Let Me Take Your Hands, part 7

Welcome! This blog features short piano pieces I’ve recorded at home. It began as a project for the quarantine, a mental break during these tough times.

This month, I’m switching things up a bit in honor of Short Story Month. Each post features an installment of my short story “Let Me Take Your Hands,” originally published in The Woven Tale Press as a prizewinner in WTP’s 2017 literary competition. Today’s installment is the ending (we made it! 🙂 ). Find the first installment here and follow the story forward up to the current post.

This is a favorite story of mine. Each installment is be paired with a piece of piano music I’ve recorded.

Make sure to subscribe to the blog if you’d like a regular dose of music, and visit back soon!

~~

“Let Me Take Your Hands” part 7

The lawyer had said it would be difficult, and indeed, it was far from easy. There were calls to law offices in Mexico in the frantic search for Consuelo’s birth certificate. There were arguments through the bulletproof glass at San Miguel, after Antonio explained to Consuelo their one desperate chance. “But Señor Antonio,” she said, still addressing him formally after so many years, “this is not right. You should not have to do this.” She assumed he could not want to, but he brushed that aside. Personal wants did not matter. There was the rapid filing of paperwork in a race against time and the legal system. Then, finally, there was Antonio’s signature, and then Consuelo’s own, on the marriage license, signed in the presence of San Miguel’s notary.

As the wife of an American citizen, with her newly issued green card, Consuelo could safely remain in the country she had chosen. Antonio promised himself that he would make sure she got full citizenship next. Once she did, the marriage, which was only a legal arrangement, could end. Consuelo could have her freedom.

The day after her release from prison, Antonio brought Consuelo and her daughter to his studio. He also brought a pair of folding chairs, so Tess could use the room’s only stool.

She sat at the wheel. After Antonio cut the clay for her, she shaped it into a ball with quick, practiced motions. Then she threw it, centering it squarely. It had taken her only a few tries to learn how.

Consuelo had never seen her daughter do this before. Antonio had found time every day, during Consuelo’s time in prison, in between arguing with a lawyer in Mexico, and carrying papers to and from San Miguel, to bring Tess here and teach her his work. He understood the kind of peace it gave her. Now Consuelo watched as Tess started the wheel spinning, wet her hands, and pressed them against the clay.

Antonio had already taught her the two basic shapes: cylinder and bowl. After her first frustration, she had quickly learned a kind of patience and meticulousness that even he, after all his years at the wheel, had never achieved. He still didn’t know how her mind worked, but he imagined her calculating how the clay should move, how to apply pressure to make the shapes she wanted. If she chose, Antonio felt sure that one day she could be an extraordinary potter. Now he watched as she pressed the clay gently out, beginning to shape a bowl.

He didn’t need to keep an eye on her. She knew what she was doing. Instead he watched Consuelo, who sat with her eyes fixed on her daughter’s confident and steady hands.

Tess made the bowl quickly. When she stopped the wheel, she looked around at Antonio. This was their signal. She didn’t yet cut the clay herself: the wire tended to twist between her fingers and he didn’t want her to hurt herself or damage the work in progress. He sliced the bowl free, set it on the drying board, and cut her another piece of fresh clay.

When he sat down again, Consuelo moved her chair closer to him. She brushed her face, as if smoothing hair away, but he saw she was crying.

She motioned at Tess. In Spanish, she whispered, “I never thought she could do something like this.”

Antonio saw the gold band gleaming on her finger. His wife. It wasn’t true, not really, only a legal convenience, but for some reason his throat hurt and he had to swallow before he answered. “She has a gift.”

Another tear ran down Consuelo’s cheek. This time, she didn’t wipe it away. No one would have told her such a thing about her daughter before. She said, “The Virgin heard my prayers. She gave you to us.”

Antonio’s face flushed. When had he and God last had anything to do with each other? If Consuelo had stayed in Mexico, if she could have had a life other than the hardscrabble one she had known, she would have gotten married in a Catholic church full of incense and flowers. Her family would have given her a feast, with drinking and dancing long into the night. Instead she was here, a barely-redeemed criminal, bound – at least for now – to an old man. What did God have to say about that? What did He ever do about the world’s injustice?

