I’m not sure what the hell I’m doing here again.

Where by “again,” I mean almost four years after I packed it in on this blog. I’ve been messing with my harp blog (Harp Oddities) and my flute blog (Accidental Flutist) for quite some time, and am still active on both of those instruments, more so than on the piano. I can’t recall the last time I really sat down and did anything at the piano, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. I started taking harp lessons and stopped — and in an ungracious way that did no justice to my wonderful teacher — once it became clear that my hands, although fine for piano, are simply not good for the harp. (I had no idea how punitive that instrument would be toward the human hand.)

I’ve been arranging music for harp and enjoying it very much. I’ve also been arranging music (and composing melodies) for flute as well (19th century conical flute, the sound of which is much richer than the boehm system flute, although I do have one of those as well). I’ve been learning 12th century plainchant on the flute as well.

I seem to have finished my Haendel project and then just … petered out. I can’t play the music well enough, and if I can’t play my own music, what is the point of writing it? Who’s going to care about this shit anyway? I don’t know how to be a composer or an arranger. When one does music, one takes lessons and plays, especially as an amateur. I don’t even know what an amateur composer or arranger even is.

I’ve also felt extremely enervated by my tendency to bump up against some sort of exposure of my music and abilities and then shy away out of some kind of fear or drained hopelessness. For example, although I had been under a cloud due to the pain that the harp lessons put my hands through (and a variety of other life-related things), I finally disappeared from lessons when my teacher told me that she liked one of my compositions well enough to want to perform it publicly. While I had — and still have — been piling up reasons to want to cocoon myself prior to that, for some reason, that was the final straw. I’d like to be able to apologize to her and offer an explanation of some sort, but I have no clearly understood explanation and so am compelled to remain silent since I feel it would be pointless to apologize without some understanding of why I disappeared in the first place. I don’t understand why I did it — how can I apologize without any understanding?

In other news, I’ve been amused to get notifications that my voice articles on countertenors (and specifically Steve Perry) have shot upwards in traffic, no doubt prompted by the welcomed release of new music by him.

And finally, however much I have a love-hate relationship with my instruments (less so with the flute since that one just doesn’t have the same angst related to it with me), the one constant in my life is that I can’t seem to put down the crochet hook (or sometimes knitting needles). I like to be in a good mood when I sit at my instruments, and being chained to the second law of thermodynamics on them seems to really just chafe my ass cheeks in a way that I can’t get away from. Composing and arranging help tremendously with that since one is less “locked to the tracks” when doing that, but again, there is no such thing as an “amateur composer.”

On the other hand, I’m compelled no matter my mood to pick up that hook and make things up out of thin air with no guidance whatsoever. I can do that when happy, sad, angry, depressed, or feeling any mood at all. Maybe that’s my native language, and not music or math. They’re all underlyingly the same skill anyhow — three-dimensional grammatical architecture of one form or another. And I can do that for days, and my hands don’t care at all.

And I end up with an actual thing when I’m finished. And I need not share it with a single living soul, which invariably freaks my shit clean out whenever I so much as think about it.

And whether I share it or not doesn’t appear to impact whether I do it. The hook winds up in my hand no matter what.

I guess I’m just thinking out loud. I have no idea what the hell I’m doing. I guess none of us do; we’re all just rookies in life, fumbling our way through for the first time.

I sometimes wish I were less of a crazy little anchoritic weirdo, but then I look around me and get an eyeful of the rabid monkeys that comprise the rest of my species and I’m like, “Uhhhhh, okay I’d rather be a crazy little anchoritic weirdo than one of them.”

There is one person I’d like to chat with though, just to see how she’s doing.

I think I know why.

I always say that I want to be in a good mood at the piano, that it’s a nice happy little island for me, and I don’t enjoy taking my crap to it. I’ve been quite crappy lately mood-wise, though. At the harp, I’m at too low a level to even expect myself to have Something To Say™ so I can just turn my head off and do arpeggios in various inversions and practice extremely low-level things that don’t require me to say anything or actually get something done. I’m just not in the mood for that right now. I don’t think at the moment I have anything that I’m interested in articulating through the piano, at least nothing positive, and again I hate sitting at it when things are shitty. It’s my happy island, and that’s how it’s going to stay. I just don’t have much happy at the moment.

“Vaga Luna”

Another one that’ll work for lever harp — it’s in C Major and there’s only one flat that comes in, and if it’s tuned to Eb with all the levers down, it’s a flat that can be easily obtained.

A new blog?

I’m wondering whether or not this wouldn’t be a good option. I’ve had this blog for a very long time, and this shift that I’m undergoing seems like more of a break in path than a shift in path to me. There are aspects to it that I’d like to investigate with a real sense of newness, but as someone who came of age as the Internet did — along with all of the attendant questions revolving around social media personae — I’m very leery of “I’m this name on this blog, and that name in that community” and online handles multiplying out of control like vermin and being just as difficult to manage. I’m also not yet sure how this break/shift in focus is going to settle out, but it’s becoming evident to me that … well, I don’t think I need to use a pseudonym anymore.

I think I’m going to just stay here and let things work out for a while, and then reevaluate when it becomes evident that it’s needed.

Of course, I have a tendency to say that right before I go off on a tear, so we’ll see what happens. For now, I’m just itching to get that damned harp and get started on this new path. When I had surgery last year, I felt the same way. Once I knew I needed it, I was like, “Can you just do it now? Go grab some duct tape and a box knife, and I’ll wait here.” I tend not to care for dickering. Make a damned decision, and then move forward on it, or STFU.

Although, this seems like a good decision, to let things play out for a bit and see what seems like the best course of action when I have the benefit of a few months worth of hindsight.

“Tu scendi dalle stelle”

Like most songs for untutored voices, it’s straightforward, mostly I-IV-V-I, and has no accidentals, so it should be pretty lever-harp friendly. It’s even in Eb.

It’s really a nice feeling to contemplate composing and arranging without having to ask myself whether I should put it out under my own name when and if I opt to publish. Yes. Of course I should. Why wouldn’t I?

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.