19 November 2018

pavan at last

This past weekend’s Triad concerts have been, I think, a signal artistic success.

Whereon I ought to remark in more detail.

But for the moment, the second of the Sauna Songs, Op.152.

17 November 2018

Migratory or not

Tonight, two Henningmusick events:  Ensemble Aubade (yes, again) perform Oxygen Footprint, Op.138a at the Oakland Presbyterian Church in Rock Hill, So. Carolina.  And the first of the Triad concerts, this evening in Melrose, whereon the men of Triad sing the première of It Might Happen Today, Op.156, and Sudie Marcuse sings The Mystic Trumpeter, Op.113 № 1, with yours truly playing clarinet.

For now, though, the next instalment in the Sauna Songs:


16 November 2018

Quotes from the blog, here & there, over the years

For the professional, the industry is a large part of how you get to where you’re going.  For the aspirant artist, the industry is a large part of what stops you getting there.
Robt Fripp, Thursday, 1.ix.2005

The musicologists are so happy, in a self-indulgent way, when they can point out the influences.  But that’s not what’s important.  What’s important is that the composer transforms those influences, and makes them his own.  Which reminds me of a wonderful Stravinsky statement.  He once said, “You must always steal, but never from yourself.” What he meant by that is quite obvious.  When you steal from yourself you learn nothing.  When you steal from others, you enrich your vocabulary.
— Lukas Foss

Music was invented to deceive and delude mankind.
— Ephorus, 4th century B.C.

But whether I am really so unacceptable to the public as the expert judges always assert, and whether it is really so scared of my music—that often seems to me highly doubtful.
— Arnold Schoenberg

We aren’t worried about posterity; we want it to sound good now.
— Duke Ellington

Ireland banned Life of Brian, Meaning of Life, and another film I had made, about a prostitute, called Personal Services.  They had only ever banned four films in Ireland—and I’d made three of them.  I was rather proud of that.  I thought, “Well . . . you can’t do much better than that.”
— Terry Jones

I don’t know how old I am because the goat ate the Bible that had my birth certificate in it.  The goat lived to be twenty-seven.
— Satchel Paige (1906?-1982)

That he did not expect to meet such a blithely lethal female at a kiddie pool in the middle of a park in Dayton goes without saying.
— Leo Schulte (“Of Gnawing Time”)

What I want is an art of balance, of purity, an art that won’t disturb or trouble people.  I want anyone tired, worn down, driven to the limits of endurance, to find calm and repose in my painting.
— Henri Matisse

I had a monumental idea this morning, but I didn’t like it.
— Samuel Goldwyn

It is a good rule in life never to apologize.  The right sort of people do not want apologies, and the wrong sort take a mean advantage of them.
— P.G. Wodehouse


Footprint, Breath, and Happening Today (possibly)

If all your friends jump off the Geo. Washington Bridge, do you jump off, too?
– Zen koan my parents repeated to me many times in my youth

And the waitress is practicing politics,
As the businessmen slowly get stoned.
– Billy Joel, “The Piano Man” (1973)

How much you bet those sotted businessmen imagine that they are somehow superior to the waitress?
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

Yesterday (don’t stop me, even if this grows tedious) Ensemble Aubade performed Oxygen Footprint, Op.138a at Jacksonville State University in Alabama.  A composer’s deepest thanks for so repeatedly championing his work.

This morning – the Morning of the Slushy LeavesMarshunda wrote about Deep Breath, Op.147 to ask how the composer would prefer some details.  Delighted that this conversation is ongoing.

And tomorrow is the première of It Might Happen Today, Op.156.  We might call me rather a happy composer, we might, at that.

An open question, whether wearing sneakers in weather like this betokens a lack of imagination, or a lack of intelligence.


15 November 2018

Sauna Songs nos 2 and 3

A beauty and a seemingly irremediable sadness
There was a blow-up, apparently, at the rehearsal
From which almost by chance I was absent
Another exercise in powerlessness
(Even had I been there, of course)
All the bruised feelings, and now,
The unforced professional calm vying with hurried efforts
At damage control
All the bruised feelings, and why?
Sigh no more

We most of us might feel the impulse to ask, why?
So seldom do we properly learn, learn why,
Not any negation, but a way forward, I think,
To grow a little cool to the need to ask, why?

