(1) Thankful for the phenomenon known as “sleep” and for a safe place in which to obtain it. On three hours sleep, staring at all those black musical notes on a Finale template, they might as well have been a bunch of flies I was supposed to be swatting. What happened after six more hours of fine, unadulterated sleep? The picture is considerably prettier.
(2) After a good third session of pastoral counseling this afternoon, I find myself thankful for the current overload. At least it’s not an “underload” — an idle brain being the devil’s playground, and all that.
(3) Thankful for a very positive friendship with my one and only daughter. How many dads can claim that they get to talk to their daughters every single day? Maybe more than I know, but I still feel very fortunate, and blessed.
(4) Thankful for the good friends I’ve made and kept throughout my life. About to catch up with my friend Holly down in California by telephone. Good to have friends.
(5) Thankful for the cooler temperatures lately, it being only 58F degrees right now, though it’s three in the afternoon. I no longer have to restrict my daily exercise to the early morning or late evening hours. Looking forward to a nice run, round about four. Life is good. :)
” Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things.” — Philippians 4:8
I want to let you all know that I’ve got a playlist now on SoundCloud that will automatically pull up the interactive score to the musical I’ve been working on. Feedback is welcome — I’m not exactly sure how viable the instrumentation is. If I want to easily translate it to a live pit orchestra with “real” musicians, this arrangement probably is not optimum. It does have an interesting, ethereal sound to it, however.
The thing I keep struggling with is the awareness that when I “received” this music, I was walking about the various outdoor venues of the Berkeley, California area, fully believing that the correct orchestrations were as absolute as the music itself, and that all these sounds were coming from Beyond, having originated in a realm of musical consciousness far greater than the confines of my relatively minute human intellect.
The more powerful that memory, the greater the sense in which I feel this music is cheapened by the arbitrary addition of synthetic sounds only remotely related to the real live musicianship that seems to be called for. On the other hand, when the music was originally being “given” to me, I “heard” it involving sounds that I identified as being of a timbre tantamount to that of a tenor saxophone and a viola soloist. So my choice to employ tenor sax and viola in my arrangements was not arbitrary. It’s an attempt to best replicate that which I have already heard.
The problem with this is that, while it may indeed provide adequate background for singers presenting an interactive production online, it would be difficult to rectify those sounds as being suitable within the typical pit orchestra of a Broadway-type musical. I could replace them with an increased focus on electric guitars and keyboard-synth, and thus render the interactive orchestration compatible with that of a real-live pit orchestra — one with a rock ensemble flair — but if I do so, I sacrifice the beauty of the expressive tenor sax and viola sounds, as authentically replicating the ethereal sounds that I heard.
One thing to note is that instruments like saxophones and violas are generally found as parts of larger jazz or classical ensembles. While we do hear sax solos in jazz and other genres, we don’t often hear viola solos. More often, the viola is a part of a string section. So I might as well add a wind section, a string section, and a brass section for that matter, if I’m going to involve such instruments. They sound out of character when played together without some bolstering or support from instruments of their kind.
However, all of this has to do with idiom. That is, because the ear is not accustomed to hearing passages that involve a sax and a viola harmonizing in descending cascades such as we hear in Sirens of Hope, it rejects the application of those instruments as bizarre. They don’t match the typical pairing of instruments — a single brassy wind like that, with a solitary stringed instrument in the midrange. And yet, were we to have such instrumentalists in a pit with ample miking and the like, we could lift their sounds to levels akin the other players – the drummer, the bass, the guitarist and the like.
A final thing to consider is that when the music was being directed my way, it was not with the idea that human musicians were playing it in whatever Ethereral Realm of the Beyond it was emanating from. Seriously! The distinct impression I got was that it was being performed in such a way that transcended mere human musicianship. And if this is the case, then certainly the employment of the software is excusable. To the ears of the ethereal, human instruments, human devices, and human programs are all one and the same. They are all equally non-divine.
A. I’m convicted! Does the word mean nothing to you?
Q. Why should it?
A. Weren’t you around during the 80’s?
Q. What happened during the 80’s?
A. There was a massive movement throughout America, I guess it started in the late 70’s. 35% of Americans began identifying themselves as “born again Christian” — and they were markedly more conservative than the average voter.
