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Dolby... or not dolby

Ancient Musical Proverbs

words of wisdom

Over the years many famous and almost useful proverbs and sayings have been handed down to us. Unfortunately the doddering bookwrights of years gone by didn't always get them perfect in the translation. And since the ancient scribblers never were too fond of the young, successful musicians of their day, they would frequently nobble any bits of good advice.

After years of painstaking research not to mention a trip to the library, One Two Testing is able to restore some of these proverbs to their true and accurate meaning...

Absence makes the charts grow fonder.

As any smart band knows, the better you are at playing hard to get, the louder the audience screams. When Thomas Haynes Bayly penned these immortal words, no one on "Top of the Bards" would sell his book because of its suggestive cover. Of course, his next volume went straight in at number one.

I stink therefore I can.

A reference to Hells Angels. They do the first one most of the time, and when the support act at the Peace, Love and Soya Bean Open Air Festival gets under way, they do the second.

Two heads are better than one.

Extract from an early four track cassette deck brochure.

Hope Springs internal in the Newman Crest.

Early reverb spring manufacturers Hope and Son were the first to fit built-in reverb units to the Newman company's range of portable, home harpsichords.

The best laid shelves of mice and men, gang aft a-gley.

Winging back across the years comes a heartfelt warning to all home recordists who attempt to build their own basement studios using three bits of half inch chipboard and an old tea chest. Anyone who has watched their Portastudio, monitors, ADT and bulging cassette file slide confidently from its sagging DIY shelf onto a solid concrete floor knows truly the meaning of the word 'insurance'.

They also serve who only random gate.

An offering of hope and encouragement to any keyboard player who suspects that 90 per cent of the polysynth he's just sold his feet for is actually doing nothing because the guitarist wants him to play a one note bass line through the entire song.

The empty vessel makes the greatest sound.

A much misunderstood quotation. Originally thought to refer to drums. Then, with greater conviction, to the drummers themselves. Only with the assistance of producers such as Steve Lillywhite have we discovered the true meaning – don't hit the tom toms, hit the cases.

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise two CVs.

Sir Walter Scott could string the odd word together, it's true, but few people realise that he was the top slate on the roof when it came to synthesiser control systems. Decades before it ever happened, he predicted that messing around with triggers and control voltages not to mention MIDI, would land us all in a state.

That is the question
Whether it is nobler
On the winde
To dub over
The strings and pianos
Without erasing
Four tunes
Or use take-up arms
Against a sea
Of tape noise
And by op-amping
End them.

A step-in time, saves nine.

Literal proof, if proof were needed, that step time sequencing consumes less memory space than real time.

Was this the race that launched a thousand chips?

Yet again the poets of yesteryear predict that the craze to own a home computer would lead to fanatic breeding of the silicon chip.


Monday, March 16

Took the draft manuscript along to Hamlet and Sons today – a corker, and no mistake. "Instructions and Legends of Operatione For Ye Phostex Four Tracke Recorder." Brilliante.

Wish I'd hit on this technical manual stuff a lot sooner. Spend half a weekend banging out a sonnet on your Olivetti steam driven quill and it wouldn't buy you the sharp end of a carrot for dinner. But sling them out a few well-chosen couplets on "bias feedback within a closed loop delay line" and the guineas are making dents in your codpiece.

"Willy, Willy," they sayde, "we have got a machine here that is going to set the world spinning which is very dangerous, considering how flat it is and how we'd all be turfed off the edges.

"No matter. Ye Phostex Four Tracke recorder is definitely hot gruel and we want you to write the manual 'cos your the best, no snow, ma man.

"That one you did on car maintenance 'a hoist, a hoist, my kingpin for a hoist', fabulous, loved it. And the special insert on drum machines 'is this a trigger that I see before me?' You're a genius."

I smiled the knowing smile of a man three weeks behind with the rent and hit him with the bill. "It'll cost you five guineas, Mr Hamlet, plus expenses. A month's supply of vellum and a dozen packs of your slim Panatelas."

Hamlet's chin dropped to his doublet. "Mr Shakespeare, er, we were thinking more in terms of negotiable royalties backed by magic lantern rites and perhaps a split percentage profit of three farthings per manual sold." "Don't give me that percentage stuff," I told him. "You can put that up your Ariadne and smoke it. I've written plenty of manuals in my time and I know an award winning scroll when I roll one. It's got everything – sex, violence and a section on C60 cassettes that'll make mincemeat out of that 'Canterbury Tapes' rubbish.

"It's a straight five guineas, or I take the manuscript direct to the Theac brothers and see what they make of it. Besides, I've got an ad campaign to write for Brooke Street Tempest by tomorrow fore noon and the sand is sliding through the glass like a brat up a chimney, so snap it along."

Hamlet knew he was beaten... literature always floors them, but he made one last try. "Alright Mr Shakespeare, five guineas it is but only providing we buy the complete rights to the manuscript... once the manual is published, we do whatever we like with it."

"Sure," I told him, "you can turn it into your autobiography for all I care." And do you know, the guy actually smiled. There's some weird people in the poetry business, I'm not kidding.


Friday, January 25

Had those berks from the Lisatta Harpischord Company in the office again today, STILL complaining about the poster I did for them.

Not big enough, not bright enough, too much woman, not enough keyboard. Christ, I said, bloody, bloody... you people know nothing about audience response, nothing about rack momentum. You want painting of a boring old keyboard, you go out and get Leonardo Da Dulux, not this boy.

What I give you is art, perspective, chiaroscuro, and most of all, Bristols. THAT's what sells musical instruments, brother. You strolling down to the corner pasta shop and you see a 20ft high blow-up of a harpsichord all you get is constipation, that because your bum just been bored off.

What I give you is a picture with a big pair of parmesans and a smile what says, you buy a Lisatta Harpsichord and I'll be round to twang your strings, double quick.

I told them, you think I lie on my back smudging the Sistine Chapel for my health? No way, Jose. The Pope, he come to me and say, people got the wrong idea about God. They think he some sort of universal accountant and we down in the books as being well in the red. You turn up snuffed at the Pearly Gates, St Peter give you a tax bill – '1,000 years back sinning'. Nothing we can do about it, says Pete. If you don't keep up the praying instalments, the devil come and re-possess your soul. Have a good time in purgatory.

"But Mr Da Vinci," whined the skinny one with the hair brain, "you see, the problem is, although your painting is wonderful, there's, er, no mention of our new keyboard in it at all, just this model friend of yours with the sort of smile you expect from a barman at 11.30.

"I mean... yes, the beauty of pure art, yes, the impact of decisive brush work but quite frankly, at the moment, it doesn't even have our name on it."

Yeah, yeah, alright, so what is this keyboard thing you're so sweaty about?

"Ah well, you see, we've just invented the world's first harpsichord that is portable, programmable and will only play one note at a time... we're calling it the Mono Lisa..

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One Two Testing - Aug 1984




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