Beat it

Picked up my new toy yesterday, a very cute and incredibly tiny Sharp MiniDisc, a fraction of the size of my old, deceased one. The reward I picked from a catalogue for long service in Waterstone’s. Ten years now – that is really depressing – at least they didn’t send me one of the horrid Perspex awards with my name on it as some colleagues received (it looks exactly like a very small tombstone). Still, depressing as that is, especially given I have spent a lot of time in the last 3-4 years trying so unsuccessfully to get another job. Still, on the other hand it’s a free gift and a rather splendid one and I’ll take any perks I can get from the buggers – after all they’ve had plenty of good stuff out of me over the years.

Anyway, apart from being incredibly small (not much bigger than the MiniDiscs themselves it’s also designed to integrate with other pieces of IT. USB link directly into my little laptop along with software which takes any type of music files I’ve downloaded or sampled from the onboard CD and converts them into a format for the MiniDisc, downloading them all rapidly. The long play feature means I can get over 300 minutes of song on there with perfect digital playback. I fed a blank disc 120 minutes of music in about 15-20 minutes. Much better than plugging into the back of my old stereo and fun to see something so well designed to integrate with other technology. Gorgeous sound and as a bonus it is shiny and has flashing lights. These things are important.

I do try not to be concerned with the material things in life, but dammit, I do like them soooo much. Especially when they are clever and shiny and make me feel as if the music is inside my head. Some Philip Glass this morning, elegant strings followed on my mix by deaf Scottish solo percussionist Evelyn Glennie (one of my musical heroes) playing Achibo Ache’s Dreams of the Cherry Blossoms. Warm, vibrant Marimba reproduced perfectly in my head, and then onto another Glennie track which ends with Oriental drummers (think the Crouching Tiger soundtrack during the fight scenes). Fast, kinetic, powerful. Percussive music is the oldest of all musical types in all cultures in the world and percussion instruments comprise the largest family of all musical instruments. From the most high-tech digital drums through simple five-piece drum kits (oh how well I recall bashing those skins), precision, hand-crafted marimbas to hollowed logs, it’s the most primitive form of music in one way, practised since before modern humans and at the same time the form which holds together the most sophisticated symphony. Percussion beats like the heart, or the swell of the sea crashing on the shore.

There you go, from shiny new toy to a short musical monograph inside one paragraph. Don’t say I’m not diverse.