Dead to me

When I think of cousins of mine who voted for that monster, who saluted a North Korean general and expresses admiration for their murderous tyrant … and whose soldiers blew their own father’s leg off when he was serving in North Korea … and I know in my gut that those cousins are still supporters of that rabid spray-tanned baboon, I realize that there is no hope for anyone who identifies as Republican. None. They are truly soulless, beyond redemption entirely.

The girl standing on the left — it was her husband who was hurt, and her children who voted for a man who admires the people who did it. How does one process that?
When people can support someone who honors and admires a dictator whose army tortures its own citizens and crippled their own father, those people are dead to me. My Uncle Johnny once quietly talked about being injured in the field, and his fellow soldiers grabbing him and holding his body against the outside of their tank to haul him to safety, and how he could hear bullets pinging off of the side of the tank while he was held against it and rolled to safety. His leg was destroyed, and they were still trying to kill him. My uncle was a quiet, smart, reserved soul, and this fucked him up in ways that affected the rest of his life.

And now his children voted for someone who admires this country’s present murderous dictator.

There is no hope. When people can be blind to that, there is no hope.

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*headdesk*

I cannot believe that spray-tanned Mussolini wannabe is fucking up our relationship with Canada, of all places. Who the hell can’t get along with Canada?

Meanwhile he’s licking Kim Jong Un’s ass clean for him. He gets along with murderers but can’t tolerate Canadians?!

The development of exercises and technique for 2D:4D>1 hands

I really want to work more on this, just doing exercises or refingering them for people with (2D:4D)>1. I think the central part of it would be rocking the hand back and forth around 2-3, which are placed on the strings as a unit.

I really do want to work on those exercises, like the Salzedo “conditioning” exercises (although the Taubman fan in me still cringes at the idea of building “endurance”), and see how to go about making them work without destroying my hands. I just can’t stop thinking about this, and if I just hole up and work on it myself, knowing damned well that if my hand hurts, it’s time to find another way to do it, I think that would be the only real way to crack this nut.

I’m seriously going to commit harp heresy and just blow his fingering advice out of the water where my hand decides, through discomfort, that it needs to be done. I just want to see what happens, just tweak the dials on this bastard’s stuff that seems so hell-bent on destroying hands.

I mean, if I feel that the typical harp pedagogy hasn’t matured yet, is too narrow, and is probably focused on the wrong 2D:4D ratio for the majority of harpists, and that different techniques need to be applied to different hands, then damn it, I’m going to have to be the one to look into this. No right or wrong, no measuring up, no assumed correct answer, not even actual music beyond what I want to do myself, just mechanical exploration, like in science. Let’s see how this goddamned thing, be it harp or hand, actually works.

I’m doing it. I’m exploring — alone. No one will guide me because no one else has done this, either.

Every single time I’ve tried to yoke myself to conventional wisdom, it’s never worked out well for me. When I go my own damned way, that’s when things begin to happen. The harp is no different, and it even appears to be far more urgent that I go my own way on this, just as a purely mechanical device, because the traditional ways of doing things are so badly matched to my hands.

The foundational assumptions of this technique will be:

  1. 2-3 are treated are treated as a unit where possible and as the fulcrum of the hand, and 1 and 4 the ends of the plank. Never have them down at the same time if you can avoid it. (Corollary: Music that requires that is to be considered poorly written and as ignorant of the mechanics of the hand as music requiring a stretch of a 16th in one hand would be on the piano.)
  2. This will require the hand to rock back and forth, especially the left hand.
  3. Because of this, forearm rotation is to be assumed part of the technique, where possible (a borrowing from Taubman).
  4. The 4th finger, especially on the left hand, should only ever be played as part of a rotation to a higher finger.

That’s it. Those assumptions are the starting point. Now to develop exercises. I will grab a copy of Salzedo. I already have Friou and Kondonassis. Then, I go from there, and I come up with my own goddamned way of doing this, which hopefully will be useful to others with similar digit ratios.

I think a major consequence of this is that the fourth finger never plays through its own independent movement but only ever through the rotation of the entire hand toward a higher finger. Most playing should be done through forearm/hand rotation I think (more Taubman), but most especially with the fourth finger, it must adhere to this more strictly than any other finger. It reminds me of Taubman’s fierce statement that most injuries she saw in her career revolved around the use of the fourth finger on a black key.

Like it or not, finger independence is nonsense, and the fourth finger must be treated specially. If we insist on behaving as if it’s got its own independent tendon and we can pretend it’s just another index finger only further back, we will damage ourselves. Period. Denial of the facts has never once solved a single problem in the history of life on Earth and in fact only creates problems.

On every instrument ever played, finger independence is nonsense.

Played a bit

Still not at lessons, though. 😦

But I’m back at a few things, a little bit at least. I don’t really think I’m good with lessons, for whatever reason. I latch on very hard and get too invested, and my hands just don’t work well for this instrument to do things the orthodox way.

And to be honest, like I said in the last post, I’m just not in a place in my life where I want to do anything but come home from work and sleep. I do not have the emotional overhead to be frustrated and/or focused, and I need to put what leftover energy I have elsewhere, when I have any at all. Sometimes that leftover energy is entirely consumed by eating and cleaning up. Sometimes I have nothing left over but the energy to watch a few YouTube videos and fall asleep at 7:30pm after crocheting a fraction of one round on an afghan. Weekends are eaten by other responsibilities.

