Week beginning 9 Feb 1998.
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Unions and work
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The Other News consists of a selection of articles on whatever subjects find their way to the top of the pile on the week in which it is written. Whilst some of it is intended to be serious, quite a lot is just a bit of light reading (or heavy, if you are a certain type of person), and intended to keep you amused, and cause people to question some of the assumptions of life. Most of the material here is written by the editor, but no single article necessarily reflects the views of the editor or anyone else who writes here. They only might.
This week I made the very good move of going to the local Turkish shop and getting not only some very good things to eat but a bit of service.
It doesn`t look posh, but it is worth a call, and beats the supermarket any day.
Probably Iraq has geared it`s economy in such a way that it has to sell oil to get the money to buy food, and I wish to call the wisdom of that into question.
I won`t go into the military or moral aspects of the matter, because just about everyone else who writes anything about Iraq will have gone over that territory - even if not necessarily all that thoroughly. I will, however, look at the practical aspects of their local environment.
First, if your economy relies on oil you are selling an ever decreasing resource that could be much more useful at home than sold elsewhere (the British are guilty of this too). The more you sell, the less you have. The less you have, the less time you have in which to find a better way of getting something to eat - and finally, if you pour it on the sea and set light to it you are not only wasting it, you are polluting the atmosphere and making it less capable of producing food, and at the same time offending your neighbours so that they would prefer not to send you any food anyway.
Of course, if you don`t set light to it you are making an oil slick which is equally wasteful and unneighbourly (but I get the impression that Iraq is not interested either in avoiding waste or in being neighbourly).
If Iraq is starving by not selling any oil it does seem that they have mismanaged their resources. Presumably not all the land is desert - and if it is desert there may be a good reason, like people having ravaged it for generations without any thought for the future.
The kind of damage we are talking about might be rectified by a few years of permaculture (which could be sped up by unecologically sound temporary measures like pumping and distilling seawater with diesel engines) or perhaps by the use of various eco-friendly methods like night-condensers (I mean those things which attract water in deserts during the hours of darkness) to get clear water first in small quantities for small areas, and then gradually larger amounts as the project progresses (permaculture does this by using the plants as condensers). Wherever plant life starts, it attracts moisture, and this in turn produces more plant life - and so on.
(It might be worth noting in this connection that some of the plants would probably be better if they are not plants people can eat because they will then be left to attract moisture - so what plant survives under the worst conditions and yet nobody wants to eat it?).
Do they now need fertile land to grow food, and have they instead a bunch of oil wells? Is it not time to start looking at the broader picture instead of messing about trying to be a military power?
A small boy came to me for saxophone lessons. He couldn`t read music and had no real idea of rhythm, but had tried the recorder at school, and when his mind was jolted by this new experience he realised that he did know a tiny bit. His mother sat behind me and told me what he wouldn`t be able to do, and as I ignored her she eventually went and sat in the school waiting area.
By the end of the first 30 minute session we were able to read the rhythm of crotchets and crotchet rests using one note and were keeping good time. We then finished the lesson by drawing notes on the stave whiteboard. He grasped the concept that as the musical alphabet only went from A to G we had to start the whole sequence of A to G over again, and finally when I asked him where he thought he would find a higher G he pointed the place out, and then a lower E and he pointed that out.
So I showed him some ledger lines and told him "well, that`s the basics of how that works, but there are some other things as well."
"Thank you," he said, "it wasn`t half as bad as I thought it would be."!
"Did you enjoy yourself, though?" I said.
The following week, we played more notes and at the end of forty minutes we were playing harmonised duets with him playing four notes and me playing a teacher part. Some of it was even in tune. The mother stayed in the waiting area.
When I returned him to the waiting area, the mother was waiting for me. "Surely that`s not all, is it? What about the theory?"
"He`ll learn theory as he goes along. Besides didn`t you hear what we were doing?"
"No. He`s got to have proper theory lessons or he can`t play the saxophone. I know about these things."
"Alright, if you want to use up extra time on nothing much I will use some of the time to teach theory."
