Friday, August 21, 2009

Lullaby Of The Wing

For those who are as sleepy as I am, a lullaby...

Close your eyes now
you will know how
to find your way.
You don't have to
see your way through
the darkness to dream.

Go to sleep then
you will know when
to come back here.
Little traveler
you'll remember
each one of your dreams.

Drift away now
you will know how
to fly up high,
little feather
lifted ever
on the wing of dreams.

close your eyes
sleep's not far
close your eyes
to dream 

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Time It Takes

It was brought to my attention one day, that there were people who had not experienced playing a musical instrument, or experienced listening and dancing to live music made by people playing instruments, nor did they know what it was like to have or to hold something made just for them by hand - some of them, not even homemade food. Many people on the planet today in what was once thought to be the privileged world, live in fast paced surroundings with no time for any of the above. No time. When there is no time for something, that something becomes diminished in importance. Everyone knows how that feels.
So, I made dolls from antique fabrics edged in lace that had been knotted from tiny strings - tiny strips of lace that took years to learn how to make, months to complete. Did you know that of all the things machines can do, machines cannot tie a knot? I used fine spun cashmere and silk yarn I myself had spun for the dolls' hair. Everything I could find that I used for the dolls' garments was as close to handmade as could be. Even some of the fabrics were hand woven. And when the fabric was not, I hand stitched beads and colored threads to the finished garments. I made these dolls in the hopes a child would be given one and know what it felt like to have and to hold something handmade - and most all of the dolls were given to children.  I also made fruit from colored velvets - golden apples, red strawberries, and green pears. This all took time, but not as much time as it would have taken 100 years ago.

Today, the time it takes to learn a musical instrument remains the same as it did 1,000 years ago.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Remembering With Our Hands

When I embroider on velvet, it's the silk ribbons, the thread and beads and where the needle pierces the fabric that I pay attention to. Yet, while I am embroidering, it is that which I cannot see which comes to my mind and I begin to remember.

I remember my grandmother carefully teaching me how to thread the needle and draw the colored threads through the fabric so it will not pucker - all the while telling me stories such as how her mother divorced her father, moved to San Francisco and set up a tailoring shop in Union Square "when women did not do those things".  And I remember other stories of women too, for sewing is more apt to invoke images of women than of men.

It's tricky, this kind of remembering. All these closely stitched threads intertwined into tapestries which are not unlike the unending ripples caused by stones dropped in ponds. The surface patterns and the ripples distract. It's the backside of the fabric and the stone itself I am interested in - the stories themselves, the stories we hold in our hands when we do something like incline our heads, take up a needle and a strand of thread, lay it down and fasten it to the fabric as women, mostly women, have done for aeons in all kinds of worlds for all kinds of reasons.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

The History Of Moonstones

...and other earthly events.

When moon turned blue over the word "Lunatic!" 
and sun reigned oblivious to earth's dark side, 
dragon, in disgust over the word "Mythical!" 
left sky, went to ocean. 
There now drifts 
alone in sleep.

Moonstones were before that time.

Or, they could be dragon's tears,
molten droplets upon cold waters 
when dragon turned for one last look 
at the beautiful Luna 
over its left shoulder 
as it dove into the sea.

Or, they might be moon pebbles 
tossed by Luna 
to rouse her friend 
from the deep.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sitars And Guitars

They're weary of it, sick of it, leaning in the corner, sitars and guitars, tired of it all. Waiting it out. Tired of the politics, weary of the fighting, sick of the worrying, the wondering what's coming on next. Maybe soon they'll get tired of the tiredness, the worrying, the fighting and the politics. Maybe they'll get restless from waiting quietly in the corner, waiting till someone, anyone, can agree on something and maybe they'll just start playing whatever they feel like playing. Maybe. Maybe. I wonder what song they will play?


Thursday, August 6, 2009

SambAmore's Wedding Drums

It rained last night but now it's a good day for a wedding in the sun on the beach in the sand and surf. The large rock behind us protects us from the wind. Now, on to the the Hall to listen to music and eat, drink, and enjoy the company of friends some of whom have been away for the past few years. They will be here for a few days, then go away again.

It's a good day for a wedding in a good place to drum

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Locrian Mode

There - the B key, the second white key from the left - is where you would begin if you were to play the Locrian mode in B on the piano. That's all the white keys beginning with B natural. As I understand it, if you start at B, when you go from E to F, you are going a half step rather than a whole step and thereby hitting a flat fifth (or augmented fourth. Also, flat fifth is more fun to say than diminished) and if you made a chord out of B, D, and F you would be playing a tritone and this is something you simply would not have done in the 1400's because you would stand accused of creating dissonance and dissonance was not okay in the 1400's in those places considered part of Western civilization, also known as the Middle Ages, for they believed dissonance belonged to the devil and thus the Lochrian mode notorious for its tritone, was called evil.

However, this 'diabolus in musica' wouldn't have been played on the piano in the 1400's. There were no pianos yet. They may have had hurdy gurdys. Perhaps it was the lutists who were strumming chords with a flat fifthe until they were chastised severely.  By the way, when talking about western music it is important to remember that what we're talking about is only western music, not all music.

Many things were condemned as belonging to the devil back in that day. Astronomy and astronomers fared far worse than music and musicians in the realms of blasphemy though this ocurred long before the middle ages and well into the Renaissance, the 1600's (which wasn't always the rosy era it's occasionally made out to be). After that, about 300 years later and again in the west, the devil stood to blame for the Blues, Jazz, and Rock 'n' Roll without much ado about astronomy or the Locrian mode.

Recent discussions about the Locrian mode involve whether or not it truly exists or if its importance only exists in theory, or to state that its tonic chord, the flat fifth, is unstable and seeks resolution, that it cannot exist without something else to build upon. From the devil to dismissal, for centuries, theoreticians of all kinds have tossed out the Locrian mode and occasionally music other than western along with it.

Taken in this light, the Locrian mode is extremely poetic. And, considered visually on the piano as described and pictured above, its dastardly and diminished flat fifth'ed tritone is in perfect balance. It has the white D key in the center, a black key to each of the D's sides and white keys to either side of each of the two black keys.