Monday, November 19, 2007

Classy


Every so often I go through a phase where I feel like being cultured. These never last very long. But when such humours strike, they make me do wild and crazy things like go to art museums or listen to National Public Radio. (Apparently they also make me say, "National Public Radio," instead of just "NPR." But that might have had something to do with sentence cadence, too.)

I am currently in one of these phases, and what it's making me do this time is listen to classical music stations and practice my flute. (My mother is now weeping with joy. Aren't you, Mom?) It started about two weeks ago when it hit me for the millionth time how I used to be able to play fairly complex classical pieces on my flute and now I can scarcely read music. This time I decided I was fed up with the idea. So I've pulled out some more or less simple things that I used to play and am working my way up. (We'll see how long this lasts. It helps that Former-Roommate-Sarah is now giving me voice lessons, too, which means that I have to practice something anyway.)

At about the time I made this decision in self-discipline, I was listening to one of the insipid pop-stations-which-claim-to-be-alternative that I usually listen to because they don't actually require listening, and I realised that James Blunt was singing, but that I had spent the whole first half of the song thinking it was a woman. And then I switched the station to another of the same ilk . . . and he was still singing. It was really dreadful.

When I first started practicing my flute again (instead of dragging it out every couple of weeks for church and irresponsibly winging it), I thought, "The problem with this whole thing is that I don't actually like the flute." It's not really very cool, you know. Also, when my brother was in junior high and learning the trombone, if he got mad at someone in the family, he could go in his room and let out a long and satisfying blat on it. Whereas, if I attempt something similar with the flute, all I get is "shrill," and there is nothing satisfying about shrill at all.

I was thinking this, somewhat discontentedly, when the classical station I had just started listening to played something by Faure. Gabriel Faure single-handedly makes flute cool, I decided. I think he might have been the only person who really got it. Well, and maybe Poulenc. Anyway. I'm thankful for Gabriel Faure. I'm also grateful that this radio station seems to like him, too.

10 comments:

Annelise said...

Weeping, no, but glad you've seen the light! :-) Actually, when I took up trumpet at age 12, I thought the flute was boring. Nowadays, I'd much rather be playing the flute (of course, my trumpet-playing days are shrouded in the mists of my high school past). It's true that Faure and Poulenc really knew how to use the flute, and actually I've heard Galway play some Baroque on it and that sounds cool too. Now if you're feeling frustrated, the piano is really the instrument to play on....

Annelise said...

One more thing....from your aging mother. Playing complicated music, and the discipline of practice is really good for the brain.

Jenn said...

Ah, Mom. I think I could have written those comments for you myself. ;) As for the piano, yes, this is no doubt true. But it may be that my brain is too far gone ever to be able to read two lines of chords concurrently.

David Madeira said...

Now, Jenn, you don't necessarily need a trombone to let out "long, satisfying blats."

...

sorry.

Heather said...

Amen to the piano being a good frustrated instrument. I've done some good banging in my day.
Don't forget about Chaminade or Briccialdi (the fun Carnival of Venice piece) or Prokofiev or a slew of other french composers.
But yeah, I get ya. Numerous times I've wished that I played clarient (which has some many tones and moods and can be used in classical or jazz) or violin (you can just dig in with the violin).

Christianne said...

Hey, I used to play the flute, too! I never thought it was very cool, either, except I did think it was elegant. Good for you for taking it up again. And as far as sounding cultured goes, you sounded hecka-cultured when you spouted off all those classical guys' names. You lost me there. :)

Rebecca said...

Okay, if you think the flute is un-cool, how about the piccolo. Aside from the awesome solo in Stars & Stripes, the need for a piccolo is, ummm, shall we say, very limited. Unfortunately, my marching band teacher in HS didn't think so and so he permanently switched me from the flute to the piccolo, thereby effectively ruining my future in symphonic music.

And, I totally agree with Christianne, you definitely sounded ultra-classy when you rolled out the "Faure" and "Poulenc". I'm going to have to go look them up!

dave grosser said...

I did? Wow, that's awesome!

Of course, by "awesome" I mean "embarrassingly hilarious"!

Also hilarious: DWM.

Also: Many would say that Jethro Tull makes the flute cool, but I would agree that Faure goes much, much farther in that trajectory.

Jenn said...

Now DWM--are you sure your last name isn't "Grosser," too?

Heather--I don't think I'm knowledgeable to have come up with any of those other making-flute-somewhat-more-interesting pieces or people. But thanks for the heads-up!

Christianne and Rebecca--not really that classy. See my note to Heather. But thanks for the props anyway! Also, Rebecca--sorry about the piccolo. It IS kind of exhilarating in Stars and Stripes, though, don't you think?

Dave--I had meant to say something about Jethro Tull, but forgot. Probably because I've still only heard OF him and never actually HEARD him . . .

L.L. Barkat said...

Flute! Me too. And I need to bring it out again.

(On a totally different note... uh... no pun intended... Marcus used your feedback in a post about my book wog. I'm interested to see where it goes.)

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