[-empyre-] Wood, what calms (if one has the luxury of calming)

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Tue Nov 25 08:26:36 EST 2014


(what saves me, occupies the space of anguish: the tending and
playing of music, the physicality of wood. wooden instruments
need a kind of stewardship; they're organic, they open other
(sonic) registers, they restore balance, they quiet the world.
I think of playing as curative, calming; the two oud pieces
below present the anguish in another, more healing, register.
on another note, Lakoff's update of Don't Think of An Elephant
has arrived, and is useful in framing political discourse; it
was recommended by Christina. I do remember reading it years
ago, but given the state of political rhetoric in the U.S.,
it seems as relevant as ever.)


returning from NY, finding the humidity below 20% and all the
instruments untuned, even with a large-output humidifier going.
so tuning up again - violin, oud, the sazs, suroz, gambus, all
were wildly loose and luckily nothing cracked. the oud has been
the most difficult to tune up again; at one point the twelfth
(unused) peg fell out and I jumped; I thought it had broken. I'm
now trying to adjust wood and string, keep the qin happy, set
the humidity as high as possible in this dry place in a dry town
(even though by the water), keep the temperature low, anything
so I can stop running around like crazy, resetting the pegs,
worrying the string tension, etc. tomorrow it's the hasapi and
suroz, and that will leave the cranky bowl-backed mandolin for
the last. meanwhile here are two oud solos, each played with the
oud in a different position (traditional, or with the soundboard
upright), each trying something different. with the dry air and
the air dry, with the dry dry air, it's difficult to keep my
hands from slipping, the oud from slipping, the pegs from
slipping yet again, and so here we are; msoud0 is even a bit
lyrical, a relief from the mourning music I often produce. msoud
= Maurice Shehata oud, the name of the maker, the oud originally
from Dubai.

I would play wood! I will play wood! I would play wood!
I would play wood! I will play wood! I would play wood!
I would play wood! I will play wood! I would play wood!

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