It seems to me that the Yachtski scale, as a linear device, is increasingly becoming the subject of contention. And with other areas of the Yacht or Nyacht discussion delving into the history of smooth, it is perhaps time to apply some evolutionary genetics to advance our understanding.
Introducing Gregor Mendel
When we start to delve into the history of smooth we stumble across an unexpected character, the founding father of genetics, Greg Mendel. What we can reveal is that whilst he was breeding peas in his garden shed, he was also listening to smooth music. In fact, the his garden shed was an old converted boat house, and the pea seeds germinated to the calm relaxing vibes of yacht rock music.
The science bit!
Recently discovered, some of Mendel’s historic sketches reveal early hidden hypotheses that refute the linearity of the Yachtski Scale. Combinations of what he called ‘smooth heredity factors’ could form only two phenotypes – either audibly smooth (so-called Yacht) or not smooth at all (so-called Nyacht). As he experimented he realised these always fell into the ratio of 3:1. This would account for why the combination of two (or more) supposedly smooth factors may on occasions (25% of the time) produce a non-smooth result (as detected by the fine measurements of the Yachtski instrument).
Taking the pea
However the phenotype was just part of the story and reflected a complex array of genotypic factors underneath.
As Greg unravelled the mystery of heredity and unpicked the determining genotypes, he found dominant inheritance factors always included the featuring of the singers Kenny and Michael, and songs with the words ‘fool’, ‘heartache’, ‘sailing’ or ‘wind’ in the title. Further experiments showed that recessive inheritance factors that figured in the Nyacht genotype were the year of recording, and the presence of an out-of-tune alto saxophone solo. Perhaps the most radical finding, was the discovery of bass pairings that hold the complimentary strands of genetic material smoothly together. This discovery is often not accredited to Greg.
The CRISPR revolution
Toward the end of his career, Greg had achieved such intricate levels of smooth genotypic combination, it was only to be centuries later where his most hidden secrets were to be revealed. The latest CRISPR technology – Clustered Regularity Interspaced Smooth Pallendromic Repeats – only this week – revealed the wonders of his ultimate experiment. Supreme smoothitude and top of the Yachtski scale. Scientists revealed an animated GIF that Mendel put inside live pea genes all those years ago.
Hideously trying to catch up …
The @ds106DC Daily Create took me on an unexpected journey, but then the best ones always do. The task for the community was to share a peace playlist (#ds106 = our community hashtag, #tdc1979 = the daily create (number) 1979). I heard an array of peaceful and evocative music, and instantly had to go and play some Debussy. Peace and tranquility is so perfectly reflected in his music.
What happened next? In an effort to record what I played over thirty years ago in my Grade 8 Distinction Piano Exam (via Garageband, Kawai piano and midi-interface), after a few attempts I pasted a reasonable introduction to a reasonable melody section, being hideously out of practice. The music clashed and created beautiful textures and waves. It was like being thrown around on a calm and then rough sea as the music passages collided with each other.
The word ‘peace’ has haunted me ever since I visited the Whitney Plantation, Lousiana in 2016. The plantation is a heart wrenching memorial of the homes and lives of the slaves who were impounded there. I implore you to look up the plantation and the work of John Cummings and colleagues who have fought to tell the stories of the slaves and their children. The quotation was from a series of interviews with the last inhabitants of the plantation, and the lists of beautiful names belie the chilling realisation that these weren’t their real names; they were given, often changed when the children were sold on, empty letters. It is staggering today that many local tourist offices don’t recognise the plantation – and the real stories within it.
I hope the music is fitting for the quotation in some way. The Debussy Arabesque Number 1 is based on a pentatonic scale – based on five notes – rippling up and down. It has an emptiness about it. Debussy often builds up to quite forceful passages and I liked the way they clashed angrily in the recording. Toward the end more of the staccato (jumpy) passages sound more playful, and I like to hope that these children knew what it was to play.
Stories are so important. People are important.