Does Spiner Play the Violin?

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Elisabeth Riba

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May 22, 1990, 9:38:41 PM5/22/90
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My question is basically stated in the subject line. There have been
three episodes I can remember where Data has played the violin.
"Elementary, Dear Data," "Ensigns of Command," and now "Sarek." In
the first, his back was turned, so I thought it was a body double.
But now we've seen more of Data's musical ambitions. So is it just
something the writers have thrown in, or is the violin just another of
Brent Spiner's many talents?
--
Lady Lis
~~~~~~~~
a.k.a. Elisabeth Anne Riba
l...@cs.brandeis.edu

K...@psuvm.psu.edu

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May 23, 1990, 8:37:41 AM5/23/90
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In article <LIS.90Ma...@chaos.cs.brandeis.edu>, l...@chaos.cs.brandeis.edu

(Elisabeth Riba) says:
>
>My question is basically stated in the subject line. There have been
>three episodes I can remember where Data has played the violin.
>"Elementary, Dear Data," "Ensigns of Command," and now "Sarek." In
>the first, his back was turned, so I thought it was a body double.
>But now we've seen more of Data's musical ambitions. So is it just
>something the writers have thrown in, or is the violin just another of
>Brent Spiner's many talents?


I'm no expert on the violin but it looked fake to me. Maybe I am wrong. I'd
have to watch it again but I don't even think he moved his left hand very much
which is usually a good indication if someone is faking a stringed instrument
(including the piano :-)) You can't always expect the bow to move with every
change of a note but the left hand should tell the tale.


Kevin S.
KPS at PSUVM

Jeff Temple

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May 23, 1990, 2:24:36 PM5/23/90
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In article <LIS.90Ma...@chaos.cs.brandeis.edu> l...@chaos.cs.brandeis.edu (Elisabeth Riba) writes:
>My question is basically stated in the subject line. There have been
>three episodes I can remember where Data has played the violin.
>"Elementary, Dear Data," "Ensigns of Command," and now "Sarek." In
>the first, his back was turned, so I thought it was a body double.
>But now we've seen more of Data's musical ambitions. So is it just
>something the writers have thrown in, or is the violin just another of
>Brent Spiner's many talents?
>

IMHO I don't think he is playing the violin. The sound we are hearing is not
consistent with the motion of the bow, or vice versa.

This is one of my pet peeves in tv shows and movies. If they are going mock
a musician, lets do it right, or don't even show closeups.

Well enough for my 2 cents. Live long and prosper.
--
+-----------------------------------------------------------------------+
| Jeffrey P. Temple mail: csusac!utgard!pyrgard!jeffrey |
| "I HAVE ALWAYS LOOKED OUT FROM BEHIND THESE EYES" |
| "IT FEELS LIKE MORE THAN A LIFETIME" - Pink Floyd (A New Machine) |

Brian Kluchar

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May 23, 1990, 9:07:03 AM5/23/90
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I thought it was pretty obvious that NONE of the people on the stage knew how
to play a string instrument. Some faked it better than others (like the
vibratos).
-Brian

Sarah L. Higley

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May 24, 1990, 1:15:58 AM5/24/90
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]My question is basically stated in the subject line. There have been
Aaaargh! You're undermining my cavil! I guess you haven't been tuning
into the "musical" discussions lately. About five people have
complained of Spiner's grotesque botch of the violin. Look at your
video. Not a single finger on his left hand moves. Now Jonathon Frakes
is a bonafide trombonist (excuse the pun). Spiner said at a con that he
used to play the guitar. Another stringed instrument-- you'd think he'd
be able to fake the violin a little more credibly.

Sarah L. Higley

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May 24, 1990, 1:41:53 AM5/24/90
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In article <75...@ur-cc.UUCP> sl...@uhura.cc.rochester.edu (Sarah L. Higley) writes:
>Aaaargh!

Aargh indeed. I'm overdoing it here. So I'll SHUT UP. They should have made
him a pianist. Easier to fake.

