Instruments of another color

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Message 39215 · 20 Sep 2004 21:45:07 · Fixed-width font · Whole thread

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All these messages about different musical instruments and their volume and capabilities put me in mind of this extract entitled "How to be Efficient with Fewer Violins". I wonder what would happen if we applied the same principals to SCD bands?:

"The following is the report of a Work Study Engineer after a visit to a symphony concert at the Royal Festival Hall in London.

For considerable periods the four oboe players had nothing to do. The number should be reduced and the work spread more evenly over the whole of the concert, thus eliminating peaks of activity.

All the twelve violins were playing identical notes; this seems unnecessary duplication. The staff of this section should be drastically cut. If a large volume of sound is required, it could be obtained by means of electronic apparatus.

Much effort was absorbed in the playing of demi-semi-quavers; this seems to be an unnecessary refinement. It is recommended that all notes should be rounded up to the nearest semi-quaver. If this were done it would be possible to use trainees and lower grade operatives more extensively.

There seems to be too much repetition of some musical passages; scores should be drastically pruned. No useful purpose is served by repeating on the horns a passage which has already been handled by the strings. It is estimated that if all redundant passages were eliminated, the whole concert time of 2 hours could be reduced to 20 minutes, and there would be no need for an interval.

The conductor agrees generally with these recommendations, but expresses the opinion that there might be some falling off in box office receipts. In that unlikely event, it should be possible to close sections of the auditorium entirely, with a consequential saving of overhead expenses, lighting, attendants, etc. If the worst came to the worst, the whole thing could be abandoned and the public could go to the Albert Hall instead.

Following the principle that "there is always a better method" it is felt that further reviewing might still yield additional benefits. For example, it is considered that there is still wide scope for application of the "Questioning Attitude" to many methods of operation, as they are, in many cases, traditional and have not changed in several centuries.

In the circumstances it is remarkable that Methods Engineering principles have been adhered to as well as they have. For example, it was noted that the pianist was not only carrying out most of his work by two-handed operation, but was also using both feet for pedal operations. Nevertheless, there were excessive reaches for some notes on the piano and it is probable that re-design of the keyboard to bring all the notes within the normal working area would be of advantage to this operator.

In most cases, however, the operators were using one hand for holding the instrument, whereas the use of a fixture would have rendered th idle hand available for other work. It was noted that excessive effort was being used occasionally by players of the wind instruments, whereas one air compressor could supply adequate air for all instruments under more accurately controlled conditions.

Obsolescence of equipment is another matter in which it is suggested further investigation could be made, as it was reputed in the programme that the leading violinist's instrument was already several hundred years old. If normal depreciation schedules had been applied, the value of this instrument should have been reduced to zero, and it is probable that purchase of more modern equipment could have been considered.

Regardless of what re-tooling is undertaken or improved methods introduced, it must be pointed out in conclusion that in all productive enterprises, incentive pay is probably the single factor most likely to increase individual efficiency and output per man hours. There is no reason to believe that this would not apply with regard to the production of sound to the same extent as to the production of automobiles or washing machines. Sound meters could be used to measure the output of the various sections of the orchestra - or better still of individual players - and wages based on the sound produced over unit periods (suggested unit - decibel/bar). Apart from the inevitable increase in individual output, this would lead to a competitive spirit between sections and individuals. Competitive spirit has been found in practice to be most desirable and would also do much to encourage initiative on the part of all players."

Seonaid


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