The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

December 19, 2010


recording today 8-10 hours (saturday)

virtuosity is useless today.
we're all player pianos.
my instruments go out of tune with the slightest change of humidity or
temperature.
my instruments go out of style.
there's nothing electric running in them except for electroweak forces.
their molecules might be anywhere.
their history might be anywhere.
i practice and practice an utterly useless art.
i can't dial in scales or cents; i have to run with the flow.
my fingers search, endlessly, for perfect consonance or dissonance.
everything is dissonance; perfect consonance is impossible.
welcome to the world of catastrophic balance.
my fingers pay no attention, tightening and loosening wires.
this doesn't come easy; it comes with several hours lost in the day.
these are lost hours; they do nothing for me.
for you at best they retain a sense of the antiquarian.
one second of nikuko, julu, or jennifer is worth more than weeks of
hand-played musical noise.
right now the instruments are precariously balanced on the stairs.
they're waiting for the trip to the recording studio.
it's cold out and they'll go out of tune on the way.
they're uselessly demanding.
there's nothing to do but heed them.
i'll be the worst last virtuoso, wait and see.

(sunday)

we completed 2.9 hours of final work, 29 pieces, not that many.
i played electric saz, acoustic-electric oud, solid-body oud, violin,
viola, chromatic harmonica, classical guitar, acoustic-electric guitar,
ukulele, cura cumbus, ghuzeng, alpine zither, and pipa. helena played 3/4
size cello throughout, azure sang 12 songs. we began at 11 am and ended at
9 pm. joel was our engineer. everything was duet with helena, most often
trio with azure, with one solo classical guitar piece. joel loaned me his
erhu, perhaps for next time. the studio was warm and my fingers are fine,
a surprise, even the nails are ok. the acoustic- electric oud began wildly
out of tune; the d-string on the pipa kept slipping (so i ended one piece
avoiding it). we'll have one vinyl from firemuseum, and possible another
recording from yet another company. i'm leaving a loose trail of finger
motions behind. when i'm dead there'll be this record. music is my avatar,
my useless useless avatar.

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