Following the slightly rule-bending post this morning, this is the real thing inspired by SavidgeReads: ten books picked at random with my eyes closed (with one cheat) and what they say about me.
Theatre Street, The reminiscences of Tamara Karsavina. This is one of two books from the random ten that actually belongs to someone else (it’s Dan’s I think). It’s just like me to borrow a book excitedly from someone that I’ve always thought I should read, and then not get round to it for years. Since I work in the place where Karsavina’s syllabus is still taught, and I play for it, I should have finished it by now. As it happens, I picked it up again the other day, wishing I had time to read it. Very like me. I’m bird-like with books – peck peck, fly away, come back, peck again, then go and nibble at a fat-ball in another garden.
Folk Music of Hungary by Zoltán Kodály. Ever since living and studying in Zagreb, I’ve had a thing for Central European folk music. Before then, Bartók’s tune collections in SSEES library used to fascinate me, and I grew up with old records of the Red Army Choir. I can still remember the words and tune to Kad ja pođoh na Bembašu that I learned somewhere in Belgrade, and hearing it brings back the smell of Ćevapčići and memories of Ritter Sport bars for breakfast. I bought Folk Music of Hungary for a project at work to trace some folk song sources, and it was one of the first times I realised how potent the second-hard arm of Amazon is.
Philip V. Bohlman, World Music, A Very Short Introduction. The entry for the book above says it all really – I’m more interested in folk music than any other. ‘World music’ is a terrible term, and Bohlman does a lot to deal with the issues.
Alice Miller: Du sollst nicht merken. During a very bleak personal time in Berlin, I read just about everything Alice Miller wrote. I have depths, you’d be surprised.They are Germanic depths, I think, even though I would not admit it except under torture.
Cubase SX/SL manual. I’ve gone from using Logic on an Atari, to Logic on a PC, to Cubase on a PC, to Logic on a Mac. People think I like IT, because I know stuff about it. I don’t. I’ve just had to get my head round it because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to afford to eat. I’m glad to be away from Cubase now. Logic and the Mac-like Atari was my first love, and you never forget. I usually read the manual after I’ve been guessing how to use the program for a few weeks. But at least I read it. I am a person who says or thinks RTFM a lot.
Steven Johnson: Interface Culture. Written in 1997, this was a book that I thought I just had to read, because it’s like me to want to try and understand trends and new stuff. But this is the person I’d like to be. The real one couldn’t give a stuff sometimes, so I haven’t got past about page 10. I will – one day, this book will burst into life for me, and I’ll know why I bought it, but its time hasn’t come yet.
Kurt Tucholsky: Schnipsel. If I had a choice between losing the ability to hear music, and losing the ability to understand another language, I really am not sure which I’d choose. Reading books in the language they were written in is a kind of music to me, a second home, and the possibility of a whole new bunch of friends real or literary. I get out of immersion in a book like this what other people get out of putting music on. I bought it in Berlin in around 1992, probably from the book shop near Zoo station, one of the few places open on a Sunday at that time. The book is an old friend, and the handle on a mental drawer marked ‘Berlin’
Act! 6 The User’s Guide. For ten years, I’ve been trying to find a way to simplify my life as a distance learning tutor – and managing sales contacts was the nearest thing on the market I could find. I do like computers when they make life easier, so I paid about £160 for the privilege and it worked brilliantly, but in a couple of years, Act disappeared, and Moodle does the job a hundred times better for free. I believe you have to be a mug sometimes to know when you’re on to a really good thing. I’m not happy that there’s two software manuals and no recipe books in this list, but that’s because all those are on the other side of the room or in the kitchen, and I forgot to go there.
Mahler: Symphony No. 6 orchestral study score. This is the other book that belongs to someone else – in this case, my piano teacher Antony Saunders. I can’t remember why I have it, maybe it was something to do with when I was learning the Berg piano sonata. I’m ashamed, because I remember him asking me nicely not to lose it, as he was fond of it. I haven’t lost it, but it is about 24 years since he lent it to me. I do like looking at scores, though. It’s like looking at the inside of a clock and knowing exactly what each cog does all at once. I must listen to Mahler’s 6th. I suppose.
From Russia, Exhibition Catalogue from the Royal Academy, 2008. I only started going to exhibitions very late in life, maybe coming from a family with three practising artists in it innoculated me against any sense of need to go: I forgot to go the opticians for about 20 years because my dad was one. I go through periods of cultural indolence and inertia, and then a burst of enthusiasm and sense of duty to Art which lasts until I find the gifpt shop. I went on a blind date to this, it was rather fun. I love souvenirs, I will buy them everywhere. It goes back a long way, to the magical gift shops of Cheddar Gorge, full of brass pixie bells and wooden signs to hang on the wall, all a hundred times more interesting and wonderful than the gorge itself, in my child’s eye view. Nothing much has changed there.