Journal: News & Comment

Tuesday, November 12, 2002
# 12:16:00 PM:

Brain and hands

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I'm not a classical music aficionado. Heck, I'm only a marginally competent post-Ringo rock drummer who lucked into making a living at it.

Anyway, whether you know much about classical music is irrelevant to this: listen to the two versions (bottom of the page, requires RealPlayer) of Glenn Gould playing one of Bach's Goldberg variations, recorded 26 years apart. One is only two seconds longer than the other, so he played them at roughly the same average tempo, but they sound like different compositions.

The first, from Gould's debut (!) 1955 mono recording at age 22, is ferocious and seems to move at 200 miles an hour. The second, from his 1981 stereo re-examination at age 48, sounds like you'd expect from Bach, more mathematically predictable and fluid. In both cases you can hardly believe a human being could play the piece so precisely. Or that he died so young.


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