Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Playing Mozart....

I rarely link to articles posted elsewhere, but "Playing Piano Pieces as Mozart Did" was so fascinating, I had to recommend it. 

Don't miss the accompanying instructional video.  Enjoy!

Now, off to put some of these ideas into practice!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Music and Prose: "Oh, Benny!"

I'm always searching for artists who find novel ways to combine music and storytelling. So, the other night, when I heard Steve Rashid sing his wonderful piece, "Oh, Benny," I knew I had to share it.  I'm not going to repeat Steve's explanation regarding how he was inspired to write the song. His is perfection.

You can find "Oh, Benny" by forwarding to 50.30 on the video. But heck, why not listen to the whole performance? Steve, Don Sternberg, and Jim Cox are fabulous, as is Steve's son, Robert, who joins them on the drums. Get yourself a drink, sit back, and enjoy!

Photo by Suzanne Plunkett

Steve Rashid
Steve Rashid is an Emmy winning composer, a performer, producer and recording engineer. He holds a B.A. in Music and Philosophy from Ripon College and a Masters Degree in Music Composition from Northwestern University. He has composed and performed in many musical contexts and in many styles throughout his career. In 1991 Rashid founded his studio, Woodside Avenue Music Productions, through which he has produced and recorded his own music as well as projects for hundreds of other artists and labels, spanning jazz, folk, classical, bluegrass, gospel, country and pop music.

Visit Steve Rashid's website

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Stars and Stripes Forever

Here's a little music to get you in the holiday spirit: John Philip Sousa's most famous march, transcribed and played by the incomparable Vladimir Horowitz. Get ready to sing the piccolo part!

Have a safe and happy 4th of July!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Monday, April 27, 2015


It’s no secret that I haven’t been producing. My blogs have been frozen, waiting for prose or poetry, observations, wisdom, creative snippets, but all I’ve posted is news. Similarly, my twitter feed has been saturated with retweets of other people’s posts, artwork, photos, while my Facebook status—actual status—has been quiet.

It’s not because I’ve been idle. The past six months have been filled with activity: editing, practicing, reading, exercising.  But recently, I became aware of a sensation—an itch in cells I could no longer reach, and all attempts to scratch them satisfied nothing.  I turned on the computer, opened files of works-in-progress, stared at the screen, waited, and pffft, bupkis.

If I’d had nothing else going on in my life, that is, if I had not been engaged in other creative pursuits, I would have stressed and stewed about it, wondered what was wrong with me, how and I why I became so contentedly mute. And yet...and yet….

There were those bits of verse, scrawled spontaneously at bedtime on a lined pad.  There were those random thoughts, no, that’s wrong, those were ideas nudging, occasionally chiding me for not entertaining them properly, for dismissing them as common, trite, worthless.

Stupid nags. What could they know? The cells that could have given them life had obviously taken a hike, joined the witness protection program, or died of ennui. 

So I moved on….

...shut off my computer.  Turned it on only once a day to check mail, see who was doing what, read interesting posts, and share the highlights with followers and friends.

Except a funny thing happened. One of those annoying little nags got me to open an old spiral-bound notebook, something I hadn’t done since buying my first laptop. Then it prodded me to pick up a pen, which I still remembered how to use (checks and greeting cards, you know…).

And an hour later I had pages filled with prose, and a rupture of cells kicking me in the head saying, “What the hell took you so long?”

I love technology. I do, really.  It was an easy transition from composing on paper for acoustic instruments to generating, modifying, and organizing sound in an electronic music studio. And I have no trouble composing with notation software. I’m very fond of being able to listen to the sounds as I write them. I have good relative pitch, but it’s not always 100%. The immediate feedback is nice...wonderful, in fact.

But I have never been able to craft a work of poetry or fiction on a computer, and I don’t know why I thought I could, or why I spent so many frustrated years attempting to convince myself I could. I think back and recall how I used to look at photos of writers at their typewriters and wonder how they were able to produce that way. Every time I sat down at a typewriter, my mind went blank.

I know there must be a glitch between the keyboard and me, some freak reflex that causes a sudden disconnect, short circuit in the process. I would try to figure it out, but I think in the end, the cause doesn’t matter.

So, I’ve stocked up on pads and pens. The computer, as a means of recording my literary ravings, will stay off until there’s a complete draft to transcribe. My sites may be quiet for awhile, and I will probably be visiting my social media haunts less frequently, certainly less frequently than is recommended for writers these days, but I won’t be completely absent. I’ll be around. And I’ll be heeding the chatter of little nags, now that I can. Happily. Thankfully.

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Favorite Films: Contributor Update

Huge congratulations to Amy Williams on being named a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow in Music Composition. You can read about the inspiration for Amy's Cinescape pieces, and find links to recordings of Amy's music and performances here,

Ellen Wade Beals, "A Delectable Madness," continues to delight with her own writings and photographs on her blog, Solace in a Book.  We all seem to need solace these days, and you can always find it in abundance on Ellen's site.

"A Classic Scare" author, Victoria Johnson created Purple Passion Press in 2014, and their first anthology, (After)life:  Poems and Stories of the Dead, will be available for pre-order soon! The anthology features the work of numerous award-winning writers, including Favorite Films contributor, Joan Corwin ("Hindsight"), and Music and Prose contributor, Kathleen Lombardo ("Gesualdo Describes Afterlife"). While you're waiting to read this amazing collection of stories and poems, I hope you'll take another look at Joan's meditation on the film, Grand Illusion"Renoir and Paradox," and reacquaint yourself with Kathleen's love poems in "A Poetic Shift."

I'll be back with more in the not-too-distant future....