Date:         Tue, 16 Dec 1997 09:29:13 +0100
From:         Peter Rodwell 
Organization: International Organ Foundation
Subject:      Re: Gin (large — I mean long)
 
Quoting Richard Scott-Copeland:
 
>All joking aside, can anyone tell me why, the aftermath of imbibing
>goodly quantities of gin (or anything else alcoholic for that matter)
>one's hearing seems to suffer in that the high frequencies are
>attenuated severely?
 
 
I was delighted to read this posting — at last a subject for some
serious experimentation!  I decided that I should undertake a series of
carefully-controlled experiments to determine whether indeed alcohol
affects the hearing even when not poured into the ears.
 
Clearly, two things were necessary:  a supply of alcohol and a pipe
organ.
 
The second one was easy:  the village church.  For the alcohol, I
persuaded Lourdes, the owner of the Asturian Cider Bar here in the
village to provide several bottles of her finest Larios Gin (Spanish gin
in a bottle that looks suspiciously identical to a Gordon's bottle).
 
Now we all know that temperature has a serious affect on pitch, so
Lourdes brought along her ice-making machine, too, to ensure that each
gin was supplied at precisely the same temperature.  We had to wire the
ice-maker into the blower power supply since no power point was
available (the blower ran *much* cooler as a result, BTW — I shall
patent this discovery when I'm better).
 
Several hangers-on from the bar joined us on the grounds that there was
no ice available in the bar.  I also took along a village personality
known as "The Good Doctor" to render expert medical advice and first
aid, should this prove necessary.  (I subsequently learnt that his
doctorate is not in fact in medicine — his PhD thesis was on early
Greek hydraulic engineering, which caused the University some difficulty
since they couldn't find an engineer who knew Greek or a Greek scholar
who knew engineering.  But I digress.)
 
It is well documented that J S Bach used to nip out of church to the pub
across the road during the sermon and down a few steins of bier, so in
keeping with this tradition I decided to play an entirely Bach recital.
 
I started with, of course, BWV 565.  This had the effect of waking up
some members of the audience who had lapsed into a rather tired and
emotional state by the time we got the ice-maker working.  Even though I
say so myself, I managed a fairly passable rendering of the Toccata.
Before playing the Fugue, I partook of one large gin with 3 cubes of
ice.  Now I have never really mastered the Fugue and it seemed to get
progressively more difficult as I played.  I had to play some of the
final passages several times before I got them right.
 
I stopped then for further refreshment before launching into BWV 608,
"In Dulci Jubilo".  Some members of the audience tried to join in,
singing the Francoist anthem "Cara al Sol" to the tune of "In Dulci
Jubilo".  This distracted me considerably and at several points I found
myself playing "Cara al Sol" by mistake.  In fact I had to stop half way
through for another drink.  Despite the temperature of -10 C both inside
and outside the building, I was sweating profusely.
 
So I thought "Shod thish" and decided to play something else.  Umm,
lemme see, ah yes, this toccattaa, adshio an' fugue thing ishn't too
bad.  Whashit called?  BVV 655?  BWW 656?  BBB 666?  No matter.  Let's
pull out more of theshe shtop things, get the furniture moving a bit.
 
Damn!  I forgot it has this pedal bit.  And I jus' spilled my drink and
an ice cube has got trapped under a pedal.  Still, it makesh a nice
crunching sound, doesn't it?  Trouble is, the damn organ is a real
schreeker.  Maybe if I use just the Pedo de Elefante 16' it'll sound
better.  It doesh.
 
Well, another couple, please, Lourdes.  Now I'm gonna play the finale.
This ish an organ transplant, no, umm, *transhcript* of Bach's
little-known Heineken Cantata, BMW 750 IL (metallic red).  It really
doesh sound remarkably avant-garde, and it'sh real difficul' to play.
Oh, yesh, maybe if I turn the mushic the right way up.  Another one?
OK, but make it a triple.
 
The Good Doctor writes:
 
At this point, Mr Rodwell was seen to slide slowly, and not
ungracefully, forward off the bench, coming to rest lying across the
pedals and creating an interesting thunder effect.  We all assumed this
was part of the performance, but when he hadn't moved after 45 minutes,
we got bored and went back to the Cider Bar.  We took the ice-maker with
us.
 
Happy Christmas, all!



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Last modified January 28, 1998.