I love teaching with my external hard drive, which now contains 6844 mp3s, perhaps something like ten percent of my record/CD collection. Today we were analyzing Ives’s Concord Sonata. I wanted to make the point that Ives didn’t invent the tone cluster (or at least wasn’t the first to invent it), and so I plugged in my hard drive, pressed a couple of keys, and played the Combat Naval for harpsichord by Michel Corrette (1707-1795), which uses forearm clusters to simulate cannonfire. The students expressed surprise that something so wild could have been written in the 18th century, so I assured them that the Classical Era was a lot more varied than standard music history admits and, to illustrate, played a jew’s-harp concerto by Johann Georg Albrechtsberger (1736-1809), who was Beethoven’s composition teacher. (Having been a record reviewer for Fanfare magazine for many years, I know quite a bit of repertoire never run into by those whose education is primarily academic.) The downside of teaching this way is that I digress considerably more often, and for longer periods.
I have to say, though, that my first Maxtor hard drive suffered a very light fall onto a soft carpet, and quit working altogether, after I’d had it only five months. Maxtor made it extremely difficult to return: I had to download some voluminous instructions in fine print, and wrap it in foam (styrofoam peanuts were not acceptable for honoring the warranty) and an anti-magnetic wrapper that was difficult to obtain. Since then, the Maxtor’s icon sometimes fails to appear on my desktop when I plug it in. I’ve been told that La Cie makes the best external hard drives, and I’m thinking of getting one.