Consuelo reached out. Her fingers closed around his. “Thank you, Antonio.”

Not señor this time. Antonio found himself taking her hand in his.

She let her head rest against his shoulder. The two of them sat, listening to the hum of the wheel, watching Tess shape something new.

~end~

Musical pairing: Felix Mendelssohn, Song without Words in E Major

Tip Jar (no pressure!):

If you’re enjoying the blog and would like to help support it, please consider clicking on the link below to leave me a tip. You’ll choose your own payment amount and pay securely through PayPal’s platform. As always, thanks for visiting!

Let Me Take Your Hands, part 6

Welcome! This blog features short piano pieces I’ve recorded at home. It began as a project for the quarantine, a mental break during these tough times.

This month, I’m switching things up a bit in honor of Short Story Month. Each post, over the next week or so, features an installment of my short story “Let Me Take Your Hands,” originally published in The Woven Tale Press as a prizewinner in WTP’s 2017 literary competition. Find the first installment here and follow the story forward up to the current post.

This is a favorite story of mine. Each installment is be paired with a piece of piano music I’ve recorded.

Make sure to subscribe to the blog if you’d like a regular dose of music, and visit back soon!

~~

“Let Me Take Your Hands” part 6

Tess didn’t answer or nod, but Antonio felt sure he was right. She wanted to try using the potter’s wheel. Perhaps he was riding on the wave of exhaustion, caffeine, and confusion from the morning. Perhaps he and this girl could only reach each other after all thought and striving ran out. He said, “Te lo mostro,” I’ll show you, and then took the Saran-wrapped sandwich out of his pocket. “But first,” he told her in Spanish, “you have to eat some of this.”

Her face changed then. The look of disgust and annoyance, her clear disappointment that he had outsmarted her, was so obvious that Antonio had to swallow a laugh. He unwrapped the sandwich and held it out. “Eat. Then I’ll show you.”

When she took it from him, her fingertips brushed his. If the touch startled her, she didn’t show it. She ate the sandwich in a few bites. She must have been starving. After the gulped a couple of mouthfuls of water at the sink, she went back to the worktable and put her hand on the clay again, waiting.

Bueno,” Antonio said. He cut a fresh piece of clay, but when he started working it into a sphere, she shook her head and reached out to catch hold of it herself.

“You want to do it?” Antonio asked. “Fine. But it has to be a ball.” He mimed the shape with his hands. “Can you do that?”

Again the look of annoyance. She tossed the clay from hand to hand as he had done, shaping it quickly and capably into a sphere. Antonio found himself thinking again of her neatly tied shoelaces.

When she finished, she went to the wheel and sat down on his stool, waiting to be shown what to do next. Antonio half-wondered if she would be able to throw the clay herself, if she had learned that much by watching him. He threw the clay anyhow, to center it, and showed her how to press the wheel’s front pedal. You want it to go steady, not too fast,” he said.

Almost immediately, she kept the wheel turning at a good speed. When she put her hands on the clay, though, trying to shape it as he had, right away she pushed it off center. In frustration, she pressed the pedal down harder. The wet clay whipped around, throwing slurry in the air. Antonio saw some of it hit Tess’s shirt. Her foot snapped off the pedal and the wheel stopped. She shook her hands off and stared down at the gray drops on her clothes. Her eyes looked wild and lost.

Hija,” Antonio said. “Está bien.” It’s all right. He found himself thinking about what the doctors told Consuelo. Mind of a toddler. Can’t learn. He realized Tess would have heard those things too. People had said them in front of her as if she didn’t understand.

She was trying again with the wheel now, but it couldn’t work. The clay was far off center, her hands were too wet, the wheel spun out of control. Over its hum, Antonio heard a whine of frustration, a rising, gut-felt sound ready to explode in sobs.

