This weekend will mark six months since I started this blog. I set a commitment for myself that I would give an honest effort for six months to see how it goes. See if I had anything worth saying. If I had time to keep up the effort. If I still found it interesting to do after this length of time. Would anyone read it? Would anyone read it more than once? Most of all, could I actually come up with anything to say that might give someone enough interest to listen to some music they hadn’t heard before.
So here we are, 45 posts later with about 3500 page views total. I think at least half of those page views are probably me looking at my own blog to see how it turned out. I am surprised at how international blogging on WordPress really is, with my page having visitors from over 35 countries. Music from Schubert to Sun-Ra, and Scriabin to Sonny Rollins has appeared on Good Music Speaks. The word that usually describes a group of stuff that doesn’t go together is eclectic, but for me, all this music actually does go together because it is GOOD music.
I suppose I still have some more things to say. Some of my favorites like Alban Berg, Bela Bartok and Gustav Mahler haven’t even been touched upon yet. Likewise, my idols Satchmo, Dizzy, and Bird are yet to show up. Opera has only appeared once, and the Blues only a few more times than that. What I find most surprising are some of the things I have learned about myself in the process of writing. I guess that makes this a worthwhile endeavor, even if no one else reads it. Writing must fill some need on my Maslow chart.
One thing I already knew about myself, and that writing this blog has confirmed, is that I have a large propensity to analyze things. If something gets my attention, I usually start trying to figure it out. This sometimes gets in the way of trying to compose music, as I am still looking for ways to justify each note to my professor as I write it. I’m not saying this is a desirable quality to emulate, it’s just a part of my make up. I blame the German DNA of my ancestors.
I think my teacher (Hollingsworth) saw this in me and tried to show me a different way with a lesson on Erik Satie (1866-1925). Satie was a French composer and pianist associated with the avant-garde of early twentieth century Paris. He was an odd man, full of humor and eccentricities who delighted in the absurd. He drank absinthe, never married and biographers are aware of only one intimate relationship in his lifetime. His music defies analysis. Satie would stick his tongue out at anyone who tried. The French aesthetic is very different from the German aesthetic, which is why one seeks out German engineering, but French fashion.
The example I was given was Satie’s Trois Gymnopedies. It is possible to sit down and label the chords, count the measures, and study the notes of the melodies, but you miss the point of the music entirely. The pieces just flow and ruminate. You have to just go with the flow, and not worry about where it might lead. The music needs to just be, and the listener should be in the moment with it.
Oddly enough, I’ve always been attracted to those things in life that are free-spirited and can go with the flow. I guess it’s an “opposites attract” sort of theme, but I long sometimes to go through the day without a watch, travel without a map, and go with the flow without knowing where the destination is. Let go of my grand plan (which the world isn’t following anyway!), and find a way to ruminate like Satie’s piano pieces. Spend time skipping stones on the surface of the water of one of the Great Lakes, instead of playing chess. I can’t give up the chess entirely though, because I’m kinda good at it! 🙂