Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Big fat wet fluffy white snow flakes are falling outside my window, softening the view of concrete apartment blocks and leafless trees silhouetted against a grey sky. It's the day after Christmas. I have a cardigan in squishy Malabrigo and shades of burned orange (autumn leaves) on my knitting needles, and a dissertation chapter on women, mothers, feminists and nationalists under my fingers. Some very ordinary days feel uniquely good. Today is one of them. Even persistent housework, and admin, and frustrating paperwork can't really put a damper on things. In a few hours, my wife will be home, and we'll eat Christmas leftovers and talk about our day. The Christmas tree will flash multi-coloured flowers at us, and we'll try to decide between leftover chocolate cake and leftover malva pudding. I like my life. I sometimes forget that.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Listening closely

Sometimes my writing takes me away from the music for a while. Recently I've been doing a lot of non-dissertation work, and listening to the music required by that has crowded Karen Zoid out of my life soundtrack just a little. Today, this week, and until the end of this year, though, I'm back in Karen's space, and it feels like coming home. I've been listening for themes across groups of songs this week, comparing her writing on motherhood, and her writing on politics, and on race.... There are lots of possible groups. I was flicking through videos of her, looking for a different one, when the one below came up, and I was compelled to stop for a bit. You know how some songs feel like they were written just for you? This one hadn't been one of those for me, until I really listened to it today.

I think it may be because I was listening to and studying a different song with my class today, and so my ears were tuned to a particular interplay of rising melodic figures. Karen once asked me what music inspired me, and I always felt like I fluffed the answer by saying that it was her music. Of course it's her music. I'm writing a whole dissertation on her music. But it's also this. And it's something about the experience of performing this, and singing it with my students, and watching them as they talk about musical holiness, and then watching them as they understand how the composer did that, and how they can do that. That is what inspires me. And that type of music-making experience is why listening to Karen, and listening to the people who adore her, inspires me.