Before he thought, Antonio reached out and caught Tess’s arm. “Déjalo, hija.Stop.

She jerked her hands off the clay, yanked her arm away, snapped her foot off the pedal again, and rounded on him, all in a single heartbeat. He saw anger, pain, and unbearable sorrow mingled in her face.

In that moment, he knew what he must do. For her and for her mother.

Te lo mostro,” he told Tess again. I’ll show you. He reached out and repositioned the clay, pushing it to center, smoothing its shape, using a sponge to sop extra water away. Then he said, “Déjame cogerte las manos.” Let me take your hands.

She glared at him. He saw the trapped mustang again, and at the same time, he saw Consuelo, sobbing behind the bulletproof glass at the jail. Yes. He must do this thing now, and then he must do another thing later.

“I’ll show you,” he repeated in Spanish. This time he was certain she understood. “Let me take your hands.”

She didn’t reach them out to him, but when he made to take them – something he never would have dared to try before – she didn’t resist. Her muscles were tense under his fingers as he gently placed her hands on the clay, where they needed to be.

When he told her to spin the wheel again, she did, carefully this time. Guiding her hands, he showed her how to press the clay down in the center, how to make first a thick-bottomed almost-doughnut and then, gradually, the wall of what would become a cylinder. A mug, perhaps, or a vase.

He felt her hands relax under his. Standing over her, he saw her shoulders relax too. He saw her drive her energy into the clay, pressing it now with more confident fingers, channeling thoughts and feelings and the words that she couldn’t speak into its smooth texture. As he watched her work, he spoke aloud, telling her the other thing he now knew he would manage.

“I will bring your mother home.”

~final section of the story appears in the next blogpost~

Musical pairing: J. S. Bach, Sinfonia no. 13 in A minor

Tip Jar (no pressure!):

If you’re enjoying the blog and would like to help support it, please consider clicking on the link below to leave me a tip. You’ll choose your own payment amount and pay securely through PayPal’s platform. As always, thanks for visiting!

Let Me Take Your Hands, part 4

Welcome! This blog features short piano pieces I’ve recorded at home. It began as a project for the quarantine, a mental break during these tough times.

This month, I’m switching things up a bit in honor of Short Story Month. Each post, over the next week or so, features an installment of my short story “Let Me Take Your Hands,” originally published in The Woven Tale Press as a prizewinner in WTP’s 2017 literary competition. Find the first installment here and follow the story forward up to the current post.

This is a favorite story of mine. Each installment is be paired with a piece of piano music I’ve recorded.

Make sure to subscribe to the blog if you’d like a regular dose of music, and visit back soon!

~~

“Let Me Take Your Hands” part 4

In the afternoon, Antonio went to his pottery studio. He could do nothing else until he sat at his wheel, the one place where the world always fell into order.

He couldn’t leave Tess alone in the house, so he took her with him. She still hadn’t eaten anything. She turned her face away from the sandwich Antonio offered – smooth peanut butter with grape jelly, what Consuelo always made – and jerked her arm back when he tried to take her hand to lead her to the car. She followed him outside, though, and folded herself into the passenger’s seat when he opened the door for her. On the short ride from Galena Street to the studio, she sat there with no more life in her than a doll.

Tienes que comer,” he told her while he drove. You have to eat. He didn’t know if she heard or understood. Perhaps this was better than screaming, but right now he would have traded all her silence for one yell, to show that there was a living child in there and her soul hadn’t disappeared along with her mother. And if she opened her mouth, he might have a chance to stuff a bite of sandwich in. That rejected item, wrapped in Saran wrap, sat in his shirt pocket.

He wasn’t a parent. He had no idea what to do for any child, especially this one. He had never asked for, or wanted, this kind of responsibility.

Ms. Tillison’s suggestion banged around inside his head. If he went through with it, if it worked at all, he would have greater responsibility than he had ever imagined. Of course, technically, it would not be real. It would be a legality; but he, and Consuelo, and this girl beside him, would all have to live by it, at least for a while. If it worked.

If it could.