Q. What’s this got to do with conviction?
A. It became Christian slang for a person to say there were “convicted” when they believed that the Spirit was impressing upon them some thing that they should or should not do.
Q. Isn’t that more like guilt?
A. Not exactly. One can feel guilty even if one has done nothing wrong. There are many sources of guilt, and not all of them are positive.
Q. But conviction is always positive?
Q. Well then! What are you convicted about?
A. Gee, I thought you’d never ask.
Q. Are you convicted you’ve been doing something wrong? Or convicted that you haven’t been doing something right?
A. Both. But the latter seems more salient, and to the point.
Q. What is that you ought to be doing right?
A. Something that doesn’t come natural to me. But every sign is pointing that I do it.
Q. But what is it?
A. I hesitate to say.
A. I’ll sound weird.
Q. Cold feet?
A. Heebie jeebies.
Q. WHAT IS IT??
A. I’m supposed to take on these — um — roles. In the community here. One is that of being a mediator. Another, a mentor.
Q. Mediator? Mediator over what?
A. I seem to have been selected to smooth relations between two neighboring businesses.
Q. Why you?
A. Because I am involved in both businesses, one on a volunteer basis, and one as a hanger-outer in a coffee shop.
Q. What is the essence of the tension between the two establishments?
A. Culture clash. You see, the people next door from the coffee house are involved in trying to get their lives back together. A lot of them have been on drugs, or on the streets, or otherwise severely traumatized. Some of them have serious mental health conditions. The point is, many of them come across in confusing ways that don’t fit the social norms.
Q. But they’re good people, right?
A. Absolutely! It’s just that the people in the coffee house don’t necessarily know that.
Q. What are the people in the coffee house like?
A. Quiet, studious, and reserved.
Q. And the people from the place next door?
A. Loud, boisterous, and unrefined.
Q. So you’re supposed to be a go-between?
A. Yes. I’m supposed to gently tell them not to be too loud around the coffee house, or cuss too much, or refer to themselves and others in derogatory terms. And I’m supposed to explain and defend them to the baristas who may feel uneasy in their presence.
Q. Well, isn’t this a good thing?
A. Well, yeah. It’s better than if the owners had decided just to kick them out of the coffeehouse. But it’s still a strange position for me to be in. I have no experience in this area.
Q. So how will you go about this?
A. One step at a time.
Q. Will you wear a badge?
A. Not on your life.
Q. What about the mentoring?
A. That’s a little more down my alley. You see, this guy died last month. A dear friend of mine. Here’s a picture of him:
Q. Wasn’t he a little young to die?
A. Young like mid-50’s. Fit, healthy, vibrant. Paul caught some kind of flu, turned to pneumonia, turned to a staph infection, then sepsis – and he was gone in about ten days. He was a great musician – and a great guy. It shocked the entire community, and left a great void.
Q. What’s this got to do with mentoring?
A. Paul was a mentor and a role model for many of the younger musicians in the community. He played about ten different instruments, freely played music with all, and encouraged all musicians to embrace and develop their full potential.
Q. And you are supposed to do this in his stead?
A. No one can replace Paul. But I get this sense that I’m supposed to break out of my shell somewhat, and contact some of the musicians, and see if I can be of help in any way. In fact, there’s these two brothers who play music — they’re both in their early to mid twenties, and one of them is a fantastic bass player. Their dad actually approached me. He said point blank that I am the one to fulfill this role.
Q. How does that make you feel?
A. Honored. And like I said, convicted.
Q. Almost guilty? Or afraid, maybe?
A. Only because I’ve never done it before.
Q. Is that really true, Andy?
A. Well — not for a long time. I used to be a music teacher, and a musical director for musical theatre productions. I saw that the kids looked up to me, and I enjoyed passing off my knowledge as best I could.
Q. Then what happened?
A. I think you know what happened. But let’s just say I was no longer in the position where anybody would see me as either a mentor or a mediator.