config

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May 24, 1990, 10:45:28 AM5/24/90
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In article <1990May23.0...@utgard.uucp> jef...@utgard.uucp (Jeff Temple) writes:
>In article <LIS.90Ma...@chaos.cs.brandeis.edu> l...@chaos.cs.brandeis.edu (Elisabeth Riba) writes:
>>So is it just
>>something the writers have thrown in, or is the violin just another of
>>Brent Spiner's many talents?
>>
>
>IMHO I don't think he is playing the violin. The sound we are hearing is not
>consistent with the motion of the bow, or vice versa.
>
>This is one of my pet peeves in tv shows and movies. If they are going mock
>a musician, lets do it right, or don't even show closeups.


Ahem... If you'll permit some observations from someone who has in his time
earned some money doing "lip-sync" and the like:

Brent Spinner was definitely NOT playing the violin. The visual evidence
shows him holding the instrument too low, not depressing the bow which was
sliding away from the bridge (meaning he wasn't holding the bow in the
correct position as well there most probably was not any rosin on the
hairs), finally, his fingering was all wrong. Not only was he not putting
his fingers in the right places, his hand position was incorrect.

Now, I'm a cellist (actually, was, no practice means no audience :-))
and an experienced singer (both concert and studio). As any Canadian who's
seen show like "Singalong Jubilee" or "Hymn Sing" will tell you, the real
talent for these pre-recorded audio - "Lip Synchronized" tapings is
remembering what the exact inflection you put on the music (tempo,
rhythm etc.) Believe me, from personal experience, when you're fakin'it
it shows!!


BOB

Kyle Jones

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May 24, 1990, 10:33:33 AM5/24/90
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Sarah L. Higley writes:
> Aaaargh!

Sarah L. Higley responds:


> Aargh indeed. I'm overdoing it here. So I'll SHUT UP. They
> should have made him a pianist. Easier to fake.

How many other keyboard players out there had to restrain
yourselves from shouting in anger at this loving swipe from Lady
Sarah of Rochester? :-( :-)

I don't care about the instrument choices really, I just wish
they'd play something other than classical music! I guess it's
just another symptom of the general decline of the Federation.

Thomas Chen

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May 24, 1990, 2:07:40 PM5/24/90
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In a word, no. His left hand position was entirely incorrect for the
music he was playing. His right hand (bow) was passable, but way too
stiff for a real player. Also, the movement of the bow did not coincide
with the notes. BTW, I think the other quartet players in
"Sarek" were just good fakers - the female second violinist was playing
a spicatto passage with the appropriate bouncing of the bow, but it was
much too exaggerated. It would have produced a choppy, grating sound.
Not the thing to move a vulcan to tears :-)

--
During his lifetime (1678-1741), Vivaldi composed some 400 concerti,
though his detractors like to put it that he wrote only one and then
copied it down 399 times.
- Paul Kresh

David Jay Rostker

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May 24, 1990, 2:53:47 PM5/24/90
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I am a musician. I play both the piano and viola. (Yes, it's easier
to fake playing the piano. Everyone and anyone can bang the keys with
their fingers. With a violin or viola, it's obvious from the way you
hold the instrument.) As musician who does love Star Trek, I thought
that I should add a few things about the general quality of music found
on both ST:TOS and TNG.
In general, the quality of music played on Star Trek is much better
on TNG. In the old series, music was either the "modern" stuff sang by
those hippies on the way to Eden (Sorry, forgot the episode. Please
don't bother to follow-up just to tell us) or Uhura's croonings. Either
way, music was looked on as a lark, without serious content or redeeming
qualities, a thing for the foolish youth. Of the main three, Spock was
the only one to every have anything to do with music, and he didn't even
show emotion. I hesitate to say that this is a result of societal view
of music during the 60's but it may be GR's view of what music had
become, wrong though it may be. He may have never heard of the Stones or
the Beatles, but folk music wasn't all there was.
