Autism and Music

An account of the first Musical Keys session of the new year and some autism related links.

INTRODUCTION

This post comprises two elements – one an account of the first Musical Keys session of 2018 and the other sharing some excellent recent stuff about autism. Because it is an autism themed post I am using #RedInstead text (scarlet for headings and links, maroon for body text). 

MUSICAL KEYS

Musical Keys is an activity run for autistic people who enjoy music. Generally speaking it is run fortnightly, with a session for youngsters between 3PM and 3:45PM and a session for older participants from 4PM to 5PM. I had initially been expecting to renew my acquaintance with Reaper (a computer program for composing music – see here for more details) but circumstances dictated otherwise, and I actually ended up on a…

KEYBOARD

This machine can function as a wide range of instruments/voices and in a wide range of styles, and I explored a lot of the instruments in the course of the time I spent on it.

Keyboard

John, one of the two people who run these sessions, showed me how to play chords as opposed to single notes, and I experimented with playing varying numbers of notes simultaneously, and using the whole range of the keyboard. 

I created a few chords where the notes played could also form words, such as face/cafe, cabbage etc. I enjoyed making the acquaintance of this keyboard and learning something of its capacities.

Chord
These notes could form the word ‘cabbage’ (there being 2 as, 2 bs, 1c, 1e and 1g. Kirsten Murray, who helps John to run the sessions, took this picture with my camera.
Face
Here you can see the notes – I played this with my left hand, while photographing with my right.
Screen
A close up the central screen.
Voice
The screen with more of its surrounds, including detail about the ‘voice’ settings.

AUTISM RELATED LINKS

This section starts with a post from Rhi that I regard as being the last word on “mild autism”, published under the title “Autscriptic: Mild Autism“. 

My next piece comes from the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism, written by Shannon Des Roches Rosa of squidalicious.com under the self-explanatory title “Eleven Ways You Can Make Your Autistic Child’s Life Easier

The next two pieces in this section are both from the blog “Autism is my Superpower

TO SIRI REVISITED

I have linked to a number of reviews of Judith Newman’s book “To Siri With Love”, although since I have not read the book I can offer no direct comment about it, and here are a few more pieces about that book:

AN ANTI-AUTISTIC HATE GROUP
MASQUERADING AS AN AUTISM CHARITY

The organisation who are the subject of this little section go by the name of Autism Speaks, who you will also see referred to as Autism $peaks, Auti$m $peak$ and A$ in various places. 

  1. From care.com comes this story, whose title “Autism Mother Sues Autism Speaks For Disability Discrimination” gives you more than a hint of the truth about this vile organisation.
  2. The website ownshrink.com has a piece titled “Autism Speaks: Torturing autistics for profit” which is as damning an indictment of an organisation that claims to be an autism charity as you could find anywhere.

 

Computer Aided Composing

An account of my recent doings at Musical Keys with a photographic interlude.

INTRODUCTION

A few sessions back at Musical Keys, an event run for autistic people that I am a regular attender of, I switched from using Scratch to using a different package called Reaper. This Saturday just gone I reached a point at which I feel that my work on Reaper is now worth talking about. Also I have some good pictures that I can slip in as part of the back story.

SCRATCH AND REAPER

Scratch enables one to play notes on various musical instruments and also has some saved sound loops for variation. Effectively therefore Scratch enables one to play music and sounds but not really to create anything beyond the framework within which to do so. Reaper is both less and more – less in that it has no versions of musical instruments, more in that is really all about combining different recorded sounds into a larger whole, and therefore has much more of a creative element to it. 

BEFORE SATURDAY’S SESSION

I had spent one session assessing the available sound segments, working out which ones I liked and which of those combined well together, and a second session combining shorter segments into longer ones by putting together segments that would or could naturally flow together, but at the start of Saturday what I actually had was a set of useful components that I could start to think about assembling into proper length pieces…

INTERLUDE –  WALK TO THE SCOUT HUT

I had decided to lengthen my walk to the venue by taking in a stretch of the Great Ouse before rejoining the regular walking route to Gaywood by way of Seven Sisters and the Vancouver Garden, and a quick sampling of the air outside my flat convinced me of the need to don an extra jumper – it was cold, as some of the photos will make very plain. I had also allowed myself time for a visit to Gaywood library, since I would naturally pass very close to it. It may have been cold, but the birds were out in force, especially near the Great Ouse.

lapwings and a gulllapwings and gullsFlying lapwingswimming birdBlackbirdsBlackbird

Leaving the river by way of Hardings Pits I headed for the South Gate and thence Seven Sisters and the parkland areas…

framed magpieKL signSouthgatestarlingsthree birds

Among other things the walk through the parkland provided me with absolute proof of how cold it was – gulls walking on water. 

