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Thought for the Day - Mar 29

29 Mar 00 - 09:47 AM (#203196)
Subject: Thought for the Day - Mar 29
From: Peter T.

The British Library has a new CD called The Century in Sound, 47 tracks of historic sounds, ranging from the only (!) recording of an actual World War I shelling attack to a 1936 interview with a Titanic survivor. Matthew Parris in his review of this in The Spectator notes that the most powerful, track 25, was recorded in 1944 and lasts 41 seconds, including 18 seconds of total silence halfway through. The sound before the silence is a German V-1 bomb which sputters along over London, and then the sound cuts out. The sound after the long silence is the explosion going off as the V-1 drops to the earth. The V-1's had a limited gas supply, which would go empty, and the flying bomb would arc down to the ground somewhere ahead of that last sound. The V-2's, which came later, were just rockets -- up and down, and if you heard anything, you were still alive. My father (a much decorated bomber pilot) said that the V-1's were the worst psychological torture he ever went through, since, apart from the disruption during the day, you would often wake up in the middle of the night, not knowing why you had woken up, because there would be silence all around you, and you would wait for an explosion far off or death. If nothing happened, you would try and go back to sleep again. In daytime, people would stand listening to the approach of the V-1's, hoping they would go by, and found themselves guiltily wishing it would kill someone else. The whole experience drove people crazy, waiting through the silence.

Made me wonder about significant silences in music. The moment in Beethoven's 9th just before the brass band enters. The silence before the stabbing of Agamemnon in Strauss' Electra. The moment of silence before the big chord at the end of The Beatles' "A Day in the Life". Others?

yours, Peter T.

29 Mar 00 - 10:33 AM (#203221)
Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Mar 29
From: GUEST,Neil Lowe

Apologies in advance, Peter T., but I'm about to introduce thread-drift right off the bat.

I think Thomas Pynchon makes reference to the V-1 sound in his book, Gravity's Rainbow. Until now, I thought it had been another literary invention culled from his fertile imagination. It anchors that passage in my mind to know there is a historical reference for it. Thanks.

Regards, Neil

29 Mar 00 - 10:35 AM (#203222)
Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Mar 29
From: Rick Fielding

Dear Peter

You got me thinking about "moments of silence". Many years ago at a Mariposa festival in Orillia, I heard such a moment. Reverend Gary Davis, who had (somewhat) disgraced himself the evening before by getting plastered on scotch, supplied to him by young fans, came on stage and sang "Death Don't Have No Mercy". No applause from the crowd of more than 6000. We sat stunned with mouths open...and then ROARED our approval. Never was music more emotionally played in my lifetime. I simply can not put into words what happened that night. I asked the Rev. about it the next day and he nodded and said "uh huh, wuz good". He KNEW though.


29 Mar 00 - 11:35 AM (#203270)
Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Mar 29
From: Little Neophyte

I don't know Peter T., they sure seem like very different types of silence to me.
I find the CD you mentioned fascinating and I would love to listen to it sometime. But personally, I think I would prefer to keep my significant moments of silence dangling between beautiful pieces of music.

Little Neo

29 Mar 00 - 03:20 PM (#203411)
Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Mar 29
From: wysiwyg

I don't see how it's possible to call anything Thread Creep when it's posted on the TftD thread.... I dunno.

Hardiman uses silence often in conducting worship, most effectively just after the sermon and before the people recite the Nicean Creed. Many a visitng bishop has found this quite odd and then... realized its effectiveness.

I use it often also, but not always, in leading praise music for our Saturday night service... "Use" is not the best term... Allow? Facilitate? Lead? Employ? All of these and more. I usually trail into it with a few very slowed chords as a sung syllable fades away... and as these sounds are echoing and vibrating and dwindling throughout the wonderful acoustics of our old stone church, the singers all pause... regather... hold the pause... and then as one, take up the next phrase. Oh my. When that happens (and it can't be planned) it's WONDERFUL...

