Fin in a Waste of Waters

"These moments of escape are not to be despised. They come too seldom....Leaning over this parapet I see far out a waste of water. A fin turns....I note under 'F.,' therefore, 'Fin in a waste of waters.' I, who am perpetually making notes in the margin of my mind for some final statement, make this mark, waiting for some winter's evening." (from Woolf's THE WAVES)

29 September 2006

Writing (about) music

Tonight, I am back up in London. Rasheed & I just got back from the BBC symphony orchestra - we saw them do Dvorak's Suite in A major, Jonathan Dove's Hojoki, An Account of My Hut (world premiere of it, beastly tenor [the music underneath was good, but the voice so distracting!], we won't talk any more about it), & finally, Beethoven's Symphony no. 3, "Eroica." All conducted by Jiri Belohlavek. Now that I've given proper credits...

It was stunning - but it is so hard to write (about) music; I can write painting or photography or sculpture or theatre - but music, I cannot write. It is perhaps the one thing for me that will not word itself (which likely explains my aversion to the Jonathan Dove piece - the narrative, completely unpoetic and borderline pedantic). And even listening to it, I listen to it visually. I notice all of the wrong things. This is what I "listened" to tonight:

The left hand of the conductor - flashing, lit up in just the right light, nearly as white as his cuff...

He didn't use a music stand on the Beethoven - maybe because he knew it so well? Plus, it gave him more room to get more into the music - he is one of those conductor's who gets bodily involved in the piece - arms waving, torso swooping and bending forward from the waist, shoulders hunching and suit bunching between them - when I saw him in profile, I saw that he mouthed the music, soft "b"s issuing from mute mumbling lips...

At one point, a stray clot of hair loosed itself from the wild gray-running-white bush from his head, maybe 3 or 4 strands thick, lit up by the light as it dropped to the floor past his rising falling arms...

And at one point, one of the moments I was so gripped by the music, and I smiled involuntarily, and the music drew my eyes and my whole attention to one point of the orchestra like it did again and again, and I caught sight of a violinist smiling that same involuntary, entirely pure sort of beam as he played...

And the woman behind him, young and blonde with a round face, also a violinist, soft pink flesh of her cheek folded onto the curve of the instrument, smiling again and again like that all throughout Beethoven, satisfied during the pauses, or completely unconsciously immersed in what she played...

A cellist, in concentration, pressing his tongue against the inside of his cheek...

And the first chair violinist - sweat sticking to the ends of his hair across his brow - sweat dark and wet and shining in the hair tucked behind his ears (while everyone else was dry; even the conductor had only a few drops across his forehead just above his eyebrows)...

And that same violinist, the curl of one single strand broken from his bow...

And the long knobbly knuckles of the bass player thumbing and finger-tipping and bowing with such long-limb'd ease.

I wanted a standing ovation tonight. I clapped and clapped while the sound of the clapping all around me thrilled something in my brain and I willed someone to stand up, to start it. Instead, I made eye contact with the first violinist - yes, we clap for you, I tried to make him understand, seeing his smile, the relieved smiles of the tongue-cellist and the joking between two other cellists as one readjusted the strap of her watch - this is my standing ovation - I clapped, pen still in hand, I will write for you.

1 Comments:

At 2:41 PM, Anonymous Holly said...

Music is a kind of magic that only happens to those that can truly feel it, and clearly, you have. Beautifully written. Next time, be the first to stand....or perhaps the only to stand. If there is an ovation in your heart, live it.

 

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