Thursday, August 09, 2007

Music (not books) 

When I was growing up, the only music I did was piano and choir. Junior and senior year, I was in a Madrigal group. Most people practiced hard and auditioned and failed. I got cherry picked by the director, not sure why, I think he needed more second altos and everyone wanted to sing soprano. It was a small group, maybe 12 girls (I went to and all-girl school), usually divided into 4 singing parts. So I got good at holding my part, even alone, with really complex harmonies. But I couldn't make up harmonies on the spot like some of the other girls could. I could sing the harmony part to songs on the radio, but they could make up new harmonies. They coveted the solos. I'd sing solo when told to, but while my singing was technically excellent, it was boring. Choir singing, where the goal is to blend.

I could be more creative with the piano. I can feel the instrument breathe. Different phrases breathe at different times, and I can control that. But I can't let go. Improvising is difficult for me. Keeping time with other instruments is difficult, because I'm used to feeling the music and how I think it wants to slow down or speed up to breathe. One time I had friends over in high school. We made music. I played piano. Kevin had his guitar. Rose had a recorder and Amy had a flute. Pam had a cheap drum of mine. We had fun. I got high on music. I was actually jamming, somehow I knew what I was doing. When they left, my mom said I couldn't do that again, because the room we were in, the room with the piano, had white silk couches and she didn't want my friends sitting on them. We could have broken the glass table, she said. My friends didn't say hello or chat with her. We made too much noise.

And that was that.

I'm remembering this because I'm settled (more or less) into my new house. My electric piano has arrived. And I can play and sing, and the acoustics are grand. Music is back in my life.

I always thought your voice had a strange, stoic beauty to it. But that's just me.

And as for your Mom, it astounds me that you managed to escape your adolescence with your soul intact.
It was a minor miracle.

I still feel rebellious when I sing, even today, in my own house. Just hearing my own voice is thrilling in a "screw you, world" sort of way.

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