Jul 122011

Today, concert pitch A is 440Hz. Why is it 440Hz? That’s an easy one… back in 1939, a bunch of guys with a bunch of education got together, talked about it for awhile, probably there was some shouting involved at one point, no doubt someone left mad and basically they decided to plop their “A” down at 440Hz. Oh, those wacky scholar types! It should be noted that there was a big, nasty war that ripped through Europe right after this; some people just take stuff way too seriously.

So, you ask, what was it before that? I’m glad you asked that! In the past, the note “A” has been defined everywhere from 466Hz (A#/Bb of today) all the way down to what we call “G” today — 392Hz. (I’ll leave off the joke; it’s far too obvious.) So, for the couple of hundred years before 1939, note pitch was jumping around all over the place. This caused problems for musicians when they went on tour and also resulted in more than one bar fight, probably over the suggestion that pitch jumped around so much so that the harp players wouldn’t have to constantly retune.

But, what is the real reason for pitch snaking around up and down the scale? To oversimplify some, throughout history notes have been defined according to the tuning fork of whoever happened to be the most prestigious musician at the time.

So, “A” is 440Hz now and it’s going to stay there and we can all move on to better things, no? Well… No. Some orchestras are tuning their piano to A446; The Chicago Symphony tunes to A442. Can a person really hear the difference between A440 and A446? Pretty much. Is it enough to get bent out of shape over? Only if you make your living in the halls of academia (and they make an ointment for that).

Jul 112011

Once upon a time when wishing still helped and when kings and queens still mattered, there lived a great and terrible monster. He was green and furry and ferocious and he lived under a bridge and would sometimes eat people who tried to cross.

Telford is in no way related to that monster.

Telford was born into a small family of monsters living in a small log cabin on a small street in lower Manhattan. The small part of it. His father drove the short bus and his mother took in a little washing to help make ends meet. Most people thought a monster from that part of town would never amount to much, but Telford was never one to think small.

Telford dreamed of one day leaving Manhattan and setting out for the city. The big city. It wasn’t that he wasn’t fond of his rural roots or the pastoral setting in which he grew up… he just dreamed of something more. But he knew he would have to have a way to get there, and so he saved up his allowance and bought a bicycle.

He could never have dreamed how far that bicycle would carry him.

One day while out riding his bicycle, he met a fellow cyclist with whom he became fast friends. This other cyclist was to have a major impact on the young Telford’s life, because it was none other than Bob Roll, famed bicycle racer and power player on the international racing scene. Under Bob’s capable tutelage, Telford soon found himself at the front of the pro peloton and became the first monster to win the Tour de France (Muppet Division) on a bicycle with training wheels.

Though Telford found himself at the top of the game, he decided to leave professional racing. Those were dark days for cycling; the Count von Count doping scandal* [“Von! Von vunderful injection! Tvoo! Tvoo vunderful injections! Ha-ha-ha-ha!”] was casting a shadow over bicycle racing and transforming it into an environment that had no appeal to young Telford.

Telford made the decision to leave that life behind him. He enrolled in the prestigious Sesame Street School of Art, Business, and the Number Three where he majored in Theater Arts and had a minor in the letter O.

College was a special time for Telford. He met his first true love, Cameron Diaz, while they were both theater students. Though their romance was short lived, it was filled with passion and to this day Diaz will tell you that she has never met a finer monster. **

After college, Telford returned briefly to his parents homestead. The old log cabin seemed somehow smaller. The bus his father drove seemed even shorter. But most of all, old Manhattan itself seemed somehow to have shrunk. Telford decided it was time to move on.

Packing his few belongings and kissing his mother goodbye, Telford left Manhattan forever and set out for a new life and a new adventure in the bustling metropolis of Kansas City.

Today, Telford pursues a vigorous work schedule packed with speaking engagements, storytellings, lectures, product endorsements, and the occasional acting gig. Though busy, Telford wouldn’t trade his life for anything.

* Count von Count was of course later cleared of all alleged wrongdoing when it was proven than French racing officials were deliberately tampering with testing samples in an effort to besmirch the good name of such a prominent and non-French competitor.
** The two remain friends today and will frequently get together for dinner or drinks when they find themselves working on a project in the same city.