7.25.2006

Shell-shocked

I'm not quite sure who's more exhausted.

I simultaneously played the contradictory roles of matron of honor and composer.

...while Andy played both Daddy and Mommy.

In 110+ weather.

Without air conditioning.

When we got back, we wanted to take the kids straight to Baskin Robbins for being such amazingly well-behaved little angels through most of the weekend.

And then tear them limb from limb for having thrown tantrums all through the actual wedding and reception, allowing Andy to see none of it.

(We did neither, by the way.)

Actually, the fits didn't start until after the processional, so Andy did get to see that.

Such as it was.

After all the sweat, blood, and tears I poured into making the music line up with the structure of the event... the slow, dignified procession of the first six bridesmaids... a simple, repeating theme, firmly established... tension builds as Heather walks, builds into positive angst as I process, four bars of as much tension as you can possibly get away with in a wedding processional... breaking suddenly into sweetness and light as the flower girl sprinkles loveliness and innocence. All tension is released... but it's really something of a prolonged deceptive cadence, because we're in the wrong key now. We started out in F major, now we're in the sub-mediant, D major. A little stretching of the melody, and we seamlessly transition into the key of E major, just a half step below our original tonic. The music is still sweet and innocent and pretty, but structurally we're in an area of such intense anticipation that Mozart would never have dared do such a thing. Once the flower girl has reached the front, the music accellerates through a positively dizzying chord progression, and there's a sense of vertigo... until suddenly the bride is standing at the back of the church on her father's arm, everyone stands up, and bells begin to peal... suddenly we're right back where we started, but so much richer and fuller... as she reaches the front the music softly returns to its initial simplicity, and underneath the final chord is a little abbreviated summation of our journey.

That was what was supposed to happen.

What really happened was that the musicians forgot the repeat, and the bridesmaids weren't all out by the time the bride's music had started, and it was really quite amazing that Sharon made it to the front before the music stopped. And nobody knew to stand up until she was halfway down, but they really couldn't see her anyway because of the eight bridesmaids still in the aisle.

It hurts.

A lot.

I worked so hard on this work of art. I poured so much of myself into it, at great cost. This piece of music mattered a lot to me... still does.

But for the actualization of it, I had to depend on others. Others who hadn't just poured three months of their lives into it, who weren't nearly so invested in it.

I think it's so special and meaningful to have dear friends play for weddings, rather than the cold perfection of professional strangers. I am a huge fan of amatuer music.

But it does present some problems. Because when your job isn't on the line, when you're just doing this as a favor for a friend, there's always going to be something higher priority going on.

Emily had family responsibilities. Not messing up Jonathan's nap schedule was the top priority for her, and so she left late in the morning, with no margin for error. When traffic inevitably went sour, she missed the musicians rehearsal altogether. They squeaked in just in time for the actual wedding rehearsal... and it was a fiasco.

Jessica had a big deal master class the week before, with a renowned violinist. The music for the master class was much harder than the music for the wedding... and a master class is a whole lot more intimidating than a friend's wedding. So she was busy with the master class, and hadn't touched the wedding music for a week. Unfortunately, I'd finished her final draft a week ago, and added some difficult passages. They weren't very difficult, but much harder than the parts she'd already practiced.

And she sight-read them at the rehearsal.

The problem wasn't with the quality of the musicians. The problem was that this event was part of their personal lives, not their professional lives. And personal lives are inherently complicated and multi-faceted, and there's a lot of potential for things to go wrong.

And of course, this all applies to me, as well. This music was a big deal to me, on a professional level, because if it went well, I had high hopes of obtaining paying gigs writing wedding music. But when it came to the actual rehearsal, I wasn't just the composer, I was also matron of honor. And so when the pianist asked for a tempo, three other people were vying for my attention, and I was in quite a hurry. So I gave him the tempo real quick.

As in twice as quick as it should have been.

All in all, though, I think it went far better than it might have, and for that I am thankful. It was not the spectacular high point that I had envisioned, but it wasn't a disaster, either. It was very pretty, and certainly quite an improvement over Here Comes the Bride.

And it was special precisely because it was done by real people who love Sharon in the midst of their real lives.