On Colorado Street, Antonio took his usual space in the narrow public parking lot. Tess followed him silently across the street to the studio. She wore yesterday’s long jeans, but didn’t seem to care about the heat beating up from the pavement. Antonio sweated in his own khakis and thought about how he would have to take the girl to Consuelo’s apartment at least for a change of clothes. At the jail, they had given him Consuelo’s keys. He wondered if, once Tess set foot in her home again, he would be able to get her to leave.

He unlocked the studio door and pushed it open. The bells inside clanged against the glass. Consuelo and Tess had seen the showroom before, but they had never come through to his workspace at the back of the shop. Antonio didn’t know what to expect as he led Tess through into the pair of rooms that held his kiln, his wheel, his glazes, and the shelves of finished and unfinished work. What if the strangeness of everything overwhelmed her? What if she turned violent, the way she had with the policeman last night? Might she decide to break things, smash the pots, the weeks’ worth of Antonio’s time and income?

He pointed into the kiln room and told her in Spanish, “Best not to go in there. It’s hot.” Again, he couldn’t tell if the words meant anything, but surely she could feel the heat on her skin through the almost-shut kiln room door. He waved around at the shelves in the workroom, his wheel, the row of glaze buckets, and the glaze samples on the wall. “You can look around in here,” he told Tess. “I’m going to work for a while.”

He drew his apron on, cut a rough pound of wet clay from a fresh block, and sat down at his wheel. If he could spend five minutes, or ten, working, before anything else happened. He didn’t need to finish anything. He only needed that rhythm under his hands, so he might be able to think what to do next.

As he tossed the clay from hand to hand, shaping it into a rough ball, he watched Tess out of the corner of his eye. At first she stood still, in the middle of the room, as empty as a shell. Then, in the same moment that he threw the clay with a solid thump onto the center of the wheel, she seemed to come to life.

She walked over to the glaze buckets. Now she was directly behind Antonio, so he couldn’t see her and work the wheel at the same time. He had to hope she wouldn’t decide, for instance, to tip the buckets over and cover the floor with glaze. When he managed to glance over his shoulder, once he had the wheel spinning at the right speed, he saw her standing on tiptoe, with her hands clasped behind her back, examining the samples on the wall.

He had always liked the sample display himself. It was made up of rows of small square pieces of clay, glazed and fired, showing how pairs of glazes looked individually and combined. Copper red with Tyman’s White. Sand Yellow with cobalt blue. The board made a mosaic of possibilities, all the colors he could create.

Perhaps Tess liked colors. Certainly Antonio didn’t hear any noise from her, no buckets sloshing or pottery crashing to the floor, as he began to shape the clay on his wheel. He gave it a wide angle at the base. It might become a bowl. In spite of the girl’s strange presence, and the endless worry that chewed at him, peace settled on him while he worked.

~story continues in the next blogpost~

Musical pairing: Ludwig van Beethoven, Bagatelle in G Major, Op. 126

Tip Jar (no pressure!):

If you’re enjoying the blog and would like to help support it, please consider clicking on the link below to leave me a tip. You’ll choose your own payment amount and pay securely through PayPal’s platform. As always, thanks for visiting!

Let Me Take Your Hands, part 3

Welcome! This blog features short piano pieces I’ve recorded at home. It began as a project for the quarantine, a mental break during these tough times.

This week, I’m switching things up a bit in honor of Short Story Month. Each post features an installment of my short story “Let Me Take Your Hands,” originally published in The Woven Tale Press as a prizewinner in WTP’s 2017 literary competition. Find the first installment here.

This is a favorite story of mine. Each installment will be paired with a piece of piano music I’ve recorded.

Make sure to subscribe to the blog if you’d like a regular dose of music, and visit back soon!

~~

“Let Me Take Your Hands” part 3

By noon, Antonio had been sitting at his laptop for three hours. No one had been able to offer any help.

As if from somewhere on the ceiling, he watched himself dial another number. This lawyer, a white woman named Margaret Tillison, was far away in Denver. Antonio could neither imagine her helping him nor, if by some miracle she could, how he would manage to travel to the city to meet with her.

