A 365-Day Project

"We Are All Mozart"

A project to create
new works and change
the perception of the
music of our time.

Mantra Canon score pages Dennis

previous   December 31, 2006   next

My child picture is to the left again, because I'm going to feel young again starting tomorrow. For tonight, I'm the grizzled old guy that sees the year out.

The past few weeks have been full of holidays and catch-up, a new engraving client, and an upcoming dozen articles on assistive technology. Of course I would have preferred to say no to them all, to declare my independence from day jobs of any kind, but "We Are All Mozart" did not catch fire as I'd hoped. And, behind the digital scenes here at WAAM central, a Beethoven's birthday celebratory change of motherboard worked brilliantly -- until an unexpected failure to comprehend the fine print in a Microsoft support document resulted in data being consumed like me whipping through a bowl of Cocoa Pebbles. Thirty-six sleepless hours and some unexpected expenditures solved the problems, but weakened my resolve to continue a daily blog.

Oh, no, that's not all. We had high water again, and our dock was carried downstream, over the falls, and across the wide bend about a mile away, where it now rests, pressed deeply into the icy mud. We'll retrieve it in spring. And on Christmas Day, the temperature was a high of 50 degrees and johnny-jumpups were blooming. The world is getting warmer. It wasn't until yesterday that we had more than a decorative icing of snow; ten inches of the feather-light blanket snow fell. And last week we learned that the USDA had revised the hardiness zone map again, the first time since 1990. We have grown a zone warmer here in Vermont, from zone 4 (-20 to -30) to zone 5 (-10 to -20). The implications are a longer growing season, but also more Japanese beetles and other noxious insects. This coming year will reveal more.

Naturally, the lack of happy frostiness in the air deflated our holiday enthusiasm, and by 9:30 Christmas eve (when we finally started searching for a tree), there were none to be found. And so one ficas, one Norfolk pine and three jade plants were brought together, and the decorations hung on the pyramid. It was cheerful enough, and the 20-year-old Norfolk pine got the decorations it never had before.

Since the five rhythm commentaries, there has been some lucid reaction. As soon as I receive permission from the authors, I'll post them.

I collect sames. The local mill around the corner makes hardwood thinguses: miniature baseball bats, drumsticks, table legs, parquet flooring, spindles, and all manner of small decorative items. They're nice folks, and they sell their wood scrap -- as clean and dry as it gets -- for kindling. We stock up each year and a bin full (about five barrels) lasts a winter. Occasionally the scrap is too marvelous to burn, as it was with last week's truckload. It was varying lengths (from an inch to six) of one-inch by one-inch red oak. So yes, I collect sames, things that are a quantity whose purpose might suggest itself. I saw a red oak floor, but Stevie walked in and saw a butcher's block. Indeed. So during those deep winter days (if we ever get them this year), several butcher's blocks will be created for the family.

I haven't talked much music. So here's the plan. The next three days are commissions, and the resulting pieces will be posted here late in the evening. If other ideas come to mind, they'll be in alternate blogs, if less than frequently.

And now for the complaints department. As you can guess, my tolerance for Messiah airings is fairly low, but it's the season and why be a bahhumbuggian. But floating by on NPR last week was a Messiah replete with backbeat and the ornaments done as gospel. It was embarrassing. There's really no reason to tolerate the waste of talent invested in a yearly Messiah, much less this stylistic quodlibet. It had all the depth of roadkill on I-10 across Texas -- and yes, after bumping and bumping one October night, we pulled off and slept. This musical abomination was one of those desperately misguided attempts to create a stylistic reinterpretation. The musicological justification presented in an oh-so-NPR matter-of-factness was Mozart's re-orchestration of the piece (a peculiar score which I possess), but if only. I was more reminded of A Fifth of Beethoven. Please, NPR and whatever orchestra you were: Don't ever do this again. Have someone write something new. Anything new.

That's it. Tomorrow the first WAAM piece, an electronic composition commissioned by Noah Creshevsky. Wish me well.

As a raucous computer began to devour data, this is what I saw.

No wondrous fir this year, but instead our homey collection of ficas, Norfolk pine, and jade plants.

Yes, it's that warm on Christmas Day -- and all that hair should be shorn in a few days.

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