Tuesday Tuneup 38

Q. Where would you like to be?

A. In a place of greater harmony.

Q. How are you lacking in harmony?

A. There’s too much counterpoint.   

Q. Why is that a problem?

A. Because the counterpoint is dissonant.  It reminds me of all the counterpoint toward the end of Musical Number Two in my new musical Eden in Babylon.   Listen to “The Age of Nevermore” – skip to about 3:20 if you need to.  When the counterpoint comes in at around 3:47, it’s the counterpoint of suffering and travail.  It’s not consonant.  It’s cacophonic.   

Q. But didn’t you yourself compose that cacophony?  I mean, intentionally?

A. I did.  And that’s its saving grace.  But the current cacophonic counterpoint is not being composed by me alone, but by a conflicting collaboration of a number of convoluted, confused composers.  It’s a big mess.

Q. What kind of counterpoint would be better?

A. The counterpoint in Musical Number Nine: “Ode to the Universe”.   I mean, listen.  Where the counterpoint comes in at around 1:44, everything is happier.  :)

Q. Why is the counterpoint in your life so unhappy these days?

A. Human relationships.

Q. Relationships?  With whom?

A. With those whom throughout my life I have deemed most important to me.

Q. And these relationships are no longer harmonious?

A. Not sure they ever were harmonious, quite frankly.  They’ve always been contrapuntal.  But there have been times when the counterpoint was prettier.

Q. And now?

A. Our melodic lines are colliding.  This creates dissonance and ugliness.  I’m an Artist.  I’m about creating Beauty.  I can’t stand it when I’m even remotely involved in the creation of ugliness.

Q. But who’s to say what’s beautiful and what’s ugly?

A. You know the answer to that.

Q. Are you of such exalted Artistic merit that you can decide what’s beautiful and what’s ugly?

A. Well – I am the Artist, aren’t I?  I mean – what are you driving at?

Q. Are not the others in these human relationships that you so prize, Artists in their own rite?

A. They are indeed.  This is largely why I prize the relationships so highly.

Q. Then who are you to say that what they are creating is ugly?

A. I never said that!  I said that the contrapuntal lines of the divergent melodies created by the — the three or four of us, let’s say — produce ugliness.

Q. Three or four?

A.  Three for sure.  Four pending.  The fourth Artist has not yet begun his or her melodic line, at least not in a way that lets me hear it.  But that’s besides the point.   Let’s say it’s a Three-Part Invention — for now — and nowhere near the caliber of Beauty as such as have been created by J.S.Bach.

Q. So you are willing to concede that the individual melodic lines of the two Artists whose melodies conflict with your own might be individually beautiful in and of themselves?

A. Yes.  In fact, they might even be harmonious.

Q. Harmonious?  How can that be?

A. They may not be harmonious with me, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be harmonious with each other.  When their parts are played separate from my own, they will no longer be in counterpoint with each other, but in harmony.  

Q. Then can you not assay to be harmonious with them as well, and thus create a three-part harmony, rather than a three-part counterpoint?

A. Maybe. In the future, perhaps, after something changes.

Q. What needs to change?

A. The tonal structure of the conflicting melodic lines, obviously!  We at least need to all be playing the same key, for crying out loud!

Q. But how can this ever come to pass?

A. You got me.  From my position, it seems like the other musicians aren’t playing their scales right.  They obviously haven’t been practicing.

Q. And you have been?

A. Yes.  This is not to say that I haven’t been making mistakes.  The mistakes just aren’t quite as glaring.

Q. Is there a way you can compensate for their mistakes, so that the three of you can still turn in a good performance?

A. Probably.  I think it has to do with something that Jesus said.

Q. What was that?

A. He said: “He who would be greatest among you must be least and servant of all.”

Q. Are you implying that you wish to be greatest among them?

A. Not quite.  Maybe second greatest.

Q. Why are you being so curt?  And so vague?

A. Tired of the theme.

Q. Are you bored with the theme?

A. Not bored.  More-or-less exasperated.

Q. Andy — what’s the bottom line?

A. You want to hear the bottom line?  Then I’ll tell you the bottom line.  The bottom line is that my sense of aesthetics, of what is beautiful and non-beautiful in the Creation of Art, is insufficient to compose or conduct the manner of three-part counterpoint that would elevate the current cacophonic theme to the level of a fugue as composed by Johann Sebastian Bach.  I’m simply not a good enough composer.  But I know Someone who is.

