“My daughter’s just discovering Nirvana…and…she…she’s realizing the energy; that energy that she feels when she listens to it…it’s not something that she’s heard from her generation. She hasn’t heard that. She told me; because I said ‘Ok, so nothing you’ve heard reminds you- “Uh, there’s nothing like that. Nothing is exactly like that.”‘ – Tori Amos
Her eyes would be closed the whole time, and her arm would move as smoothly and gently as the music washes over you.
As to what this song meant to her, the only hint would be the very faint smile in her eyes when she finally opened them; if you were watching very carefully…and even if you had no idea what it meant, you would know that it was completely without guile.
FAIR USE: CRITICISM – A brilliant ending to a very interesting movie.
This is a song Anna played for her husband when she wished to relax him, or as he fell asleep – if he needed to – without her.
pose shifts the violin ever-so-slightly against her left shoulder, cradling it now as a newborn; something treasured, precious, delicate. Her head lowers to the point where it actually is touching the base of the instrument, making them, for the moment, joined. As her eyes begin to close, she exhales once, softly but faintly audible. Eyes closed completely, her right arm lowers the bow to slightly below the bottom string of the violin, hovering just above it for a moment or two.
pose begins to raise the bow…and the sound is very soft, gentle, soothing. She seems to glide along just over the strings, barely touching them, drawing forth muted, gentle responses. Eyes remaining closed, her expression does not change at all as the quiet melody begins to unfold; gradually, in no hurry to present itself.
pose continues to play, and the melody is a very simple, basic one; subtle variations and reprises of a fairly short series of notes. The tone continues to be soft, soothing…suitable for dancing, even, perhaps, if one was inclined to dance to such music. She moves the bow very calmly, as if she has all the time in the world to play, allowing the notes to gently emerge.
pose seems proficient enough, especially given the relative simplicity of the arrangement, as no mistakes are audible…the bow simply slides, slowly, back and forth…matching the notes, the very subtle swaying of her head…eyes still closed, face serene, soft, and gentle. They continue to pour out, similar enough to sustain a consistent melody, but varied enough to keep things from becoming monotonous, beginning to sound very much like the gentle lapping of small waves; over and over, almost hypnotic in their simple, basic beauty.
pose continues this for some time, the sounds washing and echoing faintly, expressing a different place, a different world.
pose seems to reach a point where she pauses the song; she simply plays the same three notes, all as soft as whispers, repeatedly, over and over. Her movements match the notes, and her focus is just as it was at any time before; she seems lost in her music, as if she is playing as much for herself, perhaps, as anyone else that may be present.
pose returns, after a bit, to the gentle, simple melody. The variations are slight…still calm, the lapping of the waves fading barely, giving the impression of time passing; the tide slowly going out, returning to its home. She plays this for quite a while, altering it just enough but maintaining the basic, simple melody.
pose pauses, eyes still closed, bow still on the strings, for a moment…the music virtually fades away before she moves her arm again, drawing out the soft notes out individually now, separately, displaying each as if they are saying their sad goodbyes. Eventually, reaching the end of the melody, she pauses, hesitant to release as the notes were…lifting the bow gently up, she exhales almost inaudibly.
This is the last song Anna wrote before her husband’s death…he wanted something upbeat after all her sad songs, so she composed this for, and about, him. It is her most special composition.
pose shifts the violin ever-so-slightly against her left shoulder, cradling it now as a newborn; something treasured, precious, delicate. Her head lowers to the point where it actually is touching the base of the instrument, making them, for the moment, joined. As her eyes begin to close, she exhales once, softly but faintly audible. Eyes closed completely, her right arm brings the bow to just above the top string of the violin.
pose draws the bow very slowly down, and a somewhat melancholy sound begins to coalesce; not truly depressing, but definitely on the sad side of the musical spectrum. Judging by the way the music emerges from the violin it seems almost as if she is playing intentionally in slow motion; the sounds and notes seem more suited for a faster pace, but are slowed – and quite probably saddened – intentionally, as if to accentuate their meaning, each one a special entity unto itself.
pose has her eyes closed, and her focus is absolute as the melancholy notes continue to emerge; rather than simply melting into the music she seems to submerge herself in it, to play with a loving, tender reverence. The veil she wears seems to heighten this effect, as if she has almost disappeared into what has been created and is being created. The notes bend, creak at times; but these are minor flaws, and the emotion and power of them are not lessened by the woman’s lack of mastery.
