I haven’t been sleeping well recently, for what I assume is a variety of reasons. It’s a weird experience, as I usually have no problem sleeping till arbitrary hours, but I’ve been waking up several times a night. And I’ve never been good at remembering my dreams, unless I try really hard (which I don’t). So normally they evanesce, and that’s that.
But now, as I wake up over and over, my dreams integrate themselves into my conscious memory, and only several hours later, as I mentally reconsider recent happenings, do I jarringly realize that some of them are entirely made up. It’s like anti-deja-vu: instead of feeling like I’ve been there before, I realize that I’ve never really been there at all.
Speaking of places we’ve never been, chances are overwhelming that you’ve never been to San Sharma’s blog. I shamelessly promote his blog because he so kindly referenced mine, and also because he’s a good bloke and I like the way those damn Brits write.
So I had a couple of rants and observations* that I wanted to write about, but I’m not in the mood now. Here’s another reminiscence.
The other night I was listening to one of my Empire Brass CDs that I hadn’t heard in a long time. (Empire Brass is a great brass quintet. By way of analogy, Empire Brass is to Canadian Brass what Ed Witten is to Stephen Hawking: the real deal, the talent, the product, as compared to the publicly-adored yet inferior alternative.) So I was listening, and they were playing Faure’s Pavane, a heartbreaking piece that, like so much good music, defies written description (fie on you music critics!). The arrangement featured a gorgeous lead trumpet line, and was played to perfection with a dulcet vibrato.
Vibrato (to me) conveys feeling, emotion that’s un-notatable but somehow realized by your personal performance of the music. On some instruments, like the violin, vibrato is so routine that skilled players will often add it to nearly every note. On others, it’s more spontaneous, but you still have to make an effort for the vibrato to come out; for instance, when I play guitar, I have to move my hand back and forth.
As a wind instrument, the trumpet is a bit different. Most lines do not require vibrato. Some lines call for it; you can feel which ones those are, and you just will it to happen: you breathe the vibrato. Some people can fake it by moving their jaws. But the good kind of trumpet vibrato is the kind that just emanates from your body, carried by your breath, the kind that’s produced with no discernible physical movement. It just happens.
It’s been several years since I’ve played my trumpet, and I honestly don’t even remember how I did it. I’m not very good at expressing my feelings with words, but I remember during the best passages my heart clenched as I played, and the vibrato sang. I sat there that night, just listening but feeling the same feeling, my lips unconsciously pursed. It’s weird to think of that phase of my life as over. Why are words never good enough?
You know, I have to dredge myself out of this maudlin state of affairs. My next entry will contain exactly zero nostalgic references, I promise!
* by “observation” I mean “the standard crap that I usually mention in my blog that is patently obvious to the average person but that I nevertheless find fascinating”