Ballet

Before this week I had never seen a ballet concert. My four year old daughter had dress rehearsals and performances all week. It was quite a production involving over a hundred girls from 4 yrs up to about 18 yrs….some thoughts:

The sheer joy my girl got from the whole week reminded me of playing in a band. The practicing, the setting up, being backstage, performing….it all gets very addictive and I could identify with it.

The makeup is weird. Part of the show, no doubt, but little girls in makeup sits uneasily in my stomach.

Music plays a huge part in dance and ballet (obviously) and it was clear to me that some girls linked the dancing with the music, while others simply did not make that connection. They were just going through the motions as if it was a sport or a exercise at the gym rather than dancing to the music. My guess is to get any good at the dancing, you need to make that simple connection.

There are some parents out there who take their ballet VERY seriously.

The whole thing was far more fun and interesting than I thought it would be. Exhausting but fun.

Making it interesting

Check out this passage from a book I am reading:

The eardrum is connected to three tiny, loosely hinged bones inside the middle ear. Each bone is delicate and exquisitely shaped. One looks like a hammer and is called by its Latin name, malleus. The next, the incus, looks like an anvil. And the third, the stapes, looks like a stirrup. When the eardrum vibrates, these bones vibrate in tune with its movement and with the movement of the air.

Three bones make all the sound you hear in your head! This sort of thing blows my mind, and yet I gave up biology at 15.

Maybe if my biology teacher had linked it all to music I would have paid attention.

Footage

I received a video yesterday from my dad. He was fronting a full on soul band. A blues brothers style suit on, he was singing on stage playing his Stratocaster next to my sister who played saxophone.

It made me think that not many families have such cool footage. It reminded me that my family roots are creative, bold, and musical.

It was such a great video to receive and I was so proud of them. Thanks dad.

Pixies

The pixies as a band passed me by. I was a little too young and a little too stuck in east Africa for their first few albums to make any impact on my life. However, the beauty of music streaming services now is that I can dig into all the rich history.

I sometimes wonder why as a society we make all this new music when there is so much to discover in the back catalogues. Maybe they should put a moratorium on new releases until everyone has caught up with listening to everything ever released to date?

Just an idea.

https://music.apple.com/za/album/doolittle/7060469

Why Chimpwithcans?

I’m sure I chose my website name, “Chimpwithcans”, for a reason. I just can’t think of it right now! Let’s try and figure it out.

Chimps are like us. We are like chimps. We evolved differently from similar ancestors, but our primal make-up (and behaviour) is little different. For example, chimps not only laugh like us, but also smile in silence; they are gourmands, they play, they are aware of the fact that they think and can distinguish between fair and unfair, as well as cultivating friendship.

Despite these similarities, the juxtaposition of a chimp with headphones on is intriguing to me. Can you imagine the infusion of culture, technology and art into the chimps brain through those cans? I like to imagine what the chimpanzee is listening to.

Music appeals to something very base and deep within our human psyches, and sometimes I fantasise that given a couple thousand years of evolution a chimp might get music the same way we do. Imagine how much better we would understand primates if we could dance with them?

Chimpwithcans (and the glorious artwork by Mr Aveling) is therefore about stripping away the complications of our culture and busy lives, and simply letting the music in to our primal core. It hints at imagination, curiosity and submission to the power of music in the ears. It’s how I see myself when i hear a good song.

One for you, 19 for me.

Some lines from songs stick with us. They are memorable and well structured. But, most lines are not. Most lines from most songs fall by the wayside of our memories and attentions.

This is true of all work and creations of course. 99% of our efforts are ‘works in progress’ or sub-standard. There are only a few instances (if we are consistent and hard working) when we strike lightening, gold and rainbows with our work.

It makes sense then to live for those moments, and to hope for them. But also to come to terms with the hard work it takes to get there.

Is Hifi dying?

The music industry is dying. Hifi is dying.

If it is dying, it doesn’t have to die for you.

Buy an amp, get some nice speakers or headphones, listen to the music.

Hifi and sacrifice

If you listen to music, you have chosen not to do something else. Sacrifice.

In western culture today the idea of sacrifice is often over dramatized. The words conjure up images of lambs slaughtered, pain, blood, sweat, tears. What is not often explained or acknowledged is how sacrifice happens every second of every day. It is fundamental to achieving anything. It is something we should get our heads around and I think it is something many of us deny exists.

With music and Hifi this means we must choose what to sacrifice in the quest for audio quality and listening. Perhaps we need to eat beans and water for a few weeks to afford those new speakers. Perhaps we choose to listen to an album rather than play sport or talk to our kids. You can have your listening room in the house, but you’ll need to give up on the big social lounge.

Everything is a sacrifice of some sort. And that is the dance we are all doing! 🐵🎧

Searching for the culture

If you are stuck browsing the internet through the bubbled lens of Twitter or Facebook. It all seems like evidence of people living the way you would like them to live, but it all seems so far away.

If this is you, it might be interesting to search for a someone near to you who is in sync with your point of view and then go and interact with that person face to face.

In terms of audiophiles, it is easy to surround yourself with the videos and images of instagram showing hugely expensive systems, all set up perfectly. However real life is a lot more messy. There are normal everyday people behind that industry, trying to make their music sound the best they can. Find a hifi store, a vinyl market, a local audio visual consultant and interact with them.

They might even need something you have to give, and away you go. You’re part of the community now, and away from the bubbles.

Audio and Winning

The Raptors won the first game of the NBA finals yesterday. It’s the easiest thing in the world to recognise. Their goal was to be the biggest, fittest, most organised, efficient, accurate team that scores the most points and concedes the least. They won.

I think the NBA is beautiful and awe-inspiring, but it is not in my interests to try and make it as a pro baller. I’m only 6’1, already in my 30’s and I live in Africa – also I have never played a real game of basketball in my life – to name just a few hurdles i have. I wouldn’t win that game.

So how do you win at audio? More art than sport, there is scope to make your own rules and your own goals. Here’s my suggested list of things to do to feel like you are getting the most you can from your listening:

  • Read about music as you listen to it
  • Understand the equipment which you listen to
  • Play an instrument, even if you do it badly
  • Record yourself
  • Choose your own music, rather than letting the app, radio or the TV decide
  • Create a physical space and ritual dedicated to listening
  • Write about your audio experiences