Gordon Sellar: This is Your Life! & A Rock Song About Max Planck

Long ago in a noosphere far, far away, I actually played the double bass in a kids’ orchestra, which was slightly humiliating since the lead violinists were 7 and 8 years old and I was in middle school. Anyway, I played double bass pretty good for someone who never quite learned to read the bass clef properly until later. (I knew that this dot on the staff meant that position on the fingerboard, or that alternate position, or even this third one, but I didn’t know what the name of the note was.)

Maybe it was rebellion that led me to fool around with the electric bass. It’s a really different instrument from the double bass, and I never truly got the hang of it… but I did mess around with it a little, since I was allowed to sign out one from my middle school for the summer. I amplified it out of my parents’ old hi-fi, and played very silly things on it.

Well, I’ve been poking around looking for recordings of pieces of music, and performances that I made back in the day — performances on saxophone, mostly, jazz, and pieces I wrote in University. Turns out some recordings seem to have been lost — possibly, probably, maybe — and so I’ve been digging around on the few video tapes still in my possession. 

Well, the other day, on the video tape my sister made for me in 2001, titled Gordon Sellar: This is Your Life!  back in middle school, banging away at one note on the bass and “singing” (if you can call it that) about “There was a physicist named Max Planck! He was a very neat physicist! Max Planck! Max Planck! Max Planck!” over some jangling guitar in the background. The kind of thing that’d end up on YouTube these days. I probably ran across a reference to him in that famous Stephen Hawking book we’ve all by now read, but still… it’s weird to look back and see a hint that the shift in my life, from music/poetry nerd to science/hard-SF geek wasn’t so sudden as I remember it. I always remembered it as being sudden and in my early 20s, but now I know the seeds were there much earlier.

Anyway, I was going to use this post to announce something, but if I announce it here, it’ll get lost in the weird anecdote above, so I’ll just leave it at that.

UPDATE: Tina noted that this post was cryptic. There’s a reason: a middle paragraph got cut. I’ve reworked it so that the missing information is now present.

3 thoughts on “Gordon Sellar: This is Your Life! & A Rock Song About Max Planck

  1. Weirdly enough, I just heard of Willis for (perhaps) the first time either last summer in Seattle, or else in January in China. I’m not sure which is correct. But I do suspect I would have enjoyed his “music” immensely if I had encountered it in middle/high school.

    None of my pieces are 2’22”, nor are any of them 4’22”, but you might wish some of them were shorter, once you’ve heard them. :)

  2. I learned the “this space or this line means this finger on this string” before I learned anything else about reading music. I mean, I knew which space meant the A string without any fingers down, but it took me a few months to actually translate any of that to “Oh, the rest of the notes have letter names, too!”.

    (I learned to read music at the age most kids are learning to read. I’d mastered reading, except for the big hard words like “neighbor” by kindergarten.)

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