1291877291-47-300x244Being at the conservatory, demanded that I kept track of many different subjects on music theory and history.

As good as the books were, they didn’t have my own notes attached to them for quick consulting, so sometimes cross-referencing was quite a mess and a major pain in the arse.

Imagine having to digest 1000 years of music history, and theory, to have ALL the details in the palm of your hand, or rather in this case, in your head and under your tongue, if you had to speak of it suddenly, it was an impossible task. We had to sum the most important parts up, as the professor in the class, could all of a sudden ask any student anything at random and the student was expected to answer the professor promptly. Then he would give a classification note regarding how accurate the pupil answered, or more precisely, babbled to the professor. Those episodes were terrifying for the targeted student and a cause for either deep silence or a laugh from his/her colleagues.
encyclopedia-300x225So summing up the most relevant facts of music theory and music history, was a much needed fact.

It was a demanding process and task, but I set my goal of doing the challenge, it was also an excellent way to study too, as writing the subjects, one can obviously see what is written, which in turn, visually and mentally retained in your memory. This helped me remember the place, page and position for the final exam, where the subject in question would pop up into my brain. At least that was the way it worked for me. :)

All the sum-ups I had made, had a cross reference to the name of the article in my music encyclopaedia with a chapter, name, and page reference.
mtheory2I quickly became bored with such a daunting but necessary task, and because my hand writing was simply, well let’s say it politely, TERRIBLE!, to a point where even I could not distinguish between a capital G and a 6, I promptly agreed to myself that it was taking far too long to accomplish and I was also starting to lose track of many things, so I had to call the aid of my trusty Amiga to rescue me on this!

I had WordPerfect at the time, version 4.01 or 4.1, and I felt really good about it, having the finest word processor at the time, for any platform, on my Amiga.

After paging like two or three pages I quickly realised that WordPerfect, although powerful and allowing me to make footnotes, end notes, paragraphs and so on, was not the correct program needed for my objectives for the work.

A database was what I needed. Shareware AmiBase to the rescue! After coming to grasp with the interface and modus operandi, it was straight on: Define name of database, file note, number of records, number of fields, name of fields. After that was just a case of defining what to put there.
AmiBaseSo Title, Era, Subject, Composer, Reference, was all that I needed and entering the data was a breeze, which was really easy to work and easy to edit. This was turning out better than I thought it possible and after 15 days I had achieved my goal. I had all the necessary and important music subjects in the database. I think, memory degradation permitting after 20 years on, I had made a total of 300 files, each with a significant number of records that filled 50% of two DD disks. Somehow having more than 100+ files on the disk crashed Workbench at once when accessing the directory. I don’t know if it was a limitation of the program, the file system or Workbench 1.3.

So let’s see… next logical step? Print it of course! Major mistake!!!!! Loads of continuous A4 sheets of paper were used, but at least I had the complete series that I could study or go through, for any type of information I needed.

paper_continuousBest of all and the worst of my mistakes, I showed it to my professor and for the next couple of weeks he kept pushing me about any topic that he could remember, which we had talked about in class until that time. I must admit my work had paid off, because I recall that I had failed on just a total of two questions, which made me quite proud. I continuously improved the database and after about 4 months, I thought that nothing more could be corrected or added within the encyclopaedia.

Best of all, in the 2nd term, I was called to the director’s office, where I was asked for my permission to use my database as the main student music reference for the conservatory. I was quite shocked, really, and I never thought that my needs could match the needs of someone else and help others in the process. To my delight, this was what had happened and my list was being photocopied by students and passed around by hand, everywhere. Within a year it had filtered into all the major conservatories in the country and when I realised this, I was once again shocked, only this time, twice as much as before.resumed_encylopedia1Four years later it served as the basis for the official Compendium of Music Studies published by the National Music Conservatory in the capital. Then it was assembled by a team of professors of that institution and adopted by all conservatories nationwide. My name was the main author reference, along with three major historian-lecturers and professors that had worked as revisers. What an honour. :)

Do you know that cliché: “Only Amiga makes it possible”? For me, sure!

P.S. It is very unfortunate for me, that having started this collaboration with CiA, that I cannot present at least a sample of the things that I described here which I have become really proud of. Most of them are just memories but I still keep some of my work on paper, made around 88-92. Moving from Europe to the Americas of Columbus, meant that all my music stuff and papers stayed behind, locked and preserved until my return, as too are my Amiga’s. Nothing more than a laptop and two 2Tb eSata disks made it over with me on the move and this actual adventure is just the culmination of a very long story of my life that started out with my Commodore Amiga 500. That was the landmark of my life, when things really started to happen for me.