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Schindleria Praematurus is a species (family Schindleriidae) of salt water fish found in the western Pacific Ocean, in waters surrounding both Samoa and Australia. It is the world's lightest fish -- between 12 and 19 millimeters in length, and a miniscule two milligrams in weight. I had a terrible time finding any information on the net, but one website (see the last link below) has pictures of the critter. It's very long and thin, and doesn't resemble a normal adult fish as much as it resembles fry. That's where the species name praematurus comes from -- apparently the fish retains this juvenile form throughout its life. It is so small, it is considered zooplankton.

Schindleria would be mostly forgettable, had it not been the subtitle for Chris Squire's instrumental piece The Fish (Schindleria praematurus) on Yes' 1972 LP, Fragile. The song begins with a brief guitar solo by Steve Howe, a segue from Long Distance Runaround, but turns into a chorus of basses in E minor, multitracked by Chris Squire. He's backed only by Bill Bruford on the drums playing in 7/8 time. The song fades with the band singing "Shiiiiine-da-le-ri-aaaaaa, Prae-ma-toooo-raaaaas!" in three-part harmony over and over again. Why schindleria praematurus? Does this tiny fish have powerful mystical properties? Was Chris feeling spiritually connected with the microcosm?

Apparently during the Fragile recording sessions, the band sent one of their techies (one source says Mike Tait) to search for the name of a fish with scientific name of eight syllables, and the best he could find had nine. Yes' lyrics (particularly back in the early 1970's) were more about the way the words sounded, rather than what they meant -- Jon Anderson often used his voice as an instrument rather than as a means of conveying meaning.

Of course that begs the question of why a fish? I found several contradictory stories about this in the Notes from the Edge archives. The funniest story (apparently true) is that while on tour in Scandanavia in 1969, Chris was enjoying himself in the bath, and managed to flood the Oslo hotel room he was sharing with Bill Bruford, who gave him his nickname. Another (which he confirmed, sort of) suggests it is because he's a believer in astrology and is a pisces. Whatever the case, it's a name that apparently stuck, as Squire called his first solo album (released in 1975) Fish Out Of Water.

Sources:
http://www.nfte.org (lots of different posts in the mailing list archives)
http://oceanlink.island.net/records.html
http://homepage2.nifty.com/PhD-mukai/Laboratory/Schindleria/Schindleria.html

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