One of the additional drains on my negligible energy right now is that I’m trying to get my tortured Christmas carol ready to go up here before, say, February. This is proving problematic. In the first place, Finale and I are still arguing on a number of fronts. I got tangled up like a kitten in yarn trying to get the voice staff over the piano part: I mean, WTF??? Pick up any piece of normal* sheet music: Voice parts are at the top. Piano parts are at the bottom. Not in Finale. Oisin says he thinks the current version is buggy: he’s been using Finale since the trilobite edition and this is the first time they’ve released a free update. They sure have too: a forty five minute download, and my connection isn’t that slow. I haven’t tried to set up another voice-with-piano piece since however so I don’t know if the update has cured it. We live in hope.** Meanwhile however last Friday Oisin couldn’t get my unupdated programme to behave either, but he could get his to, so he sent me home with a voice-over-the-piano template and I started trying to cram my rebuilt Christmas carol into it.
Whereupon Finale refused to cut and paste more than about half a dozen bars at one go, or when I pasted them they were full of thirty second and sixty fourth and one hundred and ninety second notes, with so many tiny pennoncels flying they look ciliated. Waiter, there’s a protozoan in my soup.*** So I had to do a lot of cutting and pasting, and I confuse easily.
Meanwhile of course there are other people involved. Oisin has to play the creature† and Blogmom has to translate everything into computer language. Oisin said he’d be around this week–and he amuses easily††–and he’s expecting a file from me. I emailed his part off this afternoon and then finished the silent bits that go to Blogmom. And then gritted my teeth for the dreadful prospect of trying to get them to print out–so I could scan them back in again to send to Blogmom. I had not initially realised that you can’t just put your sheet music file on your memory stick and plug it into the computer nearest the printer. I thought, it’s all just marks on a page, who cares? But your computer can only read sheet music if it has sheet music software on it. Feh. So I schlepped my computer back to the cottage†††, plugged it into the printer and . . .
. . . nothing happened.
I turned everything off and closed everything down, unplugged and replugged, and fired everything up again. I checked that the correct printer was selected in the laptop’s control panel. I tried a different USB slot. I would have shouted and thrown things, but my office is full of unstable piles of Christmas presents and I was afraid of causing more than the usual gouges out of the paintwork damage, and shouting alone is insufficiently expressive.
Nothing continued to happen.
What with one thing and another lately I’m a little on edge. It was approximately 4:56 pm by this time and I made a dive at the phone and rang Computer Men Central. Asmodeus answered. Hi, it’s Robin, I said, grimly, is either Apophis or Anubis still around? What’s wrong? said Asmodeus, unwisely.
There followed a rather intense thirty seconds of what is euphemistically described by the British as ‘effing and blinding’, to the general effect that the last year has been an entire hayloft of last straws and I can’t take it any more. Poor Asmodeus. So he made me go through all the useless palaver I’d already been through, clicking and checking, and then he thought about it for a few seconds and said, well, I don’t see what else I can do but come up there and have a look myself.
You-? I said. It’s after five. And where are you?
The wrong side of Sodom and Gomorrah, he said cheerfully, and the traffic’s hell. It’ll take me about an hour to get to you.
Oh. Well . . . thank you, I said, dazed.
He rang off. I decided in desperation‡ to wrap some Christmas presents. About ten minutes later the phone rang again. I’ve got hold of Apophis, Asmodeus said through a lot of static and car noise. ‡‡ And he says [gleep gleep gleep blah blah blah] so can you try that please?
Several variations on a theme of gleep gleep gleep and blah blah blah later . . . my frelling music swooped out of the printer. YAAAAAAAY I said.
Never say we don’t go the extra mile for our clients, said Asmodeus. I’m turning around now.
* * *
* Normal. Maybe that’s my problem. I mean, it’s always been my problem, the tragic search for normality, but I wasn’t really expecting my composing software to weigh in on the subject.
** As soon as I get Christmas over with I need to go back to Lyke Wake which is grousing at me like an unfinished story. I know I keep going on about this but it fascinates me how similar Making Stuff Up is from one wildly different medium to another–not to mention one medium where you have a clue to another medium you don’t. Writing music–or even torturing somebody else’s–feels like juggling electric eels^ and like trying to rethread a fuzzy-ended shoelace which has lost its little plastic stiffener: won’t go. Won’t. Isn’t. Not gonna. The electric eels are what happens right after you make the startling discovery that you’ve found your way into the Music Place–What? How? Huh?–and it’s dangerous in there, and loitering is discouraged. Exactly like the Story Place, except I’m better equipped for grappling the undomesticated gerund.^^ The fuzzy shoelace is me trying to poke my cough cough ideas through my depressing lack of piano skills and my apparently sui generis composing software. But the itchy restlessness of unfinished things is nonetheless very similar.
^ YAH OOH AAAGH
^^ ‘Writing is a misbegotten ratbag, but composing is worse’
*** Chances are there are quite a few
† tentacles optional
†† And says things like ‘I think you’d enjoy composing something for the organ’. You know, four keyboards, 1,000,000,000 stops, etc.
††† Peter’s printer doesn’t like me. And I keep forgetting to ask Computer Men about this. There’s always so much else on the list.
‡ Speaking of things that often don’t happen till February
‡‡ What it is to be a Computer Man. They all have wireless in their cars.
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