Old World or New, Sacred or Profane

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sunrise from orbit, bending Shakers, racing hawks, sailing hockey pucks...

I read that some of us duffers are having trouble getting motivated to practice. I dunno, on the days I can get to it, which are most, but not as many as I want, it's still the best part of the day.

Back in my cellistic infancy and toddlerhood, I had precious little patience for figurative language describing how to play cello. I wanted to hear concrete specifics and bold assertions; exacting descriptions, ideas that could be tested and evaluated, on the essential mechanics of how the amazing system of interconnected levers we call "a cellist" works. No flowery verbal kaa-kaa. No vague "as-if"s or untestable clap-trap. Like Sergeant Joe Friday, "Just the facts, ma'am!"

That was then, this is now. Ok, I guess I've changed.

I've gone to a place where I can enjoy and appreciate inventive takes-offs that stray far from reality. That is not to say I don't appreciate the "factual" and specific information I gather along the way, it's just that my curiosity in that area seems satisfied. I know there's more I can learn, I know some (but certainly not all) cellists would disagree with me on just about anything (Old-timers here certainly have seen that). Of course, I know there could be substantial observable improvement in my form -- elbow moved up (or down), more bow there, less bow here, hand-shape here, open shoulder there... And I certainly need to fit in quantitatively more practice. But rightly or wrongly, I feel comfortable enough in that area that now I want to not just play "correctly", I want to play imaginatively. And at that, I really am just a cellistic infant.

Some of the figurative, or semi-figurative, language I've heard doesn't work for me, yet. Maybe in the future. So being an incorrigible student, I sometimes make up my own stuff.

Mercifully, I'll skip the racey ones. Some of you may have already read my old sunrise-viewed-from-space imagery. I picture the bow stroke as an immensely wide, gradually-arcing, constantly-moving horizon, and the string as the sun (I'm orbiting upside-down, naturally). When the bow touches the sun's line of sight in just the right spot, and they make just the right amount of contact, not too much, not too little, the radiating sun-string shoots brilliant rays of sound in all directions, piercing the black void, and brightly illuminating the entire bow with sound.

Korny and stupid? Yup.

I got more, even kookier, but I already know those. What 'bout yours? Maybe yours are more imaginative.