Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Laying Down the End

Today is the middle day of my vacation.  While small tasks are being completed and general order being improved, I also have more time to dedicate to the guitar today.   An hour in the morning, one plus in the afternoon, and about another 2.5 hours this evening.  Throughout this day, as most days, I worked with the Alexander Technique.  While I apply this particularly to the guitar, I find opportunities to pause and check in with AT regularly.  These moments away from the guitar are just as valuable as those with the guitar, because AT is concerned with how we use our self.  Thus how I pick up a book, open a door, or chop garlic are opportunities to practice AT. 

Now the evening session was going to be much shorter, but around 9 pm I played with a beginning that arose during an improvisation in the afternoon. Standing there playing with this idea, the possibilities began to unfold. I had a sense that once again I would not be going to bed early.  As I continued to play with the music, I knew I was going to need to notate what I had.  In general, I use myself well when playing the guitar either standing or sitting.  But when I sit down to notate I contort and tense in more ways than I knew possible.  With the guitar around my body and notating on the paper on the desk any sense of good use disappears.

During the act of notation this piece began to develop more. So I would write, and play, explore what I had, write, and play.  Noticing odd ways of using my right leg to support the guitar as I crane to see the neck and write down what I was doing.  My back getting tense and tired, my neck no longer free.  But the piece was developing, and my end gaining was in full stride.  The piece taking off in different directions than when I was improvising, is this better or not I hear myself questioning.  After an hour or so of this I know I must take a break.  Not purely out of a sense of being good to myself, I had run out of ideas to explore and notate.  Taking off my guitar, I sensed the stress in my body.  I was already tired when I began this part of the evening, and now even more so.  A good time to call it a night.

But I also knew that I could not yet curl up with my novel.  An AT lie down was in order to relax my back and undo what my end gaining had caused.  As I lay on the floor, my books supporting my neck, I found my thinking wandering what to do next with this piece.  Directing my thoughts back to my body, to lengthen and widen, noticing the relaxation seep in as tired muscles released.  Suddenly I remembered a chord sequence in the bass register, that was near the beginning of the original improvisation, and had been left out once I began notating and exploring.  I had a sense this part would work where I was currently stopped on the piece and was ready to get up and investigate.  End gaining returning, what was I to do?

Fortunately I continued the lie down.  Not meaning any disrespect to the muse, I would return to the music that was being given to me, but what was happening in the lie down was also very important.  I suspect I probably ended the lie down a few minutes sooner than if no idea had arrived, but I did resist the initial impulse to just leap from the floor and return to work.  As I sat at my desk, guitar strapped to my body, I explored this sequence and before I knew what had happened, I had an ending to the piece. 

Now I can curl up with my copy of Ilium.

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