October 24, 2009

The middle of the night

 

 Oh for pity’s sake it’s the middle of the night already and I still have to write a blog entry.  I haven’t eaten supper yet either.  It can’t be that late if I haven’t eaten supper yet.

            Yes it can.

            My days usually do kind of flash by but for the next five days I am under the colossal, the description-beggaring strain of having to wash my own salad and chop my own hellhound chicken.*  Peter is in Scotland for these five days;  he has a proper author gig at the University of St Andrews** and he’s using the excuse (fie!) to visit relatives.***  Do you realise how much time it takes to wash sixteen lettuces?†  I am reminded every occasion Peter takes it into his head not to be here for lunch.  Ordinarily it’s a rather bracing shock.††  But it’s rough on Fridays when I have both a piano lesson and home tower bell practise.  And possibly a novel to finish.   I was coping before the novel-to-finish went acute.†††

            On Wednesday I thought my latest assault on poor Mr Warlock’s Capriol Suite‡ was going rather well.  Last night at about one am I realised this was not the case.  And so this morning—having overslept again through a combination of going to bed too late and refusing to acknowledge that three hours of sleep is not enough—I got down to the mews as rapidly as possible . . . was annoyingly held up by sixteen lettuces . . . and finally sat down at the piano.‡‡  Aaaaaaaaugh.‡‡‡

            I tried to keep Oisin talking about . . . oh, publishing deadlines and things.§  But eventually the deed had to be done.  AAAAAAAAAAAUGH.  Oisin, being Oisin, said, no, no, very good, it’s mostly §§ there (I think music teachers must have to take a Sincerity Module to get their license) . . . here, have another two pages for next week.  And I still haven’t learnt the 9/4.§§§

            . . . There were only seven of us at tower practise tonight, and three of us were beginners.  I still managed to ad lib a trifle undesirably in various directions . . . sigh.  It’s a rough deal when you have both a Pegasus and a Warlock biting your butt.¤ 

* * *

 * Which almost is rocket science.  Both the size of the individual flecks of chicken are carefully calibrated as well as the proportions of chicken to kibble to chicken stock, and profound thought must be given to the addition of any supplementary enticements such as liver or cheese.  Fooling a hellhound into eating is a deeply complex business. 

** Mention of whose name always gives me a tiny thrill of what-might-have-been.  There are any number of roads not taken in my or anyone’s life, but some of them haunt you more than others.  My first college—I’ve told you I dropped out and went back later?—had a junior-year-abroad programme.  I’m sure the programme included somewhere in England, but in my youth while the UK was the UK was the UK, if I were going to choose, I’d choose Scotland.^    And the Scottish option was St Andrews.  I totally wanted to do this.  However, my parents weren’t going to wear it, so I didn’t lose much by dropping out.  A few years later I made friends with someone who had had her junior year there.  She said that it was really cold and really damp.  And there were no clothes dryers.  She bought a mangle for her jeans.  I love this.  But I’m glad it’s someone else’s story.

            I’ve still never been to St Andrews.^^  But I’ve been to a lot of Scottish castles. 

^ My first printed-up flyer-type pass-out-at-conventions author bio said that while I loved my little lilac-covered cottage in Maine, what I really wanted was a castle in Scotland.  I think I’m over that phase. 

^^ I wonder if they ever got round to installing clothes dryers.  I’ve not actually had one since I moved over here;  if you live in a small flat with six children, you need a dryer.  A lot of the rest of us don’t.  Peter’s always objected to them on price-of-electricity grounds, and I’d been going increasingly green for a few years before I married him, and relearning the quaint application of clothes pegs.  At the old house we had space for racks of damp clothing.  My little lilac-covered cottage in Maine, while in floor space probably fairly equivalent to my little rose-congested cottage in Hampshire, did have a screened-in porch where I could hang a clothes-line.  Here. . . . Ahem.  I know I’ve told you that one of this cottage’s selling points for me is that for its square footage its walls are unusually tall—a good extra bookshelf’s worth.  I believe I also have referred to the fact that this also means space for one of those airers you hoist up and down on a rope.   http://www.lakeland.co.uk/traditional-airer/F/keyword/airer/product/8849  Although I’m still embraced by wet clammy sleeves and trailing sheets and things kind of a lot.+  And there’s the Aga of course.  All hail the Aga, especially this time of year.++  But Peter has a heated-by-presence-of-hot-water-tank airing cupboard at the mews big enough to hang laundry in.  Peter wins. 

