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Wowbagger

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  1. Hooray! Hooray! The First of May! Outdoor sex begins today! (But it's far too cold, and I'm far too old, for all that rolling in the hay...)
  2. The raspberry canes are doing OK, despite the drought.
  3. Thanks. I've had it just a week and it seems to have scratched that "new watch" itch for quite some time to come. I hope... ;)
  4. I'm standing as Green Party candidate in the Belfairs ward in Southend. On the table is my delivery kit. I always take a wooden spatula or the like when delivering leaflets as it protects the fingers against vicious letter boxes and even more vicious dogs. I fold the leaflet round the end of the spatula and then shove it through the letter box. The usefulness of this method was amply demonstrated on Sunday morning, as the handle of a spatula demonstrates. The other half was bitten off by a dog lurking surreptitiously on the other side of the door through which I had just pushed my leaflet.
  5. With this, I can equate. The last time I went to the barber's it cost me 2 shillings. My wife cuts my hair, but infrequently. This morning, I was doing my fleece up and I caught my beard in the 3rd press stud down... My car is the most ridiculous expense. It's not a flash car (VW e-Golf) but I'm just over half-way through a deal with it that costs me >£300 a month, and since I bought it (Sept '19) it has been driven less than 5000 miles. I'm paing for 10000 miles a year. My piano is much more expensive than my watches. So are my bikes. Bikes, watches and piano all get a lot of use.
  6. There are some potato shoots showing out of focus. Has no-one told them that it's never going to rain again? And many happy returns to the Birthday Boy - the one on here, and my grandson (he's 8).
  7. I think that demonstrates the genius of Mozart - and Bach. Bear in mind that I'd been playing the gigue for nearly 50 years and it took me a fortnight to spot the link.
  8. Here's the gigue And the fugue. You'll just have to put up with mu bum notes I'm afraid!
  9. I thought you'd never ask! ;) When I retired almost 4 years ago, I decided to take up playing the piano again. I played pretty well when I was a lot younger, and passed the Guildhall's Diploma (LGSM) exam in piano teaching in 1981. But then, I just drifted away from it. I had what had been a lovely old piano, an 1891 Bechstein model 8 that was reconditioned in about 1978. But that had seen better days (4 kids all learning to play on it, and especially my younger son, who is a pretty accomplished jazz pianist). So when I retired, I bought a really nice 1936 Blüthner grand and started practising. Around the same time Andras Schiff played the entirety of Bach's first book of preludes & fugues at the proms, from memory - about 2 hours' music. I watched the entire concert utterly captivated - I'd played a couple of these in the past, but had never listened to the whole lot all the way through before, and I found the last one, in B minor, the most fascinating of the lot. There's a lot of mystery, and history, to Bach's 48 preludes & fugues. They weren't published until 1801, 51 years after his death, and no-one knows precisely why he wrote them. But they were ground-breaking as he wrote, in each book, one in every major and one in every minor key. That's why the German term for the 48 is "Wohltemperierte Klavier" - well-tempered (tuned) keyboard. For reasons of SCIENCE, which Bach clearly understood, it's not possible for every key to be in tune with itself and a well-tuned keyboard is always a compromise. I decided to learn the B minor fugue. It's very odd - not really great listening music unless you like your brain thoroughly challenged. In the first 3 bars, he explores all 12 notes of the chromatic scale, most unusual for early 18th century music (he wrote book 1 around 1720-23) and not really seen again until Schönberg in the early 20th century. As I say, I started to learn this, and after a week or so of playing it every day, I had this odd feeling that it reminded me of something, another piece, but I couldn't place what. After another week or so, the penny dropped: it was a gigue in G major by Mozart, K 574 (most composers have opus numbers, Mozart Köchel numbers) written on 17th May 1798 (Mozart was very kind to musicians and kept a record of dates and locations of pretty well everything he wrote). I had played this gigue in 1971 for my Associated Board grade 7 exam when I was about 17, and it was kind of my party piece when I got to college. If you are