Monday, November 16, 2009

Modernist Crap

Did I ever tell you what a fake I am? I have it in my mind that musicians are supposed to be open minded about all kinds of music, are supposed to be free-lovers of all creative uses of sound. I'm not. I openly dislike all modern music. Nope, I don't mean popular recorded mainstream music. I mean most all instumental music composed about 1900 onward. I just don't like it. I'd rather have my temperature taken witha rectal thermometer than listen to endless modern sonatas.

I'd like to enduldge my own ego here and hope that I'm with the majority of people: we just can't follow it. It seems to go everywhere and nowhere. It's like a beatnik poet on open-mic night at a coffee bar: over-indulgent and unrestrained, art for art's own sake. Me? I think that wherever there is art of value, it must always show restraint. The art I most deeply respect, the kind that makes me fall on my face with amazement is the type that leaves little "breadcrumbs" of brilliance as if to say, "Oh yes, Aaron. I am very capable of doing all of it." Yet, in the face of their own immense ability, they surrender it all to the piece; they temper themselves in order to sharpen their communication as an artist.

I'm selling the modernists short, I'm sure. They must somehow be as thrifty in their craft as the rest of us. I just don't get it.

Someone asked me on Wednesday if I planned on attaching myself to a symphony upon completing music school. The thought stopped me in my tracks. Yes, that was always the plan - occupy the principle harpist position with a major symphony/ orchestra/ philharmonic and teach at a neighboring university. Now, it didn't make much sense. It didn't sound fun. You know how many times a symphony plays the classics? Those recognizable melodies that sometimes are made into ringtones?

So as I sit here during the intermission of one of the Utah Symphony Nova Chamber Series concerts, I wonder. Louise, my instructor, is playing today. She loves these modern pieces for their nuance and color. Does that interest come later? Do I get bored with those classics eventually? Or do I resent the fact that I cannot choose the repertoire and plug away at the music as sometimes people plug away at the boring parts of their jobs?

Nope. I have to have Baroque? Why?! Why, why, why?! Why did I have to be a harpist who loves Baroque?! There's like 2% of our repertoire that is Baroque! Plenty has been transcribed, but only a sliver is originally Baroque. And as a principle harpist, I'm not going to be playing any of the transcriptions because the snobby museum-culture that makes up the season ticket-holders just won't allow it. They'll know that only Handel had bollucks enough to write a concerto for the harp, and even then, half of the time the concerto performances harp part was given to the organ. The harp wasn't that important in Baroque music.

But there's a glimmer of hope: The Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Field. I heard them perform at the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Field in London. I have their CDs. They play Baroque on period instruments. And, they have a harpist. That's my in. Even Baroque composers that I just don't care for, I like to listen to. I could take whatever repertoire they throw at me and love it. No metaphorical rectal thermometers. Brilliant!

So, where does this leave me now? I've created such a narrow window to happiness. I have to work, work, work. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, but Jack, in this instance, has a chronic illness to deal with and a big doggie to provide for. All work and no play puts food on Jack's table and pays for his monthly subscription to NetFlicks. That's not a bad life for Jack.

--Blogged on the run using my mobile.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

So I'm quite obsessed with what one can do with a mobile these days. For kripes sake, I can blog, listen to Bach, send/receive texts and phone calls all at the same time on one little palm-sized nugget. For someone who hasn't had the Internet at home, this is complete liberation. I smile at the very thought.

It just streamlines life. Let's say I want to practice on campus. Those lovely school harps, sadly, are never in tune. But who wants to carry a tuner around with them on the off chance that they have a free hour to practice? No worries, I have a chromatic tuner on my phone. Need a metronome?I have that on my phone, too.

I gage my musical progress by time. With learning instruments, there are no shortcuts. Either I put in the time, or I don't. And no matter how brilliant I might momentarily sound, it's not going to be as good as if I spent a full amount of practice time on myself. Time is the bottom line. Well folks, there's an app for that too. All I have to do is press one button and my practice time is recorded by exercise, by piece, by instrument, etc. It graphs my totals separately and together, and it also graphs my progress in speed. Marvelous! I have a visual confirmation to satisfy the need for constant progress. The stats seem to say, "You know what? Be fulfilled because you spent a serious chunk of time on your craft today. You did well."

And what about this? I can snap a photo of Imogen Heap in concert and tell you all what a great experience it was, all on one device. If it's not classical, I'm just not a concert-goer. I've been to The Fray and to Imogen. That's it. Everything else, I'm afraid, most people wouldn't call them concerts because it's the stuff that most people find boring. To me, they're morphine drips, straight to the heart. And Imogen, though not classical, is great talent, folks. She mixes and creates a one-of-a-kind show right on stage. She knows her instruments and her technology, and she marvelously creates something completely different. In a different life, I'm filthy rich, and I take all of you with me.

I hope all of this mobile talk doesn't sound like gloating. Oh no, I'm just dancing in all my luck. The 'blogged on the run' label down at the bottom? That's just something that makes me feel like some of these posts are novel. My favorite 'London Blog' posts are the ones I actually posted while in London. There's something fun about reading words written while in an irregular setting. So, "blogged on the run?" I could be in a doctor's office, waiting for my name to be called. I could be on a park bench in the middle of campus. Anywhere there's mobile reception, I could be. Try it, folks. If you have a laptop, move yourself to a Starbucks or Borders Cafe and blog. You'll come alive with the new atmosphere.

But the clincher, the best payoff for having this phone, for me is photos like this:

It makes my day when my dad and little sister treat me to instant doggie photos. Lovely!

--Blogged on the run using my mobile.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Finished Tattoo

So, I forget about my blog these days. I have rhythms, I find, of being so thoroughly excited about my own life that I can just blog away. And there are other times when I feel like being semiprivate or blogging just becomes an irritating chore.

It didn't help my blog that we had the Internet taken away from us at work. Our performance was just too sad to merit priviledge. So, I didn't write or check blogs that often. Crystal dear, yours is always the exception; your readership is partly due to those amazingly cute little twits you're raising.

Now, I can read all of your blogs on my phone. God bless the 21st century!

My mom got to come for a visit this past week - the positive end of a trade-off from losing my Grandpa. The dear man - he passed away at 87 from renal failure. It wasn't totally unexpected, and it wasn't completely sudden. It was simply his time to move on. He provided his family the wonderful opportunity to gather together and share company without hard feelings.

And on Friday, I got my birthday gift. I don't turn 27 until later in the month, but my tattoo artist had an opening, and I had to take it. After a year of waiting, my family paid to have my tattoo finished. The guy did such an amazing job. See for yourself:

It's the absolute spitting image of my little boy. Marvelous!

--Blogged on the run using my mobile.