[NetBehaviour] touch / haptic / listen / sound

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Fri Sep 25 01:08:46 CEST 2020

touch / haptic / listen / sound


playing the sanshin with eyes closed, yes, well, the neck is
fretless, a little over two feet long, three silk strings,
have them tuned relative to fifth fourth intervals so for
example cgc might do, difficult for me to finger, i'm not
using a traditional pick but thumb and three fingers, all the
while aware of the delicacy of the strings, the neck is all
smooth so it's both an exercise of close listening, trying
to play in tune, slide into tune, and to make something of
the attempt itself, that is to produce music that satisfies
one way or another, i can't see where i am when i jump over
a foot to try to hit the octave harmonic and play slightly
below there, fingering nearby but not quite, i can do this,
or rather i can do this a lot easier with sight, but not hear
and did i say such a smooth neck, i think i did, gliding all
the time but nothing natural about stopping here and there,
nothing natural but the sound itself, something like a bowed
instrument but at least there, when beginning there might be
markers, and one can always see somewhat, however that is
defined, that somewhat, where one is, at least at first,
before tacit knowledge implies a deep bond and connectivity
between hand and finger, finger and neck, arm and bow, hand
and bow, and so forth, and there i am but here in darkness,
you must be assured, all is smooth, it's almost uncanny, a
featureless landscape, rounding off by hearing alone, maybe
the left-hand fingers slightly bending into the proper
position and that's not always possible for me, for then
there's the glide, and who knows where that's going to end
up, and then working all of this naturally into the shape of
the music itself, at that point, as smoothly as possible, as
if just hanging on to whatever's happening that's only
partly the result of your intentions, of anyone's, so that i
think i have to move into a safer lower realm where it all
seems to fall into place, even though that might not be
possible, and so repetition might come into play, if not that
then at least a momentary smooth rhythm, keeping in mind the
nature of the instrument itself, the traditional music
associated with it, the years of practice, the vision and
visionary experience itself, and yet, with my eyes closed,
in the midst of all this smoothness, the haptic sense, touch,
seems to come into play, i almost wrote to kick in, but much
smoother than that so that everything is bridging everything
else, shorter forms either repeat or become longer, finding
myself holding my breathing, unconsciously wishing it were
so, that everything would hold beyond the slight omissions
or poor positioning, out of tune perhaps in fact, praying
that i make it beyond these longer phrases, hoping that the
repetition holds at least momentarily, gliding forthwith
across the chasm, slowing or speed up gratefully on the
other side, smoothly loving the instrument, my fingers at
least for now, for the moment, as if they were no longer
part of me, beyond me, across the chasm, working some magic
i could never have imagined, that could never have come to
roost, here and there towards the end of the piece which
seems to come naturally, everything quietly extending
silence at least for a few seconds, silence or quiet, as
if smoothly, beyond the end, beyond the unseen of things

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