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Since I’m away from home, and can’t sing with my usual choir, I thought I’d try singing along with a You-tube video. Mozart, yeah, Mozart! So, I found this:
No, I didn’t sing along.
I was giggling too hard!
Since this isn’t a single-theme blog, and my main goal is to become better at writing non-technical non-fiction, I use blogging challenges to prompt me to write outside my comfort zone.
On my way to reading an article by Atul Gawande in the January 24, 2011 issue of the New Yorker, I stumbled on a Talk of the Town piece about an odd electronic instrument called the Swarmatron.
Hadn’t paid attention to it when I first skimmed the magazine three years ago, but it sounds intriguing. Listen to the demo on YouTube, or watch an interview with Trent Reznor, who used the Swarmatron in the sound track for “Social Network.”
It’s hard to be mindful when your life is deadline-driven. Clients think they need everything yesterday. Assignment instructions always include ASAP: As Soon As Possible. Taking time to smell the flowers can feel like negligence or failure, lack of motivation to accomplish something important.
I’m intrigued by a piece that John Cage composed in the mid-1980s: “ORGAN^2/ASLSP.” (ASLSP = As SLow aS Possible.) Cage never said exactly how slow it was supposed to be played; duration was left to the performer. The first performance lasted 29 minutes. Others have lasted well over an hour.
After Cage’s death in 1992, a group of musicians, musicologists, philosophers, and at least one theologian began discussing just how slow “As SLow aS Possible” could be. The result? A performance on a makeshift organ in the medieval church of St. Burchardi in Halberstadt, Germany. At any given time, the organ contains only the keys and pipes required for the notes currently being played, with pieces being added to or removed from the instrument as needed. The proper keys for each cord are held down by rocks or other heavy objects, and an electronic blower maintains air pressure to keep the notes sounding without interruption.
The performance began on September 5, 2001, with several counts of…silence. The first chord began on February 5, 2003. The chord changed in 2004, and the next change was in 2006. Each movement lasts approximately 71 years. The entire performance is expected to finish in the year 2640 (assuming we still maintain the same system for counting/naming years).
What kind of magnificence could we produce if we forgot about time and allowed ourselves 639 years to accomplish something?
For more information about the project, see:
To hear the current chord, visit http://www.aslsp.org/ and click the Play button under Aktueller Ton in the right sidebar. (No rush. It will sound until the next chord plays on September 5, 2020.)
I retired from my church soloist job at the end of last season for a number of reasons. We planned to be out of town for several Sundays in September and October, (a time when it’s almost impossible to get good substitutes), I wanted the option of spending holidays with out-of-town family or friends, and I thought it would be fun to occasionally sleep in on a Sunday morning.
So, I sang my last solo on 4th of July weekend, my section members threw me a terrific retirement lunch, and I spent my first summer in decades NOT hunting up and learning new solos for the following year.
My husband and I traveled in Turkey September 13–October 1, visited his brother in NYC, went to his 46th high school reunion, and spent time with my aunt and some Ohio friends. For the first time since I was 5 years old, I didn’t sing in a choir for Christmas Eve services. It felt weird, but it was nice to have a chance to listen for a change.
But, I missed singing.
Missed it a lot!
So…now I’m back with the Third Presbyterian Church choir, singing as a volunteer this time. The music is still glorious. The people are still interesting. And I’m having loads of fun!