Now comes TNG, an environment in which music is so respected, that
one of Data's most valuable functions is that of first violin in the
Ship's string quartet. Classical music has regained a place in the 24th
century, and it seems that by all of those made-up names,technique and
performance has not stagnated. As to the complaint that someone wants
less classical music, I wonder what he wants to hear. Mozart is one of
the few musical genius whose music is not found abrasive by someone. I
guess some of Beethoven's earlier quartets would work but for the most
part as time progresses, more and more people are alienated from modern
works because of the new ideas. I myself like Stravinsky but not much
classical written since 1960. And anything pop may or may not be a wise
choice. A great comedian once noted that he was thankful that pop music
was popular for such a short time. Rock music has very little staying
power. Who listens to Madonna's albums from the early eighties? What
about J.Geils Band, the most popular music from then? And realize that
any attempt to reproduce music for the 24th century lands up sounding
stupid and trite, especially when written on a show budget. Ever watch
Buck Rodgers and their attempt at modern music. The only reasonable
choice for music which will convey a mood of emotion or relaxation in
music which most people in the audience can relax to or be moved by.
Mozart (or composers from that time period or style) may be the best
choice.
And now to the most recent topic of discussion, the piss-poor
quality of the performance in "Sarek" and in the other TNG where Data
plays in a quartet. I don't know about you, but I was laughing before
the first note. Spiner can't even hold the instrument correctly, The
other actors at least had that. Then Spiner's choke hold on the neck of
the instrument. I didn't even notice the other players faking because he
was so bad that my eyes where draw straight to his hands. Sad.
The next mistake which occurred in "Sarek" would be the abrupt
change which occurred in the music from Mozart to something almost
definitely not Mozart. The style was all wrong. Call it more Beethoven
or Brahms. Either way, the change was need for the mood so I guess
acceptable even though they need not have made such a big deal of the
Mozart program.
The third error, which occurred in both quartet episodes, is picky
but noticeable to a musician. The four where sitting such that Data,
obviously the first violin (deduced from the fact that the other
violinist wasn't playing the solo parts) was sitting second in from the
left. In quartets, the first violin always sits on the end. It's been
like that for over two hundred years and probaby won't change. Secondly,
the four players sat facing the audience. Never! The four players sit
facing each other. The first faces either the violist or the cellist and
the other two sit almost at the top of an arch, toward the audience.
It's very tight because all directions are visually. And lastly, no
instrumental ensemble performs without music. I just saw the Toyko
string quartet the other night, a purely profession group, and they used
music. Data may be able to memorize, but the others are human and in a
quartet, only the foolish will rely on memory.
Overall, it's good to see music taken seriously in Star Trek, but
it's obvious to me that the directors and producers and writers are
listeners and have very little idea as to what musicians actually to
make those great CD's to listen to. In that light, little wonder noone
complained when Spiner didn't make the effort to at least research the
instrument at little.
--One mad musician
aka dros...@phoenix.princeton.edu

(But I really do like TNG, at least much more than TOS)
(Go ahead. Flame me. I need the distraction from finals)

* * * Hunter * * *

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May 24, 1990, 5:59:47 PM5/24/90
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Once again, kjo...@talos.pm.com (Kyle Jones) retorts...


>I don't care about the instrument choices really, I just wish
>they'd play something other than classical music! I guess it's
>just another symptom of the general decline of the Federation.

Ahhh... I could just see Captain Picard and the rest of the bridge crew
going into the holodeck to watch a Metallica concert!!!! *:-) Now, *that*
would be interesting... Data with a mohawk!!! Worf with a rainbow peacock!
Wow! Now that would be interesting!!!


