Saturday, June 30, 2012

HIATUS? PERHAPS: Music-life...Life-music...

       So, it’s six degrees of everything in my life these days.  I’ve met and begun to work on my record with an incredible pianist named Mike Garson. Yesterday, at the end of our conversation (and without knowing anything about my blog) he spontaneously said he was going to send me his own recently recorded tribute to Rachmaninoff as a possible interlude for the record...which reconnected me to blogging and the desire to write about my journey as an artist.  It is strange to post this and see the last date of entry, reflecting how time passes like a wisp while you are deep in it.  I will fill you in posthumously, lest these six months go unmentioned, so much has happened in regards to my musical journey.  For now, back to Mike Garson and present day...
         Talking with him about music, has thus far, meant talking about life.  Music-life.  Life-music.  I can just hear him say, and me agree, that we are the music and the music is us.  There is no separation of the two.  Yep, that’s the scary part!  But also, it’s the experience I am wanting more than ever to expand on, to know when it’s said and done I moved more completely to that state of being, that authenticity.
         We also talked about the reality that to find a truth you often must go through a thousand lies.  I want to stay centered and true.  Be me.  Sing me.  Allow myself to be revealed, rather than forcing an idea of who I am or want to be.  Because let’s face it, I certainly could list a few people I’d like to be, and therein lies the trouble.  I am not them, and the lies of that comparison would kill my dream.  These are the looming clouds of thoughts I sometimes find myself under that lead me to doubt and disturbance.  They are the lies my own shadow tells me.  A thousand shadows to get to the light.
        This brings me to ponder layers of sound.  Now, more than ever there can be layer upon layer of sound.  When does one stop?  When is it done?   Beware, I say to myself, of falsely believing a sound is there to elevate the song.  Rather pause and ask, am I craving it or creating it to hide that I can only be partially seen under a veil of sound.
        The question of whether I actually know myself, let alone what I’d like to say, has been riding shotgun in my life these last couple days.  And by that I actually mean, that that question is being held to my head by my own deceitful fears like a loaded gun.
        In talking with Mike last night, I have been drawn out of that rabbit hole and into a new realm.  Amazing what a difference it can make when someone you instinctively feel you can trust tells you it’s ok to say “I don’t know!”
        What’s funny, is that it actually isn’t as if I don’t understand’s just, well, like a broken record in my head...sometimes you just need someone to shift the needle to stop the skipping.
        Do I know myself?  That’s the beauty of the journey!  We both agreed, it can also be a scary part of the process, the art; whatever you want to call it.  It’s what being an artist demands.  Sometimes it feels like walking through hell, like darkness, or actually, like being invisible to myself.  Others are talking, listening, having an experience of me but I am in a self-built house of mirrors and cannot see!
        I spent today in my favorite place...the place that feels like poetry.  All my thoughts had an antique, comfortable song to them.  I spoke with friends who like to use words too.  I was reminded how much I love words, poems, films, songs, ideas, painting...ah yes, painting...
        To close I’ll share this, on my birthday I was excited to see the documentary on Gerhard Richter.  To see the process he goes through in creating a painting, hoping to feed my own coffers of reference and inspiration.  He begins.  A blank canvas.  Colors in bold patches set the tone.  Slowly sliding his glass over the colors, with consideration but without expectation.  Again more color, more sliding the glass creating new lines and images.  Pausing.  Getting a sense for it, for where the piece is headed.  More of the same.  And then...stop...he is stuck.  Frustrated actually.  The piece is not indicating it’s finished but he has no inclination of which way to go.  He steps away for a day or so.  He returns.  White!  The entire piece is then covered over with white!  All those colors glimmering under white.  It’s beautiful, perfect and complete!
        I sat in the theater, in awe, anxiously on the edge of my seat.  How could he do that?!  Realizing the trust he must have in himself, no, not in himself, in the art!
        May I endeavor to allow my songs to be white if they so choose!