pose continues to play, slowly; her pace seems unshakable, an absolute focus, a certainty. The notes continue to bend and emerge sadly-tinged, bow moving up and down the strings at different varieties of slow, slower, slowest, creating different varieties of twisted, faintly tortured musings. They are seamless in that her hand never stops moving, but the motion is uneven, plying different noises from different places; reluctantly pulled out, perhaps, before the bow moves on to the next.
pose pauses – for the tiniest fraction of a moment – on certain notes; these seem to be fairly regular but not perfectly spaced, and at these points the sadness swells even more, pained notes declaring their esteemed positions at the heights of her bow’s movements and the song’s importance. The cracks seem to emerge the most here, but it seems almost as if that is intentional, as if she is pushing the notes as far as they will go, bending them until they creak in nearly breaking.
pose seems to alter and repeat this process then, the same method but with slightly alternately-tinged notes, slightly altered high points, slight variations…all the while, there are cracks in the smoothness of the playing, but they seem to be completely ignored and, in fact, the bow seems to linger in special attention on some of them. Finally coming to the end of the refrain, she slides the bow, now very gently, down the length of the instrument, pulling a few last sad notes from the strings.
pose slides the bow up instantly upon the last note fading and disappearing; her movements are as exaggeratedly fast as the previous ones were slow, though now it seems right, proper, completely true, as if the song had simply been waiting to come alive. The results are no longer sad: tiny pauses, only, separating proud, confident music; as majestic as the highest mountaintop, the most beautiful rainbow. The peaks of her playing, now, are almost exhilarating in their sweep and power, and she plays with utter and complete confidence, in tune with such music.
pose continues to play, bow moving at a furious pace as it proudly and defiantly elicits gorgeous swaths of occasionally flawed beauty; fairly regularly – but inexactly – placed pinnacles, each as surprising in its emergence as it is majestic. They seem to be never-ending; their energy appears able to last a lifetime. Her appearance doesn’t change except for the speed of her playing; she plays with virtually the same near-stillness of body, and the same expression, as she had previously.
pose seems tireless as the bow moves with remarkable speed, the music seeming alive and vibrant, unquenchable. It seems to slow, then, just slightly, as the volume drops just as slightly; melody not quite as powerful, but seeming satisfied to be that way, as if it has screamed out in defiance and is now content to simply reinforce such defiance and allow it to echo repeatedly. It slows, again; the bow gradually taming the relentless cries of defiant, undeniable life.
pose finally brings the song to a pause, suddenly, bow actually stopping for just a moment, allowing one last content, more subdued note to be drawn out fully and extended before moving down in a final reprise of the power and beauty of the highest notes, rephrasing their scream and focusing it, one last time, to greatest effect and at greatest volume. It seems to dare to be repudiated, declaring its unwillingness to die. She then stops, suddenly, lifting the bow from the violin as the last note fades away as quickly as it came. She is stark silent for a moment, unmoving, and then lowers both the bow and her head slightly.
This composition is typical of most of Anna’s work: sad, somber, mournful. Most of her pieces are slow, so the fast motions here are somewhat unusual, but they do exist in some other pieces. As with all her compositions, this was not “written” in the actual sense of notes. It was played, by ear, over and over, until she felt it sounded as it should. She took notes (as she always does), but these consisted of general ideas and vague indications of tone shift, “louder”, “softer”, etc…not actual musical notes. And, like all of her compositions, it is always open to changes she feels…it is “alive”, like her husband.
pose shifts the violin ever-so-slightly, cradling it now as a newborn; something treasured, precious, delicate. Her head lowers to just above it as her eyes begin to close. She exhales once, softly but faintly audible, as her eyes shut fully, her right arm bringing the bow to just above the top string of the instrument. She seems to virtually melt into the violin as the string is touched by the bow, eyes clenching slightly just as sound emerges from her delicately-held instrument. It is faint, at first; as something beginning to grow from the smallest of seeds, breaking from nothingness into reality. The sound, quiet as it is, is decidedly mournful: a sad, longing, hopeless cry…destined to suffer for all eternity.
pose holds her wrist steady; it does not move except as it is drawn by her arm, as if the bow and arm were the only things allowed this luxury, two objects coming together to produce a whole. She glides the bow very, very slowly down from the top string, the quiet cry becoming louder; hopeless, despairing, opening up its sorrow to the world. That one note is sustained as the length of the bow moves down, her hand almost touching the mournful string as its call seems to reach its highest point; still not loud, but having risen steadily on the bow’s slow journey downward.