familiar with Mozart's music, you'd not guess it was Mozart - it almost sounds 20th century (see my comment about Schönberg above). But the opening subject of the Mozart is a direct lift from the Bach B minor fugue: all he has done, in effect, is speed it up and change the time signature. Of course, I was intrigued, so I started reading a bit about the Mozart gigue. Considering it's only 38 bars and takes about 90 seconds to play, lots of people have written lots of words about the Mozart, largely because of its weirdness. But the most important fact was that he wrote it in Leipzig, the day after performing/improvising on the organ at the Thomaskirche, which had been Bach's place of work from 1723 until his death. It was Mozart's only visit to the city: well, he went twice, en route from Vienna to Berlin and back, and he was looked after by the Leipzig Court Organist, one Karl Engel. Mozart wrote the gigue into Engel's family album to express gratitude for his host's hospitality. Of course, Engel would have been steeped in Bach's music from an early age. But the more I read, the more I realised that no-one had spotted the similarity between the two pieces. The earliest reference I could find was the biography of Mozart by Otto Jahn (published 1855 or so) in which there was a quote about "when Mozart improvises, even trained musicians find it difficult to identify the piece on which he's based his improvisation". There was a much more recent biographer and music historian, Charles Rosenberg, who said it was similar to a Haydn string quartet (it is), but he freely admitted that he had no idea why Mozart would write a piece in honour of Haydn in Leipzig, Bach's stronghold. There's a Handel gigue in F minor which bears some similarities, but the same applies. Handel spent most of his life in London. Another guy, USAnian William Kinderman, wrote a recent book entitled "Mozart's Piano Music" and he said that, although clearly in the style of Bach, it bore no similarities to any known Bach work.And I found a blogger who said something along the lines that "Maybe the notes flew into Mozart's head after a night of claret and billiards" (Mozart was fond of both). I've scoured the internet, and discussed it with a much more skilled musician than myself, who was very sceptical about my findings until he sat down to analyse the Mozart, and he found a lot of further harmonic similarities that I hadn't spotted. There's no question - Mozart definitely based it on the Bach fugue. We know he studied the preludes and fugues in the early 1780s as a guest of the Baron von Swieten, who had a copy (apparently Bach used to make his students copy his works longhand so there are copies about, just not printed ones until much later - again, 10 years after Mozart's death in 1791). Despite a lot of googling, I've found no reference anywhere on the internet that anyone else has spotted the link. Even Tchaikowsky orchestrated the gigue for a movement of his piece "Mozartiana", and Busoni, (1866-1924) based some variations on it. But there's no evidence that I can find that anyone else has spotted the link between the two pieces. So I'm claiming the discovery for myself! Some clever buggers get degrees and doctorates for their original research, but since no-one has offered me one, I've commemorated it in a watch.
  10. This morning's arrival. I think I'll be wearing this rather a lot...
  11. This morning's arrival - Marine Original with brown hands (made in-house by Stowa) and personalised engraving on the large winding wheel "J. S. Bach W. A. Mozart, K574", behind which there is a story. I'm absolutely delighted with it.
  12. Bit late today. I've been waiting in for a delivery that seems to have been held up in Paris. Early evening stroll round the park just to get my 10000 paces in (I sat down when I got home and the infernal machine said 11111). Rats, moorhens and mallards in attendance. No anglers - it's the closed season until 16th June - so the carp can sleep easy with the fishes. Or something.
  13. I own 3 Tissots. The oldest i bought on Ebay and it's one of the "Tissonic" electronic tuning fork watches. It's very pretty but I don't wear it all that often. I also have two "Powermatic 80" watches, one "Le Locle" with the white face and stainless steel bracelet, the other a "Sicilium" - this last keeps amazingly good time. I'm very pleased with all of them. Whatever you end up buying, do shop around. There are good discounts to be had.
  14. Somewhere in that potato planter are the green shoots of recovery potatoes.
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