Q. Who would that be?

A. Who else?  Who is the Greatest Artist?  Who is the Artist so great, that He even created Art Itself?

Q. You refer to the Creator?

A. I defer to Him.  He is the One who can can make the crooked paths straight, and transform the most ugliest of dissonances into the most beautiful, consonant resonance – it is through Him that the worlds have been made.   Everything is formed through Christ, who is least and servant of All.

Q. And you?

A. Me?  I’m just bangin’ on my old piano, gettin’ in tune with the straight and narrow.

The Questioner is Silent.

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Beyond Neurosis

Beyond neurosis, there lies reality.

It wasn’t neurosis that made me come up with the ten disclaimers, essentially telling my followers they shouldn’t even bother listening to the song, and then posting the song the next morning anyway.

I wasn’t being bipolar when I was one way one day and one way the next. For beyond neurosis, beyond bipolarity, there lies this thing called reality.

And reality can sometimes be the last thing the Artist wants to face. In fact, maybe the fact that the Artist doesn’t like to face reality is the reason why the Artist became an Artist in the first place.

Maybe, at some long-forgotten age old time of childhood, a little boy learned something about reality that he just couldn’t handle.

Maybe his childhood was so idyllic, and he loved his parents so much, that he couldn’t handle finding out that there was this thing called “death” that would take away his father one day, and take away his mother, and eventually take away his own self.

Maybe that was so painful that for two whole years he looked around at all the people doing normal things, and thought painful thoughts of despair. “Why is that guy washing his car?” the child would ask himself. “Doesn’t he know he could die tomorrow? And what would a clean car be to him then?”

Maybe the child turned from about five to about seven, and suddenly realized he kinda knew how to do things like play Old MacDonald and Mary Had a Little Lamb on a piano, and write little children’s songs, and draw pretty pictures with colored pencils, and write little fairy tales and nursery rhymes, and sing silly songs long into the night, while pretending his fingernails were ice skates, his fingers the skaters, and the sheets of his bed the skating rink, where round and round the skaters would skate, and skate themselves out of their pain.

Maybe he figured that God’s creation was just too painful to face. So he created his own creations, and found pleasure in what he decided to create – a pleasure that cancelled out for a season, the pain of the creation that was God’s.

Whatever the case, it was not neurosis that issued the disclaimers, nor was it bipolar of me to be one guy one day, and another fellow the next. For on the third day, he rose, and he realized reality.

The reality he did not want to face.

The reality is that the song straight-up, flat-out sucks. And he knew it from the start. He wanted to be cute. He wanted to entertain. He wanted to fool people into thinking that he didn’t know the song would turn out as badly as the song in fact turned out. So he went for high drama, like the Actor that he can be, and played his show of neurosis to the hilt.

The truth is, he was never neurotic. The truth is that he knew all along the reality that he did not feel he could face. The reality is what it is.

The song sucks — and that’s reality.

But maybe the song needed to suck, because the Artist needed to face the music, and learn a needed lesson. Maybe the lesson he needed to learn is the reality all Artists must one day face.

For the creation of the Artist is by no means superior to the creation of the Reality.  And that creation is not of the Artist.  The creation of Reality belongs to God.

Image result for creation of God the Artist

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More About Artistic Neurosis

Note: I wrote all this before I posted the messed up piano piece and then deleted it.  I’m not really all that neurotic, am I?  Seems to me the thing really did suck. 

For those of you have been expecting a Friday piano piece, I’m writing rather nervously to let you know that it’s happening and is being slowly uploaded as we speak.

That’s the good news.   As for the bad news, well — I don’t want to say the news is exactly bad, but I do have a couple handfuls of disclaimers to divulge.  

Ahem.

(1) The song I decided to play is the big opening choral number in the last scene of Act One of my recently completed musical, Eden in Babylon.   I must disclaim myself by admitting that I have never played this piece on the piano before.

(2) The number is about 8 minutes long in the real show, but since I had never played it before, I kept forgetting where I was going, and it wound up being 13 minutes long.

(3) My convoluted process of getting it off of my recording device (which on my present budget happens to double as a Galaxy J-3 Tracfone), is so arduous that I doubt the upload will be complete by the 7:30 am Friday deadline.   I will, however, get it to you tomorrow, as promised.