--
#=========Admiral Michael "Hunter" Huang, USS Ticonderoga, NCC-1736===========#
mhu...@polyslo.CalPoly.EDU // Amiga: The Vision of Tomorrow
mhu...@FubarSys.SLO.CA.US \X/ Project: "SimStar: The Next Simulation"
#======="This project is so secret, even I don't know what I'm doing."========#

Jonathan Sims

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May 24, 1990, 9:30:52 PM5/24/90
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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^


AAAAGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!! Who dare call a concert of Mozart's music (though I
don't think is was his) "another sympton of the general decline of the
Federation"?!?! I didn't see the :) in your post you tiny-brained wiper of
other people bottoms. The classical period gave us some of the finest music
the world has ever heard (or will ever hear). I enjoy all kinds of music from
Monteverdi to Maddona and it angers me to hear people put down music, especially
the music of Mozart. Mozart's music is important and dear to me and I will
not stand by and listen to heaving lots of second hand electric donkey
bottom biters attack his music and associate its playing to the decline
of civilization. Why did you pick the classical period alone? Do you
also hate the Romantic period, or do you just lump all music before made
before 1950 into the classical category (one of major pet-peeves is peoples
improper use of the term "classical music". Classical music refers to the
music composed during the middle of the 1700's to the early-middle 1800's and
Mozart was the major composer during this period.)? Why, I wave my private
parts at your aunties, you illegitimate, bedwetting kanigget. Stop
putting down "classical" music or I shall have to make castanets out of your
testicles! Now go away or I shall have to taunt you a second time!


:) :) :) :) :),
Jonathan Sims
ccs...@pollux.ucdavis.edu


All insults from Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail.


Sarah L. Higley

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May 25, 1990, 5:20:47 PM5/25/90
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Kyle hits the wall and smashes his hand-- too bad, no more Rondo ala
Turca for a while, Kyle... in partial jest. ;-}
Expires:
References: <LIS.90Ma...@chaos.cs.brandeis.edu> <75...@ur-cc.UUCP> <75...@ur-cc.UUCP> <1990May24.1...@talos.pm.com>
Sender:
Reply-To: sl...@uhura.cc.rochester.edu (Sarah L. Higley)
Followup-To:
Distribution:
Organization: University of Rochester
Keywords: chill out.

In article <1990May24.1...@talos.pm.com> kjo...@talos.pm.com (Kyle Jones) writes:
>Sarah L. Higley writes:
> > Aaaargh!
>
>Sarah L. Higley responds:
> > Aargh indeed. I'm overdoing it here. So I'll SHUT UP. They
> > should have made him a pianist. Easier to fake.
>
>How many other keyboard players out there had to restrain
>yourselves from shouting in anger at this loving swipe from Lady
>Sarah of Rochester? :-( :-)
>

To the honourable and esteemed Lord Kyle of Talos:

Do you really think that my loving swipe deserves your heavy fist? It
is most ungentlemanly of you to pull such a punch when your fingers
could be put to so much better use at your keyboard. Pun intended.

As a pianist of some twenty five years, I ought to be jumping up with
the other keyboard players in anger at my own comment. What I meant is
that with a piano you can always turn it so that you see the
would-be-pianist's face and not his hands. A time-honored TV trick. A
little more difficult with the fiddle.

And let me ask you this, m'lord? Do you know for sure that Tom Hulse
(sp) is not a concert pianist? If he isn't, I'd be curious to know how
he faked being Mozart. Ditto for Shirley in _Madame Sosostris_.

Go back to your Presto Agitato. I think your passion is better spent
there.

Lady Sarah.

Sarah L. Higley

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May 25, 1990, 6:06:10 PM5/25/90
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To my incredible disappointment, my devastatingly witty subject category
did not print my ripost in its full entirety as it did Lord Kyle's. For
his benefit, I'll repeat it here, as I don't think he should be spared
the full effect of my amused scorn (especially since it quotes verbatim
some of Kyle's (heh heh) heavy handed flames-- in "quotation marks"):

Sarah speaks tongue in cheek; "Kyle turns a baleful eye on her; Kyle
swings his heavy fist"; Sarah ducks adroitly; Kyle hits the wall and

smashes his hand-- too bad, no more Rondo ala Turca for a while, Kyle...
in partial jest. ;-}

(In response to Kyle Jones's explosive misinterpretation of my comment about
television fakery of piano playing. Yes, it IS harder to fake the
violin on TV because your hands must be visible. My musician colleagues
have corroborated this.)

