Every beat counts

When I was at University many years ago I was doing a post graduate Diploma in Broadcast Communication. It was the pre cursor to the programme AUT now runs for aspiring television, media and communications professionals. We were given practical skills in developing media stories and getting them to air. One of the first exercises we were set was to put together a video clip which used a sound track with images cut to it. I chose ‘It’s a Kind of Magic’ by Queen. It was an unforgettable experience of taking my six other classmates to fill the roles of sound and camera operators then taking the footage back to the studio and cutting the piece together. It was then I realised for the first time that television runs on seconds and parts of a second. A minute became a very long time when broken down into 60 second and 24 frame slots. I was amazed by how much was involved in getting enough material to make an interesting video of around three minutes. I also learnt that a shot becomes boring after 5 seconds. Yes, it was the coming of age of the sound bite. This rule also meant that the way news was delivered changed. The biggest horror we all had was that we would not have enough material and the screen would go to black. So images took over from sound. If there was no image the news got relegated to the bin as talking heads were to be avoided.

I made my video and it sits on a shelf somewhere. It was a piece of fun and I got a grade for it.

So when my daughter told me she had tickets to Queen with Adam Lambeth I jumped at the chance to go. It was a fabulous night out. Not only was it great to catch up with Suraya (junior) and to hear all her news as she is completing a Master in Law,  it was an experience of a life time to be in the presence of wonderful musicians.

Of course Freddy Mercury was missed but Brian May and the rest of the band are consummate performers. As I am by musicians like Eric Clapton and Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd, I was absolutely amazed by the skill and professionalism of the entire band. Every second was accounted for and filled with music or the light show. It was slick and not a beat was missed. Adam Lambeth, who came second in American Idol one year, performed Freddy Mercury songs with the rider that he was not trying to take Freddy’s place as there was only one Freddy Mercury. Rather he was honoured to be in the company of some of the world’s greatest musicians.

I liked that. He would be in his mid-twenties yet he showed great maturity in accepting that Freddy was unique and so was he. That said he had an amazing voice and he performed like one of the greats he will undoubtedly become. They played ‘It’s a Kind of Magic’ and it was just breath taking to hear the song that I cut pictures to all those years ago. It is one of my favourite songs from that period. It talks to me of the wonder of life, that magic is everywhere, if we take the time to look and absorb what is around us.

Of course Bohemian Rhapsody was the number that everyone was waiting for and when the first notes played the capacity crowd went wild. Adam Lambeth and the band sang the first third then they slipped into the shadows while we watched a video clip of Queen with Freddy Mercury. The final third gave way to the live band. It was a fitting tribute to Freddy Mercury without being maudlin.

The light show was spectacular and I couldn’t help comparing it to Leonard Cohen’s minimalistic show just under a year ago. He was on stage with six other musicians and they supported Leonard Cohen or sang his songs. The focus was on the art and on the talent.

Both shows were at opposite ends of the spectrum and both were absolutely fabulous. Both approaches served the musicians well and a rock band without the light show, the sound effects, drum solos and glitzy costumes would not be a rock show.

All performers filled every second with something that was relevant to the show. There was nothing thrown in to fill a gap. That is true artistry.

It is also something for writers who are starting out to be aware of. Every word is the equivalent of a beat in a rock show. Each has to be there to support what went before and what follows. Nothing thrown in to meet a word count.







Brian May


This I love. The last paragraph should be imprinted in all writers' minds. It says everything about basic creative writing.
Writing is labour intensive like tv/music. I want to engage the reader by keeping them interested throughout the story. Not everyone likes what I write for different reasons but I live with that because my work is in the public sphere. Just put the effort in and get something positive out of the experience.
Thanks Ray and Ken. We have shared two journey's; that of the writer and that of building a company from the first building block. I will always treasure those times and what I've learnt. As you say Ken, put in the effort and something positive is returned.