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This may sound either bizarre or conceited or both, but over the past week or two I would swear that I am suddenly understanding musick better.

Exhibit One is the fact that while sight-reading Bach, which is practically the only, ah, hands-on musickal experience I have these days,  I feel that I am no longer just playing the notes but actually making (even anticipating) the musick. (Somebody recently told me that Glenn Gould never practiced much – he just knew where the notes should be.)   This is to the point where I catch myself thinking that what I’m hearing cannot possibly be being produced by my own fingers, a decidedly disconcerting sensation.

Exhibit Two is the fact that when listening to the radio or CD’s, I am hearing new things even in old war-horses.  Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that I am hearing the old things, but understanding better why they are there.

Exhibit Three is that this morning, at that muzzy stage between sleep and wakefulness, I swear I had mapped out in my mind a perfect little two-part Invention.  I can’t remember the figure around which it was built, but it all seemed to flow so smoothly and logically.  I remember thinking how easy it would be to produce a potentially unlimited series of such pieces now that I had got the hang of it, and I also remember thinking to myself that I should write that particular figure down before I forgot it.  (Too late, of course.  All I recall now is that there was an octave leap involved.)

I should confess that I’ve had very little formal training in theory and none in composition, and that while I have always been at least competent at performance, I’ve never had much creative spark.  Indeed, my one and only work, laboriously composed at about the age of 13 or 14, was a minuet and trio heavily reliant on Haydn.  Yet I am suddenly seized with the desire to take another whack at setting down some musickal thoughts of my own.  (Now for Heaven’s sake, don’t get excited.  In the first place, anything that I put together would be in a style 250 year or more out of date.  In the second place, it wouldn’t be for any purpose other than my own amusement.)

Why this should happen now, I don’t know, but there it is.  Well, actually, I’ve got a pretty good idea, but it has a great deal to do with late blooming, and I wouldn’t want to bore you with a tedious tour of the depths of the Robbo psyche.   The only reason I bring it up is to remark on the fact that the advent of, what shall I call them, these creative urges seems to come not gradually but in sharp spurts and spasms, all of which are surprising when they occur.

Suffice to say of this particular phenomenon, St. Cecilia, ora pro nobis.


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August 2009