‘It will be new whether you make it new or not’ – Alice Fulton, Poetry, October 2013
I have to admit that when I first saw this quote, I didn’t fully comprehend its meaning. While the artwork makes for a beautiful visual, it didn’t aid in my understanding of the written text. But something subliminal captured the attention of my subconscious brain, prompting a silent rumination over the course of several months.
Bits and pieces of enlightenment would come to the forefront of my consciousness, until at last I had a mini-Aha! moment:
Beethoven and my first encounter with his 9th Symphony.
When I was a teenager, I dug out my parents’ old 78s from the shelves in their walk-in cedar closet. Sorting through the stacks, I recognized most of the tunes and placed them in their respective piles – Ma’s stuff, Dad’s stuff and corny stuff. My baby brother and I grew up dancing in the living room listening to all of it, including the ever present live gig-prep practicing of Dad’s – From Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci (Ma’s stuff) to Charlie Parker’s Yardbird Suite (Dad’s stuff) to Jimmy Durante’s Bill Bailey (corny stuff).
Scattered among those records were some 33s pressed on yellow-vinyl. Intrigued, I noticed they were mostly classical (by genre, not era) recordings. Beethoven’s Symphonies were recorded in a huge boxed set of 33s. I decided to listen to all of them, going from last to first.
That 9th symphony – composed in 1824 – was new to my 1971 ears.
“It will be new whether you make it new or not”
I listened to it over and over alongside some of my favorite records at the time: The White Album, and Jesus Christ Superstar.
Beethoven, the Beatles and Andrew Lloyd Webber. A motley crew, all strangely powerful and new to me.
Now, I am no Beethoven, but that mini-Aha! moment became more of a major-Aha! moment for me recently.
Since last May, sales of music from my cd, unexpected, increased significantly. Why? This recording was released in 2007. In terms of musical output, it represents old stuff. I use it now more as a demo of sorts; an example of the breadth and quality of my playing for marketing, colleague introductions, resume point of reference and so on.
There have been many projects, performances and pieces learned since then till now. Immersed as I’ve been in my Swimming with Swans: the music project, striving to put out this new material, I’d forgotten that to those who’d never heard my stuff before:
“It will be new whether I (you) make it new or not”
Below is the single off of unexpected with the most digital listens since its release in 2007, Hatikvah.
I wish you peace.