Friday, April 21, 2006

Bach and modern technology

The parcel was half a metre high, cube-shaped and wrapped in shiny red paper. It stood next to his breakfast plate: tied with large wreaths of gold tassel and addressed in a scrolled script of suitably baroque loops and curves.

'Not another one!' said Bach, shoving it aside and reaching for the marmalade. Down the Initials' end of the table young CPE, JC and WF were squabbling about the future of late Baroque, throwing crusts at each other to settle whether the advent of digital technology would elevate contrapuntal writing to ever-greater heights or render it obsolete. CPE was accused of clinging to outmoded harmonic practices; JC's Early Classicism would lead only to base salon music, came the spirited reply. WF looked on gravely and said nothing. He was the eldest of Bach's Initials and all his brief life, had been subjected to the full weight of parental expectations. Even at such an early age, he knew sorrow.

Breakfast over, Bach turned to his unopened parcel and sighed. He could guess what it contained. Kapellmeisters, however, were expected to be grateful. After the first half-dozen similar such gifts, he had run off fifty form letters of grovelling thanks appropriate to his humble station. In the circumstances, none of the recipients would want a mere handwritten effort, Deference was easy, the real problem was what to do with the damn things. Ever since that article, 'If Only Bach Had A Computer', appeared in the previous month's Digital Digest, the house had been filling up. Anna Magdalena, as she made increasingly clear after each special delivery, was getting more than a little annoyed at the loss of storage space. Her linen cupboards were bulging with monitors, printers and keyboards, there were laptops stacked on the stairs and windowsills; the bath brimmed with new software packages; whenever a door opened or closed, white polystyrene filler drifted across the floor like miniature tumbleweed. Discs were being used as coasters, fibre-optic cable doubled as clothes-lines and, more importantly of course, as goal-netting.


No, you are not hallucinating. That extract is from Scottish author Ron Butlin's Vivaldi and the Number 3. He is being touted as a successor to Borges and Kafka, and if this takes your fancy buy the book - everyone from Telemann to Nadia Boulanger get the same treatment. Just delicious.

* Vivaldi and the Number 3 by Ron Butlin is published by Serpent's Tail, ISBN 1852428422

Image credits - The Hibernian Orchestra and Laptopking.com. Image owners - if you do not want your picture used in this article please contact me and it will be removed. Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk
If you enjoyed this post take An Overgrown Path to Gentlemen, old Bach is here ...

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