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Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
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Tuesday, 16 February 2016

V tells me what's what

MUSIC LESSON Told V I needed "propping up", my recorded singing voice was embarrassing, I felt wimpish. V pointed out I had arrived seven weeks before, aged eighty, untutored in singing during a frequently self-destructive life (I'm adding in that last bit). That on the first lesson I stumbled through one of the great bass operatic arias of all time, that I now use scores and obviously enjoy doing so. That I am "perfectionist".

And then what really mattered. V said: "If I'd thought I couldn't do anything for you I'd have told you, immediately." Exercises, then Benjamin Britten’s round, Old Abr'am Brown is Dead and Gone. Rebirth!

And now Santa Lucia (see pic). "Neapolitan and sentimental," I said. As ever V was way ahead. I'm singing in the language best fitted for singing: Italian. "Come, my love, to the agile boat," I trill and it's oh-so-liquid as Venite al l'agile barchetta mia!

PAINTING With the other V in my life, VR, watched egg-shaped, Waldemar Januszczak, prove the Renaissance started long before the Italians thought it did. Exquisite Jan van Eyck shockingly labelled a "Flemish Primitive". Funny really.

Hardline Hope, a novel (14,040 words)
“Watching women who present TV news gave me the idea. About age forty their eyesight tends to go off and they face the big choice. There’s one in particular - handsome, intelligent, speaks well and quick with it; she tried contacts and her face lost all focus, as if she was struggling in a fog. Now uses discreet glasses that are almost invisible - a lot better than contacts and I’m glad for her. But there is another option.”

Gayle’s face lit up. “Don’t tell me, it’s like the legs isn’t it? Getting in and out of the car. Go for it, don’t hide it.”

4 comments:

Sir Hugh said...

That's my kind of arts programme. Hugely informative. Not condescending in any way and a valid new slant from a comical waddling presenter with a wicked sense of humour and a keen intellect, who must be a gift to tv producers. And oh, those props! That suitcase had me amused and guessing for a long time, then there was the mirror and the potted palm, all lumberingly handled by Waldemar, then cleverly with creative camera shots - brilliant!

Roderick Robinson said...

Sir Hugh: Former art critic on The Guardian. But he had to emerge, become visible; to hide that shape and - especially - that haircut was to deny BBC4 viewers the bread of life. In previous series he made a point of climbing long public flights of stairs, as if to insist he was quite healthy. Never convinced me entirely on that matter but was, and is, good on culture.

mikeM said...

Whenever I hear Britten I am captive. And Santa Lucia?! What we would all give for some video of these lessons!!! It had crossed my mind that you are an "always room for improvement" sort. As am I.

Roderick Robinson said...

MikeM: Look, let me come right out of the closet, I'm a musical snob. Given to enormous bursts of prejudice. Earlier I was presented with an Irish folk tune, made the usual rumbling noises typical of a Brit and was proved wholly - and gratefully - wrong. I am still wrestling with that subtle and lovely piece of music.

Same reaction when offered Santa Lucia. The voice of Mario Lanza (the operatic tenor for people who didn't like opera) bellowed out over the decades. I said to V "I'll do it." because if V said "Sing Michael Bublé." I'd do that too. V is the boss and I'm her willing student.

This time things took a different turn. I listened to Pavarotti singing SL on YouTube and learned nothing. Luckily I found Andrea Bocelli who has the perfect Neapolitan voice (but, thankfully no sobbing). Almost comically perfect. Taught me to sing much faster and - here's the key - to embrace wholeheartedly the extrovert Neapolitan thing because there's no point to SL unless you submit. To do other would be to snap one's fingers irregularly listening to Chico Hamilton.

Within half an hour at home I was immersed in a culture that had seemed alien to my North European upbringing. Laughing my head off but being quite serious. Somehow V must have recognised this in me.

You say you'd pay money to see videos of my one-hour lessons. I'd pay thousands. I sense I'd be quite unrecognisable. Light years away from my comfort zone defined by the written word, giddy with enthusiasm yet doing exactly what I'm told, the aural equivalent of snorkelling over a coral reef off the Mauritius coast.

And yes I'm willing to grind if that's what it takes. There will be hours of repetition, more hours picking out tunes on the keyboard in the key of two flats. (Impossible! It didn't seem to exist. Then it started to reveal itself. Ah, upwards on the black! Who'd have thought that?)

Good to talk to someone who knows.