29 September 2008

Does music really express that which is beyond words? (At least music of the Wagnerian brand.) Or simply that which is beside words, but which does not supersede them?

27 September 2008


Easy as it is to dismiss my former hometown, there are definitely things I miss about it. Not about living there, but the delightful parts of living there. Most of these aspects of Rochester have their corollaries here, but to my surprise that doesn't make them replaceable. Most of all, of course, I miss the organ culture. That can hardly be replaced anywhere.

24 September 2008

walking the tightrope

In the closing scne of the film Still Life, the protagonist and he alone notices a tightrope walker crossing from one ramshackle building to another in a town being "deconstructed" for the filling of the Three Gorges in China. I am starting to realize that I can understand my own path into music as a tightrope walk.

While at Eastman, I struggled to retain a sense of purpose and meaning as I made music without having the opportunity to contemplate what music meant or its place in society. Without reference to a context, music-making began to seem purposeless. As a musicology student, I now struggle with the meaning of music and its place in society on a daily basis. And yet I have not been satisfied over the past weeks because this struggle has left little time for performance. No longer an onerous chore, sitting down to learn new repertoire has become as mind-clearing and salutary as a long bike ride.

So musicology loses its meaning without performance and vice versa. And yet it's a tremendous challenge to excel at both. I'm giving myself ample time to learn the walk, but I have to find a balance before I stumble.

16 September 2008

random maliciousness

The 30-lb package of carillon monographs and sheet music and CDs and the almost-complete Klok en Klepel that I so lovingly assembled over the course of several days at the WCF Congress, squandering many Euros on knowing that I would never find these items in the US, and struggling with twice across many blocks in hot weather barely able to carry the weight, arrived.

And at least half of it was gone.

On top of the sorry-looking pile was a paperback book about the Old Testament that I had not purchased.

Perhaps I should not have let the package remain at the Daly City post office for over a week, but it was hardly possible to make it there earlier. Are my carillon books and magazines and CDs still there? Or at some central USPS processing office? Who in the world would find Dutch literature on the history of the carillon so morally repugnant that they would send me a morally repugnant message of their own -- in the form of an interpretation of the Old Testament from Southern Evangelical Seminary?

I waited years to find these items and fully intended to use them for my dissertation writing. Now I will have to wait years (certainly after I've started my writing) to buy them again. Unbelievable.

Some zealous Christian (an American one, I might add, looking at the imprint of this "gift" of a book) may fail to understand his/her disappointing reward in the afterlife for efforts such as these. Should I feel sorry for myself or for the perpetrator of this misdeed? Where do I find the energy to practice carillon this evening after this hoax of a betrayal by a total stranger? All that music I was going to learn, all that knowledge I was hoping to synthesize... gone. Senselessly.

One can hardly imagine a more absurd fate for carillon books.

04 September 2008

Biking to the Berkeley Bowl at noon, I was struck by what a Californian day it was and how Californian my surroundings were, as both are aspects of life here I no longer take for granted. The dry heat, the open sky, the rolling golden hills framing it all -- I found myself experiencing the state as one thinks of it beyond the borders of that peculiar entity of San Francisco. Sitting in the garden each day eating lunch in the warm sun is perhaps the very best part of it.