Kyle Jones again:


>>I don't care about the instrument choices really, I just wish
>>they'd play something other than classical music! I guess it's
>>just another symptom of the general decline of the Federation.

I guess it isn't Presto Agitato for Kyle. And as for heavy
fist-swinging from keyboard artists, I've seen a few riposts to Kyle's
red-hot remarks that ought to give him some food for thought. :( :)

A not so awful pianist and classical music lover. Also love jazz,
ragtime, blues, Steve Reich and the Eurythmics.

Sarah L. Winters

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May 25, 1990, 10:48:01 PM5/25/90
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In article <76...@ur-cc.UUCP> sl...@uhura.cc.rochester.edu (Sarah L. Higley) writes:
>Keywords: chill out.
>
>In article <1990May24.1...@talos.pm.com> kjo...@talos.pm.com (Kyle Jones) writes:
>>
>>How many other keyboard players out there had to restrain
>>yourselves from shouting in anger at this loving swipe from Lady
>>Sarah of Rochester? :-( :-)
>>

Lord Kyle, such words as these do not befit being spoken to a Lady of
the Realm such as she whom you addressed. Perchance you've had woe in
the jousting fields of late? Or mayhap the woe does come from the agonies
of rituals to expurgate from you the vertiginous effects of the poor misfit's
attempts at miming sound from the representative of the viol family.

Surely he showed great lacking. Yet not all your laments nor labours will
remove it from your visual memories, where it doth lie, even as a dragon
awaits in his lair the coming of the knight, to slay or be slain.

Never have I known the good Lady Sarah of Rochester, in all my days of
attendance in her courts, to prevaricate or bespeak another with malice upon
her tongue. Indeed, she is most gentle of heart, and would not bespeak you
in a manner unworthy of her estate. Yet your tongue doth belie you, m'lord.

So haste, and get thee service from a humble friar, for such words as
you spake to the Lady Sarah. Remember that never wouldst a lord befitting
his title strike a lady in such a serfiate fashion.

Sarah, Lady-in-waiting to the courts of Rochester
sa...@menolly.UUCP InterNet: sa...@menolly.sr.com
UUCP: {ames, att, decwrl, usc, pyramid, jato}!srhqla!menolly!sarah
"40 Eridani -- Ah yes, the planet of true aristocracy of the stars."

Kyle Jones

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May 29, 1990, 12:08:01 PM5/29/90
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Kyle Jones, that ole rabblerouser, writes:
> I don't care about the instrument choices really, I just wish
> they'd play something other than classical music! I guess it's
> just another symptom of the general decline of the Federation.

Jonathan Sims responds:


> AAAAGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!! Who dare call a concert of Mozart's music (though I
> don't think is was his) "another sympton of the general decline of the
> Federation"?!?! I didn't see the :) in your post you tiny-brained wiper of
> other people bottoms. The classical period gave us some of the finest music
> the world has ever heard (or will ever hear).

> [ much colorful, good-natured flamage omitted ]

There's no point in arguing the value of classical or any other
kind of music. Beauty is, indeed, in the eye of the beholder.

Besides, it's not the music itself that bothers me, but rather
TNG"s beating us over the head with it. There are musics other
than western classical that have long, rich histories. Why not
let us hear some of those? Why not let us hear how far music has
come in four hundred years, instead of giving us the bleak
prediction that World War III destroyed nearly everything but
still didn't manage to eradicate that infernal Mozart?

Kyle Jones

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May 29, 1990, 12:25:38 PM5/29/90
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Sarah L. Higley writes about Brent Spiner's abysmal miming of a violinist:

> They should have made him a pianist. Easier to fake.

Being somewhat incensed, Kyle Jones responds:


> How many other keyboard players out there had to restrain
> yourselves from shouting in anger at this loving swipe from Lady
> Sarah of Rochester? :-( :-)

Sarah responds:


> To the honourable and esteemed Lord Kyle of Talos:

> [...]