+ Also, since it hangs near the ceiling, the pulleys are near the ceiling, and the rope running through the pulleys is near the ceiling.  I’m assuming I’ll find out I need a new rope some evening when I’m peacefully reading in the bath and the whole works falls down. 

++ It’s supposed to Rain Torrentially this weekend.  Joy. 

*** Hellhounds will be intensely interested in the traces of his expedition upon his return.  They have a dog. 

† I eat a lot of salad.  Lettuce has a great caloric profile for people banged up, so to speak, by menopause.  Fortunately I like salad. 

†† And I do the twelve handsful of herbs and the various other bits and bobs even when he’s here.  But he does do the lettuce. 

††† But I think I’d regret the hot fudge brownie with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce for lunch, even if that meant I could get someone else to make it. 

‡ Which sounds like this only different.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W73UErBmXEQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G25Ezx_R_lg&NR=1

There doesn’t seem to be a youtube of the piano duet version.  Which is really pretty, or would be if Oisin had someone else to play it with. 

And which I keep insisting on calling the Capriole Suite.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI5vr_ngvXQ&feature=related 

‡‡ I can’t decide whether cleaning salad dressing off your piano is better or worse than cleaning salad dressing off your computer. 

‡‡‡ At least the hellhounds ate their beautifully-chopped lunch.  Eventually. 

§ He also had a Schubert duet lying negligently on his music stand.  Oh, I said, you’ve got a student who can actually play duets.  Yes.  He does.  She’s seventeen, she’s going for her grade-eight (piano) exam, she’s on her way to Oxford, she hasn’t decided whether she’s studying to be a civil engineer or a doctor, and she’s pretty.

            Going back to PEGASUS now.  Maybe I’ll take up the crumhorn. 

 §§ There’s a very wide range of possibility contained in ‘mostly’ 

§§§ The one thing that can perhaps be said for me as a piano duettist is that I get it about keeping going.  That’s the bell tower training:  DON’T STOP!  WHATEVER YOU DO DON’T STOP!  There are two absolute rules to bell ringing.  The first one is HOLD THAT TAIL END.  That’s the absolute absolute rule of bell ringing.  NEVER LET GO OF THE TAIL END OF YOUR ROPE.  But the other absolute rule, only slightly less unqualified and thoroughgoing because you don’t positively break anything^ if you fail, is KEEP GOING.  Your conductor has a prayer of sorting you out if you keep ringing;  if you stop, everyone falls in the hole after you. 

^ Like the stay on the bell, which the steeple keeper will tell you through tight lips is a *&^%$£”!!!! to replace. 

¤ Note that hellhounds have also eaten their beautifully chopped supper.  And Peter rang me from Scotland.

September 11

 

I have just been looking back to September 11 last year to see if I was going to be repeating myself tonight and . . . I’m not.  Last September 11 I talked about board games.  I remember that post* but what I don’t remember is why I decided not to say anything about the anniversary.  Too personal?  Too sombre?  Too political?  I suppose the blog’s brief has expanded a bit.  September 11:  the day the world changed for Americans.  Perhaps I was thinking about it more in the front, blog-topic area of my mind this year because of Peter’s post about WWII in England and being bombed by the Luftwaffe in your own country, in your own town.**  Hawaii was still a mere territory when Pearl Harbor brought America into that war, and it was, furthermore, an island far off the mainland coast. 

      IMG_0393      The first few September 11 anniversaries Peter and I went out to dinner—or stayed home and opened a good bottle of something—and read each other poetry.  This slipped, I think, as did so much else, with the move into town.  But September 11s don’t go by without my having lit a candle or seven.  (The griffin’s candle is clear resin with gold flecks and while he’s a genuine candlestick, you don’t set fire to that candle.)   It’s the day the world changed even for expat Americans***—and New York City is where both my career and my best friend live, I lived there off and on myself for some years—owned a flat in Brooklyn Heights, around the corner from the famously saleable bridge and a long stone’s throw from Wall Street and the Twin Towers.  September 11 was personal as well as global to me—I was one of the people jamming the phone lines and email connections into Manhattan that day—I can’t remember if this was before broadband, but I certainly didn’t have it.  I’d lived in England a decade by then, but I never felt smaller, more far away, more helpless, or more American as on that day.

