The 30 Days Project: Day 22

I did a marathon yesterday! A marathon concert, that is. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It was relatively easy for me, though — I played one 11-minute with a violinist around 5 pm, then I got to hang out and listen for most of the evening, until I played with everyone in the very last piece (which started at 1:30 a.m.!). That was Terry Riley‘s In C, one of the first minimalist pieces.

I guess you might say I have a love-hate relationship with minimalism. I won’t go on about that here… suffice it to say that I was excited to have the opportunity to play in such a historically important work with an amazing group of musicians — and I accepted the fact that I might need ice and ibuprofen for my hands when all was said and done. And it did look fun to play — there are 53 phrases of varying length, called “cells,” that each musician repeats a number of times and then proceeds to the next one. You go roughly at your own pace, and it’s neat to listen to how everyone is and isn’t together. But before going to the rehearsal, I read this in the Wiki entry:

As detailed in some editions of the score, it is customary for one musician (“traditionally played by a beautiful girl,” Riley notes) to play the note C (in octaves) in repeated eighth notes. This drone functions as a metronome and is referred to as “The Pulse”.

(emphasis mine.)

I rolled my eyes and thought, whatever, Terry… as long as I don’t get stuck doing that.

Well, guess what? ๐Ÿ˜›

It seems “The Pulse” is traditionally played in the high octaves of the piano, where I happened to be sitting (it was a 4-hand piano situation). So I was drafted.

Oh well, don’t hate me because I’m beautiful! ๐Ÿ˜€

It made me nervous, though, because if there’s one thing you do not want to do, it’s have your pulse tempo be in any way unsteady in the presence of a dozen or so world-class percussionists. Trust me on this.

I think I maintained my composure when it came to the actual performance, though. And my hands were only a little limp afterwards.

The marathon was incredible overall, and I plan to write more about it later. But now, on to today’s piece!

McDoc has been nagging me to write something in the Bluegrass, Scots-Irish-descended Appalachian realm. I’ve resisted slightly not because I don’t like the music, but because I know that it’s not as easy as it may look, especially for a one-gal band. But today was a good day to give it a try as a change of pace, because I haven’t yet processed yesterday’s experience enough to write anything in the same world. Besides, McDoc wants to see how far afield from contemporary music I can go without getting my composer card taken away! ๐Ÿ˜›

So here it is. It was a challenge, but it was really fun too. I should say that most of what little I know about Bluegrass comes from the following two CDs, which I think everyone should give a listen to: New Favorite, by Alison Kraus & Union Station, and The Grass is Blue, by Dolly Parton.

Click play to listen:

[audio:|titles=A Blade of Bluegrass]

Thanks for listening!


The 30 Days Project: Day 22 — 2 Comments

  1. I felt a strong desire to break into a jig of some sort (although I’ve never actually had formal jig training.)

    It also brought me back (emotionally) to my Scottish/Irish roots, which I previously only thought of in a more factual sense.

    And finally, I now have a strange urge to go paddling on a river in a canoe with a jug of grain alcohol a banjo and a shotgun…

    Nice work!
    The BroInLaw