My writing and my playing the piano have always been connected. As part of the music for my recital next year I have chosen two sets of themes and variations, by Beethoven in his Sonata, op. 109, and Rachmaninoff’s Variations on a Theme by Corelli.
I have never especially liked theme and variations before; I have thought them somewhat simple and predictable. However, I am enamored with both of these, especially the Rachmaninoff, which I had never heard before. As I am working through them, I am realizing how life itself can be seen as a theme and variations. I read somewhere recently that we all have one main “story” to tell. For me, this has been the ramifications of the early death of my sister. Many times I have been overwhelmed and tired of it. The piano has always taken me elsewhere to focus, and writing has transformed it.
I recently wrote (yet another) poem for my sister (below). As I came to the end of the draft, however, it seemed too “simple,” too obvious, without the ambiguity or complexity that I felt. And then I thought of the variations on other “simple” themes that I have been working through on the piano.
Here is the “theme” of the poem:
Theme and Variations for My Sister
Soon there will be no one
to remember you.
There will be no more
to commune with your bones,
to stitch them together
again, with silk thread.
So your bones will
dismember, and the embers
of your life (lived, unlived)
will wash downstream to
of the everliving earth.
No Isis will
you in, no one will be
left to mourn except
Pretty straight-forward, and not at all as convoluted and complex as my feelings. And so I am beginning a set of “variations” on it, which has been fascinating.
Here are two other “simple” themes:
Beethoven’s: (see above)
and Corelli’s (according to Rachmaninoff): (see above)
What I notice immediately is how (deceptively) simple they are. But it takes the variations that follow to pull out the threads of complexity and ambiguity implicit in the “simple” theme.
So that is one of the tasks I worked on today.
The other was the Flash poem. I’m almost there. It took two and a half hours, a Google search, and a return to my 12-year-old Flash handbook to divide the video into five parts and to superimpose the five parts of my poem over it. It’s called Cebrennus rechenbergi or The Flic-Flac : Found Poem with Quiz.
I am so grateful for the uninterrupted time to explore these things. It was all done in the morning. As other women my age have noted, by afternoon we are “done.” I swam, watched the Brewers win against the Giants, made dinner, and am now here.
Till the next time.