell (I didn't -- but everyone else had at least one), during our main course my dad mentioned a thought of his (akin to Garry's post about a cosmic "Florence" library in the next world) about being able to compose and perform music on the spot (129 orchestra pieces in your mind) so that when you meet and embrace your true love, spontaneously Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme from Paganini" (or your own variation) erupts in your ears and hers -- a continuing soundtrack to life generated by your mind.

My father has had a huge impact in blessing my life with music, from Kenton's "Hank's Opener" and "Opus in Pastels" to Rachmaninoff's 2nd Piano Concerto to Mahler's 2nd Symphony (especially the 4th movement), and from the BYU Men's Chorus and Mormon Tabernacle Choir, to Al Hirt, the Tijuana Brass, barbershop music, Harry Nilsson, Burt Bacharach, and the Carpenters. With that boost, I found James Taylor, Loggins & Messina, Chuck Mangione, Earth Wind & Fire, Big Bad Voodoo Daddies, and They Might Be Giants on my own.

Listening now, I feel like Wordsworth in his Prelude, "Oh, there is blessing in this gentle breeze" -- of digital wireless music. Though tubeless, my iBook's another -- way cooler -- radio.


Blogger Garry Wilmore said...

Your musical tastes are perhaps a bit more eclectic than mine, but consider this: a couple of weeks ago, I found a wonderful CD at Border's, and I am thinking of buying two copies of it -- one for myself, and one for Colin. The title of the CD is "New Orleans," which right off the bat tells you what kind of music you're going to find on it. This CD is produced by a company called Putumayo World Music.About six months ago, Putumayo came out with another CD, this one of Greek popular and folk music, which I did purchase. Vanessa loves it, and when we go somewhere together, she often asks me to bring it along so we can listen to it on our car's CD player.

6:32 PM  
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