Q. But now they do?
A. Somehow, yes — however magically.
Q. So what are you going to do about this conviction?
A. I’m gonna just do it. I called the bass player, and we’re going to jam at my place on Saturday. Paul’s 26 year old daughter, herself a singer-songwriter, is going to show up later on this morning with her guitar.
Q. Why does this seem strange to you? I mean, you’re a musician, right?
A. If you want the truth, the reason I feel so convicted is that it’s making me realize what a self-preoccupied egomaniac I have been throughout most of the past fifteen years. I’ve lived largely in my head, and not in the world of people. It started when I was — homeless. The world of people was too painful to face continually. So I developed my inner creative world to a new peak, in order to block out the pain of the world around me.
But now, in the world around me — at least in my immediate community — there is very little pain. Yet for over 3 1/2 years, I’ve persisted in living in my head. This will give me a chance to get out of my head, and do good things for others, for a change.
Q. And how does that make you feel?
A. It makes me feel good. Today is the first day in forever that my restless spirit has been at peace.
The Questioner is silent.
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(1) Thankful for the current mania, because I’m in good spirits and getting a lot accomplished.
(2) Thankful for the recent depression, because I got caught up on my sleep and gave my head a rest.
(3) Thankful that I am only mildly and not severely bipolar, because managing this disorder without medication has been both a challenge and a source of beauty in my life.
(4) When I contemplate how hugely I’ve been blessed, I almost feel guilty that I’m not doing my best to return the favor. But it’s a good feeling, a quasi-guilt, kinda more like a heartfelt conviction than a self-abnegation.
(5) Am really enjoying Ashley’s book. She writes very clearly and is obviously an expert on mental health conditions & the DSM-5.
(6) I’m being called upon by the people at the coffee house to subdue the erratic energies of the people from the recovery center next door, which I believe is impossible. However, what I’m grateful for is that someone would consider me mature and responsible enough to be in such a mediating position. Usually it’s my own energies that they want to subdue.
(7) I’m also being called upon to fill the shoes of my musician friend Paul, who passed away suddenly last month. A number of the younger musicians and even their parents are turning to me, because Paul was such a great mentor. While I don’t know that I can follow his act, it’s a good feeling to be thought of as someone who might.
(8) I’m starting to realize that all these things that I tend to perceive as “Mainstream Stress” — the kind of stress that broke me down in 2004 and landed me on the streets for 12 years — are better seen as marvelous opportunities for me to show my shine.
(9) “To whom much is given, much is expected.”
(10) I’m not too manic, I don’t think. Tears are happening, and they are cleansing. One day I believe God will wipe every tear from our eyes. There’s a lot of good in this Universe — we just gotta find it and do something with it. God is Good.
Please donateto Eden in Babylon. A little bit goes a long, long way.
Even after the Good Cop Bad Cop maneuver, only six out of twelve showed up on Friday’s rehearsal. That, on top of other factors, has caused me and Dave to make the decision cited in the email below:
We have come to the difficult decision to postpone our reading of Eden in Babylon. After a couple of weeks of cast fluctuations, some difficulty with scheduling and a hard look at our current workloads and available resources, it makes sense for us to step back to reduce the stress and to be sure to give this piece the attention it deserves. The hiatus will give us an opportunity to find additional collaborators to help us with logistics. And it will give Andy time to finish up the scoring and materials to help teach and learn the music most effectively.
At this point we don’t have a new target date for the reading. We’ll let you know as we know more. You’ll all be on our list when we get ready to put together a cast in the future.
Thank you all for the work you’ve done. We truly appreciate it. We will keep in touch as we look for the right time to do this show.
Dave and Andy
The wording is Dave’s after a lengthy discussion, and he and I are in agreement. Not only will this give me two months distance from a situation in which my overloaded, all-over-the-map semblance was promoting a loose and chaotic atmosphere, but it will clearly communicate to the Kids who have been screwing around that we mean business with this thing, and they can’t just take my kindness for weakness. A lot of the Street Kids were like that, too. They saw me as a pushover, and that shit’s gotta stop. The ones who are good know who they are. Their loyalty will be not be forgotten.
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