The following week he arrived 55 minutes late with his father, and the father demanded a lesson, so I told him that I had waited the whole forty minutes for him and now he was too late. The father explained that he was unable to get the saxophone out of it`s case because the mother was not at home and she had the key, leading me to the conclusion that his mother was not going to allow the boy to play it too often or to have an easy time of learning it! I didn`t bother to tell him that this business of the key was not actually anything to do with me.
He then demanded the theory lesson, and I referred him to the principal, who told him his time was used up but nevertheless gave him a book to take home, that the boy (who I regret to say was now looking badly disappointed and making me feel guilty about his father`s lack of consideration) could not understand.
Now we have all irritated each other sufficiently one must assume that saxophone lessons will never be quite the same again for that boy. Perhaps what is worst is that it is quite likely that with that level of ability he will shine in every way yet never be able to enjoy his talent because of all the negative experiences associated with it.
She may (or may not) know all about music, but I rather suspect she doesn`t know much about teaching.
As far as I know, she doesn`t know the Lord Chancellor, but the subtlety of her complaint is intriguing. She has pointed out that when the new government was elected the Lord Chancellor was chosen by Tony Blair (or others in that party) to act - as has been the habit for centuries as far as I know.
The complaint of sexual discrimination comes from the fact that the post was not advertised, and that therefore she could not apply for it. This possibly would not have been enough, but as I understand it all the most well-paid legal jobs in the new government went to men - not this time the old school tie, and possibly not the Freemasons, but nevertheless questionable.
But, when you think about it, they`ve also discriminated against you and me - which I am afraid is nothing new.
the rest of the argument is that as such a person is a pulic servant (another issue that needs looking at), then the job should go to the best person for it, and there was little chance of that happening when virtually all of us were excluded from the recruitment process.
Some of the LETSSwing material will be available as sheet music on the net soon. It will probably take the form of `fake book` pieces that have been copied from hand-drawn parts, but if someone wants orchestrated versions it might be possible to find the time to write a small score. email firstname.lastname@example.org
Most pieces are either beginner or intermediate standard, but anyway - as you will be able to download for free (although we retain copyrights) why worry?
If you are in a LETS somewhere and would like LETSSwing to play to you, please contact email@example.com.
And if you are not, would you like to book a band about which one person said "it has a certain something." ?
Quite what, I don`t know.
Chords are those collections of notes you hear people playing. They are particularly noticeable when played on a guitar or a piano, but can often be heard played by a group of instruments playing together in harmony.
They might also be called the harmonies of a piece.
If you haven`t noticed chords happening, get a piece of recorded music (almost any will do) and listen for the groups of notes in it and note their effect on the total sound.
Chords are mathematically predictable to a very large extent, and I am going to give you first the structure of a few basic types and then I hope to show you a few ways you might fit them together to make music with them.
You need to have a basic knowledge of intervals before you can use this article, so read last week`s article if you need to.
The first type of chord we will deal with is the major triad (three notes, I suppose). It is made by playing the first note of the scale (the root), the third and the fifth together, They can be in any order you like. Arrange them how you think they sound best for the particular purpose (or if you like, the way you can most easily play them for the moment). Play them and listen to them. In C, they will be CEG, in F FAC, in G GBD, and so on.
That method involved knowing the scale before being able to find the chord, but there is another method that gets round that if you can`t be bothered to work out the scale. The chord can be got by playing the Root, the note 4 half tones above it, and the note 3 half-tones above that. It doesn`t matter what key. Because we are looking at something that is mathematically perfect you will get a major.
Now we should look at a minor chord.
The minor chord works in the same way, except that the middle of those three notes is half a tone lower. This will mean that a minor chord is made of root, minor third and fith instead of root, third and fifth. By the other method, you would count root plus 3 plus 4 instead os root plus 4 plus 3.
There are many other types of chords, but we can have quite a lot of fun with just these, so for the moment I will stop with these two types.
Try playing a C chord (CEG) in a steady beat and then follow it with a G chord (GBD). If we do eight beats of C followed by 16 beats of G we should be able to sing Jambalaya to it! If you can`t, there may be other explanations - I would sugest that possibly you need to do the same thing but in another key, or that you started singing at the wrong moment. Experiment.
