Archive for April, 2008

For anyone seeking clarity

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

…about the music


Well, here it is.
At least, one of many definitions and examples.
We all seek it, don’t we?
You never hear someone say, “I want you to be unclear with me” or,
“Unclearly, Alex loves her environment.”

I am constantly amazed at just how nakedly clear the water is between the shore by my house and little Turn Island. It’s even clear in the harbor, where all the man-made floating objects, otherwise referred to as boats, might suggest a murkier outcome, what with bilges and engines and pump-outs and who-knows-what.

On an afternoon like this, where rain and sunshine compete with each other for meteorological control over my life, their battle is my reward.
Clarity. Stunningly beautiful clarity.

Plus c’est la meme chose

Friday, April 25th, 2008

…about the music

Game time!

Okay, kiddies, in this virtual world of e-tag, Elaine Fine poked me with the following meme:

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.

In the interest of complete honesty, I have indeed grabbed the nearest book, and here you have it:

“Digital Performer can automatically convert audio data wherever necessary to make it conform to the current project’s sample rate, sample format and tempo. Because processing is initiated automatically and carried out via background processing (for lengthy operations), these auto-conversion features greatly streamline the process of importing audio quickly into your projects, or the process of converting the entire project to a different sample rate, bit depth or tempo. For complete details, see chapter 64, “Automatic Conversions” (page 827).”

Heart wrenching, ain’t it?

For those of you reading this who don’t happen to own digital project studios, welcome to the wacky wired world of the techno-geek composer. You now speak my language, courtesy of the 1,074 page Digital Performer 5 manual that is always within my short arm’s reach.

And now I will be e-nnoying and e-bnoxious and pass this along to my unsuspecting comrades, John Clare, Steve Hicken, Roger Bourland, Anne Carolyn Bird, and my all-time number one favorite towering literary figure of musicians, Jeremy Denk .

All others are equally welcome to jump into this tide pool of literary goofiness. The more, the merrier!

Waiting is beautiful

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

…about the music

Ahead lies a water voyage.

This was the view yesterday from my car in the parking lot at Anacortes, on Fidalgo Island, which hosts the ferry landing for boats headed to the San Juans. Spent the day in Seattle, running some unimportant errands that required leaving the house at 5:15 a.m.– normally right around my bedtime– and then returning on 5:05 p.m. boat.

As I was, you’re staring at Mount Baker, a volcano just short of 11,000 feet and maybe 300 miles to the east, accompanied by the Rockettes of ridges, the Cascade mountain range. It’s quite a sight when you’re sitting in your little pod-on-wheels, munching on modest food offerings from the tiny ferry terminal cafe, checking email on the Treo, catching up on work on the laptop, and eventually leaning the seat all the way back to relax. Hard to complain about having to put the car in the line early to make sure you get on the boat, when this is the backdrop. Objects in photo are larger than they appear.

On a path

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

…about the music

One of many musical paths.

You can have absolutely no idea where you’re going, and still be on a good path.
Or, as I like to say when maps have failed me, I have failed the maps, and I’m walking or driving around in squiggles,
“I’m not lost, I just don’t know where I am!”
There is a significant difference.

This was the well-marked path I trod at the end of today’s chilly afternoon. The photo of lushness offers no clues to the local truth: it snowed Friday and this morning! A few joyful flurries late yesterday and a short, solid burst in the middle of the night. Headed back from afternoon errands, I had wanted to photograph the thick white flakes blowing sideways against the spring green, but neither my camera nor my presence of mind were handy. Flurry was both noun and verb, and flew against the kind of sunny sky that makes you certain a rainbow is near. Like pieces of Styrofoam driven by a wind machine, fluffy, airborne alien visitors landed on my hair and windshield. I watched them carefully for as long as they remained intact, and as they melted into miniature puddles I was reluctant to say goodbye.

Adding to my delight, when I finished working at about 4am (remember, I am Vampire Kelp Woman), I walked into the living room and found my eyes squinting from the surprise of moonlight bouncing off an inch of snow covering everything in view. Were I a more talented photog perhaps I could have captured this magic, but it remains in my memory. And now, in your imagination. The path through Spring winds in unknown directions, green, white, and so much more.

Fantasy island

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

…about the music

Dream vista.

So there we stood, the only two humans in sight. We were perched on the very end of a long dock in the early morning hours, staring out to nothing but water and little green isles. My gaze drifted to the sky as I searched for the tiny float plane that was to snag me off the island and bring me to Seattle, from where I’d then fly to Los Angeles. I didn’t need to bother looking up, since any engine sound would shred the silence. But look up I did, again and again, wondering when the plane might finally arrive. And wondering why I would ever want to leave this paradise.

