Saturday, February 19, 2011
i'm working on this piece by lou harrison for violin and javanese gamelan for a performance at the seattle asian art museum with local group, gamelan pacifica. the violin part is hand-written in standard western notation, but to read it as such, i have to de-tune my violin by approximately 1 half step and adjust intervalic spacing note-to-note. without frets, so much of violin playing is dictated by muscle memory. you memorize the hand shapes. you memorize where to place your fingers in relation to other fingers. you memorize how the spacing between 1st and 2nd finger in 1st position on the A string feels in your hand.
this piece poses 2 unique (and daunting!) challenges. 1: i have to listen differently. i have to hear pitch differently. i have to hear the relationships between pitches differently. i have to try to get inside of the sound of the orchestra, of the tuning, of the timbres, while setting on top of it as a soloist. and 2: i have to alter my hand shapes. i have to alter 22 years of muscle memory. i have to change and relearn the feeling of where to place 1st finger in relation to 2nd finger.
i have to suspend my aural and physical associations cultivated and built-in over nearly a lifetime of study.
it makes me consider what else i've spent nearly a lifetime cultivating - patterns, aspects of personality, reactions, likes, dislikes, ways of communicating (or not communicating)...and the resistance, difficulty, and huge fear often associated with enacting change. it helps me have compassion for myself around change, transformation, evolution, undoing, relearning...and it helps me also believe that it's possible. change is possible. change is positive. change is necessary. and the less resistance and fear i meet it with, the more ease and joy i can find in the process.
tuning reference no. 1:
tuning reference no. 2: