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Engineering Harmony

 

The report about engineering efficiency (below) has been around for many years with as many claims to authorship. This version, published by Cookes New Zealand Wire Rope Co. Ltd in the 1960s, is possibly the original source.

 

Simplified Symphony

 

ConductorOrchestraWork Study Engineer

 

The following report was produced by the company Work Study officer after he attended, a symphony concert at the town hall in Auckland.

 

  1. For considerable periods the four oboe players had nothing to do. The number should be reduced and the work spread more evenly over the whole concert, thus eliminating peaks of activity.
  2.  

  3. All twelve violins were playing identical notes. This seems unnecessary duplication. The staff of this section should be drastically cut. If a larger volume of sound is required, it could be obtained by means of electronic apparatus.
  4.  

  5. Much effort was absorbed in the playing of demi-semi quavers. This seems to be an unnecessary complication. It is recommended that all notes should be rounded up to the nearest semi-quaver. If this were done, it would be possible to use trainees and lower grade operatives more extensively.
  6.  

  7. There seems to be too much repetition of some musical passages. Scores should be drastically pruned. No useful purpose is served by repeating on the horns a passage which has already been handled by the strings. It is estimated that if all redundant passages were eliminated, the whole concert time of two hours could be reduced to twenty minutes. Moreover, there would be no need for an interval half-way through the concert.
  8.  

  9. It is felt that further review might yield additional benefits. For example, there seems to be still wide scope for application of the "Questioning Attitude" to many of the methods of operation, as they are in many cases traditional and have not been changed for several centuries. In the circumstances, it is remarkable that Work Study principles have been adhered to as well as they have. For example, it was noted that the pianist was not only carrying out most of his work by two-handed operation, but was also using both feet for pedal operations. Nevertheless, there were excessive reaches for some notes on the piano and it is probable that redesign of the keyboard to bring all notes within the normal working area would be of advantage to this operator. In many cases the operators were using one hand for holding the instrument, whereas the use of a fixture would have rendered the idle hand available for other work.
  10.  

  11. It was noted that excessive effort was being used occasionally by the players of wind instruments, whereas one air compressor could supply adequate air for all instruments under more accurately controlled conditions.
  12.  

  13. Obsolescence of equipment is another matter into which it is suggested further investigations could be made, as it was reported in the program that the leading violinist's instrument was already several hundred years old. If normal depreciation schedules had been applied, the value of this instrument should have been reduced to zero and it is probable that purchase of more modern equipment could have been considered.
  14.  

Recently, further improvements were recommended by another engineer following attendance at a performance of Schubert's (Unfinished) Symphony No. 8 in B minor somewhere in Europe.

 

  1. It was noted that the work was unevenly allocated between the instruments with the soloist playing a disproportionate number of the notes. Subject to negotiating a satisfactory demarcation agreement with the Musician's Union, these notes could be shared out more equitably amongst the rest of the instruments.
  2.  

  3. If all of the above recommendations are implemented, the concert could be reduced still further to less than ten minutes with corresponding savings in overtime, lighting and heating, wear and tear on the instruments and rental fees for the hall.
  4.  

  5. Had Schubert been aware of modern cost-effective procedures he might well have finished this work.

 

See also

Energy Efficiency

Energy from Coal

 

 

 

 

 

 

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