Last weekend my hard drive crashed. The holidays zoomed up with a vengeance. I realized I was way stressed out.
So instead of ‘practicing’ my harp, I just sat down and played. Slowly, no agenda, nothing to prove – I just started playing. And I could feel the stress slide off the inside of my chest.
I started wondering if other people would have the same reaction if I just sat down and played and recorded – not an album, not a ‘song,’ but just playing to play – opening a small window into a musical moment that’s meant to mean nothing but just being there.
And I figured this was as good a time as any to try that experiment. And to share it with you.
Must admit it kind of stressed me out to think of sharing it … and I looked tense but, as I tell the performers I coach: embrace imperfect completion. Just make the connection. Get it it of you. Share it … and then just do it again.
So let the experiment begin! And let it begin here in this blog where I’ve posted the first of the “DHC State ‘o Zen” recordings below – a little window into a musical moment that’s only what it is and nothing more.
And if this window helps zen your state, why that’s a lovely thing.
And for all you folks in the U S of A: Happy Thanksgiving! May your holiday be stressless and joyful.
DHC (Thanksgiving Eve 2014 / 11-26-14)
State o’ Zen #1
Wed. Nov. 26 at 12:30 pm
(This is posted on Vimeo)
State o’ Zen #2
Wed. Nov. 26 at 4:02 pm
(I posted this one on YouTube … interesting that it’s smaller)
State o’ Zen #3
Wed. Nov. 26 at 4:16 pm
And now …. I’m hungry …
State o’ Zen #4
Wed. Nov. 26 at 7:20 pm
State o’ Zen #5
Wed. Nov. 26 at 8:12 pm
Beginning to wonder at what point I would repeat ideas – or have I already. How many ideas do I have.
Decided to set another tuning and see what it brings up. My harp’s tuned in Ab normally. I raised Cs, Bs and Gs and then played with an anchor on the Ab string. But I wanted some kind of contrast – a place to go away to so I could come back.
I tried the Db, then lowered the G levers and had what I wanted – a sense of a different place.
Noticed I liked something about the first figure – the amorphous sense of movement. Thought: no, this is no way a ‘melody’ but it is a place to return to.
So now I am not playing completely without agenda. At the moment I am playing with ideas. The first is a tuning, an anchor note of Ab, and an amorphous, open-sounding shift of not-really-shifting harmony, built of open shifting 4ths.
The second is a shift of tone, lowering the Gs to G naturals — and a different configuration of strings – in this they’re piled in 3rds instead of open 4ths-5ths.
And then back to the first idea.
Also notice I’m looking a little more tense. Was it the chips I ate? Or the obligations I’m avoiding? Or am I now trying too hard to make these ‘interesting’?
State o’ Zen #6
Thu. Nov. 27 at 12:58 AM
I decided to try one more before bed, and to go back to the idea I was working on earlier, but I was too lazy to open up the blog again and see how I’d set my levers. This time I just raised the C’s and G’s. I began with the same idea as #5, but then I experimented with bending the bassnotes into the harmonies I wanted, lowering the G levers because I liked the dissonance and floating into a watery section, glissing over the strings with my right hand and playing harmonics with my left,
That’s an old trick, but I still like it.
I stumbled on a lever change and thought about it for awhile. Does a clear stumble invalidate a piece? Can we get beyond it? What do we think invalidates art or expression and what doesn’t? Is it awkwardness? But I love awkwardness at times. So is it awkwardness in the midst of what I think is grace? But why do I decide one thing is graceful and one awkward? Is it only because I think I can hide behind one, the way my cat thinks she’s hiding in a small fold of the rug? And hide what? My fallibility? What am I afraid of losing in the eyes of other people?
It’s time for bed.