Tuesday, September 9
Elitism, Harpsichords & Ivory Towers
I live alone and I am a composer.
I live alone, with a cat and I play a harpsichord.
I have a new very challenging online friend, her name is Kate, and her intellectual focus is so very different from my own. The challenge is not unlike getting a new music student, and as my employer knows I have a specialty interest in instructing ADD and ADHD children, I will every-so-often have a student whose perceptions are not the same as the larger population.
This brings to mind the populism of music and why I play the harpsichord.
Admittedly, I am very much an eccentric, and from my study, as well as positions as a teacher, harpsichords have become a symbolic unit of what I do and even deeper-- the Why I do what I do.
Eccentric or learning disabled, many might feel that I am just a weirdo who refuses to give up his "little hobby" concerning harpsichords. I have surmised many things about these styles of comments about my character and how I look at the world.
Kate and I are both eccentrics of a sort, but we do not really float in the same ocean. Our "boats" may be similar but they have not passed in the night until now. My mental question is: how could such differing unusual lives bring two such different persons together to discuss musical theory and the meaning of existence?
Much must be given over to chance, but there is a true sense of social destiny that refuses to go away. Alice's Wonderland has a few fields of Ivory Towers placed among the forests and croquet games of experience.
Kate is a person who "colors outside the lines" and she creates her own masterpiece--this reminds me of quite a few of the music students I have had who attack a task in an oblique and unusual way. Often enough,their efforts come to perfectly good success, although sometimes after much more time than the expedient.
Why harpsichord... one must admit, it is an unusual factor in this personal equation.
Equal it is not in the least. The reality is effective but never an equation at all. It is like the planets and their moons: always a surprise and so much new and never experienced soon to melt into the facts of existence and then philosophies that spin from these facts. Music is physics, it IS the Music of the Spheres.
When one plays an unmeasured prelude by a composer of the Baroque, there is a freedom that is immediately evident, yet most would become uneasy how to deal with this freedom. The activity of ornamentation and expression is and should always be one of creation and newness; never should it render down to mimicking a perceived "standard" and thus become a static and close-to-dead commodity. This can be applied to the measured works of composers as well, although the course one runs is less flexible with some composers. Discussions on this take a lifetime to Socratically cogitate each of the appropriate and inappropriate permutations of what can be considered "good style."
Kate does this naturally and it is a gift.
For me, this freedom is an exciting inheritance from the long-gone composers and is my window that I slip back to their times. What I play on my harpsichord approaches more the freedom of the Baroque even if only rare in successful performance. It is not stilted, it is not ever set-in-stone.
I am a floating ship passing by so distantly the great and the geniuses of the past.
Kate just showed up to the buffet....seems we will have a bite to eat together and maybe a spin or two on the dance floor.