> As a pianist of some twenty five years, I ought to be jumping up with
> the other keyboard players in anger at my own comment. What I meant is
> that with a piano you can always turn it so that you see the
> would-be-pianist's face and not his hands. A time-honored TV trick. A
> little more difficult with the fiddle.

OK, I apologize. I swung my "heavy fist" in haste. I thought
you meant that it was easier to mimic what a pianist does, but
you're talking about obscuring what a faker is (not) doing, which
is a different thing altogether.

Sarah L. Higley

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May 29, 1990, 5:47:04 PM5/29/90
to
In article <1990May29....@talos.pm.com> kjo...@talos.pm.com (Kyle Jones) writes:
>I apologize. I swung my "heavy fist" in haste. I thought
>you meant that it was easier to mimic what a pianist does, but
>you're talking about obscuring what a faker is (not) doing, which
>is a different thing altogether.

Handsome apology, gratefully accepted. Point taken, and I agree, I
should have been more precise. I think that non-players who mimic
playing difficult instruments should be "obscured" as much as possible
on TV unless they mimic awfully well. No complex musical instrument is
easy to "fake." Wrong choice of words.

I also agree with Kyle that other forms of musical culture could be
better represented on Star Trek. I love their exploration of classical
music, but what, meanwhile, has happened to jazz? or folk? or rock?
Things get a little bland when they explore "culture"-- I'd love to see
some graffiti planetside, or hear some bongo drums. And what about
non-western forms of music? Why not have a Gamelan orchestra with Bali
dancers? Certainly the Federation represents more than just Western
culture. Budget concerns, undoubtedly...

I'd also like to see a Ferengi woman. Is that in store for us this
weekend, or is it only Deanna and Lwuxanna who'll be naked? (Talk about
obscuring...) :):):):):)

Mike Rovak

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Jun 6, 1990, 2:26:08 PM6/6/90
to
Just a speculation ---

I seem to recall reading something on this newsgroup that left me with the
impression that Spiner is somewhat of a cut up.

I play the violin and I noticed that at one point Spiner was bowing on the
low string (G) while the sound track was obviously half way up the high
string (E). This is so bad that I wonder if Spiner did it on purpose.

What do you think?
__
...mike@DRD.Com (918)743-3013
...{uunet,rutgers}!drd!mike

John A. Kusters, jr.

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Jun 6, 1990, 7:57:16 PM6/6/90
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mi...@drd.Com (Mike Rovak) discloses:
>Just a speculation ---
>
>What do you think?

I think perhaps the actors aren't really hearing the music when the
episode is being filmed. Granted I don't know too much about how TV
shows are made, but I find it plausible that at the time of the
filming, the actual choice of music may not be known. If the music is
known, perhaps they choose not to play the music during filming for
various reasons (such as trying to splice together various scenes and
trying to get the music just right). The probably add the music at
the last moment right near the end. This would account for most (if
not all) of the problems we saw with this and other episodes.

Am I right or am I wrong.... :-)

JOhn.

--
/-----------------------------------------------------------------------------\
* John A Kusters, jr. jkus...@polyslo.CalPoly.EDU *
* "Now it's over I'm dead and I haven't done anything that I want * One World *
\_Or, I'm still alive and there is nothing I want to do..."-TMBG__*_One Net___/

Mike Rovak

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Jun 12, 1990, 11:35:53 AM6/12/90
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jkus...@polyslo.CalPoly.EDU (John A. Kusters, jr.) wrote:
}
} I think perhaps the actors aren't really hearing the music when the
} episode is being filmed...

}
} Am I right or am I wrong.... :-)
}
} JOhn.
}

If you're right, then there must be a lot of budget pressure for TNG, because
it seems like they could do a lot better with their editing, or their coaching
of the actors IMHO.

Sometimes, I feel like I'm watching Blake's 7 when I'm watching TNG, and
I have to remind myself that its TNG because I occasionally perceive the
FX to be "cheap" (I don't know how else to explain it-- it's like being able
to see the wires which operate the puppets on Sesame Street). Do you know
what I mean?

Even so, I think they're getting better overall.

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