            And I also always pull my beat-up, scrawled-in,† Norton anthology of poetry off the shelf on September 11 and reread this: 

http://www.online-literature.com/yeats/780/ 

. . . except this year I have to read it on line with you because my anthology is up at the mews being a source of song lyrics, and I’m at the cottage eating Green & Black’s.††   A foolish and banal choice I realise—except that the poem is neither one—every sentimental git for the last ninety years wheels it out every time she’s feeling a little morbid about the state of the world or recent events.  But—for me anyway—it’s another of those poems, like Prufrock or To His Coy Mistress, that simply works, no matter how many times you’ve read it or how gruesomely it was dismantled in the schoolroom.  The next time you read it it’s whole and sound and terrifying again.

            Things fall apart;  the centre cannot hold.

            Maybe I’m just tired:  PEGASUS is rolling like it’s on square wheels, the hellhounds aren’t eating again, my piano lesson chiefly served to remind me how passionately I wish the days were longer,††† and we were an awkward mix of ability at ringing practise tonight, which meant I didn’t get to ring much that was interesting to me

            Meanwhile the tea lights are starting to gutter.  Time to blow them out, take a bath and go to bed.  And read proofs. ‡

* * * 

* This is not a given.  It happens with some regularity that I look at something with my name on it and say in tones of astonishment/dismay:  I wrote that?  The blog has merely widened the intake for such moments. 

** Golly.  Do you know that Connie Willis’ FIRE WATCH is available on line?  http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/stories/firewatch.htm

I hope this is all right with her.

 *** Although us expats may have been less surprised that it happened at all.  The world changes when you emigrate too:  your country becomes only one country among many.  What happens to other countries will happen to you too, sooner or later.  Or perhaps this is just about getting older and having an increasingly bleak view of humanity.

 † Yes!  Written in! 

†† Green & Black’s redesigned the the wrapper for their dark-with-mint a month or so ago. Panic.  Fortunately they don’t seem to have altered the recipe for the contents. 

††† Oisin is threatening me with piano duets again.  I’d actually been thinking about this too.  I have even less leftover brain than usual at the moment, on account of that cow PEGASUS, which is a bit of a crimp on the composing side, and playing offers the opportunity to focus more on muscle memory.  Also I’m never going to overcome Performance Paralysis if I never perform.  I was even contemplating the possibility that the voice lessons might drag me a step or two forward along this road—my piano lessons always were a trifle wide-ranging even before I hit on this composing scam as a way to avoid playing anything.  And my voice lessons began with Blondel opening my old art-songs book at random, saying, oh, that’s a nice one, let’s start here, and plunging into the accompaniment in the clear expectation that I would come in on the vocals.  Somehow it’s harder to break down as comprehensively, singing, it’s only one voice instead of ten fingers.  I suppose I could work up a little laryngitis.

‡ Sleep?  Er–remind me what that is again please?  I know I used to know.

Silly Canon MIDI file

Here is it.  Many thanks to NotLonely!


Silly Canon (MIDI format)


Should automatically play with Quicktime on most systems.

Music and Technology, II

 

I had asked Jeanne Marie when she first emailed me her long bardic chronicle of The Sibelius Upgrade if I could use it as a blog entry* and she said yes, and that furthermore if it roused any comments on the vagaries of musical software she’d be most interested to read them.**  That was last January, and I put it in my Stuff for the Blog file, yaay, a whole entry for some night when I’m too brain dead to cope.  And then haven’t used it because I tend to figure, every evening, that tomorrow night will be worse.   On a scale of brain death I think I’m no worse than about seven out of ten tonight*** but I have my piano lesson tomorrow at noon† and, well, I told you yesterday about the perils and misadventures with Just a Little Piece, and the awful truth is that the Mozart duet is escaping my best efforts to put a bag over its head and drag it off to present triumphantly to the king/queen/reigning monarch of rhapsody or similar.††  So I’m going to go do something piano-lesson-oriented with the rest of the evening, and I leave you with . . .

