Daily Archives: May 13, 2002


Comment dated May 13, 2002, 2:20 pm:
Curse you, foul temptress! Must….resist….beautiful…saxophone…

At three-thirty, Ceri had called me to tell me she’d broken down and gone to her music store to rent a shiny new Yamaha sax.

Thank you, honoured ones and gentlebeasts, thank you. I’ll be here all week.

That “Do it” wasn’t me whispering temptation in your ear specifically, Ceri… I was voicing that seductive siren’s call to everyone who had ever considered holding a musical instrument, or who had buried their clarinets or guitars in their closets at home and forgotten about them. You just heard and responded to it a little more immediately, that’s all.

Everyone needs more music in their lives.


I love BlogSnob. It’s that box to the left where there’s a different link and catch-phrase each time you pull up my page. Basically it’s a database of hundreds of blogs, and you put the random link script on your own page in return for the boon of being part of the mass of random blogs which can appear on someone else’s page in a similar link box. Increases exposure, traffic, and incites cool networking.

Anyway, I’ve discovered a couple of really fantastic blogs this way, but the last one tops ’em all. Check out Shakespeare Spun, a blog maintained by Clara, a.k.a. Poppy (bonus points to the theatrical types who know where the nickname is from!), a Bard-inclined sixteen-year-old who reminds me way, way too much of myself. Except I didn’t direct at sixteen. Heck, still haven’t; it’s just not one of my Things To Do Before I Die. Anyway, Clara’s one of those people I’d love to sit down with in a small coffee shop with a pile of books and our laptops, chat for a while, read a bit, write a bit, get a fresh cappuccino, chat…

The Internet holds so much crap, so much superficial trivia, very little in-depth information, and the souls of bloggers bared like diamonds in the rough for people to stumble across. Clara revives my hopes for the future.

Instrument Inventory

So on Saturday morning I e-mailed Ceri and wondered if she’d like to meet me for coffee, since I’d decided at SEVEN A.M. when my husband woke me up to say good-bye (“It’s either that or not say good-bye,” he explained to me; bitter thought in return: On Saturdays, it might be worth it) that I would get outside and enjoy the sun, terrifically windy though it was, and pick myself up a tambourine.

Short tangent: why do I need a tambourine? Because I don’t have one. Tangent over; back to your regular blog experience.

She called me and said yes, not only would coffee be neat, but had I eaten breakfast yet? Of course I hadn’t. (Breakfast is a week-day thing for me.) So I hopped a bus to the metro with my trusty current bus-book (Lathe of Heaven) in tow, and had read half of it by the time I’d hit her place. (Read the rest on the way home. I am now paranoid.) We had breakfast with Scott, and then puttered about music stores all afternoon. After trying out every single noisemaker in the first shop (I work retail, and occasionally have the urge to go dish it out gleefully to other poor wage-slaves) I picked up my tambourine, squinted at the price of the music stands, then watched Ceri sigh over the saxophones. I proposed another music store (heh heh heh) and she got all perky and excited. Scott left us at this point, and off we went to sigh over more saxes. Ceri was feeling so bereft of her rental sax of last year that she even went so far as to have the salesgirl calculate out how much paying off a new Yamaha alto sax within one year would come to by monthly payment.

I freely admit, I did this whole temptation thing intentionally. Why should I be the only one with a pile of instruments I don’t devote enough attention to? “But I have lots of tin whistles! And a bodhran! And I don’t play any of them!” Ceri wailed. So? If you don’t have a sax to ignore, you also don’t have a sax to pick up and play when you’d like to, is my reasoning.

My list of instruments (in order of acquisition):

Voice (ha! You thought I’d not include it?)
Tambourine (yay!)

The husband has a chanter and a bodhran as well. We have a piano in someone’s basement that will be there until we can afford to get it moved by official trained piano movers. (“Do not try this at home” takes on a whole new meaning when it involves an upright piano and basement stairs.)

