Harps and earthquakes

Crap. These things are top-heavy and built to tip over. I’m going to have to quake-proof it somehow. I have a feeling that it’s going to consist of picking it up and lying it on my bed every day when I leave for work. (It weighs the same as a box of cat litter, so that shouldn’t be mechanically stressful.) People with pedal harps sometimes drive an eyebolt into an overhead beam in the ceiling and then use a strap and carabiner through the neck to keep it from tipping when it’s not played, but as an apartment-dweller, I don’t really have that option.

I’ll think of something. I’d rather not have to case it up every time I’m not using it.

So much for the first of the year.

I should have it next Monday. And we’ll go from there.

I’m on the fence about teachers. I’m just not interested in yoking myself to that at this point, and am not in the mood to have to pledge myself to an apprenticeship or get on the freeway for an hour and a half on weeknights to Prove My Dedication or any of that. I’m really leery right now and may be perfectly content for the moment to work assiduously out of the Sylvia Woods books, and only then consider Skyping with someone. There’s a Canadian fellow who is well known for his YouTube videos on harp technique and who does Skype lessons, and my cousin is working with a teacher on the East Coast who may (or may not, I haven’t investigated) give Skype lessons.

For now, we’ll see how it goes. This is unknown territory for me.

You know, I remember an interview that Zoe Keating gave some time ago where she described leaving an unsuccessful audition completely disenchanted with the whole culture of classical music, standing in cold fog and waiting for a bus while thinking to herself, “I will never play classical music again.” I’m not sure where I lie on that spectrum, but after months of crap and neverending back-and-forth, it’s at least somewhere along there.

And I’m not interested in hearing about how I Can Help Classical Music, or I Should Stand Up For Women Composers or some such. That’s dreck. This is not a problem with women. We’re not at fault, so I’m not holding myself responsible for the entirety of the solution anymore, nor guilting the shit out myself for not being able to solve a problem by my little lonesome that’s the size of seven billion people and has been around since the dawn of time — that’s just one more vicious edge on the sword I’ve been contemplating falling onto for the past few months. I am more than a body to be shoved in front of a cannon in hopes that once enough corpses pile up, whoever comes next can climb over the pile and make progress. I will not be a nameless corpse nor a nameless guilt-riddled corpse.

There comes a time when I Should Stay And Fight starts to sound a lot like But He Needs Me And I Can Help Him Change.

Anyhow. Looking forward to getting this thing. And once again, we’ll go from there.

First of the year

Dusty Strings Ravenna 34

We’ll see what happens.

This has been brewing for some time, and in retrospect, it’s been influencing me a lot regarding how much commitment I’ve been willing to give the classical genre when I know that there is just no way to make this work for me. I think it’s behind part of my hunting around for other instruments, my constant mulling over what kind of musician I am, what it means to even be a composer in a genre that barely acknowledges composers at all much less when they have the nerve to bring their tits with them into the studio, and as I said already, the way that the Haendel project sort of petered out at exactly the same time as I started contemplating the self-immolation of a male pseudonym under which to publish it.

You know, to give it a fair chance. Fair. Let that word sink in a little.

I don’t yet know what it’s going to be like to manage with the new limb instead of the old one, but … well, we’ll see.

BTW …

If you’re going to respond by informing me that the only reason for that 1.8% is because women like me decide not to write classical music, then you can go straight to hell, do not pass go, do not collect $200. That isn’t what’s behind that 1.8% and you fucking well know it.

The end of the road

“Female composers account for only 1.8% of the works performed. When only looking at works from living composers, they account for 14.8%.”

Fuck you, classical music.

Really, we’re done.

This isn’t a sudden decision although it may look like one. And I imagine there are people out there who have read my blog who will jerk back in surprise to learn that I’m a woman. Yes, I am. A big part of the reason why I haven’t been that forthcoming about it is because:

  1. I know that my natural style of expression tends to read as male anyway. Well, it reads as “male” if you think I’m a man. If you know I’m a woman, then it reads as “mega-bitch.” (You’d have better chances if you were just nicer and more ladylike!)
  2. 1.8%. Or sorry, a whopping wonderful 14.8%. I’m so pathetically grateful! Stockholm Syndrome is so pink-n-sparkly.