Now, the question of how we get it into another key.
If the chords were C and F when we played it in C, then we can count the distance between the root notes of those two chords, and so if we want to do it in G, for instance, then the other chord is D (D, F sharp and A), because the distance from C to G is a fifth (7 half tones) and the distance from G to D is the same thing - a fifth or 7 half tones.
Now we should try a tune that requires a third chord. Let us stay in C for the moment, as that will be the easiest key to try things out in (although my own favourite for this purpose is F).
In C, then, we have the chord of C and the chord of G as above, and now we will add F (FAC). If you have listened to any musobabble in the local public jam session you will probably have heard keyboard players say things like "it`s just C F and G" (and guitarists saying E A and B, because these are easier than playing in C when you`re playing guitar - but they amount to the same thing in the key of E).
A great many blues, folk and pop tunes can be played using C F and G (some of them amazingly good), and I will leave it to you to experiment and find out how to use them.
But here is a single sequence that you will probably keep on hearing and playing for the rest of your life with only slight variations. It is called a 12 bar blues. As I am restricted to text, I will have to write it out in bars (musical disctionary or earlier issues) of four beats, using / as a bar line:
C /F /C /C /F /F /C /C /G /F /C /C .
Now, just to try yourself out, do the chords for Little Brown Jug in the key of, first C, then G. The chords are C, A minor (Am), and G back to C, but you must work out the Am and what the other chords would be to play it in G.
And just to give you something to think about I will tell you that A minor is called the Relative Minor of C. I will try to explain this strange fact next week with any luck and if nothing more important comes along.
I MIGHT HAVE discovered the answer to my Industrial Tribunal problem at last!
Because we use ACAS in our negotiations with the Education committee over lecturers` pay, they gave me a booklet that had in it a list of the free services they offer. Amongst these services is advice about industrial tribunals - and I phoned them up.
The man who answered the phone was so quick to come back with replies (like someone in one of those quiz games they have on telly) that I was almost as confused at the end of the call as I was at the beginning (particularly as he had difficulty waiting for the ends of my sentences and so answere the wrong query quite often), but I gained another piece of useful information, which was that you can get two books on the suject from the Jobcentre, and that one of them has the right form in it (I have already asked the tribunal if they wanted me to fill in a form but they didn`t bother to reply).
So now I have filled in a form saying the same things I said in my letter to them, but 5 months later, and sent if off to Tufton House.
The tribunal are very specific about the time limit. It is three months, and they have managed to keep me at bay for longer than that, so I can expect a few problems.
No point in giving up just yet, though. Something in me says they shouldn`t be allowed to get away with it as easily as that.
Nothing this week. We did stacks of it, but it`s very much the same stuff we`ve done in other weeks.
I am, however, getting nearer to retrieving files off my old CPM computer, and when that happens we will have 28 or so episodes of Friday Woodwokers - fun and games in adult ed. written in 1988.
Some different small ads.
Cheap laptop for writing the Other News when away from base. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Wanted pc/Acorn monitor, London area. email@example.com
Who knows where on the Internet I can get a good freeware or shareware score-writing program that will run on my p100 or Acorn 5000? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
(Will take LETS currencies): Industrial quality roofrack about 7 feet X 3.5 feet, made to measure for ford Sierra estate. I used it for woodwork contracting. It is the best I`ve ever seen. Contact email@example.com
Same again, about 48" by 96", but lesser quality, for Ford Granada estate or Volvo 7 series -almost free owing to poor condition - but it works. firstname.lastname@example.org
LETSSwing (the London all-LETS-members band) need a bass player. Suit someone who thinks of playing and writing music as a creative, co-operative, gentle activity, who likes out-of-date pop and jazz, and who doesn`t like making a noise. We play so quiet you could have it in your livingroom without bothering the neighbours most of the time, and are looking at the possibilities for involvement in `the community` (playing in hospitals and so on). Contact email@example.com
What, no stop press?
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