Posted tagged ‘music’

TWO REALMS OF LIFE

April 13, 2017

I wrote yesterday that some   “happy, beautiful”  things happened to me.  Well,  here is the “happy” thing and what it showed me:

4 recorder j

As humans,  there are two realms put before us at each present moment:      One of great beauty and life;  one of ugliness and death.   And so on Wednesday of this week and Thursday we are reminded that these two realms are set before us.

Adherence to Rituals and Rules

I came to my friend’s house  yesterday,  and this is what greeted me —

 4 table set

It was time for our somewhat regular recorder practice on Wednesday.  The “ritual” is that we  seat ourselves in front of our music stands, allow a little  light conversation while we play our first pieces, and then we get down to some serious musicianship.   Then we begin to feel that our session is over, and we proceed to tea.

Always an absolute delight at my friend’s house; beautiful, seasonal, whimsical.   A thoughtful table for tea.

4 Napkin

My friend served mille-feuilles in honor of a book we’ve both enjoyed.

4 mille

(Also known as napoleons.)   There was a Reality at work here in our friendship and in our music,  a beautiful  Reality that flows out of one realm and into the other.

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We did not mention that yesterday was Spy Wednesday  –  but it was:

4 thirty pieces

This Wednesday is called “Spy Wednesday”  because on this day the Jewish leaders met with  riff-raff.    They who were  the righteous arbiters of Ritual and the Law, had to deal with this common man, Judas Iscariot, who was willing to betray his own Friend with secret reports of His whereabouts.       With great distaste,  these religious rulers finalized their plans and sealed the deal with  the 30 pieces of silver that was foretold so many centuries ago.   But one does what one must to achieve a higher goal.

The religious rulers as well as the Romans lived in the one, material realm.

Statues,  unquestioned authority,  riches,  gold and silver, impressive robes and long fringes;  in this  material realm the use of  power of this material world could establish a kind of peace, ruling over all the rest.   This is a kingdom not founded in love and friendship, faith and true  piety,  but on Rules and Rituals to keep people in their proper places.

It is a kingdom, a realm,  that is ugly and leads to death.

So the culmination of all this spying and plotting came on a Wednesday,  but it is for Thursday to carry it out

Material Reality and Spiritual Reality

Material Reality alone fails.    There is a Spiritual Reality which gives beauty and life to our  Material Reality,  but we can’t”measure the spirit  by  material means.

 Can we measure the material worth of Friendship?   of  Honor?   of Courage?  of Love?  What is the price, in material goods,  of your love for  each of family members?     4 ruler

How many miles long is your Truth?    What color is the Respect that people have for you?   4 scales How many pounds does your Faith in God weigh?

 But these things exist.

And yet, some things can be seen and weighed and measured and physically compared. We can’t lose sight of the material world that we live in, nor of the spiritual world which give Life to it.

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Just as our tea table yesterday contained a tea pot, cups, saucers,  hot cross buns and milles-feuilles,  and you could have recorded the sound of a lovely music CD, our voices,  the telephone ringing,  chairs squeaking, footsteps . . .   you could not have measured the intangible things of the actual Spiritual Realm (mutual love, friendship, respect,  faith)  which accompanied us and penetrated all our material  “noises.”

Both existed.   The material realm and the spiritual realm met and  co-existed.

This is not “above” human beings to  understand.

4 last supper reclining

Jesus met with His friends  at His Last Supper with them,   It was a supper determined by Rituals with  prophetic meaning.   It was a time for the last bit of teaching,  last time to show the means of Loving which is self-sacrifice and servitude,  last bit of instructive and loving prayers, and one thing more:

4 l;ast supper jess

With God’s creative and sovereign will,  here was the first Transformation of the material aspects of that Supper into an eternal, spiritual union with the Creator –  present from now on,  any time,  any place that this “ritual supper” is recreated.

From the earliest beginnings of Christianity,  this Last Supper was not meant to be merely copied by our actions, nor imitated.   The Last Supper,  within these last 24 hours of Jesus’ life on Earth,  was meant to be entered into  spiritually,  really,  actually — and perpetually,  until He comes.   Matter and Spirit.

