Category Archives: Music

Bonfire on the Beach

1

It was twilight.  The sea embraced the sun and our last fling

ere August passed away.

We combed the beach

(we five now scattered as the shells)

and gathered driftwood for the night

like the bone-white sand dollars  shorn of their beauty

we had earlier gathered.

Strange

how driftwood is renewed

between bonfires.

We bore the sea-bleached wood like jewels

(they once were jade-green jewels

In forests far away)

to the ragged pit we’d hastily scooped.

2

I, the fire-master,

gathered up the orts that quickly flared,

added larger bits and then a log or two.  Then we,

like the parents of our race,

looked up into the sky to catch each star’s

arrival.

We sang.

We danced

to crashing waves

and a coffee can turned into a drum.

In the fire’s flicker our faces changed

and all our ancient ancestors peered out of our eyes

sang out our throats.

3

Then came the clouds and rain and all was as

when  man first peered out of a tree

upon a glorious storm in Eden’s lost grandeur.

We embraced the rain

racing waves like sanderlings

yet coming back again

and yet again

unto our tribal fire.

 4

And now, we five,

scattered as the shells we gathered then,

our past the shell I now display

shorn of all its beauty.

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Filed under dance, Music, Poetry, The Ocean

Details

Memorization has never been my strong suit.  I had spent six months just memorizing two short pieces–Handel’s E minor Sonata and the C-sharp minor Piano Prelude by Rachmaninoff for one of my college recitals.  At last the day had arrived and I was finally ready to play these pieces by memory.  I would play the Handel sonata on the harpsichord, then I would move to the concert grand Steinway for the prelude.

I was a romantic when it came to music and Rachmaninoff was a brilliant composer of the romantic style.  This prelude began with both hands playing descending octaves.  Then came three full chords, each hand overlapping the other, alternating the overlapping between each chord.  From there the music exploded into alternating octave passages and multiple overlapping chords.  The brooding mood of the opening measures then moved into rapid triplets before coming to a grand, dramatic finale.  I would be in my element.

Like the Romantic musicians of old, I was also enamored with Baroque music.  My love of classical music dates to my hearing J. S. Bach’s First Brandenburg Concerto.  Thus my choice of the Handel Sonata, with its onslaught of rapid and glorious polyphony, which would complete my romantic approach to this recital.

I played the Sonata flawlessly, relishing the plucked notes of the harpsichord.  I rose, took my bows, and moved to the piano.

I should have checked the piano before sitting down to play.  The instrument had been wheeled in and a heavy, metal piano bench with padded seat had been set in front of it.  I sat down, adjusting the bench, while moving mentally from the Baroque to the Romantic era.  I began to play.

The soft, brooding octaves rose to the audience’s ears.  The three full chords moved into the second set of brooding octaves, with the dynamics growing over the next set of full chords.  The next set of octaves and full chords came, each stroke growing louder.  Than then, reaching fortissimo, the piano rolled away from me.

The piano movers, setting up for the recital, had failed to lock its wheels.  What followed happened in only a moment.

I considered my options.  On my piano at home I had learned how to hook my left leg around one of the piano bench legs and with a single motion, pull it closer to the piano.  But this bench was far heavier, and when I had moved it as I first sat down, the metal legs had made a loud screeching sound.  I abandoned that idea.

I could also slide easily over the smooth wooden surface of my piano bench at home.  But this bench had a padded leather seat.  Sliding to get closer was not an option.

While the piano had rolled away from me, it had not rolled beyond my reach.  Leaning forward in imitation of Glenn Gould, I continued playing.  And as I played, I dug my fingers into the keys as if I could pull the instrument closer.  Fortunately, I didn’t miss a beat, a note, or my outward composure.  I was aware, however, of a buzz through the audience and of the sudden intensity of my professors concentrating on how I was handling this situation.

As the final chord ended my part of the recital, I vowed the next time I played a piano mounted on wheels, I would personally check them to be sure they were locked.  The devil may be in the details, but he surely was in those wheels.

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Filed under Essay, Humor, Music

These Dancing Days

I never thought that time would pass so soon.  I never dreamed that I could grow so old.

I never thought—for I was such an awkward, dreaming child.

So who is that I see within the mirror, the stranger who is staring back at me,

And how could all the things that I had planned yet not be done?

Yet I will not despair, and I will celebrate the gift of life that was given me.

So I will dance for you and hope you’ll dance along until my dancing days are done.

 

I will not be held captive by despair.  I will not listen to the voice of fear.

I’ll look to find the beauty hiding in each gloomy day.

Though others say that I am so naïve and that I’m acting oh, so foolishly,

I will not let my heart be swayed by what another thinks.

Yes, I will not give up, and I will hold onto this joy that comes from the heart of God.

And I will celebrate with every step I take until my dancing days are done.

 

So as I’m walking on this downward slope from which I know I never shall return,

I never will complain for there is much yet I can do.

And if I fall, I’ll struggle right back up.  I’ll hobble on, or crawl if crawl I must,

And I will sing for joy that I can still keep crawling on.

So I will sing my song and I hope you’ll sing along in beautiful, sweet harmony.

Yes, I will dance with you a joyous pas de deux until my dancing days are done.

 

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Filed under dance, Music, Poetry

On Listening to Brandenburg Concert #1

It is–Yes–these notes in their stridency,
“Oh, God,” my heart cried out, “these notes
are true, else all the world’s a lie.”
These notes and the swirl of a hundred more
from a heart that cried for God, for light,
for truth. I wept at the purity
of thoughts I grasped yet no words can tell.

The clock was hushed and the world was stilled
just these notes that spoke as my heart grew wise
across the years. Heart spoke to heart.
These notes, oh Yes, in their stridency
these notes baptised my creativity.
Though their bows are still and their reeds laid by,
still their echo sings and my heart still cries.

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Filed under Music, Poetry