And in the end, Sharon and Jim are married, and that's what matters.

And I have lots of thoughts about that...

...but I'm an amateur blogger, and real life calls.

7.20.2006

Defiance Defeated

A certain passage had a measure flagrantly full of parallel fifths. Very much against the rules, and all that, but I liked the way it sounded. And so, as we examined the logistics of the score, Emily and I were remarked about the guilty pleasure we derive from flouting voice leading rules.

But of course, Emily doesn't have enough hands, and David doesn't have enough hands to cover for her. And Debra doesn't have enough hands to cover for them, either...

I breifly considered contacting the aquarium, to inquire about renting an octopus. Of course, we'd have to set up a round table for him, which might be a tad awkward, but "The Bells of the Round Table" has quite a ring to it, don't you think?

Then again, if I just take out the parallel fifths, the problem goes away.

And it sounds better, too.

But don't tell Dr. Browning I said so, okay?

7.19.2006

A conversation between bride and handbell player, as relayed to composer

"Aaauugh!!! She added bells! And what's this? Another piano?!"

"Oh, no, that's just Emily's handbell part."

"Um... and just how many hands does Emily have?"

Not quite enough. Which is why I'm afraid you're going to have to take over a few of her bells for her, David.

I hope you don't mind.

7.17.2006

No Pain Intended

"...your hourly traffic report is brought to you in part by 1-800-DENTIST. Ok, so here's the drill..."

7.15.2006


Photo courtesy of Daniel Peckham. Posted by Picasa

7.14.2006

Bedtime Bible Stories

"This boy is David. When he was just a few years older than you, he killed Goliath with a rock, chopped off his head, and picked it by the hair. It was pretty amazing."

"And please don't try this on your brother."

7.13.2006

Let it be known

that I hate finale.

Grrrr....

Why, why, why, can't I copy the violin part of score A onto the violin part of score B? Why must it insist on copying the piano part onto the violin part? And why can I only extract the piano part?

And above all... why, when I copy and paste the whole bloomin' thing, does it copy yesterday's edition, and refuse to reflect any recent changes whatsoever?

7.11.2006

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter refers to the amount requested to be paid to ______ as reflected on the payment stub contained in this envelope.

This amount cannot be exacted from anyone at this address for the following reasons:

1) The debt has been incurred by a Nathan A. Johnson. Please note that no such person resides at this address. There is a Nathan S. Johnston. Please note the differences in the spelling of the names.

2) Nathan S. Johnston is a minor. Specifically, he is 2 1/2 years old. He does not have a bank account, nor does he have access to any means of convincing creditors that he would be able to make good on any debt whatsoever.

A medical record from Nathan's place of birth has been enclosed. Further evidence of his identity, age, etc. can be provided in small claims court if necessary.

Sincerely,
Andrew Johnston

7.10.2006

Funnier in context.

Funny enough on its own... but oh so much funnier when Mr. Wuggidy nods sagely in sympathetic agreement.

"Stinky. Stinky."

7.09.2006

"So which part are you working on?"

"Oh, still the same spot as last night."

"You mean the part where the groomsmen tear off their secretly velcroed tuxes, revealing their metalic MC Hammer pants, and dance into place?"

"Exactly."

7.07.2006

Adjusted Expectations

Everything takes nearly twice as long as you'd expect.

I know this all too well.

But this morning, I was pleasantly surprised to notice that nothing takes quite twice as long as you'd expect.

Or maybe it's just that things take a reasonable amount of time before the kids wake up.

Whatever the case, there's time for a shower after all.

Or would be... except that I blogged.

7.03.2006

The Dress . . . es.

In case you didn't notice, I haven't been blogging much lately. This is partly due to the fact that I'm trying to figure out how to make an extended modulation into the submediant make sense. I'm not sure that you're really supposed to modulate into the submediant... but the music has to modulate into the submediant, there's no way around it. Which is exactly what I get for trying to use such avant-garde techniques on such a traditional-sounding piece. I have so many structures holding the music together, that it is quite in danger of falling apart. Too many cooks spoil the soup, and all that. I'll figure it out... I think... and if not, it's still very pretty, and will still hold together much better than a gorgeous classical masterpiece chopped up to fit the time constraints of the occasion. It will all be okay.