Sometimes there will be a moment between songs like that at the nursing homes too, or when we go out to play at others' services, with any kind of material that has gotten to the people deeply.

I think that for us, as the songleaders, it's up to us to feel this effect happening with people and not rush past it.

I never thought about it quite like that before, although Hardiman and I have discussed it in the context of formal worship... It's been more an instinctive response to the moment. But what a nice opportunity to think about it more intentionally! Thank you, Peter T.!

29 Mar 00 - 04:37 PM (#203444)
Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Mar 29
From: McGrath of Harlow

I remember the doodlebugs. Of course since I was only five or six at the time, they were just fun. Which is a tribute to my mother, I suppose.

Quakers are the fellas for silence. Have you ever noticed that, if you're in a meeting with Quakers, when it gets hairy and divided and generally acrimonious, they tend to call for a minute's silence, or maybe a bit longer - and when things start up again it tends to go a bit better.

I think we could do with something like that here sometimes - but I can't see how we'd work it. But in a sense, we've already got it built in, by the nature of the way we post. I see Max is toying with a chat room - now that I think might get a bit overaerated, and something like a silence mechanism would be needed at times.

29 Mar 00 - 04:48 PM (#203453)
Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Mar 29
From: Larry Boy

This thread should be called Moments of Silence. As a harp player, I try to play 'moments of silence.' They are as as important as moments of playing.

29 Mar 00 - 05:17 PM (#203470)
Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Mar 29
From: Allan C.

After I had been introduced, I stood quite nearly frozen in fear in front of my audience of Toastmasters. I gazed out at the faces for what seemed to me for quite a long time. Then I took a quick breath and spoke the first few words of my very first speech. After that, it went quite well. Later that evening, a senior Toastmaster spoke with me and told me that the moment of silence before I began my speech was VERY effective and had been just long enough to draw the attention of my audience to what I was about to present.

I really think that the only one who knew the real reason for my moment of silence was me.

I try to remember that whenever I am up in front of folks.

29 Mar 00 - 05:17 PM (#203471)
Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Mar 29
From: Little Neophyte

We are so bombarded with noise and chatter that to feel a moment of silence seems unusual and for many uncomfortable.
Yet so much is going on in the silence, so much more than we realize.
By allowing ourselves to feel the silence, we have an opportunity to experience something very powerful, something much greater than ourselves. It is alway around us at all times. It is just a matter of allowing ourselves to quiet down enough to feel the depth silence has to offer.
When we do this collectively as a group, it can be one mighty powerful unforgetable moment in time.

Little Neo

30 Mar 00 - 07:43 AM (#203808)
Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Mar 29
From: GUEST,Neil Lowe

Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis was a genius at using "pregnant pauses" in his solos. To me it had the same effect as playing the seventh step of a scale and leaving it hanging in anticipation of that resolving note. Talk about keeping the listener on the edge of her/his seat.

If one is able to experience complete and absolute silence for a long enough period of time, such as one might encounter in a sensory deprivation tank, one will find that silence has a "tone." The closest approximation of it that I have heard on a recording is the sound of Tibetan bells.

Regards, Neil

30 Mar 00 - 08:07 AM (#203820)
Subject: RE: Thought for the Day - Mar 29
From: GUEST,Sophocleese, computer problems..

Silence and psychological torture, hmmm...I have sat through a quaker meeting where a bored boy read a picture book. He had been told by his mother not to make any noise so he was very careful about turning the pages. He turned them very, very slowly and carefully with intense concentration. The entire meeting was riveted to him as he turned the next page of his book. A roomful of people silently shouting "Just turn the damn page and have done with!!" He kept turning his pages very slowly. The relief when he finally finished the book and it was time for him to go out with the other children.

I grew up as a Quaker and even though I no longer go to meeting I still love silence. It may be partly why I like very sparse arrangements of music and songs, I find the pauses just as important as the notes and chords.