15 January 2018

On Inactivity

It’s a big wheel, and it’s big as the world, and there’s no use in wishing the wheel were other than it is. So the first consideration is: don’t pour water into the sand—use your energies so that you achieve results.

There are the holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s), and there is the seasonally driven spike in church music activity. And (to be clear) I am completely glad in it; it is gratifying to serve as a church music director whose efforts are appreciated by the choir and the parish.

And there can follow a recuperative lull after the rush of the holidays, and if there is a sharp frost, a tendency to nap rather than to push oneself to additional labors.

Then, too, in this recuperative period, the creative batteries are recharging.  And there is needed only the slight push of starting to get work done, to prime the pump.  Not to be daunted by the need to get Something Big done right away;  but the knowledge that gradual work each day, gets the job laid in.

Now, that fact is that I started composing this blog post on January the 9th, and almost a week has passed before even taking the blogging back up.  On the 9thI made a start on a quartet for two trumpets and two trombones, not for any urgent need (for sometime in the summer, I think).  And today, I made a formal start (created the Sibelius file, for instance) on A Heart So White, for King’s Chapel in April.

So:  quiet beginnings, again.


08 January 2018

With apologies to Laurie Anderson

So my sister and I were watching a movie on DVD, and over the opening credits and establishing shot we listened to music which I thought might be Danny Elfman re-tread, which in fact it turned out to be.

And I thought, Oh, boy:  right – again.


06 January 2018

Why need it mean anything?

In the car behind me were a couple of men whom I've known practically all my life, but who no longer communicate with me. Driving was my dad, now deceased for some years, rest his soul. He talked over his shoulder to one of my brothers in the back, speaking in atypically tender, supplicatory accents. Out of the car, there was an oblong wooden box (no, much too short to serve as a coffin), and on the top two parallel rows of broad discs to be tightened with a Phillips head screwdriver. The tool I was using was awkward, as the head was worn and pitted. Someone said, "Perhaps your dad has a better," and someone else agreed, "He must." As my dad handed me a fresh screwdriver, I told him the Russian proverb, A bad workman blames his tools, and he chuckled lightly. Somewhere there was a label with a pseudo-Italian name, with two impossible diacritic marks.

Last night I revisited Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, through which one motif is a haunting vision of an armored demon who threatens first the martial artist, and at the end, his son Brandon. My dream last night was nothing so dire, of course. It was gentle, pastoral, familial. Even the irresolvable elements were not at all elements of tension.

The score was written by Randy Edelman (born in Paterson, NJ), and the article in Wikipedia suggests that the "Bruce and Linda love theme" has been recycled and echoed numerous times in other films. I've not seen the other films mentioned, so I cannot confirm. But in the character of the music — I could see it.


02 January 2018

On parts of speech

Robie: I only regret one thing.

Danielle: That you never asked me to marry you?

Robie: No. That I ever took the time to teach you English.

Danielle: You only taught me the nouns. I learned the adjectives myself.

Robie: The word cat is a noun.

Danielle: Not the way you use it. For you it means excitement, danger, affluence.

(All three of which words, by the bye, are nouns.)


01 January 2018

Then, and Now, and What Next?

In the week leading up to New Year's Day 2017, I was keen—if at all possible—to complete the second movement of the (three-movement) Symphony. And, that done, a year ago today I set to work on the third and final movement. This year, the week between Christmas and New Year's was a restful time of hanging out with family. And in fact, even today I decided to nap at will, rather than drive myself to get work done.

Tomorrow is soon enough.

There are (as ever) several musical tasks to be resumed—White Nights, The Nerves, Sleepyheads, Wake Up!—and, in due season, resume them I shall.

The priority at present, however, is naturally the set piece for the April concert at King's Chapel, for two voices, three instrumentalists and fixed media: Heart So White. For which, before today, I had not yet got so far as a folder and Opus number.

How to set about it? For much of this time, I have been thinking of setting the text for the voices, and seeing to the fixed media afterwards. But today (and I suppose this may just qualify as getting to work after all) I am forming the design for the fixed media, and so, I expect that I am about to compose the several layers more or less in tandem. Which is undoubtedly an artistic approach.

And so, the ice has been broken.


The ghost of Microblogging Past

“She smells like parole officers ought to smell.”

(Not really in the script.)


“That dweam within a dweam ....”


The lady motorist with the license plate frame assuring us that Happiness Is Knowing Christ, certainly drives as if keen on meeting Him at the earliest opportunity.



Dick van Dyke, making love to his wife (Mary Tyler Moore) over the phone with a disguised voice. This cannot end well. Strike that: it’s a comedy, and shall end well.



You may think it a nuisance, but we all need the overachievers . . . .



“… planning arcane procedures.”



“It all started at lunch. Wolfe splashed a drop of sauce from the spare ribs right on his tie ....”



[Karl] found half an inch of tea gone cold in the bottom of the cup, and he’s going to DO something about it!



Keep Calm and Choir On



The stare of the chap across the aisle, directed at his smartphone, can only be described as harsh.

No; I don’t wish to know.

(All these on some 31 December or other.)


29 December 2017

henningmusick addendum: 2017 Henningmusick Performances

henningmusick: 2017 Henningmusick Performances

But, ladies & gentlemen, we have a late addition:

24 Dec 2017 Fantasy on « I Saw Three Ships on Christmas Day », Op.146 № 4 (trumpet & organ version); Jonathan Swygert & al., Atlanta, GA


... and (just like me) of course I neglected to include:

31 Dec 2017 New Year’s Carol, Op.142 № 2; HTUMC Choir; Danvers, MA


... and possibly with our young flutist playing the obbligato.

So, Gentle Reader, in spite of the fact that November was Laryngitis Month, and that my own participation was reduced for a crucial while, I found the Triad concerts to be possibly our strongest musical outing yet.  I was still out of commission for (and conducted two pieces only, i.e. did not sing at all, at) the 12 November Preview Concert in Beverly.  The experience of singing the program for an audience that day, gave us musical targets for Monday evening’s subsequent rehearsal.  My voice was sufficiently recovered that I could sing for the concerts on the 16th and 17th, although it was rather out of rehearsal, and my own personal performance was probably not all I should wish.  But the level of the group for the two "main" concerts was exceptionally good, I felt.