Listened to whilst writing (amongst others)
Concerto No. 2 in C Minor for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 18: II. Adagio Sostenuto

Friday, January 20, 2012


     In the final, yet least suspected blow, I watched two documentaries (which I would highly recommend, see below) one about the life of Beethoven and the other a detailed, enthralling view into the making of a Steinway.  I watched in awe.  How amazing and divine, almost super human the music of Beethoven was.  How could he write that music?  Piano Concerto No. 14 and so many others.  The other film, such beauty in the making of a gorgeous instrument; a Steinway piano.  Ahh, during this documentary all the brilliant pianists running their fingers along the keys like air.  
     In retrospect I can see I had two minds whilst watching.  One in total awe, reveling in the joy, the music, the wood, the craftsmanship and the everyday people whose lives had happened upon this path of becoming craftsmen in their one piece of the Steinway puzzle.  The other mind, slowly building the dreamy yet dreaded ‘what if’...what if I could play like that?  What if I hadn’t quit?  Look at how amazing they are, how they understand the instrument.  I’m so far away from that, I’ll never get there...yep, you know me a bit by now...that old, dark voice.  When given just the smallest crack in my guard, slips into my mind and consumes me.  Sabotage complete.
         I didn’t intend to fall off track and into the abyss.  It started slowly, yes, I had these little annoyances, these little moments but I was still committed.  However, by now my Saboteur knows me well enough to be more cunning than just stopping the flow all at once.  No, that would be too obvious to my acute awareness of it’s ways and thus never work.  It must close the valve slowly so that I don’t notice until it’s too late. 
         Thus, all those elements I told you about happened and little by little I lost my inspiration.  Lost my desire.  Torture bled into Destruction. 
Destruction Phase 1-no writing at all as weeks pass.
Destruction Phase 2-behaving like the crazy girl from my youth rather than the woman I am becoming.
Destruction Phase 3-taking a ‘day’ off of piano practice and letting it bleed into way too many days to speak of (after all, my Maestro might read this!)
         I felt terribly frightened that I again was failing at something I set out to do.  And I felt alone and misunderstood in both matters of the heart and of human being.  It got dark, I will not lie.  The shadow of regret was on me like a blanket now.  Layer upon layer, not only the elements I’ve shared but the infinite sub-particles each of those elements creates.  A spiderweb of fears.  I didn’t want to quit but I wondered if I’d have the strength to get up and play!  Get up and live! 
         It seems strength lies waiting for me to call on it.  Hoping I will call on it.  For here I am; I am still writing, I am still pining some, I am still playing and I will still love.  There lies strength underneath this rock of woe.  The rock I used to pin me down with heaviness of thoughts.  Thinking is no stranger to me but I am done thinking for now and will just roll on. 

Documentaries: (both viewable on Netflix Instant Play)
In Search of Beethoven
Note by Note

Song While Writing: (click on song to link)
Daniel Barenboim plays:

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


         I have been remiss.  I have thought of writing many times.  I have begged to a voiceless sky to feel inspired.  I have been in a sort of tornado of self-destruct.  It’s difficult now to go back and retell what it was like while in it, but I will try.
         Here’s what I remember...
         I remember being so alive in the process of writing these entries.  Sharing my experience and hearing that it had in turn inspired you.  I remember feeling like I can do 'this' and wherever it might lead in the end would be enough.  The journey is enough.   I felt the inspiration to write as deeply as I felt the inspiration to play.  I wanted to write you everyday!  And then I remember the thought that decided writing everyday was too much and would overwhelm you and who am I to share everyday like that?  So, innocently I decided to limit my entries to once a week.  Note the official stopping of flow, dressed in a faux-logical costume of usual mind chatter!  For it has been many weeks since I’ve written and I have been the worse for it.  Sabotage Phase 1 complete.
         Whilst I had decided not to write too much, interesting other things happened.  Things which contributed to this perfect storm of said self-destructing tornado.  Not least of them being the all too familiar, saboteur tactic of becoming enthralled with an utterly emotionally unavailable man.  Perhaps I should write an entry titled “Sleeping with an Unavailable Man Will Break Your Heart”...perhaps, I will.  Well, wait, heartbreak is a bit strong.  I’d like to be more clear and honest here, he didn’t break my heart, in fact, if anything I broke my own heart.  Life, after all, is often a mirror of that which lies under the surface of my psyche.  I could’ve known better had I wanted to but, well...this is evidence of the dreamy me, the one with the fiery passion that wants to ‘become the music’ and break all the rules.  The one that quite possibly views stability as death by boredom.  The creator of the revolving door of men who show up in one way, for one thing.  Keeping me distracted just enough.  While I am left trying to reconcile how it could be over before it really even began and that maybe, the tender kiss he placed on my neck that felt so sweet was simply that, and meant nothing more.  
         I am reminded of the power of self-deception.  There is no void that can be filled by anyone other than Self.  
         Sabotage Phase 2 complete.  
         Stiff upper cut...

Songs While Writing: (click on songs to link)
Billie Holiday