The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

June 26, 2014

Atavistic Virtuosity, Pleynt of

*/On the other hand, another great review of Avatar Woman -

Recently I've realized that what I do musically - playing varied
acoustic instruments (mainly bowed/plucked strings, etc.) - is a
useless skill; it's not even a question of whether the music is
'good' or not, however defined. I have to constantly repair
things, practice daily, record almost daily, put the results
online (or no one will hear them), etc. The instruments creak at
night; humidity and temperature get to them. No one is really
interested in the stuff and I'm working, I realized, from an
older model of music/sound production where virtuosity (think
Bird, Segovia, Bailey) was rewarded or admired, where this sort
of music mattered, at least to a small audience. Now I sit here
in my room (in much the same position that my hateful father
sat, reading away), playing music without purpose; for me, an
audience has always been critical, part of a sonic community (to
borrow from Jackson Moore) that cared about these things, that
embedded these things in a living and vibrant culture. Obviously
that's no longer the case. I keep thinking for example I should
get rid of my instruments, except for a guitar, qin, and oud,
and let what I've considered 'the practice' go. What else is
there to do? Working in a discarded medium places me on the edge
of sanity, as if I found it valuable to work on trigonometic
proofs - within a field or domain already closed. Now I have to
think, how to trade these in? For what? What to do? None of this
is valued in Providence of course; it's valued in NY, which
brings up the interesting situation what I'd have to be able to
move back to the city for a kind of semantics to right itself,
albeit at the mercy of a class we can't afford to buy into.
Already I have gigabytes of music/sound up at the ESPdisk site,
as well as my own website - the latter is commercial and will of
course disappear, and the former will probably not last that
long as well. Then what? The air burns, the instruments are
silent. I'd return them to their native countries, if I could;
in the meantime it feels as if my own talent, such as it is or
isn't, burns as well.

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