Friday, January 21, 2011


View south from the back porch, late afternoon, 1/19/11

I have neglected this, alas. Of course, not much news is to be expected from the prairie in January. There are voles (little tunneling field mice that eat plants) everywhere out there, but our experience with our potatoes, where they were all over the place but only got 10% of the crop, gives me hope that they won't consume everything I've planted.

The main thing that has kept me from writing is that I have at last found a rhythm of work, and once I'm in that mode, it is difficult to pause for reflection. This laptop has the script and the Finale (music notation software) score of the current song open, and I go back and forth between the studio recording, writing any lyric changes in the score and script, writing out the parts for the music. At the moment I have 25 minutes of my djembe playing to sort through, just for one five-minute piece. I am constantly making up music in my head, but I have learned not to trust that what I imagine is as good as what I can make out of it in the real world. Especially with rhythm and percussion I need to hear the music in real time and space in my body to make any meaningful decisions. It is also very important for harmony vocal parts. Coming up with parts that "obey the rules" is easy, but why a particular part is right in a certain spot is far more mysterious--I have to hear it. So, I come up with several things in my imagination but I have to try them out to get the one that really works.

Framing these intense work sessions are 3-mile walks along the river road and cabinet-building upstairs. The collective feeling of progress is somehow like that pink-orange glow at the top of McKenzie Butte in the photo above.