The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

August 8, 2015

Sterling 19th-century banjo in a myna mynor key

when I play I'm always trying to extend my abilities, try
something new until I've exhausted it. here, the banjo is tuned
to a minor key, and because of the instability of the minor
(hence myna bird, mimic, new languages), especially around the
third, I can move freely and quickly through different episodes,
structures that come and go; towards the end of the pieces,
tunes appear and disappear, almost but not quite dance music.
it's hard to keep track of the structures, especially since the
way I play involves fast runs up and down the neck, which brings
muscle memory constantly into play - where have I been, where am
I going? and these are general questions of course, for which
the instrument becomes a chora or microcosm of potential and
ultimate stasis, only here, within the playing, there's still
quick thinking and a bit of time on the planet.

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