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Claudine Jones


I'm hurting. This thing of being out of harness...aaah! No more.


Three or four different recordings of the maddeningly difficult main attraction coming up in December—the other easier sheet music is filed in my Fall_15 music folder awaiting the printer.  I’ve tried to solfege it in my head when I’m going to sleep but it’s not composed with any key signatures; between modulations you're on your own, so forget that. 


Not thrilled with the lyrics, so I’ll find a way of pretending it’s not English; dragging out the syllables sort of does it for you, so there you go. 


In my favorite version, one of the bass baritones has a quality of tenderness, huskiness, old-worldly gentleness; I could listen to him over & over. In fact, I have since he does the solo bits in the Big piece. 37 minutes give or take—some conductors take a bit longer or not—which means I can listen to the entire recording several times a day: washing up in the kitchen, reading a book (yep, that works), knitting, writing a column (yep, that works, too).


I can truthfully say on a couple of occasions, I've stopped abruptly at whatever point I’d reached because I was suddenly saturated: done for the day. Skipped a day sometimes…just…skipped it.
The guilt attached to that snaps away like a rubber band out the window.


Unencumbered as a new-born, I unwrap the earbuds & set the player going again.


A tenor I know once was inspired for some reason to tell us via FB that his favorite lied of all time is by Strauss; I couldn’t resist: I got the piece & it fortuitously came with a disc of piano accompaniment senza voce.


treble-crWhat a treat! I listened to that frikkin’ thing ‘til I was drunk with it. Never opened my mouth; I read through the lyric, made a few notes in the score, got clear on some tricky rhythms, but I never opened my mouth until I had the feeling that what came out was going to be what I heard in my head.  For performance purposes, I don't recommend this as a general rule, but I could indulge myself; nobody pounding on my door. No requests for Strauss, hunh-unh. 


I can’t say what else was going on—not a lot, I don’t imagine. A fallow point probably. 


Yet, after a month or so of this exercise, I was catapulted into a gathering at my audiophile brother & sister-in-law’s house. The score & the CD were magically in my possession as though they had whispered take us, just in case. If there are enough lovers of music there to make up an audience of sorts she'll gladly noodle that Satie her husband really digs, on her grandma's Steinway.

I waited for a moment to present itself.
It didn’t. 

 Finally I grabbed my brother by the sleeve & wiggled the CD at him put this on for me? He said sure & I stood there waiting with my score in front of me until the talk subsided.  My brother hit start…and Mozart came out…wtf?  T. turned & said…wtf & tried again. More Mozart. I was peaking. It took three tries before he realized he had put my Strauss on top of his Mozart; not his finest moment.


There is something about the effect of an unexpected shot of adrenaline—anybody will tell you—it can wipe you clean of any inhibition…you’re on autopilot.  When the Strauss finally began, it overtook everything.   I heard myself as though it had been there the whole time, the first time. 


When it was over, I laughed!

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Actor/Singer/Dancer Claudine Jones has worked steadily in Bay Area joints for a number of decades.
She writes a monthly column and is
a Senior Writer for Scene4.
For more of her commentary and articles,
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©2015 Claudine Jones
©2015 Publication Scene4 Magazine




September 2015

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