Monday, June 09, 2003
It's very late. Practically everyone's staggered off home. The pissed-off drummer starts to thrash out a desultory rock 'n' roll riff. In the smoky cone of light thrown beneath the one green-shaded lamp, the slumped pianist begins picking out an extended phrase - it's mournful, elegiac, and about to turn obsessive, as he repeats it, over and over, riding the choppy crests of that marginally inappropriate rhythm. It's a bit Keith Jarrett, a bit Edmund Hopper, a bit amateurish, a bit brilliant. The drummer, there in the shadowy corner - sister? lover? wife? - some story. We're all past caring. A naff old wind-chime tinkles in the breeze somewhere. What breeze? It goes on just a bit too long. Inside the pianist's head: clouds, a name, something overheard, the smell of lilac - a long time ago - what was it - on the tip of - gone. Back to here. The wordless now. The chime, the drum-riff, the piano. Really late. Time to go.
Friday, June 06, 2003
with astonishing speed, my friend Chris replies: "the '#' symbol is the 'hash sign', which is i think a popular
corruption of the original 'hatch sign' (good old Oxford English
Dictionary). the sense of hatch is to mark or score (think
tally) hence the use as indicating number."
and even a fairly cursory Google search reveals that this subject has been fairly extensively explored many times and in many ways by many people - there's an entertaining if slightly splenetic commentary here for example, and a very learned newsgroup exchange on the 'octothorpe' aspect (see how quickly we adopt the lingo) here.
the relationship with number is clear - probably goes back a very long way.
less clear is its function as a game (our noughts and crosses is obviously a relic of something much older) - which has nothing to do with counting, or as a musical notation: how did this , for example, come to mean that when you come across the note 'C' in the piece of music here notated, you must play it a semitone higher?
further, what relationship, if any, do these usages of this fairly universally occurring symbol have with the Chinese pictogram for 'well', as used in this diagram of the constellation Ishuku?
Thursday, June 05, 2003
it's one of those things that's creeping into common usage - the print equivalent of teenagers saying 'like', like, every other word - but I still look at it and recall my own confusion, as a child, coming across, say, '#56' in print and hearing 'sharp 56' in my mind.