pose moves her head – and the violin – the slightest bit then, pulling the bow back up much more quickly than it had gone down. This slightly faster pace elicits three distinct notes, played so close together that they almost meld into one, their sounds similar to each other but quite different from the mournful downward note; while still sad, the music which emerges is at the same time defiant and strong, attempting to soothe the pain of the original note, to cradle it in empathetic warmth.
pose seems completely a part of the music, now…as if perhaps it is speaking to her, as well as responding to itself. There is a split-second pause as the bow reaches back to the top of the violin before she gently lowers it down again, instrument crying out just a bit louder, sadness not comforted, despair not soothed. The note is exactly the same as the first in tone, except for the faint echo of the first soothing reply, even as the strings begin to cry once more. The answer comes again, as before, without pause; a defiant challenge to continue, to carry on, rising in power to match the louder, more baleful cry, as if trying even harder to soothe, to lift up, to strengthen.
pose repeats this motion, this action, over and over – allowing the violin to echo its call and response, each one more distinct, more powerful in its tone than the last; wailing louder and louder, responding comfort rising in challenge. After the tenth such reprise, the baleful, echoing cry seems as if cannot be more sad; dying, perhaps even dead…
pose continues, and the response is shockingly different, coming after so many repetitions of the call-and-response: the bow moves quickly, seven times, virtually flashing up and down the strings, producing a sound that seems to be a combination of the mood of the two cries, yet different from each and each other in slight, subtly altering ways; more elegant, more refined. It cracks in places, her lack of complete mastery evident…but she seems completely unfazed by any mistake, moving on, and indeed the cracks make the song itself perhaps even sadder, more real.
pose repeats this new series after a tiny pause; allowing the joined voice to speak again, dominant and powerful, loud and sweeping, ignoring or crashing over any faults with its undeniable strength. This time the series uses eight strokes, bow moving with quick, easy motions as she extends the last passage; a bit slower, flashing only slightly less. There is a feeling of faint transition, as about half of the notes alter just slightly from before as her fingers move rapidly and instinctually on the edge of the instrument, seeming part of the cohesive whole that flows elegantly now, bow tilting faintly to call forth every possible nuance.
pose continues to play, quickly and freely, arm flowing as seamlessly as if she was waving it through air, bow flashing up and down as the sound only continues to grow. The music evoked is a declarative statement spoken in elegant, seamless, slightly twisted notes; there is a raw, imperfect beauty to it, and with fifteen strokes of her arm, it seems to complete its message, as there is the tiniest of pauses…
pose then seems to re-start the new response from the beginning; after a quick burst reminiscent of the whole, she starts actually echoing it with faintly altered, smoothed, elegant notes as the bow flashes up and down repeatedly, restating the combination of sad and defiant, mournful and urging. Seven elegant strokes, then eight, then fifteen…if anything, even more refined than the first time, yet also more varied, as if the notes are emphasizing their elegance. The raw, somewhat unpolished nature is there, but her playing drowns it out in comparison. She finally reaches the last note, and seems to pause, again…
pose finishes this last message at nearly the exact point the song began…and then, very quietly, the violin begins to mourn again, the sound of the first note, slowed so that her arm seems to barely be moving, drawing all the sadness out of the strings, mixing with the echo of the much louder previous passage; its sadness seeming eternal. Eventually, as the bow reaches the bottom, the sound slows…echoes…and fades. At almost the same moment, she exhales again, faintly, and her eyes remain closed as she is as still as a statue, apparently in the thrall of what she has just played.
With my radio station vamos’ing on the fifth, I thought I’d make a list of Heavy-Rotation (Band I play the most) Albums worth owning. In alphabetical order.
Alice In Chains – Dirt Alice In Chains – Jar Of Flies Nirvana – In Utero Nirvana – MTV Unplugged In New York Nirvana – Nevermind Pearl Jam – Ten Pearl Jam – Vitalogy Pearl Jam – Vs. The Pixies – Bossanova The Pixies – Surfer Rosa The Pixies – Trompe Le Monde The Smashing Pumpkins – Gish The Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream Soundgarden – Superunknown Stone Temple Pilots – Core Stone Temple Pilots – Purple Temple Of The Dog – Temple Of The Dog