Posts Tagged ‘classic science fiction’

As part of my retraining the brain I’m trying to get back into music in a number of ways.  One thing that I’m trying is to train my ear so that I can identify intervals, which is something I never did well at even when spending much more time with a musical instrument than I do these days.  It seems like in some ways that ability is more fundamentally ‘musical’ than building technique on a particular instrument, but perhaps that’s just some weird personal bias on my part.

So I bought a copy of EarMaster® Pro – yes that’s EarMaster®, not Keymaster and I can’t tell if the people that wrote this software are fans of 1980s comedy/sci-fi movies, but I hope so.

Where was I?  Oh yes, there are a number of things that have struck me as interesting about the experience of attempting to train my middle aged brain to do yet another thing that I failed at in my teens.  And I’ve got a couple of them in the queue that haven’t quite fully formed.

But here’s the craziest of the bunch.  You’ve probably seen Rorschach Tests at some point or another – the ink blots that are supposed to let a psychologist dig deep into your subconscious?   Well, I’d like to propose an alternative.  One of the suggestions when learning to identify intervals is to take a song you know that starts (or the chorus starts) with the interval you’re trying to learn.  The folks at  EarMaster supply a chart of suggestions that is useful as a reference point.  Here is the set that I landed on.

Interval Ascending Descending
Minor 2nd Pink Panther Joy to the World
Major 2nd Happy Birthday Three Blind Mice
Minor 3rd Greensleeves Frosty the Snowman
Major 3rd Oh, when the Saints Swing Low Sweet Chariot
Perfect 4th Amazing Grace I’ve Been Working on the Railroad
Dim 5th Maria Black Sabbath
Perfect 5th Star Wars Feelings
Minor 6th She’s a Woman(my love don’t) Love Story
Major 6th My Bonnie Lies over… Nobody Knows  (the trouble)
Minor 7th Star Trek (TOS) American in Paris
Major 7th Take on Me I love you – Cole Porter
Octave (I am) An Innocent Man Willow Weep for Me

Now that has to say something about my personality.  If nothing else the fact that both Star Wars and Star Trek (TOS) themes are in there while not startling if you know me certainly have to reinforce my Science Fiction Geek complex.  And I’m happy to report that not a single video game theme ended up in my list, so I guess there is some good.  And the only TV shows were Frosty and Start Trek.  But Feelings?  Really?  What the heck?

What songs do you know well enough to use for references? What does that say about your personality?

As I continue to dig out my basement and attempt to strategerize (why do I like that word so much?) my plans for the next year, I am spending some time thinking about the fun and random, but hopefully still educational, things that will fill out my schedule.  One of the suggestions made in the blog post that started me thinking about self-directed education in a structure way was to read twenty classic novels.  I do think that is a neat idea, and may play with that a bit later on.  But for myself, I am going to start along a slightly different tact suggested by a friend some time ago.

I’ve acquired The Hugo Winners series edited by Isaac Asimov in the sixties, seventies and eighties that collects the short fiction winners from the beginning of the awards until 1982.  This seems like a good way to do a survey of some classic science fiction.  I find that more compelling as an exercise in classics than attempting to plow through some set of classics of literature.  Especially since I have some desire to move towards writing science fiction or fantasy as I hone my writing skills this year.

I was somewhat skeptical of this approach as I had attempted to read these same volumes some twenty odd years ago and wasn’t able to get into them.  But with age comes wisdom, right?  Maybe I’ll actually read some “real” classics this year 🙂

In any case, I ordered the first book a couple of weeks ago and dove into it last week.  I almost gave up on the first novelette.

SPOILER ALERT – if you have an interest in trying The Hugo Winners yourself stop reading, order a copy of The Hugo Winners Volume I and II and read the “The Darfsteller”.  And then don’t forget to come back and finish reading this post.

This story is about 60 pages of prose that appears to be a reasonably well written variation on the well explored theme of technology making man obsolete with a subtheme about creativity being lost in the process.  I wouldn’t have been about to give up if the previous sentence could have been changed to ‘very well written’ as I understand than often in SF a theme that feels over-taxed in 2012 may well have been fresh in 1955, and that alone shouldn’t detract too much from the experience.

Well, why didn’t I give up, you ask?  Because I was completely wrong about the theme.  As is revealed in the last couple of pages (I did mention that there was a spoiler coming up, right?), the real lesson to the story is that in a world of continually improving technology, it’s no longer reasonable to train in a profession as a young adult and expect to continue in a single career for a lifetime.  Retraining, rethinking, and adapting to the changing demands of the workplace are all necessary to function in such a world.

Hmm, somewhat germane to my current endeavor, is it not?    In fact, that drove me from nice idea, let’s try it and see how it goes, to a become a definite part of my agenda. Now I have to decide if I go all out and read the Hugo winning novels as well.