When she accepted the call from her secretary, Antonio laid out the words that by then had become routine. Aside from the pounding in his head, he could have been telling the lawyer about something that had happened to someone else.

She asked the usual questions, in a crisp, detached attorney-voice. To Antonio, she sounded older, possibly near his own age. Someone who had seen much of what life could throw at a person. When she finished questioning him, Antonio braced himself to hear the usual answer.

After a pause, though, she said something different. “Did the ICE tell you how long Ms. Cordeiro would be held at San Miguel?” She pronounced Consuelo’s last name perfectly, as she had Antonio’s own.

Antonio tried to think. “I don’t remember. I don’t think so.”

“You need to find out. I have one option for you to consider.”

Antonio realized his fingers were going numb around the phone. He massaged his wrist with his free hand, trying to wake the nerves back up. “Please tell me.”

She did. Antonio listened. The enormity and absurdity of the suggestion, the only thing he could do now to rescue a friendless woman, made it difficult to fit the idea into his head.

He forced himself to pay attention as Ms. Tillison finished, “It won’t be easy, Mr. Guerrera. And you’ll have to work fast. Most likely, she’ll be moved first to Texas and then deported. Once she’s out of Colorado, you won’t have the option anymore.”

“I see,” Antonio said. He didn’t see. This was too much for him to understand. “Thank you,” he said.

She wished him luck. Antonio listened to the click when she hung up. The “option” couldn’t possibly work…but suppose it could. Would it be worth it? Should he try?

He thought of Tess sitting silent in the bedroom, her arms folded across her empty stomach. He thought of Consuelo in a jail cell. He thought about what it would mean if he tried the lawyer’s solution, and if it worked. For the first time in a long time, he heard the words of an old prayer in his mind.

Dios que nos ve a todos, diríjame. God who sees us all, lead me.

~story continues in the next blogpost~

Musical pairing: Fugue in D minor, by Johann Sebastian Bach

Tip Jar (no pressure!):

If you’re enjoying the blog and would like to help support it, please consider clicking on the link below to leave me a tip. You’ll choose your own payment amount and pay securely through PayPal’s platform. As always, thanks for visiting!

Let Me Take Your Hands, part 2

Welcome! This blog features short piano pieces I’ve recorded at home. It began as a project for the quarantine, a mental break during these tough times.

This week, I’m switching things up a bit in honor of Short Story Month. Each day features an installment of my short story “Let Me Take Your Hands,” originally published in The Woven Tale Press as a prizewinner in WTP’s 2017 literary competition. Find the first installment here.

This is a favorite story of mine. Each installment will be paired with a piece of piano music I’ve recorded.

Make sure to subscribe to the blog if you’d like a regular dose of music, and visit back soon!

~~

“Let Me Take Your Hands” part 2

The next day, Antonio sat in his small home office with his laptop and the smartphone he had finally bought six months earlier. His pottery studio on West Colorado Street stayed closed, the first time he had skipped a workday in years.

Tess had not made a peep since the jail. Last night Antonio had given her one of his own nightshirts to sleep in. It looked ridiculously big on her, long and striped with floppy sleeves. She had gone to bed, in the unfamiliar shirt and the unfamiliar bedroom, without a sound, after pushing away the plate of huevos y chorizo he offered her. This morning he had peered around the room’s half-open door to find her sitting on the bed, dressed in yesterday’s clothes. She had tied the laces of her sneakers into perfect bows. Even as he struggled with the leftover haze of a sleepless night, Antonio wondered how someone with a toddler’s brain could manage such bows. When he asked if she wanted breakfast, and pointed toward the kitchen across the hall, Tess folded her arms across her chest and sat motionless.

She was probably still sitting there, just like that, right now. She had eaten nothing since the peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich Consuelo had given her for lunch the day before. With a cup of coffee sloshing in his stomach, making its lining burn, Antonio started down the list of law office phone numbers on his computer screen.

