The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

November 2, 2013


I'm not writing this for sympathy; I've come to a realization
about my music, that I've failed at it for the second time - the
first was when I played music in the 60s (although the records
were re-released several times). What I wrote on Facebook -

thinking of quitting music, the cds we're doing are having a
hard time coming out, there's almost no audience for the stuff
i'm putting online, less in providence, i sit here and practice
by myself for no reason at all. we're playing in brooklyn in a
couple of weeks and the logistics are costing a fortune and are
otherwise horrendous. and there's too many instruments, too much
fakery on my part. i could sell or trade everything off except
for the shakuhachi and guitar. providence is a good place to
think about this stuff; my music feels like suicide...

The specifics - having to pay for one of my releases, and the
other dragged down by the recording company director; having
very small audiences when we play; having to pay far too much
for an upcoming gig in NY - my fault since I play numerous
instruments and they're hard to move around; having to practice
by myself constantly without really having a reason to do it;
feeling isolated and hiding behind rare instruments; feeling a
bit of a fake when it comes to musical knowledge and ability to
hear intervals correctly; feeling more of a fake when I play
fretless instruments, always desperately looking for consonance;
having to repair and research instruments; feeling like a freak
just like I did originally in Providence when I was at Brown
University; feeling exhausted having to push myself constantly,
by myself, over and over again; and other biographical issues
not related to music - feeling forced to leave New York,
stressed and depressed from a thirteen-month unsuccessful co-op
search in the city; coming down with various illnesses; kicking
anxiety drugs; missing the energy of the city; dealing with way
over 90-decibel noise on occasion from the bar next door; just
growing old and not wanting to start over yet again. So yes,
this is whining, I've invested so much in these instruments and
the music I can do, on occasion, on them, but there's no deep
interest in this stuff, I may be between Fahey and Bailey on a
good day but physical improvisation doesn't matter in a digital
era when anyone can dial in anything. I've been interested in
'coming up' against or through an instrument, but this doesn't
carry over to people actually listening to the results.

I have to make a decision here in the next few weeks, the gig
with ESP-Disk in NY won't change anything, I'll probably sound
exhausted. And the money just keeps leaking out; I feel I'm on
drugs, that it's a question of addiction, that I can't afford
financially or physically any longer...

This is why my music and writing have been screwed up, abrupt,
neuroticized more than usual, if that's possible, this hatred of
slow suicide, of playing at a hobby I've never been good at.

I'm not asking for comments btw, I've got to figure this out
myself, I can always hide out in a virtual world or clever text
(which this isn't)...

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