Gull walking on waterGull walking on water 2Gull walking on water 3rooksBlackbird II

DECEMBER 9TH AT MUSICAL KEYS

John, who usually supervises the sessions was not feeling well, so having driven the equipment over he spent the afternoon sat in his car, while his assistant Kirsten took charge of the sessions. 

Once I had opened up Reaper, checked and adjusted the speaker volume (at least 99% of the time it is set too loud for me and I have to reduce it, often considerably – on this occasion it had been set to 70% of full volume and I reduced that to 35%) it was time to put my plan of exploring options for combining various elements to make a larger whole into practice. Before moving on here is a photo I took at the end of the session.

Reaper

The piece that I called Organ and Strings was one of three background sounds that I used in the bigger pieces, the others being the drum and brass backgrounds. “Ensemble” and “Composite” as those names suggest were medium sized components, while “Horizontal” and “All in” were the two large scale components that I combined to make the final full size pieces. The two big pieces (12 and 16 minutes long respectively) were comprised of “Horizontal”-“All-in”‘-“Horizontal” and “Horizontal”-“All-in”-“Horizontal”-“All-in” respectively. By the time I had listened to the 16 minute piece at the end it was pretty much the end of the session. The next session is on January 6th and I shall work out some way to build on what I have already created. 

 

Musical Keys

A personal account of yesterday’s Musical Keys at the scout hut on Beulah Street and a walk on either side of the session.

INTRODUCTION

Musical Keys sessions happened at the scout hut on Beulah Street yesterday. I was there both as NAS West Norfolk branch secretary and someone who enjoys the session. With it staying light later in the evening and yesterday being pretty benign for an early March day in England I got two good walks in on either side of my session.

GETTING THERE

I made a quick visit to King’s Lynn library before heading for the scout hut by way of the Broad Walk and the Sandringham Railway Path. I had sufficient spare time to take some photographs en route…

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This town centre cafe is the venue for an NAS West Norfolk coffee morning on Wednesday
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Here are some of the trees from which it takes its name, on the bank of the highly sculpted stretch of the Gaywood river that passes through The Walks.
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The library, fresh from recent repair works.
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The first of four flower pictures – all featuring crocuses.

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AT THE SCOUT HUT

I arrived with the youngsters session still in progress – here are some pictures I took before my session started.

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Before getting into details of what I did, I have a short subsection about…

A SPEAKER SYSTEM FROM Q BRANCH

This is best shown in a series of photographs…

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The speaker system in use
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Partially closed up – machine and bag of cables in the centre, the two speakers forming the sides of the case.
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And fully closed – a stout black plastic suitcase.

MY SESSION

I was on the computer, using Scratch 2. Once again I consider a series of photographs to do a better job than words…

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A modest but sufficient set up – I have eight notes on my chosen instrument (Cello) set to be played by pressing a, s, d, f, h, j, k, and l respectively, and various extras, including getting the cat avatar to move and draw, with the pen size increasing each time I pressed one particular key.

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THE JOURNEY HOME

Once the session finished, and the clearing up and locking up was done it was time for the walk back. I journeyed back by a different route, heading for Bawsey Drain, the Tuesday Market Place and King Street. Here are some photographs from this walk.

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Musical Keys

An illustrated account of yesterdays Musical Keys session at the Scout Hut, Beulah Street.

INTRODUCTION

Yesterday was a Musical Keys day for me and others associated with the NAS West Norfolk branch. Attendances were somewhat affected by the fact that an autism friendly event was also taking place at Norwich Castle. This post briefly covers the session I attended, from 4PM to 5PM (as usual there had been an earlier session for the younger ones).