The secretary who answered his first call asked him to hold. As he sat, listening to the bland Muzak and his own heartbeat in his ears, he thought of the day he had first seen Consuelo and Tess.

It had been an August morning much like today. Consuelo had come into Antonio’s pottery shop at the end of a long desperate pass down West Colorado Street. Antonio learned later that she had been peering through shop windows, hunting for any owners who looked Hispanic enough to answer her in her own language when she asked where she might find work. She had the frayed jeans, beat-up sneakers, and faded turquoise T-shirt she wore; the two-month-old baby slung in a red shawl on her back; and a yellow shoulder bag stuffed full of baby clothes, with patches of its fake leather peeling off the canvas backing like diseased skin. She didn’t have so much as a fresh shirt or change of underwear for herself. Antonio learned she had spent her last few dollars on bus fare from Pecos, far away in Texas. She was running from the law of two different countries. According to both governments, though for different reasons, she was a criminal.

Antonio wasn’t sure what made him help her. He didn’t see himself as more misanthropic than most, but even by then, he had lived his quiet life for a long time. He hadn’t particularly wanted to open that life to a teenager with a squalling baby, especially when the girl was an illegal alien and former prostitute. Consuelo had told Antonio the truth about all that immediately.

But she had looked too small and thin even to carry the infant on her back. Perhaps it was that, or her big dark eyes, or the intensity in her voice that took him back to the long-ago time in Mexico City. Living here in Telluride, he wasn’t the boy from the Pico de Orizaba anymore, the one who had come down from his beloved mountains to lead the crowd and shout himself hoarse in the Guerra Sucia riots. He wasn’t the shadow who had slipped across the border, the young student with the government price on his head, whose only chance at survival was to leave behind the country he loved. But he took Consuelo in, because something about her gave him back some small piece of his past.

Now, on the other end of the phone line, the click of someone picking up interrupted Antonio’s thoughts. “Juan Aguilar speaking.”

Antonio hoped a fellow Mexican might be more inclined or able to help Consuelo. The voice on the other end of the phone sounded young and briskly American. Antonio tried to control his own too-obvious accent as he explained why he was calling. “My housekeeper was arrested. They say she will be deported.” He used the English words carefully, setting them in place the way he positioned fragile pieces to fire in the kiln. “Her daughter is eleven, autistic.” He found that word difficult to pronounce.

The attorney fired questions. “Does your housekeeper have a driver’s license? Any form of American ID? Did she come into this country on a visa?” No and no and no. “What was her employment in Mexico?”

At the end of the questioning, Aguilar said, “You won’t be able to do much for her, Mr. Guerrera. She was a criminal in her birth country. She has no legal standing here.”

“But I can pay. Any fines, or for her paperwork…”

“I’m afraid it’s too late.” Did Antonio hear, then, the faintest hint of sympathy? “She should have taken care of her status years ago.”

“What about her daughter?”

“You said the child was born in Texas, yes? So she has all the rights and protections of American citizenship.”

That is not what I am asking. Antonio knew it was useless to say so. “Very well,” he managed. “Thank you for your time.” He hung up the phone.

Would any other attorney tell him anything different? The list of numbers on the laptop screen blurred. Antonio’s hands ached for the smoothness of fresh clay, his ears for the regular thrum of the spinning pottery wheel. He had only made one call. He must not give up yet.

~story continues on the blog tomorrow~

Musical pairing: Sinfonia no. 7 in E minor, by Johann Sebastian Bach

Tip Jar (no pressure!):

If you’re enjoying the blog and would like to help support it, please consider clicking on the link below to leave me a tip. You’ll choose your own payment amount and pay securely through PayPal’s platform. As always, thanks for visiting!

Scarlatti Special

Welcome! 🙂 This blog features short piano pieces I’ve recorded at home. It began as a project for the quarantine, which initially was going to be a couple of weeks. I’m determined to keep it going as long as needed, in hopes that if you need a mental break during these tough times, you can find one here.