Image result for musical masterpiece clipart(4) Another reason why it was 13 minutes long is that at one point when I couldn’t figure out where I was supposed to go, I drifted into a song I wrote back in ’74, called “When Feelings are Few.”   Actually played almost the entire song before I found out a way to return to the originally intended theme.

(5) There is a mistake that I thought was so God-awful at the time, I couldn’t help but laugh quite distastefully at my own error.  Then, true to usual process, the only thing that makes it sound like a mistake was that the fact that I was laughing at it.

(6) I was in an ego-driven state of passionate pride at the time of my performance, which caused my body to contort in an unseemly fashion when I was really “getting into it.”

(7) I interrupted my performance between the 2nd and 3rd movements of the piece to let you all know verbally at least half of these disclaimers, not yet realizing I was destined to nervously announce them in advance by recklessly composing the spontaneous admission of artistic neurosis that you are now reading.  (And incidentally, probably wondering why you’re still reading it.)

(8) I then forgot entirely how the 3rd movement begins, until I remembered that it’s the song otherwise known as Daylight, which I then proceeded to play in the wrong key.   (And I never did get to the “B” part of the tune, because I kept searching for the right key in frustration.   “A” part wasn’t too bad, however.)

(9) Piece is disjointed and chaotic on the whole.   (But at least if felt good) . . .

(10) I had intended to play a light-hearted smooth jazz piece of about three and a half minutes long, but just before my fingers hit the keys I forgot which piece I had wanted to play.  

So, after a brief announcement, I quite impulsively endeavored to play Awake the Dawn on the piano, because that’s just kinda the way it rolled.  (The link is to a Finale-generated version using the Garritan Personal Orchestra, just in case anyone’s down to hear how it’s *really* supposed to sound before deciding whether or not to proceed to the impending 13-minute elaboration thereof.)

Whew! Glad I got all that out of my system.  Now I can relax.  :)

See y’all tomorrow!

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Tuesday Tuneup 33

Q. Where would you like to be?

A. In a place of peace.

Q. Are you at war?

A. Yes.

Q. With whom?

A. With my enemies, of course.

Q. And who are your enemies?

A. Good question.  I tend to think that there are two of them — two young rapscallions from the hood, deluded young gentlemen who are often ringing my doorbell at odd hours of the night, for lengthy periods of time, and only to request annoying favors of me.

Q. These two young rapscallions — are they truly your ememies?

A. Probably not.   My enemies are probably more internal than external.  

internal enemyQ. What do you mean by that?

A. Well you know, I have all these inner blocks or demons that try to prevent me from staying the course, from keeping to what I’m about, and all that.

Q. But if a guy rings your doorbell at three in the morning, and keeps ringing and knocking until you finally give up and go answer it, and you can’t get back to sleep, how is that your fault in any way?

A. You know something, you’re right.  Almost any O.G. would not be able to get to sleep after something like that!

Q. So why are you being such a pushover?

A. That’s the internal enemy I’m talking about.  I’m a pushover.  The Kid knows that once a month, I’m going to be available to walk down to the nearest ATM and get him money for his chewing tobacco.   So what I’ve got to do is just say NO and say it firmly.  

Q. Why haven’t you done this already?

A. He keeps catching me off guard.  Both of them do — the other one’s not so flagrantly nefarious – but he’s still got his angle.  And his angle involves me, because—

Q. Because?

A. Because I’m a pushover.  And worse yet, I just told the whole world about it.  Pretty soon, every rambunctious rapscallion in town will be knocking on my door.  On MY door!  On the lockable, locked door that I EARNED – after putting in twelve hard years on the streets, where there was no door to be locked, or even to offer the slightest separation from me and all the evils of the night.  What a fool I am to willfully descreate and violate the sanctity of my sanctuary!   Damn, I’m pissed.

Q. And now?

A. And now what?  I just have to make the internal change, and enforce it, and be firm about it.  It’s like — a life lesson.  It’s something I’m supposed to learn here, while I’m on this Earth, and take it to the next stage of experience, when I’m not.

Q. You think so?

A. Sounds good to me.   Not knowing how to stand up for myself and say NO to people landed me in a gutter for over ten years.  I daresay I shan’t make the same mistake twice.

The Questioner is Silent.

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Gratitude List 981

(1) I awoke at 7am and noticed immediately that I was no longer depressed or lonely, but was feeling like my usual, chipper self once again, thank God.  

