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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Being me. By John von Daler


                 "I am that I am," says #Jahweh, Exodus 3:14. Each of us must build a life on our own version of this, the father of all sentences. In my case, this self-definition must always include an admission of eagerness, a certain unbridled need to get from A to B, the sooner the better.
                In daily life, this can be seen in the way I walk (like a harnassed road-runner keen on getting the race underway) or in the way I eat (like a starving fugitive whose food could be stolen at any moment). These are things with which I have learned to coexist, not in a godlike way, but as a subject who has ceased to be aware of his own subjugation.

                However, playing the violin has always put this uneasy truce between my nature and my aspirations to a severe test.

                During one recording session, I was asked to improvise a solo in the style of the great Joe #Venuti. The music was to be used as background for a documentary film about one of the most notorious Danish jails. The composer, a great friend of mine, had asked me to come to his studio just to play these twelve or sixteen bars of music.

                I unpacked my violin and we did some preliminary testing to make sure that the sound quality was in place. I tuned up and warmed up for about a minute and then we heard the tape that was to be the accompaniment to my solo.

                "Any problems?" asked my friend. "No? O.K. Give it a whirl." He started the tape over again and I played what turned out to be exactly the solo both of us were looking for. There was just one problem. It was too edgy. Not too fast, as you might suspect, but just too early at every turn, like some teenager kissing a girl for the first time, very touching, but just too eager.

                We heard it seven or eight times. It did all the right things, but always slightly too soon.

                These were the first years of the digital innovations in sound recording. You could see what you had recorded on a screen. This solo was a long red line surrounding lots of long, black soundtracks like frightened serpents scurrying into a hole.

                One of the new things about digital recording had to do with the lifting and moving of whole segments of sound. If you wanted #Monti's Czardas in the middle of #Bach's first Brandenburg Concerto you just cut and pasted it there.

                After listening to and moving the track back and forth, my friend and I found out that I was seven-hundredths of a second too early all the way through the solo. So if you lifted it and pasted it seven-hundredths of a second back in time, it sounded like Joe Venuti in 1937, laid back and charming.

                We moved it in all secrecy and never told a soul.

                This is where I come back to Yaweh. What about doing that with my whole life? Move everything seven-hundredths of a second back in time. Wow, would I be cool!  

                Oh, well, I guess I am that I am.



                My book, Pieces: A Life in Eight Movements and a Prelude (WiDo Publishing) is now available. Order through Amazon.com, the publisher or your local bookstore. Click to buy Pieces below. Please feel free to write a short review of the book in your own language at Amazon.com or GoodReads. Thanks for your support!







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