 Just before Christmas, I received an Offer Too Good To Refuse: an upgrade to Sibelius 5.0 (I’ve been using 2.0 for years now) for only $65!!  Yay!!  So, I plunked down the money, and had them send me the stuff. 

I then emailed our Computer Guru, asking his humble permission to install said upgrade.  His reply was cryptic and oracular, as usual, and did not, in my reading of it, constitute permission.  I emailed again, offering craven explanations of myself, and the Usual Sacrifices. No reply. 

Fast forward to today, when I emailed not only the Computer Guru to again ask humble permission, but also the Business Manager.  Business Manager promptly phoned and wanted to know what’s the hold-up, so I explained the Cryptic Reply followed by Silence.  I got another phone call in 15 minutes, from apologetic Computer Guru, granting permission (Accepting the Sacrifices). Yay!! 

So, I popped in the upgrade disk.  Nothing Happened. 

Hmmmm… 

I popped it out and popped it in again.  Nothing continued to Happen. 

Tried this three times (three being my magic number, you see), and Nothing Happened.  At all. 

So, I popped the disk into the alternate disk drive.  This time, I was at least able to humbly ask the computer for permission to see what was on the disk.  It told me that the disk was EMPTY and offered to write something on it for me. 

*deleted grumblings

I surfed over to the Sibelius website, in order to find a phone number, and then I called them.  I was asked (by a computer) if I had a registration that was older than 90 days, I replied truthfully, and it told me to call a different long distance number, so that I could pay for the call.  I grumbled, hung up, called back, and Lied Shamefully about my registration timeline, and was immediately patched through to a Nice Young Man. 

The Nice Young Man told me that I couldn’t see anything on my installation disk because it was in actuality a DVD, not a CD-Rom. 

A DVD?!?! WHAT!?!?! WHY!?!?! Whose brilliant idea..!!?!?!???! 

A long explanation later, he told me that the solution was to go online and download the program there (unless I wanted to go find a DVD player and a spare usb port…well, NO, I don’t!).  So, he patiently guided me through the website, and I proceeded to download the program. 

The download took 55 minutes. (!!!) 

I did not stay on the phone with the Nice Young Man for 55 minutes, just took his instructions (just double click on it and the installer will take over), and went to judge a chili contest.†† 

When I got back, I double-clicked, and waited for the installer to take over.  The installer asked me if I wanted to install the program, I told it yes, and it began Extracting…it got to 44% Extracted, and simply stopped. No warning.  No “I Am About to Explode” message.  No further instructions.  No demonic laughter.  It just stopped. 

I tried it again.  The Same Thing Happened. A third time. Same result. 

*deleted grumblings

Back to the phone, back through the maze and another use of the Shameful Lie, and I got a message – “we are sorry, no one is available to take your call.”  Apparently, all personnel are in a meeting in California the rest of the day. 

*deleted grumblings*

 Back to the website, where the phone message had promised me prompt service to any technical problems.  The reply email graciously told me this: 

“We will try our best to answer your email within 2-3 working days but in periods when we receive a high level of queries it may take longer to reply to you.  We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.” 

At this point, I have only one teeth-clenched comment: FRELLING UPGRADES!!!!!!!!!

 Three weeks passed with no further bulletins and at last I wrote  . . . 

SO WHAT HAPPENED?!?!?  Have you got your upgrade?  Does it EXIST?  Did it INSTALL?  Can you USE IT?  Does it make any blinking iota of difference?  Er, wait, any blinking POSITIVE iota of difference?  I want to know how the story ENDS!!! 

So, The Rest of the Story – 

A day or so after my email to Sibelius Tech Support, I received an email reply to my despairing plea.  Tech Support Guy (let’s call him Bob) asked me to call him.  Once more unto the breach, I Shamefully Lied to get through the Voice Mail Thicket, and then asked for Bob, as instructed.  Bob and I tried various methods to convince the program to upgrade, and were unsuccessful.  He decided that the download must have been corrupted somehow, and told me to Delete It And Start Over.  I deleted like a mad woman, and prepared to re-download.  He guided me through the Valley of the Cyber-Shadow that is Sibelius’ website, and I re-downloaded the thing.  Again, it took 55 minutes!  

