Monday, November 26, 2007

Tommy this, an' Tommy that

As mass-man and in a “ Complex society” we are attacked by ‘distance’ . A statement of the bleedin` obvious maybe but it is amenable to subtle application.
It has recently been discovered that less and less children are learning to play a musical instrument “ So what ?” Some would say , and you will guess I am not one of them The “So what “, is not ,as you might think to do with virtuosity and this gives me a chance to move seamlessly onto my favourite subject musically speaking ....DO RAY ME ME ME ME...and so on, which used to be called the singer’s scale.
I went through the trials and tribulations of Piano lessons not to say Cello lessons at which I had even less aptitude . Without ever having any exceptional ability I have got a lot of fun out of it over the years and our move to Lewes has allowed me to unpack the kit I once spent fortunes on in the so called “ Music Room”. I have a set of Keyboards mounted one above the other and various sound producing devices notable a superb Piano and some nice retro Organ tones .
Last night I watched “ Little Orphan Annie “and found it rather endearing . Certainly it has a couple of great shows songs , and I am also a bit of an amateur song writers as it happens . I immediately rushed of to the Piano to work out
how to play“Tomorrow “.It could equally have been any number of far groovier examples, I hasten to add , but I was struck by the architecture of the song . Its simple bodness you might say. Should anyone be interested in the key of C , from which I could easily transpose now , it goes like this as far as I can tell ( Oh I put the note in the bass in brackets )

The Sun`ll come out tomorrow bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow , there`ll be sun
C F maj A min D min7 Emin7 A min
F (G) G
Repeat with D ins bass at end
Tomorrow Tomorrow I love ya’ tomorrow your only a day away
C Cmaj7 C7 F( A) C ( G) F(G) G C
Then there’s a minor middle eight with a modulated key which is satisfyingly traditional
C min Cmin7 A flat maj 7 B flat E flat E flat ( G) F (G) G..
And back into the chorus

Good bit of work that . Now the point is not my mercurial talent ( ho ho ) the point is that having grappled with song writing the rules , the difficulties the techniques I am able to appreciate those who are accomplished to a far greater degree . Remove the participation and you have a diminished experience. That part which goes though the process of creation and appreciates the achievement will die .
People, as Brecht observed, watch football in this understanding way , which is healthy but tend to watch drama in a docile empathetic way whereby you experience the emotion of the characters only . Our drama is therby coarsened. Most of our lives are similarly coarsened by having things served to us in handy sachet’s, in gloopy baby friendly easily digestible form. We cannot criticise because we do not develop the critical faculty crucially associated with real experience

In many other ways ,we are becoming Ipod listeners not players ., a cast of mind that will watch a film of a bonfire but not experience one as they did in Cornwall last year.

One of the ways we are detached is from the efforts of the fighting men and women who bankroll our safety. The recent ambush of Gordon Brown whose Government have treated the forces shamefully was widely reported but there is a scarcely the outrage that is due . This fighting is , after all ,a long way away and no-one has to look. We imagine that this land of peace and plenty is guaranteed by the Eurovision song contest. It is inconceivable we feel that you could have a war “Here” with such things to occupy us .

That’s why in its way I found the story of the wounded men at the Defence Services Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Hedley court as shocking a marker of our slither into infanthood as any. Two women complained about their presence at a local pool onthe basis that these men with mangled and missing limbs had not paid ..HAD NOT PAID !!!!! I think they have paid plenty. The depressed Servicemen say its difficult to fit in when everyone is talking about X factor and no-one cares what they have done .Perrhaps this will always be the way it certainly was in Rudyard Kipling’s day

O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's ``Thank you, Mister Atkins,'' when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's ``Thank you, Mr. Atkins,'' when the band begins to play.”...

.... but for these women to complain the sight of wounds was upsetting is surely a new refinement in coarseness of apprehension. As if neither the fighting nor the men were real at all . No more so than a Television programme they might complain about .

For the sake of cultural life we should play instruments , write poetry and get real experience . We cannot live every life but our imaginations must be re-awakened before we slip into brutish inertia. I do not mean pointless empathising I mean a critical understanding of different experience. The sort of reaction that does not make you cry but makes you do something !


