Monday, January 14, 2013

Taking A Stand

Taking A Stand

I watched them try to
break you, take you down, teach you
the truth of these things.
I saw the sweat bead
on your ruddy forehead, run
into your red eyes.
You would not budge, no.
You grinned that wild grin saying
"No fucking way, man!"
I was like that once.
I remember me truly
not so long ago.

July 19, 2010 8:17 PM

The truth be known, I am taking a stand right now, dealing with a type of musician I know from the "halls of the academy". You see I am a lifelong musician but I come from the ranks of the rest of us, not the academy trained. While many of the giants of contemporary music also trained in the academy or at least trained in "that sort" of music often and incorrectly termed "classical", the doors are open to many other roads and there are many masters of western contemporary music who have no idea what the academic types are talking about. My actual training was a few years of piano and voice leading toward and in high school in an aside of my main thrusts in my education. I got the great privilege to train in a church choir under Edwin Dunning, then the head of the department of music at San Jose State. I loved music and then I found a mentor in a folk singer in a local coffee house. I sat for hours and learned his approach after the fashion of following the guru of the eastern traditions. Then I spent years realizing my own style on the guitar from the way he played his and sang his songs. After six years I hit a wall, a limit to my progress (because I was forcing things and didn't know how to stop that) and left it all behind. What I left behind was professional level performance but no audience.

Then I spent years without music in my life even though I could sing in choir, having trained right to the edge of professional there and also had this guitar thing going. That music life I left behind was in the sixties. Then in the nineties a series of life changes gave me my music back and the issue of desperation I had was gone. Since that return I have developed a style on the keyboard, developed a percussion style on certain hand drums, and I returned to singing in serious venues but never really to the guitar... well a girl friend helped me revive it for a few years. Now my body has largely failed as an instrument and support to instruments but I keep the keyboard alive.

I have been told by someone "in the black print" I am far too inexperienced and limited to talk of such matters as Just Intonation with one of the academic elite. The thing is I can in fact talk about music theory, have audited courses in it and also in her kind of music and other necessaries and she is just full of shit. Her problem is I can't use the exact right words in her realm (she teaches in college) and I don't come from her circle of musicians. This also excludes most other musicians on the planet. It excludes absolute masters of musical forms other than the symphonic forms she prefers and has made her life in. I have no doubt that the orchestras that she works with use Just Intonation but under certain musical performance choices they have to modify that stance without question, entering another kind of modified tuning. This is all quite esoteric to most of you. The debate pisses me off. I have told her so. She continues to keep her nose above the fray in a particularly irritating way though she continues to reply and all this is happening on yet a third person's facebook page. I am comfortable with her sallies and my replies, confident in what I say. I am not backing down.

When I was singing in a local chorale specializing in Estonian music, I had the opportunity to meet several people of her stripe and some of them were as irritating as she is. It seems to go with the territory.

I don't think it is costing me very much in any deep way. What is really cool is that today's poem has arisen in the normal rotation as the next "new" poem never before published on my blog. :D

Rant over.


  1. That's too bad. She has shut herself off from growth, from learning what you and others know...KNOW from experience, from gut, from love. Even if translated through a different language, your knowledge has value. Very sad indeed and not a wonder it pisses you off!

    1. Oh I don't really see it like that. That would reverse our positions. She sees me with a kind of academic pity. She does indeed have books worth of inside knowledge. In the meantime she tries pretty hard to misread my stuff because she has already determined I am part of the unwashed masses. There is a certain truth to it all as well, that I hardly know what she does. The musical life she lives is full of sacrifice. If it doesn't have the meaning she pins on it, then she has wasted her time. She is surrounded by peers who all share this life. It's a kind of "inside the beltway" thing. I am definitely not part of that group.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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