Before I said good-bye to my erstwhile Tech Support man, I asked Bob about a very curious inconsistency in the Helpful Instruction Manual that had been supplied with the original DVD they sent me.  In one place, it said that if you were upgrading from Sibelius 2 (which I was), you should uninstall that original program BEFORE you install the new one.  Literally two sentences later, it said that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you uninstall the original program, that Very Bad Things would happen… So, I asked Bob to clarify.  He grumbled a bit about tech writers and programmers, and then told me I didn’t need to uninstall the original program, it would be fine, the new program would over-write the old one.  So I thanked him gravely, and bid adieu to Bob. 

Some 55 minutes later, I returned to my computer, and discovered the download blinking at me hopefully.  I double-clicked, and asked it to install itself, and it began Extracting…with fingernails in mouth, I waited and watched the “% of files Extracted” get higher, and higher… 35%…40%…42%…45%!! Hooray! We had cleared the magic number!  We are upgrading! 

At 55%, it offered up a dialog box, and then collapsed in a quivering heap. 

*deleted grumblings

I called back, really annoyed now, and ended up speaking to a different Tech Support man, let’s call him Gandalf.  Gandalf heard the whole story, amidst sniffling and cursing.  When I mentioned the “to uninstall or not to uninstall” the old program question, he was himself annoyed, and wanted the name of the idiot who had told me to leave the old program alone.  Apparently, I DID have to uninstall the old program, if I ever wanted to upgrade.  I was very nervous about this, you understand!  I have 6 years worth of work invested in Sibelius 2, and I wanted multiple reassurances that I wouldn’t lose all those files if I uninstalled the program.  He was willing to swear to me on any Noble Tome I liked that I would still have all my files, but that I absolutely HAD to uninstall the old Sibelius program if I wanted to upgrade.  Then, Gandalf hung up, hefting a baseball bat and looking for Bob. 

Gulping nervously, I uninstalled Sibelius 2, and for good measure, I uninstalled anything that even looked like Sibelius 2 – anything with the Sibelius name on it, all of it went into the recycle bin!  When the purge was completed, I resolutely double-clicked on the Sibelius 5.2.5 icon, and held my breath… 

I eventually had to breathe, because it extracted all the way to 100%!!  It began installing itself, asking me cogent questions like “OK, where should I put this thing?” Yay! 

*cue Halleluiah chorus

My very first test of the upgraded program came barely a day later, and it passed with flying colors.  The upgrade is very easy to use and understand, even though it’s much more advanced than the old program – does everything I ask very quickly, and really is a better program overall.  So, despite the Trials and Tribulations of installation, I am glad I upgraded. 

*cue Sunset and Triumphant Strings

The End! 

* * *

* Just so you’ll know, I wouldn’t dream of posting a long essayish or storyish something without asking first.^  I reserve some right to post excerpts with and without attribution as the fancy takes me. 

^ Of course with attribution.  I’m trying to think if there’d be any good reason to post a piece of someone’s writing, you know, paragraphs of it, without attribution–I being professionally a trifle obsessive about this–and the answer is, probably, but I don’t think I run that kind of blog. 

** I have just spent way too much time trying to find a comment someone made on the forum recently, that she was about to start doing some–arranging?–that would involve Deep Engagement with a Music Software Programme–Finale, I think–and was expecting to post various plaints and protests about the process.  I thought I remembered both who it was and where it was . . . wrong on both counts.  Sigh.  But, whoever you are, so, how’s it going? 

