Piano and Voice: the Feather : June 27-July5, 2007

Journal entries by composer and pianist Laurie Conrad

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Piano and Voice: the Feather : June 27-July5, 2007

Post by figaro » Sun Jul 29, 2007 6:52 am

Piano and Voice: The Feather; A Composer’s Journal Entries : June 27- July 5, 2007

Wednesday, June 27
12:30 a.m.

Finished the rough revision/sketch of The Feather for piano & voices last night. Introduced several more traditional, more tonal sections to contrast the more ethereal style of the original (which was for harp, voice & other instruments) to help symbolize, delineate, the two realms. In the original version the baritone singer stood more in other realms with his beloved - in this revision he more stands between realms. In the coming days I will play the score through to see if these changes improve the score or confuse the meaning. Decided to keep The Feather in the Unsung Song cycle, as the last song even though the instrumentation differs from the other songs.

Earlier today I collapsed from the heat. A storm came through late afternoon & the temperature dropped almost twenty degrees; I was finally able to open some doors a few minutes ago. A flashback to last summer, & I see that I am still very weakened by those events. This time I was able to avoid a trip to the hospital; Niel is an Emergency Medical Technician in his country. Interestingly enough, Niel was with the Ithaca ambulance people today, on a tour of sorts. Had I called an ambulance - he very well might have been in the ambulance that came for me.

I can still barely sit up & suddenly the summer holds more than one threat. When the symptoms began I immediately took two aspirin to avoid a heart attack & called M. At one point I closed my eyes & looked within - but unlike last summer I could not see into other realms, & in my confused state thought: “Oh no, they don’t want me in Heaven.” Later M. said: “You didn’t see into other realms because you are not leaving this time.”

What a day. And now the entire summer stretches ahead before me like a mine field.

As soon as I am strong enough I will start copying out The Feather.

Thursday, June 28

Much cooler today, more storms. Started to copy out the main score of The Feather. Because of the change in instrumentation, I cannot cut & paste this score together. I have to write out all the notes. And there are many of them. Niel stayed home today, to keep me company, & is studying for exams as I work.

Still trying to recover from yesterday. Sweet Niel brings me Gatorade & endless tall glasses of water & tells me to eat. He also gives me potato chips & ice cream when my blood sugar drops, not an unpleasant cure. In the hospital they gave me a cup of glucose to drink & an IV of saline solution...


Sunday, July 1
Windgarth House
11.20 a.m.

High 60's, sunny; clear. I can almost see every tree across the lake. It’s been a rough few days; moments of clarity & strength alternating with total weakness & the feeling that I will lose consciousness. Still drinking water & Gatorade, eating bread, protein & potato chips. The score to The Feather untouched.

Kyle mowed the lawns; men are cutting down Ester’s tree. Larry is burning branches & leaves left over from the storm on his small beach.

Some people of various sizes & genders are fishing in a small boat not far from our dock; am sending all the fish angels. Windy, white caps in the distance north & south of us. The lake deep greens & blues, a bit ominous; but points of light everywhere, waves chasing each other, headed south. Seagulls slowly circling, gliding on the wind. A few waves from the small boat as it leaves, the fish safe.

We have the downstairs this week. M. & Niel are doing the laundry for the new upstairs tenants who arrive this afternoon. Later, I will help fold the sheets & towels; right now I am trying to gain some healing from the cool air & friendly sun. Niel brought his books, to study for exams; I forgot my score. Instead of working on The Feather I could begin the new piece for solo harp.

Two pages of the accompanying lines of The Feather have me stumped, I will skip them for now & copy out the rest of the score. A beautiful leaf has floated my way - a rich maroon color with cream veins. The clouds many-layered & dimensional & grey at the base, traveling slowly south like an immense & ponderous caravan or pilgrimage ... Or a flotilla of huge ships; a procession. Others are coming from across the vineyards, from the east. The two armies are now almost touching south of us; a vast opening of blue above, the ruling sun strong & clear ... Jamie is cleaning the house, vacuuming, all is right with the world. When she has finished I will see what needs to be done.

11:20 p.m. Not long after writing those words I collapsed. For the rest of the day.

Tuesday, July 3
12:30 p.m.

Another hard day yesterday. Managed to copy out a few pages of score last night. Copied a few more this morning, when I first got up. Niel went to M’s office to study. Talked to the plumber; he apologized for his high fee, said he did not set the prices. Another beautiful day; it might go into the low seventies today.

Wednesday, July 4
2 p.m.

Niel & M. went to Windgarth last night; JF stayed overnight here in town with me. I am still dizzy, faint, with periods where I completely collapse. During stronger periods I managed to work on The Feather, copying out the main score.

It is almost done except those few pages of accompaniment in the piano. It is a perfect day to work on the song, raining, misty, humid & warm. Mood-wise, it would be better if I were at Windgarth, overlooking the lake - but today I need the solitude of town - & the sonorities of the seven foot Steinway in our living room.

Those few pages elude me. I have sketched out several possible accompaniments, but none feel entirely correct. For one, I cannot decide whether to leave those pages very simple, uncomplicated, as to not interfere with the voice - or not. There are actually two passages I am grappling with; the first is longer than the second & earlier in the song. The second passage comes almost at the end, & is almost a melodic repeat of the first passage save half as long. I have those three pages of sketches up on the piano rack, waiting for me. Waiting, but perhaps I am hoping they will somehow magically write themselves ....

Thursday, July 5

Rain here & there. JF took me on a car ride to Trumansburg, along the lake. The rain glittering in the woods, along the road; lushness everywhere. Afterwards, I sketched new accompaniments for those few pages; I feel I am getting closer to what I feel inwardly. In this sense the true artist is a mystic: the true artist looks within. The mystic tries to align his personal being & thoughts with the soul; the true artist tries to align the outer manifestations of his art with his inner vision & being. The mystic would call that inner being the soul.

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