Monday, December 06, 2010

November 17

The man playing an electric keyboard in the plaza downtown was playing something that sounded a little classical, like Mozart with fewer notes.

It sounded a bit like it was being played on chimes, as if his keyboard had a chime dial that went from zero, no chime sound, to ten, pure chime sound, and he had it at three and a half.

On this mid-November day, I felt he was breaking me into Christmas music gently.

I like more Christmas songs at the beginning of the Christmas season than I do at the end. Repitition creates that "Go away!" feeling. Then they do go away for about ten and a half months.

I always like "God rest you merry, gentlemen. Let nothing you dismay." It's in relatively low frequency of playing compared to "Jingle Bells," so there isn't the exhaustion factor, but I also just like it.

I think it's the puncuation. It's not "God rest you, merry gentlemen." It's "God rest you merry, gentlemen."

It's like "Let God let you take a break, and while you are at rest, feel merry."
Let dismay go. Let comfort and joy arrive with bouncy seriousness, like the melody of the song.

It's getting darker. Rest merry.

November 26

I've been lucky in Christmas music so far this year. The first time I heard "Silent Night" this season, it was on the sidewalk, played live on a tenor saxophone, sexily. "Sleep in heavenly peace."

December 3

The first time this season I hear "I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus," it's being played on a fiddle blue-grass style in a BART station, with many fast notes between the notes that make the melody.

December 4

A chorus singing outdoors in Yerba Buena Park sings "Jingle Bells" in more than four-part harmony, maybe eight. The layers and the fact that this chorus obviously practices a lot gives the song a bit of dignity and depth. They sing unaccompanies, so, no bells.

December 4

On a busy shoppers' sidwalk two guys are playing not a tune. Not a Christmas tune because not a tune at all.

One is playing a drum that has a head about the size of a dinner plate, is brown, and looks like it was used around some ancient wisdom campfire. He playing a fast, improvised-sounding rhythm, and it sounds like a snare drum, high and tight. He's sitting on the sidewalk, and the man next to him is playing a long wooden horn that goes several feet from his mouth to the ground.

He is playing only one note, in rhythm. It's rhythm that is slower than the ancient snare drum rhythm and goes with it.

The fast high rhythm is how people are moving through space and down their lists. The slow rhythm is the underlying--"There's meaning. Something about love. Maybe God and family and friends, maybe just family and friends, but it's getting darker and we get ready to celebrate it getting lighter by quickly buying surprising concrete forms of 'I love you,' fast and slow."