*** I’ve written entries from a scale reading of 9.5, but it’s not a lot of fun. 

† Which is almost too awful to contemplate, but Oisin has organs to play tomorrow afternoon.  Three o’clock is the standard time for my lesson and I usually spend from one o’clock to approximately 2:57 rather frantically running myself in:  I can have played something flawlessly the night before–indeed this happened last week^–and have merely skipped jollily through it once before my lesson, as for example the duet last week, so I could spend the time on A Study in Arrrgh . . . and I arrive on Oisin’s doorstep and it’s like, Mozart?  Have I heard of this person?  –You mean this is a piano?  I almost decided to cancel my lesson as a means to remove unnecessary humiliation from my week but . . . no.  There are limits.  But if you hear screams from Hampshire at around 12:05 pm local time tomorrow, you’ll know why. 

^ Okay, nearly flawlessly 

†† This sounds like a recital situation.  Shuuuuuudder. 

††† A chili contest.  Well, of course.  She also raises prize-winning delphiniums and was on the reserve list for the Women’s Championship Tournament with her polo ponies Terror, Apocalypse, Hotspur, and Bunny.

Fugue

 

I’m still paying heavily for pretending to be a normal human being on Tuesday* and doing stuff like getting on a train and going somewhere and doing something.**    By yesterday afternoon as I fell over the keyboard it had become obvious that far from getting on with the third page of the Sonata Duet Whose Stupid Second Person Part Isn’t Stupid Enough, I was playing the second page worse.  So I emailed Oisin and said you really don’t want to listen to me play tomorrow, how about that Introduction to the Organ?

            I’ve told you about this before.***  Oisin is an organist first and a pianist second.  I’ve historically tended to find the organ rather resistible, but that’s mostly because I don’t like it on CD or the radio;  all those amazing echoes and resonances flatten out and become a stick to thump you with.  I told Oisin once that I found it a very bullying noise which seems to have made sense to him, fortunately, since you don’t actually want your piano teacher nursing a secret grudge against you, and I needed a fast response to why I know nothing of the organ repertoire when I know quite a lot, in small, eccentric chunks of that for the piano.  But I am such a sucker for other people’s enthusiasms†, and there is no way I was going to resist getting interested in the organ with Oisin around.  Also, live . . . live organ is something else again.  Back in the early days in England when I seemed to have time for things occasionally, I used to go to evensong at churches and abbeys big enough to have good choirs and big organs and revel.  I tend to be a voice person, so I’d be going ostensibly for the choir;  but sometimes it was the organ solos that made the earth move and the heavens open.  Also organs are such interesting objects–wild and complex and enigmatic, at least to someone sitting in the audience and wondering why the pipes are over there and the fellow doing the Lon Chaney†† bit is over here.

            And I’ve also told you that Oisin decided a few years ago that he wanted to get some fancy twirly-whirly endorsement for the organ ††† and he keeps talking about it‡ so I started nagging him to let me come hang out some time he was practising–he usually uses the organ at the church I ring Sunday service at, so if I leaned out the bathroom window at the cottage on a warm day when the church doors are open I could probably hear him–although he’s official organist at the medium-sized cathedral a couple of towns over.  I probably blogged about this:  that he finally let me come sit in.  And it was pretty thrilling.  And I remember saying something ill-judged like that if I were thirteen and musical, I’d be signing up for organ lessons.‡‡

            Then I got into this composing deal and a few months ago Oisin said brightly, You should compose something for the organ.  I’m sure you’d enjoy composing something for the organ.

            Anggggh.  Blah.  Eeep.  Why . . . sure.  I know approximately as much about the organ as I know about the mating habits of the Eurasian Griffon Vulture, but why should I let a little thing like that stop me?  A bird is a bird.  A keyboard instrument is a keyboard instrument.  Right.  Yes.  Have I mentioned recently that Oisin is insane?  Well, all right, most of my favourite people are.‡‡‡  And–am I flattered?  Of course I am.  Terrified.  Appalled.  Befuddled.  But flattered. 

            I have however had sufficient presence of mind (?) to suggest that I might have at least one more personal exposure to the organ in terms of what it does and what it likes to play.  This has put off the awful moment of my attempting to set little black squiggly spots to manuscript paper for a little while because churches are brutal in the winter–as many of you know–and the person playing the organ may stay reasonably warm due to the remarkable contortions that are necessary to play the pedalboard–that’s the keyboard you play with your feet–but the pathetic shivering audience may develop not merely chilblains but Frozen Eardrum.

