Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0006953, Wed, 23 Oct 2002 09:13:26 -0700

Fw: Music, headphones, theatres
EDNOTE. I suspect VN's comment means that music should heard by those who
specifically WANT to hear a particular piece of music at the time of their
own choosing.
----- Original Message -----
From: <nick.grundy@blueyonder.co.uk>
To: "Vladimir Nabokov Forum" <NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU>
Sent: Wednesday, October 23, 2002 4:26 AM
Subject: Music, headphones, theatres

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> Apologies - I meant to submit this when the discussion was still
> >No music, except coming through earphones, or played in theaters.
> I can't help feeling that the interviewer who followed up this answer with
the question, "why no music?" missed the point. I'd be much more interested
to know, why via headphones or theatres? The latter point is perhaps more
revealing, as it permits (most? all?) forms of live music - but why is that
sort of group listening allowed when individual listening must not be aloud?
There's also conflicts between the immediacy and possibility of error in
live performance and the distance and (broadly speaking) flawlessness of
recorded music, and the facility of re-listening to a piece of recorded
music and the impossibility of doing so to live music (excluding both live
recordings as in some sense artificial and Carolyn Kunin's point about
picking up on repetitions during a performance).
> I find myself wondering into which category music in novels comes - is the
chorus without Dolores on the mountainside where VN first discovered a
particular butterfly through headphones (it is after all not aloud), or on a
> >But after he had done this a number of times, I did begin to perceive,
not a pattern at first, but repetition. He was repeating the whole mess
exactly the same >each time, not the slightest variation in note or rhythm,
even though there was no rhythm and no discernible pattern. But like some
maniac, he repeated it >flawlessly over and over. It was quite an
> This made me think of a perhaps relevant pop reference (and of course I
apologise in advance for lowering the, um, tone): one of the remarkable
things about the last two Radiohead albums is the number of reviews
suggesting that they should be listened to through headphones. The BBC
review opened, "Take this CD into a darkened room, put on a big pair of
headphones, turn the volume up and prepare for a hard slog before you see
the light." (at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/reviews/1362909.stm ). It's fair
to say their reviewer was influenced by the fact that all promotional
listenings of the album were in darkened rooms and over (individual sets of)
headphones, but even so. Further, both albums were characterised by
repetitions - the opening track on 'Kid A' samples and loops vocals in
variously distorted fashion and one track is repeated in different form on
both 'Kid A' and 'Amnesiac', the last two records - and by things you would
only hear and / or understand !
> on relistening. The title track of 'Kid A' features vocals which are
filtered through a computer so as to be almost unintelligible.
> Regards,
> Nick.
> PS: it belatedly occurs to me that one of the two main lines which are
looped and distorted on 'Kid A's opening track is "there are two colours in
my head". Perhaps a synaesthesia reference? Alas, the other is "Yesterday
I woke up sucking on a lemon", which perhaps undermines the idea.