Sunday, January 22, 2006

Just for fun: The Flying Inkpot

I must say, I have such a wonderful time coming across unexpected websites while trolling around the web doing research on this or that. Today's little gem is something called The Flying Inkpot, which chronicles classical music performances in Singapore.

What I find absolutely irresistible about this site is its irreverant addition of a NOISE RATING INDEX for the concerts reviewed. According to its definition:
The Noise Rating Index is a partially-objective measurement of pager and handphone blasts, 9pm and 10pm watch beeps, coughing-during-the-pianissimo-bits, intra-audience conversation and other mind-bogglingly inept noises emitted in the concert hall during actual performance of music. It is measured on a scale of 0 to 5, in increasing annoyance.

In a 2002 review of the NHK Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Charles Dutoit, for example, The Noise Index Rating registered a whopping 5 out of 5 due to the following audience transgressions:
Desecration of the House

The Inkpot usually gives a Noise Index Rating™ for concerts - our irreverent method of social commentary about bad local concert-going habits. But this evening was beyond numerical description. Just about anything that could happen did:

* Photographer taking multiple exposure shots
* An ongoing plague of coughing and sniffling
* Dropped programme books and personal miscellany
* Watch alarms going off on the hour
* People talking during the slow bits
* Handphone that went off in the cor anglais solo at the end of Meadows

The only thing which did not occur (not where we were located) was a crying infant, although we did come pretty close - babes-in-arms were spotted in the hall.

The fact is, we normally do not see half as much of these shenanigans going on at regular concerts at Victoria Concert Hall, which also has half the seating capacity. Our concern is with the pending opening of the 1,600-seat Esplanade Concert Hall, with its Russell Johnson™ acoustics, and the numbers of people flocking to "be there".

Far be it for us to be moral arbitrators about concertgoering habits (OK, alright, so we already are) - but if this is what the Esplanade experience is going to be, well, like Geena Davis says in The Fly, "Be afraid. Be very afraid."

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