Time Carving and the Notes between

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Time carving

Sometimes time cuts easy, like bagels, balsa, or red pipestone. Sometimes time cuts hard like sharp obsidian, with its own mind, along its own grain, and flecks into shards that sometimes trip and cut, and call me "late".

It's early enough. The morning's one of Oregon's own, softly greyed, and it matches well the chant I'm playing while I drink some mate and write, alternating between this note to you and music work.

Music Work. It's interesting how the two most creative modes in my life - music and writing - have such different flavors. The writing is always such a flow, with the impulses so much more developed in the undersides of me before it emerges, and the work I get to do is more refined, more subtle. Typing's easy. Grammar relatively so. Thinking - now, that's a bit trickier, but manageable with enough of the proper adjustments.

Music's a different baby - much more like bricks and mortar and cement in the wheelbarrow that's setting up a bit sooner than I want it to. It's more like work - interesting, so I'm not moaning (I love work - as I've said, it's one of my main dances) - and there's a kind of skillful application and linearity to it that I find very satisfying.

Over the weekend I was exposed to the Harmonic Chant of David Hykes. I ended up in a workshop the following day, and boy, did my bells get rung! I'm afraid I offended the fellow somewhat with my thoughts about jazz bars and sacred spaces. You know, most people don't get that at all - the Church of the Barfly, the Church of Champagne. You understand that, don't you?

We had a bit of a prickly time of it - I suppose I can rub folk the wrong way (unless I'm completely charmed by them, like one fellow who stands out in my mind...) - and he told me flat out he didn't agree with me - as in, the first words out of his mouth to me were "I don't agree." I didn't take up the class time with an argument, but framed it in a note the next day, because we agreed to explore work on-line, since Hykes does offer what he calls "distance learning".

I wrote the following to him:

"...That's one reason I asked the questions I did about making choices [about pitches to move to during a piece]. I want to understand more about making them, and it seems to me that the contexts - your Above (cathedrals), my Below (jazz clubs) - might be bridgeable. Not that I have the requisite tools, but I sense that even the effort is commendable to at least a few of the angels.

"My working thesis is that if I sing this music (that I learned from my mother) with deep personal cognition, that it opens a door into a group of folk who have memories of it from other times and places in their lives. When this door is opened, aspects of the music can come into play within them that are far beyond what I can imagine controlling, or even directly influencing.

"The only thing I know for sure is that there are times, as I said, when I'm in a club and singing notes, and I can see by the look on peoples' faces that they are caught in something. I don't know what it is. Many times, their eyes aren't closed. They're open. They're listening deeply. They're looking directly at us. They're fully connected to something - and it's beyond us - but they're present, and they're accessing, and there's a kind of rapture in the rapport.

"No one calls it Spiritual - not with a martini on the table, and me in heels and a little black dress. But I maintain that it is, and I'm fascinated by it. It gets me up at 6:00 am, working away at the keyboard, thinking, reading, singing. It keeps me seeking..."

No direct response, but he's given me some exercises. I suppose that's a good sign. I've set up a working forum for the exchange. We'll see how that goes.

It dovetails with my current plans to visit Europe in 2003ish, and tracks me immediately into getting my vocal tracks into digital and transmissable form, so I'm going to pursue it.

Just the exercise of nailing down and e-mailing tracks with fidelity clear enough for him to hear overtones in the singing, and figure out how to exchange them, and then critique them, and then be able to adjust them, will be worth the work. I'm still a Macintosh anachronism in the modern joy-stick tech worlds of DAT and NET stuff, so this will be an effort for me. It's certainly a time investment - thank goodness I've been practicing carving out time.

In fact, I feel like I'm in school again.

I never really could handle that, you know. When I was a teenager, one of the first teens to gallavant through Ann Arbor, Michigan's very experimental Community High School in the early 70's, I took those College tests and was offered scholarships. Julliard's Theatre Department offered me a full boat scholarship and I turned it down. I wanted to be "free".

While I know every choice is ultimately right, some are more right than others. I'm still not sure about that one. If any of your girls get offers like that, you be sure and run them through the vision and the alternatives thoroughly, ok?

I had a hard time with the fact that my mother let me make my own choice on that one. For awhile, in my 20's, I felt that she'd let me down. I didn't value the freedom she gave me to make up my own mind (I did when I was 16-17, but not when I was an exotic dancer at 19, or a Hollywood waitress...). I thought she should have been a tougher and more opinionated parent at that particular juncture. I'm over it now, but you've got some precious cargo - and it sounds like you're doing fine, so excuse the unsolicited, probably unnecessary, "advice."

However, school this time is just about as exciting a time as I had when I was a younger. I've got great teachers. Jazz-Club Lab. A nice after-school job at the natural foods store (though I wish I didn't have to look at the check book). And a really sweet mentor-friend that lends me his ear constantly, without complaint, and inspires me just by being alive and walking around on the planet somewhere.

Thinking of you.




PLUR. Remember PLUR




-- Anonymous, December 12, 2001

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