Hating my hands

Perhaps if anyone other than me reads this blog, someone might be aware that I also play piano (and have for a long time) and fart around on flute a bit, and that I’ve messed with viola some time ago.

Piano and flute seem to be the two things I play that don’t make me hate a part of my body. Viola had me hating my neck and (nonexistent) shoulders. Harp has me hating my hands, and I mean hating them. Hating my fourth finger, which doesn’t even come up to the nail bed on my third, and resenting that my fingers are utterly unsuited to the thing because of my relative finger lengths (despite being more than large enough to allow me to play almost anything I’ve ever fancied on the piano with second effort). Having to refinger every damned thing I play on the harp because of it, and knowing very well that I am just flat-out doing it fucking wrong as a result. Doing it all the cheap-shit crappo amateur way.

Plainly put, I’m angry about this goddamned instrument. I love the sound, I love arranging for it, and I haven’t sat at it for a solid month because the last thing I’m in the mood for in my life right now is to sit down and do something that will make me hate a part of my own body. I feel stupid about it because my teacher’s hands are half the size of mine — but she has a reasonable sized fourth finger relative to her third, which comes to halfway up the nail.

And I don’t know if this is me being an impatient, immature whiner or if I really just don’t want to wrestle with this stupid fucking instrument anymore, don’t want to force myself to do something that will make me hate my body. Being frustrated because I just have to slow down and work harder is nothing to me. Being frustrated because my body is wrong and I can’t change it is different. It’s the difference between learning how to do something and learning how to be six feet tall. One of those is bound for failure.

And when I sit at the piano or pick up that admittedly annoying flute, my body is not wrong. I get irked with myself — and get irked with the instrument, if it’s the flute — but I have confidence that I can work it out instead of cobbing up kluges to compensate for the inadequacies and failures in my physical being. I mean, I can handle that damned flute. It annoys me, but I know that when I get ticked at it, it’s just me being impatient and foolish. I mean, my hands aren’t perfect for it; I still wish my fourth finger were decent, but it’s really nothing worth worrying about at all, and most people have to struggle a bit with the bottom hand ring finger. That’s why people use a piper grip on the bottom hand. There is no fundamental body failure or inadequacy that would prevent me from doing something on the 19th century flute (other than not being able to get a C foot for it since I play lefty, which is a failure in the technology, not a failure in me). My limits on that instrument are ones that I will set by my own willingness to work, not ones set for me by my body.

When I sit at the piano it’s even more straightforward; I know that I have hands that are very good for that, so if I can’t do something, it’s just me being lazy. Other than Rachmaninoff, I can manage just about everything I’d want to play on it. Again, my limits are set by me and my own appetite for work, not by a poorly formed body.

But like the viola, when I’m at that harp, I’m struggling against having the wrong body, the wrong hands, the wrong neck, the wrong whatever. I’m not lazy or impatient, I’m wrong. My very physical being is wrong. And struggling against that means pain and possibly damage, all to do crippled, crappy, amateur versions of even the most basic things.

Or am I rationalizing? I mean, that’s what humans do.

I know that my life has been a bit more stressful lately with my mom getting older and work getting a bit strange (I’m not hugely worried, but there is definitely more on my plate), and lately I just do not have the emotional bandwidth to spend on something that makes me hate my hands, a part of my body that has always and without fail been on my side for the last 52 years.

I am angry about this. I am angry at myself because I fear I am rationalizing. I am angry at trying something and not wanting to continue. I like my teacher and I don’t want to disassociate myself from her. I wish I had more time in my life, I wish my job hadn’t gone ever so slightly pear-shaped, and I wish my mom weren’t getting older. And I don’t goddamned feel like struggling once a night with something that makes me hate my body, where my limits are imposed by my hands — which are suddenly my enemy after being my best friends for a lifetime — as opposed to my own controlled decision of where to put those limits.

I think I’m going to stop. I hate stopping because I so like my teacher, and I so like arranging and composing and sharing those things with her, but I cannot stomach playing refingered, corner-cut versions of things that I will never be able to play properly because of physical attributes I can’t do anything about, and hating my hands the whole time. If my life were in a better place right now, maybe I could manage it. Maybe I’d have the emotional bandwidth to tolerate it. But right now, I just don’t. I don’t have the bandwidth left over right now to hate my hands while learning to play half-assed crippled versions of what a proper harp student should be learning.

When I have to struggle with the piano, I hate the piano. When I struggle piffling around with that flute, I hate the flute. When I struggle with the harp, I hate my body. I am not in the mood for that right now, and I dread telling my teacher because I just like her so much, and I have to say that I do like my lessons. But I don’t have the emotional spoons right now to spend on something that makes me hate my body for an hour every night. I can get over hating the piano and the flute, but the harp makes me hate me.

Why?

At work, I’m constantly stressed out and sucking, and I get home and sit behind the harp and am constantly stressed out and sucking. Remind me again WTF I am putting myself through this at all.