Tuesday, December 31, 2013

musical interlude

This, written by Carl Flesch, the Great Violin Pedagogue:

"The cases in which a person mistrusts the potency of his own expressional capacity are extremely rare in comparison with those of imaginary technical insufficiency. This is connected with an over-estimation of the technical moment, one from which, incidentally, nearly all professional violinists suffer.

Technique and expression have the same relationship to each other as has the human body to the soul which dwells within it.

It is quite indubitable that the two extremes -- neglect or over-estimation of the technical moment -- are the rule among violinists, and that the golden middle road is seldom found.

The teacher who carries exactitude to the extreme of regarding every technical mishap as a crime, is in danger of encouraging the pupil in the erroneous idea that he really has committed a crime against the spirit of music, when he drops a few notes while playing. A single unsuccessfully attempted run, under such circumstances, is enough to spoil the player's whole evening. […] A small dose of irresponsibility and a large portion of daring will provide the most appropriate mood for a day of concert performance.

The false pride of immaculate technical perfection, furthermore, leads to exaggeratedly meticulous technical studies, which it would be possible to conquer only in practice hours extended to an exaggerated degree -- while neglecting the spiritual values of the whole. In such cases, absolute mechanization in the shape of gymnastic activity with musical accompaniment soon results; while at the same time the final goal never can be reached, because actual infallibility is impossible.

We also know that the possession of means all too perfected, especially in a tonal respect, induces a certain emotional indolence, because the stimulating moment of a hindrance to overcome is eliminated. (When Casals was once asked why he did not use an instrument which was absolutely free from objection as to its tone, he answered: "Because I want to fight for my expression.")"

Sunday, December 29, 2013

a selection of daily doodles, 2013

Well, this was the first year of the Daily Doodle, in which I did something almost each day (I forgot 3 or 4 times during the year, not bad I think), a doodle, a painting, a thought, a sketch.


 It's pretty incredible to be able to dump all these drawings on my floor and look at them. Some are really just scribbles, some are more elaborate. Some of them are funny, some of them goofy, some of them are tiny, some are big... they're done on scraps of paper, pieces of cardboard, magazine pages, etc etc… some I can't scan because you have to hold them in your hand and unfold them.











Not sure yet if I'll continue quite this way in 2014, but here's to a wonderful year!


Friday, December 20, 2013

a beady little eye

attracted me to this creature, which Drew prepared for dinner (after I made everyone wait while I sketched him with the only drawing utensil I had on me, a multi-colored pencil (which turned out to be fun!)):

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013

what do i want to do?

I want to post these pictures of a cute little finger-puppet frog who keeps posing for me.
And eat chocolate.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Because it's always time for a good story,


There was once a miller who was poor but who had a beautiful daughter.  And so it came to pass that he had an audience with the king, and in order to gain his esteem he told him, “I have a daughter who can spin straw into gold.”  The king said to the miller, “Now that is an art that pleases me well; if your daughter is really as talented as you say, bring her tomorrow to my castle and I will put her to the test.”  When the girl was brought to him, he led her into a chamber that was filled with straw, gave her a spinning wheel and a reel and said, “Now get to work, and if by tomorrow morning you haven’t spun all this straw into gold, then you must die.”  Thereupon he shut and locked the door, and the girl remained alone in the chamber.

There the poor miller’s daughter sat, and did not for the life of her know what to do; she had no idea how to spin straw into gold, and her fear grew ever greater, so that she finally began to cry.  Then all at once the door opened, and a little man entered and said, “Good evening, Maid Miller’s Daughter, why do you weep so?” – “Oh,” answered the girl, “I am to spin this straw into gold and I don’t know how.”  The little man said, “What will you give me if I spin it for you?” – “My necklace,” said the girl.  The little man took the necklace, sat down at the wheel, and whirr, whirr, whirr, three times around, and the reel was full.  He set another one on the wheel, and whirr, whirr, whirr, three times around, and the next one was full – and so it went until the morning, when all the straw had been spun, and all the reels were full of gold.  At sunrise the king came, and when he saw the gold, he was amazed and happy, but his heart became only more greedy.  He had the miller’s daughter taken to another chamber full of straw, this one much bigger than the first, and commanded her to spin the straw again in one night, if she valued her life.  The girl didn’t know what to do and wept, when the door opened again and the little man appeared and said, “What will you give me if I spin this straw into gold?” – “The ring on my finger,” answered the girl.  The little man took the ring, the wheel began to whirr again, and by morning he had spun all of the straw into shining gold.  The king was exceedingly pleased when he saw this, but was still not satisfied, but instead led the girl into an even bigger chamber full of straw and said, “You must spin this again in one night – and if you succeed, I will make you my wife.” – Even if she is only a miller’s daughter, he thought, in the whole world I’d never find a richer wife.  Now when the girl was alone, the little man came for the third time and said, “What will you give me if I spin the straw for you again?” – “I have nothing more to give you,” answered the girl.  “Then promise me your first-born child after you become queen.”  Who knows what will happen, thought the miller’s daughter, and so she promised the little man what he wanted, and in return the little man spun once more the straw into gold.  And as the king came in the morning and found all that he had wished for, he held the wedding and the beautiful miller’s daughter became queen. 

After a year she gave birth to a beautiful child and thought no more of the little man, until suddenly one day he stepped into her room and said, “Now give me what you promised me.”  The queen was frightened and offered the little man all the riches of the kingdom, if only he would leave her the child.  But the little man said, “No, something living is dearer to me than all the treasures in the world.”  The queen then began to weep and plead, so much that the little man took pity on her and said, “I will give you three days.  If in that time you can guess my name, you may keep the child.”
So the queen pondered the whole night, thinking of all the names she had ever heard, and sent a messenger to inquire far and wide in the land after more names.  When the little man came the next day, she began guessing with Kaspar, Melchior, Balzer, and all the other names that she knew, one after the other, but after each one the little man said, “That’s not my name!”  On the second day she had all the names in the surrounding area collected, and spoke the most unfamiliar, oddest names to the little man:  “Is your name perhaps Rippenbiest or Hammelswade or Schnürbein?”  But he still answered, “That’s not my name!”  On the third day the messenger came back and told the queen, “I could not find a single new name, but as I approached a high mountain at the forest’s edge, where the fox and the hare make their home, there I saw a little house, and in front of the house was a fire, and around the fire a little ridiculous man was jumping, hopping on one leg and crying:

Heute back ich, morgen brau ich,
Übermorgen hol ich der Königin ihr Kind;
Ach wie gut ist, dass niemand weiss,
Dass ich Rumpelstilzchen heiss!

Today I bake, tomorrow I brew,
The next day I’ll fetch the Queen’s first child;
What luck it is that noone knows
That Rumpelstiltskin is my name!

Now you can well imagine how happy the queen was to hear this name, and when soon thereafter the little man appeared and asked, “Now, Your Highness, what is my name?” she first asked, “Is your name Kunz?” – “No.” – “Is your name Heinz?” – “No.”
 “Could your name be - Rumpelstiltskin?”

“The devil told you that, the devil told you that!” cried the little man, and he stomped his right foot in rage so deep into the earth that it was driven up into his body.  Then in his anger he grabbed his left foot with both hands and tore himself right down the middle in two.

Brothers Grimm, trans. Margaret Coote

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

san anselmo 2

In the spirit of Thanksgiving
Here are views that I am thankful for
(taken many Octobers ago)