But I haven't been blogging much lately.

The other reason I haven't been blogging lately is that I've been busy showering. No, not that kind of showering... though, given the heat, that too! I've been throwing bridal showers... two of them, and just one week apart! Both were lots of fun, thanks to much help from Sheri and Becka and Ingrid and Heather and Mrs. Harrington, and no thanks at all to the heat.

My goodness, it's nice to breathe again.

But the real reason I haven't been blogging is The Dress . . . es.

Sharon was in Cameroon when she got engaged. Which was very lovely and romantic. A moonlight walk on the beach is always a lovely setting for a proposal, but equatorial moonlight is something far more special than anything you can find here in Southern California. Especially when the almanac declares it to be the brightest full moon in 18 years. Add in all the miles her true love flew, to see her and to see the place where she'd been all through their email-based courtship... well, it was simply perfect.

Except from a wedding-planning standpoint, of course.

Since Sharon was still on the mission field until the end of May, Heather selected fabric for the bridesmaids dresses. Sharon wanted us to each wear dresses that we liked, and could wear again, so she told us to each pick out our own pattern, and have it made in the same fabric. Heather found a lovely hunter green crepe-backed satin at Jo-Ann's. A standard fabric, they'd carried it continuously for the past 8 years, at least.

They discontinued it within the month.

Heather had her dress. Ingrid had $80 worth of hunter green crepe-backed satin, ready to be made into a dress. Angela Suzanne and Kate Harrington had bought pre-made dresses in the same color. And Stacia, Angela Hope, Becka, and I had no idea what to do.

Stacia ordered swatches from an online fabric company, and we waited with bated breath to see if they'd match. We still don't know if the fabrics match, but we do know that they take a very, very long time to process orders. I'm fairly certain it's been over a month, and we still haven't seen the swatch.

But all that's moot by now.

When we were up at the Harringtons' for the bachelorette party, we started talking about bridesmaid dresses. Kate ran upstairs and brought hers down to show us.

It was lovely. Simple princess lines, with tasteful beadwork around the neck, and an adorable "envelope back." It will be beautiful on her.

But it wasn't anything like what I expected. I hadn't actually seen a swatch of fabric, but this was a very different color from anything I would have called "hunter green."

"Wow. So is this the color we're doing? I haven't seen a swatch yet."

Neither had Kate, actually. But she figured, hunter green is hunter green, so it should be okay.

Perhaps.

Perhaps not.

But in any case, it definitely wasn't hunter green. I would have called it leaf green. Ingrid would have called it kelly green.

After much research and brainstorming, I finally learned that David's Bridal calls it "Emerald," and that it is part of their "color expressions" line. Which means that they have a wide range of styles in that color, one of which was much better suited for me, both in terms of figure and budget. (I'm petite... in both departments!) It's also chiffon, rather than satin, and so will tie in the texture of Angela Suzanne's dress. Which is in the original color, but a different fabric.

Sharon and Jim stopped by on their way to Fresno, and watched the wuggies while I picked up my dress. It actually comes with a scarf, which will be quite convenient for Becka as she tries to find a matching fabric for herself and Stacia to use.

Four of us will be in hunter, four in emerald. We'll be staggered, so it's every other, every other. When we held the swatch against my dress, we were amazed at what a gorgeous color combination it is. I think it will actually look more pulled-together than everybody in the same shade. Certainly it will look better on Becka and I than hunter green.

It's going to be lovely.

Really.

But oh, the trauma.

That mocha frappuccino last night was much needed. And it was good to have some time alone with Andy, without being the slightest bit tempted to talk his ear off about boring bridal shower details. Thankfully, he didn't mind so much hearing about how well it went, aside from the stifling heat, how good I feel about accomplishing this logistical feat, even though I still have no idea why it is so complicated, and how glad I am that it is over and done. Probably he didn't mind because little as he may care about flower arrangements and games, he can actually relate to that last sentiment. He's glad it's over, too.

As I sat there under the hunter green umbrella, I looked up at the bright green letters over my head.

Yup. The starbucks colors.

Exactly the same combination as the bridesmaid dresses.

I'll take that as aesthetic confirmation.