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05/18/2005 Archived Entry: "Making music, staying sane"

MAKING MUSIC, STAYING SANE. A few weeks ago I bought a tenor recorder on eBay. In RebelFire: Out of the Gray Zone a character in one scene holds a tenor recorder, and since I wrote that, the idea had been nagging at me. In fact, I realized the idea of getting a recorder had been nagging at me since my teens.

I have no musical talent. Seems to me that, as a writer and former artist I should be able to do at least a little music. But my family was non-musical, and the one time I had a chance to learn to play (when I was 9), it was the wrong time, wrong circumstances, and wrong instrument -- an instrument I hated then and that still sounds to my ears like two cats fighting at midnight.

But I've always been entranced by the sound of woodwinds and drums. So a year ago, I eBayed a bodhran (an Irish frame drum). And this spring, a 60s vintage plastic recorder. Got an instruction manual plus CD for the drum, some songbooks for the recorder ... and gave it a try.

I'm not making a serious effort to become brilliant at either of these instruments. The term "exercise in futility" probably applies, alas. But I do love the sound and feel of both the exotic drum and this mellow-voiced recorder. Sometimes I just go outside and whomp on that drum under the moonlight. Sometimes I play random notes on the recorder simply because the individual sounds are so resonant and beautiful.

This week, as Real ID has assaulted freedom and everybody who loves freedom, I've occasionally sat at my desk with the recorder in my hands, playing trills or picking out simple, classical or folk melodies as I surf the net.

Surprisingly, I find that I play better while reading articles. Intuition and memory take over; my fingers don't stumble over my brain's consciousness. But the more important realization was that the sounds and the process calm and revitalize me -- even as I put up with the frustration of my beginner's squeaks, squawks, and fumbles.

Can't do a damn thing about Real ID, but I can practice the difficult (for me, for now) jump from high C to high F until I hear I'm getting better at it. (Well, getting better not so you could tell, probably. But so I can tell ...)

And then, strangest thing, while I'm focusing on fingers and tongue that won't seem to work in partnership no matter how hard I practice, I start getting ideas about what do to about Real ID.

After the initial blow of last week's news, I never heard so many freedom lovers talk about their "line in the sand" -- or talk about the prospect of suicide for that matter. But now more of those same people also seem to be coming up with ideas, with strategies. The ID Resist thread at TCF is a great example. And on the more Outlawish aspects of things, there are some great discussions going on down in the Money, Commerce, and Taxation forum.

So I don't know how anybody else is doing it. Maybe it's just the standard human process of coping. But for me, both the sound and the challenge of attempting to produce music are sanity makers. And creativity restorers.

The bastards must still pay for what they did, and what they continue to do. They must be stopped. Some-unknown-how. And one way or another we must still resist federal ID control even unto bloody, damnable death, if it comes to that. But I hope we can all do what we need to do with calm deliberation, choosing our moment, choosing our best weapons -- marching to the sound of our own inner drummer. And the sound of whatever fifes, flutes, trumpets -- or recorders -- move our souls.

Posted by Claire @ 09:13 AM CST

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