Travis Bickle said...

What can you expect from the public when the Home Secretary and supposed high ranking minister Alan Johnson think it appropriate to enjoy a private joke, complete with wide smirks, as Brown is answering a question directly relating to dead servicemen during last week's PMQs ???

Lions still led by donkeys 90 years on.

Newmania said...

I missed that Travis ,I `m glad of it

Travis Bickle said...

If you can be bothered to watch the rerun on C-Span clearly happens 22 minutes in , in response to a question from Lib Dem MP Paul Keetch.

No doubt the usual Labour apologists would find a way to justify such shameful behaviour.

Ed said...

I agree about participating rather than spectating. I think you have hit on a powerful idea N.

Newmania said...

Thanks Ed...not mine of course , otherwise it would be the usual insipid fare .

Siorry bnot about so much , i am only snatching seconds at work

Daisy said...

newmania thank you for that post...i thought at first it was going to be a lecture on music...and am glad i read to the end because i do understand what you are saying...i used to play piano (was horrid and my instructor ask me to quit, i did so promptly as i hated it) and i played guitar till arthritis in my left hand made it too painful (at the age of 30)...i always felt the music flow when playing guitar and love the feel of the sound coming out from my fingers...however, i can't sing well and it is probably better i don't play (as it makes me want to sing)...i do write though and have never given that up...i don't write as much as i should but when the mood takes me rarely can anything take me away from it...thanks again (sorry so long)

Newmania said...

I play the guitar a little Daisy...good lord no I would never lecture anyone

Nick Drew said...

poets et al can try to convey ideas that are new to the listener

but you are right, there is almost no substitute for first hand engagement (and the substitutes require Hard Work too, 'nuff said)

when I set out on my soldiering (in the '70's) the Commandant at Sandhurst addressed us saying that in 20-30 years there would be an entire leadership cohort in business and politics that (for the first time in many generations) had no first-hand military experience. This, he presciently remarked, would be a Bad Thing and society would be the loser.

He asked those who were on short service engagements to "go out into the world, become influential, and speak the truth about the Army"

(PS I think there may be an F minor in the chorus)

Newmania said...

Thanks for that Nick... you are an unusual chap nowadays I suppose

electro-kevin said...

Peter Hitchens reports of bronze war memorials being stolen as well as the lead from church roofs.

Sick and worrying.

As you say of music - fewer people learn to play properly. The local community 'college' likes to claim to be geared towards the performing arts. The local am-dram society is full of retired tradesmen who perform the socks off of the sixth formers from the 'college'(aka adult creche). Also there are no violins or cellos being lugged up the hill to the school - just the occasional electric guitar case. When the kids were invited to perform at the town festival what did we get ?

African drumming !

"We only know one tune but we can play it all day long."

We're becoming a backward cultural desert.

Scroblene said...

Newms; I'm so sorry to be so late to find your address!

You said some time ago you were going there, and somehow your link was abandoned!

Now I've got to get up early tomorrow and read all you've said!

Seen the Rugby club yet?

Hope the move went well.

Newmania said...

Ek thast a superb comment and one you miht have saved for your own blog brilliasntly captures the scene and I can hear the horror of it now .

I have a domne abit of music in an amateur way and playing blues or pop or whatever it might be the same attention to detail and sensitivity to the feel of what you are performing is there .

You don`t have to be great but you can join in

Newmania said...

Scrobs , we have been here three week and absolutely love it . I have seen the rugby club and little Elliot will be doing mini rugnby as soon as he is big enough....

The country is lovely the Town is welcoming and all in all I wish I had left London years ago. Mrs. N is delighted as well and that helps

Croydonian said...

“It's Tommy this, and Tommy that, and 'chuck 'im out, the brute,' But it's 'Saviour of his Country,' When the guns begin to shoot!”

Or at least it used to be.

Newmania said...

But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,

Good point C

Philipa said...

EK said "Peter Hitchens reports of bronze war memorials being stolen as well as the lead from church roofs. Sick and worrying.

Apparently an asian/Indian looking man stole a speakers handbag during the service in our church on sunday. Everyone was sickened, there is nothing sacred.

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