practicing and reading


Despite being on break from my college work, I am still feeling underwater a bit. I partially attribute this to taking on a couple of commitments which required (and in the case of the looming gig, still requiring) quite a bit of effort. The first of these was learning the duet part for Rhonda’s Advent recital. The second was accepting a guitar gig for next Saturday evening.

The duet was pretty straightforward in what it required from me. Learn the part. I feel pretty good about it, but Rhonda and I have not really done a post mortem on my participation. I will corner her at some time (Hi Rhonda!) and ask for some constructive criticism. It can be very instructive to get a colleagues’s feedback.

In the second case, I accepted the guitar gig because I was feeling a little guilty about not picking up my guitars and banjo. I have neglected them. Instead I have increased my practicing on organ and piano. So I thought a specific gig would give me an excuse to revive my guitar chops.

The real challenge in this gig is the Leo Kottke tune requested: “Hear the wind howl.” It’s not quite as hard as it sounds. It’s in a C tuning. If you watch the video, notice that sometimes Kottke is doing nothing with his left hand and only picking open strings. Part of the challenge for me is learning to use the slide (which is a little glass tube that makes the sliding sound).

I found a transcription of what Kottke is essentially doing in this video.  I have been chipping away at learning it. Only after transcribing the sung melody (and shooting it off to the singer who got me this gig)  yesterday, did I begin to think I am making some headway on learning this piece on the guitar.

The other pieces in this gig are much easier. “Who knows where the time goes” by Sandy Denny as sung by Judy Collins, “Diamonds and Rust” by Joan Baez, “Medicine Bow” an instrumental by Peter Ostroushko, an original song by the man who has hired for his party and a couple others.

I took the gig with the idea that what I would mostly do is try to get my guitar fingers back. But it has turned into a major project a week before Christmas.

Also I have scheduled what I call “big kid” pieces on the organ for the next several services. These require daily careful rehearsal which so far I have easily found time and energy to do.

Although Eileen is beginning to be reconciled to choosing to retire early, this has been a very stressful time for her and hence for me also.

But there’s more. I seem to be drawn into some intellectual muscle flexing as well. I have been daily practicing my Greek.

My daily reading has been rather consuming.

Besides reading several articles on origins of the concept of Mode in the Western tradition, I also have been examining sources that talk about the philosophy of music now.

I began another one this morning.

in The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works, Lydia Goehr seems to be speaking a bit more conservatively than some of the scholars I have read on the subject of what music is and how it works. She definitely is coming at it from an academic philosophical orientation. Her prose is just readable so far. But her ideas interest me a great deal.

I continue to plow through Auden, Shakespeare and Charles Taylor. Not to mention that I have been successful in sending articles to my Kindle to read as well. This morning I was experimenting with sending scholarly articles accessed through my college employment perks to my Kindle. I managed to send “How to Do More with Words. Two Views of (Musical) Ekphrasis” by Lydia Goehr (British Journal of Aesthetics 2010 Volume 50, Issue 4 > Pp. 389-410).

(“Ekphrasis has been considered generally to be a rhetorical device in which one medium of art tries to relate to another medium by defining and describing its essence and form, and in doing so, relate more directly to the audience, through its illuminative liveliness.” copied from the Wikipedia entry on this word.)

I basically chose this article randomly to see if I could send it to my Kindle.

Enough. I have stuff to do.

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