Apr. 5th, 2012

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When we were in Northern Scotland last week our car radio could pick up little other than Radio 3 (a terrible hardship!). Radio Three were in the middle of an event which only the BBC would dare undertake, a whole week of playing just one composer's music -- Schubert's, -- accompanied by monologue essays, interviews with historians and musicologists, discussions, etc.

Transmitters up there are scarcer than tories, polar bears, or pandas, but fortunately the car has a lovely analogue FM radio which fades into indistinct mumbling and faint white noise rather than the sudden drunk Smash-robot invasion you get with digital, so we left it on the dead frequency.

So every now and then, as we drove, we'd unexpectedly pick up a faint mumbling voice, distant applause, or just a note or two of violin, which was so brief, ethereal, and quiet that you questioned your own senses.

And every now and then we'd turn a corner in the Great Glen, driving along the twisting road separating the loch from the mountains, and the radio we'd forgotten would suddenly and loudly burst into life with something like this.

Over the course of the week radio reception, and the Schubert surfing over it, became a kind of manifold layered over the topography of the highlands.

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