Tuesday, October 14, 2008

vocal improv / the abyss

... one week, one sleep-deprived and emotionally mangled week later...

our baby daughter, when more or less contented, makes a wonderful assortment of sounds to herself. some of these are purely conversational or happy, others hint at tiny brewing storms - still, it came as a bit of a jolt to realise that (get this) one of my instant favourite variants in her core vocab - a series of little descending flutters - was identified at once by mrs c. instinctively as a sign of impending colic...

... and there's the abyss right there, the real one within, because the experience of confronting a helpless baby, screaming in apparent anguish when you've taken pains to see that it's lacking nothing it most needs, hurtles you into whichever is your own darkest emotion, conjures up your particular self-destructive demon with instant and terrifying effect. factor in the state described in the first sentence of this post, and the darkness outside which mirrors the darkness within (so that the crying of one infant becomes loud enough to risk shattering your sanity, is literally very nearly intolerable, as nature intended of course), and solitude (your life partner temporarily wiped out with exhaustion) - this is the stuff they don't generally try to warn you about, and with good reason, not that anyone would heed it anyway. yes, it's worth it but that's just as well. if we had known what it entailed we would... well, no need to indulge myself by even thinking about that. this is where we are.

don't worry, this is not about to turn into "baby blog" - except insofar as it's always been that! - but i have no trouble seeing the relevance of posting it here, even if this were not my most important channel of honest expression (as it is): my appreciation of b's solo playing, above all, has greatly enhanced my ability to enjoy the sounds of many other voices and as for the pain stuff, what the hell have i been banging on about all this time if not that? (my stalker was right enough about a thing or two, as they always are i suppose.) the necessity of tonal distortion in true utterance... life is pain and that pain must be felt - life also remains beautiful and worthwhile. and not for nothing does the confrontation with the abyss, outlined in the para above, tear at the foundations of sanity: what you are seeing is your shit, thrown back at you in fast-forward intensity, the child having absorbed all your fucked-up emotions and socially-implanted damage for nine months - cushioned in utero, it's not possible to express this; once in the dear old vale of tears, it emerges in the form of trapped wind precisely, the english description far more straightforwardly close to the chinese understanding here than would ever be suspected*. and besides, where else do i turn for solace when i eventually get a few precious moments to myself but to the music of anthony braxton? just to remind everyone again of the guiding purpose of this site ;-)

- and this was brought to you by: quintet (london) 2004; beyond quantum; and comp. 277 (ded. harry partch, here for quintet with two reed players)... and as always i find so much of my life reflected in this astonishing music that i can only marvel at how inevitable it was that i would end up immersing myself in it. (the trio with parker and graves speaks volumes to me today, under these intensified conditions sounding indeed far more than the sum of its parts... despite parker's running in circles.) the baby even caught the end of the last one... can only do her good :) as for the london quintet, i am starting to realise what a touchstone that is for me. but this is all the time i have at present, back i go...

* wind - wood - growth - movement - anger - liver etc.

6 comments:

lee said...

Earlier this week we had a full 24-hour marathon session of crying alternated with arrhythmic grunting. I've decided to blame it all on the presidential election over here.

centrifuge said...

damn, man... i strongly suspect you have hit the nail squarely on the head - in which case you probably have not heard the last of it :-S ...there must be so much toxic (paranoid/borderline psychotic) shit flying around every community in the states right now... i don't know about you, but right now is when i am finally beginning to see the fruits of systematically cutting out tv, newspapers, magazines etc from my daily environment over the last few years - i scan the news headlines every day or so on the net just in case, sports results usually more often (essentially unpredictable and therefore more interesting... even the impending financial crisis is of little interest to me unless the big dominoes actually start toppling)

our man is quite strongly behind the democratic candidate, incidentally... but i have not been able to establish whether this represents any particular belief in the candidate, as opposed to simple relief that he beat his female rival to the position..!

lee said...

We got the baby turned on to Obama from the outset. He's got a button on his diaper bag. A little over a year ago, we sold out TV. It's amazing how much you don't miss.

A snippet of conversation you might appreciate:
Me: "The baby was crying, but then I played him some Masada and he relaxed."
Wife: "That's because Masada is awesome."

I finally listened to Conference. All I can say so far is... huh. Not what I expected. But the Nonaah reissue completely blew me away. Still not sure about Beyond Quantum.

folly for to see what said...

Hi Centrifuge and also Lee!
I've seen your comments and just want to say…

Now that my little daughter is five yo, and after countless nights and days of "mysterious weeping" (mostly because the worst baby enemy, the colic). I can tell you all that "horrible impotent feeling" is now a memory of the past. And I really think this make us more sensitive to our child feelings… Yes I know, when your babies are crying this sounds like an stupid bad taste joke, but is the true…
And well, you'll see when they say for the first time daddy…

About the music applied to relax, enjoy… babies, after listen with my daughter to differents "free-impro-avant-jazz… music" I discover the "dutch music" with its swing and humor sense, but also abstract sound is really funny for her. She even says a lot of times she enjoy a lot with Mr Bennink… Of course had to be him!

Best wishes to both

(Only add that I hope the less bad option gains the elections, would be nice if knows where Spain is…)

centrifuge said...

hi lee... heh, mrs c. likes a bit of masada herself (and even sat through a spot of gtm last night, and is so generally sleep-deprived, she's probably in an ideal state to appreciate it!)

nonaah is gonna be going on the xmas list i reckon... actually i'm listening to roscoe m. right now, the sardegna trio from folly... (see message 4!). as for beyond quantum, i reckon the problem (if it is one) is parker - spends too much time static, not for the first time in his gargantuan career... at times (as in the live set by the same trio) the bass sounds more or less incidental to the energetic exchange that's taking place. but, y'know, whisper it quietly cos i don't wanna ignite that particular conflagration right now ;-)

centrifuge said...

"folly", hi there man... and thanks again for the mitchell trio (DAMN that man can twist a sax line into some strange and wonderful shapes) - thanks too for your encouragement, i know we are supposed to be in the middle of the hardest part at the moment and i'm sure it'll all be worthwhile :)

the dutch guys sound like a good bet, especially bennink! for now of course all sensory input (within reason!) is the same to her and i can get away with anything ... i am very conscious of my desire to facilitate the opening of my daughter's ears, not hoping that she will like the same music as me, but so that she might be far less limited in terms of what she finds "acceptable" than most of us are in our safe western democracies... we're back to prgoramming again, not that this is anything new i'm saying here...!