In almost comic contrast
The bus this morning (it would be, wouldn’t it?) was early
I saw it drive through the light hard by the graciously spired church
Yes, I ran
Not yet at the age to genuinely say, I shouldn’t run,
But running has never been my thing
Nor did I learn any love for it today

A single sentence wherein
The entire history of his family’s
By turns pathetic and tragic dysfunction
Was eloquently illustrated
A single sentence of beauty and
Of a sadness seemingly not
To be remedied
He cannot
He cannot speak the sentence
The bruised feelings too fresh
And he is not yet free from the impulse of why?
Sigh not so, but let them go
The distances
The baffling, impenetrable distances
The hourglass, the sand, the powerlessness

To my ear (sure, I speak figuratively, who wouldn’t?)
Came rumor of the drama
Immediately knew I would not wish to review the script
The theme of sadness were almost mocked
By pointless, tawdry detail

The clock which I set 20 minutes fast
The sight of whose face gave my wife such a start yesterday
The password I never remember and always need to reset
The reed I need to break in tomorrow
Since summer first was leafy
At the next stop
The bus driver did indeed stay for me
My running was not for nothing
Call it a small success and not a triumph
Down near the ground
The pointless detail looms large (not to say threatening)
The soul which has not yet learnt not to bother
Longs sweetly for ascent

The reed I need to break in tomorrow
Piecing together my shredded realization
Just how ephemeral it all (probably) is
Beauty and tears for the undiscoverable remedy
To the recurring implacable sadness
A gross unnatural rock to weigh down the breast of Hope itself
Dumps so dull and heavy
It respects no boundaries
Unlike us mortals
It suffers no limit
Nor shall I ask

(. . . pavan)
18 May 2018





He’s not saying it hasn’t all been fun
To the untrained eye, those laces look untied
The sun beat down and because most of April
Had been absurdly cold, the warmth of the May sun
Made my spirit giddy
Though I nevertheless doubt the need to run
The air conditioning on the bus
To the untrained eye, the bus looks bound for Swampscott
But nothing doing
At lunch we discussed a highly successful film composer
It isn’t that we scoffed at his work
We only questioned the comparison to
A certain composer of the century before
Fall River, where a certain ax murder remains
Forever befogged in uncertainty
I may never play cribbage there again

I’m all for letting the next guy wear what he please
But the bright orange T-shirt gives him
All the appearance of The Human Tennis Ball
I found myself quietly grateful that no one
Had brought a racquet onto the bus
Not sure why I now remember the puddingstone
She was keen that Paul should bring home
For the garden
Such dramatic topography
I wonder that no one has thought to christen
Fall River “the San Francisco of the East”
Love – 40
Not sure either why I now remember the great tortoise
Walking on the roadside near the Wenham pond
We almost could not believe our eyes
Carefully backed the car and sure enough
A lumbering solemn tortoise
Sagacious in its determined patience
Or maybe just moving because
She felt she must

The door to the church was open
So he went on in, sat quietly in a pew
And listened as the organist (another organist) practiced
They talked later and so many
Were the similarities that my friend
Wondered if the experience had been real
Or if he had somehow tumbled into his own past
To meet and to be pranked by his younger self
He contained his sorrow or at least
Blunted it
As he said (what I knew without his saying it)
How he wished he had his old job
To the untrained eye, the old job always appears
Desperately attractive
Wanted:  sex workers willing to urinate on foreign
Dignitary during his stay in Pyongyang
Red baseball caps a plus

But really, why is any of us suddenly
Faced with a long-forgotten bookmark recollection,
For no apparent reason, at this peculiar moment?
But I suppose that all moments
Are genuinely peculiar
There’s no real knowing
I’m sure there were actual recycle bins
When we first moved here
But it’s years since I saw them
And you make do my heart almost aches,
The sight of the green grass in sunlight
Joys it so
To the untrained eye, the green grass looks
Like grass

I still wonder at times
Which is the older
That patient, restless, highly successful tortoise
Or I

(... migratory reptiles)
9 May 2018

14 November 2018

Today and yesterday

. . .she let out a scream,
That’s when my heart started jumping
Like a broken TV.
– Adrian Belew, “The Momur” (1981)

Broken TV’s don’t jump.
– Man in the Street (2018)

Tombez, larmes silencieuses,
Sur une terre sans pitié ;
Non plus entre les mains pieuses,
Ni sur sein de l’amitié !
– Alphonse de Lamartine

Oxygen Footprint, Op.138a is on a program this evening at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.  Thank you again, Ensemble Aubade.

Six years ago today, I was apparently at work on the Credo:

There’s an Out in the Sun trick I am thinking of employing for Et homo factus est.

No, not the bass trombone . . . .

13 November 2018

Just checking in

I’m not questioning your word, Dave, but it’s just not possible.  I’m not capable of being wrong.
– HAL in 2001:  A Space Odyssey

This evening, again, Ensemble Aubade perform Oxygen Footprint, Op.138a, this time at the Donald Nixon Centre in Newnan, Georgia.  In all, they perform the piece six times over an eight-day period.  (And this is in addition to performances this past spring.)

That, plus the Triad concerts this coming weekend, make this a time in which Henningmusick is loosed practically without let or hindrance.

Excellent rehearsal last night, although today’s need for recovery will mean I am (again) useless for creative work this evening.

There will, however, be tomorrow.