Tuesday, 20 January 2009

A mixed evening...

Very frustrating - my ancient laptop is packing up. It's practically a museum piece, it must be over ten years old and it was second-hand when it came to me, and the letter "v" sticks (turning "live" into "lie" and "beloved" into "beloed"), but I am fond of it. And it wouldn't turn on yesterday. I was so fired-up with wanting to write that I set-to with some scrap paper and got some work done; but pen-and-paper is slow compared to typing, even typing as bad as mine. I put on "Rosenkavalier", though, and I put my head down and stuck at it.

I often work - writing, painting, drawing, the lot - with music, and I have found that certain kinds of music uplift and inspire me; light, pleasant stuff that doesn't have any real guts is fine, as are folk music and world music (Alan Stivell, Tina Malia, kora music, for example), and truly great music is fine so long as it is instrumental (Bach's solo violin works are fanastic to write or paint-to) and isn't heartbreaking (I don't think I could paint to Mahler 3, for instance, as I'd be crying too much). Singing is fine too so long as it is NOT sung in a language that I understand, as I then listen too much to concentrate on what I'm doing.

This is a pity, as it rules out a great deal of opera, which is probably my all-time favourite music. If I listen to "Billy Budd", for instance, I am completely gripped from the beginning, and would be incapable of applying brush to canvas except to leave a trail of random daubs, until the very last bar. (Okay, so I have the Hickox/LSO recording, with Simon Keenlyside and Philip Langridge, which is pretty rivetting stuff). And, although I don't speak Italian, I do speak Spanish, and I've listened to enough Italian opera to have picked up a lot of vocab from it; I find myself hanging on every word of that, again, despite the idiocy of many libretti (I'm sorry, but "Mille serpenti mi devoran il petto", anyone? Really, how silly is that?! Have YOU ever said that, even when seriously pissed-off?!). Ah well; musically they are the cream of the bunch, those big nineteenth century Italian operas, and I feel rude not giving my full attention to really great work. Yet I can semi-sublimate "Rosenkavalier", a truly magnificent opera on the stage, and any amount of lieder, even with my favourite lieder singer in action. The only clue I can find in this confusion is that I speak barely twenty words of German (& those are mostly things to eat and drink). Yet I can't blot out "Die Zauberflöte"... so that puts paid to that theory.

Anyway, I did get some writing done last night, as I'd hoped - but not as much as I'd hoped. And IF I can get the laptop to behave again tonight, I shall have to transcribe it all, which is a bit boring when one wants to rush ahead with exploring the story, and the method of telling.

I knew when I first conceived this particular story that from the reader's POV it would have to begin at a particular point, and therefore at least one part of the narrative would have to be explained in a flash-back of some kind. Easy to think of in theory! - not so easy to write. Part of what got me started was suddenly "seeing" how I could write it; one of the principal characters is imprisoned, awaiting trial, probably going to be sentenced to death, and is visited by someone who can penetrate his mind. Cue flashback; the events that led him there are connected to the events he recalls, and I am having a lot of fun trying to convey the confused and eddying state of his thoughts. If I can, I'll work "E lucevan le stelle" in, for a joke; after all, given the character's situation it's pretty appropriate. "Gabriel Yeats" is full of references to music; mostly "Die Zauberflöte" and the Brahms violin sonatas that I have Simon Cenarth playing at a couple of salient moments. We'll see, we'll see...

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