If you’re new to the series and would like to check out earlier posts, the first one is here. New posts go up on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Starting on Thursday 5/7, I’m also doing a Storytelling and Sound project through Facebook, which you can check out by following me at Kris Faatz, Writer.

For today’s recording, I visited the wayback machine. This is a sonata by Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757), one of the great names of the Baroque Era in music history (about 1600-1750). This piece is still a favorite of mine, but I thought I already had a recording of it, so went looking and found this video I made almost four years ago.

Scarlatti modeled his sonatas on the structure of popular dances of the time. Dances like the minuet, sarabande, courante, and gigue were part of the daily life of the Baroque era. They were elegant and delicate musical “microcosms.” Scarlatti imitated that graceful dancelike character in his solo keyboard pieces.

This particular sonata has a lovely sound that harks back to the Renaissance. As you listen, you’ll hear some harmonies especially in the left hand that suggest music from an even older time. Those unusual harmonies are one reason why I’ve always loved this sonata.

As you listen, if you’d like, see if this piece evokes a particular time and place for you. Use it as a way to “transport” yourself to another setting. As always, you’re welcome to share your thoughts and responses to the music in the comments.

Make sure to subscribe to the blog if you’d like a regular dose of music, and visit back soon!

Tip Jar (no pressure!):

If you’re enjoying the blog and would like to help support it, please consider clicking on the link below to leave me a tip. You’ll choose your own payment amount and pay securely through PayPal’s platform. As always, thanks for visiting!

Re-post: Bach Talk

Welcome! 🙂 This blog features short piano pieces I’ve recorded at home. It began as a project for the quarantine, which initially was going to be a couple of weeks. I’m determined to keep it going as long as needed, in hopes that if you need a mental break during these tough times, you can find one here.

If you’re new to the series and would like to check out earlier posts, the first one is here. New posts go up on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Starting on Thursday 5/7, I’m also doing a Storytelling and Sound project through Facebook, which you can check out by following me at Kris Faatz, Writer.

The content of this post originally appeared on the blog on March 22.

Today’s music is a pairing: a prelude and fugue by Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach was one of the icons of the Baroque era (1600-1750) in music history, especially famous for his fugues. He was such a force that after his death in 1750, the next generation of composers had to come up with new techniques and styles to use in their music, because no one could follow Bach’s act.

Fugue is a complicated musical form that involves several lines of melody going at the same time. Every fugue has a short musical idea, called the subject, that gets passed between the different melody lines. The subject usually also has a partner, the countersubject. When one line of melody, or “voice,” has the subject, another “voice” often has the countersubject.

Writing a fugue means that you have to follow a lot of complex rules. You also, ideally, have to write a piece of music that sounds beautiful even if you don’t know about all of the compositional trickery going on. Bach was fascinated with fugue and made a lifelong study of it. He was a master at making it work.

His collection The Well-Tempered Clavier includes forty-eight fugues, two in every key it’s possible to write in. Each of those fugues has a companion prelude. In today’s recordings, you’ll hear the Prelude and Fugue in C sharp Major, from the second volume of The Well-Tempered Clavier. 

As you listen, see if you notice the different lines of melody working together, especially in the fugue. See if you can hear a musical idea that gets passed around between the “voices.” Then, if you’d like, imagine that the voices in the music are actual people having a conversation. What are they talking about? What kind of moods do you hear as the conversation goes along? As always, you’re welcome to share your thoughts and responses to the music in the comments.

Make sure to subscribe to the blog if you’d like a daily dose of music, and visit back soon!

Tip Jar (no pressure!):

If you’re enjoying the blog and would like to help support it, please consider clicking on the link below to leave me a tip. You’ll choose your own payment amount and pay securely through PayPal’s platform. As always, thanks for visiting!

https://www.paypal.com/paypalme2/krisfaatz

Re-post: Mozart Meditation

Welcome! 🙂 This blog features short piano pieces I’ve recorded at home. It began as a project for the quarantine, which initially was going to be a couple of weeks. I’m determined to keep it going as long as needed, in hopes that if you need a mental break during these tough times, you can find one here.

