Too much writing about writing?

Often — too often, perhaps — I read the latest “here’s how I do it,” from a writer whom I admire, or whose credits suggest that I ought to like and admire and emulate. Now I’ve discovered the other side of that coin, summed up by William Gaddis in his acceptance speech for the National Book Award in Fiction for J R , April 1976:

(Gaddis is a difficult novelist, difficult to get through; I’ll take another shot at his work.)


This reminds me of my reaction to so many modern recordings/performances of classical music — in particular the Chinese pianists who seem to be the rage. I just feel that the performances are more about the performer than about the music, showing off their technical virtuosity rather than letting the music speak. Debussy said, “The music is in the silence between the notes.” These people don’t leave any silences between the notes.

Mr X

A bit off-topic but: In one of my non-writing ways of being I run a classical/jazz music production company. We used to do a lot more at the front-end of classical, but when the normal' amount of digital editing on a CD became around 700-800 corrections, with up to 300 second edits’ we gave up, for sanity as well as financial reasons: the edited-in virtuosity trumps the music.

The very last straw was an initially lovely recording of Bach’s solo cello pieces where I was asked to make a dozen edits in first few bars - i.e. the opening phrase. There’s then barely 10 seconds of continuous performance in the released version. I’ve kept the marked up score as a kind of war-trophy …

Complete contrast: we recorded Alfred Brendel in one of his very last live performances- when I asked him about possible editing (from the rehearsal and other performances) he said `don’t you dare’. Nice man (reads Nietzsche too).



Welcome to the club, Doc. :wink:
Anyway, it’s about time something was done aboard Scrivener, to raise the tone of debate above the usual gutter level. … tube-clips


Wish I could say I’m surprised. It was like that back in the 90’s, when I was still playing. It’s somewhat ironic that in one phase of computer music, the ideal is to get the piece done with minimal editing after the fact. I.e. the composer is also performer. (There is editing/mixing that goes on.) Then you have pieces like Stockhausen’s “Kontakte,” which is all about zillions of tiny edits.

The complaint is often made about computer music that it lacks soul…but oftentimes recordings of classical music are more “ghost in the shell” kinds of edits. Modern recordings feel very cold to me for that very reason. It’s the imperfections that make it sparkle, IMO. (A pianist once told me, “It’s not how many mistakes you make, but how you play them.”

Can’t recall who wrote it, or when, but long time ago there was an SF story about a man who invented a piano-playing robot which (who?) could knock off a perfect performance, sight-reading anything. The inventor rented a hall, sold out the show. The robot refused to play. Why? “It’s easy for me. But it’s not supposed to be easy.”


Then there was the guy in London, a few years ago, who gave a ‘silent piano recital’, to a packed room full of ‘music lovers?’…and received a standing ovation, at its conclusion. I thought at the time, 'Well, yeah…why not…why not?? :laughing:

How many years ago is “a few years ago” for you, Vic?

When I was at Cambridge ('64-'68!), opposite Peterhouse was an antique shop owned by Gabor Cossa (I hope that’s how he spelt his family name). In a previous era he had been associated with the theatre, and also it turned out, he had given a recital at a major London venue on a piano with no strings, sometime during or just after the World War II.

Even you can’t be old enough to be referring to that! :smiling_imp: Or do we have to believe in re-incarnation?

Mr X


unless I’m mistaken, we have actually covered this very scenario in another thread, I’ll do a search.
Yeah!! 08! New writing project for curing writer's block. - #11 by vic-k
Bloody 'ell!! Don’t time fly. :open_mouth:

Mr X,

With all we “understand” of Mr K, which is admittedly not useable as factual evidence in gossip circles, would it really surprise you if he WAS referring to a WW2 era performance?

Vic is clearly timeless.
Given all the books and films he’s absorbed,
I would trust his anecdotes on any period in history.
Tell 'em the one about dating Deanna Durbin, Vic.
And swimming with Hedy Lamarr. :unamused:

I can’t, droo, it got a bit raunchy, :blush: and I wouldn’t want to shock those of Scriv’s crew, possessed of delicate/immature sensibilities…Jaysen and a few others spring to mind. And there could be kids looking in, so, sorry mate. You’ll have to use your writer’s imagination :wink: :smiling_imp:

Actually…in timeless mode, as I speak/type, I am surrounded by a whole tranche of E.M. Forster’s stuff. Quite an enlightening, entertaining and thoroughly pleasant environment to be ensconced.

Once upon a time, long, long ago, I used to be able, on a sunny summer’s day like today, to look out of the window where I lived and see the great man himself (E.M., that is) sitting very happily on a bench, opposite a fountain, with one or two potted plants for company. He would wave in a gentle, friendly fashion at me and anyone else who greeted him. Clearly for him that too was …

Well, Hugh, me old mate,
When I do eventually crawl through to ‘The Other Side Of The Hedge’, and board 'The Celestial Omnibus", I’ll try and ensure, E.M. is a permanent dinner guest at the table I’m at. I can bask in the glow of that kind of genius, on a permanent basis, no prob. :wink: