I’m an un-practiced musician. There grieves the piano, anticipation of my touch buried for now. A guitar excited me for a little while but was, after all, too difficult. There waits a harp, hopeful of my embrace again. My voice still sings, for an audience of angels if they’ve nothing better to do, or as I think I can put the passion I have for a career I never did into words.
And so often the fiction I write–out of history and imagining, love and disappointment, encounter and escape, silence and sound—is musing from and for music (melodious, melancholy, magical music), easier done for its company.
I share a little of my playing with words now, and will probably do so again later.
“Musical” excerpt from A House Near Luccoli:
What was he waiting for? The bow raised his right sleeve, turned his face away and lowered his chin, his own hair covering any expression of nerves. The violin bent his left arm, curling its hand, straightening his shoulders and curving his back so his hips disappeared and legs lengthened, butterfly knotted shoes closely parted like feet on a pedestal table. The slightly past midday sun was a spotlight on the terrace, his creamy coat and the crimson of Margherita’s skirt—no breeze or any kind of movement, not even a cough or whisper.
Lonati stood and was told to sit down again. Alessandro was perfectly posed for a portrait or memory or the recognition of God, raising his sight, an aspiring suitor preparing to declare his intentions.
Hands and laps held programs Donatella had duplicated for Una Storia del Cavalieri, Il Trionfo Erroneo di Amore. Alessandro wasn’t confident the Genoese elite would admittedly enjoy it. Unless he kept it at a distance in a self-indulged city like Venezia and accompanied by elaborate sets and costumes, effects and even dancing. There hadn’t been money or time for such an undertaking, so perhaps his hesitation considered how much depended on the manipulation of his music to refine and even refute the folly of its subject. Within moments of his bow sliding into sound a trick was also triumph, holding back impulse for contemplation and swashbuckling for delicacy, putting serenity in strings before the highs and lows of singers. Doriclea loved Fidalbo not Olindo and every note believed her until Alessandro played with them, Lonati following in friendly imitation, the castrato coming forward. Eventually the continuo slowed everyone, underscoring virtuosity and relieving it too if not for long. The principal of obstinato was practiced for connection and contest, a single motif tossed around in slightly different versions like a rumor or hope of one, voices and instruments in competing agreement.
Alessandro was master of entertaining and editorializing, stealing the show without taking anything from the roles of lovers and go betweens, spoilers and servants—giving character to their romance, farce and delusion. He stood apart from the ensemble with nods for their faithfulness, or squints and frowns for what he hadn’t thought of. Less and less he was concerned with an audience irrelevant to his sense of achievement or regret, artistic isolation suiting him as much as flamboyancy.
Copyright © 2010 by DM Denton
All Rights Reserved
Link to my previous post Words and Music.
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A grieving piano and a harp hopeful of embrace! Lovely descriptions of their silent reproach. Your personification of musical instruments works so well in this extract from your fiction; the way the bow raises the player’s sleeve and bends his arm – as if he were in the instrument’s power. All beautifully observed.
Your comment made me emotional. I have so much time, energy and feeling invested in this fiction–like a child I was overly protective of while knowing I would have to let go and move on. Your kindness and understanding encourages me to have more faith in its endurance.
I really look forward to your posts and so value your insights on mine. Thank you so much.