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Mr Holmes And His Fountain Pen


Bklyn
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I wonder if the choice of a modern piano sound in "Amadeus" was because of the light tone of those early pianos? All the orchestral pieces were modern, too. 200 years ago musicians tuned to a lower-pitched "A" and the overall tone was lighter and, you might say, squeakier. Milosz Forman might have anticipated that modern audiences would think they were playing "wrong", but Sir Roger Norrington's historically-informed records are worth seeking out.

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I wonder if the choice of a modern piano sound in "Amadeus" was because of the light tone of those early pianos? All the orchestral pieces were modern, too. 200 years ago musicians tuned to a lower-pitched "A" and the overall tone was lighter and, you might say, squeakier. Milosz Forman might have anticipated that modern audiences would think they were playing "wrong", but Sir Roger Norrington's historically-informed records are worth seeking out.

 

On the other hand, Forman could have used the film as an opportunity to enlighten his viewers about the sound world of Mozart's time. For me, hearing Mozart played on a modern piano is somewhat akin to writing with a ball-point pen.

Rationalizing pen and ink purchases since 1967.

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I wonder if the choice of a modern piano sound in "Amadeus" was because of the light tone of those early pianos? All the orchestral pieces were modern, too. 200 years ago musicians tuned to a lower-pitched "A" and the overall tone was lighter and, you might say, squeakier. Milosz Forman might have anticipated that modern audiences would think they were playing "wrong", but Sir Roger Norrington's historically-informed records are worth seeking out.

An octave lower?

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Not an octave, but a hair sharp - 440 cycles, if memory serves.

Mr. Forman may have thought he had enough on his hands convincing us that Salieri murdered the genius that only he recognized without everyone wondering why everyone was playing out of tune.

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On the other hand, Forman could have used the film as an opportunity to enlighten his viewers about the sound world of Mozart's time. For me, hearing Mozart played on a modern piano is somewhat akin to writing with a ball-point pen.

Or they might have been turned off and away in very in large numbers had Forman taken such a prescriptive approach. He might have left with only the choir to preach to.

 

Personally, I heavily gravitate toward original sound and original, period instrumentation, so I take your point. I understand the difference. My record and cd library will prove that.

 

On the other hand, I went to Amadeus to be entertained by a well-made film as part of popular culture and not necessarily educated -indeed, such would have come off as pedantry to me, and I would have been immensely irritated. Maybe it was enough of an accomplishment that a large number of people simply heard music by Mozart? I fear that such pedantry -and I've been guilty here myself of being a snob- has already played a significant, damaging role in the sad decline of the popularity of classical music.

Brian

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My musicologist dad was still alive when "Amadeus" was first staged in Los Angeles (with Mark Hamill as a very effective Mozart). I mentioned the premise to him and he said with great authority: "No, he didn't!"

Like Salieri had told him...he was like that.

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Not an octave, but a hair sharp - 440 cycles, if memory serves.

Historically, it's been all over the place. In a given time, they might even be different in a given city, or even a particular church. Usually, the standard pitch in use will be tweaked a little higher over time, for a more brilliant sound. Until strings start breaking too much, or singers' voices begin to crack from the strain.

 

In the early 17th century Pretorius complained about that very problem in his Syntagma Musicum.

 

During the 18th century, standard pitches came down; about 422Hz around 1740, down further to 409Hz (all from tuning forks supposedly giving an A pitch). "A" wandered betwee 400Hz to 450Hz.

 

Currently, standard concert pitch is set at 440Hz, although some orchestras specializing in Baroque music use 415Hz, which is probably easier on older instruments.

 

I'm about half convinced that our church hymnal's arrangements are for bats and dolphins, not humans. I know one of the arrangers of several of the tunes used, and he tended to transpose them into higher keys because he liked the sound better. Which was just find and dandy for a university choir, but it's been more than 50 years since I sang soprano parts, and nowadays second tenor is bad enough.

Edited by Water Ouzel
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Or they might have been turned off and away in very in large numbers had Forman taken such a prescriptive approach. He might have left with only the choir to preach to.

 

Personally, I heavily gravitate toward original sound and original, period instrumentation, so I take your point. I understand the difference. My record and cd library will prove that.

 

On the other hand, I went to Amadeus to be entertained by a well-made film as part of popular culture and not necessarily educated -indeed, such would have come off as pedantry to me, and I would have been immensely irritated. Maybe it was enough of an accomplishment that a large number of people simply heard music by Mozart? I fear that such pedantry -and I've been guilty here myself of being a snob- has already played a significant, damaging role in the sad decline of the popularity of classical music.

 

I didn't say he had to beat people over the head with it. In fact, the movie credits and publicity needn't have mentioned the use of old instruments at all--the vast majority of moviegoers would never have known the difference, and the entertainment value of the film would have changed not a whit. But those of us who do know would have appreciated it, and others may have liked the sound enough to investigate and discover more.

Rationalizing pen and ink purchases since 1967.

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  • 3 months later...

I am pretty sure it was a Waterman Laureat fountain pen. The ridges on the section were quite visible, as was the distinctive way the cap posts, creating the rings on the barrel. A nice pen, but not the correct one for 1947! No matter. The movie was very good.

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This kind of error is common in films; to continue off topic, no doubt the musicians amongst you who saw Back to the Future would have noticed that Marty McFly was playing, in 1955, a guitar (Gibson 335) that was not introduced until 1958. He should have been playing a Birdland.

 

I read that when Quentin Tarantino was making his film, The Hateful Eight, set about a decade or so after the American Civil War, for one scene involving a guitar, they borrowed an authentic period Gibson guitar from (I believe) the maker's museum.

 

The scene calls for the bounty hunter to take the guitar and smash it. Kurt Russell, playing the bounty hunter does just that. Unfortunately, the authentic Gibson wasn't swapped out for a replica as was supposed to be done and Russell smashed the real one.

 

The lady who was playing the guitar looks very surprised and upset (in the movie) when the guitar was smashed to pieces. She was very surprised and upset... at the loss of the genuine Gibson period guitar!!

Edited by Piper 987

Ink has something in common with both money and manure. It's only useful if it's spread around.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I know this is really late to the conversation, but I just found on the Internet Movie Database that, according to them, it's a 1980s Parker. I had a quick look around the 'net and it looks an awful lot like the Parker 88, except for the double ring where the cap was posted. It's not a duofold, or the cap's wider diameter would be obvious. I could have sworn I remembered ridges on the section as well, but on one of the pictures in Google Images (search Mr Holmes pen) there is a photo where he has the pen with the nib up, and the section appears to be ridge-less there.

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Great thread. Love the comments

Anyone like Ray Bradbury? Please read "The Laurel and Hardy Love Affair" if you have about 12 minutes.

 

You will not forget this wonderful gem that is largely obscure and sadly, forgotten. http://bit.ly/1DZtL4g

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FWIW, we know from advertisements that Sir Arthur endorsed the Parker Duofold, although that has nothing to do with this movie.

 

He also endorsed the British-made Whytwarth safety pen:

 

http://i.imgur.com/j1WPOIX.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/utQ9Ep9.jpg

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