Any woman composer who tells you that she hasn’t been kept up nights with the lead weight of this on her chest is lying to you. (No, not performers. Composers.) Should I publish my music under my own name? Should I use a male name?

1.8%, people. Yes, a male name helps a great deal. Genius, despite what we’d like to tell ourselves in our most pollyanna moments, is not always recognized for what it is.

But this is soul-destroying. This is like giving birth and being forced to tell your child that it must never tell anyone that you’re its mother.

I’m really and truly done defining myself as a classical musician. I’m also done worshiping male composers at this point, even the ones that I like. Even my favorite Georg Frideric. I’m really done. Yes, I like his music, but the last thing these (or any) dudes need is one more woman banging on about how very brilliant they are.

I’m done with classical music as a composer. I am now officially new age or folk. And this means that I finally have to bite the bullet and get myself that lever harp. Woman folk harpists have a lot more room for advancement in what is a far more niche culture, although I’m hardly giving up the piano. It’s too useful a tool. (Well, I also want to have more money in the bank before I grab myself a good-sized lever harp, so it may be a few months timewise.)

But I will go where I can make progress. Sorry, but I’m almost 50 and that means I’m done with this throwing myself on grenades bullshit. I will no longer be kept up nights agonizing over whether to tell anyone that I actually wrote the music that I actually wrote and what damage it will do to the music itself if I dare to get girl cooties on it. I have, as Ernest Hemingway called it, “one and only life,” and no one has the right to expect that I will waste it on things that cause me pain and keep me awake, as I’ve been for months if I’m at last — at last! — honest about it.

Least of all, me.

Again, this isn’t a sudden decision brought about by getting pissed at one link. This is the culmination of months of agonizing back-and-forth. I remember a long Soundcheck interview with Tori Amos — another classical refugee — where she explicitly stated that she knew and was told that she would be crippling her career if she wrote classical music since there was no room for women composers in that world. In fact, I think it’s been a big part of why the Haendel project sort of just … stopped after the third aria intro. It’s hard to fire up your enthusiasm for getting knocked up when you know you’ll have to warn your kid to tell everyone they’re not yours.

Well, being crippled sucks. I’m not crippling myself. I’m not living like that. I want to go to bed at night happy with the music I’ve written and at least somewhat confident that it will be judged on its merits.

1.8%. Holy fucking shit. (Oooh, but it’s a whopping 14.8% for living composers! Woo-eee! I’m fucking drowning in equality. Maybe in another century or two, we’ll reach 25%. I’m dizzy with the possibilities.)

I suppose it’s all because women just haven’t learned how to write music yet, the poor dim little dears. When they bring themselves up to men’s level, I’m sure the boys will be perfectly happy to welcome them into the club!

Or maybe it’s because I’m just such a huge mega-bitch and I’m not nice and ladylike enough about that fucking 1.8%. I suppose all women composers since the dawn of time have just naturally been horrible ball-busters, and all the men have been sweet, accommodating darlings.

BTW, if you want to witness a litany of asshole behavior, read a detailed biography of any male composer in history. It’s the inevitable, predictable difference between:

  • “Sure [MALE COMPOSER] was a raging asshole, but he’s still remembered and revered today because he was a genius.”
  • “Sure [FEMALE COMPOSER] was a genius, but she’s not remembered and revered today because she was a raging asshole.”

(Where “raging asshole” in the second case means either “didn’t respond to that 1.8% with a dough-faced snivel of resignation” or “once deviated from utter perfection where someone could see.”)

And don’t anybody dare try to tell me this doesn’t happen in precisely 100% of cases. It damned well does.

Fuck them, and fuck their club.