Friday, December 7, 2012

Speaking through the centuries...

This may wander a bit.  I need caffeine...

I have been reflecting on music this morning.  Specifically, in the peculiar power to translate notes on a page--sometimes written centuries earlier--into sounds that have the power to affect modern listeners.  Heady stuff, that.  I am filled with awe when I listen to the music of Guillaume de Machaut or Josquin des Prez, knowing that centuries later, I still find something powerful in their music.  (And no, I am not a music historian, and I realize there is probably tomes written, arguing over variations and interpretations.  Nevertheless, I choose to believe that the essence of the music is still there).

I often feel the history of the music I'm playing.  I am aware of the history of piece I'm trying to learn--whether Mozart's Flute and Harp Concerto to a more modern piece by Carlos Salzedo.  When I'm starting to learn a new piece of music, I want to research it, learn where it fits in the composer's corpus.  I want to absorb other harpist's interpretation of the piece of music, learning through a kind of aural osmosis.

I'm also aware of the history of my own chosen instrument, the pedal harp.  And this isn't just because I've written papers on the evolution of the pedal harp.  I am aware of where I "fit" in the various schools of harp technique.  (I was initially trained by a strict Salzedo harpist, and spent a summer at the Salzedo Harp School in Camden, studying under Alice Chalifoux as a teenager).  While my Salzedo technique has relaxed, I love following the history, gossip and drama of the community of musicians who have devoted themselves to the harp.  

In other words, I have my first harp lesson in over a year today.

My excitement knows no bounds.

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