Saturday, July 26, 2008

Selective memories

The last time I saw Ken Erickson (see "All that jazz" post) was in 1976.

I was at the hospital in Munising visiting Lavinia Meyland (next-door neighbor when I was a kid), who'd suffered a number of debilitating setbacks to her health.

Ken was there, and we had a nice visit. He took me around and introduced me to a fellow patient (Why was Ken a patient? I don't really know.) who played the spoons. Have you ever heard the spoons played? Some sort of intricate combination of palm/hand/thigh/knee slapping that is quite remarkable!

I remember Ken intently watching my facial expressions as I listened to this incredible man playing the spoons. It was an unforgettable experience. To this day, if I try and listen very hard, I can still hear the clarity of sounds as I was treated to a private concert.

[Going back just briefly to the "All that jazz" post, particularly in re the basketball star who kept 'touting his own horn', Ken confided in me later that -- if he'd only realized that the guy really could play, he'd have had him sitting in on every session!]

I was a really good sight-reader. And, I could transpose almost any composition instantly. It didn't matter what key it was in, I could do it! There was a dearth of violas, for example, in the orchestra, so the conductor assigned me to play the viola parts on my Eb alto clarinet. (The alto clarinet, by the way, sounds very similar to a viola.) Up a major fifth, and assign two more sharps -- or was it down a major/minor fifth, and take away a couple of sharps (in other words, in a different 'key')? Who cares, anyway? The point was, I could do it! (And all without needing to transcribe the sheet music.)

The required music course that caused me the most anxiety in college was that of "Composition". I was not a Beethoven, who could hear an entire symphony in his head. Not even close! I was pretty sure that I would 'fail' out of the music program completely. The professor, unbeknownst to anyone but him, gave me an "A".

Meanwhile, Ken was busily composing, arranging, and re-arranging multitudinous original works. What a talented man! He has been gone from this life for many years now, and all I really have to say is, "God, You got a good one!"


Craig Peihopa said...

Wonderful post and tribute Goldenrod.

I loved the descriptive language and for a fleeting moment seemed to actually feel the wonder you have for the moment of the spoons.

I have often marveled at the creation of music that occurs in ones head and transposing that is or at least must be one of life's most satisfying experiences. I experience it somewhat with my photography, but the feeling of having an orchestra piece or song or instrumental piece of music fill the hearts and ears of people must be absolute bliss.

Goldenrod said...

Thank you, Craig, and may I say that you do a very similar thing with your photography. In particular, I'm seeing in my mind those wedding photographs that were a little like silhouettes ... ingenious!