Wednesday, March 2, 2005

George's Siren Song, Bach, and Hymnody

I have an odd habit of meeting with George in the mornings before I leave for work. He sends out a sort of siren song, and I'll be on my way to the car when I suddenly turn back and head for the Inner Sanctum.

Perched on George's shoulder, waiting specifically for me, is my big blue book of Bach chorales. I open randomly to a chorale in the middle of the book, and then George and I start playing, slowly--and not just because my sight-reading isn't so good with complex four-part arrangements. There is just something both majestic and profoundly spiritual about playing these chorales at a snail's pace. Plus, my current theory/harmony training means my ear is always perked for the methods and effects of changes in harmony. And who better to study than my beloved, bewigged, and bejowled one?

By the time George and I finish playing, I find myself heading downstairs to find a Bach CD to listen to on the way to work. (This Bach thing is addictive ...) I end up grabbing Part 1 of Robert Greenberg's lectures on Bach and the High Baroque. Lecture 1: Introduction includes snippets and comments on several of the more well-known Bach compositions, and it's among my favorite of Greenberg's lectures.

So I listen to snippets of the Aria from the Goldberg Variations, Air on the G String, part of a Brandenburg Concerto ... and the "Hosanna" from the Mass in B Minor. When it gets to the end of the "Hosanna" snippet, I rewind and replay. And rewind and replay. And rewind and replay. I pull into the parking garage in downtown Asheville, "Hosanna" blasting through my open window as I swipe my card to get into the garage.

I'm singing as I walk through the garage. Strange to think that I've spent the last few days sunken and suffocated by the blackest of depressions. Now I want to twirl around the parking garage, singing. When I was a kid, I sometimes wished that all of life were a Broadway musical, where you could start singing at random and the orchestra would join in and everyone else would start singing with you. (Really now, wouldn't that be so cool?) I was kind of in that frame of mind this morning. It was such a letdown when I finally, actually, made it to Cubicle Land.

Ensconced in Cubicle Land for the day, I turned on my computer and checked my e-mail to learn that my dorky little blog has been featured on the Out of the Wilderness showcase, along with in the outer and The Rooftop. So I click the Rooftop Blog link to find that the rooftopper has linked to a hymn website.

Now, I love hymns. I have always loved hymns. The first thing I ever played on the piano, at the age of four, was a by-ear, two-finger version of "Just As I Am," following a Sunday-night service. (The second song I ever learned was "Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz," but that's another story.)

So I've spent the morning listening to hymns. And now I'm back to my old standby, the Mass in B Minor. Hm, it feels kind of sacrilegious to refer to the Mass in B Minor as an "old standby." But the truth is, there is nothing I would rather listen to. I never tire of this music.

It's 11:09 a.m. It's been a pretty productive morning at work, but it's almost music hour lunch hour, and I think I hear the Sanctuary piano calling me ...


Kim said...

We're all big Bach fans here. Love Brandenburg.

Jammie J. said...

Gotta love hormones, don't you? I deal with the same crazy one day I'm up the next day I'm down. Music helps. I've also noticed that I feel down when I have to have my car's top up. Go figure.

violet said...

Saw your blog in the 'Out of the Wilderness' thing on Nick Queen - and thot - 'i know her!' Nice interview, and he said very nice things! Good for you!

For years, my hands knew the Two Part Bach Invention I memorized for my Grade 9 piano exam...but (sigh) they've forgotten. You're talk of Bach is making me restless to try it again.

Waterfall said...

Kim: Somehow I knew you were a Bach fan ...

Jeanette: Yup, it's crazy. And it sucks. Luckily I'm back to normal (?!?) today.

Violet: Hee hee, I'm famous now! Which invention was it, do you remember? I hated the inventions when I was a teenager but I love them now. Probably because I'm a bit more patient!

violet said...

Waterfall, No. 14.

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