Updates/thoughts for February 2020: concert, health, new clavichord composition, Friedrich Nietzsche, & solitude

in #classical-music2 months ago (edited)

CSU's wonderful Zuckermann IV unfretted clavichord

It's been almost a month since my last post. Given that things are becoming even busier and that I haven't been feeling that great, I thought I would try to write a short(er) post now while I have a few free minutes (and the energy) to spare, since I may not have the opportunity to post anything for the next month or two.

First, the Keyboard Area concert is on Friday - Valentine's Day. It should be a great concert. It will be really nice to have the opportunity to make new, better recordings of "Rhapsody on Ancient Arabic and Greek Scales," "Star-Crossed," and a few other compositions I will be performing that night.

A few weeks ago I began to feel ill. At first I thought I might have come down with influenza, but it turns out it was/is fatigue - now chronic fatigue. Consequently, I haven't been feeling well for some time, to say the least! Nonetheless, I have a very busy schedule and I'm doing the best I can to keep up with my obligations without overdoing things.

Recently someone was questioning me about my music, and he raised a criticism that I have received before, namely that my music seems too diverse; that it draws from too many different sources. He noted two strong tendencies in my music; one towards folk music and one towards concert music. This person stated that some pieces seem to be one or the other while others seem to (explicitly) unite the two influences. However, given that he was able to detect these influences throughout my work, I think this dichotomy was not a completely valid one. However, I understood "where he was coming from," to use an American colloquialism.

I gave much thought to this conversation, for a number of reasons. Part of my response to this conversation was to compose a short clavichord work entitled "Apollonian/Dionysian," a link to which is here included. All things considered, I am glad I was able to produce this strange little work.


IMG_9320 1.JPG
This photo was taken just prior to my recording "Apollonian/Dionysian" on February 10th

The title "Apollonian/Dionysian" refers both to the seeming musical dialectic pointed out by my correspondent as well as to the concept of the same name popularized by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche in his first major work, "The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music," originally published in 1872.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 - 1900)

"Apollonian/Dionysian" both distinguishes and subtly unites some of the major influences on my music as pointed out by the person with whom I held the previously mentioned conversation: Arabic/Near Eastern folk music, the music of ancient Greece, and modern & contemporary concert music.

As I was practicing the clavichord earlier this week, and with recent events in mind, I realized how much I have come to love the clavichord during the last year. It really has been like a friend. The clavichord's intimate, subtle, gentle tone has been a great comfort to me. It has been a perfect outlet for my musical voice, for my musically expressing/depicting my emotions and thoughts, etc., during the last year or so.

Despite my best efforts throughout my life I've never really succeeded in fitting into groups, interpersonal or musical - nor, apparently, have I succeeded in fitting into any recognized compositional mold. That this latter point would be deemed worthy of criticism seems quite odd given the pluralistic aesthetic of modern/contemporary Western art. My inability to fit in is something about which I've been painfully aware my entire life, but perhaps I'm finally reconciling myself to it. Maybe that's why I've been thinking of Nietzsche.

The older I get the more I realize my music has been a "music for one," for better or worse. However, the clavichord is an instrument that, so to speak, is "ok" with the presence of only one other person in the room. It doesn't want to attract a crowd or show off. It's a good instrument for someone like me.


@tormus1958 A fellow clavichordist.

Try to have some rest days, Michael! It's important... Also pay only attention to the critics who earned your trust. Otherwise, ignore most of them.

Very relaxing piece! I almost meditated during the first half.

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This is amazing. What is the difference between a clavichord and a harpsichord?
I play piano myself. Maybe one day I'll be able to expand a bit. :-)

Chronic fatigue is something I know very well. I would encourage you to investigate all the causative aspects you can think of. You may not be able to cure it, but you can manage it better if you can eliminate triggers. For me, diet is a big one, grains, soy, sweeteners, contribute greatly, as does the fluorescent lighting in some stores or building - and crowds in general. Stress, of course, so playing clavichord may help you there.

I found your post because @bengy featured you in the Pay it Forward Curation contest. Keep up the great work!

Thank you so much for this very kind and thoughtful comment! To answer your question about the clavichord more fully I hope to write a post in the near future addressing the differences between and repertoire of the two instruments. For now I'll just say that the harpsichord produces its sound by means of plucking the strings while clavichords have an action similar to the piano. A clavichord produces its sound by means of small blades (called "tangents") which strike the strings. Harpsichords produce a uniform dynamic while the clavichord's dynamics, like those of the piano, can vary, depending on the pressure exerted on the keys.

Thank you very much for the advice about coping with chronic fatigue. I have cut back a lot on some of the work I was doing. I over-committed myself and wasn't sleeping well. I've also been working on improving my diet, too. Thank you again for reading this post and for your very nice comments! - Mike

Thank you. That is very interesting information about the clavichord. I will be looking forward to your post about it.

Ha... yes, a clavichord is an interesting and very intimate instrument... we do have one in our living room that my wife likes to use. I recently played a concert with one as well... it was really quite hard not to overpower it with a Baroque Violin... even muted!

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Interesting post and nice tune... I'm listening to it now. However, I have to admit that lately, these kind of calm songs don't do much for me. I'm more a fan of Rock / Metal. 😊

Thanks for sharing!

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Thank you for your nice comment on this post and for listening to the new track. I enjoy rock music, too. Yesterday I was listening to a couple of Frank Zappa's rock albums from the 1970s. Zappa is one of my favorites.

That's nice. I'm listening to this kind of stuff, nowadays:

It's different . I loke . I hope you concert will be very good

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