What Happened on Easter
at Music as Meditation
The event I call Music as Meditation keeps changing. The change is organic; that is it responds to my perception of mine and other's needs in the realm of the spirit. That last sentence is of the type that keeps finding its way out of my mouth--something blatantly spiritual yet grounded, still, in our material world.
Last December, a cosmic two-by-four knocked me down and required me to slow down and examine life a bit. That cosmic two-by-four was a severe flare-up of an old back injury. The healing process has been rich; my healing has required that I take time to reflect and that I do almost everything a bit differently than I'm used to. Music as Meditation has not escaped this change.
I'm not quite as able to sit for long periods of time, so preparing an entire hours worth of music is quite challenging. Instead, however, I am walking more--and when I walk, I often come back with a poem or a thought. I also need to choose activities that allow me to stand. Cleaning out one of the bookshelves in my studio on a day devoted to staying home and getting better, I came across several old notebooks full of meeting notes, and phone numbers, and other detritus of my scheduled life. In amongst these things, however, were poems. I spent a lovely afternoon at my stand-up desk copying the ones I liked into another notebook. I read some of these at the Music at Meditation on April 1--which just happened to be Easter day. A very tiny group of listeners shared that time with me--for whom I am grateful.
Here I will share the program with its concomitant ramblings along with the poems I read. Please comment if you read this blog through to the end and find it useful. I'd like to know how my efforts effect others.
Music as Meditation
April 1, 2018
Imaginary Canonization of a Tupinamba song
This was imaginary because I was the only player and I realized the song on a soprano recorder. It was my realization of a transcription made by Jean de Léry of a Tupinamba song. He learned the song between October and January of 1557 when he was living as a guest of the Tupinamba tribe--a group of people who lived near Rio de Janeiro before the Portugese and French arrived with colonization dreams for the land that would come to be called South America.
Easter (a poem) by Jill Alexander Essbaum
This came to my inbox as a Poetry Foundation "poem of the day" during Holy Week. It matched the mood of several poems I wanted to read.
Toccatta Improvisation by Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643)
This is from a book of keyboard music by Frescobaldi that fell into my hands. His harmonies and his method of reaching a cadence send me into improvisational adventures.
Differentiation—an excerpt by Ellen Schwindt
This is my piece based on the Fibonacci series (see the February blog) You may expect to hear all of it on May 6--and probably again on June 3. It's coming along.
Beach Leaves a poem by Ellen Schwindt
This and the following poems are those I found in my notebooks. They were all penned in early spring, before the winter really let go its hold on me. They came from various years--hence my understanding of the dark mood of this time of year--before the promise of spring is really made known to us in temperatures and sprouting plants.
in early spring
and those left after winter
are the same color
tightly coiled in their buds
and loosely attached, fluttering,
two versions of the exact shade
and why should we be surprised?
The beginnings and ends of things connect.
Romance by Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983)
This is one of my favorites of Tailleferre. Here is a youtube recording.
Rainbow Sleeves Tom Waits (b.1949)
Tom Waits wrote this song for Rickie Lee Jones's debut album release in 1979. I had a lovely time turning it into a piano solo. Here is a youtube recording with a great picture. The comments on youtube reveal that it is Randy Kerber making the piano sing in this recording.
This is a traditional folk tune. I found it suited itself to the violin very well.
Berceuse (lullaby) Germaine Tailleferre
This is from a collection of pieces for young people published in the 1970s. Tailleferre made her living, as did Ruth Crawford Seeger, as a piano teacher. I was amazed at how similar the melody in this piece is to the traditional folk tune Turtle Dove.
Turtle Dove arr. Ruth Crawford Seeger (1901-1953)
This arrangement published in 1948 in a book of pieces for young piano players. The pieces are illustrated with ornate drawings by Peggy Seeger. My imagination wants to believe that Germaine Tailleferre knew and loved this book as a teaching tool and somehow the tune of one of the songs made its way into her own compositions. I want it to be more evidence that we are all connected.
The Efficacy of Words a poem by Ellen Schwindt
This is one of the poems I found in my notebooks. I have often been disappointed in the communicative power of words. Perhaps it is imagination only, but I often feel that music fills in the gaps between the words very well, if much less specifically.
The Efficacy of Words
Since the efficacy of words
is so thin,
why not keep to music only,
exist only in the
or the searing conflict
or the ineluctable drive
of pitch and rhythm.
Prelude in e minor (Opus 28, number 4) by Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849)
I love to teach this piece with it's melancholy modulations. Here is a youtube recording of it. The notes include a nice bio of Chopin. Then, there's this Jimmy Page plays Chopin recording. I'm sure Mrs. Napier would think it a travesty!
Prayer of the Matador Norman Della Joio (1913-2008)
This piece was written in 1964 and published in a book called Lyrical pieces for the Young. All the pieces in the book are good--this one is my favorite. Here is a recording that includes links to other accessible piano pieces in the same mood.
Snow in Spring a poem by Ellen Schwindt
This poem sprang from an April snowstorm that coated our large maple tree in white frosting. It was lovely, and it melted right away, revealing much more spring beneath the cold. As I write this, the trees outside are drooping with an April coating of ice. I trust that this spring, too, will reveal itself underneath--and soon.
Snow in Spring
Red Maple buds burgeoning
outlined by stark spring snow
I pledge allegiance to the spring
to red, grey, and to bright white.
Skici (sketch) by Bohuslav Martinů
This piece is full of bright harmonies. The sun comes out when I play it. I can't find a youtube version of this--perhaps I'll have to make one.
Allegretto Domenico Zipoli(1688-1726)
This example of counterpoint never fails to please me. It's final chord, with it's major tonality, is meant as a hopeful glance toward summer.