THE DAY OF THE MEETING, PART 2
As a demonstration of our proposed recording method, my Technical Director Peter Emminger brought along one of the specialized microphones and a mini recording machine. I brought along some of the wooden mallets I created for Bridge Music as well as drawings for some new styles I hope to have fabricated specially for Tower Music (incidentally, I also threw some regular drumsticks into my bag so that, going through airport security, the TSA [and later, Eiffel Tower security] would have some clue or context for these odd “dowels” and rubber hammers).
The Tower has MANY radio transmitters embedded in its top-most floor, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise that when we began recording we picked up the frequency of a jazz station. It didn’t happen everywhere we placed the mics, but we’ll need to address the situation. There are many ways we can squelch the unwanted sound, and my audio team is working on it as I write this.
We went into staff-access-only areas and saw interesting behind-the-scenes elements of the Tower, such as the basement level Machinery Room containing the hydraulic elevator lifts and the other Machinery Room with its electric elevator motors. It was also explained how worn out rivets are replaced with decorative bolts that look like rivets on the side of the girder they want you to see, but a quick peek on the other side reveals a nut (and no I don’t mean ME!). Rivets are affixed by heating them and pounding them into place. It is felt that the original girders would be structurally compromised if subjected to the stress of reheating and pounding, so this is a clever and attractive alternative.
We plowed ahead moving from level to level, occasionally stopping so I could drum on a few handrail/fence/angle-iron combinations, when at one location it was suggested I needed a leash. It was said matter-of-factly like I would clearly agree with the statement. Still trying to get used to the combination of specialized engineering terms, accents and the sometimes slightly unusual English syntax of my French-speaking hosts, this was indeed an oddity that bore some explanation. I mean, I’m an impassioned performer but I was hardly foaming at the mouth, snarling or baring my teeth. “You’ll need to tie the drum sticks to your wrists with a leash so they don’t hit some below if you accidentally drop one!” OK, now I get it!
Similarly we all laughed when later on in our trek I recounted how we’d found a snare drum-like sound on the “hyper-second floor.” There are multiple levels unseen by the public and I needed to know what they were called just so we could find them again. I asked Stephane what this level was called and it was clear enough to me. The French often drop the opening “H” sound in English words, and that’s what I thought happened, but no, he actually DID say the “upper-second floor” but with a French accented “U” sound (“No, she’s hyper” he said pointing to Marthe, “the floor is not hyper”).
As we continued to survey possible locations, we ended up walking down about 80 stories, and not just down either, but over and under different levels of the same floors, so we had put in some serious mileage by the time we got to the bottom and broke for lunch. Having started at 9am, I could have sworn it was probably 2 or 3 in the afternoon but it was still only 11:30am. Then it was decided that we needed some footage of me with the Tower in the background so we trudged up the hill across the Seine to the Trocadero.
After lunch we had a business meeting with Marthe to address the non-musical elements of our agreement and met one last time with Stephane Roussin, the Chief Engineer. I mentioned in the previous installment of this story that he was cheerful guy, but then he momentarily threw me a curve. We were saying our goodbyes and he said “Do you love the Eiffel Tower?” Oh no I thought, here comes the trick question upon which everything hinges. It wasn’t the question itself because I started to answer by saying “Yes it means a lot to me that you’ve allowed me to work with this world monument…” but he interrupted saying “No, but do you love the Eiffel Tower?” Seeing the obviously perplexed look on my face, he then laughingly recounted how last year a woman “married” the Tower because she loved it so much, and Marthe went on to say incredulously that this person also got a tattoo of it on her chest & abdomen!
Having satisfied all their concerns regarding safety and procedures, by the day’s end we got the green light to sample the Eiffel Tower for my music with total access. A written request for recording dates is all that’s needed to move forward with Tower Music. After my team agrees on a mutually suitable time, I’ll be packing my bags, and that should be in the very near future.
Let me close with a quote by the Chief Engineer himself: “If it’s good for the Tower, there’s no problem.”
Friends, it must be good for the Tower because I’m on my way.