July 9th, 2005


Mornings Happen

I never did see Mercury last night. I'm wondering if the planet I did see for the last two nights could have been Jupiter or Saturn. I've lost track of where they are supposed to be right now, but they are the only planets other than Venus that could be as bright as the one I saw. But by midnight, most of the stars had vanished as the sky turned into dark alligator skin, against which the trees were black voids. This morning, the clouds have de-alligatored, and are widely scattered and all swirly again, reminding me of paisley.

Here is something I found very amusing: J.D. Lasica's piece about trying to get permission to use movie clips in his home videos. The moguls wanted the law to require everybody who wanted to use their stuff for any purpose at all, commercial or not, to get their permission first, but they don't seem very happy about having to deal with such requests. Be careful what you bribe congress to give you wish for- especially if you are a brain-dead media tycoon.

Free Syncopes

When I discovered the collection of old, public domain 78 RPM records that are available for download at the Internet Archive (which I posted about here), it occurred to me that there are tons of old piano rolls (and rarer rolls for other instruments of that mechanically-minded age) that are in the public domain, and might be digitized and made available for download. I finally got around to doing a Google search to see if there are any sites with piano rolls available already, and discovered Warren Trachtman's web site. (The site is undergoing reconstruction, so you might get an error page with a link you can click to get to the new location of the main page.)

It is devoted mostly to ragtime, and most of the rolls he has digitized are available only as MIDI files, but there is also a free download of a 25MB soundfont of a Steinway grand, and 40MB and 80MB downloads of larger soundfonts at five bucks (on the Amazon honor system.) I haven't downloaded a soundfont, being on dial-up, but the MIDI player that came with my computer isn't that bad, so I've fetched a few of the free files, which are digitized versions of rolls recorded by the likes of Scott Joplin, Eubie Blake, James Scott, etc. They are quite enjoyable, and take but seconds each to download. There is one MP3 available of Scott Joplin playing Maple Leaf Rag, but everything else I've seen there is MIDI. The digitizations are copyrighted, but Trachtman allows them to be downloaded for personal use.

I went outside a while ago and I'm sure I heard a fox bark, not too near, but not far away. I haven't heard a fox around here for ages. I wonder if it likes ragtime?

Wow, I'm really late in posting tonight.