Wednesday, April 25, 2007

That was my idea!

Much as the Red Sox have gone into a two-game letdown after whacking the Yankees around, I'm mired in a blogging mini-slump after writing about those very Sox on Monday. There's little time or blogging will available to me right now, but I did just discover the website of a very interesting pianist who's been pioneering not one, but two of the ideas I used to imagine pioneering. (Hmm, maybe I can blaze a trail across the Mississippi to see what the land's like out there.)

Hugh Sung, the coordinator of accompanying at Curtis among other high-profile qualifications, is an early adopter of playing from a computer screen (a TabletPC) instead of sheet music AND he's developing ways of integrating live concert/recital visuals that are controlled by performers in real time. Those were my ideas! As you may recall, this happened to Kramer as well; that's why Kramerica Industries was born:

    (Kramer is reading the newspaper at the table)
    KRAMER: Look at this, they are redoing the Cloud Club.
    JERRY: Oh, that restaurant on top of the Chrysler building? Yeah, that’s a good idea.
    KRAMER: Of course it’s a good idea, it’s my idea. I conceived this whole project two years ago.
    JERRY: Which part? The renovating the restaurant you don’t own part or spending the two hundred million you don’t have part?
    KRAMER: You see I come up with these things, I know they’re gold, but nothing happens. You know why?
    JERRY: No resources, no skill, no talent, no ability, no brains.
    KRAMER: (interrupts) No, no…time! It’s all this meaningless time. Laundry, grocery, shopping, coming in here talking to you. Do you have any idea how much time I waste in this apartment?
    JERRY: I can ball park it.

Anyway, I've always been a big believer in reading things off of a screen. I'm one of what is still a very small minority of people who prefer reading at a computer to those old-fangled books, and I've always assumed it was only a matter of time before musicians discovered ways to use virtual sheet music. Ironically, just the other day I accompanied my daughter's violin playing in an impromptu performance at Grandma's house, and, since I had the music on my laptop but no printer, I just played off the screen. (I had to get my wife to be my page-tapper.) Turns out Hugh Sung's been doing this for awhile with a Tablet PC, and he's got his own page-changing pedal. I'd heard tell of others doing it as well, but he's really thought this through.

He's also been pioneering the use of visuals in performances. I've always felt that the Disney Fantasia model was underutilized in the music biz, and yet I'd never want to be involved in live performances in which the performers have to coordinate with an existing video. So, my dream has been to devise animations that could be conducted in time with the music. I dream, Mr. Sung does. It's not exactly what I have in mind, but I'm inspired by how creatively he's embracing the use of technology in performance. And now, before I buy my own Tablet PC and start bringing my imagined animations to life, I'd better prepare for class tomorrow. No wonder Monroica Industries hasn't taken off yet. Maybe I need an intern . . .

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