(2) Thankful to feel like I am functioning more-or-less normally.  There is a great sense of promise and potential when one realizes that one is no longer saying and doing things that are inexplicably weird, totally bizarre, and distastefully out of character.

(3) Slept from about 5:30pm till only 1am, as I’d feared.  The good news is that I got back to sleep at around 4 and slept till 7, waking up refreshed.  Even better news is having a place to stay when I wake up at odd hours of the night.   For a lot of my life, I did not.

(4) Noticed and skimmed a nice email from my friend in Scotland across the waves.

(5) Starting my 3rd cup of free Pikes Peak coffee at the Courtyard Café.

(6) Scraped up an old laptop I can use outside of the house.  While it has many problems, thankfully music notation software is not one of them.   Observe:

(7) There may be a small paycheck in today’s mail.  Also, I can probably sell more Exile albums if I get back in the groove of it.

(8) I’m in a good mood this morning.   I no longer feel threatened by my own personality.  Stay this way for a while, and I will do great things.

(9) Lots of promise, lots of potential, comes of just one’s being oneself.

(10) His blessings are new every morning.  Great is His faithfulness.

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A little bit goes a long, long way.  

Gratitude List 951

My gratitude list from Sunday morning.   

1. Only got 5 hrs sleep (from 9 to 2) but awoke feeling rested. Also, I felt like I was coming down with the flu when I went to bed, but feel fine after sleeping it off.

2. Coffee is actually the right strength this time. (It’s been weak lately).

3. I like my early morning space and solitude.

4. Just finished vocal-scoring No.6 (Awake the Dawn) with words thru measure 30 and w/out words to 55. It’s going way better than I thought it would.

5. An interesting synchronicity is making me feel like I’m on the right track. Same thing happened with Bubbles Taboo a long time ago, where 12 unplanned modulations on all kinds of divergent intervals somehow landed me back in the same key I’d started in, even though I didn’t plan it that way. This time, with “Awake the Dawn,” I had to change the key and some of the octaves to avoid having the singers span an impossible 3+ octave range, and also had to correct the two instances where a corny half step modulation ought to have been replaced by a modulation to a relative major; and once again, the combination of all that landed me somehow in the same key I started in. It’s like magic when that kind of thing happens, and it can be very encouraging.

6. J. says that E. got her medication now, which is a relief.

7. Nice conversation with Danielle last night. Interesting about Baby-Wise.

8. I’m really lucky I landed the church I’m at. It’s not just that they’re not “kicking me out.” I’m actually being given a chance to grow. It’s such a blessing, compared to anything I tried along these lines in the past.

9. Guess my PSA levels were okay, or the clinic would have called me by now.

10. God is Good.

Free “Exile” Playlist

I’ve been under the weather this week and have not practiced my piano piece at all.  I told people I would actually be singing tomorrow — but my voice is not in very good shape.  Still, I’m going to venture forth toward the church in a bit, where that nice Baldwin grand piano is, along with all the very nice people who don’t mind me playing on it from time to time.

So, I might pull through.  I just want to leave it up in the air.  In the meanwhile, anyone who wants my Exile album, or at least wants to listen to it to check it out, but who doesn’t want to shell out fifteen bucks for it, here it is online:

Also, in isolation this week, I have been pondering my life’s direction.  I’ve felt as though I’ve been in something of a lull ever since I finished the script and demo to my musical I’ve been working here and there, on my various projects as well as on the necessities of living.  But my heart, by and large, has not been in what I’m about.

I think this is because I am being cosmically nudged to get cracking on the Eden in Babylon vocal score. I finished the first five numbers a while back, but got sidetracked when I encountered a few setbacks earlier on.   I’ve dealt with the setbacks sufficiently that there’s no real remaining excuse for slacking.

So I’m going to prioritize scoring all the singing parts for Eden in Babylon, and it’s going to have to take priority over this blog.  I found earlier that I was spending too much time blogging, and not getting the vocal score done.  Life does present itself occasionally, and it will interfere with my creative flow.  But in the meantime, there’s no valid reason for not pressing onward with the goal.

So – I’ll try to have something posted tomorrow.  No promises, but you might as well check back in a day or so, and see if anything looks different.  After that, if you don’t hear from me a while, take it to be good news.  Only so many hours in the day, and occasionally one has to get on the ball.  

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