The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

April 17, 2006

Sarah Bernhardt

From the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project. Bernhardt has
always been an inspiration and influence; I'd heard Phedre (also available
at the site) a number of times - but not these - which sound so much like
Noh for example; I was completely unprepared for them. A while ago I put
up a mechanical pump organ from the mid-1800s; this was a music box with
reeds working on the same principles as the parlor organ. And again I was
surprised. It's rare to be able to hear voices across a century and more,
and rarer to be exposed to their power. These recordings are some of the
most interesting works I've come across in a while, even though I can only
understand part of the text.

Best yet, we can use any of the cylinders for our own work - I can hear
Sarah B. in Los Angeles now -

- Alan

All I can do -

Please go to

Guitar is all I can do. Everything else is talk, concept, ideation. Guitar
is labor/energy. Guitar is skill. I wanted to be the fastest guitar player
in the world. I learned the chords digital-style, sort [chord], a b c d e
f g a7 b7 c7 etc. I practiced speed. I practiced speed all the time. The
forms began to come. I slept through the harmony melody. I went after the
forms. Nothing was too fast. I wanted more than twenty-two notes/second. I
didn't want to cheat. I'd didn't want to cheat myself. I wanted it there,
what my hands, wrist, fingers, were doing. I wanted to play faster than I
could think. I wanted to trip over myself, catch up with myself. I caught
up with myself. I added chords. I subtracted them. I did chords. Then
music sped out of my control. I abjure myself. I forgive myself. I
couldn't follow it. I couldn't do anything. It surrounded me. It held me
in thrall. We didn't speak through each other. We didn't speak to each
other. I played faster. I surprised myself. I kept surprising myself. I
forgot theory. I forgot speech. I did this for you, baby-bounce. I did
this for you.

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