North north, or finding oneself

I mentioned in my last post that my cousin Michael is in Norway. North Norway. As in there will be a lot of winter to shovel. I’m going to ask him if I can excerpt from a general letter he sent out recently: it sounds like a fascinating part of the world, and just a bit different from the San Francisco area. How did I get on this track? I actually wanted to comment on an ongoing project of sending him some of my pieces, since the group he is conducting, the Alstahaug Sangkor, liked Gospel 3:16 so well. And that led to an interesting challenge…

Where was my music? Not the hard copy: I have plenty of files, piles and even a stray box or two. I often have several different versions of a piece, sometimes including the original pencil manuscript (either pre-computer or at some stage in the process). I rarely throw any of it away. That would be like losing part of myself! So where was I, computationally speaking?

I’ve been using personal computers since our first Apple II plus (with the extra 16K card). Made some fun music on it. Switched to a Mac in 1985 with a decent music notation program and never looked back. Through generations of computers and notation programs I tried to bring my finished pieces along. I had to redo stuff when I switched from Composer to Finale. And then (sob) I succumbed to the importunings of a certain important person in my life and got a Windows machine.

I’d made the shift from floppies to CDs pretty well. A lot of stuff was archived on a whole bunch of floppies. Even with CDs I could still go back and retrieve something if I needed it. I had a neat little program that catalogued the contents of said floppies, so it was easy to find a file. When I moved to Windows I put as much as I could find on a CD while I still had my Mac (now a Quadra 660 AV–a neat unit) up and working. And then I had to redo the entire CD, as I found my rather loose way of labeling things didn’t work in Windows, which still wanted dot 3 extensions. My own extension code wasn’t recognized (duh!). How was I supposed to know that Finale files were “.mus,” not “.fin?”

So I wanted to send some more music to Michael. My recent work was simple: use either my active file or the careful backup I had made to create a PDF file, upload it to my website, and give Michael the url. Fast and painless. Then I went looking for a couple of older pieces. The flotsam and jetsam of generatons of computers, media, and program upgrades was overwhelming. A unique landscape, rivaling the fjords of Norway with its convolutions. I couldn’t find my Mac CD (the one I’d had to redo)! When I did, it wasn’t the right one. Where’s my music? My life blood? My…

When I calmed down, I noticed that I could find a workaround to open at least some of the stuff, but I may have to go back to the Mac once more (I loved my Macs, but never got beyond “like” with Windows). It’ll be fun, if slow. One last time, file by file, floppy by floppy, grumbling has that spacious 20 meg harddrive fills up and overflows.

Or I could just forget it and copy the music over again. While I don’t particularly want to face that music, it’ll be great fun renewing acquaintance with some of the nooks and crannies of my creativity (don’t go after dark!). I think, before I embark on this project, I’ll go write some more

music to my ears.

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