GETTING THERE

I left my flat a little earlier than usual, opting for the Bawsey Drain route. I was carrying a guitar with me to donate to the group always assuming that it could be restored to usable condition (it was a long time since it had last been used). I picked up a few pictures along the way…

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THE SESSION ITSELF

John who runs the sessions confirmed that he could make the guitar usable again (it would need new strings but was still capable of generating good sound). Once the session started I found myself using a computer program called Scratch to generate notes. Each note is assigned a numerical value by the program, and you the operator then assign each of these numerical values to a button on the keyboard…

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My screen once I had assigned one octave worth of notes to various keys – this works on the ‘click and drag’ principle – the orange tabs at the top describe events, and the purple tabs describe sounds.
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The full list of numerical note values.

The default instrument is a piano, but there is a range of some 25 instruments available – I eventually settled on clarinet as my instrument of choice. There are then a whole range of other options available, such as programming the cat to move while you are playing notes and even it draw lines as it moves. Here are a few more pictures.

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I very much enjoyed this session, and I think this makes an excellent addition to real instruments. Although it was dark by the time I walked back, just before leaving I spotted an eight-legged friend…

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I got three images of this spider…

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Nature, Music and a Few Other Things

A good news story about nature from the village of Balcombe, West Sussex, a King’s Lynn walk, some stuff about music and a few other things.

INTRODUCTION

This post incorporates a King’s Lynn walk but also features plenty of other stuff.

NATURE

This morning I reblogged a post by Anna about the folk of Trosa and their continuing fight to preserve their nature from greedy road builders. I start this section of the post with:

GOOD NEWS FROM WEST SUSSEX

The small village of Balcombe, West Sussex (and having done a walk in that part of the country some years back I can confirm that it is indeed small) was targeted not so long ago by fracking villains Cuadrilla. Not only have they beaten back the frackers, they are on the way to becoming a solar-powered village. Please watch the video below for more:

This is what new developments for the 21st century should look like – big new roads are so last century!

A KING’S LYNN WALK

Although it was not terribly inviting outside I went for a walk this afternoon, taking in the Great Ouse, our river. Here are a few pictures:

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At this point I saw a rare visitor to King’s Lynn –

A GREY HERON

Here is a picture taken looking across the Great Ouse, and the page of my bird book that gives info about the Grey Heron:

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After the Grey Heron there were no more exceptional sights but a few more photo-worthy moments:

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MUSIC

As part of today’s Hili Dialogue, Grania at WEIT mentioned that among those born on this day (happy birthday Ayaan Hirsi Ali) were Leopold Mozart (father of the more famous Mozart) and Fanny Mendelssohn (older sister of Felix) and linked to this video of a performance of Leopold’s Toy Symphony, which I offer you below:

Also, last Saturday was a Musical Keys session, and I have a few photos from there:

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A keyboard that enables the player to produce the sounds of other isntruments. The coloured patches stuck to various keys come in to play when Kirsten held up a sheet to indicate which colour one should focus on – although I was on a guitar by then and was using my left thumb to press on a coloured patch, shortening that string.
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This instrument, here held for me my Kirsten, one the people who runs the Musical Keys sessions is filled with beads and played by being upended, held until all the beads have fallen and then upended again for as long as you care to.

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I played the red guitar.

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WHAT IS NORMAL?

I found this infographic on twitter and had to share it – I think it is splendid:

normal

HONEST AND DISHONEST PHOTO EDITING

I have shown you some examples of honestly edited photos already in this post. What follows focusses on dishonestly edited photos. Two “newspapers” whose names I refuse to give, one owned by the fourth Viscount Rothermere and on which the good folk of Liverpool refuse to buy, produced photographs purporting to show Jeremy Corbyn dancing towards the Cenotaph yesterday (Remembrance Sunday). To do this their photo editors had cropped out from their original picture the 92 year-old WWII veteran who Mr Corbyn was accompanying and who hotly denies any suggestion that he was dancing:

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Two incisive infographics juxtaposed
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the individual infographics.

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A Trumpet Blast for the King’s Lynn Festival

An account of a concert at King’s Lynn Corn Exchange featuring Crispian Steele-Perkins, some links and some infographics.

INTRODUCTION

Having put up three new posts about my experiences at Marxism 2015 today I decided a variation was called for, and fortunately, especially given the links and infographics I also intend to share I have the perfect change of tempo ready…

AN EVENING OF TWO HALVES

King’s Lynn’s historic corn exchange (see pics below) was last night the scene for a classical concert featuring that master of trumpet playing, Crispian Steele-Perkins.