            But it’s been warm lately.§  And Oisin emailed back that an organ experience sounded like a fine idea to him.  So this afternoon he blew into his music room–he’d warned me he’d be a bit late, and I was more or less serenely tormenting his piano while I waited–unloaded and reloaded his music satchel, and we charged off to St Willibald . . . providentially§§ as the funeral party was leaving.  So we slid in the back way and Oisin threw back the lid of the console and started pulling handfuls of sheet music out of his satchel again . . . golly.  Bach, of course.  Lovely, astonishing, frelling Bach.  And a lot of people I’ve never heard of.§§§  And Elgar.  Poulenc, whom I love anyway.  And someone named, I think, Jehan Alain¤, who died in WWII when he was twenty-nine and left the most amazing music behind, evidently:  at least Schubert had till he was thirty-one, for pity’s sake, and those last two years were pretty full, and you could furthermore argue that syphilis is at least somewhat your own damn fault while being blown up on the battlefield is not.  Anyway.

            And all the things you can do with an organ:  half a dozen keyboards and four thousand and six variable stops per.  Or so.  It varies, Oisin says, from organ to organ.¤¤  I’m aware, of course, that the organ can be made to sound like an entire orchestra of different instruments, and I know, as all Lon Chaney devotees know, that there are little handles that you pull out and push in that have to do with how many and what sort of instruments it sounds like are involved, but seeing and hearing it all up close and personal–even on a modest modern console rather than the five keyboards and 101 stops of St Sulpice–is revelatory.¤¤¤  Hmmmmmm.  And yes, I did leave with one or two embryonic thoughts about composition:  I wonder how ghastly Finale’s organ audio is?  I guess I’m going to find out.  As we were leaving Oisin fixed me with a glittering eye and said, Just a little piece for the organ, please.             

* * *

 * If normal human beings go to the opera, which is perhaps debatable. 

** Drinking champagne counts, I think, not just the highly skilled and demanding sitting upright in a chair which it takes newborn babies months to master.  Sigh.  

*** Sorry.  I see no way around regular reiterations of this applied to different topics.  Different people remember different things.  I, of course, remember nothing^, but that’s a different issue.

 ^  Hellhounds?  What are hellhounds? 

† Why I Don’t Read Yarn Harlot Regularly.  Or, for that matter, Jodi Meadows. 

†† Andrew Lloyd who?^  

^ And I’ve never seen Cats.  This is very nearly indecent in someone who has spent serious life time in New York City.  Not to mention London.  I’ve seen Jesus Christ Superstar, back when he was still just some guy, and Evita.  That’s enough.  Stephen Sondheim wipes the floor with Andrew. 

††† I don’t do post grad degrees, okay?  I haven’t the foggiest what this is.  Only that it has some truly terrifying exams, including transposing and composing on the hop and being instantly brilliant on an organ you’ve never seen in your life before–and organs are horribly individual.  Much worse than pianos or rosebushes^ or hellhounds. 

^ My latest Mutabilis is growing away like anything.  We’re having frost again at night, arrrrrrgh, or at least the threat of frost, so suddenly my having bought tidy, reusable plant protective ‘fleece’ at end-of-season sales is not as totally loopy as it looked.  Mutabilis took one look at her drawstring bag however and said Yaaaah!  Try and put it on me!  Go on, try!  –and promptly shot out a few seven-foot stems.  Comtesse du Cayla is putting up with it politely and Tipsy . . . is still coming indoors. 

‡ Me?  Encourage him? 

‡‡ How to make buying a nice piano look cheap:  think about a pipe organ. 

‡‡‡ So am I of course.  I consider it an honourable state.

§  Sort of.  The jungle’s in the kitchen again tonight, and the garden is dotted with plant-fleece bags. 

§§ Sic 

§§§ Blush.  Sigh. 

¤ I love Google.  I’d remembered him as Jean Allain.  http://www.naxos.com/composerinfo/Jehan_Alain/23996.htm 

¤¤ I find myself feeling rather relieved I’m not thirteen and desperately musical. 

¤¤¤ We were there something like an hour and a half.  My cough cough piano lesson cough cough is supposed to last half an hour.

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