These last 24 hours are completed at Calvary.

The Last Supper which then  becomes the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

10. STEAM KETTLE DAYS -“If I Had A Hammer . . .”

October 29, 2016

How do you feel inside when you have a close encounter with a policeman?

“IF I  HAD A HAMMER . . . Hmmm – hmm -hm – hm – hm – hmmmmm – hm . . ..

music-notes-line

 

“If I had a  ham-mer,    (and an FBI subpoena) –  I’d  hammer all my Black-berries . . .

“I’d make them all-lll . . .  just dis – sah –  apeerrr . . .”

 

~ۓ

She can just keep singing.     I believe the count is  she hammered away 13 Blackberries,  two laptops,  and  used an extremely expensive and complicated software practice called “bleaching”  to make  those 33,000 emails disappear too.  (Who paid for that software?  That’s not even common among government offices or hackers.)

If  you’re Important,  if you’re one of the Elite,  if you’re very, very Rich,  and if you’re above the law,  then you don’t worry about your “hammer.”

I usually manage to stay out of trouble.   Ha ha  —

blocked-in

That’s my blue car in the parking lot after class on Friday.

It was the police blocking me in:

blocked-behind

A little disconcerting to come upon a police bike and people standing near your car, talking to  a policeman.  I was pretty sure I hadn’t done anything wrong,   and indeed it was two people who had a collision in the parking lot right next to my car.     I commiserated with the one of the drivers for a while, while I was being blocked in by the police bike.

I  thanked my “lucky stars”  that my car was undamaged – and that the policeman didn’t want to talk to me.   (I wasn’t there;  I couldn’t have been a witness…)

I respect the police;  I know they represent legitimate authority over us;   and I wouldn’t ever do anything knowingly to get into trouble.

In other words –   I DON’T   have  a hammer.      Like    H.er  R.oyal   C.lintoness has. 

And neither do you.

And nor should any American citizen who is under the SAME laws as all the rest of us.

Election 2016:   Law-abiding  versus Lawlessness.

 

MUSIC IN THE GARDEN — SUMMER 2015

July 7, 2015

A gift of Flowers:

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They come from the liberality of a friend who rejoices in the beauty of her garden,  and from which she generously shares her flowers, her musical talent, and her hospitality,  at regular intervals.

We have begun this summer to make (somewhat) beautiful music together.

I wrote a while ago about this new activity for me;   I’ve taken up the recorder at the prompting of my friend, a fine instrument for the sounds of  Renaissance and Baroque music      Earlier this summer,  one day,   she surprised me by saying we’d be playing outdoors.   I drove to her home in the country, and while I was parking the car I heard her say she’d be “on the bench.”

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I got out of my car and it took me a while to locate “the bench,”  but there it was, a little distance away, surrounded by a lovely garden arranged in the “English” way;  that is,   non-symmetrical,  non-plotted,  and rather untamed at first glance.

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Closer in,  I could see there were happy, colorful bunches of flowers of this and that kind,  with happy bees,  happy dragonflies,  happy all sorts of buzzing creatures going in and out of the various blossoms.

She told me to sit on the bench with her awhile, before we started the “really stressful”  activity of making music together — and perhaps she perceived in me my inheritance from my own Grandmother — a need for speed.   A need to get right to it, hurry up, and be doing it, whatever  it  was….    (What gave her a clue?  Maybe because the first half dozen times I tried to find her country home, I drove right past —  I raced right past —  and even though I knew better,  I just couldn’t slow down enough to insert my car into her driveway in time.    I was in a hurry.   I came to our music session tense and purposeful. )

One can’t be speedy and purposeful in a beautiful English garden.

We sat and talked quietly together on the bench.  At first I was filled with admiration and many questions about her garden, which extends all around her property,  not only in the “English” arrangement.

But then the quietness descended on us,  the peace and quietness that fills a person when Nature speaks, always insisting on having center stage.    I did slow down;   I did feel at rest now.   I was ready for our music.

