Brain evolution

On the radio this morning, something was said about a program to be broadcast later in the day, about alt sein (“being old”), only I understood Alzheim. The irony crushed me to the thickness of a peanut skin.

Cracking walnuts a few days ago, I had to think about the evolution of the brain. My theory is, we are descended from walnuts. It’s all there, the two sides, the lobes, the corpus callosum. Maybe not the lobes, I guess, but the folds, the folds.

Either that, or there is some natural mathematical explanation involving surface area and volume and maximization.

I have no time lately to practice cello. This makes lessons and orchestra rehearsals frustrating. Even when I do practice, I cannot get into the proper frame of mind. Last night I was doing okay for a while, but then Beta yelled that Gamma wanted me to come upstairs and dry her hair, and I sighed and went upstairs and she was in the tub crying because the water was too hot and I said why didn’t you put some cold water in and we ended up yelling at each other, in part I think because we are all so sick and tired at home, and in part because St. Nicholas brought chocolate yesterday and that’s about all we ate all day long.

Gamma and I are both the kiss-and-make-up types, though, so we were getting along again by bedtime.

I got her into bed and practiced a little more but didn’t make much progress on any of my orchestra pieces, which require more concentration than I am presently able to give.

There are two other things, however, which are saving me musically. One is a small Le Clerc piece, a cello duet, kindly sent to me by Guanaco. It is at a level of difficulty that enables me to concentrate on enjoying the music, and perhaps bowing, rather than getting all tangled up in intonation. It is fun to play, and another cellist at the music school and I may soon be playing it together, just for the hell of it.

This is significant, as it goes beyond what my original goal was in taking cello lessons. My original goal was, to increase my enjoyment of hearing music. To open the window a bit wider to the room where musicians sit around playing. I did not dream that I would ever be in the room playing with them.

I have achieved all my original goals and must set new ones I guess. My experience in the orchestra has also been a benefit – I can now hear the different parts of the music when an orchestra plays, and my appreciation of it has increased.

For the moment I am coasting while I formulate new goals. Struggling with hard music, and enjoying playing as an added, surprise bonus. Thanks, cello! Thanks, Guanaco!

The other thing is, Gamma and I have enrolled in a composition workshop at our music school. See, she said she’d only do it if I signed up with her. We are the second father-daughter team in the workshop, among other kids there.

We are working on a minimal music piece, I think. One idea, the teacher said, would be to come up with your own scale of several notes and noodle around with that for a while and see what you come up with. I tried it the other day.

Remember the dead fox? In German, it is spelled Fuchs. Subtract the U, which is no note in German notation, and you have the notes F, C, B (called H in German) and E flat (called Es in German). It is possible, without any knowledge of piano, to sit down at one, figure out which keys correspond to those notes, press down on the sustain pedal and noodle around such that it sounds pretty and melancholy. I find it a great comfort.

It is harder to get something nice-sounding by noodling about on the cello, at least for me, at least right now. Maybe that would be a good goal.

Gamma doesn’t want to compose a melancholy piece, though. She wants to do something happy about a badger, maybe. Or something else.

5 responses to “Brain evolution

  1. Glad you like the LeClerc piece. I’ve been working on it for some time, now – struggling with the shifts at the crescendo in measures 24-27, but getting better. I also find it fun to play, and I’m enjoying listening to it at the same time. That’s a major step for this beginning cellist.

  2. Regarding the evolution bit…all I can say…sometimes you feel like a nut…sometimes, well, you don’t.

  3. fuchs is depressing. but what would a badger sound like??

  4. mig

    Badger is spelled Dachs in German, which would translate to D-A-C-B-Eflat in English.

  5. Bauke


    But Dachs actually makes sense… :-)