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The first half of the evening, with Steele-Perkins the centre of attention was magnificent. I have only a few pics because there is a no photographs during the performance rule which I obeyed to the letter…

The auditorium
The auditorium
A close up of the stage.
A close up of the stage.

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The tools of Steele-Perkins' trade - a coach horn (the same length of brass as an army bugle but dead straight rather than curved), a late 18th century trumpet, and smallest a 19th century trumpet.
The tools of Steele-Perkins’ trade – a coach horn (the same length of brass as an army bugle but dead straight rather than curved), a late 18th century trumpet, and smallest a 19th century trumpet.

Although I enjoyed the story behind the coach horn, and hearing said instrument played in the Mozart piece, the highlight of the entire event for me was the Haydn Trumpet Concerto, one of the greatest pieces ever composed for the instrument, and played quite magnificently.

In the second half there was no Steele-Perkins, and the quality was much less – there was one piece where one could not tell if it had been played well or badly so undistinguished was it.

LINKS

There are so many links to be shared that I have split them into subsections, starting with…

PETITIONS

The first petition I am sharing is the one calling for statistics on benefit-related deaths to be revealed. I have two links connected with this:

1)The Petition

2)A Huffington Post article connected to the above.

My second petition is the one on change.org calling for automatic Group B Strep tests to reduce deaths of newborn babies.

My next offering is this from those who want to keep the National Gallery from being privatised.

Last and in the chief place in this subsection is the petition calling for clemency for William Underwood.

A SOUPCON OF SCIENCE

I shall lead into this little section with a piece showing just how low SeaWorld are prepared to stoop in their battle against those who dare oppose cruelty to Orcas.

Phuketbirdwatching introduced me a species of bird I had ot previously seen in this, their latest offering.

My next link is to a piece about the discovery of a new particle, the pentaquark.

Faraday’s Candle can be relied on for good stuff, and their take on Nasa’s recent Pluto fly-by is no exception.

POLITICAL PIECES

First of all, a piece celebrating an event of 100 years ago.

My next piece, on dealing with London’s polluted air, is a must-read.

Huffington Post are back, with this piece which viciously exposes the misogynism and ignorance of UKIP’s Paul Nuttall.

My next two links are both to pieces from Socialist Worker:

1)On the home front, this piece about tube workers.

2)This about Iran.

Finally, chosen because it leads into the next section, this link to what will be my first infographic.

INFOGRAPHICS

EU Principles Mhairi Black quote

It is not often that the S*n apologises, so we should make the most of it when ti does!
It is not often that the S*n apologises, so we should make the most of it when ti does!

AFTERWORD

I hope that you have enjoyed this post and will be encouraged to share it!

Special Post: Highgate

The latest post in my series “London Station by Station”, this features some London Underground history, a musical interlude and a soupcon of politics.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my series “London Station by Station“. I hope that you will enjoy this post and will be encouraged to share it.

OF MUSIC AND MARX

A CURIOUS HISTORY

One stop south of Highgate is Archway, which opened in 1907 and was for some time the northern terminus of the line. One stop to the north is East Finchley, which was first served by Northern line trains in 1939, having previously been part of the LNER. Highgate, our subject, only opened in 1941 – something of an afterthought.

TO THE UNKNOWN GODDESS

This title comes from a CD case, and concerns a story that began almost 400 years ago and that touches on Highgate…

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In 1619 a servant girl the household of the dramatist, librettist and poet Giulio Strozzi gave birth to an illegitimate child. The child, Barbara Strozzi, grew up in the household, becoming Giulio’s “figliuola elettiva” (elective daughter). Encouraged by Giulio she developed considerable musical talents and became known in her own lifetime as a composer and performer.

She is not so well known these days, but it was at Highgate that I first heard her music. The performance featured the same four people as the CD (Catherine Bott, Paula Chateauneuf, Timothy Roberts and Frances Kelly), which I bought that very evening.

A FAMOUS GRAVE

To be fair, quite a few well known people are buried in Highgate Cemetery, but I am confining myself to one. Karl Marx was buried there in 1883, and Marxism 2015, a five-day political event begins in London tomorrow afternoon. I will be there and I intend to put up regular blog posts and tweet about being at the event – watch this space.

TWO FINAL IMAGES

I finish this post as usual with two map pictures…

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The full map, spread out.
The full map, spread out.