 There,  just beyond the flowers,  was a gazebo,  sheltered by the tall trees.

This is where we make our music.   And last week there were three of us.

recorders threeSoprano, tenor, and alto — a full voice for the beautiful chords of the music that  was produced during the pinnacle of Western culture.  We three did well.  We could almost hear what the music was supposed to sound like!    I could almost see the people who appreciated this music.

minuet

Two hours of music pass by in an instant.

Then there is Tea, of various kinds,  with mint leaves from the garden.   And there are English tea biscuits,  or lemon bars,  or scones.    Light and lovely.

The notes of our music have penetrated every cell of my body, calming, soothing, ordering my  self.    Each color, each petal of the flowers  have done their work,  lifting my spirit upward in some ineffable gratitude.    The quiet conversation of friendship has encouraged  and strengthened me.

I go home with it all.   Some of the experience is “vased” __

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— vased, so I can see and remember.      But most of the experience stays inside of me.

I’ll slow down now.   I will slow down and practice hard —  so I can do this again, next time.

WEEKEND – HAPPY

October 26, 2013

I can see that this particular weekend is going to be one that stirs up my emotions.  All my emotions.   Let’s start with Happy!

I’ve had this poster on my kitchen wall for about a month now.

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It’s always fun to anticipate this annual Southern Gospel Quartet concert in our area, and “O Happy Days,”  this was the weekend!    I have a “history” with this kind of music.  Not only did I grow up among Southerners who sang this kind of music just naturally “around the house”  but when I got into college,  I was the piano player for a men’s Gospel Trio.     I banged out the accompaniment  (rather badly)  and they sang out the Gospel songs (rather badly)  but we had a good time performing in little churches and once in a great big auditorium packed with people.     There’s a kind of fellowship among lovers of Gospel music.

These kind of songs stick in your mind and cheer your heart.    I find myself humming them once in a while.    I remember a surprising amount of the lyrics.    (And If I were the kind,  I’d raise my hands and clap right into the air!     It’s that kind of music!)

I might have done some of that last evening:

SAMSUNG Son and I had  a seat way in the back,  but we really could see everything and hear everything.   (Those five ghostly white people way up there on the stage are some  of the eight singers from the two Quartets which performed. )  They had the traditional sound, which is the best way to experience these numbers.

The leader of one Quartet is Mark Trammel who sang with the Cathedrals some time ago,  who our own Men’s Gospel Trio had tried to imitate.   If I tell you we also tried to imitate the Blackwood Brothers and the Imperials,  I’d be telling you my age.   Nevertheless, you can look these groups up on YouTube — and just let your feet start tapping along.      (For fun,  I’d recommend looking for “The Fourth Man”  or how about:  “This Old House”. . . Or how about enjoying J.D. Sumner and Elvis Presley singing together: “Lord Help Me Jesus.”  Oh, boy.)

The men of the other Quartet were younger in age.  They were in their twenties and to my wonderment belted out a fine strong bass voice that supported a high and wild tenor and an impressive baritone.   These guys are going to carry Gospel music successfully on down to the next generations.

I rarely listen to recorded music in my home or in my car,   but… I think I might a little more often now.

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I didn’t “succumb” to their stage offers.   All along I was hoping they’d brought some CDs for us to purchase, and I was glad they had.   What a Happy concert that was!   I’m going to take some Happy along with me.

I do hope you’ll give one of these Quartet concerts in your area and enjoy something really different.    It’s home-grown American music!

CHIMES OF ANGELS

November 16, 2009

I’m so lucky to have this drawing.    It was drawn by hand by a friend of my son’s more than ten years ago.   It has an honored place by my music things.   The “timing” was wrong for her and my son to get together, and someone else has the pleasure of being her mother-in-law,  but we are friends, now, just two women-friends.  

Neither of us believe angels look like this, but the picture has some beautiful elements in it.   