As my ride finally appeared out of the clouds Charles and I couldn’t avoid joking in goofy accents, “de plane! de plane!” And then de plane made a landing on de still water, much as a cormorant comes in for one: gentle… watch it… whoooaaa, lower, lower… splash… whoosh… glide…

De plane was even smaller than I had imagined, and as Charles and I said goodbye I could tell that we were both silently making rapid assessments of the odds that this flying coat closet would deliver me safely. I climbed the ladder, squeezed myself into the seat and the ear plugs into my ears. Small plane, very loud engine.

As I’ve gloated about over and over again in these pixels, the view flying across the San Juans is just incredible. Whatever quiet terror I feel about hurtling myself through the sky in something with a door slightly flimsier than that of an airline lavatory and a window made of thin plastic that boasts a ventilation hole I can stick three fingers through, well, that [rational] fear disappears when I look out the window. Small plane, fantastic in-flight movie.


Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

…about the music

Upward, again.

Spring continues to be a verb by my driveway, and daffodils shine at me each time I leave or return. I think I’ve been doing a bit too much of the former recently; still catching my breath from the Virginia trip (see below; much breath to catch), I’m off in the morning for my old stomping grounds: Los Angeles. Info about some of what I’ll be up to there lurks on my website (just click on my Malibu Barbie self to the upper right), along with links to a few new articles and interviews.

My calendar indicates still two more business trips before summer: New York again in May, and Denver in June. After that, the benefits of living in paradise will become clear, as I finally get to stay put while various friends migrate north for short visits. I’m looking forward to meeting the planes, rather than boarding them!

Looking backward

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

…about the music

One plus three.

Yesterday Charles and I looked at our paste-colored faces in the mirror and realized that it was time for a walk. Our recent respective deadlines have been slightly absurd, and my backside had spent the last two weeks firmly planted in the substrate of either a desk chair, a piano bench or an airline seat. If I wasn’t so lucky to have the metabolism of a middle-aged hummingbird, I would look like a Beluga whale by now.

And here is where we hiked out to. The sunshine and breeze made our faces far better colored. What a fortunate life I have.

Adding to the sedentary nature of my existence this week is that old American favorite, tax time. Like most people, I can’t stand doing my taxes. I suppose I could sit and do them. But instead, I don’t do them: for many years I’ve had a good CPA who does them for me (and since marriage a few years ago, us). But one still has to round up every bit of the information to the patient person happy to be paid to plow through it all, and thus begins the dance of procrastination. It’s really anti-crastination. Because I’m against having to do this in the first place.

A few years ago it finally dawned on my why, just why, quite specifically, I resist and detest this necessary process.
I hate looking backward.
I am a forward-thinking, future-oriented, goal-driven person. Having to face every stupid detail of my past life and finances, incoming and outgoing, over a period of time that now began a whopping 16 months ago, is incredibly irritating to me.
It is completely against my nature.

There. I feel better. My blogatherapy session time is up. Thanks for listening, and now I’m in a better state of mind to spend the evening doing my taxes so someone else can do them.

Spotted planet

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

…about the music

Island life.

It took me 15 hours, door to door. Each way. Three flights: the Friday Harbor 9-seat puddle jumper to Seattle, the Very Large Two Aisle Flying Yacht to Atlanta, and then to Newport News, Virginia and all the wonderful musicians and notes that awaited: an extremely long, narrow, claustrophobic tube in which only people of shortness could stand up (that’s the politically correct term these days, I suppose). Yes, the trip and all its flying and between-flight grounding time, was worth it. Having never even heard a concert wind band perform before, much less composed for one, I got to hear my new piece played beautifully by the U.S. Army TRADOC Band. I’m told it went over very well with the players and the listeners, despite my fears of utter ineptitude, and perhaps, an orange jumpsuit in my future if I didn’t do a good job.

A view like this, above, makes any grueling travel worthwhile.
These are just some of the 740 islands that sprinkle the Salish Sea around San Juan Island and its neighbor, Orcas Island. A number of them don’t even have names. Feel free to suggest some, but please avoid Tiffany and Jason. Overdone in the 80’s.

The flights that take me off the island and put me back down on it are the big reward on each end of these long hauls. It’s as though after schlepping across the country all day, someone turns to me and says, “let’s go to an amusement park and ride the rollercoaster and the ferris wheel!”. Despite being exhausted and ill-fed, existing on a diet of peanuts and sugar cookies on the planes, and cheese pizzas in the terminals, I reply, “Okay, let’s!” With each of these airborne adventures I gain a better sense of the dimensions of our planet and of the magic within this particular archipelago. I also probably gain an extra gray hair or two, because much as I love these flights for the visuals, I’m not the biggest fan of being a couple of thousand feet up in something that seems about as aerodynamic as my toaster oven.

When you land on Orcas, which was a nice surprise stop on our way out, here’s what you see:

Thousands of busy travelers heading in and out of the glass and chrome international terminal are just out of frame.
But a few deer and raccoons are.

I’m happy to be back. And in eight days, I get to do the amusement park ride again, on my way to Los Angeles. Hooray for the jet age; it brings me closer to nature every time it takes me far away from it.