If you’re new to the series and would like to check out earlier posts, the first one is here. New posts go up on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Starting on Tuesday 5/5, I’m also doing a Storytelling and Sound project through Facebook, which you can check out by following me at Kris Faatz, Writer.

The content of this post originally appeared on the blog on March 16.

The music featured today is the slow movement of a sonata by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), one of the greats of the Classical era of music history.

Mozart’s style is often elegant and precise, the kind of writing Classical composers idealized. He also includes drama, humor, and deep expression in his works, even though on the outside they might sound straightforward. This sonata movement is a beautiful, lyrical short piece, both meditative and expressive.

Use the listening time to quiet your mind. If you’d like, as you listen, focus on a mental image that evokes peace for you. Maybe it’s an object, or a place, or a particular activity, like walking along a beach. Bring it to your mind and picture it in vivid detail.

If you have any thoughts about the experience, or would like to share the image you focused on, please post about it in the comments. 🙂

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Friday dance

Welcome! 🙂 This blog features short piano pieces I’ve recorded at home. It began as a project for the quarantine, which initially was going to be a couple of weeks. I’m determined to keep it going as long as needed, in hopes that if you need a mental break during these tough times, you can find one here.

If you’re new to the series and would like to check out earlier posts, the first one is here. New posts go up on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. I’m also doing a Storytelling and Sound project through Facebook, which you can check out by following me at Kris Faatz, Writer.

Today’s piece continues my Beethoven trend (I will get back to other composers again, I promise 😉 ). This Bagatelle, in G minor, has a slightly different flavor than the others I’ve posted. The minor key gives it a darker sound, but it’s still full of charming energy and lovely contrast. Beethoven changes key in the middle with a hymnlike melody that contrasts with the light, percussive opening. Then he comes back to the tune from the beginning, but writes an intricate little variation on it. He ends the piece in G Major, a bright resolution to the darker beginning, with a lovely final cadence that gets back to the hymnlike sound of the middle section.

As you listen, if you’d like, see if this little piece with its contrasts it conjures up any particular story for you. As always, you’re welcome to share your thoughts and responses to the music in the comments.

Make sure to subscribe to the blog if you’d like a daily dose of music, and visit back soon!

Tip Jar (no pressure!):

If you’re enjoying the blog and would like to help support it, please consider clicking on the link below to leave me a tip. You’ll choose your own payment amount and pay securely through PayPal’s platform. As always, thanks for visiting!

https://www.paypal.com/paypalme2/krisfaatz

Wednesday cheer

Welcome! 🙂 This blog features short piano pieces I’ve recorded at home. It began as a project for the quarantine, which initially was going to be a couple of weeks. I’m determined to keep it going as long as needed, in hopes that if you need a mental break during these tough times, you can find one here.

If you’re new to the series and would like to check out earlier posts, the first one is here. New posts go up on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. I’m also doing a Storytelling and Sound project through Facebook, which you can check out by following me at Kris Faatz, Writer.

Today’s post continues my Beethoven Bagatelle explorations. This piece caught my attention when I was reading through some of the Bagatelles I’d never studied before…looking for pieces short and straightforward enough to pick up quickly and record for the blog.

This one starts out sounding charmingly simple, a lilting country tune. Very soon, though, Beethoven shifts the harmony into a totally different place. The simplicity of the tune never changes, but that sudden twist gives the piece a whole new character.

It’s a delightful little piece. As you listen, if you’d like, see if it conjures up any particular story for you. As always, you’re welcome to share your thoughts and responses to the music in the comments.

Make sure to subscribe to the blog if you’d like a daily dose of music, and visit back soon!

Tip Jar (no pressure!):

If you’re enjoying the blog and would like to help support it, please consider clicking on the link below to leave me a tip. You’ll choose your own payment amount and pay securely through PayPal’s platform. As always, thanks for visiting!

https://www.paypal.com/paypalme2/krisfaatz