Kilotangram

This morning we went down the road to The House of The Lord – a tin warehouse (on a bleak industrial estate) converted into an evangelical church-cum-drop-in centre. As well as a chapel this place has a number of conference suites, and it was one of these that we had arranged to use for our Strategy Meeting.

The meeting itself consisted of a cascade of motivational slides declaring that we were committed to growth and innovation and efficiency. From the ground floor below I could hear a steady ‘clack – clack’ sound which reminded me of the LP ‘Tangram’, and when I looked over the balcony I saw a woman walking slowly back and forth, her calf-length boots echoing on the tiled floor. The steady rhythm of her steps continued, and I began to generate in my head the missing synthesiser melodies from that piece of music. I wonder if Messrs Franke and Schmölling had been contemplating the tiled floors at Düsseldorf airport when someone walked slowly past, creating the same pattern of hollow shots in the canvas of 1979.

Growth and innovation and efficiency: my brain cells recoiled at this appalling mantra and hurled themselves into the squishy grey swamp of oblivion. Do I need to sit and listen to the contents page of a GCSE Business Studies manual?

I’m not really an expert on music – I’ve seen the Brandis Quartet play Beethoven 15 and the Cleveland Quartet play DSCH 8 and the London Phil play Dvorak 8 and the CBSO play Bruckner and I’ve seen the Swedish Youth Radio Orch play Mahler 1 and Boulez and the B-minor Mass (in B’ham and Leicester) and MeatLoaf in B’ham (thrice) and I’ve seen  Messiah (in B’ham and in Derby) and the Rocky Horror Show (in W’hampton, B’ham and Wimbledon) and I’ve seen Kiki Dee and I’ve seen the Tiger John Blues Band…and years ago, when a new young band called ‘Take That’ were on tour performing the nightclub circuit, I had the chance to see them but I told my friends ‘Nah, can’t be bothered; in six months’ time everyone will have forgotten all about them’.

But it wasn’t until May 2007 that I saw a sixties group called The Zombies when they played the Bridgewater Hall.

I remember going to a car boot sale and seeing an album called ‘Moving Home’ by Rod Argent and being intrigued. I wasn’t very familiar with his music, but I knew vaguely that he was a talented keyboard virtuoso. So I decided to buy this LP and took it home, where I quickly discovered that he had a rare gift for songwriting. Most modern pop ‘stars’ are (like their music) meticulously crafted to appeal to a wide audience and generate as much revenue as possible, usually by impersonating an existing success story.
But ‘Moving Home’ is another beast entirely. Each of the ten songs is different from its fellows, mainly written in a jazz-flavoured rock idiom with no hint of disco or punk, the two storms which raged over popular music in the late seventies.

And after recently having my hearing examined by a specialist in the audiology clinic, it appears that my enjoyment of all this musical stuff has been flawed; for the tests revealed that my hearing is badly impaired, and I have no idea what music sounds like to people with ‘normal’ ears. Nor do I know what the high-pitched whine was which so annoyed my colleagues when they used a computer with a five-inch floppy disc drive. ‘Can’t you hear that?’, they would exclaim, wincing in agony.

Fortunately, no.

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