Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Saturday, January 26, 2008

This production sponsored by Acme


Philip Taylor, prime mover of Edinburgh Players Opera Group which has now put on all seven of Wagner's designated "Music Dramas" in concert performances over the past seven years, is preparing for another trip round the block, to wit, a performance of Das Rheingold this September, once more under the baton of Mike Thorne (day job: vice-chancellor of the University of East London). He asked me to advise him on anvil requirements for the descent into Nibelheim, and lent me his score for that purpose. (I did ask what he'd done last time, and he seems to recall the percussionist having pieces of metal machined specially. If however those bits of metal ended up with Philip they've been lost over the past six-and-a-bit years.

Anyway, we appear to need "18 Ambose hinter der Scene". Nine dinky little F above middle C Ambose (three to the left, three in the centre, three to the right); six medium-size Ambose, two to the left, two to the right, two in the middle); and three great big Billy Ambose Gruff, and you can guess for yourself how they are distributed.

I can tell you right now that Acme Wagner Music Dramas will be making do with nine Roadrunner-flatteners rather than eighteen, especially if we have to get anything made specially. Last time I needed an anvil it was for Mahler's sixth symphony, and I felt a little conspicuous as I trailed round B&Q with a spanner, clouting just about every metal object they had and listening for that special anvil sound. In the end it came from an immersion heater spanner, and depending on how accurately F-like the Nibelheim anvils need to be (hey, this is a working sweatshop, right?) some Nibelungs may find they have been set to work with something similar. But come on, we won't have six harps either.

At least I won't have the problem of Mahler's hammer blows. ("Do you have a packing crate I could take away? No, not to fit anything in particular, I just want to hit it with a sledgehammer." The tea-chest I procured lasted, once the performance came along and the gloves were off, for precisely the three blows required, as demonstrated by its three splintered and devastated sides. It looked as though death had been wielding a GAU-8 cannon on it rather than a hammer.)

Maybe a better aviation metaphor for this post would be the Rockwell XB-70 Valkyrie:

Or maybe, given the anvils, the Avro Vulcan:


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