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Over There (in the UK)

February 7, 2001 at 11 PM

A documentary about documentaries doesn’t

A documentary about documentaries doesn't sound terribly interesting I suppose. A bit like putting The Joy of Cooking in the oven to learn how to cook.

Ah, but if the subject is the radio documentaries of one Glenn Gould, it's a different story. Gould is of course known as an eccentric genius of a piano player, one obsessed with aural perfection and yet who hummed rather conspicuously on his recordings. Beyond that though he was something of a pioneer in the field of radio documentary.

Gould certainly had original ideas about how people interpret sound and the process of recording. Thankfully some of these ideas have been put to use in this documentary (which you can listen to online). Gould liked to challenge his listeners; in turn, this isn't quite the sort of thing you can listen to in the background as most radio listeners seem apt to do.

Once you've listened, you might, if you haven't already, want to watch François Girard's excellent film, 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould. Co-written by Girard and Don McKellar (the pair of whom were also responsible for The Red Violin), it's a unique film. I rented it not long ago, thinking the title was just a cute pun on one of Gould's musical performances. In fact, no, the film really is 32 short films. Together though, they really illuminate one of the most interesting minds of the 20th century.

Still want more? Try the National Library of Canada's Glenn Gould Archive. True to its library origins, it has no real design to speak of, but there are lots of juicy archival materials.

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