rainy days in w. michigan

My friend Ray asks why I go and play on the street.

Since I have been doing this for several years, I’m not exactly sure of all the reasons I do it. There is something attractive and pure about doing music just to do music. Part of music is not just spending hours practicing but going and finding listeners. This is a time when very few people listen to live music. Live music is a rarity in people’s lives. I find that doing music on the street puts it in a context I find very satisfying. If people would like to listen, they may. If they choose to ignore me (which is the usual choice here in Holland….), that’s fine, too.

My best listeners are usually children. I have taken my harpsichord out and played on the street as well as my marimba.

Kids are drawn to live music and I find that very satisfying.

The best answer is that I like music that is done gratuitously just for its own sake. This is for me the essential reason to make any art.

Since I make my money with church music and understand that music in church must frame another activity,namely prayer and is never totally purely done just for its own sake, it is refreshing and satisfying to play in the open air.

This past Monday I was prepared to play not only Mozart but also Bach, Bartok, Couperin, some Jazz and my own compositions. I had prepared little signs saying “Now Playing” so and so (Eileen’s idea). I probably would have done more if I hadn’t been discouraged by the local peace officer. I accept the responsibility for my own over sensitive nature the day after Easter.

I have also spoken to the violinist and cellist in my trio about performing Mendelssohn and Mozart on the street.

I have seen buskers all over the world and think it’s a great idea.

When I was in Barcelona I heard some fabulous classical guitarists as well as a wide variety of styles and abilities on the street. We stayed in a major quay which had a huge island in the middle of the street where all kinds of music played late in the evening outside our window.

I have heard buskers in New York subways and the London tube .

I always think of them as the front line of live music no matter how electrified they are.
There’s more no doubt, but that’s all I can think of this morning.

Last night I re-read the first twenty or so chapters of War and Peace on my Netbook. I have started this tome before and now I’m starting it again. It seemed relaxing to stare at the screen and listen to the wind and rain last night.

I spent several hours working on choosing hymns and anthems for the period between now and this summer.  I even went to church and chose Sunday’s postlude. I decided to do Dandrieu’s wonderful 18th century setting of the tune: O Filii et Fillia. This hymn tells the story of the readings on Easter II which is always the story of Thomas the doubter. I think of it as a Sunday I can relate to.

Dandrieu is one of the many French organ composers who not only wrote a ton of ritual organ music for the Mass but also  set folk melodies (mostly Xmas ones) and performed them at church.

They are very cool pieces and are usually called  Noels.   They were so popular with people at the time that they were eventually forbidden to be played before or after Mass by the church.

I am still trying to shake the dismal mood I have fallen into after Holy Week.

My fam (niece Emily and her fiancee Jeremy, brother Mark and his wife Leigh) is planning to visit this week so I will need to do some cleaning and straightening today. I also am planning to contact the tax people and see how my Mom’s taxes are coming.

I will probably also finish up planning hymns and anthems.  I keep thinking about music and beauty. Rilke reminds me that

“Beauty is only
the first touch of terror
we can still bear
and it awes us so much
because it so coolly
disdains to destroy us.”

from First Elegy by Rainer Maria Rilke

This is David Young’s translation. Here’s a [link] to a different translation of the entire work .

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0 thoughts on “rainy days in w. michigan

  1. Interaction with music, it seems to me, is a communication process. Music is a melodic use of sound, and it is interpretative of human emotions. I was only interested in the Why? and it doesn’t really matter Why? It really only matters to you and the people that you have contact. Is one an actor without a stage? Is a person a musician without performance? Otherwise,it is a hobby.

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