Anorak News | With Strings Attached

With Strings Attached

by | 24th, March 2004

‘PERFORMANCE related pay is, as we all know, based on several criteria, none of which have anything to do with performance.

Nearly new – one careful owner

They normally include gender (man good, woman bad), length of service (calculated in inverse proportion to years served), competence (again calculated in inverse proportion) and, for publicly quoted companies, share price (see above).

In the case of senior management, the formula for calculating PRP can be extremely complicated – a typical equation involves plucking a large number out of the air and multiplying it by a million pounds.

Small wonder that it is almost an article of faith in this post-Thatcherite world, which holds that you can represent and job or pastime in the form of an algebraic equation.

And so it was only a matter of time before it reached even the high arts, with the Times reporting this morning on how the string section of a German orchestra is asking a court to rule on its claim that it deserves more money than the brass section because it plays more notes.

The fiddlers and scrapers of the Beethoven Orchestra in Bonn say they should be getting an extra £60 per rehearsal or performance to reflect the extra work they do.

Why £60? Surely, you say, an appropriate fee could be worked out on a per note basis for each piece they play.

Yes, but that would be pedantic.

‘We could have calculated the surcharge per semi-quaver,’ one violinist said, ‘but we chose to take an easier course.’

Needless to say, the other sections of the orchestra are unimpressed.

‘The strings may play more,’ one trumpeter replied, ‘but they don’t have to perform as many solo sections as the brass, which is a lot more pressurised.’

They also don’t make as loud a noise as the brass, which is another criterion on which PRP is often calculated.

Nor do the rogue fiddlers have the support of their union.

Orchestra Union spokesman Gerald Mertens said: ‘Of course, strings are in action more than the brass, but any violinist not happy with that should have taken up the trumpet at music school.’

As cries of ‘Heresy!’ go up across this performance-related New Labour Wonderland, we in Anorak Towers keep our heads bowed and fingers dancing over the keyboard.

After all, time is money – or P = T (1.725*S)/(m/0.699), as Mr Anorak himself says.’

Posted: 24th, March 2004 | In: Broadsheets Comment | TrackBack | Permalink