Why do I have a household of musical instruments? I had to think long and hard about this the other day. I’ve concluded that it’s due to the potential that rests in all of them. I can sit in a patch of sun in the living room with my harp against my left shoulder (mildly heretical, but I bat left-handed too, maybe that has something to do with it), lean my cheek against the soundbox, and just feel all the music inside it. Call me crazy, but I can do that for an hour, then just touch the strings gently here and there, and then put it away again. It’s not about releasing the music, or liberating it, or whatever you like to call it; it’s about connecting with the instrument, feeling it inside you, releasing something in your own spirit that’s in harmony with it.

(Ed. note: It’s raining! Woo-hoo! I will put on my CD of Vivaldi double concertoes in celebration.)

Sure, accomplishing a terrifically hard run on the cello is satisfying too, but in a completely different way. Producing coherent and recognisable sound is work, which isn’t the same as pleasure for me at all. So why did you join an orchestra, I hear some of you asking in a snarky tone. Well, because when I was playing cello quartets a few years ago, I dicovered that I loved hearing the interaction between the different lines. I adore Bach, for example, four or more careful musical lines all dancing with one another, often produced by only two hands on a keyboard (I also adore Glenn Gould, so there). When I sing in a group, I love hearing the tenors sing against the altos; hearing certain musical lines in unusual juxtaposition thrills me for some reason. Working in orchestra satisfies me in a similar fashion: I can work through all the different lines and hear them come together to hear a richly textured tapestry of sound, and I’m right in the middle. I often wonder how the audience can ever approach the experience I’m having, simply because I’ve been studying these works performed in-depth along with thirty other people. (Not that I’m diminishing the audience’s experience in any way; as a writer and performer I am a firm believer in the audience-co-creates-experience theory.)

Where was I? Oh yes. Ceri and her saxophone. So I say, heck, yes! Own that sax! Hold it; press the keys gently; watch the complex mechanism move; lose yourself in the dance of sunlight on the brass. Blow a couple of notes here and there. Above all else, love it, and love the potential that lies within it, that lies within you. If no one ever hears you, so what? Music is about you and your experience. It’s pure emotion. It’s about raising your spirit. Technical brilliance is never a measure of that. If you enjoy working musical challenges through, hey, great; otherwise, life’s too short to say, “Oh, I’ll never be able to devote the time I should to it.”

Do it.


It’s dark and dreary. I want it to rain. No, I mean really rain. If it rains then the husband comes home from the terraforming he does, and we get to go on a recon mission for the top-secret costume bits we need instead. (New phrase: “My husband is a terraforming engineer.” We like it and intend to use it until a better one comes along.) I will invoke rain by playing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

Note in my in-box this morning: “Oh, and happy mother’s day, cat-mama!” Very kind. My own little furry bratlings woke us up at an insane hour of the a.m. and didn’t care a smidgen about it. The flowers I got were from my in-laws’ garden.

On the menu today: Write. Correct homework and half-complete exams. Review Greco-Roman culture and religion for my lecture tonight. I just discovered two books on my shelves that I didn’t know I had: one on Greek art, and one on Roman art and architecture. Well, all right, I’m sure I knew at one point, but after several moves I had forgotten I owned them.

Well, it’s another currently read-past-tense, actually. I just finished the new David Lodge book Thinks… and once again I’m all fired up about writing. Lodge tends to write what he knows – authors and professors – and I associate him with my thesis, so I’m excited about sitting down and producing text once more. Eventually readable, even. Possibly even publishable.

I go through stages where I know I’m good, then long stages where I look at the book industry I work in and think that it’s all futile anyway. Then I remember the thrill of idly flipping through the electronic card catalogue at the university and finding my thesis in not one, but three places. It’s real. It exists. It’s, well, good.

I also go through waves of fiction versus academic analysis. When I wrote for the local Pagan journal I reviewed books with a magical element to them, looked at the systems, the effects, the moral issues and so forth. It was a baby exercise, but it kept me sort of in form. Now I’m seriously considering doing something a little more serious and sending it out with a query to journals. You never know.