I thought of it today after my Monday afternoon class.  It was a small class today, and perhaps that helped us “open up” a bit.   We were discussing Gabriel and the specific things he said to the Blessed Virgin when she was learning about the Son she was to give birth to.   (Luke 1:31-33)   

The class then began to discuss how we “know” things from the heavenly realm, whether it be an angel or the Lord Himself.    I listened in astonishment as these conservative, unassuming people began telling about the times they definitely knew that a “communication” or an “answer” had been given to them.

Oh, there was nothing sensational in their stories, just quiet confirmations of their faith in a variety of ways.    I thought, if  ordinary people like us can have gentle communications from Heaven, then how wonderful it would be to fully comprehend  that we are surrounded by such loving care and attention! 

Each little story I heard today about these angels felt like a sweet little chime that sounded, just below our ability to hear, but musical and lovely just the same;  heavenly music notes.

Now,  I have far fewer CDs than anyone else I know, but I do have two kinds of instrumental music CDs.  One is bagpipes, of course, but I also have a  CD of just chimes.     Soft, sweet, and hardly audible in places;  just a hint of tiny musical notes, not very much stronger than the hint we have of the heavenly realm watching over us.

I’m also not known to care for “modern music” very much, but I do really like the Glass Harmonica.     It too plays lovely ethereal music that sends one’s senses heavenward.  Here is a picture of one in a nice wooden case.   It’s unfortuante that the orchestras took a turn towards heavy strings and brass, but I suppose this instrument is more suited to a private home and to private thoughts.

It is said that the rascal Benjamin Franklin was quite good at it.

DAD, LES PAUL, AND RHUBARB RED

September 13, 2009

The musician as a boy:   Dad as boy w guitar

You’re looking at a kid with a tough, tough childhood, holding his one prized possession, the one thing that kept his life going.   That’s my Dad.    And he has given me a lot of surprises.

Anyone who knew him and his family back then wouldn’t have thought he’d amount to anything.    He not only had nothing going for him, he had everything going against him, including way more musical talent than one man can hold in.   But music is the one thread that held his life together, and it is the source of the many surprises for me.

As a little girl I was always surprised to find my Dad lying in bed, looking exhausted, eyes closed, hot and sweaty, but his guitar on his chest and fingers still playing over the strings, practicing something or other.    Something can be THAT important to someone.!

Growing up, what we heard at home from my Dad was the music of Andres Segovia, Christopher Parkening, Django Rhinehart, and various flamenco numbers.    But I learned the “surprising” fact that he made his money from jazz and big band sounds, so people could dance.     This is a sorrow to me, but this is the way the world works.    Lots of times the talent you have won’t earn you a living.    

There were amazing surprises too.   When I was about 12 my Dad casually mentioned the fact that he played for a while with the Tommy Dorsey Band before I was born.   Sheeesh!   That’s big!

And when I asked him a few weeks ago if he had heard that Les Paul had died, he said, yes, that’s too bad…and then he began reminiscing  about the times he spent with Les Paul!   He said used to listen to The Barn Dance on WLS,. Saturday nights, when Les Paul and Jim and Chet Atkins played together in a “hillbilly” trio called Rhubarb Red.    He talked to them sometimes at the studio in downtown Chicago.   

He would meet Les Paul later at music shows, and the two would sit down together and talk about how each of them were experimenting with that unique sound that Les Paul became famous for.    They were both trying different things, although I don’t think any of Mr. Paul’s  tries involved a length of garden hose with two recording heads, one at each end.  Ha! 

We met someone famous out in Denver when I was 18 and my Dad had to get a special made Gibson guitar from him, but .. I was 18, and in a state of misery of my own, at that age.  My memory is not too clear on that time. 

Now my Dad  is stil playing.  Not famous, although he meets professional musicians from time to time.  He takes it all in stride.   He seems oblivious to his great talent, it’s just something that he must do. 

And meanwhile, as we talk on the phone, sometimes I can tell, now, after all these years,  that there are other things  and other people that are important in his mind, besides his guitar.   And that is a very surprising thing to me.